That Salsa Jar Smell

As I reached up to the cabinet to obtain an empty jar in which to pour my newly boiled  bone broth, I opened it and took a whiff. “Yep, still smells like salsa.” I tried again with the sauerkraut jar, same thing.

However, when I smelled another jar with no lid, nothing. No smell whatsoever.  Wow, what happened?

Science teaches us that when molecules move from a high concentration area to an area with low concentration of those molecules that process is diffusion. In open space, molecules move randomly at very high speed. They collide with each other, move in other directions and after sometime they reach the state of equilibrium. At this stage the diffusion stops. The molecules get distributed equally everywhere in the space (room). But even at this stage they do not stop colliding with each other. They are moving and colliding even at equilibrium. They are just spread uniformly now. (quora.com)

In the salsa and sauerkraut jars, the concentration of the salsa and sauerkraut molecules was high since the molecules were not allowed to escape, consequently causing the jars to still be fragrant.  Not so with the lidless jar. Whatever molecules that were once there had escaped and become diffused with the air around it.  Therefore, the jar had no smell.

I often think about the things that dilute or diffuse our fragrance of the Lord.  Truly, residing in the presence of the Holy Spirit will make us more like Him.  And, its important to keep the aroma strong by not diffusing it with ways, words and influences that are not of Him.   They weaken you and make it hard for you to “…spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere,” (2 Corinthians 2:14). Surely we don’t want to be without the fragrance of Jesus.

In Mark Batterson’s book,  “The Circle Maker,” he says, “Our minds are subconsciously primed by everything that is happening all the time.” That’s why I believe we should watch out for those “spirit diffusers.”

Spending time in the presence of God–praying, singing, reading the scriptures–leaves behind the “presence of God” fragrance. Similar to the capped salsa jar, when prayer, worship, and heartfelt repentance is consistently practiced, I believe that the fruit of the spirit of love, joy,  peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control remain in high concentration.  When they are not, diffusion easily takes place.

The salsa jar I used to store my chicken bone broth still smelled like salsa long after the contents were removed.  The scriptures tell us that when the rulers and elders of Jerusalem “…saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus,” (Acts 4:13).

Do you believe they could sense the aroma of the Lord?  Many say presence, but whatever it is, it is almost tangible.  The miracle the disciples performed indicated with whom they had been. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful testimony to carry? If those who don’t know Jesus could tell that we had been with and belonged to Jesus simply by our fragrance? I think one’s eternal life is well worth it.

One of my Facebook friends wrote, “You ever get that feeling where you just want to be in God’s presence, just to sit there and not say a word, just sit there?” That, my friend, is one of the keys to getting and keeping that salsa jar, Jesus kind of smell.

 

 

Your Gift is My Gift

“My goal is to help you understand something you’ve never understood before.”–Dan Celia, founder of Financial Issues

Who doesn’t love a good rags to riches story? There is something wonderful that happens to our psyche when we hear about the humble beginnings of the wealthy and accomplished people we admire. Their stories of vision and determination give us great hope.

This morning I attended a town hall meeting as a guest of my friend.  She was familiar with the speaker, Dan Celia, but I had never heard of him.  I did my due diligence and determined that this man was someone from whom I could receive good information. A financial entrepreneur and business man, Celia started a radio ministry, Financial Issues, back in 1997 as a part-time ministry. The Lord has since blessed it to be his current full-time ministry and the show is heard in every state in America and throughout the internet globally.

The interesting thing is what transpired in those early days of the ministry.  At the meeting, Celia shared that initially, he hated the radio ministry.  He thought that it was boring, so after about two years, he wanted to stop the program. The man with whom he was working discouraged him from doing so since the show was now being heard on more stations and by more people than he thought.

“What? You didn’t tell me that the show was on all these stations!” Celia said.

Not wanting to disappoint the people who were faithfully listening to his program, he decided to continue.  The show is now featured on over 600 stations.  I began thinking about how much of a blessing he was to me in those three hours and wondered about all the other people he has blessed through his down-to-earth, simplistic style of teaching about finances and how it relates to government and the moral fiber of our nation.  He had such great insight that he encouraged me to want to learn more about how to be morally and biblically responsible with my money.

In the quote above, Celia stated at the meeting that he wants to help his listeners understand something they’ve never understood before.  He surely succeeded in that goal. I gained understanding about many things, including charitable annuities, diversification, and even about the Italian dictator Mussolini.  Overall, he helped me in my goal of gaining greater financial literacy.

