Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Week Fifty-One - The Times they are A'Changin'

Beside the Well
            2018 is almost finished.  My word for this past year has been “increase.”  And truly, the Lord has increased so many areas. The church saw the extension completed, new families joining, and increase in spiritual growth and discipleship.
            The Lord blessed by moving our son, TJ and his family to the mission field of Spain, and granting all our family health and safety throughout the year.
            Our ministries here with the college and sponsored missionaries continue to grow, and the Lord graciously keeps His hand of blessing upon our lives.
            Beside the Well has grown a bit also.  A few folks were able to get the website to allow them to be followers, and some have asked to be added to the email list.  That was amazing.  I need loads more, though!  Hint! Hint!
            I’ve been added to the guest posts for The Guild of Baptist Writers on Facebook.  I find that remarkable!
            I have been approached about getting 50 Bible Words published.  This is a compilation of the blog posts I did a few years back based around Bible word studies.  Please pray that works out through this coming year.  They have been edited and edited; hopefully, they are ready.  I’ll let you know!
            My second Reba and Katherine story, Grandpa’s Gift, came out in December. If you haven’t got a copy, please do! And if you would leave a comment on Amazon, that would help, too! 
            And I signed a contract with Upbury Press in London for another children’s book, There’s a Hole in My Sock, which should come out in 2019.
            That’s the increase, now let me share with you the things that are a’ changin’.
            Tom and I will be taking a furlough from January to July 2019.  We plan to visit family and get some much needed rest as well as report to as many churches as possible.  We covet your prayers for safety as we travel and for the Lord’s provision of our needs.
            With Beside the Well, there will also be a change.  I hope to continue while we are away, but to change the format just a bit.  Years ago I wrote a series on Bible Women.  For the first several weeks of the New Year, the blog posts will be based around these lessons.  I think you will enjoy them!  And, Lord willing, toward the end of the time there will be an EBook that you can download which will be an extended version of these blog posts.  They make great lessons and come with an outline and Bible references for those who want to do more research.
            Thank you to all of you who read my blog, recommend it to others, and send me messages of encouragement.  It is much appreciated.  I love to write and share what the Lord teaches me.  It is my prayer that as we go into the changing times of 2019, we will hold the Lord close, keep our eyes on our Saviour, and know the blessing of His hand upon our lives.  Meanwhile, I hope you have a very happy Christmas and New Year.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Week Fifty - Christmas Self-Care

Beside the Well         
            I love Christmas!  I love the smells, the music, the family, the hustle and bustle, the gifts, the food, everything about it I love, except for one thing.  I don’t like how it sometimes leaves me feeling.
            I tend to approach Christmas with the idea that it should look like it does in magazines.  The family well dressed, the turkey glowing and surrounded by perfectly roasted potatoes and steaming vegetables, the house adorned with beautifully coordinated decorations, and everyone happy and smiling right through to bedtime.  With over sixty years of Christmases, I’ve yet to reach that goal!
            I usually find myself lagging and growing weary as I try to create the perfect Christmas.  I spend the next day trying to recover, which is hard here in England because Christmas is a two-day event!
            Several years ago, I came across a book on self-care.  It was rather humanistic, but it had some good thoughts that I have found helpful when I face pressured times, especially these seasonal ones that come with my preconceived expectations.

            1) Plan ahead.  Don’t think it will all just miraculously happen.  Think the day/event through.  Have a plan B and be prepared so you can enjoy the holiday.
            2) Don’t overextend.  You are probably the only one with expectations of perfection.  Be realistic and settle for what you can manage without killing yourself. Your family is much happier with a cheerful mother than a fancy meal anyway. 
            3) Plan some happiness for yourself.  Getting Martha-syndrome is easy!  So, build into your plan some little breaks and treats for yourself.  Pace yourself!
            4) Notice when you get grumpy.  Don’t slough it off.  Stop, and have a cup of tea.  Take ten minutes away in a dark room or a comfortable, quiet place.  Put on some happy music.  Pray. Don’t let a lousy temper ruin your efforts.
            5) If you need a hug, go get one!  Don’t be too proud to ask.  And, don’t be too stubborn to give one!  Take time for hugs, they make the holidays much sweeter.
            6) Practice thankfulness.  When I was growing up, there was a TV show called, My Three Sons. One phrase from the show has always stuck with me. The sons were fussing and fighting among themselves, and the dad said something like, “If you aren’t thankful for your family, God can take them away.”  It has always reminded me to look at the people in my life and to be thankful for them, even the ones that are no longer around the table, for they hold special memories of times past.

            Self-care is essential—especially during the holidays.  I hope you have a wonderful time, and that no matter what your Christmas looks like, it will be full of the knowledge that your heavenly Father cared enough for you to send His only Son to that manger bed.  That is the most special thing about Christmas—don’t lose sight of it!     

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Week Forty-Nine - Choose Peace

Beside the Well
            I’ve been jotting things down for years.  I have odd notebooks full of sermons and lesson outlines that once blessed my heart, incomplete lesson ideas of my own, brief thoughts jotted in my journal, and precious scraps of paper in old boxes. Around my desk, I have post-it notes with more words of encouragement, and old reminders that help to keep me on track.  It can be like a trip down memory lane to read back through them.  They hold so much of the wealth and history of my spiritual journey.
            Last week, I was cleaning out one of those old boxes and came across a small spiral notebook with several gems.  One read, “Peace, like love, is a decision, not a feeling.”
            Peace is a decision?  A choice? Yes. I choose to relax, or I choose to keep driving myself into a tizzy.  I choose to stop guilty, accusing thoughts, or I revel in my pity-party.  I choose to stop that condemning self-talk, or I believe every lie I hear.  I choose to be happy and cheerful, or I continue walking around under a dark cloud.
            These are all my decisions.  My circumstances need not be the determining factor for my choices.  I know that to be true because I have read the testimony of those who were in prison, concentration camps, and under persecution whose hearts were still joyful and positive.  It was a choice they made contrary to their circumstances. They chose peace.
            The Apostle Paul said he had learned to be content no matter what his state. (And he wasn’t talking about Missouri!)  He knew it was within his power to choose his mental and emotional frame.
            Also, tacked up around my computer, is a sign that reads, “You have a choice, each and every day.  I choose to feel blessed.  I choose to feel grateful.  I choose to be excited.  I choose to be thankful.  I choose to be happy.”  Good words—I read them every day!
            But I must have forgotten about them when I emailed my editor a few weeks ago.  I was recounting to her some of my hindrances in writing and used the word mediocre. That prompted her direct response that gave me a renewed emphasis.  She reminded me to watch my self-talk. 
            “What we say to ourselves, we tend to believe, even if we know it isn’t true.”  Then she said, “Avoid sentences that state, “Must,” “have to,” “should,” or “need.”  These terms restrict motivation.  Instead, replace them with “I get to,” or “I want to,” when you talk to yourself.  These terms heighten motivation.” (Debra Butterfield -
            So, what did I do?  I wrote those little phrases on a post-it note and put them up around my computer! I am using them to change my thoughts and words from “I have to get this done, “ to “I want to accomplish this.”  And from “I have to do this,” to “I get to do this.” 
            And you know what?  That one simple change is proving very effective in creating peace and joyful motivation in my heart and life. 
            How are your choices working for you?

