“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” Remembering God’s Promises

Colossians 3:16

 “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

During this time of the coronavirus, my mom and I haven’t had my attendants come to our house so that we make sure we are abiding by the social distancing guidelines. That means writing things are done a little out of routine. I don’t mind though, I’m enjoying it. I’m getting more writing done than ever before. It’s great! However, you know how I’ve often said that with cerebral palsy, repetition is the key so that I don’t forget how to do certain movements? Well, just before this whole thing with the coronavirus, Jessica and I were going to start a new YouTube series. Originally, what you see with pictures was supposed to be on my YouTube channel. Unfortunately, just before our nation went on lockdown, Jessica got the common cold and wasn’t able to come over to my house to help me. When I found out our nation was ge.oing to be on lockdown, that’s when I decided to make them into articles so people could have something to read, and also to keep my brain active.

Anyway, the point is, the steps to make the heart weren’t fresh in my mind. One day, when I was home with my mom, I tried making the heart the way Jessica showed me, and I found that my brain got stuck. After I flattened the ball, I tried to pull my fingers about two centimeters, and then I just couldn’t get the hang of how to form the bottom of the heart. As much as I tried to do it over and over, I just couldn’t do it the way Jessica showed me. That’s how long it had been. Even though Jessica had written out the steps, they didn’t make sense to me anymore. It showed me how much Jessica had been giving me cues throughout the process, and instructing me.

Finally, my mom showed me a new method. After I formed the ball, I smashed it down with my palm. Then, I pulled it at the top like Jessica showed me. Here’s what I did differently: I turned the heart over to make the edges smoother. After many times of practice, I finally got it.

This experience reminded me of how easy it is to forget God’s promises that He has kept to us when we don’t acknowledge Him on a daily basis. Sometimes, I find myself wishing that I had a lesser degree of cerebral palsy; then I could drive and walk without my walker. If I had better fine motor skills, I could draw my own illustrations for my books, make my own jewelry; the list goes on and on. However, I feel better when I remind myself of the scriptures and the many more adventures I’ve had that I might not have had if I didn’t have cerebral palsy. I also feel better when I realize how good God has been to me through the years, and how good He continues to be in my life. Then I’m able to praise God again, and proclaim His goodness. Moments like what happened with the play-doh are reminders of how important it is to practice certain movements on a daily basis. In the same way, it’s important for me to depend on the Lord for strength on a daily basis. Without Him, I am nothing.

Dear Lord,

Help me to remember to turn to you for strength on a daily basis. Forgive me when I get too distracted and don’t spend time with you, and when I forget your promises and grow bitter about my disability. I know that without you I’m nothing. Help your word to dwell in me richly. Amen.

Here are the steps Jessica wrote out for me.

 Here’s the new heart I made with my mom.

A heart of flesh: Having a heart for what God desires

“ I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.

Ezekiel 36:26-27

This is the last step in making a completed heart. This could symbolize what a new heart being transformed by God looks like. Perfect! I’m not going to go through the steps, because they are pretty much the same as last week. Please read “God sees things from a different angle; Mirroring Obedience.” You can also look at my previous posts before this one in the series.  However, I will say this: It took me a while to really see that yes, I really did form a heart and apply the right amount of pressure on the sides to form the bottom. It was another one of those steps where I don’t know how many times it took until I got it right, but I got it eventually, and that’s what matters.

Anyway, when we finally get to that point where we say, “Oh God I can’t take it anymore!” That’s when He says to those that come to Him with true repentance, “Let me show you the benefits of having a new heart modeled after mine.” When you have a lasting physical challenge as I do, eventually you have a heart that stops desiring for physical healing and longs for our world to have a deeper, spiritual healing. A heart that has its eyes fixed on heaven and starts praying and weeping for our nation. Someone with a new heart begins to see that those who don’t follow Christ actually have, as one of my camp speakers put it, “A human disability.” Amen! Many times, I’ve looked at our culture and thought that most people are too independent for their own good. Like I’ve said many times, a transformed heart is one that is not so self-focused on the world’s idea of physical healing. A transformed heart takes the attitude of the blind man found in John chapter 9 and says, “Okay Lord, show me how you want me to display your good works in my life and proclaim your goodness to the world. Take my life and completely transform it as only you can do.”