He also said in the meeting that soon after he and his wife were born again, they prayed about what they would do to serve the Lord. He thought that he might be a missionary somewhere, but certainly not a pastor.

“At the end of the day, I couldn’t even remember the scripture that I had read that morning,” he shared.

But, he could, however, remember stats about the Dow Jones, workforce statistics, and a host of other financial facts.  The Lord revealed to him that that was what He wanted Celia to serve Him with.

I’m in awe and certainly thankful for how the Lord places gifts inside of all of us which He uses to bless others.  God certainly has provided us with everything we need whether it is on the earth, in the earth, or above the earth.  If we need it, God has provided it.

The Bible says in Genesis 28:14b, “All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.”  Thank God for all the offspring who have blessed me. I’m so thankful that although I still don’t completely understand all the differences between mutual funds and CD’s and term and whole insurance, I can simply refer to the teachings of Dan Celia and other financial teachers like him to help me along the way.

What Two Weeks of Cloudiness Taught Me

Let me share a bit of information about me—I LOVE sunny days!  This past week’s weather has given us more sunny days than we’ve had in a long time.  It had been cloudy for the past two weeks so when I looked outside and saw those blue skies, I considered them a gift from above–literally!

Science proves that cloudy weather affects our moods.  Winter months often produce seasonal affective disorder (SAD), or ‘winter depression,’ in many people due to the lack of serotonin. This brain hormone is associated with mood elevation and rises with exposure to bright light and falls with decreased sun exposure.

Studies suggest, for instance, that on sunny days people help each other more and leave more generous tips when eating at restaurants. One French study found women were more receptive to giving their phone number to an attractive stranger on sunny days compared to cloudy days, providing their number 22 percent of the time and 14 percent of the time, respectively. (www.drmercola.com)

Recently, we had another two-week spell of cloudy skies.  It was hard for me not to succumb to the rainy day doldrums.  Thankfully, the Lord used those times to encourage me.

Appreciation

We all know that it is human nature to take things for granted.  I mean, how often do we thank God that we are not in pain? For a stable floor to walk on? What about hot water?   During those two sunless weeks, the Holy Spirit reminded me about appreciation.  If it’s always sunny, our appreciation of sunny days tends to wane.  In fact, when we lived in El Paso, where it is sunny 90% of the time, people (myself included) grew to welcome an occasional rainstorm.  Cloudy days help our appreciation of the sun.

Imagination

It’s easy to be happy when circumstances around you are favorable and going your way. It’s another thing, though, when they are not.  How we behave when things are not circumstantially advantageous tells a lot about what’s inside of us.  In fact, when we are ‘squeezed,’ by bad news, uncooperative co-workers and family members and unexpected events, the words we release and attitudes we display indicate what is inside of us. During those cloudy days, I had to work to not let my emotions react to what was around me.  I was forced to dig deep, both to express appreciation, and to imagine the good things which are to come.  Sometimes we have to close our eyes and see within the good that God has planned for us, despite the clouds without.

In addition to imagining good things that are to come, I also started imagining what the rain could be doing to my dreams.  We all know that ‘January showers bring forth Spring flowers,’ but sometimes we need just a little more encouragement.  One day while walking outside, I began to think of the rain as watering my dreams. In other words, I imagined that the rain was not only watering the ground, but my dreams as well.  This helped me to get a positive view of what I was experiencing so that I could push past the looming dreary emotions.

There’s almost always another way to look at things.  Those that tend (or strive)  to look at the bright side of things are typically called optimists, but fourteen consecutive days of rain and clouds could put a damper even on their parade.  I’m thankful I have another Son to trust in when the sun is not shining.

 

 

 

 

 