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Week Forty-Eight - Lest I Should Fall

Today I welcome a guest blogger, my friend, Dr. Owen.  

                There seems to be a lot of emphasis on achieving balance in our lives. We strive to balance work and home, career and family, church and hobbies. The list is endless. If we can only get the balance right, we are promised we can indeed have it all. But is that really what balance is? A way of trying to cram as many activities into our lives as possible?
                  The dictionary defines balance as “an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady.”  Upright and steady. That’s what I want to be!       
                  In Isaiah, we read that Upright is one of God’s titles. “The way of the just is uprightness; thou, most upright, dost weigh the path of the just” Isaiah 26:7.  And, in Deuteronomy and Psalms upright is a description of Him. Deuteronomy 32:4 He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are judgment: A God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.”  Psalm 25:8 “Good and upright is the Lord; therefore will he teach sinners in the way.”                  To be a balanced Christian is to be upright because God Himself is upright. Of course, this doesn’t mean physical stance, but rather the state of being moral, honest, and honourable in the eyes of the Lord.
                  How can we remain upright in the eyes of the Lord in a world that seeks to knock us down?
                  I love neurology and the wonderful way in which God has expertly crafted us, so indulge me as I explain how our bodies keep us physically balanced. There are some things we can learn from God’s beautiful design that can help us in our quest for spiritual balance, too. 

Physical balance requires sensory input from three sources. 

                  The first is our vision. It is much harder to balance in the dark.  You know this as you navigate yourself to the bathroom in the middle of the night! Your depth perception and judgment are impaired, and it is harder to know where your feet are going. Vision also helps us subconsciously plan our next movement.

                  The second source is our vestibular labyrinth. This is a balance organ in the inner ear consisting of three semi-circular canals filled with fluid. These perpendicular canals detect rotational acceleration and provide directional information. Small hair cells called stereocilia protrude into the fluid within the canals. Rotational head movement causes the fluid in the canals to move, which leads to a displacement of these hairs, which in turn are connected to nerves that send signals to the brain. So, your brain knows whether you are upright or upside down, whether your head is turned to the right or left. Isn’t that marvellous engineering? 

                  The third input is from proprioceptive receptors. These are stretch receptors that are located in our skeletal muscles and tendons that feedback information about where our bodies are positioned in space. If you close your eyes and hold out your arm, you know exactly where it is even though you can’t see it. The proprioceptive receptors are feeding back the exact position to your brain.

                  So, that is how we all maintain physical balance. We will stay upright if we lose input from one of these three sources, but we can’t remain upright if we lose two or more. 

                  For example, Romberg’s Test is a test for proprioceptive (position and movement of the body) dysfunction. The physician has the patient stand with their feet together and eyes closed. If they have proprioceptive loss and you also remove their vision by asking them to close their eyes, then they’ll only have their inner ear working to maintain an input to their balance, and they’ll fall (the physician stands with an arm in front of and behind the patient ready to catch them!). 

                  But, what about our spiritual lives? How does this information about balance help us stay upright in the eyes of the Lord? What we can apply from God’s beautiful engineering is that input from all three sources is necessary to keep us from falling.

Our Eyes
Psalm 123:1 “Unto the lift I up mine eyes, O thou that dwellest in the heavens.”Psalm 141:8 “But mine eyes are unto thee, O God the Lord: in thee is my trust; leave not my soul destitute.”

                  Here in the Psalms, David talks of lifting his eyes towards the Lord. God calls us to focus on Him. Don’t be distracted by what others are doing or saying. Keep Him in your sight. Keep looking to Him. Seek Him out in forms of answered prayer and acknowledge Him in everything you do. If we take our eyes off God, then we will naturally fix them on something else. Don’t let the world be your focus.

Hebrews 12:2 “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.”

“When our eyes are on Christ, they are not on the world. And, when our eyes are on the world, they are not on Christ.”(Kelly Balarie)

Our Ears

Proverbs 4:20  “My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings.” 

                  What or to whom we listen has a big influence on our lives as Christians. First and foremost, we need to be listening to that still, small voice of God. Often, God has to beat me with a stick before I recognise His voice! If only I would just listen. In my most vulnerable moments of despair though, if I am truly still…I can hear Him. We need to choose carefully whose words we allow to influence us. Should we close our ears to the truth of God, we risk wobbling.

                  Of course, we now know that our ears not only allow us to hear but that the vestibular system in the ear keeps us level. This reminds me of the verse in 1 Peter5:8-9 “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.”

                  As Christians, we are to stay alert and level-headed (of sober mind), just like our vestibular systems keep our physical heads level. We are to be on guard for attack. This is especially true at our most vulnerable times—be those times of despair or, conversely, times of success. The devil waits (prowls) until we are weakened before he pounces. If you recognise that your prayer life or church attendance is affected by poor sleep, family troubles or poor health then be on guard. Recognise your vulnerabilities and ask a friend to pray for you.

Our Stance

1Corinthians 16:13 “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.”

                  Loss of proprioception can occur for a number of different reasons. The most common reason is damage to the nerves in the legs (peripheral neuropathy) due to diabetes or vitamin deficiencies. The patient has trouble steadying themselves and therefore assumes a more broad-based gait (legs are further apart) in order to try and increase their stability. They can struggle with depth perception and adjustments in their steps and may have to physically look at where their feet are going to walk straight.
Clearly, it is much easier to steady yourself and stand firm if the foundation beneath your feet is solid. This is true in our spiritual lives, too.

