Monthly Archives: April 2014

Did You Know that Your Words Create Reality? Stop Cursing Yourself

Watch Your Words!

Watch Your Words!
Photo Credit: Celestinechua

Do you have a habit a dissing your life? Or your choices? Or other people? Do you whine and complain about what may or may not happen tomorrow? Do you hear about a possible opportunity and immediately assume it won’t happen? Do you regularly muse that things are going to get worse? Be careful. It’s easy to curse your present and your future by simply trying to protect yourself.

I tend to do this a lot. Things don’t go well and I assume they will get worse. Or at least won’t get any better. I think I have to “be honest” if I’m going to speak with integrity. I don’t want to get my hopes up, so I dash them before life can. I curse myself and potentially miss out on some blessings.

Are you familiar with this concept? Here’s the deal. We are created in the image of God (Gen. 1:27), who spoke reality into existence (Gen 1:3,5, etc.). Jesus is the Word of God (John 1). Words are more powerful than most of us think. We, like God, actually create reality with our words. When we muse that things could get worse, we are essentially cursing the ourselves and situation. We see and example of this in Job 3:25. Job created a reality in his words and mind, and eventually it happened. It reversed only when he saw God as who He really is and repented.

Self-cursing easy to fix. Repent and watch your words. Speak and declare the positive, the potential, the good, the promises of God. Renew your mind (Rom 12:2) to believe that God is good, the giver of good gifts (James 1:17). And stop cursing yourself!

 

Warfare in the Old Testament |Everything You Ever Wanted to Know

Warfare in the Old Testament

Warfare in the Old Testament

What did warfare look like in Israel during the time of Joshua, Judges, David, and Isaiah? What about the Egyptian, Assyrian, and Babylonian militaries? How were they the same? Different?

OK, call me a geek, but I love this stuff. I’ve written Bible studies on the books of Joshua and Isaiah and on the armor of God. While many biblical allusions are military, most of us know very little about biblical warfare. Now there’s a resource that is both approachable and well documented.

Warfare in the Old Testament: The Organization, Weapons, and Tactics of Ancient Near Eastern Armies by Boyd Seevers explores the military strategies and armaments of the Ancient Near Eastern armies of Israel, Egypt, Philistia, Assyria, Babylon, and Persia during the Old Testament period. Each section begins with a fictionalized story of a warrior during one of the wars discussed in Scripture. While a little contrived, it does make a potentially dry subject a little more personal. The narrative that follows describes the military organization, weapons, chariots, and tactics. The book features many excellent full color maps, line illustrations taken from archeological finds, excellent and informative footnotes, and Kregel Academic’s signature semigloss paper. It’s an excellent reference and actually an interesting read.

Happy Resurrection Day!

He is Risen Indeed

He is Risen! Indeed!
(c) Pat J. Sikora 2014

Guests invited. Check.
Food purchased and prepped. Check.
Table set. Check.
Yard weeded and patio cleaned. Check.
Baskets filled. Check.
Centerpiece created.  Check.

Whew! I love entertaining, but I must confess I’m not as young as I used to be. I still love setting a formal table for holidays and sharing it with friends and family. My best friend does Thanksgiving and Christmas. Resurrection Day is my holiday. And since I only have one big one per year, I try to do it right.

But one of the reasons I delight in hosting Resurrection Day is that it is THE Christian holiday. After a year of trials and challenges, Resurrection Day reminds me that He is Risen! Indeed! And that hope is enough to keep on keeping on.

My hubby found this new version of Leonard Cohen’s Alleluia. The truth runs deep. We’re going to use this as our blessing for tomorrow’s dinner. Take a few minutes and let the truth penetrate your spirit.  Alleluia!!

Get Back Up: Trusting God when Life Knocks You Down

Get Back Up

Get Back Up: Trusting God when Life Knocks You Down

Sheryl Giesbrecht’s life sounds a lot like mine. Maybe a lot like yours, too. Maybe like someone you are ministering to. Do you ever get the idea that your lot is somehow harder than everyone else’s? I do. I compare my problems with my friend’s successes. I compare my not-so-good health to my friend who can walk four miles a day. And yes, I always come up short.

Why do we do this? Why do we think, “I’m the only one…” You know, we aren’t alone. Elijah whined the same thing to God in 1 Kings 19:10 following the biggest event of his life which was followed by a threat on his life. He ran away, and when God asked what he was doing there in the middle of the desert, “He replied, ‘I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.’” Do you ever feel this way? I sure do. I try so hard to do all the right things but feel as if I’m getting slapped down at every turn.

