Wow – This Book is Amazing!

Hello Friends!

In regards to the Bible, we can safely say – never has there been a book that compares!

There are so many unique aspects of the Bible that few people have taken the time to uncover so please keep reading – you’ll be amazed!

The following article from http://www.BlueLetterBible.org gives us more amazing insight about the origins of the Bible:

“The Bible does indeed have a unique makeup. It is one of a kind – like no other book that has ever been written. There is nothing like it and it has no equal. This can be seen in a number of ways.

1. It Was Fifteen Hundred Years In The Making

From the composition of the first biblical book until the last, a period of fifteen hundred years elapsed. The Old Testament was written between 1400 and 400 B.C. The first book composed was either the Book of Genesis or the Book of Job. The books of the New Testament were written from approximately A.D. 40 to A.D. 80.

2. The Bible Was Written By Many Authors With Many Occupations

Over forty different human authors wrote the books of the Bible. These writers came from a variety of backgrounds and occupations. They included shepherds (Hosea and Amos) fishermen (Peter and John), a tax collector (Matthew), a doctor (Luke), and a military general (Joshua). At least four of the writers lived in the royal household: the kings (David and Solomon), a prime minister (Daniel) and a cupbearer (Nehemiah). Only a few of them, such as Paul, Luke, and Moses, received the finest education of their time.

3. Scripture Was Written In Different Literary Forms

The Bible consists of a number of different literary forms. It is a collection of letters, sermons, law, poetic descriptions, narratives of historical events, prayer, praise, practical sayings, and the warnings of the prophets. The sixty-six books also contain a wide array of writing styles which express the entire range of human emotions.

4. It Was Written Upon Three Continents

The books of the Bible were composed upon three different continents – Africa, Asia, and Europe. For example, the writings of Ezekiel were composed in Babylon (Asia); Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible in the Sinai desert (Africa); and the Apostle Paul wrote the letter to Philippi while in Rome (Europe).

5. Scripture Was Composed In Different Circumstances

There were a variety of circumstances in which the Biblical books were composed. Moses, for example, wrote while leading the children of Israel through the wilderness. Jeremiah penned his book while in a dungeon in Israel. Ezekiel composed his book while a captive in Babylon. The Apostle Paul wrote several of his works while in a Roman prison. John the evangelist wrote the Book of Revelation while banished to the island of Patmos. Obviously there was not a particular place or instance in which all of the biblical books were composed.

Though many other religions had a certain place where the divine word was revealed, this is not the case with the Bible. The God of the Bible was able to reveal Himself in many different places over an extended period of time. The writer to the Hebrews noted.
In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe (Hebrews 1:1,2)
6. Three Different Languages Were Employed In Scripture

The Bible was written in three different languages. The Old Testament was written mostly in Hebrew with some parts being composed in Aramaic – a language similar to Hebrew. The New Testament was originally written in Greek.

7. There Are Many Different Subjects Covered In The Bible

The Bible also covers a variety of subjects. These include the existence and nature of God, the creation of the universe, the meaning of human existence, the purpose of our existence, and the final destiny of humankind and the planet earth.

8. Most Authors Did Not Know One Another

Because the Bible was written over a period of fifteen hundred years most of the writers did not personally know the other writers of Scripture. In addition, the Old Testament authors would have been unfamiliar with the New Testament writings.

9. We Would Expect Chaos To Result From These Diverse Circumstances

Hence, the Bible was written over a period of fifteen hundred years, by forty different human authors from various backgrounds who wrote in different languages, upon different continents, in different circumstances, upon different subjects, and in different literary forms. These authors, for the most part, did not know each other. With all these contrasts one would expect something chaotic and disjointed when their writings were assembled into one book.

10. There Is One Unfolding Story In The Bible

Yet the Bible is a unity, one unfolding account from beginning to end in complete harmony and continuity. The Old Testament is incomplete without the New Testament and yet the New Testament does not make sense without the Old. Together the two testaments give a harmonious account of the dealings of God with humanity without any contradiction.