1 Corinthians 3:11  “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”

“He is the foundation personally considered, as God-man and Mediator, on which the church, and every believer is built; he is the foundation of the covenant of grace, and of eternal salvation; of the faith and hope, peace, joy, and comfort of all the saints; and of the building of God, that house not made with hands, that city which has foundations, eternal glory in the other world” (John Gill)

                  In our Christian lives, we cannot successfully stand on any other foundation than Christ. We cannot substitute Him with ideas or theories, theological education or morality. Our actions and decisions are based on the foundation of our faith. Christ has no substitute. He is our rock, our cornerstone. Basing our lives on anything less than His authority and foundation leads us to shaky spiritual ground, and we can’t stand firm on uneven ground.

                  So, all three inputs are necessary to keep us upright in the eyes of the Lord. Fixing our eyes on Him, listening to His voice and the truth of His word, and standing firm on the foundation of Christ.

Psalm 119:133 “Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me.”

Lord, help me to remain level-headed with my feet on solid ground, and my eyes fixed on You. But please catch me should I fall!

Dr. R. Owen

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Week Forty-Seven - Needing a Confidant

Beside the Well
            For far too many of us, deep friendships are rare. We have loads of acquaintances, colleagues, and family members, but a true friend is not always among them. Sometimes loneliness haunts our lives, and we resign ourselves to being alone; to not having anyone who understands or cares deeply enough to read our emotional signals.
            There have been times in my life when I’ve had to tell myself, “Pull up your bootstraps and get on with it!  No one is going to care or understand, so why let it get you down?” That may sound really harsh, but I’ve been there.  It is in those times when I wished I had a friend close enough to lean on.
            Now don’t go feeling sorry.  That isn’t my point.  My point is that no human reach that deepest need.  The ability to fully understand someone else is not one God gave us. When I get to those times, I remind myself that only God knows my heart.  Only He fully understands.
            As I was reading The Transforming Friendship by Rev. Leslie D Weatherhead, he said, “He (Jesus) came right into the midst of man’s toil.”  And He did.  When we look at the story of Jesus in the Gospels, we see him entering lives in amazing ways.  The blind beggar by the highway, the women with the issue of blood, the fishermen with no catch, and the maniac in the tombs are all in the midst of life when Jesus entered. 
            He wasn’t afraid of what they faced.  He wasn’t put off by their weaknesses.  He was the very presence of God with them, and with us, in every circumstance, comforting and encouraging in every effort and affront. He was ready to listen, willing to share and counsel.  He was brave enough to confront, without being condemning.  He was accepting of their failures and imperfection.  He fully understood their needs.
            And He is the same today.  He rejoices when I rejoice and weeps when I weep.  He is that friend that sticks closer than a brother—always with me!  A reality.  And isn’t that precious?  God with us—entering into our hearts of which He alone has the key.  “We must cease then, to think of our friendship with Jesus in the terms of mere acquaintanceships, for He comes to us below the levels plumbed by our most intimate friends.” (p 66)
            In his book, The Key Next Door, Rev. Weatherhead writes, “A true friend is one to whom you can tip out all of the contents of your heart, chaff and grain together, knowing that the gentlest hands will take and sift it, keep what is worth keeping, and with the breath of kindness, blow the rest away.”  Isn’t that a precious description?  Very few friendships reach this level, but with my heavenly Friend, it is always true.
            So when I feel no one understands, I am reminded of His plea, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
            My Friend wants me to turn to Him.  No need for a human confidant when the Lover of my soul stands ready!

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Week Forty-Six - Friendship with Jesus

Beside the Well
            I love to read old Christian books.  Like I’ve said before, the depth of thought and the beauty of the language outstrip anything we read today. 
            My friend lent me a book called The Transforming Friendship by Rev. Leslie D. Weatherhead written in 1928.  I expected to be reading about becoming a better friend, but instead it is a book about the friendship of Christ and how his friendship transforms our lives. 
            In the fifth chapter, entitled, The Inexorable Nature of the Friendship, Reverend Weatherhead laments the fact that the disciples of the early church would not recognize most of what we call Christianity today. He says, “Christianity is not a friendly society, much less a friendly society floated on tea.  Its symbol is not a cushion, but a cross.”
            That symbol alone is enough to hold many back from following Christ. Rev Weatherhead places before the reader three reasons why we draw back.     Let’s look at them for a moment.
            1) We draw back because we are afraid of what others will think. “There is not one person reading these words who does not know in his soul that he would be a far better man if he did not care what people thought of him.” (p 76)  Jesus’ example was not one of caring what people thought.  He remained true to his path—even when others thought differently.  So, when we fear being alone or ostracized, we are best to remember our Friend walked this path ahead of us.
            2) We draw back because we are afraid of answered prayer.  What?  Afraid of answered prayer?  Oh, there is so much to say here!  Prayer is asking, right?  We ask for God’s will, strength, victory, etc.  And Jesus’ answer is, “Are you willing to drink of the same cup?”  Look at it this way.  We ask for results.  He asks if we are willing to follow the rules to gain the results? (To trust and obey.) We ask for God’s will.  He asks, “Are you prepared to follow?”  We ask for strength.  He asks, “ Are you ready for loneliness and sacrifice?”  We ask for purity, and then we “clasp the rags of our impurity yet tighter to us.”  We ask for victory, but love our “hateful little sins more than victory over them.” We ask to see his face, but “the vision would scorch our petty souls.”  If he answered our prayers, “He might make us more than we dare to be. And every time a man prays, ‘Give me…’ Jesus answers, ‘Are you willing…?”  This one question—am I ready for answered prayer?— immensely challenges me.
            3) We draw back because we expect to get something out of it—what profit is there?  I’m sure you are saying, “O, I don’t look for profit in my Christian service.” Really?  The disciples did.  They wanted to sit on the right hand in glory.  They gave up all to follow and then questioned if they had made a good investment.  What was Christ’s response?  “Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, but he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life. But many that are first shall be last; and the last first”Mark 10:29-31.  So there is profit, but that is not to be our motivational factor.  We are called to be ambassadors, soldiers, and servants: obedient unto death.  That is our calling.  And the profit, as I see it, is found in being faithful.
            With those three reasons, Rev. Weatherhead concluded with a quote from Garibaldi.  “It is the big demand that makes heroic spirits.  It is the untamed jungle that makes the pioneer.  It is the untraversed, perilous journey that makes the explorer.  It is the big task that makes the big soul.” (p 79)
            So, what are we expecting from our Christianity?  A cushy ride or to become soldiers of the cross?  “Christ’s challenge is that we should go into training so as to become fit—fit for the Kingdom of God.”
            Your Friend asks, “Are you able to drink of the cup that I shall drink?” (Matthew 20:22)  Are you willing, no matter the cost, to be my friend?

