Tag Archives: travel

Defeating Discouragement

Defeating Discouragement 

And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way. 

Number 21:4

Seasonal Affective Disorder  (SAD) otherwise known as “The Winter Blues” is probably in full force right now.  With those living in the Northern Hemisphere short on sunlight and full of snow during the Winter season, it is possible to become discouraged.

With all the recent ice and snow storms, most have not been able to get out of the house as much as they would like.  When the storms falling primarily on Sunday’s and Wednesday’s it has disrupted the faithful gathering of worshipers in the local church.  While the season has been disruptive, we can have victory over the discouraging thoughts we may face when we check the weather apps or scan the meteorologist reports.

The Israelite’s were traveling towards the Promise Land, but the path was not easy.  The walking, caravaning was no easy task.  Life was hard and they became discouraged.  Circumstances are powerful at changing our attitude and disposition.  But instead of focusing on the problems, we can discover victory over the problems.

No one is immune to the occasional negative thoughts about their circumstance.  It becomes a major problem when all we do is complain or think negative thoughts.  It affects our motivation, our interaction with others and our walk with God.   Sometimes “our way” is tough too.

If discouragement is not dealt with in a Biblical way, it is possible for it to develop into depression.  It does not have too.  Here are three ideas to help overcome discouragement.

  • But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Matthew 10:30

The Lord Jesus knows everything about you.  Even down to how many hairs you have (or don’t have) on your head.  If He knows something so minor as this, think about all the other things He knows about you.  He knows your thoughts and wants you to live in victory, claiming healthy truthful thoughts about your life and your circumstance.

  • Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.  Matthew 10:31

Jesus values you more than the beautiful birds.  Of all the creatures of creation, God values Humans the most.  We are created “in His image.”  There is something special about you.  Be encouraged with the value God places on you!  David also battled with occasional discouragement.  1 Samuel 30:6 says, “And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.”  

  • But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.  Matthew 14:27

The Lord is always available to us.  Be of good cheer.  God is with you.  Talk with Jesus in prayer.  Ask Him to help you overcome negative thoughts with Bible truth.  Learn a new Bible verse.  Recite it when the next storm comes.  Chose joy by the grace of God to not allow discouragement to control your life.

Look up – the sun will be up soon.  Spring will be here before you know it!

 

 

 

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The Many Benefits of SNOW!

“Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!”  Wow, with another blizzard type storm pouring snowflakes all around us, I thought it would be fitting to highlight some of the many benefits of snow.

We love the snow.  If is is going to be cold, we might as well have snow!  Here is a short list of the physical benefits of snow:

  1. Snow helps with lessening the amount of molds and pollen in the air.  Our allergy doctor is faithful to assess the amount of snow and how it has impacted seasonal allergies each year.  The more snow, the less seasonal allergic reactions for many people in the Spring.
  2. Snow helps insulate the ground.  Have you ever built an igloo?  One of my favorite things to do as a boy was to build snow forts and “igloos.”  The snow packed structures I built were always warmer inside than outside.  In fact, without snow on the ground, when the temperatures reach below zero, your water pipes are more likely to freeze.  The snow acts as insulation for the ground.  We let our plants and bushes get covered in snow (as long as it is not too heavy to break the plant) because it shields the plant or bush from the extreme cold and wind.
  3. Snow helps the water table.  People who use wells for water understand this.  A good snow fall will slowly be matriculated into the reservoirs of water under the ground.  In Winter seasons where there is not much snow and more rain, the water tables are not restored as effectively because rain in the Winter runs off the cold ground too fast and is not soaked up into the ground soil as well.
  4. Snow changes the pace of life.  Getting “snowed in” causes everyone slow down their pace of life and even stop for a moment or two.  “Pace” is an area I hope to share in another post one day.  With normal schedules adjusted or canceled for snow, it creates a new, temporary space of quiet time and rest that many do not normally factor into their hectic schedule.
  5. Snow is beautiful to watch fall.  We enjoy looking out of windows and seeing the beauty of the snowflakes falling to earth.  In addition, with the right temperatures some snows cling to the trees in such a spectacular fashion creating a “winter wonderland.”
  6. Snow can be utilized to develop a good work ethic in your kids.  When I was a teen and the snow fell, dad sent us out to shovel driveways and sidewalks for our neighbors.  We did not ask if they needed help, we just did it.  This work developed character, made friends of neighbors in the community, and was good exercise.
  7. Snow can be lots of fun.  Snow tubing, sledding, skiing and other winter sports are terrific fun and good exercise.  We normally make some time to go sledding with the kids.  The Wilton Baptist Church front hillside offers a terrific sledding slope.