11. God Is The Source Of Scripture

Therefore one of the remarkable features of the Bible is its magnificent continuity. This is because God Himself is the source of the Bible. Moses declared.
The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law (Deuteronomy 29:29).
The Holy Spirit is the Divine author of Scripture. Peter wrote.
Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of humans, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:20,21).
Summary

The Bible has a unique makeup. It is different from any other book that has ever been composed. Over forty different authors wrote it over a period of fifteen hundred years. These authors came from all walks of life. They include fishermen, shepherds, a doctor, and a tax collector. The biblical authors lived on three different continents – Africa, Asia, and Europe. They also wrote under a number of different circumstances – including persecution and prison. The authors of Scripture wrote in three different languages – Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. The Bible was written in a number of different literary forms such as narrative, poetry, and law. The writers of the various books cover many different topics such as the existence of God, the creation and purpose of humankind, the explanation for the origin of evil and the coming of the Savior.

Although most of the writers did not personally know the other writers, they all speak on these topics with complete harmony and continuity. This marvelous feature of Scripture is a testimony to it being the Word of God – exactly what it claims to be.”

It is much more work to try to explain away the truth from the Bible than to admire the amazing evidence of its authenticity. We are so blessed to have a personal relationship with God the Father through Jesus – the “Word” that became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14) – the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2), the Beginning and the End (Revelation 21:6).

It is our privilege to study God’s Word and know Him! I pray that your journey of growing in Bible study in 2017 will be a truly miraculous experience!

Blessings to you, readers!

Georgiann

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Are You Ready to Grow?

Welcome to this journey to deepen your knowledge of the Word of God and strengthen your walk with the Lord through daily Bible study!  This is an opportunity that I am sharing with you because almost 40 years ago, I was presented this offer through the Christian Broadcasting Network’s 700 Club program, and that year changed my life!  Until that time, I had not established a regular Bible study routine.  It seemed overwhelming to me to study the Bible.  I had made some attempts now and then but found some areas too difficult to understand – even confusing –  so I gave up.

NOT studying the Bible had not-so-pleasant consequences.  I struggled in my relationship with God – some days up, seemingly many days down even though we attended church several times a week.  Some refer to this as a “yo-yo” Christian life.  What I was missing is that I had not understood what it means to become a “disciple” of Jesus Christ through knowing His Word.  When I received this challenge to read through the Bible, I somehow knew that this was the Lord speaking to me about deepening my relationship with Him through studying His Word.

That year started me on a life-long journey of having a daily “quiet time” with Jesus and it has been the my source of experiencing real life in Christ.  I am amazed at how I have felt the Lord speaking to me on a regular basis through my study specifically about things going on in my life.  Sometimes correcting, sometimes assuring.  Many times giving me the direction I needed to face a life issue.

Studying God’s Word causes my life to be transformed as my mind is renewed (Romans 12:1-2; II Corinthians 5:17),  increases my faith (Romans 10:17), and gives me the ability to actually know who God is and especially who He wants to be TO ME, in me, and through me (Hebrews 4:12; Ps. 119).  I have continued that Bible study routine for all these years – sometimes not making it through the entire Bible, but having a regular Bible study time nevertheless.

There’s a hunger inside each of us to know God, our heavenly Father and His son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.  How do we do that?  He gave us His Word!  John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  When you open your heart and hunger for God’s Word, He eagerly comes to fill us.

The Bible is an amazing treasure for us as believers, but that treasure cannot be appreciated or fulfill its purpose until it is opened and partaken of.  Reading through the Bible is one way to establish a pattern of regular Bible study.  As we go through this journey together, we can encourage one another to overcome any obstacles that we may confront.

Now, making a commitment for a “daily Bible study” does not mean that you will not miss some days.  Those days will always happen, but what we are working towards is “most” days we spend time with the Lord in His Word.  It’s not a legal contract.  It’s a decision that being active in studying the Bible is a vital part of your Christian life.

Whatever your life looks like right now – a season of enjoying God’s blessings or if you are facing some mountains to climb, His Word will bring you close to His heart for inspiration, comfort, direction, correction (oops – did I say that??), and a confidence that our God is faithful, loves us like no one on earth ever can, and has a specific plan and purpose for each of us.

I will attempt to be a companion through the journey to encourage you to keep on keeping on, attempt to answer questions (or ask Pastor Tom to answer them for me!), and connect you to other fellow journeymen and women.  There is strength in numbers!

