Tag Archives: Faith

Better Than a Luxury Spa Treatment

28 Mar
spa-town-teplice

Spa Town Teplice (Photo by Vera Kratochvil)

 

The best part of being a Christian is that we have the kingdom of heaven within us right now, and we can bask in the presence of God. There are countless people sitting in Christian church pews that don’t know what it is to: “Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

If more believers were to simply follow this scripture, the world would not be in the condition it’s in right now. (Things aren’t good.)  Something powerful happens when we stop striving, acknowledge God as the Almighty Father He is, and walk in obedience. The grace of God empowers us to go forward and fulfill our calling.

When we worry or follow our own paths, we are not in that luxury spa-like place of resting in God and His Word.

World-changing faith comes from a place of resting, not striving. As a result of being with Jesus, powerful things happen through us.

“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.” Acts 4:13

Hebrews 4:1-11 speaks about the rest of God and that those who have believed enter that rest.

I believe a good demonstration of being in the presence of God is when Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises to Him while chained in a disgusting prison. In Acts 16:25-34, it tells of an earthquake that followed their act of faith. They were set free but did not run. Instead, the keeper of the prison and his family believed in Jesus and were saved.

It is better to be in the presence of God under any circumstances (in prison, in the hospital, etc.) than to be without Him, even if in paradise on earth.

Not-so-Easy Steps of Faith

27 Mar
stationary-bike

(Photo by Circe Denyer)

 

Abraham, the father of our faith, obeyed God, which took him out of his place of comfort and the place called home. Literally…

“He went out, not knowing where he was going.” -Hebrews 11:8

Walking consistently under God’s clear but not-so-exciting marching orders is the hardest part of faith for me. I have a lot of the Word of God under my belt, soaking it in over a period of 33 years. It makes me feel that my faith is utterly unshakable.

But the testing ground is in the mundane task of doing not what I find comfortable or what I want to do but what I know Jesus has called me to do every day.

Yes, for me, that is the simple matter of adding physical disciplines to my spiritual disciplines. God is supposed to be my Lord. My stupid flesh is not supposed to reign supreme. I actually feel better in my body and more alert in my brain by obeying God’s admonitions. Fortunately, once the flesh has been consistently trained in a healthy life habit, there is tremendous cooperation — unlike the kind of struggle I’m currently experiencing.

I’ve been going my own way of comfort and ease for too long. My daily pep talk to myself today is this scripture:

“I press on  toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Phillippians 3:14

God has a plan and obedience is the way to walk on the path to fulfilling that plan.

Unfettered Asking

24 Mar

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(Photo by  Petr Kratochvil)

How great would it be to have a loving Dad who shared our life’s vision and came alongside as we journeyed to supply everything we needed so that it could be fulfilled? Well, news flash, if you are a Christian, we already have that! Christianity has become so watered down in the U.S., the church at large has been satisfied to substitute the glorious power of Almighty God for a worldly church infiltrated by churchgoers who don’t even want to get into the spiritual side of things.

What do you need? If you are walking on God’s path, all you need to do is ask. God can literally do more than we could ever dream or imagine, and He is our heavenly Father. Just as loving parents here on earth will do all they can and should for their children, God does for his own.

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout the generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21

Nehemiah had been praying and fasting about Jerusalem, because the gates had been torn down. It’s no accident that he worked for the king. When the king asked what he could do to help, Nehemiah breathed a quick prayer and literally asked for everything needed to rebuild the wall and gates and even to travel through various provinces on the way there. The king granted his request in full! This king wasn’t even a believer in Jehovah God. (Nehemiah 1:1-8)

There are many more examples in the Bible of people of faith asking for big things and getting them.

If you’ve been boxed in with worry, I encourage you to build up your faith and believe God for all that concerns you. Go way outside the box and ask big. If all of us Christians individually would do this, the world would sit up and take notice of Jesus with a much greater level of interest. Many more souls would no doubt be saved.

 

What Will You Do With That Freedom?

23 Mar

braveheart-1313768696-hero-wide-0If you’re a big fan of the movie Braveheart, like I am, you immediately recognize the words, “What will you do with that freedom?” When you say it like Mel Gibson did, you can grasp the passion behind this post. Just like the real battle depicted in that movie, we are all in a battle every single day. There is a battle for our souls, which determines eternal direction. And then there is the constant battle for our minds. If Satan has already lost us through accepting Jesus as our Savior, he fights with all of his experience gained through the ages to at least rob us of our joy and the victory of living in Christ.