Amen

God sees things from a different angle: Mirroring Obedience

Nevertheless, when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

2 Corinthians 3:16-18

The next step of forming the heart was one of the hardest parts. After I formed the top of the heart, the next step was to pick it up, turn it around, and make it so that the top of the heart was close to me and the bottom part was away from me. Then I had to keep pushing the sides in a little bit harder and harder. This was the step that kept making me think, “Oh yay! I’m getting what definitely looks like a heart.” I looked closer and realized I was forming all kinds of shapes; but not a heart. I formed so many shapes that I don’t even remember how many times it took before I formed the heart; even as I was trying to mirror Jessica who was right beside me. All I know is that after much practice, I finally did it! In the meantime, Jessica kept saying “breathe.” At one point, Jessica began making her own shapes with play-doh, just to see how much I could do on my own without her instructing me. It was difficult, but finally, my hands and brain communicated the right messages to each other and I did it! Usually, learning to do something like this takes a couple of weeks. Somehow, after many times, I did it that day. It was amazing because that day it was only my second time doing it along with making the other pieces. Here it is:

It reminded me of how easy it is for people, especially in today’s society, to “mirror” Christianity and talk the lingo but not mean it. One time, a pastor by the name of Gordon Kirk (he was filling in for a while after our old pastor retired and our church was in the process of finding a new pastor) referred to it as, “Bumper Sticker Theology.” If you’re one of those people who has a Christian bumper sticker on your car, does your life reflect what it says on that bumper sticker?

It also reminded me of how, when we have a problem, we might ask God, “God what are you doing?” In the case where I was trying to learn to make the heart with play-doh, I could easily cry out the words in Romans chapter 9 and say, “Lord why did you make me like this?” (I can’t tell you how many times I let out a big sigh as I was learning to make a heart with my limited hand dexterity.) The Lord says to me, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5). Over time, as I’ve grown in the Lord, I’ve begun to understand what that means and how God’s plan is perfect, even during the times that I really don’t like my physical challenges. NOTHING in my life is a mistake! Often, God sees our problems from a different angle. In my case, I often say if I didn’t have my cerebral palsy and the challenges that go with it, would I care about spiritual things as much? Could I write these stories and share these messages? I don’t think so. Would I have a deep understanding of Jeremiah 1:5, and be able to talk to my Awana girls about inner beauty the same way I did in 2017? I don’t think so. Without my challenges that God allowed to stay, where would I be spiritually? Only God knows that. By the way, here’s a photo of the Christmas present my Awana girls gave me after I did my lesson titled, “How becoming a Christian is like becoming a vase.” If you’re interested in seeing the devotionals I wrote while I was learning to make a vase in preparation for my Awana lesson, click on the link labeled “Play-Doh,” and scroll through it. It’s the first one on the left under “Rachael Benson Blog.” You can’t miss it. Why am I able to talk to kids and other people about that stuff? Because I need help with things most people take for granted; like getting dressed, combing my hair, and taking a shower. I could go on and this would be a long post, but I won’t.

Don’t get me wrong; there’s nothing bad about Christian phrases on bumper stickers, but it shouldn’t be the only way we know Jesus. It should serve as a trigger to make us think about Him and want to get to know Him. I pray that many of us are using this unusual time to get to know the Lord more. If this virus was going to happen, thank goodness for today’s technology! There are so many ways to stay connected through the Internet. Even if you can’t physically go to church right now, many churches are having their services online. Set up a zoom meeting and do a Bible study that way. Where there’s a will there’s a way. It’s all a question of how badly do we really want to see a change in our lives? How badly do we want to have true peace? God gave us free will. While He desires for us to obey Him, He’s not going to force anything on us. God doesn’t want us to be robots, but instead, He wants our love for Him to be genuine and sincere.

If there is anyone out there reading this who doesn’t know the Lord as their Savior or has questions about anything I wrote, please feel free to post them on my blog. Just make sure you click on “I am not a robot,” or your comment won’t go through. I moderate comments to make sure everything said on my blog is clean. It’s just one more way to make sure I honor God with my writing. I love hearing from my readers!

Dear Lord,

Help me to have a desire to get to know you more so that I can mirror a reflection of your son Jesus, and make people want what I have. Help me to use this time in our nation to be transformed by you day by day, until you bring me home to heaven.

Amen

Author’s Note: Here’s a link to my church’s website. They have a kids’ church service at 9:30 am on Sundays, and the main service is at 10 am. The kids’ service has a funny puppet named Stew, and the songs are energetic and lively. They’re perfect for the whole family to dance to. It reminds me of Vacation Bible School. Click on the link  below:

Grace Baptist Church Services

Also,  if you want to go beyond watching the church service, different pastors of the church are putting together devotionals on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. It’s neat to hear everyone’s perspective during this time. I especially enjoyed the devotional done on Friday, April 24, by Pastor Peter. I felt like he wasn’t really preaching a sermon, but instead, he was telling a story. It was perfect for a writer. Scroll through the Together page to listen here.

Here’s the other church my mom and I have tuned in to lately. This is my brother-in-law’s church in Atlanta Georgia. Their pastor is big on reaching out to the community. He shares many stories from his own life experiences to illustrate the points he makes in his sermons. He’s quite easy to listen to.

