Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Advent Season

During this Christmas season I am publishing a blog named, "A New Take on the Advent Story"
If you are interested in reading please go to Christmasad2016.blogspot.com

I've taken stories about the Advent and ran them through my imagination. Hopefully you will take a look.

I plan to resume Tricia's Principles for Living after the Holidays.
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Thursday, November 10, 2016

To Leave Drama Highway Take Exit P.4:6


I am beginning to wonder are we in the U.S. addicted to drama? I grew up during the reign of the soap operas. These fictional stories preceded the reality series of today.  Friday’s episode was always a cliff hanger so the audience would come back on Monday. I doubt if two paragraphs of dialogue between characters would happen in five days. This genre of story telling was filled with people scheming against each other and hidden secrets waiting to be exposed.

 I've been thinking of the stress inducing drama  I’ve lived  through:The build up to the eruption of Mt. St Helen; Y2K in 1999; A possible asteroid hit in 2015; On going of the big one San Andreas fault-always on the back burner if there is a slow news day; The coming economic meltdown every few years; Food scares( i.e. don’t give your child apple juice) or E.coli;  Ebola or Zika is coming; Weather scares on and on.  I can add many others, for instance our recent election cycle, the longest running political soap opera I’ve seen in my lifetime.

 No wonder so many of us are nervous wrecks. Next big Pharma comes along and wants to help us through the drama by assisting us to medicate ourselves to serenity or sleep. When we wake up drowsy they will provide us with another medication to help us get alert. If you’re not medicated and need to stay awake, there are other companies that will sell you Red Bull or another branded energy drinks. When do we ever say enough is enough?  when do we stop subscribing into the drama and its effects on our bodies and our lives? 

I, for one, am going to re-energize my peace with these calming words from the Bible: “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life."*  I’ve actually had enough drama for a long time! How about you?



* Message Bible Phillipians 4:6

Friday, November 4, 2016

Delayed for a Purpose


As the cashier was ringing up my order at Costco he noticed that one of the eggs in the clear plastic container was cracked. “Do you want me to get another package or do you want to forget them,” he asked?      “I need them, and I have time to wait,” I responded. While I waited for the runner to go get a replacement package I reviewed my receipt. “What’s this 14.95,” I asked myself?  The tape showed it was for a package of organic chicken sausages. However I hadn’t bought any sausages for 14.95.  The price should have rung up at 7 dollars. I distinctly remembered looking at the sell price and thinking this was a real bargain. I knew that every once in a while when trying to move product Costco reduced prices on items.

I got the attention of one of the managers who was walking by and told him of the discrepancy between what I saw on the sign and what was on the receipt. We both went back to the refrigeration unit. Indeed the sell price sign said only 7 dollars not 14.95. By the time we came back my replacement $1.96  package of eggs were in my cart. The manager made the adjustments and refunded me S7.95.

Isn’t this like life? Sometimes those minor inconveniences that interrupt or stop our plans are really gifts to help us recover something much more valuable. I have resolved the next time I'm stopped by some unexpected event or minor inconvenience, rather than be annoyed I'm going to look to see if there is something more important I'm supposed to learn from the delay.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Quick! Get the Olive Oil Presses Going.

"Spray him down with olive oil," shouted  the fire captain in charge of the rescue squad over the sounds of the crashing waves. I can just imagine the surprise of the store clerk as the fireman rushed into the store breathlessly asking for all the olive oil they had in the store. As the firetruck rushed back to the beach the firemen quickly poured the olive oil into the empty spray canister. Accidentally the man dropped his phone between the rocks on the jetty. He'd bent down putting his head between the rocks as he tried to reach down to get his phone. When he tried to get back up he found that he was wedged from his chest to his head between the rocks.*

One of his friends called 911.The firemen came and assessed the situation.  For two and a half hours they thought  and tried  various ways to get him out of this predicament.  If they moved  the rocks in the wrong direction the man's head might get crushed. If they didn't get him out he would surely drown when the tide came into shore. One of the firemen must have remembered that old trick used to get off  a ring that's too tight on a finger-use some oil. They sprayed him down really well with olive oil. It worked. He came up cold and slimy, but they got him out.

During this political season it appears many of our heads are stuck between the rocks.  Just like this man we are in an unusual predicament. There are damaged friendships, hurt feelings and bruised egos all around.  This 31year old man was just trying to reach down to retrieve his phone,  his means of communication. He didn't know when he bent down and tried to get back up that he was going to need to be sprayed down with olive oil.  Just like today we are missing our normal channels of peaceful communication.  At the beginning of this year I don't think that any of us thought that we would feel or witness the breaching of the bounds of just plain courtesy and respect in our communication on the national stage or in private conversations. We need some olive oil.  