It’s a new year – a fresh start.  What better time to encounter God and give Him the opportunity to change our lives!  Here’s all you have to do:

  • Get your Bible reading guide at Summit Springs Church or I can email it to you at your request – you can contact me through the comment section at the bottom of this post.  The guide we are using is chronological (historical order) and has an Old Testament, New Testament, Psalm and Proverb reading for each day.  OR you might choose to read a chapter a day in the New Testament (maybe adding in the sections of Psalms and Proverbs) which will take you through the entire New Testament in a year.
  • Get a Bible you would like to study from – it really doesn’t matter what translation (contact me if you have questions) although I do not recommend the King James because of the difficult language.   There are several good study Bible options.
  • It’s also a good idea to have a Bible program on your phone or ipad for times you can’t be with your regular study Bible.  Many on-line Bible resources  have mobile Aps such as YouVersion, Bible Gateway, and CBN Bible.  The Blue Letter Bible website or Bible Ap is our favorite – has great commentaries, dictionaries, and a variety of translations.  http://www.BlueLetterBible.org
  •  I must say that I think it is very important for most of your study to be with your physical Bible so you can write notes in it and highlight scriptures that stand out to you.  Those notes will be so valuable to you years from now!  The Bible on CD or an Ap on your phone that you can listen to is also great for times in the car (should not be your only source, once again).
  • Speaking of “marking,” it’s important also to have a good Bible highlight pen handy.
  • Click “follow” at the bottom of this page and you will be notified through email that there is a new blog post regarding our study.  They will not all be as long as this one!  🙂  You can also post comments or questions for our little community to share together.

I’m praying for you and excited for the journey ahead for you, friends!

Blessings on your journey,

Georgiann

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A Dream of My Father

Christmas 1952

The week of the third anniversary of my father’s passing a couple of weeks ago I had a dream about him.  Although I think of him and my mother often, missing them daily, I rarely dream about them so this was an unusual occurrence and I awoke surprised and somewhat startled it seemed so real as dreams often do.  The dream was just one of those every day, “routine” conversations we had had many times during those last 10 years or so of his life after our relationship was re-established. More about that in my June 2013 post https://freedomtogrowblog.wordpress.com/2013/06/16/fathers-day-celebrating-beauty-for-ashes/

In our routine conversations he would always say, “How are you?”

My routine reply, “Good – how are you?” An insignificant situation and conversation we had had hundreds of times and yet so significant in that dream because we don’t get to do that anymore.  That which was common is now something much missed.

What was also memorable about this dream was that I remembered in the midst of our conversation my dad was on his way to work. Working was something that very much defined my dad.

My father was a complicated man who I knew but never really knew – in my life for 59 years and, yet, in many ways very distant.  But there were things I did know about him and appreciate still today – like getting up every day and going to work. I’m thankful for that.

You could tell he was a hard-working man as he usually came home wearing some of the day’s efforts in dirt, sweat and tiredness. I don’t think anyone really “enjoys” hard work but when that is your way to provide for your family, it’s just what you do.

When my dad became ill with Parkinson Disease in his late 70’s, he was still working manual labor. His illness cost him much of the enjoyment of life but I think he also missed the ability of going to work when he wanted to.

Another thing I knew about my dad, he felt very strong about being the protector. Even as an adult, one thing I could count on my dad routinely saying in our conversations was, “Where are you going now?”  I would tell him of all the things on my list to do.  Then he would ALWAYS say, “OK.  Be careful, please.”

We’re coming up on another Father’s Day and I’m very thankful our country embraces this holiday.  I know it was initiated for commerce, but holidays benefit more than a few vendors.  They bring to remembrance things that matter in the midst of the routine of life; and fathers matter!

From the Bible we learn that God created fathers to lead, provide for and protect families.  It’s a high calling!  When fathers lead, provide for and protect, not just a family is blessed – society is blessed.  Not all dads do everything right, but we can be thankful for the role they fill – however flawed.  In fact, one of the Ten Commandments even reminds us how important fathers and mothers are to God – and therefore, should be to us.

Exodus 20:12 says, “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you.”  Ephesians 6:2 echoes that verse but adds even more emphasis saying, “…..This is the first commandment with a promise…..”  When we honor what God commands, blessing follows – that’s a promise!

Early Biblical fathers such as Noah, Abraham, and Moses were not perfect men, but made the choices and sacrifices to lead their families and a nation to follow God.   Our “founding fathers” sacrificed their resources and lives to build a nation where families could be free to worship God and live a meaningful life.  We are the benefactors, the children, so to speak, of these fathers’ sacrifices.