There are also spiritual benefits of snow.  While the Bible uses the term “snow” 24 times, we will look at just a few here.  Besides with all the snow on the ground, I figured you would have a few extra minutes to read this.  So here are the spiritual benefits:

  • Snow reveals to us that God is in control.
    • The Lord stores up or treasures the snow:  Job 38:22 Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow? or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail…
    • The snow is part of God fulfilling His will on the earth. Psalm 148:8 Fire, and hail; snow, and vapour; stormy wind fulfilling his word…
  • Snow reminds us of God’s deliverance.
    • When the nation of Israel conquered the Promise Land, it was not so much their ability and power, but the power of God.  He delivered them and the enemies were scattered like the wind blowing the snow in a snow storm. Psalm 68:14 When the Almighty scattered kings in it, it was white as snow in Salmon. 
    • In the next snowfall, let it remind you of how the Lord has delivered you.
  • Snow reasons to us God’s common sense.
    • It makes sense that when it snows, it is cold outside.  The snow refreshes the earth at the end of the ground season.  Just like the snow is refreshing, a faithful messenger is also refreshing.  Proverbs 25:13  As the cold of snow in the time of harvest, so is a faithful messenger to them that send him: for he refresheth the soul of his masters.
    • Snow is the summer does not make much sense.  That makes about as much sense as giving honor and prestige to a fool.  Just looking at the people who are famous today it is apparent this common sense has not been followed for a while.  Proverbs 26:1  As snow in summer, and as rain in harvest, so honour is not seemly for a fool.
    • Let the snow encourage you to have God’s “common sense” for today.
  • Snow resounds God’s plan for you to “be prepared.”
    • The Proverbs 31 woman is not afraid of the snow.  She is prepared for it.  Proverbs 31:21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.
    • She “readied” herself and her household – before the snow.  Having extra fuel, food, and water on hand are good ideas.  The snowblower, shovels, and salt should all be ready ahead of time.
    • The Lord does want us to be aware and prepared for the seasons.  This is also true of the everyday Christian life.  We need to be alert in every season of life.
  • Snow reiterates the forgiveness God has given you.   I love these two verses:
    • When David confessed his sin, God cleaned his life.  Psalm 51:7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
    • Then the Lord reveals how that when He forgives, our lives are viewed by the Lord as being “white as snow.”  Isaiah 1:18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
    • If you are a Christian, the Lord has forgiven your sin and you have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus.  The purity and cleanness of fresh snow should reiterate in our hearts what God has done in cleansing the sin in our life.  He made you acceptable for Heaven.  Not by your own works but by the work of Jesus on the Cross.  Let the snow remind you of this amazing truth.

So, if you are “snowed in” today, stay warm, stay safe, and stay encouraged in the Lord.  Full disclosure: I really do not like traveling in the snow, especially long trips while it is still coming down.  It is a good time to stay home!  There are many benefits to snow.  Instead of complaining or having a bad attitude, be thankful.  Snow is a wonderful thing that God has given to you today.

 

 

 

 

 

The Blurriness of Christmas

The Blurriness of Christmas

And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.  Matthew 2:11

Consider the last few days in this month of December.  Lots of people are talking about “holidays” and Christmas. Many people appear to worship Christmas instead of worshiping Christ.  It is an easy thing to do.  There are holiday parties, travel to grandparents, gift exchanges and more.  I enjoy the holiday decorations, lights and nativity scenes we see all over the place.  The movie industry, commercial sales industry, and society as a whole are celebrating.  But, it is clear they are celebrating something other than the events in the Bible. The busyness of Christmas can give us blurry vision.

When the wise men saw baby Jesus they kneeled down to worship Him.  They did not loose sight as to why He was here and what Jesus was doing on the earth.  Just like when the cold temperatures outside and the warm temperatures on the inside causes the windows to fog up sometimes, we can have a hard time seeing Christmas for what it really is.  There is such a disparity in the perceived “reasons for the season” in the world today.

Pray and ask the Lord to help you not loose sight or have blurry vision during this holiday season.  With all the busyness and possible distractions of this season, take some time to kneel in prayer, thanking and praising God for His Son and our Savoir Jesus, the Christ.

 

 

 

How I Prepare for Attending Church

How I Prepare for Attending Sunday Church

“And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them…” Acts 20:7

It became an every week event.  God’s people would gather in a designated area to hear preaching, pray together, sing to the Lord, and to enjoy encouraging fellowship.  It was every Sunday.

Depending on the church, there would be a pastor such as James preaching. Sometimes it was Paul as he traveled through.  Others rose up as pastors, missionaries and evangelists to declare God’s Word to those who gathered as the “Church.”

Church attendance is something that should be on each Christians weekly agenda.  For Sunday worship to be truly a “day given to the Lord” then a plan of action would help.  Sunday church should be greatly anticipated in our households with pleurae and expectations for God to work in our lives.

The following are methods that I use to prepare and get ready for attending Sunday church services.  They are not “rocket science” but proper preparation does require personal and family discipline.

