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A Contrast of Citizenships

I began to notice the subtle shift in my thinking about teaching U.S. Citizenship classes last year during the election. It really hit full force this week and it is a HUGE contrast to how I feel about sharing about Jesus and citizenship in heaven.

I have helped and taught refugees and immigrants for over 20 years. I have been to many U.S. Citizenship ceremonies and watched as my friends/students proudly became citizens of their new country. Those were such special moments for me.

But as we went through last year with all of the looting and burning down of cities, an election that I am still not sure of, and what transpired this week in Washington D.C., I noticed it yesterday as I taught Citizenship test prep classes.

I no longer believe in what I am teaching. I have lost that pride of being an American. I was only going through the motions of teaching but my heart was not in it. Corruption is rampant on both sides of the political aisle.

BUT

I most certainly believe in Jesus and the eternal citizenship in his kingdom that he offers freely to anyone who will believe in him. Jesus is not and never will be corrupt. In Jesus there is no darkness at all.

I am not certain if I will continue teaching U.S. Citizenship classes.

I most definitely will continue to share about Jesus and the heavenly citizenship he offers freely. His kingdom is not of this world but one day his kingdom will be fully realized on earth when he returns.

Until then I am called to be his ambassador, to represent him, in a world so full of turmoil.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

What Does Jesus Want Me to Do During This Turmoil?

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior 1st Timothy 2:1-4

Paul wrote these words in his first letter to Timothy. That letter was written at a time Christians were persecuted in severe ways probably around the time Nero was Emperor of Rome. Christians were fed to lions, burned alive, and crucified. Paul called for Christians to pray for the leaders who were doing such things.

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In light of what happened yesterday in Washington D.C., and in light of last year, now more than ever is a time for Christians to pray.

My blog is not about politics. But I will say that whether I agree with any leader or not, I am still called to pray for them.

I am called to represent Jesus in this terribly fallen world. It is the highest calling anyone can have. Paul also wrote in 2 Corinthians chapter 5:

We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

Jesus is still on his throne in heaven. Nothing can change that and he calls Christians to represent him in this fallen world to be his ambassadors. The world needs Christians to show Christ’s love in the midst of this pandemic and chaos.

That is my goal for this coming year to be an ambassador for Jesus in this fallen world.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Wellness Wednesday- Chosen Family

Today I am starting a new series Wellness Wednesday. My hope is to share about various issues regarding wellness whether physical health or mental health. The posts will be more along the lines of encouragement rather than advice. My first topic is Chosen Family.

Family issues are something I have experienced myself having grown up in a family with an alcoholic father and a mother who had mental health issues she never sought help for. What do we do when our biological family has severe problems or even just some problems? What do we do if the situation is toxic? I would always encourage someone to seek counseling of course.

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How do we balance what the bible says about honor your father and your mother with a situation like what I grew up in?

Jesus shed light on this when his own earthly family tried to interfere with his ministry in Mark chapter 3.

Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”

Imagine the scenario. Jesus our creator who came to earth to be our Savior experienced his mother and his half brothers coming to “take charge of him” thinking he was crazy.

When someone told him his mother and half brothers were outside, Jesus’ response was:

Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked.

Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”

Jesus shared that those who do God’s will are his family. This sheds light on something for me that has been helpful. Look to those who are part of God’s family when biological family is a problem.

What do I mean by that? How does this look in my life?

When my biological parents were alive, I did try to share with them, prayed for them, and remembered things like their birthdays. But I did not look to them for guidance, encouragement, or reinforcement.

Important Note- if you have been a victim of any kind of abuse please seek counseling and guidance. If being around those who abused you is harmful, please seek counseling.

When I was younger, I sought out people older than me in church who I respected for those important aspects of life. Now I am older, but I still think of my close friends at church as my chosen family.

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Chosen family are those people who we know truly have our best interest in mind, who we can healthy relationships with, and who can encourage us in our lives and faith. Friends can come and go in our lives, but there are some who I have stayed friends with for almost 30 years.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Who Jesus Is- John 3:31-36

If I were to divide John into theme sections, I would place chapters 1 to 3 as introduction to who Jesus is with chapter 4 beginning the section of Jesus’ miracles proving who he is.

It is fitting that at the end of chapter 3, John recaps the basic truths about Jesus in the first three chapters. It could be summed up as Jesus has all authority being from God and being God. The recap sets the stage for what will transpire in following chapters as Jesus shows who he is. Jesus is our creator who came into our fallen world to be our Savior.

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In verse 31 we see the contrast between Jesus and all others. Jesus is from above and speaks of things above with above being heaven. Those who are of the earth speak of earthly matters.