As the significance of this nation’s Biblical foundation is eroded, so also eroded has become the role of fathers.  But thankfully there are still fathers who get up every day to do the “routine” – to lead, provide for and protect their family.  They may not talk much.   They may have many faults, but they are important to God and to society.

So this dream sequence conversation between me and my dad was brief and routine – and sweet.  He just stopped by to say hello and see how I was doing.  He was on his way to work because that’s what fathers do.   Thanks, Dad, for your hard work and always watching out for me. Will talk to you again soon.

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What do you do when you’re turning 62?

You know how you just kind of go through life having birthdays?  Some memorable, some not so much and life doesn’t seem to change with age that much until……..

  • Until you look at yourself in the mirror with your glasses ON
  • You realize you can’t read extra large print without glasses
  • You have to think really hard about what it is you’re supposed to be doing on any given day
  • You try to turn a walk through the neighborhood into a run
  • Parts of your body that have never gotten much attention start to hurt for no good reason
  • The high heels in my closet are just to look at
  • You’re going to the doctor that is a specialist in “age management”
  • There is no such thing as “fun money” – it’s all going to the retirement fund
  • Your “real” friends are those who will tell you if your lipstick doesn’t match the shape of your lips because you couldn’t bear to look in that mirror with your glasses on

The above is just for fun, but, of course, it is also very, very true!  Age has a way of creeping up on you and when I say “I’m turning 62 today,” you are in a state of disbelief especially when you think about being 70 in eight short years.  Not that I’m complaining!  I know that “Heaven is For Real” and we will not be sorry when we get there, but I just have a feeling I’m not yet through here on earth.  So I keep taking my pile of supplements that promise to keep me happy and healthy, choke down more kale, and see my age management specialist even though he’s not “in network.”  If he can keep my bones from breaking just because I roll over in bed, it will be worth it.

Here’s how I’ll be spending my birthday……

I don’t know if my husband completely appreciates the fact that I have always been a really cheap date.  Truth is, I just can’t see spending a lot of money for restaurant food that could have been spent on something more significant like a shopping trip at Marshalls.  So tonight we’re going to Bass Pro for dinner because we have a gift certificate.  Thank you, whoever gave that to us.  Sorry, I can’t remember your name.

Then we’re going to Costco because I need to buy some of their new tomato pots so I can save money for the retirement fund by growing my own tomatoes.  He already bought me a new electric grill (and I did request it) at Costco for my birthday so I can cook more yummy cheap meals at home – more money for the retirement fund.

The highlight of the evening will be to stop by and see our two grand girls in Lee’s Summit – but we have to be home before 8:00 so Tom can be in bed by 8:30.  Mr. Excitement is getting older, too.

There is a dichotomy in aging that most of us who are in that process cling to – that is, though your physical body is aging and causing you more grief than you care for, there is so much stuff that you have learned, a lot of which revolves around really important things like life and death.  You really start to “get” some things like never before – stuff like how valuable it is to keep friends close by you.  You put up with them and they put up with you and it’s really great!  Friends understand you and love you anyway.  They can make you feel all better and their advice is always free.  They even remember your birthday – like it’s important or something!

So that is why I made a couple of phone calls this morning to really, really old friends – friends of my parents actually.  It’s so nice to talk to people that know your history.  So I called Jack.  And I found out he was just getting ready to call me.  The last ten years or so of my dad’s life he called me on my birthday from a bass boat on Truman lake where he would be crappie fishing with Jack.  My first birthday after my dad passed away, I got a phone call from Jack wishing me Happy Birthday.  That’s a friend.

I also called one of my mom’s closest friends from childhood throughout their lives, Shirley.  Actually she called me, but I was talking to Jack and had to call her back.  She didn’t know exactly what day my birthday was, but she knew it was at least close.  That’s a friend.

Jack and Shirley and I talked about our history – the simple things in life that mean a lot when they’re connected to people you have loved and lost.

I heard from some Facebook friends from far and near and I appreciate that very much.

Aging has its advantages and it’s good to try to remember that – and be thankful that you have a memory while you’re at it.   The Bible actually teaches that we are to honor our elders.  Why is that?  Because they have weathered many a storm and learned stuff.  They’re still standing – still pressing on and being an example.

You who are still enjoying life under age 50 are urged to remember that you are only young for a while so take care how you live – how you treat your family, friends, and most importantly your spiritual life.  Those over 50 I have good news for you!  God’s mercies are new every morning and great is His faithfulness (Lamentations 3:23).  There are a lot more wonderful promises for life no matter what your age where that one came from!  Reading them, learning them, is how you age with grace, make friends for life, and always have hope for the future.

