Bronchitis- but-Belize Bosnia Brazil Colombia and Iraq

I started having another bout of bronchitis late last week. Friday night I didn’t sleep much because I kept coughing. For me it is not a big deal because having asthma, I have been through it many times.

I did not want to let bronchitis stop me from my Saturday morning ministry. No great prayer by me to start my day other than to say to the Lord, “I need your strength.” He answered by giving me the strength to meet with friends from four different countries/3 different continents.

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It was a wonderful morning that started with meeting with my new friend from Bosnia who I wrote about yesterday. We had a good conversation time.

Then it was study group time with some young men from Belize, Colombia and Iraq. We had a good conversation time. My young friend from Iraq is Yazidi. He told me it was the first time he had been in a church.He asked me why I was giving them my time. It led to me being to share about the time years ago I was sick, had to leave the university I was at in Minnesota, returned to Lincoln and needed help but did not have any help except from Jesus. It gave me an opportunity to share the love of Jesus.

A huge blessing was knowing that the teenage children of a family from Brazil went on the Youth Group retreat for the weekend. They went not knowing anyone. The family visited church with me last Sunday.

Today I will see my friends from Mexico and Vietnam for my Sunday morning group.

Just a glimpse into my life with friends from diverse countries. For me the key was getting out of bed even though I didn’t feel like it.

After my groups I went to the Minute Clinic at CVS and got prescriptions for Prednisone and an antibiotic.Hopefully I will be recovered enough for tomorrow for my week to start.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

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Love Your Neighbor

It has been a while since I met someone new from Bosnia. The situation stabilized there, so we have not had any refugees from there in a number of years. However, one young woman, whose parents came to my city from Bosnia in 1997, was born here. She recently married a young man from Bosnia and sponsored him to come here.

I met him Monday evening at the college. When I found out that he doesn’t like a popular Bosnian food called Sarma, I joked with him that I did not think he was really a Bosnian because he doesn’t like Sarma. Sarma is basically a cabbage roll.

He laughed. His wife told her mother what I said and she laughed. He called his family in Bosnia and told them what I said and they laughed. It was a wonderful ice breaker to start to get to know the family.

I will be meeting with him this morning for an English lesson. I do not know where this will lead to. I do know it can lead to a friendship. I hope and pray for an opportunity to share Christ’s love with him and his family.

Humor broke the ice but it would not have been possible if I did not know a little about Bosnian culture. If I want to be able to reach a person with the love of Christ, it helps to understand where the person is coming from. A few thoughts about understanding people:

1- Listen– they are the best teachers about who they are.

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2- Don’t put anyone into a box. We tend to want to keep people in a box based on prior knowledge, even if it is limited, but it can prevent us from getting to know the person.

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3- Remember the person we are talking with has great value because Jesus died for them

4- Take time to learn a little about their culture if it is different from our own.

5- Be open to new experiences and learning.

6- Be Flexible. This is so important when relating with other cultures but also within your own culture.

7- Last but most important- PRAY. By praying we invite Jesus into our lives and into our efforts. By praying we are led by Jesus in relating with others.

Learning to relate to others is part of loving them so we can live out what Jesus called the second great commandment in Matthew 22:

“Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

True Comfort

Living with chronic illness means having a life of ups and downs. Just last week I had my worst Fibromyalgia flare up ever. God gave me the strength to make it to teach my classes, but in the afternoons I slept for hours. My pain level one day was a 12 on a scale of 1 to 10. My morning time of listening to worship music and praying is what pulled me through along with the prayers of others.

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What keeps me going on my rough days is that I know God is with me. I have been through so many different trials since I rededicated my life to Jesus in October 1989 that I can see looking back the truth of Romans 8-“God causes all things to work together for those who love God and are called according to his purposes.””

However, I also understand that for some the struggle can be so hard that isolation and depression could set in.

One blogger I follow is a quadriplegic and has been through a rough time. Terri has a blog Diary of a Quadriplegic and she shared a post yesterday- Put Your Hope in God. I highly recommend reading the post and following her. If you check out her post and follow her, let her know you are praying for her. 🙂

Years ago I read the Heidelberg Catechism. It is in question and answer form. The first question and answer leads me to my point for today.

Q.What is your only comfort in life and death?
A.That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from all the power of the devil. He also preserves me in such a way that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, all things must work together for my salvation.Therefore, by his Holy Spirit he also assures me of eternal life and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for him.

