Melinda’s Inspiration

June 5th is Cancer Survivors Day…

and my sister Melinda, has a compelling story!  This story is told from the viewpoint of a brother, so there are personal details missing that only she can share. That being said, the story begins with our Mother. She was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer years earlier. She did the radiation and the chemicals, and there was much prayer. Her struggle ended with a heavenly victory. Though she is no longer with us, we know that she is healed, and in the presence of her Savior.

Fast-forward 20+ years.

…for the rest of the story, you can read it by clicking here!

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Well, that’s all for now. Please feel free to check back soon for another installment of REDD-INK!

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So, What’s Good Friday and Easter All About?

To answer this, we need to think about what Jesus did and what the Bible says about why He did it!

What Jesus did:  Jesus died on the cross as a sacrifice for the sin that separates people from their creator. That creator is God! Everyone who lives has this sin problem.

Why He did it:  So, God’s plan to have our sin problem solved was to have a perfect sacrifice that would be more than sufficient! This sacrifice had to be a perfectly righteous individual, unstained by sin. That way, He could take our sin and we could obtain His righteousness! This perfect sacrifice was Jesus, God’s perfect Son. This happened on the cross on a Friday…THAT WAS GOOD FRIDAY!

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Jesus did not stay in that grave! On the third day, Sunday, He rose! Victorious over sin, death, and the grave, this same Jesus, Who served as our sin-substitute, conquered all that we could not…and He rose from the grave…THIS IS EASTER!

Matthew 28v6 RISEN

I wish for you a wonderful Easter celebration…HE IS RISEN, HE IS RISEN INDEED!

Want to know more?  Watch the “Come to Jesus” video here. Love Worth Finding, the media ministry of Dr. Adrian Rogers put this together…I think you will find it most helpful! Also, I would love to hear your thoughts about Good Friday and Easter!

I want to thank LWF.org for the video link and Visual Copy / LOGOS Bible Software for the graphics!

Well, that’s all for now. Please feel free to check back soon for another installment of REDD-INK!

Acquiring Wisdom for Life (1)

I remember being asked as a teenager if I liked hot coffee. I said that I did not. The reply came, ‘well, it is an acquired taste.’ What does that mean?

An acquired taste often refers to an appreciation for a food or beverage that is unlikely to be enjoyed by a person who has not had substantial exposure to it, usually because of some unfamiliar aspect of the food or beverage.

One dictionary said an acquired taste is one that is unpleasant on immediate experience or is likable only after being experienced repeatedly.

After several cups of coffee I developed an acquired taste for coffee!

Did you know that wisdom can be acquired? That’s what Proverbs tells us, “The beginning of wisdom is: Acquire wisdom; And with all your acquiring, get understanding.” in Proverbs 4:7.

The Wisdom We Need

Vs1, “But if any of you lacks wisdom” (NAS)


 

Wisdom We Need


 

 

If we want to know the meaning of this passage, we must know what is meant by the term ‘wisdom’ as used here. Proverbs tells us much of wisdom and you may recall that the ‘fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom’. As it is used here in James, it clearly means more than knowledge, intellectual ability, cleverness or education.

Lets face it, we all know people that have all that and still are totally inadequate to deal with life’s deepest problems. They are powerless to deal with spiritual issues. This is a biblical wisdom that aligns biblical knowledge with spiritual faith, this wisdom is the essence of a readiness to submit to God and His ways in each of life’s events or circumstances. This is the ability to see life from God’s perspective and then to respond in accordance with His word!

Look back one verse to verse 4 with ‘lacking in nothing’ and now we start verse 5 with the words ‘if anyone lacks wisdom’! Here James is saying when you find yourself needing wisdom, not if! Be sure of this, there will be a time when you will find yourself in a trial or when trouble comes you will find you need wisdom.

On average, when a trial hits you, what do you do?

Well, if it’s a trial that you have gone through before, you may recall what God taught you before and act on that wisdom. However, if it is a new trial, you may well find yourself sliding into a state of confusion, perhaps even becoming bitter over the circumstances you find yourself messed up in.

Perhaps you have tried and tried to get yourself out of the pit and you have failed to free yourself from the problems. Friend, you have forgotten to call on the only Source you will ever need!

The solution, the remedy for some reason escapes us, at times. But, like the prodigal son, we come to our senses and remember the One who loves us and we will then turn to God and pray, “HELP!”

Perhaps you need wisdom today. If this word from the New Testament book of James has ministered to you, I would love to hear about it!  Please feel free to comment!

Well, that’s all for now. Please feel free to check back soon for another installment of REDD-INK!

