A Time to Die

I’m up to the third chapter of Ecclesiastes in my lectio divina study and the phrase that catches my attention is that we all have “a time to die.”  Ecclesiastes 3:2.  Death is all over the news these days — what celebrity has contracted the virus and died;  what the death toll is throughout the United States and the world;  what are the biggest “risk factors” that increase your odds of dying from this scary disease.  People are worried about what to do.  Should we wear masks all of the time?  Only inside?  Only in crowds?  Should we refrain from as much social contact as possible?  And now, a new question — is it safe to get the vaccine?

According to the Bible we all have a time to die, and God is the one who is in charge.  Here are some verses that support this conclusion:

“And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?”  Matthew 6:27

 

“Since his days are determined, and the number of his months is with you, and you have appointed his limits that he cannot pass….”  Job: 14:5

 

“My times are in your hand …”  Psalm 31:15

Now I am not saying we should take crazy risks, or pay no attention to doing things that are healthy and increase your ability to stay well.  Caring for our body is part of good stewardship — it is one of the things God has given to us.  I am saying it’s wrong to get obsessed or fearful about the many things that can end our lives.  This is simply another way of turning in upon ourselves and it has a name:  SIN.

There is also an outer limit to the normal human life span:

“The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty ….” Psalm 90:10

Guess what, I am already there, so any days I have left are indeed a gift from God!  At this stage of my life I can easily say along with Paul, “to live is Christ, to die is gain.”  Philippians 1:21.  I’ve accomplished the major tasks of life, and when I die, I’ll be free of all my aches, pains, and worries as I enjoy the presence of God.

There is one piece of advice that God gives about extending our life:

“The fear of the Lord prolongs life …”  Prov. 10:27

 

“And if you walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments… then I will lengthen your days.”  1 Kings 3:14

So, wear your masks;  avoid large gatherings, but don’t worry. Don’t give up attending church and studying the Bible;  don’t give up serving others. The best way to stay healthy is to fear God and follow His teachings.

For more on the book of Ecclesiastes see:

Hoping for Something New?

Ecclesiastes Chapter 2 — What Stands Out

Ecclesiastes 3:3

 

 

 

 

The Helpfulness Habit

  • A study conducted by York University last year asked people to behave helpfully to another person for a few minutes a day.  After six months, participants reported a higher sense of self esteem and happiness.
  • In general, people who make a habit of helping others report better health and seniors who do volunteer work live longer.

Just a coincidence, you say?  Maybe those who are likely to help others are in better health to begin with?  Well, that’s possible.  I choose to think that God made us to serve others, and when we do that we become closer to Him and to His original perfect plan for humankind.

About seven months ago, I started attending a “Prevent Diabetes” class.  I don’t really like to exercise, but one of the goals was to do some sort of moderate physical activity for 150 minutes a week.  I started with doing exercise segments or walking for about 10-15 minutes at a time.  Over time, I’ve increased my minutes and I now exercise for about an hour each day.  I lost weight and I feel better.  Exercise has become a habit. Now I want to do it. It’s become part of my daily routine.

So why not start a helpfulness habit?  Like me and my exercise plan, you can start small.  Resolve to thank every person who serves you in some way — the waitress, the store clerk, your husband.  Send some cheerful notes, cards, or emails.  Help a neighbor carry in the groceries.  Take some soup to a shut-in.  Pretty soon, you’ll find you feel better and serving others has become a normal part of daily life;  and guess what, your spiritual life will improve as well.

Be the person God created you to be.  Serve others.

Kids Today

Anyone that has teenagers or younger kids probably knows that phones (as it were) are a big part of life. Back in my day . . . our phones were just that, phones. And they weren’t very portable. In fact a lot of them still mounted to the wall. And then there were those that sat on the counter. Still you were limited to the distance of the cord.

But I acquiesce, now its different. There is a world of information at your fingertips. Some good, some bad. Lately I’ve noticed a good trend, a musical one. Many of the games are based on a music. And the music that plays is largely classical. As they tap on the screen in time with the tune they’re immersed in wordless melodies. I think its a wonderful way to re-introduce our next generation to something besides glamour based hip hop. (Not that I haven’t indulged myself on  occasion.) But there is study after study that shows how classical music in particular, has various benefits to our human brains.

Do I know the science of it? Absolutely not. But I know that when I listen to music, something happens. There’s always at least an emotional reaction, and often if it hits home, I get literal chills. Y’all know what I mean right? Everybody has felt it. Everybody has that one song. That has to be God given.

And we may never know why exactly, but God seems to have given us this beautiful gift not solely for entertainment, but in part at least to inspire, and heal. In fact music is so important to God, He created Psalms. A large collection of music mostly written by a beloved warrior king. (I’d love to be able to go back in time to hear how they were originally meant to be heard.)