Peachtree Church

 

 

 

““Bearing Fruit in every good work” Honoring God with our Deeds

 

Colossians 1:9-12 “For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.”

After I formed the ball, the next step was to flatten the ball and begin forming the hardest part of the shape of the heart. Flattening the ball was the easy part. I just pushed down on the play-doh with the palm of my hand and it became a lump. The next step was to pull my finger down to the center and stop about two centimeters. I was beginning to form the top of the heart. Many times I kept going past two centimeters and having to redo the heart. Eventually, after watching Jessica, practicing several times, and Jessica finally saying, “Stop right here,” my brain started to get it. As I’ve said many times before, repetition is the key. I got the hang of it and I finally figured out where to stop.

It reminded me of how even when we come to Jesus, the transformation in our lives doesn’t just happen right away. Depending on what our lives were like before we came to Christ, many times God has some “spring cleaning” to do in our lives before we can be used by Him to minister to others. It takes time before we  are able to  put away our old practices such as foul language and self-centeredness, and really, truly begin to walk in His ways. But again, as I’ve said before, God is always working on us until we get home to heaven. After we’ve spent time getting to know Him, through things like reading the Bible and talking with other Christ-followers, He gives us a longing to do good deeds that would honor Him. We begin to see that everything we do in our day can be used as a ministry to help others. In my case, I volunteer at my local hospital and at the Awana program at my church. At the hospital, when people see my wheelchair, they often have questions and want to know what it’s like because they themselves might have to use a wheelchair. Even if I volunteered and wasn’t in a wheelchair, I don’t think it would have the same kind of impact on people as it does with the wheelchair. Even though it’s hard at times, the wheelchair helps me relate to people. Some Christians have told me that they can see God’s light shining in me. What they mean is that a lot of people wouldn’t expect someone like me to have such a positive outlook on life. I appreciate the compliment, but it didn’t happen overnight. I had a lot of love and support from my family, as well as a God-given, strong desire to get to know Him and share these messages with you. Thank you, Lord, for the desires you’ve put in my heart to get to know you. I can’t wait to see what other lessons you are going to teach me about you so that I can grow in my faith and understand more about who you are.

Amen

God the Master Heart Surgeon

Jeremiah 18:3-4

“So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.”

(ESV)

The first step to creating a heart was forming the shape of a ball. For the most part that was pretty simple. I was able to take the play-doh of the container and roll it around using the palms, but it took a few times. As I held the play-doh in my hands I had a hard time not squishing the play-doh and just giving it a light touch. I started forming the ball and then my friend Jessica helped me smooth out the edges and form the shape even more until it was perfect.  One of the challenges with my cerebral palsy because of the spasticity in my body (that’s a fancy word for muscle tightness) is to get the part of my body I want to use (in this case my hands) to relax and touch things lightly so they can do the right motion. My friend Jessica and I had set aside a whole day to work on all the steps that go into making a heart and give the pieces time to harden up before we started the series. We didn’t start the series when we thought we were going to because Jessica had gotten sick. By that time, I had forgotten that a few weeks ago my mom had moved the pieces to another spot. I remembered when I saw some pieces Some papers had to be moved off of a chair looking for something and the ball rolled off the placemat and onto the ground and broke into pieces.  I was not happy! It’s just a little thing, and fortunately of all the steps the ball is the easiest if I had to redo something, but with cerebral palsy simple movements and forming simple shapes take time. I was upset with myself for forgetting to remind my mom to move the steps to a safer spot.  Since I can’t physically move things myself asking someone, “Could you put this here or there?” is my way of stay organized and this time it was really important! Ugh! Here’s the broken ball.

So recently I redid the ball. It was very hard to keep pieces together. The play-doh kept falling apart. My mom finally took the container of play-doh and put some water in it to make it moister so the pieces would stick together, and it worked. While I did most of the ball myself, forming the shape, etc. My mom did help me smooth it out. Here’s the finished ball.

It reminded me of how we often come to God even if we’ve known His son Jesus as our Savior for quite a while. Just like the verse says we’re like spoiled pieces of clay that need to be reworked. How many times have you found yourself thinking, “I can do this.” As you struggle and struggle until you’re so frustrated you want to throw your hands up and scream, “I can’t take it anymore!” When we cry out to God and say, “Lord I need you!” I believe that’s when God says, the master heart surgeon” I’ve been waiting to hear you say that.” He picks up and begins to form that ball our hearts into a vessel that can be used by Him. You know your heart is being transformed when through that hardship, you say, “Lord what are you trying to teach me? What shape do you think is best for me to be used by You?”

Dear Lord.