I’m really looking forward to spending time tonight with Mr. Excitement – a free dinner, Costco and grandkids – what more could you want on your birthday?

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Will the Real Noah Please Stand Up??

In the Manz household, we usually wait for the DVD version of a new movie to be released before we see it, but with all the Noah hype among Christian and secular reviewers, we decided to spend the big bucks and see what all the fuss was about.

The story of Noah is one that many of us, who are over 50 anyway, probably grew up hearing about.  That’s not true of children in 2014.  If they see this movie, it may very well be the first time they become aware of any Bible story.  Did you know that fewer than 30% of all American households attend church on a regular basis?  That is very sad and a reminder of how important it is for the church today to reach young people with the Gospel.

Secular Hollywood movie makers are not well known for getting biblical stories absolutely accurate, but over the years they have used the Bible to make dozens of “epic” films.  The movies were entertaining and yet they honored the faith of movie goers.  Some of my favorites are The Ten Commandments, Ben Hur, King of Kings, The Robe, and probably the best of all, Quo Vadis about Christian persecution under Nero’s reign of terror.  Even a movie we watched recently, The Agony and the Ecstasy about Michael Angelo painting the Sistine Chapel showed respect for the Bible stories he paints and the Church he serves.

I remember as a young girl watching King of Kings during the Easter season.  The depiction of Jesus was one that touched my heart – His compassion and His sacrifice on the cross.  I sensed the love of God for sinful man and it made me feel like Jesus was someone I could trust.

A young person seeing the movie, Noah, would certainly not leave the theater feeling like God was someone they could trust.  I left the theater saddened that an amazing story from the Bible was so distorted.

Not that the producer, Mr. Aronofsky, made a claim for biblical accuracy.  In fact, he called the story of the biblical Noah a “myth” and his movie “the least biblical, biblical film ever made.”  Fair enough, but there is no doubt Mr. Aronofsky had a message he wanted to convey:

  • To portray the image and nature of God as distant and impersonal
  • To promote  radical environmentalism

Through movies and most media today, there is an intense attempt to indoctrinate the public into their secular progressive agenda whether it is “marriage equality,” abortion rights or freedom FROM religion.  The Noah movie is a perfect example – to down play the traditional influence of God in American society and to emphasize the philosophy of man being the center of the universe in control of his own destiny – humanism.  The images in the Noah movie are even more subtly deceptive as an actual Bible story is used to promote the religion of man-centered life rather than God-centered.

In contrast, the REAL Noah – the one in the Bible whose story is recorded in Genesis Chapters Six through Nine – quite a different deal.  In great detail, we are given the back story of what was going on in the days of Noah, God’s decision to end the overwhelming stench of evil, and His redemptive plan to not only save Noah and his family, but also a remnant of His beautiful creation from the animal kingdom so mankind and the earth could have a new beginning.

The story of Noah as well as the entire Old and New Testament writings are not just for story-telling, but for life examples; God speaking directly to us – His much-loved creation that He continually reaches out to draw to Himself.

But back to the movie – a few of the highlights compared to the biblical account stand out:

NOAH THE MOVIE:

  1. The desperate condition of the world was the result of man’s misuse of earth’s resources.
  2. Sin was “societal” and not individual.
  3. The impersonal “creator” values animals and the environment more than people.
  4. Noah thinks his mission is to save the earth from man’s polluting ways and attempted to take steps to assure that even his own family would not be able to reproduce.

NOAH IN THE BIBLE:

  1. God clearly communicates to Noah that He sees him as righteous in the midst of a world in which the “wickedness of man was great in the earth…”  Genesis 6:5
  2. God is grieved that man has chosen sinful ways rather than a relationship with Him.
  3. God further says to Noah that wickedness will be destroyed by a flood, but through the safety of the ark, there will be a new beginning.
  4. II Peter 2:5 says that Noah preached righteousness for the 120 years while he was building the ark – God’s desire was for many more people to come into the ark, however none heeded Noah’s warning.

Aronofsky’s Noah was the “environmentalist” who was the gentle lover of the earth in contrast to the wicked meat-eating, nature-destroying, pipe line-building-and-polluting people God must destroy.  Of course reasonably-minded people don’t want to pollute and destroy the planet, but this earth is all humanists have to live for so they go after this issue demanding others conserve while they continue to love their boats, planes, large homes and cars.  Just saying…..