(Please continue reading in the growl of a Scottish warrior)

God wooed me to himself many years ago, and I repented of my sins on October 4, 1979. Since that time, I have been clinging to Him and reading the Bible as though my life depended on it. As a result, He delivered me not only from death but from the lies of the enemy that robbed me of my peace day after day.

“O, taste and see that the Lord is good!

Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” – Psalm 34:8

Here I am now, with a mind that is free. Yet the battle for souls rages on. God has called each of his children to be a light in the darkness. We don’t have to go out and become televangelists or Scottish landowners to fulfill our calling. The battle is won on our knees.

We must pray for those who don’t know about God’s all-consuming love. Pray that their eyes will be opened and their souls will be saved. Tell about His faithfulness.

If we will stop lying complacent on our beds, we can fulfill the calling that Jesus gave:

“Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.” Matthew 16:24-27

So that you have marching orders for the day and an understanding of where your battle can begin, here is Psalm 34:12-14:

“What man is there who desires life and loves many days, that he may see good?

Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit.

Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.”

The Lord has set you free from the bondage of sin and the bondage in your minds placed there by lies of the enemy. Take up your cross! Seek peace and pursue it! You have been set free! What will you do with that freedom?

Stevie McHugh, Come on Down!

22 Mar
runner-competing-in-race

The race is on! (Photo by Jean Beaufort)

Joseph’s story in Genesis tells of a man filled with a God-given dream of promotion. Before he became 2nd only to the Pharaoh in all the vast land of Egypt, he was enslaved by jealous brothers who loathed him. Then he acted with incredible integrity and yet was thrown in prison on false accusations. Finally the waiting was over. His number was up. He was called to the front, and he was ready for the fulfillment of the dream. Guess whose name has just been called, folks?

Although I’ve suffered nothing like what Joseph went through and my dreams aren’t nearly as lofty, Jesus has called me into the part of my life I’ve been looking forward to. Thank God for His grace, which is the desire and power to do His will. I’ve been living un-victoriously in the realm of health, and how hard is it to lose weight, especially when you’re no longer a spring chicken?

Here’s how Jesus spoke, which altogether has made me realize the time for action has come:

1-He opened my eyes to the need for Christians to rise up in the midst of a world spiraling downward and shine the light of Truth. In the U.S., political correctness targets Christianity and violently shuts the mouths of Bible-believers. We need to stop cooperating, and I do mean including me. The strategy God instilled in me was to “Be the Love of God” and be part of a movement that changes from complacency and worldliness to reaching out in love to actually help others as opposed to merely sitting on pews. (This revelation happened after reading a sermon by famous preacher Spurgeon, who pointed out how hard the devil works to silence the wonderful Good News. I mean, he has been diligent! Obscuring the most powerful force on earth is quite a feat, like hiding the sun. The love of God is that force.)

2-He whispered to me, “Take up thy bed and walk.”  This is a scripture about a lame man. He was being told to get up, pick up after himself, and walk. Okay. Same message for me. I’ve been hindered by all kinds of physical ailments, but recently God showed me I have more endurance than I’ve realized. I’m good to go. To me this meant: Get up in the mornings, make your bed, walk on the treadmill or take a brisk walk on the street for at least 30 minutes, take a shower, and then get to work, which is at my computer. (Get fit! Lose that extra poundage!)

3-I’ve been invited to participate in ministry with my writing. At the same time, I’ve begun volunteering at Houston Christian radio station KSBJ, where I’m connecting with a lot of amazing people. The message has been clear: Stevie, come on down to KSBJ! We need you whenever you can possibly come for prayer and other types of service.

4-I got a deadline for my God-writing project. Aubrie asked me to write her a devotion book so that she can learn about God. Last night, with no prompting of any kind from me, she mentioned that her goal is to read the Bible every day (but she wants to understand it – this I know). We were reading her challenging spelling words for the week, which prompted her statement. She’s waiting for me to provide her with these devotionals, and how could I possibly disappoint her? (It is currently about 7 a.m. Aubrie heard me proofreading this and said she needs to read her devotion that I write after school. I still need to write the first one, but it’s already outlined.)

There is actually more that I could say, but the point is my time of waiting is over. It’s like when Rocky was tapped for a major fight. I mean, it was really go time, no doubt about it. My life has that same motivating background music right now, angel rendition.