I admit I can’t live my life without you. I’m a mess. The weight off this world is too much responsibility alone. I need you to come into my life and be my master heart surgeon. Rework my heart and my life into the shape that seems best to You. I can’t wait to see what shape that is.

Amen

“Transformed for Special Purposes”

In my new series, “Transformed for special purposes,” we’re going to talk about how I learned how to make a heart with play-doh as I faced challenges with my hands that come with having cerebral palsy, as well as the biblical lessons I learned while I was doing it. Each week, I will share verses about the heart and how God transforms our hearts when we let Him.

For instance, in my case, for me, transformation means acceptance. Acceptance of the challenges that come with my disability, focusing on how I can bring glory to God by helping others, and how I can share the gospel. A verse that has become a favorite of mine over the years which gave me the idea for this series is Romans 9:20-21 where it says, “But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?” I believe God created us all for a purpose to be used by Him and share His love with others in some way.  As we discover how God transforms our hearts, my hope is to get people thinking about how they can use their gifts and talents to honor Him.

We’ll talk about the gospel in a nutshell. We’ll talk about how God who is the master heart surgeon, comes into our messy lives and performs heart surgery through our longing to do good deeds, obey Him, and follow His ways. We’ll talk about how lasting challenges change our attitudes about certain things, which allows God to purify our hearts even more as He prepares for us a place in heaven where we can one day be with Him if we have a relationship with Him now. Ultimately, God’s idea is for our hearts to be modeled after His heart. As we allow God to transform our hearts, people will begin to take notice, and we begin to discover more about God’s goodness that we wouldn’t discover otherwise. As Jesus tells His disciples when they ask about the man born blind, “This happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” John 9:3b. Please join me on the journey as we see God transform our hearts and let’s grow in faith together.

 

 

Lights, Camera, Action! Or not?; God’s Small lessons shape my character

This is a small glimpse of my writer’s office. I’m in my room.

1 Corinthians 9:24-25

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”

Have you ever tried to figure out something for a long time, and then later, when you finally figured it out, you said to yourself, “Why didn’t I notice that before? How did I miss it?”

That’s what happened to me the other night. Because of this whole social distancing thing, in order to stay connected to each other, my Awana group decided to do an online video meeting. When it was time, I typed in everything I was supposed to and logged on. Everyone could hear my voice, but no one could see my face; I couldn’t figure out why. I looked all over my computer screen. Finally, when the meeting was almost over, my mom figured it out. My webcam was on top of the computer screen. It had a button right in the center that needed to be pushed to be popped up. My mom pushed the button, and it worked! Everyone could see me!   That’s right!  How many times did Jessica say, “Look up.” Duh!

I felt so silly!How did I not notice that when Jessica and I had done all of those videos for my YouTube channel in the past? After I thought about it, I realized it was because my mind had been so focused on writing and memorizing the scripts, and trying to convey my message, that I didn’t notice everything Jessica did to help me make it happen. Sometimes that’s what happens when I can’t physically do something for myself. If I don’t have to think about something, I don’t. Oh well, now I’ll remember where the button is next time and in the future.

It reminded me of how hard it is for us to see the obvious, small lessons that God is often trying to teach us. Lessons that shape our character to help us become more like Him. Many times, while God is allowing us to go through something, at the time, we may ask, “Lord, what are you doing?” The Lord says, “Trust me.”  After we get through the trial God allows, if we have the right attitude and we turn to God for help, we can look back and say, “Here’s what I learned about God while I was going through this. Here’s the jewel that was added to my heavenly crown.” When you get to the end of your trial, can you honestly say, “God is so good?” What jewels has the Lord added to your heavenly crown so far?

Dear Lord,

Help me to pay attention to the small, obvious lessons you’re trying to teach me that help shape my character. Remind me that while I’m here on earth, I’m in training for heaven. Thank you for the reminder that true strength is only found in you. Help me get through my trials well, so that I may earn many jewels on my crown, and we’ll have a big welcome home party in heaven.

Amen

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“Is God Really in Control?” My thoughts about the Caroanavirus

How much of the national anthem do you know? The very last stanza talks about God, and is a prayer for our nation. Have a listen.

