23 Dec

GOOD NEWS!

Who doesn’t like good news? With all the negative stuff going on in the world, it’s always a relief to hear something good, right?

As we enter into the heart of this Christmas season I like to bypass all the ugly that’s going on. I watch much less news, circumvent Facebook posts on politics, and generally just shut out the world and consider the good things about the year that will soon be over and plan for what’s coming.

While doing this, I decided to see what scripture says and embarked on a word study. Proverbs 15:30 (NIV) says “Light in a messenger’s eyes brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones.”  I LIKE that!

In total, the NIV mentions “good news” 45 times! (If you’d like a pdf of all references, comment below with your email address )

In the New Testament Greek, the most common word (and the root of most other forms and usage) is

εὐαγγελίζω ĕuaggĕlizō, yoo-ang-ghel-id´-zo; to announce good news (“evangelize”) especially the gospel:— declare, bring (declare, show) glad (good) tidings, preach (the gospel).

While the same phrase is used in the Old Testament, it is not often used in the same context. The same word forms are also used in the NIV for the term “gospel” You will notice that in the Greek, the word is almost the same as our “evangelize” and as Jesus commanded in Mark 16: 15 (cf. Luke 24:47) this is our primary duty as Jesus followers (disciples).

Throughout scripture God promises a coming anointed one, a messiah who will be “Immanuel” (God with us). As believers, during this season, we celebrate the earthly arrival of Jesus; we also rejoice that God has kept His vow! And no less than ANGELS were the first true evangelists!

Lk2-10 Reference

So, what is this good news? In a nutshell, it is that we don’t have to die. I’m talking of spiritual things here so if you’re not familiar with biblical doctrine, drop me a line. As believers in this good news, we are free of the penalty of death due to our sinfulness. We are reconciled with God and we’re forgiven for ALL that nasty stuff we did before we knew Jesus. Furthermore, having believed God in this, and confessing to Him our transgressions (essentially, disobeying Him), we are also forgiven. And in this we have found the freedom that is only found in reconciliation with God.  Paul, I think, says it quite succinctly in   1 Corinthians 15:1-4.

And so, just as we had someone evangelize us, let us obey Jesus and give someone-ANYONE- some good news! What better gift than sharing the basis of your hope and joy. This IS the “reason for the season”!

 Updates

My beloved Grinch is working the holiday weekend so I will be attending Church Online services a few times. I hear there is going to be some great worship and special guests! If you don’t have a church home, are not into church per se, or just can’t get away-check it out!

We MAY try to get to see the Star Wars movie tomorrow, while everyone else is traveling, preparing or already with family. One sure way to avoid the crowds!

I’ll be taking the rest of the year off but expect to hear from me again soon after we get back to normal.  I use this time to review the past year and plan for the new one; setting goals, refining my dreams and preparing for all the fun stuff that 2016 will bring. My “One Word” for this year is RENEW-my verse is Lamentations 5:21 and sets the tone for all this

For me this means renewing commitments, being more intentional about projects, goals and life in general. First, to those disciplines that have gone by the wayside spiritually, in mission and calling. My hope is to finally get that Lifegroup going, to be more regular in blogging and to get Abiding Ways Ministries really functional.

In my personal life, a biggie is de-cluttering our home. Hubby and I are both packrats and its taking up more space than I care to admit-sometimes even to myself! While my health is much better, I am realizing that just losing weight (almost 25 lbs this year! Thanks JESUS!) isn’t enough. At almost 63, and a couch potato expert, I feel it more than is good. There are some icky personal habits that need to go, too.

So, there you have it! Thanks for reading “Along the Way” this year. I hope you’ll return soon. In the meantime, may you and yours have a truly MERRY CHRISTMAS and a HAPPY NEW YEAR! God bless!

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04 Dec

The Power of Our Words – #DontHateCOMMUNICATE

“Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD- Isaiah 1:18

If you’ve ever considered yourself a writer, you might understand this dilemma: Trying to avoid writing but the thoughts keep on coming!  That’s kind of where I was until I finally just sat down, opened up my word processor and started this post.

The events in San Bernardino (yes, another mass shooting), brought out my news junkie addiction. I was unhappy about the perpetrators dying because I wanted to understand WHY anyone would do this. I wanted to understand their motives. While we know a bit more about the circumstances and pray for the victims and their families, the controversial political commentary is raucous. The top two reasons stated for this horror are inadequate gun safety regulation and mental illness oh and radical Islamic terrorism (never mind that not all mass shootings are committed by Muslims)

My son, Kevin and I are on different sides in the political spectrum, however he made a statement and a particular word stuck out- entitlement. And while I am not quite sure about his reasons (I haven’t answered his post), I think he’s on to something! He and I were both infused with at least some sort of work ethic-and most of the time early in my childhood, we had dinner as a family, Dad (and mom) would encourage conversation, we did things as a family, whether playing a game, going on an outing or watching a bit of TV or talking about our grades.  THEN CAME THE INTERNET AND CELL PHONES!

