How Do You Measure Success?

Recently I have been having thoughts that I am not successful. That I have not done a good job in carrying out God’s call for my life. That being helping others apply God’s wisdom to their daily lives. Seeing Godly change in them. You see, I have been talking to people about loving their enemies and treating others the way they want to be treated. That we are all humans. Real people and not a political party. But no one appears to have listened. At least from what I can see.

So, after being down and feeling sorry for myself for a while, I asked God for guidance and opened my Bible. The Book of Jeremiah was before me. I had heard of this prophet but have to admit I did not know much about him. God called him and he took the Word to the people but they did not want to listen. He faced persecution. Enemies of Jerusalem enslaved them for seventy years. Full of anger and doubt, Jeremiah wanted to give up due to lack of success. But he never did thankfully.

Instead God gave him reminders of his most important purpose. To be obedient to Him which is the ultimate success. God is not keeping count and blaming us when someone does not listen or change. This is wonderful to know and freeing. Now I can throw out that scorecard forever.

Please Wear a Mask. It Could Save a Life.

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I read a news story today that Los Angeles hospitals are so overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients that Los Angeles County Emergency Medical Services has issued a directive telling ambulance crews not to transport patients with little chance of survival to a hospital. Unlikely to survive means someone whose heart has stopped, isn’t breathing or shows no other movement after resuscitation attempts. They are also to limit the administration of oxygen unless the patient’s oxygen saturation levels are below ninety percent. This move is due to an extreme surge in COVID patients and hospitals being at capacity. (Here is the link- https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-01-04/los-angeles-hospitals-cannot-keep-up-covid-19-surge-illness).

This is scary to say the least and I pray for anyone who lives in that area. At this point, having a medical emergency could mean not receiving the care needed. I fear that this nightmare scenario will occur in other places around the country as COVID cases continue to explode. So please take every precaution you can to stop the spread. Wear a mask, wash your hands frequently and limit gatherings when at all possible. I know some object to mask wearing because they feel it is a violation of their rights. Well, it may or may not be but there are times in life when we need to think not of ourselves but others. Being inconvenienced now will go a long way in getting us back to normal. It also shows that we are following God’s directives to love and care about our neighbors.

1st Corinthians 10:23-24- “I have the right to do anything”, you say,-but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”-but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.

1st Peter 3:8- Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.

“And They (Didn’t) Live Happily Ever After”

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Anyone else out there believe that marriage was going to be like a Hallmark Movie ? After all, you met the perfect person and you were so in-tune to each other’s needs. Every second spent together was magical and you thought it would go on like this forever. Then the wedding happened and the honeymoon and you returned home and life was waiting. Overtime, what initially excited you about your spouse turned in to what you could not stand about them. You started wondering what happened to that considerate person who always called when they were going to be late or actually listened to how your day went. As time trudged on you felt like you had grown apart and perhaps the only things you had in common were the children or just trying to stay above water financially. Intimacy decreased and in some instances vanished. Feelings of hopelessness about your relationship and how you will get through it consume your thoughts. How can I live out the remainder of my life with this person and in this situation? It looks very dark but there is hope.

As I have grown in my walk with God, I have started turning to Him for guidance in my struggles. Even when I felt like this marriage was over and maybe divorce was the answer. This morning, I asked God to speak to me about what I should do. My marriage has lasted for over twenty-five years and I don’t want it to end. I sat down to meditate and listened to calming music. After a while, I heard God say that me and my husband should go to counseling. He also prompted me to write this blog to reach others in a similar situation. I still need to talk to my husband about the counseling. However, no matter his answer, I will obey and go. I don’t know what the answer may be for your marital troubles, but I know that God does. You just need to go to Him, ask and have an open heart and mind to accept the answer.