Here’s a brief history of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The historian’s name is David Barton. He’s the founder of WallBuilders: an organization dedicated to preserving our nation’s history. I first heard about him when I was watching an episode of Dr. Charles Stanley with my mom. Dr. Stanley is the founder of InTouch Ministries. He’s a television minister my mom has watched for years. I come from a very strong Christ-following household. My mom is very particular about who she listens to when it comes to learning about the Bible. She only listens to a few well-known ministers. The rest of the time, she studies the word of God for herself.  David Barton preached a sermon titled, “Is America a Christian Nation?” You can Google it on YouTube. I know there’s a lot of controversy surrounding David Barton’s work. Some people think he’s made a lot of mistakes in his videos, and that he’s been misleading people. I can tell you this: If David Barton wasn’t truthful, Charles Stanley wouldn’t have invited him to be a guest speaker at his church. Charles Stanley is a strong, solid Biblical teacher, and so is David Barton. If you have questions about his work, contact him directly, or listen to the podcast below to point you in a good direction for the right resources. Here’s a link to David Barton’s biography, as well as the biographies of the people he works with.  About Us 

Also, here’s a link to the WallBuilders library. You’ll find many of the historical documents that helped shape our nation: Presidents’ speeches, sermons. proclamations, and more. There’s even a written transcript, along with a live telecast recording, delivered from the Apollo 8 astronauts on Christmas Eve in 1968. It’s titled, “Christmas Prayer from Lunar Orbit.” The astronauts are taking turns reading from different parts of Genesis chapter 1. Doesn’t that sound fascinating? Listen to it and read it here. You sure don’t hear or see that on television today! David Barton’s organization has many of the original, complete, handwritten documents that our school textbooks leave out. In school, we’re only told part of the story. It’s interesting to me how in today’s culture we try to avoid talking about the one who history itself belongs to in the first place; God is the one who formed the earth and gave us life. In Isaiah 48:13, God says:

“Surely My hand founded the earth, And My right hand spread out the heavens; When I call to them, they stand together.”

(NASB)

Here’s another verse:

Genesis 2:7

“The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”

How could God’s word be any more straightforward about what He meant for our nation?

Lord, forgive us when we exclude you from our lives, and thank you for putting people like David Barton on this earth to educate us, and remind us not to forget about you! Amen.

Here’s a podcast that talks about the national anthem and the life of Francis Scott Key in greater detail. When special guest Dr. Sheli Manuel talks about her book she wrote, she says, “It’s called Grace Wisher Fingers That Sing. It’s all about Grace Wisher, a young lady who had been born on a slave plantation in Virginia who came to freedom and desired to be an indentured servant at the Mary Pickersgill house.  And she sewed the stars onto that flag of old glory at Fort McHenry that Francis Scott Key was writing about that night. I think this is so important because I was working on this book and working with the Star-Spangled Banner Commission, the government commission, during the bicentennial on our resolution.  And the U.S. Senate gave us unanimous vote on that. And I was studying the story of Grace Wisher at that time right when the Freddie Gray riots broke out in Baltimore.” Doesn’t that sound intriguing? Hear from someone who was actually there! Here’s the link to her website: http://singitamerica.com/

QUACK! QUACK!

Hi everyone. I decided to write a special message in light of what the news is talking about with the coronavirus. Let’s face it: We live in some pretty scary and uncertain times right now. People are afraid to go anywhere for fear of getting the virus. Even as Christians, it’s hard not to be frightened. We look around us and we hear the news headlines and we might think, “Am I next to get the virus? Is God really in control?” Those are good questions. I mean, many things have been stopped, and it seems like the whole world has been turned upside down. Hence the sign in the picture above.

First, Yes! God is in control! Remember Psalm 139:16b says, “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” The very same God who created the universe and said, “Let there be light,” (Genesis 1:3), knew this was going to happen, when it was going to happen, etc.

I know the next thing you’re thinking: “Why would such a loving God allow something like this to happen?” Again, that’s a good question! I don’t have all the answers because I don’t have the mind of God. I do know one thing: We live in a culture where people like to be very independent. Even independent from hearing about the things of God. Many times, throughout my life experiences, I’ve noticed God will use tragedy in our lives to get our attention and get us to turn back to Him. Look at how He pulled me through my birth. That wasn’t a coincidence. God didn’t say “oops” then and He’s not saying “oops” now. Instead of always asking why, I like to ask, “Lord, what are you trying to teach me through this?” Maybe this is one of His ways to get people to turn back to Him. If you look at our nation’s history, many of our founding fathers were Christ-followers. Many of the patriotic songs have stanzas that refer to God. These days, you don’t hear about it. If you’re curious, you can Google it.  I’ve also included many links throughout this article if you want to scroll through it and look at them. The patriotic links are at the top of the page. “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

Suffering such as the coronavirus tends to humble people and make them realize the simple things they take for granted, like washing hands. Just when you think it can’t happen to you, it does.