Historically, we've equated extending the olive branch as being a gesture of peace. No matter what happens during this next 34 days someone is going to have to extend an olive branch.  In order for us to heal our fractured society we are going to need to spray that olive oil all over ourselves and help those around us to do the same. We need to start pressing the olives now because I have a feeling we are going to need a lot of it to get out of these rocky times.


Romans 12: 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you,  live at peace with everyone."


*http://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/olive-oil-helps-free-man-stuck-in-jetty-while-fetching-phone/

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Please, Just a little Salt


Have you ever cried salty tears? You know those tears that cascade into pools around your chin. I remember those kinds of tears from my childhood when I got in trouble over some major youthful indiscretion. This morning I started to think about salt and decided to do a little reading about it.

We can easily pick up a salt shaker, therefore I think we have  forgotten its great value. I read how salt helped to shape human history. Great wars have been fought over salt. The Romans used to pay their soldiers in salt, which was as valuable as gold.  As I read I learned that the first cities, such as Yuncheng in China,  were built near places which had salt mines or were near areas where they could trade for salt. I’ve been to Salzburg, Austria, which is located on the Salzach River. This morning I learned that “Salzach literally means "salt river" and Salzburg "salt castle", both taking their names from the German word Salz meaning salt..”

I thought about when I've  heard  young people say that the person is being salty when someone was being irritable and unpleasant. Salt is fine to bring out flavor. If too much salt is used it makes food unpalatable.
One day I was seasoning the a pot of food with some salt. The top accidentally came off the shaker and a whole lot of salt poured out into the pot. I did not stir but carefully tried to scoop out the salt. Then I peeled a potato and put it in the pot- a trick I learned from Winston, to absorb excess salt. It worked. You see I only wanted to season the food, not ruin the food.

I am trying to practice this principle of seasoning my speech with a little salt, not dumping in the whole box. If I have a point to make I try not to belittle or beat up on the other person's opinion. I am trying to say just enough to bring out my own point and be respectful while I am doing it. I keep in mind the Biblical instructions to be gracious in my  talking and to season my speech with salt.*  I think this means I don’t have to say everything that marches across my brain. We could all change the public discourse in our country if everyone practiced using just a tiny bit of salt.  I‘m ready for a change.  Will you join me?   





* 4:6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:6 NIV

1.            https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Salt&action


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Sometimes Racism is Hiding in Plain sight





"Let's talk to Moses about leadership" said Miriam to her brother Aaron. " After, all I'm a prophetess too, and Moses just isn't sharing  leadership like he should," Miriam explained to Aaron and the other elders. Miriam and Aaron may have deceived the Hebrews into thinking they were only trying to have a discussion with Moses on distributive leadership. However, they couldn’t fool God. Miriam merely cloaked her racism in a discussion on leadership.  Instead God went right to the heart of the matter. Numbers 12 verse one states, “And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman”


God didn’t let Miriam and Aaron get away with their racist attitudes.  They attempted to turn a nation against Moses for marrying an African woman. This next verse is the cover for their racist attitude. Numbers 12:2  “And they said, Hath the Lord indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us? And the Lord heard it.” All three were leaders. Aaron was a Priest, Miriam was a prophetess and Moses was a leader and a Prophet. T hey were talking behind Moses’ back, interfering where they had no business and bringing division into their fledgling nation. God dealt with Miriam in a no nonsense manner. 

As I meditated on Miriam’s story a scene from when I was a teenager replayed in my mind. I was seventeen years old.  The featured musicians at the Full Gospel Businessmen’s International Convention held in Philadelphia that year were the Singing Simpsons(My Family). There were thousands of people, mainly white, very well to do businessmen, some of whom were millionaires,  in attendance from all over the world.  Everything at the convention was first class. One event was a posh boat ride and fancy luncheon for the teenagers on the Delaware River. David Wilkerson, very popular at that time, of Teen Challenge, was the speaker for this cruise.

As my brother and sisters and I were walking to the deck where the luncheon was to be held I personally heard one of the other teenagers with a southern drawl say, “Why are these niggers on here?”* This was the very first time in my life hearing the N word directed at us. I was shocked and hurt. I couldn’t fathom why that person, another teenager, thought we didn’t belong there. I’d never ever heard myself referred to by that term by any white person in Philadelphia.   It felt like I had been punched in the stomach.