In the movie, Noah’s grandfather, Methuselah, (another godly man in the Bible) was on a mission to find a berry and with this final bite, the flood waters washed him away to Nirvana.  I agree that berries are really good to eat and good for you, but….really?  That was a stretch even for a movie.

The real Noah?  A man who made a choice to live a godly life in a perverse world no matter the cost.  He obeyed God no matter how ridiculous it appeared in order to save himself and his family and anyone who would come; and he is remembered in the New Testament as a hero of faith in Hebrews 11:7.

The truth of the story of Noah is that out of judgment and destruction, came the promise of new life.  From Noah’s seed, some 2500 years later, Jesus Christ would come into the world offering salvation and new life for all who would receive Him.  Can you see the similarity in Noah and Jesus?

Noah’s ark is one of the most beautiful pictures or “foreshadows” of the work of Christ.  The ark, as a type of Christ, was the opportunity for salvation – but only those who would humble themselves and recognize their need could receive the benefit of what He provides.  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”  John 3:16

The events in the life of the real Noah were both tragic and miraculous, spiritual and very real, historical and prophetic.  Jesus said the days before He returns would be much like the days of Noah.  (Matthew 24:37-38)  In the days and times in which we live, like Noah, we have a responsibility to be messengers of truth offering the ark of safety through Jesus Christ.

The real Noah story is standing tall and true and is an example for us today.  I pray that you, readers, will be reminded that in Christ, your past is washed away and every day ahead of you can be experienced as a new creation.  The real Noah story is so much better than the movie!  If you haven’t read it lately, take a look and let it speak to your heart – talk to your kids and grandkids about it.  You and your family will be blessed!

Blessings to you,

Georgiann

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A Tribute to a Wonderful Friend

Image

Something’s missing in the Manz house these last few days.  It’s hard to describe in how many different ways, but her 80 pounds of black fur with the sweetest face and doggie soul you could ever find is no longer here to lay at (mostly ON) our feet, beg to go for a walk or a ride, take up ¾ of our king size bed, and always gaze at us with that “you’re-so-wonderful” look that all parents of fur-bearing creatures know so well. And that is the hook – it’s all about that “look.”  They know us – and they still love us – so much they will give us their unfettered loyalty until the day their sweet hearts stop beating. 

Our Reagan (named by our son, Andy, for our family’s favorite president) came into our lives 11 years ago this month via PetFinder.com.  We had just lost our fur friend, Cleo (short for Cleopatra named by our daughter, Carrie – we don’t know why).  Her loss had been so great and we were on the hunt for a new best friend.  I had seen Reagan’s picture on the web site but there was a litter of Burmese Mountain dogs that had caught my eye and we went to the shelter in Merriam, KS to get one.

It was a busy Saturday morning there and the female pups were already adopted so Tom started looking around.  He quit looking when he spotted Reagan (then called Lacy) and brought her over to meet me.  I could tell he was already in love with this Lab/Boxer mix who had been found walking with her sister along a Kansas City interstate at two months of age, so we brought her home.

Neither Tom nor I had consciously made sure the mate we chose would be a dog lover, but it turns out it really was.  Our dogs had been an important part of our lives since we were kids.  He had his childhood shepherd mix, Dusty, for 16 years – an outdoor pet (as most dogs were back in those days) except when his parents weren’t at home.  Then Dusty not only came inside but got to choose a snack from the refrigerator.  It was their little secret.

And I’ll never forget the day when I was probably seven years old that my dad came home with this precious little blonde cocker spaniel in his pocket to meet me.  His name became Zippy.  His abode was a box in the garage and he ate only table scraps all his life – a dear friend for the next 14 years.  The only time I remember Zippy being let in the house is when he came home wounded from an obvious street fight late one night.  He had a habit of visiting his girlfriends on the other side of town and had had a run-in with a jealous lover that had not ended well for Zippy.

Reagan ended up not only in our hearts AND our house that day we brought her home, but sleeping in our bed.  That was not intentional on our part; after all, there’s not a lot of extra room in a double bed!  But turns out she was coming down with a nasty case of Kennel Cough and we nearly lost her.  I just HAD to let her sleep with us so I could keep an eye on her throughout the night.  Those days of taking care of her day and night made us bond very quickly.  And that is what the last several months have been like as well – lots of loving care to help her be with us as long as possible. 