My point today is that whatever happens in this life, we belong to Jesus. That is our comfort whatever happens. Jesus did not promise us life would be easy. He promised that he would always be with us. We cannot fathom the will of God and frankly there are times that life is so cruel it is hard to see God at work. Anyone who lives with chronic illness or who has been injured in an accident that left them in a wheelchair understands how cruel life can seem. But our true comfort is that we belong to God. Our true encouragement is that whatever we face in this life is not our forever. Our forever is with Jesus in heaven.

I want to share a video by Kristin Minor. I love her 5th thing that living with chronic illness has taught her, but I won’t spoil it for you. Just watch her video. Let me know what you think of her 5th thing she learned.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Story Time- Miracle Brownies

When I was 11 years old, I inherited my first “job’ from my older brother. He had gotten his first part-time job, so he could not cut the grass for an older couple who were our neighbors. They were a nice couple in their 60s.

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Once a week I went to their house to cut their grass or as we say in the USA-mow their lawn. The husband would come outside after I finished the back yard and we would sit down to drink a can of Squirt. Then I would do the front yard. After I finished mowing their lawn, they would have me come inside. We would sit down and to my surprise there were chocolate fudge brownies. I would eat three or four brownies and drink another can of Squirt.

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The first several weeks I thought, “Wow I am so lucky that she makes brownies on Wednesdays.” I thought it was like some kind of miracle. It took a about six or seven weeks for it to dawn on me that she planned to make the brownies on the days I came. I was only 11 after all. 🙂

This true life scenario of an older couple and an 11 year old boy causes me to think about God and us.

The 11 year old boy-me- at first thought the brownies were a lucky day that could not be explained.

The 65 year old woman knew I was coming and planned for it by making what she knew was my favorite-chocolate fudge brownies. She would also let me take some home.She knew because she had asked my older brother. She planned ahead of time for what seemed like a miracle to 11 year old me.

God is always at work in our lives. When the “miracle” happens, we feel blessed, happy, joyful, and on top of the world. We do not expect the miracle. It is a blessed surprise for us, but no surprise for God.

The 11 year old-me- had no ability to bake brownies, but it was something the 65 year old woman knew well.

Miracles are things that happen that we have no explanation for other than it was God. We don’t understand it. God knows all about it. He created the universe after all.

As we pray, let’s try to remember that God is not surprised by anything. He is all knowing and has all power. He is prepared and ready before we ask.

Now if I could just convince Dawn of drawingclosertochrist.com to try a peanut butter bacon burger. That might be a miracle 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Barnabas Award

Stu of Something to Stu Over at stubaby777.wordpress.com nominated me for this a while ago. Thank you Stu for your consideration. Stu shares his faith in his blog. Check it out 🙂

You have been chosen for this recognition because of the encouragement and inspiration you bring to your readers.

The way this works: Thank the person who nominated you, and share their blog. Think of five bloggers that encourage and inspire you and nominate them. List five things about yourself. Lastly, ask your nominees five questions. Why five? Because it is the number that signifies grace.

5 things about me

1- I rededicated my life to Jesus in October 1989 while listening to Lord of All by First Call.

2- I worked as a part-time janitor at Billy Graham’s World Headquarters in Minneapolis in 1991 while I was a student in a bible college, but they had to let me go because I couldn’t operate the buffing machine. lol

3- The Lord has blessed me to travel on 11 ministry trips to other countries.

4- One of my hobbies is to learn greetings in other languages, so I can greet people in 30 languages.

5- I like to visit my friends from other countries for lunch or dinner. 🙂

Stu’s questions for me

1. What do you do when trials come your way?

.My life is a series of trials. My normal response is to pray. The temptation to give up can be there, but there are too many people who need to know about Jesus, so that is not an option.

2. Who is your favorite author?

All of the authors in the bible who were inspired by the Holy Spirit. For secular my all time favorite is J.R. Tolkien..

3. Where do you find joy?

I find joy being in the presence of Jesus, spending time with friends from other countries, teaching English, and blogging.

4. Where is your favorite place to write?

In a coffee shop or in my home office.

5. What is your favorite writing genre?

I have eclectic interests. I enjoy devotional style writing about Jesus. I also enjoy quirky humor.…

This award is meant to encourage those who receive it. While there is no obligation to respond and to nominate others, it is a great way to appreciate those who bring hope and inspiration through their writing.