So what does this have to do with Sheryl? She’s written a very accessible book called Get Back Up: Trusting God When Life Knocks You Down. On one level, it’s a chronicle of a life much like yours and mine. That is, a life full of twists and turns, dips and bumps. And a few head-on crashes. The kind of life that makes us want to throw in the towel, crawl under the broom tree with Elijah, and whine: “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors” (I Kings 19:4). Instead, Sheryl offers lessons and principles she learned along the way that put a bounce into her falls.

With discussion questions at the end of each chapter, this would be a great study guide for a women’s group, especially for women who are facing life’s challenges. (Uh, yeah, all of us…) It would be useful in a recovery group or even a jail ministry. The truth is, we all face a whole lot more in life than we thought we signed up for. Sheryl’s book offers not only hope, but also practical strategies for becoming victorious.

RELATED POSTS:

What is Forgiveness? 
Persevering through the Hard Times | Going for Gold in an Ordinary Life  

What is Forgiveness?

 

Forgiveness Heals

Forgiveness Heals
Photo Credit: Iqbal Osman

“I want to forgive, but I just can’t.”
“After what he did to me, I’ll never forgive him!”
“I’ve forgiven and forgiven, but I don’t think it took. I don’t feel any different.”

Forgiveness is an absolute key to healing. We simply can’t heal if we don’t forgive. But what is forgiveness and how do we do it?

First let’s clear up what forgiveness isn’t. It isn’t saying that what the other person did was OK. It doesn’t relieve them from responsibility. It doesn’t mean we have to reconcile or be in relationship. If a person is not trustworthy, there is no requirement that I need to trust him or have anything to do with him.

So what is it then? Forgiveness is simply releasing the person and all he or she did to God.  It is letting go of any vengeance I feel entitled to and leaving it to God to bring judgment (Romans 12:9). It is deciding that I am not the judge and jury. So when I forgive, I imagine simply handing the person over to God and saying, “You are the judge. I have no further claims on this person or their offense.” And then, I have to let go. If the offense has been significant, I may have to release the person over and over until the feelings come. But I forgive by faith, not by feelings.

Furthermore, forgiveness is not an option, it’s a commandment. (Colossians 3:13). It’s also required if we hope to receive forgiveness from God and others (Matthew 6:14). So swallow your pride and forgive anyone who has harmed you. You’ll be amazed how freeing it can be!

Sometimes You Just Need to Rest | How to Manage Extreme Fatigue

Elijah Being Fed by Ravens

Elijah Being Fed by Ravens
Photo Credit: Christian Clipart

Sometimes I get tired. Sometimes I get really tired. And then there are days like the past few weeks when I’m beyond exhausted. Now admittedly, I’ve come by it honestly. I had two big conferences two weeks apart. Three days later we left for Houston for a week with our kids – read, being grandma. Much as I love my granddaughter, she can wear out people much younger than me. We got home and a few days later, left for Mom’s (after a couple of intense days in the garden). Time at Mom’s is always a physical and emotional strain.  This month and last, we’ve had to heft a wheelchair in and out of the car in addition to dealing medical appointments, other appointments, and her other needs. Add to that Mom’s well-perfected negative attitude and a four-hour drive each way, and it’s a sure recipe for fatigue. Then when we do return home, it’s back-to-back appointments that have been jammed into too few weeks.

This week I hit a wall. Deep, deep fatigue. The kind of extreme fatigue that feels like you’re slogging through quicksand and sinking fast. The kind of fatigue that feels like your feet weigh 100 pounds each. First trimester fatigue! I hate it when that happens. Since I lose so much of my month to caregiving, I feel I need to work double time when I get home. But this month, I couldn’t. Every time I turn around, I feel like I’m hitting a wall.

It’s times like this I remember Elijah in 1 Kings 19:1-8. Remember how after Elijah had conquered the 400 prophets of Baal at Mt. Carmel, Jezebel threatened his life? After this huge victory, he ran like crazy to escape her threats. Finally he sat down under a broom tree and whined to the Lord. But Yahweh, rather than criticizing him, had some ravens deliver some take-out and told him to take a nap. Yahweh knew that without being refreshed, Elijah wouldn’t make it.

How do I cope? Pretty much like Elijah (without the ravens):

  • Whenever possible, I schedule appointments later in the day and allow myself to sleep in. And I don’t let myself feel guilty.
  • When I hit a wall during the day, I take a nap. I can’t spare the time, but I can’t go on. Seriously.
  • I try to eat healthy food — more protein and less sugar.
  • I try to discipline myself to get more exercise. A short walk reinvigorates the brain cells.
  • Most important, I don’t neglect my time with God. It’s easy to think I don’t have time when my day is already starting late, but prayer and Bible study need to remain a priority.

What do you do when you’re utterly exhausted? How do you regroup?