Under The Dome

There are many statements or questions we Christians throw around and I wonder sometimes if we understand what we really mean.

 I was recently asked this question by someone who had been asked if he was “saved.”

Saved from what exactly? Hell? Is that it? I have hell right here in my life. How can I be saved from that?

Have you also heard said or maybe you said it yourself, “I know what that statement means but I can’t explain it?” That reminds me of something one of my high school math teachers told me,

“If you can’t explain it to someone else then you don’t really understand it yourself.”

Over the days and weeks since then I have given it some thought. A lot of thought actually. So consider this.
Are you saved?
I am saved from eternal separation from God. My eternity began at birth with the opportunity to decide to spend it with God or without Him. How many have seen the TV show Under the Dome? For those who haven’t, this town called Chester’s Mill somewhere in the Midwest, USA was suddenly cut off from the rest of the world by an impenetrable dome. It appeared without warning. You can see the other side but there is no way to go under it or break through it to get to the other side. Let’s say, if you reject God you are suddenly separated from where God is, cut off with no way to get to him. For argument sake, let’s say God is under the dome, and that place is like the Garden of Eden. Chester’s Mill is not like this so here is where the analogy ends. You decide you want to live eternally with God, you are suddenly placed under His dome. You have just been rescued or made safe from all of the madness that is going on outside the dome. 
Have Been You Born Again?
Now you and the others who made that decision brought with you your attitudes and habits. There’s a sign that says all those habits and behaviors can’t live under this dome. So you have to get rid of lying, cheating, stealing, murdering, gossiping, foolishness, disobedience, malice, envy, drunkardness, hatred toward each other, slaves to different lusts, greed.
You can’t live under the dome with them so God gives you a time to get cleansed or rescued or saved from yourself. I call that His grace period.
During this time you have the opportunity to be changed so that you will know how to live this eternal life under God’s dome.
Question: So how does that happen?
Answer: You must be born again or reborn.
Question: What does that mean?
When Jesus told Nicodemus this in John 3:3, Nicodemus asked Jesus the question “How?”and I bet many of us had the same question. Here is Jesus’ answer.
John 3:5-6 (ESV)
5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
Got that? Yes, No? Here is how I understand this.
We were naturally born – the water broke and the delivery process began.  Our spirit, however, the essence of our being was tainted by Adam’s disobedience. We believe Adam, the first man and his wife disobeyed God’s direct command to avoid eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. This disobedience sentenced all of mankind to a separation from God and the essence of our being, our spirit was no longer pure. We believe we were born with a disobedient spirit because of this. What that means it is in our nature to think up impure or displeasing to God behaviors. I also believe there was a part of Adam that wanted to return to God’s dome. I believe that is why mankind is on a continuous search for something spiritual.
Our essence or spirit has to change or be re-born. The body can’t be but the spirit can. So how is my Spirit re-born? I believe the birth process begins when we say “Yes Lord, I want you to rule my life.” That is what we are really saying when we say “Yes, I want Jesus to be my Lord and Savior.” Or make the statement, “Jesus is my Lord and Savior. We have agreed to let Him run or rule our lives. 

That means we are agreeing to live by God’s teachings that have been taught by His  Living Word, Jesus. 

We are immediately placed under His Dome.

Tomorrow’s post will continue this rebirth discussion. I thought you might be tired of reading or have work to do. So until tomorrow, consider your spiritual birth.
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Lessons from Gideon

Good morning friends and family.

Over the last three weeks Pastor Carl has been teaching about the Judge Gideon. From these teachings, I have come away with several lessons.

  • The first is when God calls, you must make a decision to follow or turn your back on Him. In the face of opposition from his home, his family, his town, he chose to follow God. How could this be in opposition to his family. Weren’t they all Israelites? Didn’t they have the same God? The answers Yes and No. Just because you grew up in the same household doesn’t mean your beliefs and relationships with God are the same. Gideon angered his people because he tore down the altars of Baal. This is who Israel had chosen to worship. 
  • The second lesson is God does not need a lot of people to do what He wants. One man or woman can make a difference. Additionally, there may only be a small group willing to help that one woman or man. don’t get caught up in the numbers. A few can move mountains if they are committed and moving in the same direction.
  • The third; Follow God’s instructions exactly and then lead your people. Help them understand that they must follow the instructions exactly to acquire success.
  • Next, accept that it will not necessarily be easy but you will be successful. You and your people will receive the promise God made you.