Tactics for Troubling Times (5)

This is the fifth installment looking at the first chapter of the book of James in the NT and focusing on the wisdom we can have toward the troubles in our lives. So far, we have looked at:

  • A Reasoning to Embrace
  • A Relationship to Encourage
  • A Reality to Encounter
  • A Resolution for Endurance

James has just given us the first reason for considering our troubles and trials as joy. In this passage, he continues providing the ultimate reason we should consider the trials of our lives as JOY! When we look at these undesirable events in our lives more closely, and through a different lens, we see there is:

A Result That Is Eternal

Vs. 4, “And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (NAS)


Troubling Times James 1_4Here we the second reason to consider it our pure, chief joy in life to encounter trials and that is: that we are made ‘perfect and complete, lacking in nothing’ which is strong language here! Does this mean we are to become perfect and sinless in this life? NO!

It is not an easy concept to grasp is it. But there is coming a day, my dear friend, when we will see first hand the truth that James is describing that is also written of in 1 John 3:2, “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him because we will see Him just as He is.” (NAS)

We are not there yet! Oh but one day! We will know and enjoy our completeness in Christ! Paul told the church at Corinth, in 2 Corinthians 4:17, “For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison.” (NAS) Later on in chapter 11 of 2 Corinthians Paul gives a listing of his ‘light affliction’ with a list that truly sounds almost unbearable to us today!

James is encouraging the dispersed Christians of his day, as well as today, that people who endure trials with faith in God can develop every trait needed for spiritual victory. An outlook like this naturally describes trials as an occasion for one’s chief, pure joy.

One example from the OT is seen in the life of Joseph. He was betrayed by his own brothers, taken to Egypt and sold to a man named Potiphar. Potiphar’s wife betrayed both her husband and Joseph (Gen. 39:1–20), and Joseph was sent to jail. There he befriended the Pharaoh’s cup bearer. In God’s plan Joseph became second only to Pharaoh in all of Egypt. Because of a famine, Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt to get grain and discovered that the brother they had mistreated was now in charge! When they asked for forgiveness what do you think Joseph’s reply was?

Genesis 50: 19-20, “Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.” (NAS)

Enduring all those trials produced something in Joseph! He had endured and persevered. Joseph was granted a maturity to see God’s intentions and the greater good! In the life of the believer, this testimony of endurance glorifies our great Savior Jesus Christ! Listen to Peter’s words:

1 Peter 1:6-7, “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (NAS)

Q: When was the last time you looked at the proof of your faith?

Think about the life of faith that you are living at this moment.

Q: Is it the kind of faithful living that will be found to result in praise and glory and honor if Jesus Christ were to return this very hour?

How can we live that way? Please share with me ways we can grow in our spiritual lives so they result in praise and glory and honor to Jesus!

Well, that’s all for now. Please feel free to check back soon for another installment of REDD-INK!

Tactics for Troubling Times (4)

This is the fourth installment looking at the first chapter of the book of James in the NT and focusing on the wisdom we can have toward the troubles in our lives. So far, we have looked at:

  • A Reasoning to Embrace
  • A Relationship to Encourage
  • A Reality to Encounter

Now we come to the section of scripture that begins to offer a basis for considering our troubles and trials as joy. When we look at these undesirable events in our lives more closely, and through a different lens, we see there is:

A Resolution for Endurance

Vs. 3, “knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” (NAS)


The first reason for joy in the Lord is found in verse 3, basically, when our faith is tested it develops endurance or perseverance! James begins here with the word for ‘knowing’ and it is different from the first word of verse 2, ‘consider’, though they both involve the mind. ‘Consider’ is more concerned with how we are reasoning, whereas ‘knowing’ is having an assured or certain knowledge. We are to know that when our faith goes through testing it ‘produces’ or it does something, it brings about something in our lives.

Troubling Times James 1_3(1)

James goes on to finish the verse with the object being produced or brought about…endurance, or some versions translate, perseverance. The original Greek word for ‘endurance’ actually means ‘patient endurance’ and carries the idea of having the capacity to hold out or bear up in the face of difficulty. (Greek-English Lexicon)

Paul emphasized this in Romans 5:3, “And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance” (NAS)

The author or Hebrews expresses it in terms of a runner in a race, Hebrews 12:1-3, “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (NAS)

I’ve heard a distance runner talk of the experience as “hitting the wall.” In a marathon, there comes a point in the race, long before the finish, where the muscles are hurting and your body wants to stop, but you don’t. The trained, experienced, prepared runner, will continue running the race, the pain is understood, and the runner negotiates with his body to continue on.

Q: Has life dealt you so many trials that you have ‘hit the wall’ and you feel like you have to stop, the finish line is just too far?