So while kids today have it pretty good, and technology is scary, God will always want to share His wonders with His children. And that’s pretty cool.

Aim Higher — Think Smaller

I am posting this for one of our church members, Becky, who does not use the computer.

Temperance means to be self-disciplined — eating healthy foods, including the avoidance of eating more than our bodies require, as well as the wrong types of food.  Reduced calorie intake is best achieved with a low fat, whole foods diet.  We need to think about what we put into our mouths, eat the food God made and stay away from foods that are man made (processed foods high in sugar and fat).  Body, mind, and spirit interact with each other, so we all have a responsibility to keep the all healthy.  Thanks be to God who gives us our daily bread.

See the source image

More Manna

“Each of them gathered as much as they could eat.  And Moses said to them, “let no one leave any of it over till the morning.’  But they did not listen to Moses.  Some left part of it till the morning, and it bread worms and stank.  And Moses was angry with them.”  Exodus 16:19-20

Julian Green was an American author, who wrote a number of novels, and is also known for his Diaries which chronicle his personal and religious life.  This quote from a 1941 diary entry gives his thoughts on how the verses above relate to how we should read Scripture:

“The story of the manna gathered and set aside by the Hebrews is deeply significant.  It so happened that the manna rotted when it was kept.  And perhaps this means that all spiritual reading which is not consumed–by prayer and by works–ends by causing a sort of rotting inside us.  You die with a head full of fine sayings and a perfectly empty heart.”

Image result for images of manna from heaven

We’re fond of saying, “you are what you eat,” as a way of reminding ourselves that eating healthy foods will lead to a strong, vigorous body, while a diet of junk causes obesity, diabetes, heart disease and a myriad of health problems.  In the case of the Bible, we should become what we eat.  When we nourish ourselves with God’s word, it should make us into a “new man” (or woman).  We should allow that good food, to manifest itself in a good life.

What have you been eating lately?  Has it had any effect on your life?

Give — It’s Good For You, too

Image result for images of giving is good for youBecause I spent many years working for a hospital (as a buyer), I became interested in health issues.  Many Christian virtues have a positive effect on our health.  For example, patients who are prayed for do better after surgery than those who are not.  Gratitude helps lift depression.  Here’s what all found out about giving:

We all know giving helps others, whether we volunteer for organizations, offer emotional support to those around us or donate to charities. But studies show that giving is also good for the giver — boosting physical and mental health.

Studies find these health benefits associated with giving:

I don’t get what I deserve.

What I deserve is Hell. Really, the ten commandments show me how true that is. According to law, I deserve nothing but punishment for the sins that I can’t help but commit. I’m selfish, I’m an ungrateful child, I’m inconsiderate . . . A glutton. For sure Sarah, the christian is not an iota better than her peers.

Yet for all my shortcomings, what makes me different is that I know something. I know Christ Jesus came and redeemed me. Linkin Park sings in one of my favorite songs,

“So let mercy come and wash away
What I’ve done
I’ll face myself to cross out what I’ve become
Erase myself
And let go of what I’ve done”
I wonder if they knew that Jesus is Mercy? I wonder if they knew when they wrote these words that Jesus does and did, wash away what we’ve done? I wonder too if they knew that they didn’t have to face themselves alone. Cuz, when we are left alone to meditate on our mistakes, it is truly unbearable. I certainly hope everyone comes to have the knowledge, that erasing ones self and letting go of what we’ve done, is only fully possible when Jesus does it for us. I know I deserve hell and the pain that comes with it. I also know (through the Holy Spirit) that Jesus saved me from that fate.
Thank the Lord almighty I don’t get what I deserve.
That being said, you now understand (I think) my perspective when I tell you that as I cancelled my appointment for a Spinal Cord Simulator ( https://www.spine-health.com/video/spinal-cord-stimulator-implant-video ) I did with faith. Faith that God knows what I go through. Faith that God is using my story for His good. Faith that one day I will get better than I deserve.
I passed the tests, I got approved, and it wasn’t enough. We came ten percent shy of being able to get it done. And time is almost out. Next year begins new deductibles and new hope. It’ll get done, or it won’t. And tomorrow me and my gimpy leg will wake up and move. I know what I deserve. And I know I’ve got it good. No one but God and I can see my pain, and that holds true with many others out there suffering and struggling with whatever.
 2 Corinthians 11:29&30
  29″ Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not burn with indignation? 30 If I must boast, I will boast about the things that show my weakness. “
Philippians 1:21
“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

 

No pain, no gain.