The final lesson is one that I hope no leader will experience. The end of the Gideon account states when Gideon died, the people went back to doing everything that they found right in their own minds. We would all like to believe our lives had such an affect on the people we encountered that the change would be permanent. I wish that were so. I believe only a fragment of those you served will continue in what they learned while under your leadership. I mean really, can you expect more. Only a fragment of those that begin to follow God continue. We should be grateful that some continue and are faithful in serving God with us.

Don’t be weary in well doing. Keep doing exactly what God tells you even when it looks like you are alone or have a small core group that are committed. My Pastor friends this is especially for you.
Walk tall and confident in your calling and your instructions. Don’t focus on the people following you. Focus on the One you are following. He will provide the right people.

Crying for Help!

The Adrian Petersen situation has stirred up a lot of controversy about spanking. I have been giving it some thought because I was spanked and I spanked my children. When I was a child we called it a “whuppin”. It hurt but I was never bruised. I never left bruises. So was it abusive or not?
I don’t think I abused my children. There was talking, explanation of why it was not acceptable behavior. There were timeouts and loss of privileges. Spanking was the last resort. Sometimes that worked and sometimes it didn’t. One child would respond positively and the other could care less. It was a situation by situation, child by child tightrope. What worked for one may not work for the other. I believe Mr. Petersen turning himself in was a cry for help. Think about it. How else would anyone know?

So what is the answer?

I don’t think there is one answer and we need to stop making it “one” answer. We need to learn and make informed decisions. Learn what you might ask.

  1. First, learn your child. Talk with your child not at him or her. 
  2. Actually listen to what they have to say. You might be surprised that their thinking might make sense even if it is not inline with your rules. At that point you can have a real teaching moment to help them understand why your rule is what it is and why you expect them to obey it. Most of our rules are for their protection.
  3. Make the rules simple and easy to follow. Sometimes we make compound statements that confuses the child. It is not clear what you want done.
  4. Make the consequences for disobedience clear and concise. 
  5. Be consistent. If it is the rule stick to it even when you want to give them a break. Make sure the circumstances that will cause you to make it an exception truly warrants it and they understand that. Otherwise, you will be played like a violin because that is what they are good at.
  6. If spanking is required, don’t do it in anger or frustration. Wait and calm down. There were times I was stressed out and tired and I wish I had given myself time to calm down.
  7. If spanking has no affect on the child’s behavior, find another way to discipline the child. Continued spanking adds to your frustration and might become abusive. 
  8. At this point go back to #1. Learn who your child is. Then you may discover the thing that can be used for non-corporeal punishment
  9. In regards to our culture playing a part in our decision to spank, I believe understanding our culture pre- and post-slavery may remove or diminish the need for that kind of punishment.

Our Culture

Our anger and our children’s anger are rooted in our identity crisis. We don’t talk about that but it is my opinion that it plays a big role. Consider this:

  1. My  ethnic identity was stripped. I can’t go back to Africa and find my ancestors home. Africa is a large continent made up of many countries. What tribe am I a part? 
  2. I go back to Alabama the state of my families home but how do I know my family began there. Could have been sold from a Georgian plantation. But in school you want me to draw a family tree. Where are my roots? Frustration.
  3. We tried to assimilate to be accepted by the majority culture. Straighten my hair because my natural hair is ugly and un-kept. Even now we have to fight to wear our hair in its natural state. We, the women, are told it is unprofessional.  Frustration and anger
  4. My dark skin isn’t as acceptable as my lighter toned sisters and brothers. All things being equal the lighter skinned person will get the pick. Yet you spend much time in the sun to get brown, risking skin cancer.  Frustrating contradiction.
  5. For those who drank the kool-aid and believed its lie, the truth revealed in the last 7 years says very little has changed. We are not in a post-racial America.  Anger and frustration.