As I’m writing this article, I’ve recently found out a disabled friend of mine from Joni and Friends Family Retreat possibly has the virus.  He came in contact with a coworker who might have the virus, and now, there’s a chance he might have it. The family is pleading with people to please take the warnings about social distancing seriously. It can happen to anyone! The good news is, my friend knows the Lord and has that true peace that passes all understanding that the Lord talks about in the Bible. He knows the promise of Psalm139:16b, and knows that God never makes mistakes. Even if he can’t see the big picture at the moment, everything in his life has a purpose; including getting this virus. His life is in God’s hands. For the person who doesn’t know the Lord and doesn’t have that true peace, all of a sudden that person is crying out to God saying, “Lord I need you!” He says, “I’ve been waiting for this moment. Let me show you how to have true peace.”

So how do we learn to have peace in these uncertain times of social distancing? Go to websites such as biblegateway.com and read the Bible or listen to it being read to you. Come visit my blog. Look up patriotic songs, listen to all the stanzas and read the stories behind them. Listen to some worship songs on YouTube. If you have kids, Jana Alayra has some great music with motions. For the really young children, those who are in preschool, kindergarten. and under, Mary Rice Hopkins has some great music that has motions also. She and her friend, Darcie Maze, have put together some comforting videos with puppets during this time. Focus on the Family has a great radio drama series for kids who are ages 8-12. Listen to Adventures In Odyssey here. If you and your family know someone who has a disability, Joni and Friends has a Kids’ Corner on their website. Their goal is to help kids understand how they can befriend them. They have videos, coloring pages, games, and more. It’s a great way to keep kids active at a time like this. Watch my videos and leave a comment; I’d love to see a conversation get started about this. Subscribe to my YouTube channel here. Leave Bible verses on your friends’ Facebook pages. If you have to go to the store, be patient bearing one another’s burdens in love  (Galatians 6:2). As Christians, let’s hold each other up in prayer as relationships with loved ones are strengthened, and be a light to a darkened world. Remember, Yes! God really is in control!

Dear Lord.

Help us as Christians to show a darkened world how suffering displays your goodness at its very best. Show us your purpose in allowing this, and give doctors and other medical professionals wisdom and direction to wipe away this disease, if it is your will. Heal our friends and loved ones who have it. Let us learn from each other as we hear and share our stories. Help us to begin to take the advice of medical professionals seriously so that we, as a nation, can stop the virus in its tracks. Give the medical professionals extra protection so that they don’t get sick themselves, and give them wisdom to properly diagnose the people who have this virus. Give us willing hearts to be people who follow and respect the laws our government has put in place because you put those people in the positions they’re in for a reason. Those laws were meant to help us; not to harm us. Help us remember that this is only for a time. At a time like this when people would have questions, let us be people who are willing to give an answer for the hope that we have. Help us to fix our eyes on you and run the race with endurance; keeping our eyes on the prize, awaiting our crown of rewards for our service that has been done in your name until we meet you face to face and you say, “Well done my good and faithful servant; welcome home.” In the meantime, show us how you are the Lord of peace at all times and how we can have peace in every way. Lord be with us all. I pray for those people who have not yet put their trust in you as their Lord and Savior. I pray they would do it now, and not wait for tomorrow. No one is guaranteed tomorrow. Your word says that you number our days.  Give our hearts a longing for that deeper, spiritual kind of healing only you can bring. Show us how a huge weight of responsibility is lifted off of our shoulders when we let you be in complete control of our lives, and surrender all to you. For those of us who have turned away from following your ways, forgive us. Give us that quiet, gentle nudging that leads us to repentance and help us to turn our hearts back to you. After all, you created our inner most beings in our mother’s womb. Without you, we’re nothing but dust. Help our nation to come to true repentance and return to the principles our country was originally founded on. Heal our land.

In Jesus Name,

Amen

Author’s Note:  I have included two websites about my friend,  Gabe Murfitt, that I mentioned in my article. Here’s a website for his  foundation, and here’s a website he has dedicated to motivational speaking.  I’ve had a chance to hear him speak in person; he’s awesome! Information about Gabe keeps changing rapidly as I’m writing this article. I recently found another update on Facebook about Gabe. He’s doing much better, but he still has to be careful; the fight is not over. The more I read previous Facebook posts on his page, the more it sounds like he never had the virus. Gabe had similar symptoms, so the doctors decided to be extra careful and take all the necessary precautions such as hospitalizing him for a while, running some tests, and isolating him, and everyone else he came in contact with. That is proof of how serious the virus can be if people get it. I’ve even heard many stories of people dying from it on the news. Here’s the latest update about Gabe in his own words:

“Hi everyone. I just wanted to update you all on how I’m doing. My coworker’s Covid-19 test came back negative! I’m also feeling much better. I will be returning back to work tomorrow. Just wanted to thank everyone who sent messages and were praying for me. I really appreciate all of you! I especially want to thank my amazing mother in law Jennifer Zandecki for taking care of me and being my quarantine buddy! I hope everyone continues to follow the stay at home orders as there is still a potential risk my wife could get sick. Thanks again to everyone and apologies if I didn’t respond. Been quite the week. Stay safe everyone!”