I’m gonna be totally honest. I don’t know what this month’s theme is. Sorry, I’m doing good these days to know what day it is. (Which literally happened, in the middle of class, announced out loud . . .) Things have been a little hectic, but bearable, and I of course know how immensely blessed I am. I don’t want to appear as though I’m whining. I’m well aware that I’m not the only ‘older-mother-of-three-going-back-to-school-and-working-part-time-person’ out there. And others have it much harder I’m sure. I’m leaving something out though. And I believe what I’m leaving out  might encourage someone else.

I have struggled for a long time with back pains and problems. Please no sympathy. It’s given me perspective and gratitude. At 29-30 years old (I can’t remember exactly.) I suffered a massive rupture. God provided for me that day with an attentive husband, he noticed I was hurting more than usual and stayed home to help. I slipped off the bed I was trying to get out of to make it to the couch (with my husbands help) and it was enough to leave me paralyzed from the waist down. I couldn’t feel either of my legs and (long story short) had surgery which gave me a lot of relief,  but permanent nerve damage and a modicum of weakness remained.

Five and a half years later I’ve had a new symptom, swelling. And I can do less physically than before. A whole day of work over the summer doing the wrong things and it takes me a day to recover, with the help of some strong pain meds. I’ve tried physical therapy, Ice/Heat, pain pills, exercises,  nerve medicine, (I hated that) and currently I have a compression sock and back brace. The sock helps with swelling and the pain a bit. Not to mention I sit with pillows and pick things up with my feet or a grabber. I’m rambling I know, but I’m going somewhere I promise. Well now I’ve had another MRI. Nothing ‘new’ per say. But put my MRI’s side by side and I look like a burn victim on the inside. I am technically healed. Except the scar tissue is part of the problem. And the part of my back that malfunctioned is now riddled with arthritis. I have been diagnosed with degenerative disc disease. No surprise to me.

Like I said, no pity. I have hope. Mainly in God and the after life, but earthly hope as well. There is a device called a spinal cord simulator. SCS is two wires (leads) they insert into your spinal canal that is attached to a battery pack. There’s a remote with various settings that you control. The whole thing is designed to send electrical currents through you blocking your body’s abnormal pain signals therefore providing relief.

I’m waiting on approval for a trial period to test this out. And I know I have lots of people praying for me. So I hang on to hope and faith, and get up every morning and put one foot in front of the other. God is good.

I

New Month/New Theme

Since I didn’t get any suggestions for an August theme, I decided to continue with another aspect of the unity theme:  relationships.  If we go back to the beginning of humankind, in the book of Genesis, we see that God created us to be in relationship with Him and with each other.  These relationships were to be true unions meant to foster wholeness and health.  When sin entered the world, all this changed.  Adam becomes fearful of God and tries to avoid Him;  He and Eve blame each other for the unfortunate state of affairs created by their misdeeds.  Instead of wholeness, we find brokenness;  instead of health, disease and death.

The Bible is a book about relationships:  God and His people, men and wives, siblings, parents and children, teachers and students, kings and subjects.  Feel free, ladies to explore all of them!  How are your relationships going?  What helps keep relationships strong?  What hinders or hurts relationships?  Can broken relationships be restored?

There are an unlimited number of ideas to discuss, and everyone is also free to go “off topic” as the Spirit leads.  Happy blogging!

Battle of the Bulge

The topic of this month reminds me of something that I change more than anything else in my life: my diet. As many thirty-something woman know, the quest to remain thin, pretty, and ‘young’ often pervades our minds to the point of obsession. We no longer have that long-missed metabolism that allows us to eat double hamburgers and coke without the thought of weight gain. As a result, I have tried almost every diet possible to obtain my previously thin frame. I have been a Cross Fit athlete, ate nothing but protein bars and chicken, been vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and almost everything else in between. It is practically a running joke with my family. At every visit, they have to inquire as to what my current ‘taboo’ foods are. Well, on my last visit, my family and I discussed a passage from 1 Peter, Chapter Three:

3 Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear, but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.

Although perhaps not directly related to dieting, this scripture does make me think of the sins of vanity and pride. I am a happily married woman, healthy, and able-bodied. Focusing on outward appearances is not what God wants from us. God wants for us to believe in his word, follow his commandments, and above all, to be in service to others through him. This verse reminds to pay attention to the important things in my life. Time on a scale could be better spent calling up a neighbor to check on them. An hour fixing my hair and make-up would be better spent communing with friends and family. As stated by a Facebook Meme that I once read: Mother Theresa was not worried about the size of her thighs- she had things to do! With this in mind, I work daily to improve myself in the way that God would want, not in the way that my sinful self seeks. After all, when I stand at the gates of heaven, I don’t expect to be asked to weigh in! :))