This is why understanding our culture will, along with different discipline methods, give parents better choices. Their discipline toolbox would not be limited to “spanking like I was when I was a child.”

Back to Mr. Petersen

I believe Mr. Petersen and those in similar situations need to be helped not suspended or fired. Losing income just adds stress that may cause anxiety and may lead to abuse. There are classes out there and agencies to help parents and specifically fathers. I am certified to teach one such class, “Effective Black Parenting.” There are groups for fathers, where men talk to men. Two such agencies in the Inland Empire, CA are Street Positive and Fathers Time Fatherhood Academy. These groups are not limited to CA if you live elsewhere.

Help parents, help fathers. Encourage them to learn more. Parenting is an ongoing learning process and we should take advantage of the services that exist to help us. I must also add, don’t stop thinking. With all that you learn you must still make wise and reasonable choices for your individual child. In the end the children and the family in total are the beneficiaries. I think we all would prefer a proliferation of “Father of the Year” headlines.

He Used Even Me

Often times we think you have to be somebody well-known, powerful or super wealthy to be chosen to do something great. It has been my experience and observation that God uses regular people that are available and obedient to Him. They are perceived as great after the fact.This is the story of Jael.
                                                                                                       See The Video of Rael’s Story

Background

Israel was once gain disobedient to the LORD so He sold them into captivity into the hands of Jabin the king of Canaan. The commander of Jabin’s army was named Sisera. Israel cried out to God for deliverance and God’s response was to send Barak to fight Sisera. Barak received the news from Deborah, a prophetess and judge of Israel. Barak told her I’ll go if you go with me. Deborah agreed to go but not before informing Barak that because he did not believe God’s word, that He would be with him and give him victory over Sisera, he would be victorious but a woman would get the glory. Barak defeated Sisera’s army but Sisera got awayHe ran to the tent of Heber the Kenite, a descendent of Moses’ father-in-law. Heber had become a friend of King Jabin so Sisera thought he would be safe. What Sisera did not realize was Heber’s wife did not have the same allegiance. She was a friend of Israel. 

Sisera’s Mistake

Jael was a homemaker. Her only claim to fame was being the wife of Heber. On that fateful day, Sisera approached her tent. She told him that her husband was not home but he was welcome to come in. That was his first mistake. He should not have gone inside the tent of a married woman when her husband was absent. Second, he assumed she carried the sentiments of her husband after all she was just a woman. What did she know about these things? Jael gave him the hospitality befitting someone of his station. He felt so safe and comfortable that he went into a deep sleep. 

Jael’s Strike

While Sisera slept, Jael took a spike and drove it through his temple until it came out the other side of his head. In that moment Jael became the deliverer of Israel and she received the glory. Until that moment she was a nobody, but she was available to God, informed of the situation and used what she had to take care of business.

Are you available to God? Are you informed? Are you willing to use the abilities and gifts God has given you for His purpose? He used Jael and He wants to use even you. 

Transformation Stopper

  1. I want to be transformed. I want my body to look like it did 40 years ago and move like it did 40+ years ago. I want my mind to think like it did just 15 years ago. Who is with me on that? I want I want I want. 

  2. Do I really know what I am asking for? Transformation means a thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance. That sounds like a lot of work and it might take a long time. Are you still with me?  I have done the research. I have accepted that the change begins in my mind. I have even encouraged others on their road to success. I think  I know what I have to do. So why haven’t I been successful in the transformation I desire.
  3. What’s Stopping Me?