We also see in verse 33 that whoever accepts the words of Jesus certifies that God is truthful.

Verse 34 has a wonderful promise that God gives the Spirit without limit. Jesus teaches more about the Holy Spirit in later chapters.

In verse 35 we see two distinct persons- The Father and The Son. We see that The Father loves The Son-Jesus, and has given all things into Jesus’ hands. So we see even in the brief recap in John 3 that there are 3 distinct persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit-the Trinity. It is so had for us to fathom 3 persons in perfect unity, oneness, who have existed for all eternity.

Analogies fall so short but one that I like is the sun in the sky. The sun exists in 3 forms and the same time, solid, liquid, and gas. It is one sun in the sky with three forms.

The chapter ends with a promise yet also a warning in verse 36:

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.

If we believe in Jesus, we have eternal life. Jesus only sees two groups of people, those who know him and those who do not. My desire is to share Jesus.

The recap is important and not to be overlooked as it sets the stage to the encounters people will have with Jesus in following chapters. In the following chapters, Jesus our creator and Savior shows who he is.

The question each person is faced with is who is Jesus to you and does it match up with the Jesus of the bible?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Last Day of Break-Back to Class Tuesday

This is my last day of winter break. It was nice to have several no alarm clock days, but I must admit I am looking forward to being in class again. I have not seen anyone in person since the day before break except cashiers and the one morning a friend took me to the eye specialist.

What did I accomplish? I rested A LOT, interacted with fellow bloggers, watched some movies online and most importantly spent some time with Jesus. In other words, I enjoyed the break 🙂

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But it is time to be in class again and see my students whether they are in class or in Zoom. It is also time to see my fellow teachers even if it is just waving at a window to their classroom.

My dream for this semester would be for the vaccine to work against this pandemic so that after Spring Break in March, we can all be in the classroom back to “normal.” Even if we could do so at the end of the semester. It would be wonderful to celebrate with a party in class with the moms bringing food to share like we did in previous years.

The pandemic is not over yet, so please keep praying for teachers and students and keep being kind to the teachers remembering they have no control over decisions.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Let’s Be Jesus to Others During This Pandemic

A wonderful blessing for me last year was meeting new friends even in the midst of the pandemic. God knows that I am very much a people person. Even when I travel, most of the pictures I take are of people not places.

Midway through last year, Jesus connected me with some Brazilians living in Winnipeg Canada for English lessons via Zoom. Our lesson times were some of the highlights for me week to week as I stayed home due to COVID. Jesus knows how much I love my Brazilian friends and even in the midst of the pandemic, he connected me with a few married couples in Winnipeg.

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Studying online it is a bit more difficult to gage the impact meetings are having on a person. Visiting people in their homes or having them in person in my classroom is much easier to get a feel for how they are reacting.

Last Wednesday, I had my final lessons with the two couples. At the end of the second lesson, the wife started to thank me for our lesson times of the past year but burst into tears unable to communicate.

It was then that I realized what our lesson times meant to her. The shutdowns where she is living are much stricter that in my small Midwestern city. For her the shutdown experience is compounded by the fact that for her Canada is a foreign country and she has a only handful of Brazilian friends there. However, she cannot visit them in person, so she feels isolated.

As long as I am in this life, my desire is to represent Jesus to those who are suffering whatever the suffering may be.

Dear reader, let’s be the hands of Jesus in the midst of this pandemic.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Journey Together in Blogging/Ideas for My Blog in 2021

I saw this quote and felt it expresses my sentiment about my interactions within the blogging community so well.

It is a huge blessing for me to see other bloggers grow in their following and in their writing. I love sharing the journey with other bloggers and try to help them in their journey.

Whether it is creating tags and tagging other bloggers, reblogging posts, leaving encouraging comments, sharing links to other blogs in my posts, or sharing blogging tips, it blesses me to be a small part of helping other bloggers grow.

Thank you to those who are on this blogging journey with me 🙂

Recently I tried something new which is sharing posts about John in the bible on Tuesdays. Last year I shared a short term series of Let Their Voices Be Heard. Blogging tip for today- Don’t be shy to try something new.

While praying, one thing I feel led to do starting next Wednesday is a series focused on wellness. Not as a health adviser because I am not a medical professional. It will be spiritually focused sharing my experience on various aspects of mental health, chronic illness, relationships etc. We will see how it goes. The first post next Wednesday will be about Chosen Family.

This year I plan to finally make my blog one with a private domain. When I do, I might explore a different theme for the blog but am not sure about that.

Thank you for being on this journey with me.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.