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Knowledge, inspiration, and encouragement from a Christian perspective is my goal. I post a weekly commentary, which could be about world events or the events of my week. Other days I might share stories, recipes, homemaking tips, book reviews, political talk, biblical truth, or other blogs and websites I like. This blog is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

WHAT'S RIGHT WITH THE WORLD?

This past weekend I went kayaking on the Susquehanna River with five of my favorite friends.  The weather was perfect for such an outing as it wasn't too hot and the river was low and calm.  While four gals waited on shore for their turn, a friend and I paddled our boats and chatted about all kinds of things.  She brought up an interesting question that probably most of us have thought about.  She said, "I often wonder how people see me."  She was wondering what words people would use to describe her and if she had any qualities that others might be turned off by.

I told her that we all wonder how we're perceived by others.  And most likely, we all have qualities that can be annoying to others.  With so many different personalities around us, how can we possibly find favor with everyone all the time?  I'm probably perceived as an extremist to some.  When something makes me mad, I write about it or share a  video on the subject.  My readers probably say, "Let's check out Danelle's blog and see what intense news she has for us today."

The last video I shared on facebook was about genetically modified food.  I think it's deceiving that 85% of all processed and packaged food is genetically modified and yet there is no labeling to let us know that.  I think it's a crime that this experimental food is unknowingly sold to us and has been since 1996.   With so many people complaining about stomach and intestinal problems, perhaps we are now seeing the result of eating this garbage for fourteen years.

Before I go off on another rant about the things that make me mad, I want to lighten it up today and talk about the things that make me happy.  What's right with the world?  It's time to talk about that.  Getting back to kayaking, one thing that makes me happy is enjoying the company of good friends and the beauty of God's creation. I love the outdoors.  I love the smell of fresh cut grass, logs burning on an open fire, and the earthy scent of a cool Autumn day.

One thing that's right with the world is our freedom to enjoy family, friends, and nature.  I can't imagine what life would be like without my husband, my kids, my mom, my sister, and two brothers.  It's good to know I have family.  I love to fill my house with people I care for.  How lonely it would be to celebrate holidays without them.  Every home is just waiting to be filled with laughter, love, and good conversation  And in those moments when everyone I love is around me, chatting, laughing, and enjoying each other, I'm my most content.  This is what life's about and there's nothing better.

The only thing that makes it better is a beautiful atmosphere.  Can you remember a time when nature took your breath away?  Can you remember being in a place that was so vividly spectacular you could barely take it in without feeling that you might burst from the awesomeness of it? I feel this way when I stand next to the ocean, or when I look across a glassy lake surrounded by deep green pines, silhouetted against the clearest blue sky. Nature is a stirring vision that has the power to fill us with breathless awe.  Our world is filled with such amazing sights, so many I have yet to see.  Just knowing that these sights are out there waiting for me is one more reason to wake up tomorrow.  Despite the problems we face, the earth's beauty is all around us, reminding us of the higher power that created it.

Which leads me to the next thing that's right with the world.  God is still in control.  Although I'm passionate about exposing error and speaking out against injustice, I know that all the things happening today are part of God's prophetic plan. My feathers get ruffled, but I still have peace.  Living peacefully among the chaos is exactly how God wants us to live.  He didn't design us for the kind of stress people feel every day.  Without a closeness to God, we don't handle that stress well and our lives will show it.  God is the greatest thing that's right with this world.  He's the only source of real peace.  You can try to replace God with other things, but you'll always feel empty when you lie waiting for sleep at days end.

God is in His heaven.  All is right with the world.

Monday, September 6, 2010

SECURITY IN AN UNCERTAIN WORLD

Read today's headlines and you can become overwhelmed, even panicked at how our world is changing so quickly.  Perhaps the biggest change is America's financial outlook. Our national debt is rapidly approaching the 14 trillion dollar mark.  Many of our state and local governments may be in worse shape than the federal government.  Consumer debt now stands at about 12 trillion dollars.  The U.S. trade deficit has exploded as billions more dollars flow out of the country each month compared to what flows in.  We also have a job deficit  It takes over eight months for the average unemployed American to find a job, and long term unemployment benefits for Americans have risen over 60 percent in the past year.

The credit crunch, the housing crisis, rising bankruptcies, rising poverty, and the coming pension crisis have also contributed to the state of financial panic that many Americans find themselves in today.  We are headed towards an economic meltdown and big names such as Tony Robbins are coming forward with warnings about how to handle our money in today's precarious economy.  Robbins is warning people not to plant seeds in winter.  He's suggesting that we be very careful with our money right now because many of the returns we once saw on our financial investments are no longer available.  Our seeds will not sprout in today's bitter cold economy.

