A New Creation in Jesus

Yesterday after my follow up appointment at the doctor, the logical thing to do was to have a cheeseburger for lunch. At least in my mind it was totally logical. So I went to a place in my city called Honest Abe’s. The location I went to is in a strip mall close to the neighborhood I grew up in here.

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After lunch, I noticed something. 100% of the stores that were a part of my childhood and teen years are gone. There is no resemblance to the neighborhood strip mall that I knew. Geiers Bakery is now the burger place. Blevins Pharmacy is now a skin care place, The old grocery store is now a hardware store. I am rarely in that part of the city and only went there because it was the closest burger place to my doctor’s office. Perhaps that is why it grabbed my attention that nothing is left of my childhood and teen days there.

Then the thought hit me that I also bear no resemblance to the person I was as a child or as a teen and not just physically. Gone is the angry teen who only cared about partying. Gone is the child who felt no hope. Gone is the young man who saw no purpose to life.

Jesus has literally transformed me and my life. All of those years ago, I would have never imagined I would have a ministry for refugees and immigrants and be teaching ESL.

Jesus can do wonderful things with a life given to him. He brings new things to our lives. He changes us and our desires in life. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

I know from where I came and how far Jesus has brought me in life. Every blog post I write, every class I teach, every refugee/immigrant I help, is a testimony to the power of Jesus working in my life over the years.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Music Mondays- Everything Is Possible by Philippa Hanna

Whatever situation we find ourselves in, everything is possible with God. As we enter the Christmas season, the birth of Jesus itself speaks of the power of God to make the impossible possible. Mary was a virgin when she conceived Jesus by the Holy Spirit. No man was involved.

God is the God of the impossible. In Jesus lives are turned around, breakthroughs happen, people are transformed. When we pray, we are praying to the One who has ALL POWER.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

God Is Always Watching Over Us

When I was first taken to my hospital room last Sunday, I shared with the nurse it all seemed so sudden and freaky. In an attempt to put me at ease, she pointed to the monitor I was connected to and let me know that they could see what the monitor was showing in their nurses station and also in another location in the hospital where they were monitoring all patients on the floor.

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My reaction was two fold. First I wanted to get out of there thinking if it is that bad I don’t want to have it. The second, and saner one, was the it did put me at ease knowing I was being watched over by more than one person.

Psalm 33:18 says:

But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love

God is always watching over us. There is never a moment that we are not in his sight. There is comfort in knowing that God is always watching over his people.

Dear reader, wherever we go, whatever we are doing, whatever difficulty we are facing, God is watching over us. He has us in his hands.

Does that comfort you?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Life Lesson From World Cup Soccer

It is a phenomenon that most Americans do not understand. It happens every four years. I have observed it many times over my years of working with refugees and immigrants. What is it? It is the obsession with World Cup Soccer-or as the rest of world calls it- Futbol.

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It happened again yesterday. I met my friend Luis from El Salvador for lunch at a Hispanic restaurant. Sure enough the match between Holland and Ecuador was on the TV. During our whole lunch time, Luis was mesmerized by the match on TV. It consumed all of his attention. I am not sure if he will remember any of our conversation.

The only thing that might compare in the USA is college football as it pertains to the team one cheers for. I used to plan my weekends around the games my team played in. But if my team was not playing, my interest was not so strong.

I should mention that El Salvador does not have a team in the World Cup. Nevertheless, Luis was completely enraptured by the match on TV.

It made me wonder what would happen in my life if I was as enthralled by time with Jesus as Luis is with World Cup Soccer. What if I watched and prayed like he watches the soccer matches. What a difference it could make in my life.

I like to joke with soccer fans that soccer is in the bible and then show them Philippians 3:14:

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Press on toward the goal-as in soccer goal. Okay I hear that groan. 🙂

But the principle of having that kind of passion for Jesus is my point. He defeated death for us. He died for all of our sins. His love for us is eternal. God has called us to follow Jesus. There is no greater honor or calling.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Life Change?

Life changes. Just thinking about those words, what comes to your mind? What emotions are attached to those words?

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I am in the process of praying about a change that will be a slight adjustment that could lead to even more changes. I realize I am being vague, but more to share in a few weeks.

Sometimes a life change is gradual and planned. Sometimes life changes can hit abruptly. I am grateful that Jesus never changes and is eternally with us. As Hebrews 13:8 says:

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

When Jesus leads me to make a change in life, I often think of Abraham when God called him to follow him. We read in Genesis 12:1.

 “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.”

God called Abraham to follow him to a place that God would show him. In other words, get moving and I will show you along the way.

To be honest, I am at the stage in life that it would be appealing to sit back and relax, to rest on my laurels. But in ministry there is no retirement. There is just the ending of earthly ministry by being called home to heaven.

Realizing I am being vague, I would appreciate prayers as I follow God’s call.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Story Time- My New Friend Indy the Golden Retriever

Yesterday I visited my friend to watch a college football game. It was my first time at his house and knowing he has two dogs, I bought some dog treats to bring with me. One of the dogs, Indy, is a golden retriever. Indy stayed with me practically the whole time.