Leave the (Mouse) Trap Out

About two months after moving into our home in Virginia, my daughter spotted a mouse while sitting in my office upstairs.
My husband broke the news to me and I wanted to make sure she wasn’t just seeing things.
“Did you actually see a mouse or something out the corner of your eye?” I hoped.
“Ok, could it have been a big bug?”  I inquired. “Maybe you were just sleepy.”
All of my attempts to reason away the possibility of a mouse being in my house, not to mention MY office, were dismissed.
My husband clearly let me know that getting rid of this mouse was my job.  After all, I had ridded our home of an entire family of these rodents when he was deployed to Afghanistan several years prior.
I was not going to allow a mouse to live in my house, so I promptly set two traps–one in the attic and one in the kitchen– where I too had seen a mouse late one night.
One afternoon after walking up the stairs to get sleeping bags for a camping trip, what do I see,  a slain mouse!  I was so excited!
The second trap in the kitchen didn’t prove to be so successful.  I was discouraged after waking up several mornings to an empty mousetrap.  I figured that it was not secluded enough, so I moved it from the kitchen to underneath the stairs in the garage and forgot about it.
Several days (or weeks) later, my daughter was putting on her shoes and said, “Mom, we caught a mouse.”
I was so shocked that I went to look myself and surely, dominion had occurred again!  I was thrilled!
Afterwards, my mind went to prayer.  I thought about how often we pray prayers and forget about them.  The Bible says that before we ask, God will answer (Isaiah 65:24). Our Father intimately knows our thoughts and desires and He wants to give us what we truly want.
This brings me to a desire I had several years ago while my husband was still in the Army.  I had heard of a few people’s wonderful experiences with being stationed in Germany. While speaking with a friend who spoke of the unity shared among her friends while she was in Germany, I exclaimed out loud, “I want to go to Germany too!”
I never remember praying about it, but the Lord heard me and knew my desire.  A few years later my husband comes home and tells me that we had an opportunity to go to Germany. We took it, and we went! It took me by surprise and it definitely happened a lot sooner than I had expected.  I am so grateful for the opportunity to live overseas.
Getting back to leaving the trap out, although I didn’t intentionally pray about going to Germany,  I’m so glad that I didn’t negate my desire with words of discouragement, doubt or unbelief.
“Oh well, we’ll probably never go to Germany. We are just not that lucky.”
No, “I left the trap out,” and “caught” my answer to prayer.  The Bible says for a man that wavers in his mind not to expect to receive anything from the Lord (James 1:6-8).  In other words, if he believes one day and doubts the next, he won’t receive anything.  It also says that whatsoever things we ask in prayer, believe that we will receive them and we will (Matthew 21:22).
New York Times bestselling author Mark Batterson said in his book, The Circle Maker, that our prayers are like our tears that God collects in His bottle (Psalm 56:8).  He wrote:
“Your life is in His hands, and your prayers are in His bottle. And like a message in a bottle, your prayers are carried by the current of His sovereign will. When and where they will land no one knows. But those bottled prayers will be unsealed in God’s time, in God’s way.”
This encourages me tremendously! God wants to answer our prayers, but we must believe that He wants to give us the desires of our hearts that are in accordance to His will.  We must not let negative thoughts and words keep us from receiving what God wants us to have.  Sometimes it takes a lot of work, and sometimes it just takes us putting the prayer out and later catching the mouse.

It’s Snowing!

The weather forecast promised it. My daughter prayed for it and now, it was finally here…SNOW!  I sat on the couch in my office savoring the last moments of my morning quiet time. I knew it wouldn’t be long before my youngest daughter would come in, speak excitedly about the snow and, you guessed it…ask me to play with her in it.

“I don’t really like the cold so I’m doing this for you,” I reminded her as I bundled up. There was about six inches of puffy, dry snow on the ground.  After a couple of cartwheels in the snow and jumps on the trampoline, we went back in and I suggested a walk.  My daughter agreed and recommended the playground. We hadn’t even reached the main road when she suggested that we go back home.

“Are you cold?” I asked, knowing the answer when a closer look told me that she wasn’t properly bundled up.

“Yes,” she answered, pulling me toward home.

As we walked back, I saw a few neighbor children playing in the snow. I thought about the hundreds of neighbors that remained in the comfort of their warm homes, enjoying the stay-at-home-and-go-nowhere-day.  Still others were already outside brushing the snow off their cars and shoveling the driveways. And, of course there were the complainers who were neither enjoying the snow or refusing to let it stop them.

This made me think about people in life regarding their relationships with Christ.  Many people are like those children, just thrilled to get out and experience something new and beautiful.  Unfortunately, without the guidance of their parents, many children would be ill-prepared to face the potential dangers of freezing precipitation. Even two of my middle-schooled aged daughters were preparing to go outside in…tennis shoes?  Don’t you think they would know better by now?  They needed the guidance and foresight of someone wiser to help them have a more pleasant experience.