One example of a seed that won't sprout right now is home buying as a means to build wealth.  "People shouldn't look at a home as a way to make money because it won't," says Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research.  Many real estate experts now believe that home ownership will never again yield the rewards like those enjoyed in the second half of the 20th century. Sales of previously owned US homes have dropped to their lowest pace in 15 years (down 27%).  Many potential buyers worry that they might not have a job to pay the mortgage.  And many people can't qualify for loans because banks have tightened their lending standards.

The US building industry has collapsed and home buying is at record lows.  Even with especially low mortgage rates, few Americans are buying homes.  It seems that more Americans are losing their homes than those buying homes.  Mortgage defaults, foreclosures, and home repossessions by banks are skyrocketing.  More banks are selling homes than are realtors.  The financial future of America and the economic prosperity of its citizens  is on shaky ground.  And as tensions in the Middle East continue to rise, no one feels secure.  An all out war in the Middle East would collapse the world economy and paralyze the financial markets as the price of oil would rise to heights we haven't yet seen.

How can we feel secure when we're surrounded by so much insecurity?  Some people tell us to buy gold.  Others suggest stocking food in the basement or investing in survival items that we can use to barter with neighbors.  The value of our money is falling rapidly.  The Federal Reserve has devalued the US dollar by over 95 percent since 1913 and it continues to print money with nothing to back it, making the dollar worth less and less.  People are trying to replace their lost retirements by seeking other ways to generate income.  The problem is they are buying into worldly providence when they should be seeking divine providence.

Divine providence comes only from God.  In His word God tells us how we can remain close to Him and receive His protection and blessings in the difficult days ahead.  Instead of knocking ourselves out trying to build worldly wealth, we should be trusting God for our security.  The bible tells us how we should behave and think.  It tells us what behavior will bless us and what will curse us.  If we want God's blessings and if we want Him to provide for our needs, we need to put Him first and obey His instruction.

How many of us are putting God first?  How many of us are obeying His word?  Even every-Sunday-church- going Christians are more caught up in worldly security than godly security.  They spend more time seeking worldy wealth than they do seeking the wealth of  wisdom and guidance in God's word.  In 1 Timothy 6: 17 we are told not to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God who gives us richly all things to enjoy.  The key to survival in difficult times is not to build worldly wealth but to trust and abide in Christ.

TRUST AND ABIDE IN CHRIST
Abiding in Christ means being obedient to Him with unconditional, pure, complete faith, trust and love.  In 1 John 3: 24 we are told that he who keeps God's commandments abides in God.  God also abides in him through the Holy Spirit.  We all learned the ten commandments in Sunday school.  These are the basic rules for living that God gave us.  Are we obediently following those commandments?  And are we studying God's word and learning other ways to be obedient?

One other way to be obedient is found in Psalm 41:1 "Blessed is he who considers the poor; The Lord will deliver him in time of trouble."  By giving to the poor, we are obeying God's word and we will be blessed for it.  God's word also tells us to care for orphans and widows.  Another way to be obedient is by tithing, giving the first 10 percent of your income to God.  Donate to your church, give to charitable organizations that help the poor, or give to any organization that is working to uphold God's laws (Pro Life pregnancy centers, the ACLJ, etc.)  God promises in Malachi 3:10 that those who tithe will receive such a blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.  God says, "try me now in this."  Start tithing and let God prove himself.  He has proved himself to our family.  Since we started tithing, we have been blessed with good health, employment promotions and unexpected financial blessings.


If we aren't abiding in Christ then we miss out on God's guidance, protection, and provisions.  "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God which surpasses all comprehension will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" 

Some people think that God owes them something, but they don't owe God anything.  This is not how it works.  If we aren't seeking God, He lets us alone to deal with life without Him.  We miss out on divine guidance and divine provisions for our every need.  We miss out on God's amazing blessings. Every promise in the book of Psalms is addressed to those who seek God and obey His commandments (notice the bold phrases below).  Psalm 91 gives us a wonderful explanation of the security that God promises to those who trust in the Lord:
"He who dwells in the secret shelter of the most high will abide under the shadow of the almighty.  I will say to the Lord, my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust! For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper and from the deadly pestilence... His faithfulness is a shield and a bullwark (wall of protection)...For He will give His angels charge over you to guard you in all your ways.  Because he has loved me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him securely on high because he has known my name. If you're not abiding in Christ by praying, studying God's word, and praising Him, then you shouldn't expect Him to provide for you.  God doesn't come into your life without an invitation.  When we abide in Him, He faithfully cares for us.

