********** A Christian Journal **********

Growing in the Spirit of Jesus Christ

Saturday, August 21, 2010

August 20, 2010 (Some thoughts...)

Some thoughts on
excessive indulgence
and sinful behavior…

“Lord, I do not want to sin.”

Perhaps, but, in fact, you do desire
and enjoy the pleasure and satisfaction
you receive from sinning.
So, in part, that is a lie.

You do want that extra piece of cake,
one more drink, or that feeling
of self-gratification, whatever it may be.

Acknowledge to God that
you have these cravings and
that you do enjoy the pleasure
derived from your sins.

After all, he knows.

Now ask God to replace those desires with
the everlasting joy and peace
of remaining in His presence.

By being ever mindful of Him
you will avoid circumstances
that may lead to temptation.

When temptation does strike,
immediately flee closer to Him,
(your fortress in times of need)
and pray that He remove
temptations power from you.

Keeping yourself out of situations
that promote temptation involves commitment
and discipline… the strength to resist
temptation once it appears comes from
seeking God’s refuge and the support
of His Holy Spirit within.

Both require you to believe, love, obey, and trust
the Lord with your entire being…
all your strength, your mind, your heart, and your soul.

You either turn to God or you turn your back on God.
You either stay in His presence or you attempt
to hide from Him.
We can’t continue to play hide and seek…
one moment seeking His presence and the next
hiding from Him.
This makes us spiritual shallow and eventually
we will grow to love the one and hate the other.

If we pursue the dangerous course, sinning
will become such a lifestyle that we
no longer attempt to hide
and seeking Him will cease altogether.
The heart will become hardened
like untilled ground and only God’s plow
of tribulation will stand a chance of making it
into an area for productive re-seeding.
Responding to God’s plow is a chance
for a new beginning but the choice
remains… don’t be foolish…
hearts can become permanently hardened.

Surrender your heart to God’s keeping
by allowing the death and resurrection
of Jesus Christ to be your salvation…
and allow the Holy Spirit to work within you.
This is the best and only security
against a hardened heart.

“Help me, O God,
to look back on the long way you have brought me,
on the long days in which I have been served,
not according to my deserts, but my desires;
on the pit and the miry clay,
the blackness of despair,
the horror of misconduct,
from which my feet have been plucked out.
For my sins forgiven or prevented,
for my shame unpublished,
I bless and thank you, O God.”
- Robert Louis Stevenson

Friday, August 13, 2010

August 13, 2010 (weekly capsule)

Sunday, August 8th

Have you ever become enamored
with a dream? Dreams are fine
as long as they do not become a roadblock
to spiritual growth. All dreams must be
brought before the Lord to be certain
that they follow His will for your life…
then the hard part…
while pursuing your dream,
take time to wait and trust in Him.
Some doors open, some close,
and some forever remain shut.

My dream (currently) is to have a bigger
and better camera… one that will allow
larger hardcopy prints of high image quality.
Money, of course, is the issue.

I have been told by two different reliable sources
that a fine art photograph in my possession
(by George A. Tice)
could go a long way in providing that money…
the problem is to find that “special collector”
willing to pay what it is worth.

I will trust in the Lord.

photo by George A. Tice
(Amish country – near Lancaster, PA)
taken sometime in the late 1960’s

Monday, August 9th

Today I attended my first “silver sneakers”
class at a local gym. I had no idea
what to expect. The class consisted of myself
and eight ladies.
I felt, at first, very much out of place.
Here I was the younger male exercising
with a group of senior females.
I should have been in a class more suited
to the stronger of the species.
My embarrassment soon turned to shame.
These classy ladies, of the fairer sex,
could run circles around me…
and they were so much more coordinated,
as I stumbled to keep up.
Remembering that football players
take ballet lessons to improve
their reflexes and flexibility,
my manhood was reaffirmed.

I will go to the Thursday class as well.

Tuesday, August 10th

Back to the gym in the afternoon… this time
for a cardio workout on the treadmill.

Later, that evening, my wife and I
took a leisurely walk down the lane
near our home.
Two whitetail doe and a fawn
crossed our path ahead, followed by
a buck and another fawn.
This is the first time I have ever witnessed
a “family” of deer together in the wild.
Always before it has been a lone mature buck,
or a grouping of doe with or without fawns.
They move so silently, with grace,
but with such speed…
definitely a joyful moment, as I took
my mate’s hand in mine.

Wednesday, August 11th

I had breakfast out this morning
with an old friend. We were good friends
all the way back in elementary school…
another blessing to renew a friendship after
almost 50 years… and to discover
that we share the same faith and love
in Jesus Christ.
Please pray for Ronnie as he goes
on a short-term mission trip to Uganda.

Later in the afternoon I accompanied
my daughter to deliver a load
of Styrofoam to a recycle center downtown.
We all must be good stewards of
the Lord’s creation.

Surveying our yard, I see a need
to remove some excessive (and unwanted)
vegetative growth circling our house, the shed,
and the borders of our property.
What is one man’s weed is another man’s flower.
I love native plants and enjoy wild violets,
yellow wood sorrel, cinquefoil, clover, etc.
(our lawn is full of them) but…
this overgrowth must go.
With the high heat and humidity
this summer’s greenery has been
excessively flourishing.
This year we have already had 25 days
of temperatures over 90 degrees.
Last year we only had three.