  4. This last two years at least, I have been consumed with solving problems, learning new things necessary to fulfill our ministry needs and fatigue. I began my transformation process with full force. I was determined. Then I ran smack dab into a wall of issues that interrupted my food preparation schedule. It became easier to eat out. I tried to choose places that had healthy or healthier choices. I still didn’t see any progress. Thanks to the Food Network, Gordan Ramsey and Robert Irvine, I discovered why. All those hidden calories from butter were my downfall or at least part of it. Basting my fish in butter to keep that moist, richness sabotaged me. I continued my juice extraction and my certified organic purchases at the market but my dinner meals were not always prepared by me. Restaurants reigned. I did not fall off the healthy food preparation wagon,, My wagon ran completely off the road. 
  5. While I laid over in my virtual ravine, several things happened. The @HealthyHeritageMovement invited our church to participate in a six week health workshop. Just before the workshop began I was diagnosed with two bleeding peptic ulcers and had to have two blood transfusions. Then I was invited to @GreaterLightCommunityChurch to present the affect our food choices have on our mental and physical health. I laid in my virtual ravine thinking God you have an interesting sense of humor. How am I going to talk to these people about this and I haven’t even been able to conquer this myself. I have faced my inner demons regarding my appearance I thought.  I had to finally admit that I am suffering from a severe case of procrastination. 
  6. I Am Stopping Me.

  7. Procrastination is stopping me. I am wearing my self out thinking about what I need to do instead of doing it. Ugh!!. I hate it when God bust me out like that. This time it wasn’t private. It was in a church congregation. My transformation is incomplete and it is my fault. 
  8. No More Excuses

  9. I am putting it out here so you, my friends, can hold me accountable. I hate to cook but that has to be part of my transformation. I can’t blame the schedule or the restaurants any longer. I must cook to be transformed completely. This cooking thing is not only aiding in transforming my body but my mind also. 
  10.                              I will now proclaim I love to cook until I truly love to cook.

God’s Mental Health Plan

A few weeks ago I delivered the morning message at my church.  It was entitled “Think on These Things.” The scripture that I used was Philippians 4:6-9. 

Philippians 4:6-9 (ESV)
6  do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
7  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8  Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
9  What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
 

As I studied I realized a better title would have been God’ Mental Health Plan. Verse six begins, ” Be careful for nothing ..” More simply put it means 

                                         “Don’t Worry about Anything.” 

God said that if you would just talk with him, make your concerns known with an attitude of thanksgiving, then He would make you prosperous in all things concerning you and His peace and wholeness would be with you. Now before you get yourself all worked up, I am not talking about financial prosperity necessarily. According to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance the word for “mind: translates to “of (from or concerning) you.” He will bring you prosperity in what you need to eliminate your anxiety or you will have the opportunity to learn to trust his Word will He changes your circumstances. 

Peace

What kind of peace surpasses understanding? Is it something so rarely experienced that I can’t picture it in my mind? Yes!! A resounding YES!! He promised that His peace would guard or protect your heart, (thoughts, feelings) and your mind, (all things concerning you).

How To Get This Peace

The answer lies in verses eight and nine. Think about good things. If it is true, just or fair, pure or clean, lovely, or commendable; if it reflects excellence and is worthy of compliments, then think about those things. Don’t cloud your mind up thinking about the negative things. Don’t worry about the gossip and the gossipers. Don’t give your adversaries another thought. God says, He’s got this.
I believe God’s got it because He said so but I am not really sure I am sure. That is why Paul encouraged us to “practice these things.” Very few of us get it the first time around. It requires practice. Take baby steps and with each step our confidence will rise and God’s peace will become apparent.
The result is awesome mental health.
For those unfortunately suffering from mental illness, I am not suggesting walking away from therapy or even your medications. However, I am suggesting as you can try this. Practice thinking about the good things in your life. Think about the lovely, pleasant things that make you feel good as often as you can. I believe it will only help you get better faster.
For those of us who have momentary or mild mental dis-ease, this is a preventive measure. We spend way to much time and energy worrying about things and people we can’t do anything about. We also spend way to much time and energy complaining and doing nothing about the things we can change.
                                    STOP! Trust God and do something instead.
                                                   Think on These Things!

Stress Reduction Plan

It seems this is the season for challenges. We have the ice bucket challenge; the grateful challenge, face painting challenge, word challenge and I am sure there are others I don’t know about. I have a challenge. That is true on so many levels. 😀  Seriously, my challenge to you is “Reducing our stress level.”

Did you take the Life Stress test? If you didn’t here is another opportunity. Lifestresstest  Just click, answer the questions and discover if you are on a path to sickness because of stress.