We are all prepared by God, we all wait, and we all have a calling. If you’re in a waiting time, just keep praising the Lord and believing in His faithfulness. If you’re going through a fiery trial, rejoice, God says! It means He has big plans for you, and it will be worth every millisecond of pain.

“Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth, I tell you of them.” Isaiah 42:19 ESV

Grace-Filled Moments, Like Manna From Heaven

23 May

My daughter Maddie initiated a new morning ritual today, and what a slice of heaven.  She comes over each day with SirCalvin, my youngest grandchild, who I babysit; and then I bring her to work a bit later.  Today our new tradition started in which we sing a worship song with the kids, read a scripture passage, and pray.  Logan prayed a sweet prayer this morning, asking God to help him be a good student next year in 3rd grade and also asking God to bless his awesome 2nd-grade teacher to have a great class next year.

Yesterday my oldest daughter, Nikki, sent me information about an inexpensive talk-to-type product.  I’ve already ordered it, and it will make it possible for me to write without having to use my arthritic fingers.  The cost was under $30!  Based on reviews, it’s bound to be an excellent tool that works very well.  That seems like a miracle blessing to me.

And last week I let go of a job that didn’t pay enough but supplied steady income, when I could press through to complete the work (lately I couldn’t).  I’m so thankful that God replaced what was lost with good pay and plenty of hours.  I wrote my first piece for this employer today, and he was pleased.  God is so good, to supply my needs like this. Oh, and to top it off, this person is literally a top nutritional expert.  I trust that everything I learn will sink in and help me form new personal eating and health habits.

And the loved one I mentioned in Sunday’s post, the one at the bottom of the barrel – I heard from her and she’s climbing her way back up.  Potentially good signs of progress are there.

One of the best moments of the day was after I told Maddie that I was worried I alienated my reading audience with yesterday’s blog post.  She hadn’t read it yet, but I told her about my analogy.  Maddie told me that not to say it was to be guilty of the thing I was writing about – not doing something Jesus-related because of fear of rejection.  Also said she needed the motivation to be bold in her faith, which my blog supplies.

It’s like there’s a pin prick of a hole in heaven, and it’s directly over me.  All this outpouring of grace is even more fun than catching snowflakes on my tongue.

A Car Wreck and Possibly Alienating Coordinating Analogy

22 May

Just as the toddlers got settled in the basket outside our car at Kroger, we heard a car crash nearby.  Looking in the direction of the noise, I witnessed an SUV crash into a white car parked on the far end of the parking lot and then skid around before finally stopping.  I pushed the kids in that direction to get the license plate of the car that was making all the trouble, in case the person decided to hit and run.  The guy whose car got smashed up walked up and was wondering why the heck his new car was crushed in on one side.  I gave him my card as a witness.  Some lady had sped through the parking lot and a truck hit her before the part of the crash that I saw.

Corcovado jesus

Corcovado jesus (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

I don’t know what was going on with that lady, but what struck me was that the car that was way off on the end of the lot, supposedly safe from being dinged by other car doors, is the one that got badly damaged.  It got me to thinking about how all of our plans to “play it safe” are subject to fail.  And there’s one area where I’ve noticed all my Christian life that people play it safe, and that’s in choosing not to get overly enthusiastic about Jesus.

If you think about it, usually only preachers and missionaries live sacrificially and are sincerely head-over-heels for Jesus.  Not many everyday Christians can be accused of being more excited about Jesus than anything else.  Truth is, the overall “church in America” has more of the world in it than it does devotion to Jesus Christ.

Never will forget the deacon at a Baptist church who spoke up one Wednesday night at church during a Bible discussion.  He outright and unashamedly admitted that he chooses to please man rather than God.  As a person who has been lopsided about maintaining a God-focus, I can say it really does create friction in relationships.  The easy-going road that invites everyone to roll out their welcome mats is not the one which follows hard after God.

The way I see it is that people like that deacon play it safe like that white car at the end of the parking lot.  But in the end, they’re the ones that weren’t as wise as they thought.  There will be great reward in heaven for people who live for the things above rather than the things below.  And there will be great loss of reward for those who didn’t; talk about an inconvenient truth!  Even more inconvenient that having to deal with all the hassle of a wrecked vehicle.

Here’s my disclaimer: This post may sound a bit like I’m feeling spiritually superior, but I don’t mean to.  I’m so far from a perfect Christian it’s ridiculous, but no one who knows me can deny that I have a heart after God and obviously not after the world.