James wrote these words under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, knowing everyone feels this way, has felt this way, or will soon have these very same feelings. You are not alone! As Christians, we have the fellowship of other believers, as well as the indwelling Holy Spirit to come along side of us during such times in life. We also have the assurance that these trials will build us up and we will develop endurance. Making it through troubles and trials is the essence of endurance or perseverance. This is an important part of the Christian life…every Christian’s life!

I want to invite you to share how God has brought you through the past year of your life. I am confident, as you look back over the previous year, you will see His hand at work in your life and circumstances!

Well, that’s all for now. Please feel free to check back soon for another installment of REDD-INK!

Tactics for Troubling Times (3)

This is our third installment looking at the first chapter of the book of James in the NT and focusing on the wisdom we can have toward the troubles in our lives. We began by looking at A Reasoning to Embrace and then A Relationship to Encourage!

Now we come to a reality that we all must face. There are some folks who believe they can escape trials by being good…or some other notion. Listen friend, trials and troubles in life are a:

A Reality to Encounter

Vs. 2, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials” (NAS)


Well, you can’t miss it, James says, “when” not “if”…and isn’t he right! All of God’s children go through troubling times. I’ve heard it said, ‘If you are not in a trial at the moment, you have either just come out of one, or you are about to go into one.’ You’ve heard that too I’m sure!

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The word for ‘encounter’ means ‘to fall among or to fall into; and carries the meaning that these are not events that we schedule, but they happen to us in sudden ways, when we are not aware.‘ They are never pleasing or pleasurable to go through are they? These are the type of events that don’t normally lead us into ‘pure or chief joy’.

James calls them ‘various trials’. James discusses two types of trials in this chapter, those sent from God to help build and grow us in our faith and walk. Secondly, there are those sent by Satan to make us fail and weaken us in our faith. Hershel Hobbs said, “The ups and downs of the highway make the journey interesting.” Paul reminds us that trials and testing are common to man.

1Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” (NAS)

Trials’ here speaks of those distresses in life that come to us from outside our lives and sometimes from within, but either way God has a purpose or plan for them. The word for trials is sometimes translated ‘temptations’ elsewhere in scripture.

Often trials in our lives bring about an initial sadness, perhaps even despair. This initial emotion can be effectively dealt with simply as a matter of perspective. A quote that I’ve heard for many years and we don’t know who originally penned it,

I walked a mile with Pleasure, She chatted me all the way, But I was none the wiser For what she had to say. I walked a mile with Sorrow, And ne’er a word said she, But O the things I learned from her When Sorrow walked with me.”   Anonymous

Q: Have you come to the realization that life is filled with trials?

Q: How long does it take you to see the trial(s) from God’s perspective and not your own?

Trials come in all manner and forms…but one thing is for sure: since trials are experienced by everyone, they are a reality to encounter!

I would love to hear from you on this topic. What makes it so difficult to see our trials as blessings?  Please share your ideas with me!

Well, that’s all for now. Please feel free to check back soon for another installment of REDD-INK!

Tactics for Troubling Times (2)

I think we have all come to understand something:

No one escapes troubling times!

We began our walk through a passage in the New Testament book of James in order to gain wisdom for dealing with the troubles of yesterday, today, and for tomorrow. We looked at James 1:2a “Consider it all joy” to begin to see “A Reasoning to Embrace” (click to see post).  Now we come to the next part of that verse and learn:

A Relationship to Encourage

Vs. 2, “Consider it all joy, my brethren” (NAS)


 

Normally, when we see the term ‘brethren’ we know that he is addressing fellow Christians. But, a number of sources I researched mentioned the use of this term as having some further significance. It is a very intimate term that extends a meaning much deeper than mere friendship.

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The Greek term, ‘adelphos, means ‘one born from the same womb’ which is worth further discussion.

I have two sisters and one brother. We all have the same father and mother. It doesn’t matter what may happen, Cindy and Melinda will forever be my sisters and Ronny my brother…nothing can change that!

James is fond of using this term, in fact, as we go through the book of James we’ll see it about 18+  times. This is a unifying term, emphasizing the connection we have in Christ cannot be separated. Paul uses this same idea with the Christians living in Rome:

Romans 12:4-5, “For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” (NAS)

Often it is in the trials and troubles of life that we feel so alone. We think, surely no one knows what I’m going through and no one even cares!

Q: Is that the way you feel today as you read this post?

The truth is, for the Christian, nothing could be farther from the truth! To the Christian reader I say, wherever you are and in whatever circumstance you find yourself, in Christ you have a family that is connected with you and always will be! “My brethren” – we are family!

I would love to hear from you on this topic. Have you found practical ways to change your frame of reference from one of loneliness to one of ‘family’ when you go through difficult times?  Please share your ideas with me!

Well, that’s all for now. Please feel free to check back soon for another installment of REDD-INK!