Make Sure You Assess the Entire Situation

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Do you really listen to what you hear on television or radio? When you read from a newspaper, book or online news site, do you really think about what’s written? For myself I can say yes. This is because one of the gifts God has blessed me with is discernment. Discernment is the ability to look past what is in front of you or just taking something at face value to perceive the deeper meaning behind it. Becoming familiar with biblical principles through regular Bible study, prayer and one to one time with God helps this spiritual muscle to grow stronger. God wants all of us to develop the ability to use discernment. It’s a primary way to teach the world about right and wrong or truth and lie when these are muddled by human reasoning. For example, why is it okay if someone posts on Twitter that conservatives should be harassed at every turn and their lives made miserable they are cheered. But when someone on Parler posts that liberals should be harassed at every turn and their lives made miserable it’s right wing philosophy and everyone should be frightened. This and similar messaging over the past twelve years has been detrimental to society. At no time has the power of the pen, keyboard or voice been so consequential. The answer to my question is both are wrong and not behaving in a Godly manner and need to stop. That’s discernment. God has given us guidance for life and it won’t change. We must utilize discernment to prevent further division and strife between all of us. This can be accomplished by consistent, biblically based messaging from Christians to help non-discerning believers and unbelievers see truth.

By the way, my small group is reading the book Discernment by Jane Hamon and it has great information about discernment and learning to apply it to any situation we face in life. My site isn’t monetized so this recommendation comes with no personal gain for me.

Armor Required Everyday

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This past week I participated in a group at work and the facilitator asked each of us to write down thoughts that tend to pop into our minds and ruin an otherwise good day. I immediately jotted down my son graduating college and moving to a new city, my social work career being stagnant, getting older and my best friend moving away. Emotions welled up and I expressed how I was feeling to the other members. That evening, I wrote in my journal to help process what had occurred in group. I told God that I was being drained by negative thinking about changes that had or were occurring in my life and asked him what to do. As I turned pages in the journal, an image of a suit of armor fell out. I had printed it months ago and forgotten about it. Each part of it- helmet, belt, breast plate, shoes and sword are representations of the weapons God has given us to fight off attacks from the evil one that aim to drag us down and away from Him. I realized He had provided a quick answer to my question. Since then, I have read and meditated on Ephesians 6:10-18 several times as well as printed additional copies of the image I mentioned so I can have a visual reminder wherever I go . The constant reminders gives me hope and strength and help me to remember how to rebuke the devil’s attacks. Here’s the link if you want the image I mentioned above. https://i.pinimg.com/736x/14/f5/5d/14f55d8377c05288eecb8c6ae1bf4c29.jpg

More on Social Media….

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This is a follow-up to my previous post titled Social Media Use By Christians-Does the End Justify the Means? This past weekend I watched a documentary-drama hybrid on Netflix entitled ‘The Social Dilemma’ which explores the dangers of social networking. What made it most interesting was that tech experts who actually contributed to the development of these various platforms express regret and raise the alarm about it’s impact on society. They inform on how big tech monitors and analyzes social media use to manipulate the way we behave, think and feel and is meant to be addictive in nature. One participant worried that the tool he helped to create could cause a civil war due to the polarization between people that’s been created under big tech’s watch. It’s no accident that more and more progressive views are constantly on the forefront. They know they can steer society’s thinking anyway they want through news stories, messaging, ads, ect.. So take a look at “The Social Dilemma’ if you can. It may not change your social media habits but at least you will have the facts.

Social Media Use By Christians-Does the End Justify the Means?

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I read an article today about a boycott that is being championed by a group of celebrities against Instagram whose parent company is Facebook. These celebrities are encouraging everyone who has an account on the Instagram platform to “freeze” their account for one day. The reason being is they don’t believe that Facebook has done enough to curtail the spread of racism, hate and political disinformation on either platform. Kim Kardashian West (who is reported to have 188 million Instagram followers by the way) is being joined by other entertainment heavy weights including Leonardo Dicaprio and Katy Perry in the quest. But shouldn’t this also apply to objectionable language and nudity. What about abortion and sexual immorality? For some reason these aren’t ever called out unless your opinion is on the opposite side of the prevailing progressive ideology.