Reagan, along with her sister, Molly, (we call them the twins but they don’t act alike and they certainly don’t look alike!) have been a huge part of our family here at home but they have traveled with us all over the country and appreciate the fact that LaQuinta and Drury Inn hotels don’t charge a pet fee.  They know that our church secretary, Darla, has treats or toys in her desk so they love going to church.  There’s just no better place to be in their minds than in the car – unless it would be in the boat on the lookout for other boat-owning dogs, ducks to bark at, and fish to sniff.  Since I have been working from home the last five years, they’ve enjoyed pretty much round the clock fellowship, as have I with them.  I never had to wonder where Reagan was – it’s always been wherever I am.

About 18 months ago, Reagan had a seizure that was terrifying to watch.  She continued to have seizures and was diagnosed as most probably having a brain tumor which was devastating news.  She was put on medication to control the seizures which worked really well for over a year.  Her care was under the wonderful supervision from the doctors and staff at the Blue Springs Animal Hospital on 40 Highway.  Dr. Rodier, Dr. Rider, and Dr. Ericson were there for her, and for us, to guide us through her difficult circumstances.  My calls and appointments (which have been frequent) were always handled with personal care and professionalism.  And a special “thank you” to the girls at the front desk.  You are so great!

Tom has joked many times about the money we have spent on this girl – this past year enough to buy a really nice used car, but we had both decided she had given us so much, the least we could do is all we can do and there are no regrets – only that she is not here today to lick and scratch, guard her house and family, eat anything she can get her jowls on, play with her little sister, and most of all, assure us that we are the most wonderful people on the planet.  

Tom and I learned many years ago that the pains and losses of life must be processed through our faith and trust in our Heavenly Father just as we so readily accept all the good things in life.  He blessed us with the friendship we had with Reagan and He comforts us now at her passing. An attitude of gratitude cures many wounds.  There will never be another Reagan, but I am sure there will be another special fur baby some time in our future as the Lord leads.  In the meantime, we share our life with the Chihuahua, Molly, whose personality is more like a cat than a dog, (not a “real” dog Tom says) but she keeps me busy running to the back door to let her in and out, going on car rides and walks, and reminding me who’s the boss.  (Not Tom or I).  She does at times, at least, let us think that she likes us.

I’ll close with some of my favorite doggie quotes in honor of Reagan and all the wonderful fur friends who have been loved and lost:

“My goal in life is to be as good of a person as my dog already thinks I am” -author unknown

Animals are such agreeable friends – they ask no questions; they pass no criticisms.”  George Eliot

“Dogs’ lives are too short. Their only fault, really.” ~Agnes Sligh Turnbull

“The more boys I meet the more I love my dog.” – Carrie Underwood

“Dogs have given us their absolute all. We are the center of their universe. We are the focus of their love and faith and trust. They serve us in return for scraps. It is without a doubt the best deal man has ever made. ” – Roger A. Caras

“Dogs are minor angels, and I don’t mean that facetiously. They love unconditionally, forgive immediately, are the truest of friends, willing to do anything that makes us happy,” ….. – Jonathan Carroll

“A dog has one aim in life… to bestow his heart.”  J. R. Ackerley

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Dealing with Criticism – Refining Our Blindside Part II

Blindside – the part of one’s field of vision, as to the side or rear, where one cannot see approaching objects.  Humans have almost 180 degrees of field of vision – and isn’t this descriptive, if we’re honest, how much of our true self we are aware of.  God has a fix for that!

I’m sure that you would, like me, prefer avoiding any turmoil in life – especially personal criticism.  If I see any kind of pain or problem approaching, my first response is AVOIDANCE!  And what about this difficulty the Bible specifically calls “the rebukes of life?”  This is a good thing?  No way!  But God knows I have these pesky blindsides that have/will affect my life in a negative way.  How do I know?  The Bible tells me so. 

We looked in last week’s post at what the Bible says about how to deal with criticism (the rebukes of life). You can see last week’s post to see the scriptural foundation that is laid out there.  Today we’re going to look at some practical “working out” of these biblical principles and how they might expose/heal our blindsides. 