Weatherhead, Leslie D, The Transforming Friendship, Epworth Press, London, 1933.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Week Forty-Five - Cursing

Beside the Well
            Bad words brought the wrath of my parents. We were not allowed to curse in any form.  Even an exclamation like “O, my God” or  “Gosh,” was frowned upon.  I call these Christian swearing.
            Romans 12:14 explicitly says,  “curse not.”  Ecclesiastes 10:20 warns us that when we curse those in authority, we run the risk of them hearing because “a bird of the air shall carry the voice.” And James 3:10 warns us,  “Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.”
            But cursing in the Bible isn’t limited to the language.  It is intertwined with the attitude. 1 Peter 3:9 speaks of “not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing.”  It has to do with the desire to seek revenge.  We are not to be cursing anyone, anything, in any style.
            Hopefully, we do not go about openly cursing at people.  That is just rude.  But, there is a secret cursing of which we may be guilty.  The spirit of cursing may reign in our hearts and be expressed in spitefulness, faint praise, half-hearted commendations, insinuations, efforts to undermine, backbiting, and evil speaking.  These are the mannerisms of the coward, and by doing such, we are breaking God’s law on cursing.
            Contrariwise, we are to be blessing those around us.  Such is the characteristic of God.  Rev. Samuel Martin put forth a thought that gripped my heart when he wrote, “Imagine for a moment, God, the one living and true God—imagine Jehovah to be evil, and to be malevolent; just take away the glorious attribute of goodness.  Suppose Him to be unrighteous, untruthful, unfaithful, unkind, unmerciful.  Oh! What a terror must God be to us!  What an object of dread must every attribute be! Imagine malevolence connected with an omnipotent arm, and with an omniscient eye!”
            I could hardly bear the thought of God without the attribute of kindness and mercy.  Can you? Praise the Lord; he is a God of blessing.  And, he calls his children to be so as well.  Look again at Romans 12:14, “Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.”
            God the Father, does not bless as we bless—insufficiently, half-heartedly—but he blesses with all that is in Him.  So much so, that he gave his only Son.  He is a God of blessing, setting the example of mercy and forgiveness for us all. We might find it hard to bless those who are evil toward us, but Jesus’ example should suffice.  “He is kind to the unthankful and to the evil”  (Luke 6:35).
            Rev. Martin went on to say, “He is blessed, and His idea of blessedness must of course first be taken from Himself, and then it must be the idea of bringing the creature as near as possible to the possession of blessedness which characterizes the happy God.”  Oh, I love that!  The Happy God!  Blessed means happy!  How wonderful is that?
            But it requires a great measure of courage and character to bless a man who curses and persecutes you.  It would be easier to knock him down and trample on him, but the depth of God’s love means we must bless instead of curse.  And we must be sincere.  We are not to make a show of our kindness or a fuss.  To do that is to reveal we are self-serving and hypocritical.
            Please allow me to put in another quote from Rev. Martin as I cannot say it as he does.  “How quietly our heavenly Father blesses us!  How quietly the Saviour gave Himself up for us!  Men sometimes wonder that He said so little about dying for us, but this is all explained by the depth of His love.  His love was such that He could not speak much of it, or often.  If it had been some little rivulet, it would have made a great noise, and would have babbled, and bubbled, at every step; but because it was a lake unfathomably deep—so deep that no creature can ever fathom it—we see it sleeping quietly and but seldom lifting up its voice; just as you who have journeyed in the mountainous parts of your own country have seen the waters sleeping between the great and glorious mountains.  Bless each other; but do it sincerely and quietly.  Bless each other in the name of the Lord.  I say, do it in the name of the Lord.”
            Blessing brings us happiness.  Obedience brings us joy.  Oh, may our hearts and mouths be filled with blessing!  To do so, we must cherish the spirit of blessing and increase it by communion with the God of love, walking closely with our Saviour, and by the sweet, healing fellowship of the Holy Spirit.
“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”  Matthew 5:44, 45

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Week Forty-Four - My Achy-Breaky Heart

Beside the Well
            When you have a doctor friend, and a spouse experiencing medical issues, you learn all kinds of neat stuff.  My husband has A-fibrillation of the heart, which is controlled by medication.  My doctor friend sent us a YouTube video explaining the workings of the heart with the intention of teaching us more about it, but of course, we stumbled onto something oddly interesting.
            Every heart has a thing called a Funny Current.  It is the part of the heart responsible for the heartbeat and controlling the heart rate.  It is called funny because it has a very unusual and unpredictable current.  While the remainder of the heart can be calculated according to polarization and depolarization with little bits opening and closing to a precise flow, the funny current has a mind of its own.
            We also learned that the brain controls every part of the body, but much of the heart has a mind of its own.  That is why, when a heart is removed from the body, it continues to beat. The funny current is the heart’s independent initiator and regulator.  It was the discovery of this funny current in 1979 by Dr. Dario DiFrancesco that developed into the introduction of pacemakers to regulate heartbeat.     
           No wonder God has so much to say about the heart.  As we pondered and discussed the funny current, we began falling back on Scripture.  Is that why God says, “Give me thine heart?”  Because our hearts are independent?  Is that why He says our hearts are desperately wicked?  Because they want to regulate themselves?  Is that why He says no man can know their heart? Because its ways are not searchable?  Is that why He says to love the Lord with all your heart?  Because He knows there is a little place of rebellion in all of us? Probably all of that is true.  God knows our hearts because He made them!
            We even began looking at the funny current, which has a lifespan of less than a second, as the source of our ever changing will and emotions.  The heart is the seat of emotion, the Bible teaches.  It has the power to create choice and determine will.
            My doctor friend said: “
Our emotional pull toward God is independent from our cognitive or logical conclusions - much like the organ of the heart itself is independent from the brain’s control. The heart muscle is made from specialised cells called myocytes. Normal muscles are controlled by voluntary or involuntary messages conveyed through the nervous system from the brain and spinal cord, but the heart generates its own action potentials – it contracts independently from the brain’s control. The brain can influence it by speeding up or slowing down the rate, but it can’t initiate the beat itself. If you put the heart in a dish it will contract autonomously. This is a wonderful picture of our emotional response to God. Swayed by our logic but independent from it.” (Dr. R Owen Bsc, MBChB)
            I don’t have all of the answers to this physical phenomenon.  I won’t even pretend to understand it fully, and if you are medically trained, please forgive my infantile description, but take time today to look deep into your own heart.  I know I was humbled as I thought of this tiny spot in my life that has a mind of its own.  My meditations brought me to Romans 7 where Paul’s quandary about the desire to do right and the inevitability of doing wrong brings him to this conclusion: “I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.”  I wonder if this war is the funny current?
            My mind tells me what is right.  It knows laws are there for my good.  But my heart wants to do its own thing!  Lord, I need a spiritual pacemaker!  And the Lord has provided it – “Thy Word have I hid in mine heart that I might not sin against thee.”
            Truly, we are fearfully and wonderfully made, right down to our achy-breaky little hearts! – The Funny Thing About Ivabradine and Heart Failure,  By Mzoler, September 3, 2010.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Week Forty-Three - Scorners