When we got back from the trip I told my mother what happened on the boat. My mother went to the leaders of the convention and shared with them the unfortunate situation on that boat ride. What happened next has stayed with me for a life time. At the very next session,  I think it was  Demos Shakarian, the moderator of the convention, shared with the thousands of people present what happened on the boat. He explained there was no place for that behavior or attitude among the people of God.  He called for a time of repentance right then and there. I remember the people praying, crying and repenting for those racist attitudes and the absolute move of God among the convention.

Back to the passage in Numbers 12, God called Moses, Aaron and Miriam together. God asked Miriam and Aaron weren’t they afraid to talk about Moses? -I wonder today don't people know God  still hears all the things  people are saying and  seeing all their hateful writing? - God wasn’t deceived with their charade about leadership. God saw their evil racist’s attitudes.  God was angry. When God went away from them Miriam was white with leprosy. Aaron pleaded with Moses to please pray to God to heal Miriam.

Moses prayed. God told Moses to let Miriam stay outside the camp for seven days with her leprosy. She needed to learn a lesson.  We read that the whole nation had to stop and wait for Miriam for seven days. Then God healed her and she came back to the camp and they were able to move on.

I wonder today in 2016 is this the reason we seem to be stuck in this nation?   Are we still cloaking something with which we need to deal   We can’t seem to move on.    Reading the passage in Numbers 12, (among other passages), and  thinking about that long ago convention I defy anyone to try and defend racism based on God’s Word. God’s Word has never defended racism and  like the leaders at the convention long ago neither should we. 

 

*( I usually don’t even say the word or spell it out)

 To read the entire story Read Numbers 12


















Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Have you Stopped Speaking?


Did your parent ever tell you, “No,” or told you to, “Wait,” when you sincerely asked for something? Did your teacher or coach ever turn down your earnest request? Did you angrily stop talking to that person for the rest of your life and refuse to interact with that person because you didn’t get the answer you wanted?   Is that the reason you will not speak to God?  Maybe God didn’t give you the answer you wanted or felt you deserved at the moment you wanted it.

Last night one of my granddaughters and I were looking at " King of Dreams," the Disney movie about Joseph. His jealous, vindictive brothers betrayed him by selling him for twenty pieces of silver(About $350). As he was being shackled and being dragged off Joseph cried out to his brothers to not do it. I turned to my granddaughter and said, “Does that look like the will of God?” I am pretty certain that Joseph couldn’t see God in his brothers selling him off. Of course their actions weren’t kind, right or humane?  His double-crossing brothers meant to humiliate and hurt him.  Their first plan was to kill him. However the caravan of merchants who took him as a slave was an extreme and unusual form of Divine intervention.  Joseph must have wondered why God didn’t immediately answer his prayer to free him so he could return to his father. In fact, as the years went by, rather than things getting better, they got worse for Joseph. He went  from being  a house slave to being a prisoner in a dungeon.
After at least thirteen years in  an Egyptian prison, through a series of “coincidences,” the  purpose for all his suffering came to light.  Sovereignly, Joseph had been set up to save an entire nation and his family when he became second in command to the Egyptian Pharaoh.  Unknown to his family, Joseph, the brother they betrayed,  would be in  the position to determine their survival.  When they found out  that Joseph was in charge his brothers were fearful he would retaliate against them.  Joseph was so powerful and he could have summarily put them to death for their treachery against him. However, Joseph told them, “Do I act for God? Don’t you see, you planned evil against me but God used those same plans for my good, as you see all around you right now—life for many people?”*   Joseph didn’t ignore or condone what they did to him. Joseph let them know their attitudes and actions were wrong. However in God’s great plan their unfair treatment was used for good.

I don’t have answers, like Joseph did in his hour of need,  as to why God sometimes chooses not to answer your prayers or my desperate, sincere prayers for all kinds of situations. I just know that God has plans and like my earthly parents God sees things I cannot see. Like Joseph, I’ve lived long enough to see why I didn’t get some of those prayers answers. I am gaining enough sense to understand that I can trust God even when I don’t understand why my other prayers still have not been answered. I also understand I don’t have to stop speaking to God  for the rest of my life when I don’t get what I want when I want it. How about you? Have you stop speaking to God?  

*Genesis 50: 20 Message Bible

P.S. If you would like to read the whole story of Joseph  google and read  Genesis 37 -50 Message Bible