Gabe mentioned his wife being at risk because she’s pregnant. Please keep Gabe and his family in your prayers. If his story doesn’t demonstrate how God is in control of all things even at a time like this, what does? God is good all the time, and all the time, God is good.  Amen! Thank you, Lord for watching over my friend Gabe, and using his life as an example during this time to show how us you really are in control of all things. God, you’re so good!

 

Works Cited

“The Star-Spangled Banner (Full Version with Lyrics).” YouTube, 20 Aug. 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXbbEA26Ec4.

David Barton, WallBuilders. “History of the Star-Spangled Banner.” YouTube, 4 June 2008, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDKfw8nysLA.

WallBuildersLive. “Is The National Anthem Racist? The Truth Behind Francis Scott Key and Our National Anthem, With Shelli Manuel.” WallBuildersLive, 21 Nov. 2017, https://wallbuilderslive.com/francis-scott-key-national-anthem-shelli-manuel/.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Behind the Scenes of The ABC’s of Contentment

Hi everyone, today happens to be a really fun day. As you know I’ve been doing a series called “The ABC’s of Contentment.” I’m almost done, and so I decided to put together a behind the scenes video/blooper video of what goes on when I’m filming these videos. It’s fun but let me tell you, it’s not easy! Sometimes some pretty funny things can happen. You know, I say things I shouldn’t say accidentally, or I’m pointing to something and something falls apart, Etc. etc. etc. I think you know I’m talking about. You’ve seen it when you’ve watched movies or T.V. That’s like the funinest part, right? So first here’s the behind the scenes people who help me put together these videos. This here is Jessica. (Jessica) Hi. (Rachael) She’s my makeup artist, my producer, she’s one that takes care of the lighting on the computer makes sure my face looks good. And this is Traci. (Traci) Hi (Rachael) She’s the one who I work with her during the week she’s the one who helps me memorizes my scripts to make sure I know what I’m going to say every Saturday and like I said, this is a fun day. And as you can tell we have fun doing these. And this is my dog Lady. She’s the one that you’ve sometimes heard in the background bark. She barks when she hears a noise or my mom comes home and I’m talking right in the middle of a video. So that’s everybody and then as you can tell from the hats, as you can tell from the hats we have fun here. Merry Christmas, Happy 4th of July, let your imagination fly high. Bye bye bye everyone I hope you have fun watching as much as we have fun putting this together. Bye.
B is for Blessing. Hi everyone. Thanks for joining me for my second video. (Traci) Rachael are you practicing? (Rachael) Yeah Traci, I volunteer at my local hospital. Many times I’ve heard people (Traci) Are you sitting up straight and looking into the camera? I’m going to come poke you. (Rachael) Yeah yeah yeah. Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test time
Hi everyone welcome to week three of (Traci) Rachael Rachael this is how you do it you hold it up here. (Rachael) I know what I’m doing Traci give me back the paper I’m
(Jessica and Rachael) and mercy mild God and sinners reconcile. Joyful all ye nations rise. Join the triumph
Hi haha everyone and welcome to hahaha
hahaha
That is why for Christ’s sake I delight in (Traci) weaknesses (Rachael) weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and difficulties for when I am str streaking then I am strong. (Traci) Did you just say streaking (Rachael) Oops I meant to say weak.
(Rachael) Just kidding (Jessica) You realize the first thing that they’re going hear in this video is just kidding (Rachael) hahaha oops
(Jessica) Okay so you’re working and Rachael will be talking and talking and then she’s goning to read blah blah blah blah blah come on so forth and so on and so on and so on and now the mouse isn’t working wait now maybe I have to go over here
Please stop (Jessica) Wait wait I gotta make you laugh.
(Jessica)Oh oh fine I’ll let you talk. About how we’re trash (Rachael) hahaha were not
Hi everyone and hahaha sorry haha welcome to week haha week 14 you know putting these videos together produces a lot of laughter. Me and Jessica have a lot of fun haha together. Sorry about that anyway we are on week hahaha
One body, one Lord, one father overall, One spirit in our hearts, one body many parts.
Hi everyone welcome to week uhhhh 16 of haha
(Rachael) hahaha (Jessica) On wings like eagles (Rachael) haha (Jessica) They will run and not grow weary (Rachael) Haha Jessica turn it off (Jessica) Nope come on sing it (Rachael and Jessica) hahah (Jessica) those who hope in the lord will renew their strength. Come on I don”t hear you singing (Rachael and Jessica) Those who hope in the lord will renew their strength. They will sore on wings like eagles. they will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not be faint
(Rachael) Like a pirate hat. (Jessica) You’re on. (Rachael) haha
Hi everyone and welcome to the ABC’s of Contentment. Today’s letter is R. R stands for Rachael, or uh Rachael, Roberto, Renew and R can also stand for ARRGH! hahahah (Jessica) hahaha (Rachael) So anyway I’m hahaha Okay we’re getting serious now hahahah (Jessica) hahaha
Hi everyone and welcome to week 18 of the ABCs of contentment today’s letter is R. And R can stand for Roberto, renew and as you can see from what I’m wearing, R also stand for Arrgh. Ahoy matey, Ahoy shipmates
Xmas hence all my Christmas attire the shirt, the hat, my earrings
Jeremiah 45:8 (Traci) No Rachael it is Isaiah. (Rachael) I knew that, I know the verse. Get over and get on my lap, I will show you crazy.
In my mother’s womb stop right there (phone ringing)
(Jessica) Are you ready? (Jessica and Rachael) In Hebrews 12:22-24. You have come to Mount Zion, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly. To the church of the firstborn
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Z is for Zion


