By Marty Norman –
Storytelling is a gift. Some people have it and some don’t. I don’t, though I’ve wished for it since I was a child. I just never felt equipped.
That’s why, when invited to join a Bible Study on storytelling, my first reaction was a resounding, “Are you kidding? Not me – it’s not my cup of tea.”
“Why? It’s right up your alley”, my friend argued, pressing her point again and again. Finally she wore me down. Relenting, I joined the group to please her. My plan: attend a couple of sessions then fade away.
Scripture tells us that we are to be hearers of the word: “blessed are they who hear the word and obey”, Luke 11:28 NIV; and “faith comes from hearing the message.” Romans 10:17 NIV. Storytelling is based on these scriptures. The purpose: learn the age-old tradition of storytelling practiced by the patriarchs and early civilizations from the American Indian to the Himalayan people groups. Based on biblical tradition, the good news of the gospel is told through oral tradition, different from our modern techniques of video, reading and visual aids.
Was I ever surprised?
The first class was titillating, exciting and challenging. Definitely my cup of tea. I sat mesmerized as Sharon, the leader, told the story of Jesus and the demoniac. The story was more than familiar; I’d read it numerous times but hearing it told in this manner brought a whole new perspective.
I visualized the demoniac cutting himself with stones and throwing fits. I could see the 2000 pigs as they raced to the lake and drowned. I joined the herdsmen as they stood amazed at what they saw.
The turning point hit me hard. When the townspeople saw the demoniac “dressed and in his right mind, sitting at the feet of Jesus”, they became afraid. I understood the aversion of many to the truth of the gospel. When faced with the might and power of this man Jesus, people are afraid. They wonder what kind of man this is that heals a demoniac from evil spirits. They shy away from one who commands the wind and waves to cease. They see the demoniac’s transformation and understand that being in a right mind is all about being in a right relationship with God.
Somewhere deep inside, the question lurks for the hearer. If the demoniac changed, even though in a good way, I, too, might have to change. And I don’t want to. No one does. We all like our habits, even if they are harmful to us or to others. We are comfortable in our ways, only willing to change when we are desperate. The demoniac was desperate. He was not only open but willing.
In the mystery that is God, the story of the demoniac, when told without visual aid, reached deep into the hearts of the hearers in a profound way. Perhaps that’s why Jesus told so many stories and parables because when digested, they speak to the heart of the hearer and bring about changed lives.
This is such a story. The demoniac experienced the healing, power, love and mercy of a mighty God. As a result, he ended up in his right mind in a right relationship with the Father, through the power of Jesus Christ. In the end, isn’t that what we all really want.
If that’s not a perfect cup of tea – I don’t know what is.
By Rosemary Flaaten –
What brings you pleasure?
As I pondered this question, I started a list of pleasurable activities: spending a leisurely day by a tranquil lake with a dear friend, accomplishing a task, put off for too long, and watching my child excel at a newly discovered skill. Enjoyment and delight come from a variety of sources. They are God-given feelings and should be savored for the blessings to which they attest.
What brings God pleasure? A righteous heart, honesty and delighting in the things of God bring delight to our Holy Father. Paul, the writer of Ephesians, clearly and repeatedly states that making the plans to create us and bring us unto Himself before the foundations of the world, gave God great pleasure.
This picture made me reminisce about what it was like being pregnant. I remember the delight I experienced feeling the baby move inside of me. I would lie awake in the early morning dreaming about whether I would birth a boy or girl, what he or she would be like and what great things he or she would accomplish in this world. It brought satisfaction to decorate the baby’s room as I enjoyed the anticipation and wonder.
Now as I see my teenage children moving into adulthood I revel in what I see. They have become so much more than I had ever dreamed for them. Their abilities exceed what I could have wished for. I relax in the deeply held belief that God loves them more than I do and that He has a plan for their lives that exceeds what I could orchestrate for them. Delight comes from seeing my children embrace His plan for their lives. If this gives me such pleasure, imagine how God feels when He sees us living out His will for our lives.
Having experienced the joy of watching my children, I have a renewed desire to bring pleasure to my Father. Living with an undivided heart that pants after Him brings a smile of approval from my Father. Searching out His will for my life brings enjoyment to God. I want to be like Jesus, whose purpose was to do things on this earth for God’s good pleasure.
What brings me pleasure? I think pleasing God should be at the top of the list.
PRAYER: Father, Thank You that You had Your eyes on me before the beginning of the earth. Help me to live out Your plan in my life for Your pleasure and glory.
BIBLE VERSE:“And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ” (Ephesians 1:9 NIV).
By Julie Morris -
Everybody knows that overeating harms us physically, but it harms us emotionally as well. Look at this list to see emotional harm that overeating often does. Check any items that pertain to you.
- Overeating encourages procrastination. We turn to food instead of facing unwanted tasks.
- We eat to numb our stress. This keeps our problems from getting solved and adds additional ones.
- Being overweight makes us feel self-conscious and insecure. Often we overeat in order to feel better and vicious cycles take over.
- We often have unrealistic, happily-ever-after thoughts about dieting. This type of magical thinking will keep us on the diet merry-go-round permanently.
- Overeating causes irritability. Some of us get irritable when we eat a lot of sugar while others find that they are more irritable when dieting because they miss their “best friend,” food.
- Many of us are jealous of those who don’t have a problem with their weight. Jealousy leads to harmed relationships, self-pity and a lifetime of misery.