Beside the Well
            What?  A Christian scorner?  Sadly, I have heard too much of this recently.  The conversation usually pivots around one person sharing something about the Lord with a fellow Christian, and then loads of doubt, rejection, and ridicule pour from their friend.  The attitude is usually one of supposed superiority leaving the other person feeling foolish for having shared their opinion.  Scorning is also speaking against people behind their back, laughing at the preacher, mocking Bible truth or treating God’s word with contempt, and is akin to gossiping and causing division.
            Let’s look at what the English dictionary says, “To look down on something or someone, to consider a person or object despicable or inferior, to speak with contempt (an attitude of disgust or hatred), to consider or treat as contemptible or unworthy, to reject or refuse.”     
            The International Standard Bible Encyclopediadelves deeper into the definition saying the word comes from a Danish word meaning dirt or mud. Scorning is a reaction that occurs when one is confronted with a person or a proposition that evokes a sense of superiority awakening mingled resentments.  Scorn, then, is a hot, fierce emotion connected with an arrogant sense of self-esteem.
            The Bible meaning, from Strong’s Concordance, defines it as, “to laugh at, to despise or ridicule, to mock, the hostile speech of rebellious fools.”
            And where did this happen in the Bible?  Sanballat and Tobiah scorned Nehemiah as he began to build the wall (Nehemiah 2:19). Job’s friends scorned him and mocked his plight (Job 12:4, 16:20, 22:19).  It is prophesied in Psalm 22:7 that our Lord would be scorned. The surrounding nations scorned Israel (Psalm 44:13).  The people scorned as Jesus arrived to raise Jairus’ daughter from the dead (Luke 8:53).
            What is the Bible’s opinion on scorning? Let’s divide this by questions.
            First, what is the attitude of a scorner?  They love to scorn. Proverbs 1:22, “…and the scorners delight in their scorning.”  They are characterized by pride, arrogance, and anger. “Proud and haughty scorner is his name, who dealeth in proud wrath” (Proverbs 21:24).  They do not like instruction or correction.  “Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee” (Proverbs 9:8).  Matter of fact, they will choose not hear you.  “…but a scorner heareth not rebuke” (Proverbs 13:1).  And they will not appreciate you.  “A scorner loveth not one that reproveth him: neither will he go unto the wise”(Proverbs 15:12).  They are wise in their own conceits!
            How are we to deal with scorners?  Carefully.  “He that reproveth and scorner getteth to himself shame” (Proverbs 9:7).  But purposefully.  “Cast out the scorner, and contention shall go out; yea, strife and reproach shall cease”(Proverbs 22:10).  Because dealing with them helps others to avoid the same. “When the scorner is punished, the simple is made wise”(Proverbs 21:11) “Smite a scorner, and the simple will beware”(Proverbs 19:25).  Probably best not to have scorners as close friends then, huh?
            What will happen to scorners?  They may act and think they know it all, but God says, “A scorner seeketh wisdom, and findeth it not”(Proverbs 14:6). They bear their own shame.  “but if thou scornest, thou alone shalt bear it”(Proverbs 9:12).  They will be judged.  “Judgments are prepared for scorners”(Proverbs 19:29). Men will withdraw their friendship. “the scorner is an abomination to men”(Proverbs 24:9).
            What are God’s attitude and instruction?  He is less than impressed with the pride and snootiness of the scorner. “Surely he scorneth the scorners, but he giveth grace unto the lowly” (Proverbs 3:34).  And he warns his children to stay away.  “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful”(Psalm 1:1).
            With that bit of Bible word study, I think we can all agree that scorning is not an appropriate attitude for a Christian.  We are to be characterized by humility instead of pride, by uplifting others instead of tearing them down, and by obedient faith as opposed to self-righteous debating.
            Are you a Christian who scorns? I hope not.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Week Forty-Two - Old Wives Tales

Beside The Well
Jeremiah 20:12  “But, O Lord of hosts, that triest the righteous, and seest the reins and the heart.”
            I’ve been doing a powerful lot of reading lately and learning some astounding new stuff that I hope to include in the future, but God’s word continues to be the most enlightening source of joy.  As I read Jeremiah 20:12, I began meditating about the truth that God knows and tries our hearts; right down to the thoughts and intents according to Hebrews 4:12.
            Jeremiah 23:16 opened a further train of thought for me by saying, “Hearken not unto the words of the prophets(the false prophets) that prophesy unto you: they make you vain (empty, void of knowledge): they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the Lord.”  It reminds me of what we see in the media today. Society is successfully following a vision of their own heart and sculpting a culture void of richness and contrary to God’s design.
            Verse 17 goes on to say, “They say still unto them that despise me, The Lord hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you.”
            What?  Do we not read things like this all the time and hear it in music lyrics and through TV programs and movies?  Be yourself. Do what makes you happy.  Follow your heart. That old wives tales of the judgment of God is outdated.  Nothing terrible will happen to you.
            Verse 36 finds men saying, “The burden of the Lord shall ye mention no more (stop telling me what the Bible says): for every man’s word shall be his burden(every man did that which was right in his own eyes).  And the result—perversion, twisting and slanting of the truth. “For ye have perverted the words of the living God, of the Lord of hosts our God.”            
            We needn’t think God doesn’t know or see.  Verses 23, 24, “Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off?  Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? Saith the Lord.  Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord.”
            I wonder how many of us have swallowed the preaching of the world? (Oprah, Joel Olsten, etc.) How many of us live as if God will never judge or that He is far away and uninvolved? Do we follow our heart’s desires with no thought of truth or consequence?
            It behooves us to try the spirits and search our hearts.  We are explicitly warned in Proverbs 28:26, “He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool.”