No gym today, so my wife and I took another walk.
No wildlife and very still… the air thick and heavy.

My son has flown to Texas for a job interview.
I pray that he will be lead into
a job and a place where he will
be of greater service to the Lord.
Please pray for him and his safe return.

Thursday, August 12th

It is early morning and still mostly dark.
There is a gentle rain.
Out on the porch with our three cats…
it is sultry but the rain is still refreshing.
With a distant rumble of thunder,
two of the “scaredy-cats” bolt for the door
and rush inside. Kokomo,
he of the Hemingway paw, remains.
Kokomo appears, at times, to be a bit kooky
and is subordinate to the other two.
However, he shows no fear as he settles down
on a cushion and enjoys a reprieve
from his “superior” feline friends.

“I will give peace in the land;
you shall lie down and none shall
fill you with dread or make you afraid;
and I will clear ferocious (wild)
beasts out of the land…”
- Leviticus 26:6 AMP

Back to the gym for another ROM class…
this one was well attended…
AND… eight men along with eleven ladies.
The instructor worked us a bit harder
and included some cardio exercises.
I’m feeling better and more fit already!

It rained again later in the afternoon…
more blessings from Heaven.

This evening the rain ended
and my wife and I took a (this time more
brisk) walk. The rain cooled things off considerably
and lowered the humidity… feels wonderful.

Friday, August 6, 2010

August 6, 2010 (weekly capsule)

Friday, July 30th

Today, my wife, daughter, and I took a day trip to Doylestown, PA.
We toured the Fonthill Museum, home of Henry Chapman Mercer.
Henry, quite eccentric, designed and constructed Fonthill
from reinforced concrete.
The exterior and interior of the building both reflect his
passion for the bizarre.
Here was an extremely intelligent and driven man,
always learning and always collecting artifacts
from wherever he traveled. Henry spoke
at least five different languages and earned
two degrees… one from Harvard
and a second from the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

This guy survived on only 3 hours of sleep each night.
That would allow, for most, an extra 3-4 hours of active time
every day… approximately an additional full day per week.
Just think… an eight day week…
more time to learn, to grow,
to worship, to be of service to others.
The idea is tempting… but at what cost?
I need more rest to remain at a productive level.

Saturday morning - early
(the last day of July)

It is said of Edward Weston that he arose
around 4:00 AM to focus and reflect.
”Peace again! – the exquisite hour before dawn,
here at my old desk – seldom have I
realized so keenly, appreciated so fully,
these still, dark hours.”
– Edward Weston

The way to overcome sin is not so much
to remove what the Lord says is wrong
as it is to “replace” those wrongs
with what the Lord says is right;
to replace the selfish, uncontrolled
pursuit of childish behavior with
child-like trust and obedience…
to allow the “old man”, in me, to die
and to replace him with the new man
in the likeness of Christ.

I get angry with myself, then upset,
and finally ashamed with my repeated failings.
It appears that I still have quite an appetite
for worldly pleasures and a nagging
lack of self-control.
The difference now is that over the years
I have grown, and more importantly,
I know I am forgiven through the death
and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Edward Weston, reflecting on his earlier life…
”How young I was. That covers everything.”
- Edward Weston

How young in spirit, I still am…
I am still learning to forgive myself.

Sunday, August 1st

Our pastor just recently started a new series of sermons
titled WOW - Works of Wonder.

Just think of all those times
when we are so completely amazed
that we just can’t help but say,

This reminds me of a series of books,
that I highly recommend,
by Squire Rushnell…

Monday, August 2nd

The highlight of the day was going out to dinner
with my son and daughter…
Dad’s day out with the “kids”.

We went to a Thai restaurant…
The Bangkok Wok.
This was my first experience with Thai cuisine.
I had the chicken Pineapple Curry
(Pineapple chunks simmered
in coconut milk red curry.)
Very yummy!

OK, I admit it…
I asked for the “mild” version.

Tuesday, August 3rd

My wife and I went to Roots…
a favorite farmer’s market
for fresh fruit and vegetables.

We also picked up some ham loaf…
a mixture of ground ham and ground pork
that is made similar to meatloaf.

My wife makes both a great
meatloaf and ham loaf.

We eat well!

Wednesday, August 4th

Thought about mowing the yard today
but will wait until Friday… forecast… not so
hot and humid.

My son and I went for coffee this morning
before he headed back home.

My daughter had us over
for shish kabobs on the grill.

Did I mention that we eat well?

Thursday, August 5th

Coffee out with a very good
friend today… since he is Jewish
and I am a Christian,
we occasionally, as relates to our different beliefs,
have some interesting conversations.
Whatever the topic,
it is time well spent with a great guy.

Went to the “new” gym I signed up for today…
orientation for “Silver Sneakers” program.

Read that Medicare will last
an additional 12 years from last report (maybe)…
to the year 2029.

I will be 84 by then, if not
taken by the Lord before that.

Tomorrow, it is to the gym, early, after
my devotional time. Have to work off
all that good food and keep
God’s temple fit.

Then it will be time to mow
the grass before I have
the equivalent of a wheat field.