- When we fall off our diet, we fall into shame. Shame causes us to feel worthless. It encourages us to treat ourselves badly and do destructive things to our bodies, such as eating in an unhealthy way and not exercising.
- We miss out on many of the joys in life. We may be too busy focusing on eating or worrying about how much we weigh to enjoy the blessings we have.
- We get into the habit of making excuses. This leads to a very unproductive lifestyle because we stay stuck in the same destructive patterns.
- Some of us give up on ourselves. We quit trying to grow or change because we believe the lie that we are hopeless.
Don’t get depressed if you have a lot of checks! Instead look at these encouraging words from the Bible to remind yourself of the hope you have in Christ.
“You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the Lord your God, who has worked wonders for you; never again will my people be shamed” (Joel 2:26 NIV). God probably didn’t have weight-loss in mind when he wrote this, but it is very applicable. When we draw closer to God and begin to cooperate with Him in our eating and other areas, the promises in Joel 2:26 are ours. We don’t have to be at goal weight or eat perfectly to receive them; we just need to be headed in the right direction to experience these awesome promises:
- We will have plenty to eat until we are full! (We will be satisfied when we eat the amount of food that our bodies need.)
- We will praise the name of the Lord who has worked wonders for us! (We’ll know God has done a wonderful thing in us by helping us to lose weight and keep it off.)
- Never again will we be shamed! (We won’t be ashamed because we will be making progress toward becoming the people we want to be.)
Please leave a comment below and let us know about the emotional harm that overeating is causing in your life. If you can think of other things that aren’t on the list, tell us about them too!
By Robin J. Steinweg –
I had no idea I could actually kill with kindness.
See, I have this thing for blue flowers. Not the bluish-tinted purple color that the seed companies name, as if they really are blue. I prefer the honest-to-goodness, true blue flowers, like a summer sky. Heavenly Blue Morning Glories are just that kind of blue. I’ve tried, off and on ,to grow them from seed, but they’ve never gotten large enough to produce blooms.
This year, the local hardware store had some that were vigorous, already climbing up a skinny stake. I carefully brought one home, surrounded by shopping bags, so it wouldn’t tip over. I gave it the best soil. I rejoiced when it resumed its ascent. I babied it, plucked every threatening weed, and fed it regularly.
That was early June. Now it’s September, and you should see it—twelve feet tall; lush, thick leaves that could screen celebrities from paparazzi—but still, nary a bud nor a bloom.
Experienced gardeners shake their heads, already aware of the problem. I finally looked it up online: Why aren’t my morning glories blooming? What did I neglect?
For Morning Glories to produce bodacious, blue blooms, they require poor soil—harsh conditions. Instead, I coddled them with fertilizer the entire summer, denying them what I never imagined they needed.
My heavenly Father, Master Gardener, knows when to feed one of His tender shoots, when to protect it and when to give it a support to climb. He knows that a certain amount of hardship—what could be viewed as neglect, at times—will make His precious vine fulfill its purpose and flower freely.
PRAYER: Lord, the next time I face hardship, help me to remember that Your love for me is unfailing. You know exactly what I need in order to bloom and to bear the fruit of Your Spirit. Help me to be patient and trust You. In the name of Jesus I ask it.
BIBLE VERSE: “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors” (James 1:2-3, The Message).
By Candace McQuain –
Steve Jobs, Former CEO of Apple, once said, “My job is to not be easy on people. My job is to make them better.”
Mr. Jobs’ passion for his employees was evident. He worked hard to bring out the best in those who worked for him.
So many managers do not.
I’m positive that at one time or another we’ve all had “that” boss, someone who just made our workday the worst. They had no people skills, no knowledge of the work we were doing and made us ask ourselves every day, “How did that person get where they are?” Of course, we all have our own hypothesis. Some quite funny and some very disturbing, but at the end of the day we just couldn’t get a hold of why they were managers at all.
The reality is, it doesn’t matter why or how they got into the position they did. They were appointed that position of authority by the Lord and we are to honor and respect them because of that alone. I know. Believe me, I know. It’s so hard to swallow that whether or not they deserve one iota of honor and respect or not, we are to give it to them. Why, oh why? The answer is clear and can actually be quite motivational. Although we are directly working for an earthly being, we are ultimately serving our Lord.
I know from experience giving this type of honor is much easier said than done. The truth is, it’s so easy to defend our “not-so-nice” thoughts about our less than savory boss because we feel in our heart that God would not want us to be treated badly. God’s truth though is this, “7 Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, 8 because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do” (Ephesians 6:7-8 NIV).
Maybe you’re dealing with management issues that go deeper than lack of knowledge or people skills, maybe your boss is just plain rude and disrespectful. Well my friend, the outcome Jesus expects is still the same. Take this to heart though, you do not have to respect and honor the “person” you are working for, you are to respect and honor the “position” in which the Lord put that person in. When we look at it from that perspective, it takes a little of the sting out doesn’t it?
So, the next time you feel like you’re about to loose it and go crazy over something your boss says, doesn’t say or does or doesn’t do, just know that at the end of the day when you’ve done all you can to honor that person, you are honoring your Heavenly Father and you will be rewarded for it.
Still not quite feeling warm fuzzies for your boss yet? That is completely understandable. Honoring someone who you feel is not deserving of that honor is tough, even with God’s powerful words commanding it. Just know that as we are commanded to honor those who are above us, Ephesians 6:9 goes on to address how they are to honor us. There is quite a lesson for your boss on the topic of honoring you as well.