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Week Forty-One - Brain Engaged

Beside the Well

            The ugliness and corruption of politics seem to be the main diet of media.  Their agenda is apparent – to sway the masses to their opinion.  It can be hard for us to find the truth of a matter.  How can we know which flag to wave, which cause to support, which candidate to vote for?
            One of the most beautiful things afforded a Christian is wisdom. Proverbs tells us many times that it is rooted in the fear of God.  This submission to divine authority and sovereignty forms a basis for understanding that supersedes all other.  I’ve been reading several books lately, and I am seeing how we Christians have begun shifting our roots and clinging to non-truths that sound good but lead to adverse outcomes.
            One reading was an article about the changes in evangelism in the past 60-70 years.  Where once preachers preached repentance with great fervor, things shifted and led us down a path of easy-believe-ism (just pray the prayer and you’ll be okay) until now we do not understand the depth of true repentance and see fewer people coming down the aisle under conviction of their sin.  With the doctrine of salvation weakened, we now have churches that are seeker friendly, trying to usher people to the throne with as little discomfort as possible.
            What were we thinking?  That the Rich Young Ruler needn’t have gone away sorrowful?  That Judas should have been better understood?  That Peter’s prejudice action didn’t warrant Paul confronting him so directly?
            Rev Martin wrote: “To desire to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will, to pray for it, and to open the heart to the manifestations of God’s will is, without doubt, without doubt, to be ultimately filled with such knowledge. Ask and wait, wait and watch, and you shall not be left without guidance.”  But we didn’t want the waiting, seeking, and asking.  We wanted it now, and we are paying later.
            But let me come back to the politics where I started.  Here too, it is so very vital that we think!  Sort what we see and hear with wisdom and inquiry. Don’t believe everything you read! Christianity is the wisest of all religions (if you will allow me to call it a religion) because its source is the Almighty.  And, as His children, we have His power and wisdom available to us.  We needn’t allow every diverse political opinion to sway us. Our opinion should be His opinion.
            Elisabeth Elliot wrote, “God help us not only to stand for the truth, but to obey it scrupulously that we may not lose the power to think as Christians.”
            Lord, help us to live life in gear and not just coast through in neutral. Teach us to remember that there is no wisdom, nor counsel, nor understanding that can outstrip you. Cause us to examine our choices long enough to determine the outcomes and consequences instead of just going along with the crowd like a lamb to the slaughter.  Give us vibrancy and strong faith with our brains engaged!

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Week Forty - Get Your Vowels in Order

Beside the Well

            The English alphabet has five basic vowels, a, e, i, o, and u.  Bet you already knew that, didn’t you!  So did I, but as I read One with A Shepherd by Mary Somerville I began noticing vowels everywhere!
            One with “A” shepherd.  A – meaning a particular one.  We have a Shepherd; one particular Shepherd—The Lord Jesus Christ.
            E – Example.  The example of our Shepherd is written for us to follow.  His example is one of submission to the Father.
            I – but I get in the way.  I struggle with obedience.  I demand my own way—independence.  She quotes John Piper, “Independence from God is rebellion against God.  At root, our sinful condition is the commitment to be our own god.  I will be the final authority in my life.  I will decide what is right and wrong for me; and what is good and bad; and what is true and false for me.  My desires express my sovereignty, my autonomy, and though we don’t usually say it—my presumed deity.” (p 101-102)
            This is not a new problem!  Look at Isaiah 47:8, “…that sayest in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me…” Such is the attitude of being focused on I.
            O – Oh, what sinful and stubborn people we are.  Open to every temptation. Overly sensitive; but spiritually, only vaguely sensitive.  Overtly willful, and determined to have our way.
            U – without consideration for U.  You, who are our loved ones and friends.  We fail to put you first; to consider how our choices will impact you as we steadily move to keep the 
focus on I.
            Look at this quote:  “In marriage we give up our Independence and our Autonomy.  We walk together as One.” (p 102)  More vowels!  And the key to marital success!
            The subtitle to Mary Somerville’s book is The Tears and Triumphs of a Ministry Marriage.  Her advice is biblical, practical, and personal and not limited to ministry marriages, but all marriages and relationships. But back to the vowels:

            Acknowledge Almighty Authority.
            Examine and Embrace the Example of the Shepherd
            Identify where I lives.  Hint: prIde.  Insubordination.  Independence.
            Obey the orders of Our Lord. (Submitting yourselves one to another—remember that verse?)
            Understand you do not live or die to yourself. Consider others.

            It all might seem like just a bit of fun with wordplay, but vowels form the basis of our written language.  Similarly, the basis of our Christian life is found in God’s written word. If we are missing integral parts, or getting things in a distorted manner, we will be a muddled mess! 
            Are your vowels in order?

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Week Thirty-Nine - Self-Imposed Weakness