Hi everyone, and welcome to week 26 of the ABC’s of Contentment. We made it to the finish line. Today we’re on the letter Z. Z stands for Zion. Zion is a mountain. It’s thought of as the mountain of life. We have two verses today and the first verse that goes with this is Hebrews 12:22-24. It says, “But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.” I did it! Yay! If you didn’t already know, it’s not often talked about in the church, so let’s just say it’s been kind of a challenge to memorize that verse this week. But as you can see, I just did it! So yay, that’s an accomplishment! Ta-dah! Then we’re going to talk about two mountains. First there’s Mount Zion, which is thought of as a mountain of heaven, hence that verse; and then there’s Mount Sinai, which is thought of as the mountain death. The first place that Mount Sinai is mentioned is at the beginning of Exodus chapter 19 when the Israelites are coming out of Egypt. The Lord is talking to Moses and in chapter 19 verses 12 and 13, He says, “Put limits for the people around the mountain and tell them, ‘Be careful that you do not approach the mountain or touch the foot of it. Whoever touches the mountain is to be put to death. They are to be stoned or shot with arrows; not a hand is to be laid on them. No person or animal shall be permitted to live.’ Only when the ram’s horn sounds a long blast may they approach the mountain.” I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a pretty strong warning from God. I know my middle name is “Danger,” but if I lived back in biblical times, even I wouldn’t want to approach that mountain. But you know what? Let’s face it: I find myself on Mount Sinai more than I would like to be. Any time I let sin sink into my life; like when I have a bad thought. You know, even though I have enjoyed doing my video series, it’s not always easy. Sometimes verses can be difficult to memorize. I’m the type that my mom has trained me to be concerned about time. So I want to get things done, I want to finish this or that on time, and my friend Jessica is always telling me, “Breathe.” Sometimes to memorize verses, she and I make up songs. And sometimes I get a little frustrated, but I have to admit it works. And then there’s times when we’re getting ready for the video, and it’s funny that we’re talking about The ABC’s of Contentment, because you would look at me behind the scenes and you would think that I’m not very content right? That happens. But somehow, I’m always able to pull it together, and with the strength of Jesus, I can do all things; including memorize these verses so I can share them with you. You know, I write a script so I can memorize throughout the week what I’m going to say, and then what I write half the time is almost never what I say; but that’s okay. A lot of what you hear comes from my heart. And that’s the important thing, right? God knows the heart and He knows that I’m climbing my way up to Mount Zion. No one is perfect; except God, that is. The question with the Christ follower is, are you on the path? Are you on the path to Mount Zion? Joni put it this way when she did a broadcast about Mount Zion and Mount Sinai. She said, “Did you know that biblical scholars believe that Mount Calvary and Mount Zion are in the same mountain ridge – it’s all one large mountain?” Isn’t that amazing? But then again, so is our God. That’s how badly He wants to have a relationship with us. He sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross. Jesus carried our cross, carried our weight of sin and climbed all the way up to Calvary, so that we could one day be in heaven with Him. Are you ready to trust Jesus and climb all the way up to Calvary and make your way up to Zion? Jesus has everything we need. The question is, will we let Him be our guide? I know for me personally, if I didn’t have Jesus in my life, I could not climb up Mount Zion by myself; I’d fall off a cliff. The weight of this world is too much to handle alone. There’s even a song called, “We’re marching to Zion” by Isaac Watts. I’ll leave a link so you can listen to it in the description when I post my video. Well that’s it everyone. It’s been fun. Thanks for joining me for my series. But you know what? Even though we’re at the end of the of the alphabet, you can still come back next week because I’m going to have a special video. Bye, God Bless, and march on to Zion!

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