I’m not writing this to debate the pros and cons of the one day freeze but to focus on social media use by Christians in general. Social media platforms have positives such as being able to connect with people from all over the world and share our all so important opinions about anything and everything under the sun. They also have negatives such as being able to connect to people all over the world and share our all so important opinions about anything and everything under the sun. There is good and bad in many things but at what point does the bad outweigh the good? Should Christians refrain from utilizing social media even if it means not being able to reach greater numbers of people with the Message?

My thoughts on social media brought to mind the story of the Tower of Babel told in Genesis 11:19. In a nutshell the people of the world at the time all spoke the same language. They wanted to build a great city for themselves with a tower that reached to the sky to make them famous and prevent them from being scattered all of the world. When God saw this he didn’t like it reasoning if the people could do something so great, they could do anything else they put their minds to. He then scattered the people all over the world each with different language so they couldn’t understand each other.

In my opinion social media is like the Tower of Babel. It serves as a means for ” the people” to exalt themselves and to more easily build a consensus for ideas and beliefs that are in direct conflict to God’s Word. Users feel a camaraderie and consensus about things that they know in their hearts are wrong but feel justified in doing because they hear so many others telling them it’s okay. Much like Eve who didn’t go for the forbidden fruit until she had just one other being encourage it.

I really struggle with how I should utilize social media personally because platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter slant toward a more liberal point of view. Even Christian beliefs have been attacked as hateful in an attempt to censor the Word. I just feel if I’m on any of them, I’m helping their cause. On the other hand, this is actually the reality of everyday life. The world isn’t Christ loving but I still must trudge on. God called us to be in the world without being of the world. God doesn’t want us to close ourselves off from non-believers because then we can’t tell others about him.

Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

The Definition of Insanity

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There’s a famous quote by Albert Einstein that goes: “Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.” Can anyone reading this relate? I am applying it to the professional aspect of my life. For the past twenty-seven years I have worked in the social work profession. Starting out in 1993, fresh out of graduate school, I was so bright-eyed and bushy tailed and convinced I could change the world of the needy and downtrodden with my new found knowledge. But guess what? It wasn’t that simple surprise surprise. Not only did the multitude and complexity of those peoples’ lives present a challenge but the “system” threw a wrench in my plans also. I didn’t know about the bevy of regulations, laws and guidelines that would limit and box in my ability to give what I thought the people I was helping needed.

Fast forward to the present and I am burned out and wondering how I am going to make it until I can retire in four years and three months. Most people would be happy to say they only have that much time until retirement and I am. But right now it seems like an eternity. So where does Einstein’s quote play into this?

It applies because over the course of over nearly twenty-years, I have started new job after new job hoping that I would finally find the one where everything would fall into place. I began in my current position three months ago and the same feelings that I experienced for the two years prior and, then four years prior to that and the seven years prior to this and the three years prior to that have all come back. Just four years before retirement I have come to the conclusion that it’s time for a change. I long to move on to others endeavors such as writing for my blog, taking yoga teacher training and traveling. I want to buy a little house near a lake to use as a retreat to get away from the hustle and bustle of large numbers of people and traffic. I want to be able to study the Bible, pray, meditate and journal at will. But I guess these will have to wait for now, although I can engage in these interests on a smaller scale. So, I will continue to work and do my very best to help those I serve.

I hope in saying all this that you won’t get caught in the same insanity I have. You see, deep down inside of me I knew I should go for another career twenty years ago. But I was afraid, felt that I would be giving up if I didn’t continue and talked myself out of it with many other excuses. But it is okay because I know the path ahead is bright and ripe with new opportunities and choices and there’s nothing insane about that. But most importantly, I feel the Lord’s hand guiding me toward this new life. I am not afraid.