Here goes:

  1. I do not start major home improvement projects Saturday if they have no definitive stopping point. If in planning it looks like a project will take a lot more time than I hoped or if it would leave the house in conditions that would distract or even prevent the family from being able to easily go to church I will save that part of the project for another day.  If it can be started and finished, or even “paused” by around 2:00 PM then it is a project I may try to tackle.  Projects may take more time, but our children will be less likely to misunderstand our priorities.
  2. I leave a “margin” for time and distance when traveling so that we would arrive home in time on Saturday to set everything back in its place so that Sunday morning preparation is a breeze. Late Saturday night arrives home from long or short trips are avoided.
  3. I check the “weather” ahead of time. Forecasts are educated guesses, but I like an idea as to how I will need to dress.  Hot or cold, rainy or snowy?  It makes a difference in how you prepare for a day.  Check Saturday night if you can.   This helps with planning what to wear.  Selecting the cloths you plan to wear the night before can also be a help. Some people will set them “out” to be easy to find.
  4. I go to sleep early on Saturday night. 9:00 PM is a good time for me.  Perhaps because I am the one preaching.  A low energy guy like me needs good rest to preach.  You and I have both noticed Sunday School teachers that could use more energy Sunday morning.  Even those not preaching or teaching would do well to be well rested so they can be more engaged with the events of the church services. Our children go to sleep earlier than I do.
  5. I like to eat a breakfast with protein, get some “prayer” walking (about a mile) in, and read a chapter or two out of the Bible in addition to a few moments of prayer. Message preparation is at a different time for me.  These are things I do if I am preaching or not preaching in the church services.
  6. I know where my Bible is. Have your Bible ready to go. Your Bible and the Bibles of each family member should have a regular place it is set when not in use.  For me it is on the corner of a kitchen counter top.  Every time.
  7. I leave the TV off. Some of our senior saints enjoy some of the Bible teachers on TV, and that can be good.  I would encourage you to avoid watching cartoons, turning on a movie, or being absorbed by the “news.”  I glance at the major headlines online to ensure I know of any major attacks, events, or trouble that people may ask me about – but Sunday morning is not the time to study the problems of the world on the TV.  There are many online radio stations that offer encouraging, conservative, and worshipful music that may help.  Please see the page of this site about “Christian Radio.”
  8. I do not play video games on Sunday morning. Many teenagers today are “glued” to their phones playing video games.  I encourage each parent to take the phones away or have them turned off.  Some teens play during the ride to church, all during Sunday School, and even the church service.  Sometimes when greeting teens in the pre-service, it is difficult to get their attention to say “hi” because they are so focused on their game.  That is not a good way to be “prepared for meeting with God.”  Parents and adults are just as prone to “zone out” on Facebook.  A distracted heart is not as inclined to “hear” God’s message or as engaged in the church service.
  9. I avoid the rush. That rushed feeling can be avoided if you leave the house at a reasonable time.  If it takes you 20 minutes to drive to church, then leave 30 minutes before.  Even if you live close to the church like I do, add time or “margin” so that you are not rushed.  Kids who are “rushed” to Sunday School and church and still show up late do not receive as much from the lessons because their hearts are racing, they have probably been yelled at by a parent to “move faster” and their mind is not as engaged as it would be if they got there early.  “On time” is really 15 minutes before the service or class begins.  Try that for a while and see how it calms your spirit.
  10. I enjoy a nap Sunday afternoon following our family meal. Sometimes we go out to eat.  We avoid major projects, yard work, and big outdoor activities that could cause a person to not be ready for the Sunday Evening Church services.  We have found it best not to get on a boat or take a hike Sunday afternoon.  Choirs, fellowships and the church services come fast.  Being involved is terrific but it does take effort.

There are so many distractions from giving a day of worship to the Lord.  With a little discipline, we can be ready with hearts prepared to worship Jesus.  With better planning than you do for school and work, you can plan and prepare for making it to church services on time and ready to learn, worship, connect to others and grow. I hope these ideas that have helped me and my family are a blessing to you as you get ready for church this Sunday.

 

Travel with Us to Israel

I was blessed in early 2015 to be given a trip to the Holy Land.  The Wilton Baptist Church, the people I pastor, sent me on a trip of the lifetime to Israel.  I am very thankful for their generosity and kindness!  It was an incredible experience that really brought to life the Bible locations that I study each week.  It was a life-changing time for me as the pages of Scripture took on a fresh interest. The landscape and having been “on location” has helped me further understand the events of the Bible in relation to geography, weather, and human experience.  For example, walking up to the Mount of Olives means more to me now after having walked it on a sunny day.  Traveling across the Sea of Galilee during a storm was exciting!  The wind and rain assaulting our little ship gave me a glimpse of the times when Jesus sailed the Sea.

Dr. Richard Harper, the evangelist, and myself are planning to go again in February of 2017.  In 2015, we went to nearly 60 locations and I took around 4000 photos!

Below are the details of the 2017 trip.  Perhaps you would like to go.  I encourage you to sign up.  If you send your pastor, his preaching will never be the same.  I encourage churches to send their pastor as it will not only bless him, but will also reciprocate in stories, photos, and greater depth of understanding that will return to the church from the pulpit.

A person does not need to go to Israel to be a great preacher or to know the Bible, but visiting there can be a help to gain insights that you may not have considered before.  Please read the details below.  Begin to pray and begin to save money for the trip if you feel the Lord would have you go.

2017 information