My Questions for my invitees if they wish to participate

1- What passage from the bible has spoken to you recently?

2-What are a few of your favorite worship songs?

3- Who is someone living today who inspires you in your faith?

4- How do you express God’s love to others?

5- Besides Jesus who we all want to meet, who is someone of faith in history you wish you could meet and why?

For my invitees, I want to get an international sense, so my invitees are

From the Philippines, Yeka of It’s All About Love at passcodelove.com

Originally from India, Sarah of My Witness at amerayd.wordpress.com

From Newfoundland Canada, Sally of Theology of a Newfoundland Housewife at newfoundlandhousewifestheology.com

A new blogger Onyinyechi of Onyninyechi ng at onyinyechiwodo.home.blog

Originally from Jamaica now in the USA Deandra of Imago Dei at deandrahurst.com


Music Mondays- For The One by Brian and Jenn Johnson

Let me be filled
With Kindness, and compassion for the One
The One for whom You love and gave Your Son
For humanity increase my love

Help me to love with open arms, like You do
A love that erases all the lines and sees the truth
So that when they look in my eyes, they would see You
Even in just a smile they would feel the Father’s love

I love the lyrics for this song For The One. What a difference it would make it if we asked God to fill us with his love for others. What a difference it would make if we saw each person we meet only as someone that Jesus loves and died for,

It isn’t easy at times. I know. There are people who make it difficult to love them. I am talking about toxic behavior not differences of culture, color, language, interests in life etc.

But what if that person who is different than us at work or in our neighborhoods, we began to pray for that person including that person others stay away from, that person who is a bit of an outcast or socially awkward.

There is a young woman who works in a market that I go to. It is an Organic/All Natural market. She has tattoos and nose piercing. She never smiled when I went in. I prayed for her. The next time I went in I noticed her necklace with an amulet. I told her the amulet was interesting and asked if it has special meaning for her. She told me it has her boyfriend’s ashes in it. I realized the reason she doesn’t smile is because she is grieving. I expressed my sympathy. Now when I go there, she waves at me.

What if we sought moments like that to express in simple ways the love God has for everyone?

Thank you for reading. God Bless

Legacy

I plan to return to sharing about my city and the different people groups in my city next Sunday, but felt I should share something Jesus reminded me of today. It has to do with being remembered after we die or as some would say legacy.

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First let’s consider how many millions or more of people who have lived and died throughout history who came to faith in Jesus or in the God of Israel before Jesus came. There is no way we can come to a number that is even in the ballpark.

Then consider how many of them are remembered in this life today. Even people who lived only 100 years ago, most are forgotten by now in this life. I don’t want to sound gloomy, but when I visit my father’s grave, I often think about the bodies buried in say 1910. No one is there to visit their graves.

It is an extreme minority of people who were part of the church even only 100 years ago who are still remembered today

Legacy is a fleeting thing. If I have any legacy in this life, it will be gone within a generation.

Doesn’t sound very hopeful or upbeat for a Sunday post, does it?

That gets me to my point. There is a legacy that we can enjoy for all eternity. God keeps it for us. Hebrews 6:10 says:

“God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.”

God remembers for us and he remembers vastly much better than we can. He remembers every little thing we do to show his love. God is eternal, so our legacy is eternal. This life is temporary, so any legacy in this life is fleeting.

All of the things that are clamored about and hyped in the media such as the Hollywood Walk of Fame or a Sports Hall of Fame will be gone when Jesus returns. It is nice to be honored in this life and my point is not against such honors, but only that such honors are temporary experiences.

Our true significance comes from knowing Jesus and God our Father. It is from that relationship that we show God’s love to others and God will never forget it.

So why work for temporary honors when we can seek what is eternal. God will remember EVERYTHING for all eternity and we can be with him for all eternity.

What are your thoughts about “legacy”?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

When God Answers Prayer

I spent Labor Day afternoon relaxing and also wrote my posts for Tuesday, Wednesday and yesterday. I am glad we can schedule when we want posts to publish. It ended up being a good thing that I wrote and scheduled posts because if I hadn’t. I may not have had posts those days.

Tuesday I was hit with the worst Fibromyalgia flare up that I have had. My pain on a scale of 1 to 10 was a 12. I managed to teach my morning class but came home after that and spent nine hours laying in bed. Wednesday was a little better and yesterday a little better. I am actually writing this Thursday, so don’t know what it will be like today Friday.