DEVELOP A LIFE OF PRAISE, PRAYER, AND WORSHIP

We are commanded to continually offer praise to God (Hebrews 13:15).  Praise drives the power of darkness away and brings the throne of God into your circumstances.  Psalm 145 is a great praise psalm.  Give thanks in all situations.  Complaining shows that you doubt God's love and his answer to your needs.  Be careful what you say.  You can literally change the spiritual atmosphere by the words you speak.  God's word is annointed.  Speaking God's word brings you into a place where the Lord will move to fulfill what you are asking.

For every problem we could possibly face, there is a fitting promise in God's word.  For example, when I can't sleep, I say out loud every scripture I can think of that would move God to let me sleep:  "Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest." That is God's promise in Matthew.  If I say out loud what God has promised me, I set in motion the fulfillment of His promise.  Prayer is so powerful.  We don't tap into that power often enough.

We can pray anywhere.  We don't have to be on our knees.  We can pray while driving, while washing dishes, etc.  We should pray relentlessly for unsaved family members, for our government leaders, for our schools and our churches.  Our churches need to wake up and stop denying the power of God through the Holy Spirit.  Our churches need to open their eyes and realize the time and the season in which we live.  No one knows the exact time that the Lord is coming to remove His followers, but according to 2 Timothy 3: 1 we should know the season when this event is near, and our churches should be preparing people for Christ's return.  Every single item on God's list that describes the last days is true of today.  The last days are upon us but who even sees it?  Who's really prepared?  Overall, our churches are doing an inadequate job of preparing people for the perilous times we live in and the promise of Christ's return. 

We should pray for our nation and that its people would turn from their wicked ways. We should pray for the peace of Jerusalem and God's blessings on Israel.  We should pray that all of Israel's enemies be overthrown.  God promises to bless those who bless Israel.  My husband sends money to the Joshua fund, a charitable organization that works to bless Israel according to Genesis 12: 1-3.  We also pray for Israel.  When you pray or donate for Israel, you will be blessed in amazing and unexpected ways.  We have seen these blessings in our lives since blessing Israel.  God is true to His word.  Praise, prayer and worship will literally change your life.  If you have doubts, try it and God will prove Himself to you.  You will receive strength, blessings, and divine providence when you develop a life of praise, prayer and worship.

Seeking worldly security is not the answer to these troubled times.  The world is an insecure place.  But God is always a secure place to fall.  He wants to be the one we turn to when life gets scary and we fear the future. Don't plant seeds in winter, unless they're seeds of faith.  Don't trust in uncertain riches but in the living God who gives us richly all things to enjoy.

Friday, September 3, 2010

LOVING THE WORLD MORE THAN GOD

Some people are never satisfied.  No matter how much you do for them, they're always waiting with a list of more things they want.  I have a saying in my home: "Push for more, get nothing."  If there's one thing that gets my blood boiling it's people who can't be happy with what they're given.  They're always pushing for more and forever complaining about what they don't have.  It's like giving a gift and then having the recipient look at you and say, "But where's that other thing that goes with it?"  They can't focus on the gift itself.  All they see is the item that wasn't included.

People are too caught up in the world.  That's the problem.  We crave all the latest toys: laptops, i-pods, MP3's, cell phones, DVD players, video games.  Every month brings a new must-have obsession.  We take our kids school shopping and think we're finished buying clothes for a while.  Then when all the girls at school start wearing a certain style shirt, we have to run back to the mall and get more clothes.  Its ridiculous!  Why so much pressure to dress a certain way?  I wore the clothes I was given and never complained.  Today's young girls behave as if they'll die without stylish clothes.  Why do we need all this stuff?!  Why can't we just be happy with what we have?  Mothers are tired of running everywhere to please kids who have a bad case of  I-need-itis.

I think God is also tired of the way we put so much energy into having things and little or no energy into having a relationship with Him.  Maybe that's what this bad economy is all about.  Maybe we all deserve to be dirt poor so we get our priorities straight for once.  The day is quickly coming when all the things we think we need so much are going to turn to dust.  All we'll have left is our relationships.  And then we can sit and regret what little effort we put into those relationships.  Husbands and wives who put more effort into their jobs than their marriages will wish for a do-over.  They'll wish they hadn't ignored their spouses pleads for more time, more attention and more affection.  They'll wish they had paid more attention to their kids.

I think God is also crying for our attention right now.  But we don't hear Him.  We're too busy running around for all the latest and greatest toys and gadgets.  We're too busy fussing about the things other people have that we don't have.  We're too into ourselves and how we look to others.  We're too in love with this world to give God the time of day. Life isn't about things, it's about people.  That's what we should be investing in.  Relationships are the only things we'll take with us from earth to Heaven.  The fancy car in the garage isn't going.  The new dress isn't going.  The laptop won't be there either.  We need to get our priorIites straight.  Because if we don't, God will do it for us.