Beside the Well
“Quit you like men, be strong.“1 Corinthians 16:13
            You might think that is a strange verse to introduce a few thoughts on weakness, but it is actually a great place to start.  Too often we languish and become miserable by our own choices.
            Weakness has a source.  If food is before us, and we do not eat, we will become weak.  If we fail to keep up necessary exercise, our body, nerves, and muscles suffer, and become weak.  If we overindulge or overwork, we weaken ourselves.  If we refuse to rest or only lay about, weakness is the result. Whether through carelessness or neglect, this sort of self-imposed weakness is sinful.
            In Hebrews 12:1 we are encouraged to lay aside every weight, and the sin that easily bests us so we can run the race with strength and faith. The weaknesses in the previous paragraph are common to us all and entirely human.  But there is another sort of weakness to which we fall prey—spiritual weakness.
God lays before us food for our soul, but we fail to feed upon it.  He calls us to temperance in all things, but we waver between overdoing and under-doing in so many areas.  God gives His children rest, but we never stop long enough to take a breath.  All of these result in spiritual weakness and still classify as sin.
            So today, let’s make a list of things that we need in order to be spiritually strong.  I am going to take for granted that you know you need to eat, rest, exercise, and take care of your physical health.  Obedience and self-control in those areas create a physical and mental strength necessary for a healthy life but take a look at this list for spiritual strength.
            1.  Right and sound principles.  For example, fear is a source of weakness; and the opposite, love, is a source of strength.  We need firm foundations.
            2.  Mental and emotional nutrition.  Feeding on God’s word develops strength of heart and the mental capacity for reasoning. All wisdom is hidden within those pages. Drawing them out creates strength and stamina.
            3.  Work. Doing what God bids builds strength. Inactivity always brings weakness. The stronger Christians are those who employ themselves in the ministry.  And, as Oswald Chambers says, “Prayer does not fit us for the greater works; prayer is the greater work.”  Prayer creates spiritual strength!
            4.  Self-control.  Keeping your body under subjection.  That takes care of physical maladies/sins as a source of weakness!  (Please don’t misinterpret.  I am not saying all physical ailments are sin.  But we are responsible to care for the body God has given and not impose weakness on it by poor choices or neglect.)
            5.  Rest. We need quiet times; seasons when the heart and mind are both still.  We rest that we may work.  Just carry the burden God gives you; bear that, and you will always find it enough. And when your part is done—rest your heart and soul in His embrace.
            6.  We need the light and sunshine of goodness around us.  We need it from others, and we need to be sharing it out ourselves. Spread a little bit of kindness and love around you.  Be good to others.  Smile. Be happy.  Enjoy life.
            7.  We need a good atmosphere.  This comes from choosing good friends, avoiding gossip and bitterness, exercising grace and forgiveness, and refusing to live under a cloud of despair.
            8.  Help. We are not alone on this earth.  We are not superhuman. We need help from those around us for encouragement, instruction, correction, and companionship. Others need those same things from us.
            9.  We need nerve.  Nerve is soundness.  The opposite would be anxiety.  Anxiety is bred by fear and worry, but God has much to say about dispelling them. “Casting all your care upon Him,” “Take no thought for tomorrow.” “Fear not.” And “say to them of timid heart, be strong.”
            10.  We need will to be strong.  If we have a will to be strong, we will cherish the right principles, take the nutrition available in God’s word, work to a healthy regimen, rest, look for and create sunshine and a good atmosphere.  We will seek help from God and others and stay away from things that unnerve our resolve.
            Take time to think through these things and personalise them.  God is there to help you, but you must do your part.  Lay aside the weights and excuses.  Get up off that couch and stand up strong, moving forward with strength in your whole spirit.
“That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man.”  Ephesians 3:16

adapted from: Westminster Chapel Pulpit, Rev S Martin

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Week Thirty-Eight - Desperation

Beside the Well

I’m one of those people who try to do things right.  I don’t like to think I am failing or not keeping up with my responsibilities.  I put too much pressure on myself, but that’s the way things work for me!
It creates subconscious anxiety that can overwhelm me and occasionally cast me into a pit of despair and desperation.  I’m not a manic-depressive, but I am aware of my tendency to take on too much and expect more of myself than is humanly possible.
I came across a verse in Isaiah that cried out to me the other day.  “O Lord, I am oppressed; undertake for me”(Isaiah 38:14).  Isn’t that beautiful?  Not being oppressed, but that the Lord would undertake for me.  The word undertake means to put up a security or make a guarantee. (Strongs 6148) 
When I am overwhelmed, He promises to lift me up; to undergird my soul.  He steps in and strengthens my humanity to accomplish things I would otherwise never achieve.
And that humanity thing—we are stuck with it for now!  We are desperately human!
Dan DeWitt, in his book Life in the Wild, wrote, “Experience exposes our inner decay…you see, you probably know deep down that you can’t fix you…he (God) is the only one who can make you right.  But it’s not a quick one-time fix.  And to be brutally honest, it will kill you.  But the “you” that will die in the process is not the person you were meant to be. It's the rebel who resists God’s ways to your shame.  You will discover that, in the depth of the old you, something lovely will emerge. Not perfect, in any earthly sense, but something that’s in the process of being restored and one day will be fully returned to its original purpose.  At times it may feel as if the cure of worse than the disease.  But it will only feel this way temporarily…you’ve tried pretty hard to help yourself.  And it really hasn’t worked yet.  You have a sinking suspicion that it never will.”
Now that’s desperation.  But I love the truth that God is always working to re-create His image in our lives. He undertakes.  He promises that one day we will be in His likeness, and the death of His Son has secured our guarantee.
We live in a desperately fallen world, but we do not have to live in desperation. We can live with the security given by salvation, and the promise of God’s undertaking when we feel desperate. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Week Thirty-Seven - Who Can Walk with God?

Beside the Well

One of my favorite things to do is walk around my block while talking to God. With the sun shining and the breeze blowing against my face, I look up into His creation and know His presence. We talk through lots of stuff!
While reading Isaiah the other day, I came across a question that made me think again about my prayer walks, “Who can walk with God?” Isaiah answered this question in three ways: what we should do, what we should avoid, and what we can expect to receive.  
Isaiah 33:15-17, 34:16 “He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from evil. He shall dwell on high! His place of defence shall be the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure.  Thine eyes shall see the King in his beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off…seek ye out of the book of the Lord, and read: no one of these shall fail.”
What should we do?  Walk and talk righteously and uprightly.  We don’t use those words in everyday speech, so let’s give them an updated definition. Walk obediently (according to God’s word) and talk straight, fair, and honest.
Okay. That sounds easy enough.  So what should we avoid?  1) Perverse speech and actions (the opposite of walking righteously and uprightly) 2) Ill-gotten gains (gambling and get-rich-quick schemes) 3) Bribery (dishonest business dealings) 4) Hearing of murder and violence (this is all around us, on the news, on social media, in the video games we all play) 5) Looking at evil (pornography and explicit material in any form, be it in magazines, on the Internet, or through our phones, TV screens, and movies, and anything ungodly or satanic).
That got much harder, didn’t it?  It sounds easy to say walk and talk right, but when the definition starts to get more pointed, it makes for uncomfortable reading.  We might even take offense or begin to argue.  What’s wrong with a little game of bingo with friends?  So what if I don’t turn everything in on my taxes? Surely, God isn’t bothered about us watching TV; it is only pretending.   There can’t be that much harm in a bang-bang shoot’em up video game can there? 
I’ll leave you to ponder those thoughts between you and God.  Let’s move on to what we can expect to receive when we walk with God.  1) We will live on a higher plain (our life will be enriched).  2) We will have God’s protection.  3) We can be assured of continual sustenance.  4) and refreshing abundance. 5) We will see God in our life  (Matthew 5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God”).6) We will live with heaven in view (a life of hope and expectation).
Do you see the last admonition in the verses above?  READ!  Look into God’s word for yourself and find the counsel you need.  If you want to walk along with Him, you need to know what He expects!  
Can you walk with God?