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As I was laying in bed Tuesday, I prayed to ask God to just take me home to heaven and that I was done with my work here. I managed to get out of bed for a while Tuesday evening and when I checked my Facebook, I had a message from someone who I used to share Jesus with.

” Hi Matt, how are you doing? I hope everything is okay with you. I’m so sorry that I haven’t been able to keep in touch with you for a long time. I think God is telling me that I should send you this message. I’ve been in depression since last winter and I’ve just felt better in June. Every day was hard for me. I woke up in the morning with the question in mind that why I was still alive, went to bed at night with thought that I could never wake up again. God saved me. I was struggling, and I kept praying. I have never prayed with such a devotion in my life. God wants me to live so he can show me his love. I remembered you always told me that God loved me, but to be honest with you, I didn’t quite understand. I know God loves me and I can still see or feel it in my life. I just don’t understand why. I didn’t see the value of myself that God sees. Long story short, I want to let you know how I’m doing and I hope you wouldn’t mind me sending you this long message “

God was letting me know there is more for me to do in this life. If God had taken me home to heaven, that would have been great. I mean nothing here in this life compares with heaven. However, God let me know he has a purpose for me being here.

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When God answers prayers, he answers knowing what is best for us and in ways that will get our attention. God knows that having a friend from another country send me a message would get my attention right away. He knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows how we are wired and how to get our attention.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Story Time- Remember to Take Showers

When I was a child, I swam for the swim team for my neighborhood swimming pool. One summer when I was 10 years old, I told my swim team coach that I would be gone for one week to go to church camp. He said, “okay remember to take showers.”

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As a ten year old boy I thought he had just told me a secret to be a good swimmer. He was my coach after all. When I thought back on that day as an adult, I realized he was actually telling a 10 year old boy to remember to shower because 10 year old boys tend to not think showers are needed and I was off to summer camp. 🙂

People are always looking for the secret to something, the key to success, the secret to life, that they are willing to spend money to go to ‘success gurus’, buy books on ‘the secret’, read endless books for self improvement just to find what is thought of as ‘the secret’ that no one knew before.

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It seems like every week there is some new diet with someone claiming to know the secret to a healthy life. One person says eat tomatoes and another says avoid tomatoes for example.

The desire for ‘secret’ knowledge has been a problem since Adam and Eve. God had told them not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In Genesis 2 we read:

“but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

But then along came Satan to tempt and he tempted with desire to know the secret and made it seem like God was hiding and withholding the secret:

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman.“For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

So many distractions from salvation through Jesus and knowing Jesus come as “secrets’. People make millions off of books claiming to have to secret to happiness, to success, to getting what you want from God as if God is a vending machine, to having your best life now. Religions have started because of someone claiming to have a ‘revelation’ no one else has ever had.

In the midst of the turmoil when Adam and Eve disobeyed God introducing sin into the world, God revealed his plan. He said to Satan and to Eve:

“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”

Right away God pointed to Jesus coming and the whole bible before Jesus points to Jesus.

The plan is as simple as what Jesus said in John 3:16- “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son so that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Jesus taught the simplicity of following God when he said in Matthew 22:

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

But we tend to want some complex formula or a “secret”

By the way there is something to taking a shower or a bath. People will want to be around us. lol 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Feel Urgent?

This past Saturday I was on a urgent mission. I had called in for a refill of my asthma inhaler but thought I would pick it up Sunday because my inhaler showed I had 10 inhalations left. But when I went to use my inhaler, nothing was left. It was 3:30 in the afternoon and the pharmacy closes early at 4pm on Saturdays.

It was a football Saturday and a home game. So I had to drive through post-game traffic. Also the street I usually take to make it a shorter drive is closed for construction. With the thought that I might really need my inhaler, it felt urgent to me to get to the pharmacy in time, so I took a different route to avoid game traffic. Fortunately I got there with five minutes to spare.

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Anyone with asthma would understand that feeling of urgency that I felt Saturday.

Then I felt convicted about some things .

Do I feel the same sense of urgency for people who do not know Jesus to come to know him?

Do I feel the same sense of urgency to pray for others?

Do I feel the same sense of urgency to show the love of Jesus?

The questions kept flooding my mind about whether I felt urgency for others.

“For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” 2 Corinthians 6:2

Thank you for reading. God Bless.