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Tickled or Pickled Ears?


I’ve noticed that more and more people who call themselves Christians are allowing their ears to be tickled.  Many of these people don’t study God’s Word and only read Christian self-improvement books and/or short devotions.  I’m also seeing more of my friends and family who are either attending church sporadically,  are no longer affiliated with a church body, are only attending Sunday school (and refusing to go to worship services), or are members of a “feel good” church that doesn’t dig into Scripture with sermons that are just positive messages that don’t talk about sin.

“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”
2 Timothy 4:3-4

ear tickeled

 I’ve been making my own fermented foods.  Kimchi and sauerkraut are two of my favorites; they taste good and they’re good for my body because they’re probiotic foods. Pickling food by using a salt brine not only preserves the food, but also adds “good” bacteria during the pickling process that helps with digestion. 

Jesus called us to be salt of the earth in Matthew 5:13 for the very same reasons we use salt — we are to help preserve and flavor the people around us as we serve Him:

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.”

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Heavenly Father, I praise You as our Creator and our Provider.  You have given us everything we need.  I thank You for Your Word that enriches and preserves our lives.  Father, I lift up my friends, family and others who are being deceived and are only having their ears tickled.  Father, please guide me and help me to be a pickle each day — not sour with my words but salty so that I may be used to flavor the lives You’ve put in my path.  I ask these things in Jesus’ name, so You will be glorified.  Amen. 

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Helping Those Who Hurt

 Places like The Covering House bring awareness to the prevalence of sex trafficking and help those who’ve been exploited.  The Covering House is non-profit organization that provides refuge and restoration for girls that have experienced sexual trafficking or sexual exploitation here in the United States.

 On September 3rd, The Covering House is hosting their 6th annual Race for Refuge.
I will be walking a 5K to raise money to help support the good
work they do there.

ANY amount will help. ❤ ❤ ❤    Please prayerfully consider giving up your daily coffee/tea/pop stop for a week or even just even one day to sponsor me.  You can give online and your donations go directly to The Covering House. 


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 Heavenly Father, thank You for Your love and for Your daily provisions.  Thank You for providing places like The Covering House that help the exploited. Thank You for inspiring me to help places like The Covering House and to do this 5K.  Thank You for each person who will read this post and who will prayerfully give to The Covering House so they may continue the good work being done there.  Please give Your wisdom, strength, and guidance to each staff member and volunteer at The Covering House as they minister to broken girls.  Please restore each client who goes there as only You can.  It’s in Jesus’ precious Name I pray, so that You alone will be glorified.  Amen. 

No Bake Cookies and Christian Love

  It was 34 years ago that I first tried a No Bake Cookie.

 

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I was single, overseas, and living in Air Force barracks. When a coworker’s wife made them for him to share at work, I asked for the recipe. It was the first recipe that someone ever wrote out for me. This couple also happened to be some of the first true Christians I met.

From the ages of 15 to 21, I could have been called a “wild child”. Even though I ran and worked out, I also smoked cigarettes and drank heavily. Very heavily. I lived a very wicked lifestyle and everyone I worked with knew it.

One professing Christian told me that women shouldn’t be in the military. He also told me how his wife stayed home, never wore pants, and only listened to the radio. Sure — like that was going to give me a desire to become a Christian.

Thankfully, God continued to put nonjudgmental people in my path who shared His love in kind and thoughtful ways. They did not put down my sinful lifestyle. They didn’t comment on my filthy language. They showed me Christ’s love in caring actions and the way that they lived their lives.

 I’ve used that cookie recipe numerous times. I’ve made them for my own family. I’ve made multiple batches for youth group events. I’ve taken plates of them to new neighbors, sick friends, and new moms. I make them for the kids I work with at school.

I rewrote that recipe on a card because the original became wrinkled and stained from use.  Every time I take the recipe card out, I think of that loving Christian wife who made cookies for her husband’s coworkers, how the LORD used those cookies to soften my heart, and I thank Him for that loving act so many years ago.  As I made a batch of  No Bake Cookies tonight, I thanked the LORD for allowing me to serve Him and will do so every time I make them.    

Cruising Isn’t For Everyone

I’ve been home from my first cruise for 2 weeks now.  I needed to process everything that happened and read Scripture before I wrote about it. Be forewarned that this is the longest post I’ve ever written.

Let me begin with how superb the Royal Caribbean staff was. From the moment we went aboard, the entire crew was concerned for our comfort. They seemed genuinely worried about me when I became seasick, and our waiter sent up green apples and crackers when I was unable to finish my dinner. Our stateroom attendant, Pat, kept asking my daughter how I was doing because I slept 12 hours straight. Each and every RCC staff member was extremely helpful and polite.