When we embark upon a relationship with Christ, we really don’t have a clue what is ahead.  Without the guidance of pastors, the Bible, friends, and the Holy Spirit Himself, we are ill-prepared to take on the most important and life-altering journey of our lives.  We can’t do as my daughters did, wear tennis shoes and think that everything will be OK.  No, it requires a different type of mental and spiritual preparation to go at it and be successful.  Otherwise, we may find ourselves turning back to go “home” to the familiarity of life without Christ.

Despite the beauty and tranquility of a snowfall, there are many who simply do not like it.  It inconveniences them, makes them do extra work, and interrupts their plans.  Instead of taking some time to thank God for how He skillfully brought beauty to this aspect of weather, they spend precious words and energy complaining about it.  Neither admiring its beauty or tackling the challenge, they stay bound in the house, and miserable. Unfortunately, many neither admire the beauty of a genuine relationship with Christ, or take the leap to get involved to see what this life is all about.  It won’t always be convenient, but rest assured, it will profit  you the best rewards of peace, security, and joy this side of heaven.

If you haven’t surrendered your will to get in an authentic relationship with Christ, what’s holding you back? Those who woke up Saturday morning and got out the snow blowers and shovels received a far greater reward than those who chose to sit and complain.  They received the goal, the prize, of getting where they wanted to go.

Where do you want to go, not just after life, but during?  Do you want to go to Peaceful Highway? What about Forgiveness Street?  Security Lane seems wonderful and Companionship Road, Joy Boulevard and Guidance Terrace still have vacancies as well. Don’t complain about what is, what isn’t, or even what was, especially in someone else’s life.  Get out there and embrace your own relationship with God with all you have. Although it won’t always be easy, you can still rest and enjoy the beauty of His work in your life, as well as a cup of hot chocolate, any time you want.

 

 

 

Jesus and Trump: Dividers of the People

I am not a political person, would not normally write about politics, and care not to discuss politics outside of my family, but I was reading a verse of scripture one morning that directed my thoughts so clearly to this election that it was hard to ignore.

I am not a political person, would not normally write about politics, and care not to discuss politics outside of my family, but I was reading a verse of scripture one morning that directed my thoughts so clearly to this election that it was hard to ignore.

Here is the scripture:

John 7:12-13 (NIV) “Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about him [Jesus]. Some said, ‘He is a good man.’ Others replied, ‘No, he deceives the people.’ But no one would say anything publicly about him for fear of the Jews.”

I thought that it was interesting that some said that Jesus was a “good” man while others felt He was a deceiver.  Clearly, He could not be both.  Although the scriptures do not clearly state this, but I believe that both groups of people saw the same miracles that Jesus performed with a pure heart.  How can one group of people perceive His good works as “good” and another as “deceiving?”  The answer, I believe, lies in the lenses one wears.

One teacher who regularly taught at the church I attended in Nashville said that we all wear proverbial lenses that affect what we believe, think, see and how we act and vote.  These lenses are formed based on our upbringing, culture, experiences and even our decisions.  In other words, two people can see the same blue sky and one with yellow tinted glasses could say, “Oh no, the sky is green.”

Transitioning to the upcoming election, I have heard the facts regarding Trump and Secretary Clinton and as a believer, my choice is clear. Aside from the legal allegations against Secretary Clinton, Trump wants to defund Planned Parenthood, the largest provider of abortions in the US.  This organization also provides partial  birth abortions.  Look up how this procedure is performed and you will see that this is murder. I appreciate the fact that Trump has pro-life views and wants to appoint and confirm pro-life judges. Trump also wants to protect biblical religious conscience and he supports school choice including private schools.

Personally I want to vote for the person who has some concern for the will of God.  Has he said some things in his past that he now regrets?  Who hasn’t? When voting, personality is often hailed or disdained, but I vote principles.  I have viewed Trump on CBN’s the 700 Club and heard him speak of his concerns for the unborn and his heart for prayer. I have heard his honest heart for America and have seen him receive prayer from true men of God with like beliefs and consciousness. These issues are important to me.

Facts are facts. The scriptures tell us that the people were “divided because of Jesus.”  If the people were divided because of Jesus, can we expect no less from a presidential candidate?  God’s people may be divided because of a candidate, but, after the elections, I believe we’ll come back together in prayer, in worship and in serving God.

Whether you vote for Trump or Secretary Clinton, you are still my brother or sister in Christ, if you believe in Jesus as your Savior. I do, however, like to present facts and allow facts to speak for themselves. Jesus said in John 7:24, “Stop judging by mere appearances and make a right judgement.” 

Only God can help us make a right judgement.