There are three big reasons we resist criticism you might identify with:

  1. Since it brings negative feelings, we automatically assume this is an attack from the devil!  Of course we should avoid his nasty influence.
  2. Then there is that pride thing – “I don’t need to hear this.”
  3. The fear factor – criticism brings feelings of rejection and fear of failure.  By all means let’s avoid those moments! 

We can put criticism in two basic categories – (1) good and (2) bad.  Pretty basic but very true!  Both kinds can be quite irritating and yet can be used as moments to explore our blindsides.  We could say that “good” criticism has the intent to improve a relationship or situation.  We could say that “bad” criticism comes from a poor motive.  

No matter the good or bad intent, there is something valid to be learned from every criticism – at the very least an opportunity to exercise the right response. A very important thing I have learned is that there is an element of truth in every criticism – an area of needed change may be coming to light.

Now, I would have to say that most of my experiences with criticism have been my husband’s fault because he became a pastor 30+ years ago.  (Big smile)  As I said last week, I didn’t realize what I was in for in becoming a pastor’s wife – so many blessings and tremendous moments of pure joy, but also moments of intense pain as I was faced with my own (our) inadequacies. 

I’ll never forget one particular moment when the church was about a year old – things were going really well and yet there were growing pains.  I had nursery duty one Sunday morning and for some reason there were several women in there with me.  Someone made a comment that a renowned speaker, David Wilkerson, was in town speaking at another church.  One of the ladies, well within my range of hearing – in fact she was practically looking right at me replied very sarcastically, “Well, if I had known that I certainly wouldn’t be HERE today!”  She wasn’t joking.  Although this family attended our church, they had made it known that they didn’t really like it – basically had no where else to go. 

I really did not know what to do with that.  Of course I didn’t respond, but I immediately felt a wave of rejection come over me and probably carried that feeling for quite a while subconsciously when I would see this person.  I would not consider this “good” criticism but it could have been a learning moment in how I should respond – and would need to learn to respond as more “opportunities” occured over the years.

So how should we respond to criticism?  Here are some thoughts – 

  1. Recognize the value of the moment.  I can decide within myself that when these moments present themselves, I will benefit because I want to be an effective leader, parent, employee, etc.  My Heavenly Father may be wanting to expose a blindside.
  2. Prayerfully evaluate the criticism.  Lord, what can I learn here?  Have I heard this criticism before?
  3. Avoid arguments but welcome discussion.  Having an “I’m listening” attitude can be one of the best diffusers of tension (and improvers) in relationships.  Also, to let those know who are bringing a criticism that “I care” about what you are saying – even though inside we may be saying, “Shut up!”  A willingness to listen and showing you care promotes healthy conversation and problem solving!!
  4. Be willing to make changes.  Just because you are being criticized doesn’t make you a loser – it can make you a learning leader!  Remember the Proverbs we noted last week that promise a wise man will become wiser and receive honor because he uses well the rebukes of life.
  5. Don’t sideline those who have criticized you.  There is a great saying, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”   Even critical people are not our enemies.  By engaging critics, they have the opportunity to see more of your positive leadership qualities.  If you sow trust and friendship, you are promised by God to reap the same; but you can’t reap what you don’t sow.
  6. Don’t allow criticism to be destructive to yourself or to a relationship or to your ministry.  Remember, the two biggest mistakes we can make in regards to criticism are to completely reject it or to be overwhelmed by it. 

There is a wonderful scriptural principle that I learned years ago through a great woman of God, Darien Cooper, from Jeremiah 15:19 to take out the, “precious from the vile,”  from situations (or people) in life.  No matter how ugly conditions may be, God is so good at giving us a heavenly perspective and the ability to find something good.

Romans 8:28 in the Message Bible says, “He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant (expecting) condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.”

The Spirit-filled Life Bible Commentary says about this verse, “Even in hardship and suffering, even in bitter disappointments, even when wrongly treated, Christians can know that God will work amidst such situations to fulfill His good purpose (a deliberate plan) in His children.  Even if situations stay difficult, God guarantees ultimate good results including maturation of character to those who are the called.”  That promise is for every believer who wishes to receive it!

God is protecting my blindside.  He’s providing the wisdom I need to respond to any life confrontation He knows I will face.  He’s our left and right tackle – He’s got my back.  He may impart wisdom through the transforming power of reading His Word or He may choose to use the rebukes of life.  Whatever form of instruction He chooses, I can trust that it is ALL for my good – and I know for yours as well.

Blessings to you, readers!

Georgiann

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