Our stateroom attendant worked meticulously to keep our room clean; she must have gone in there at least 4 times a day. Each time we saw Pat, she would inquire how our meal was or how our day was going.  Not only did Pat clean and straighten our room, but she also put fresh towels in our room while we were at dinner — I honestly believe Pat made it her mission to ensure that we never had to use a towel more than once!  On our last cruise night I could see that she and the other stateroom attendants were all extremely busy preparing for our disembarkment and getting things ready for a fresh batch of cruisers, so I told Pat that we didn’t need anything and she didn’t have to go in our room.  She nodded, but that sweet, hardworking lady still went in and changed out our towels! Besides fresh towels, each evening she would turn on the reading lights over our beds and store away our bed coverlets. Her towel animals were adorable.

swan

 I had researched from 3 different sources about the sights to see on Nassau and found a highly rated taxi service to take us around the entire island. None of my reading prepared me for the extreme poverty on one half of island with the other half filled with designer stores, restaurants and bars to pull in tourists.  The mansions and lavish hotels such as Atlantis were too difficult to admire after we had seen tiny, rundown shacks of the poor. We learned that the big attraction to Nassau is the shopping, which is strategically placed within walking distance from where passengers get off the ships (I believe there were 4 ships docked the day we were there).  After our 3 1/2 hour taxi tour, my daughter and I only shopped for a few simple gifts, and chose to spend most of our money on conch shells sold out of a boat by a local fisherman and eating delicious fried conch at a small local restaurant.

We were disgusted how tourists of all nationalities pushed and shoved their way on lines for excursions, to get back on the ships, and then again when we went through customs. And not just Americans — two who really stood out to me were a Chinese lady who deliberately cut in front of me and an Australian lady who pushed her way in front of me.  When the Australian lady got in front of me she had left her children behind her, so I motioned to her teenagers to go on up with their mother. I then realized she that had also left her husband behind so I said, “Sir, you can get in front of us so you can wait with your family”. His teenage son replied, “He can stay back there.” After a few minutes he finally moved up with his family, probably embarrassed of his wife and son’s rudeness. Many more cut in front of us and I knew God was teaching me a lesson.

Luxury can create selfish, nasty human beings. Adults and children left their empty glasses and dirty plates all over the ship for the staff to pick up. I witnessed people eating food in the Jacuzzi and then the staff had to pick up their dishes left on the ledges of the Jacuzzi. Parents overindulged their children, leaving their teenagers to roam in an area designed specifically for teens and signing their younger children over to attendants in a special babysitting area to be entertained all day. Many of the children spoke rudely, too. As we were preparing to head to our cruise ship I saw a family all decked out in cute Disney swim trunks and tee shirts. When I told the oldest little boy (about 4 or 5 years old), “It sure looks like you all are in for some fun”, he replied to me in a very nasty tone, “Well, we are going on a Disney cruise.” Yes, that little boy did indeed put emphasis on “are”.

I will always treasure the time I got to spend with my daughter. We both enjoyed the delicious and beautifully prepared food — which, thankfully, I could not eat a lot of because I was dizzy and nauseous the entire time cruising and then 5 days after. The food was abundant, but we were pretty good about choosing to eat healthy fruit instead of the rich desserts. 😉 Besides spending time and relaxing with my dear daughter, my favorite part was watching the sunrise and sunset from the very top of the ship — the indescribable beauty of our Creator was breathtaking.

sunset

2nd day

Our time on the cruise line’s private cay was also wonderful. We got up super early to go kayaking where we were able to see live conch, sting ray, and barracuda. Afterward, we trekked to the other side of the cay where there was only a handful of people and lounged under a palm tree that we got to call our own for a few hours. I could have spent days enjoying the sunshine, walking on soft sands, picking up shells, admiring the gorgeous blue/green ocean and watching the tiny hermit crabs scurry along the beach.

palm treeThe desire to go on a cruise came from listening to many Christians who have gone on cruises, some who even go on them a few times a year. I honestly do not understand the draw. I know part of the reason I don’t understand is because I am not an extravagant person — I prefer to find my clothing on sale or at a thrift store. I don’t wear expensive jewelry, and wear a simple gold band and a silver ring with ichthus (Christian fish) on my ring finger instead of my diamond wedding ring. We rarely go out eat and it’s usually Chili’s or a salad from Wendy’s. Even though one of our airfares was paid for with points and one cruise fare was half-off, I realized cruising is just too much of a luxury for me.

The rudeness of the passengers on our ship and the other ships left a bitter taste in my mouth for cruising. I was also disappointed when passengers wouldn’t make small talk with me. When my daughter and I discussed all that had transpired on our cruise, my heart broke as she shared how no one would even speak to her when she explored the ship by herself the first night that I was so sick.  The only person who started a conversation with me occurred on the third morning as I was watching the sunrise. I was enjoying my coffee and taking it all in, marveling at God’s beauty and thanking Him for allowing me to see it ( I am a former Long Islander living in Missouri now and I miss the ocean so much). This beautiful, white-haired lady walking by said to me, “Isn’t it gorgeous? We just don’t have sunrises like this in Missouri.” I chuckled and we talked a bit, and we found out we lived only an hour and half from each other. God’s provision always amazes me.

At first I thought I smelled (yes, I actually checked because I sweated profusely when I became seasick on the first night). It was definitely something about the cruise because I was able to make small talk with people in the airport, with passengers on the plane, and with the customs people. Maybe people were so unfriendly and rude because they were on expensive vacation and just wanted to be left alone? Maybe it was the type of people on the cruise?

As I shared my experience with an older lady from church, she asked me what I learned spiritually. Scripture says we are not to live life so lavishly. I am a servant first, and that was why I was so uncomfortable with the impeccable service. We are to serve others, not be served.

“You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence.” James 5:5a (ESV)

“but she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives” 1 Timothy 5:6 (ESV)

“But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” 1 Timothy 6:8-10 (ESV)


So my question to Christians who cruise: Why do you enjoy cruises?