I am using The Recipe to Mental Health published by Albertsons, Inc. in 2006 as a guideline. This book was created by their pharmacists in Sav-On and Oxco Drugs stores. In spite of its evolutionary, transcendental feel, their approach is based in American Medicine with a little Alternative medicine flavoring. I was quite surprised about the latter since they were pharmacists.

I have created my stress reduction plan. I promised to share it so hear it is with a little information on why I added these things to it.

  1. Learn to say “No.” I know I cannot do everything but sometimes all those yeses creep up on you and then you are overwhelmed. 
  2. Prioritize what’s left in order of importance. Do you remember those Franklin Planners and its system. Why did I ever stop doing that? I was organized then.
  3. Focus (think) on the good things. My good things of choice are found in Philippians 4 of the Bible. More on that later.
  4. Plan. Make plans for dealing with upcoming situations that might prove to be stressful. Having a plan eliminates some of the stress.
  5. Exercise. This could be stressful in itself. I know that it will reduce stress but I have such a hard time getting it done. I must plan to exercise an give it a high priority while I think of all the good things that will be accomplished. I will tell myself I am beating a pillow.
  6. Eat healthy. All ready doing that but have to cut out some things that I let creep back in.
  7. Do something I enjoy. I haven’t done any of my hobbies in a long time. I must put one of them on the list of things to do.
  8. Be nice to myself. Lighten up on myself. I am my biggest critic.

That is what I need to do but what does it look like in practical application. Get out the calendar and layout exercise, meal and activity plan. Prioritize and get started.  Look out stress. I am coming for you!

I Just Want to SCREAM!

To view this submission go to http://ladywiggins.blogspot.com/p/i-just-want-to-scream.html
I somehow used Pages instead of Post. Maybe I will copy it  here.

I Just Want To SCREAM!

I know you have felt and said that at some point in your life. Sometimes I just want to take a bat and beat something. I think about taking it out on a pillow or the weeds in my back yard but something needs to be hit. Why? I have all this pent up anxiety or anger that a good scream or slug would help. Don’t worry I don’t hit people or animals. I don’t even hit inanimate objects. I just want to sometimes.
Again, I ask, “Why?” I think one word describes it,STRESS.
So before, I continue my search into the world of mental dis-ease, I think stress is worth a look.

Stress can be defined as a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances. Simply said, “When you are under overwhelming pressure, you are stressed.”
It has been determined that stress either causes or has strong influence over many ailments of the body and mind. Stress has been associated with heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, sleep dysfunction, depression, and eating disorders.

What do I do? Assess your stress.
 How do I determine my stress level?There are many stress assessment test out there but I used Organized Wisdom’s Life Stress Test. This is my result.

Life Stress Test

Written by Emily Lapkin, Medically reviewed by Scott Pearlman M.D.

You’re highly likely to develop a stress-triggered illness due to everything that’s going on in your life. However, your coping skills and the efforts you make to reduce stress can minimize this risk. Talk to a mental health professional if you need treatment. Support groups and convenient online forums can be beneficial, too. Common stress-related illnesses to watch out for include: 

Of these I have back pain, arthritis in some joints, obesity, and I was recently diagnosed with ulcers. I have moments of anxiety attacks when I feel overwhelmed with things to do. I sometimes have difficulty sleeping. It is not insomnia yet or if so it is very mild. Since I am subject to the other illnesses because of the stress in my life, I had better come up with a stress reduction plan. You noticed Depression is in the list.

Take the test. Determine your stress level with the Life Stress Test. Assessment.
Don’t get stressed out over the assessment.
Now that you know whether you are subject to any illnesses due to stress, you can make healthier decisions for your life.
I will share my plan as soon as I complete it. In the mean time I will be sharing more information on mental dis-eases.

2 comments:

  1. I like…thanks for sharing, Pat! My niece is a massage therapist and she keeps telling people how important for people, especially African Americans to have a stress management protocol in place for a better quality of life.

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    Replies

    1. Thank you, Sister Wendy. Where is your niece located?

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