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Week Thirty-Six - Down Into Egypt

Beside the Well

Proverbs 8:8, 9, 11, 35  “All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing froward or perverse in them.  They are all plain to him that understandeth and right to them that find knowledge…for wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it. …for whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the Lord.”
Isaiah 30:21, 33:6 “Thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, this is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left….And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times, and strength of salvation: the fear of the Lord is his treasure.”
How wonderful! Look at the beauty and surety of God’s word. Allof his words are righteous.  Allof his words are plain and right.  There is nothing froward or perverse in them.  What does that mean?  There are no tricks or crookedness in God’s word.  It is plain – honestly straight and proper.  It never hurts your ears or offends.  It is always true and gracious, even when it has something hard to say.
But then I read, Isaiah 30:1-3.  “Woe to the rebellious children, saith the Lord, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin: that walk to go down into Egypt, and have not asked at my mouth; to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt.  Therefore shall the strength of Pharaoh be your shame, and the trust in the shadow of Egypt your confusion.”
How sad we so easily hear the voice of Egypt – the world – above the gentle wooings of God’s word.  Why? Because God’s word sounds so simple? So plain?  Because it leaves no room for self or pride?  Because the voice of the world sounds more appealing or claims to promise more advancement and acceptance? 
Don’t be fooled.  The voice of the tempter always knows how to appeal to your baser self; that self who wants to be first.  That one who wants all the adulations; to be best, most prominent or noticed.  Sadly, it ends in shame and confusion.  
We are wiser to hear God’s word.  The word that calls us to face our weaknesses, to repent of our sinful pride, and the word that holds true richness and nourishment for our inner hunger. 
Look back at those verses in Isaiah 30:21 & 33:6.  Do you see the promises?  God’s word will be a little voice in your ear helping to guide you through life.  It will bring stability, strength, and genuine treasure.
Why? Because all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it. …for whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the Lord” (Proverbs 8:11, 35).  The world can never make that promise – never!  Only God can give these things.  
I don’t know about you, but when I look at the beauty, plainness, and assurance of God’s word, I rest in His promises.  I shut out the voice of the world, and know I am listening to and following a true path – one holding life and favour.  Why would I ever want to go “down into Egypt?”

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Week Thirty-Five - Mints and Chips

Beside the Well

            When I was in High School, I became addicted to breath mints.  Now don’t laugh so loudly!  It became a real problem for me!  I found myself unable to stop popping one after another into my mouth. I feared bad breath and rejection from my classmates.  I know now it was an immature fear, but keeping fresh breath seemed like a sure way to keep from losing friends.
            By the time I noticed it as an addition, I was eating three or four packets per day.  Needless to say, they did a destructive job on my teeth!  I knew nothing about addictions, but I knew I needed to break this cycle.  I simply quit buying them.  And that was the end of that.
            A few years ago, I caught myself in another addiction.  We were home on furlough, and I began to love American potato chips – Lays specifically!  I was gaining weight, but not too much, so I accommodated my enjoyment and munched away a bag at a time!  I think it was mostly a release of anxiety, but I had begun to notice I was eating them so fast the chip flakes were flying out the corners of my mouth as a crammed them in.
            One day, while at the home of my in-laws, my brother-in-law also noticed my frenzied eating and made comment.  Immediately, conviction hit my heart. I was shoving down potato chips as fast as I could go with no hesitation or consideration.  Again, I had to stop my obsession.  So, right there I said to myself, “That’s it.  No more potato chips.  Not even one.”  I went cold turkey.  I didn’t eat a single chip for five years.  Now, I can eat a few and enjoy them without becoming a potato-chip maniac!
            While reading Dr. Caroline Leaf’s book, The Perfect You,I came across this statement about addictions, “…addictive substances, (cocaine, alcohol, the American diet, cigarettes) [did you catch that?  the American diet?] make a person temporarily feel good and entice the person to use the drug and addictive substance more often.  Yet this enticement is the desire to hide pain; it is not merely because the substance has ‘hijacked’ the brain.  This means the CHOICE to overcome an addiction is the most powerful and effective factor to overcome addictive behaviour.” (P 53)
            And there you have it…the choice is the core.  I chose to eat breath mints to hide the pain of my immature fear of relationships.  I chose to eat potato chips to hide my anxiety.  When I decided to face the source, it was easy to give up the activity. That’s all good!  But then, she went on to qualify a bit more of her statement.
            “We are wired to be addicted to and consumed by God.  Nothing else will satisfy this need to pray continually and set up a constant internal dialogue with the Holy Spirit, so that we stay addicted to Him, offering up our minds and bodies as a living sacrifice every day. (Romans 12:2).”
            Addicted to God?  What a wonderful thing!  She gave a list of verses – Psalm 42:2, 63:1, 73:25, 119:20, Isaiah 26:9, John 4:13-14, 6:35, Revelation 21:6-all of them pointing to our soul’s desire and longing to be with God.
            I thought of the verse in Acts 17:28,  “For in him we live, and move, and have our being.”  He is our all in all.
            The day I was saved, the following song became my testimony, and it still is today.

​"Only Jesus Can Satisfy Your Soul" by Lanny Wolfe

The world will try to satisfy that longing in your soul,
You may search the wide world over but you'll be just as before.
You'll never find true satisfaction until you've found the Lord,
For only Jesus can satisfy your soul.

Only Jesus can satisfy your soul
And only He can change your heart
And make you whole;
He'll give you peace you never knew
Sweet love and joy and Heaven too,
For only Jesus can satisfy your soul.

            Isn’t that what we are looking for in addictions?  Satisfaction?  Something that will bring peace to our souls?  I think that desire is God-given.  It is the thing that draws us to Him.
            “Oh, Lord, may You become the thing to which we are obsessed.  May we once and for all settle our minds that You are our heart’s desire.  Only You can satisfy. May we become addicted to You.”