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a ‘net junkie. Long before there was a web, and cell phones I spent way too much time on a text-based chat service called Compuserve #cb.  In time it became a major source of socialization and exchange of ideas for me as I was often “on call” for my work. Oh, and that is where I first “met” my beloved husband!

So what has that got to do with entitlement? Just look around. Every child over the age of 10 has a cell phone, computer, or other very connected device. The phone isn’t used to TALK with anyone but more to text, check Facebook, chat on SnapChat, or otherwise connect with the social circles of choice and see what others are saying about you. Walking down the sidewalks of New York, no one is watching where they’re going but instead, focused on their device. During what used to be “family time” everyone is likely to be found with their favorite connected toy or game console instead of interacting with other family IF indeed everyone is home at the same time!!

Here in the U.S. we have a Bill of Rights that allows us the free exercise of our faith (or no faith). We also have freedom of speech. In other words we are able to express, without penalty (just don’t yell “FIRE” in a crowded theater), whatever is on our mind. Yet, as many of our leaders, or “wanna be” leaders have said we ARE exceptional and I’m very thankful I live here. However I wonder if we’ve carried this a bit too far some times and think that this means we’re entitled to say whatever we want regardless of who it harms. We’ve lost the wisdom of the founding fathers in this respect I think… and in fact, have forgotten the power of our words and the negative impact that hateful, hurtful, judgmental words can have.

I know you know the childhood rhyme
Sticks and stones May break my bones But words will never hurt me

Guess what-it’s a lie! As a short, fat, thick glasses child, I was often teased by the pretty and popular girls. Made fun of because of my intelligence and “teacher’s pet” status and sometimes even bullied and poked because I never liked confrontation. Eventually, it all caught up with me and I fought back-and won. Sadly, after that, I was more respected. Positive outcome for negative behavior except at home! You see, my mom knew my hurt and pain because we talked about it. That, however, did not make getting angry and striking out right. And so I was disciplined. Not harshly but…

Communication, IMHO, is becoming lost in the hustle that is our daily lives. And keep in mind that it’s more than just expressing your opinion. It’s about listening to the thoughts, feelings and views of others, too. It is dialog, diplomacy and a genuine interest in what others are thinking. It’s NOT being politically correct but politely expressing a differing viewpoint. It’s getting involved in our political process, whether attending a town council meeting, volunteering at a social organization for something you firmly believe in, and yes VOTING! It’s taking more than a passing interest in what your child’s passion is, checking up on them when too much time is being spent online. Asking them how they are today and reminding them that you love them regardless of negative actions. (I used to tell son John-I love YOU-I’m just not fond of some of the stuff you do!)  Adults, check in with parents and siblings and other family just to say hi, what’s up? And for heavens’ sake put down your device!

It has been reported that the male shooter in San Bernardino “had it all”. A good job, a great education, all the “stuff” that we here in the states think of as success. I get the impression that he was isolated from his family, and found a wife online who, because she showed interest in him, may have won him over to jihadism. One whose eventual influence, along with the possibility that a co-worker (said to be a passionate Messianic Jew) had previously made anti-Muslim comments and that might have acted as a catalyst for their actions which NO ONE, with the exception of his wife, knew was in his mind. His anger and frustration coupled with the wife’s ideological influence may have been the last straw.

In general, the hate, bigotry and inflammatory speechifying that come from our would-be leaders aren’t helping anyone except them. Paul wrote “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires (or emotional state), they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear  (2 Tim. 4:3 NASB cf. Isaiah 30:10 ). Proverbs is FILLED with guidance about our speech and James 3:1-13 is all about our words!

We humans aren’t machines but very emotional beings. Anger, frustration, hurt, powerlessness, humiliation, insults, feeling ignored are just a few of the negative feelings, that can lead to radicalization of ANY kind and the disastrous and heart-breaking violence that is so terribly prevalent in our society today. As a former counselor, “talk therapy” was a huge part of my work. In fact, to deal with some of the weight of those I counseled, I also had a therapist. There is no shame in seeking out someone or reaching out to someone!  Just think what change YOU might make in someone’s life if you take the time to do this:
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