I was wearing shorts and Indy paid attention to my one bad knee. He would lick it at times. It is uncanny how dogs know when a part of our bodies is in pain. My knee was a bit worse than usual because I walked on it too much Friday due to taking the bus because of no working vehicle.

I grew up with a golden retriever. She was my best friend as a child. She slept in my room and always found her way to me under the kitchen table. Yes, I am a softy when it comes to dogs giving those sad eyes while I am earting.

When I think of dogs, the word faithful comes to mind. Show them a little love and attention and they will stay by your side.

If only we could be more like that when it comes to Jesus. I think about the love and attention he showed us when he died on the cross and continues to show us as he stays with us every second of every day.

I hope to visit Indy again and of course my friend Todd and his family too.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Here We Go Again

I was feeling good after finishing a 15 day treatment of Prednisone for bronchitis. I thought okay the coast is clear for a while. I started to feel a little of something starting up and went to the doctor in hopes of changing my asthma medicine to prevent problems. I got there and, well, something was noticed.

This is how I normally look. I tend to keep my tan on my face all year. I get that from my father who always had a tanned face. The problem with that is sometimes what would be obvious for other people is not so easily noticed on me. But Monday when I went to the doctor I looked like this.

I had a pink rash on my nose and cheeks. The PA didn’t notice until she looked more closely because it doesn’t show as much on me. When she looked closer she said, :”That is a sign of inflammation.” So instead of walking out with a prescription for a different inhaler, I walked out with a prescription for 15 more days of Prednisone. Yippee.

So here we go again. By the time I finish this 15 days, it will total to 35 days out of 40.

But Jesus is giving me strength. I have not missed teaching a class the whole time. I have been able to also be there for my weekend groups,. visit people in their homes, so in other words- Jesus has given me the strength to keep going with teaching and ministry.

Fortunately, Thursday and Friday will be fall break for my morning class, so I can sleep in, get more rest, and be ready to go. I hope. Anyone living with chronic illness can tell you that one never knows how one will be day to day.

The one thing I know for sure is that Jesus is with me to give me strength. 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Mountains

I was at the coffee shop yesterday and saw a young woman studying. I asked her what she was studying. She told me for her EMT license test. I told her if she ever comes to pick me up to go to the hospital to stop for ice cream for me on the way. I like to have my bases covered. 🙂

I don’t like going to doctors but living with chronic illness means I have to sometimes. I met an old man in Brazil who doesn’t like doctors either.

This picture is of me with a 92 year old man I met on a mountain in Brazil. I taught English in Brazil for five weeks in the summer of 2015. One of my students took me to see a small waterfall. As we were walking to it, we ran into the older gentleman. The first thing he said to us was, “I don’t want to go to any doctor.”

We talked with him a little and after reassuring him we wouldn’t take him to a doctor and that we only wanted to see the waterfall, he smiled. He told us last year his daughter picked him up and took him to the doctor. He didn’t like it.

At 92 years old and having lived on the mountain as a caretaker most of his life. I thought-“He doesn’t need a doctor. Just enjoy the rest of his life.”

What is it about mountains that make us feel close to God? Mountains represent various things in the bible. I love what Psalm 125 says:

“As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people both now and forevermore.”

Feeling overwhelmed? The Lord surrounds you 🙂

Feeling hopeless? The Lord surrounds you 🙂

Feeling anxious? The Lord surrounds you 🙂

Feeling alone? The Lord surrounds you 🙂

Sharing an oldie but goodie worship song- As the mountains surround Jerusalem.

Thank you for reading. God bless.

Visits by Jesus after His Resurrection- Thomas’s Doubts

Some nicknames are fun ones for people such as Magic Johnson, Air Jordan etc. Some celebrities are known by their first or last name such as Bono of U-2. Some people are called by nicknames they really don’t like but the nicknames seem to stick. One of Jesus’ followers has been known by a one time flaw for centuries. Thomas was a follower of Jesus who had some doubts regarding the resurrection of Jesus. Because of Thomas having doubts we have the phrase Doubting Thomas which no one wants to be called.

Thomas had heard from the other disciples that they had seen Jesus after His resurrection, but Thomas did not believe them. He told the other disciples, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” It is easy for us who are living 2,000 years later and have the benefit of reading the story to perhaps be critical of Thomas and his doubts, but lets put ourselves in his place. Thomas saw Jesus get arrested and knew Jesus had died. Thomas knew Jesus had been buried in a tomb with a huge stone rolled in front of it to close it. It had been an immensely emotional ordeal for all of the followers of Jesus and Thomas experienced it all first hand and now the other followers are claiming to have seen Jesus. How many of us would have had doubts too?

Jesus appeared to the disciples in dramatic fashion to perhaps get Thomas’s attention. We see in John 20  “And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” 27 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” Thomas had the proof he needed to respond in faith by proclaiming “My Lord my God!” Jesus replied, “because you have seen you believe. Blessed are those who believe and have not seen.”

How often do we face difficult times and faith seems far from us? How often do we doubt the goodness of God when we go through a hardship? We can stop and reflect on the fact that Jesus took on our biggest problem by defeating death and take encouragement from His resurrection.