Flash Fiction

Flash Fiction: Disappointed

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Fiction under 250 words.

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“God help me,” I muttered under my breath. I was behind “Eeyore” mom and we were traveling at a maximum of 20 miles per hour.

I glared at the navy blue Chevy Tahoe and tried to keep my cool in front of the boys. I didn’t know this woman, but I hated her. She was the slowest driver in the entire city and I was always the lucky dipstick that got stuck behind her.

Always.

The boys began squirming in their seats. They knew whenever we got behind the truck with the Eeyore decal that there would be trouble. We were slowing down (which only required a tap or two on the brakes considering we were moving at a snail’s pace) at a stoplight.

We were in the left-hand turn lane and there wasn’t a car to be seen for miles. The light was green and yet we continued to sit there.

I could feel a hot bubble of impatience making it’s way up my throat. I gritted my teeth and tried hard to keep my cool. Only, I couldn’t. A force, bigger than myself, took over and I gripped the steering wheel so hard I heard a knuckle crack.

I glared at the woman hoping she would catch my death-ray look in her rear-view mirror and get the hint.

No such luck.

We continued to sit through the green light. I tensed and before I could stop myself, I called her an ugly name. We were all disappointed.

Life

Thanksgiving is SO Over

Are you ready for this … ?

I’m thankful Thanksgiving is over.

There. I said it.

I know! Where is my attitude of gratitude??

Actually, I AM grateful for everything, please don’t think that I’m not. But I have a hard time summoning the gratitude attitude when I have to host Thanksgiving dinner.

This hostess with the mostess gets stressed out!

We had everything under control (for the most part) though. Kevin put the turkey into the oven at 11:00 p.m. Friday night (did I mention we had to have our Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday?) and it cooked until 6:00 a.m. the next morning. We have a thermometer that plugs into our oven that is programmed to shut the oven off once the turkey reaches the desired temperature. Which is nice, because we were able to sleep without worrying about the turkey over cooking.

Kevin then carved the turkey and we had it ready to go by 8:00 a.m. We stuck the turkey in our warming drawer, I woke the boys up, straightened the house while they showered and Kevin and I still had time to sit for about thirty minutes and catch our breath while listening to Christmas music.

Our guests were scheduled to arrive at noon. At 11:00 a.m., we heard what sounded like someone walking on the roof – it was because someone WAS walking on the roof. The roof guy just showed up prepared to tweak the roof. We didn’t say anything at first, but when I saw him go to his truck, pull out a tool belt and start gathering equipment, I asked Kevin to tell him that now wasn’t a good time.

We were expecting 15 people in little less than an hour, after all. (Can you imagine being in the middle of the Thanksgiving prayer and trying to thank God for our abundance while competing with mind-numbing hammering? Exactly).

Everyone arrived at noon, we ate, talked …

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had pie …

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and me, my brother-in-law, my nephew, and Dude played the Settler’s of Catan game …

Longest Catan Game Ever

which lasted three LONG hours …

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seriously, THREE HOURS.

It was like the longest Settler’s of Catan game EVER. (Actually, we played the Cities and Knights expansion pack which added to the difficulty level and of course, extended the game).

By the way, I came in last place. My nephew won, Dude came in second and my brother-in-law third.

Everyone stuck around until about 7:00 p.m. and when they left, I ate more pie and collapsed into a coma.

I think I’m still trying to recover.

Kevin LOVES hosting Thanksgiving. Me? Not so much. And it’s not because I don’t like having people over, oh contrare, but rather, it’s A LOT of work. Of course, a lot of that work is self-imposed, meaning that we don’t have to do nearly as much as we do whenever it’s our turn to host the dinner, but it’s fun to use Thanksgiving as our goal to work toward because most of these home improvements would still just be talked about instead of actually done if not for our self-imposed deadline.

I’m quite sure that made sense.

At any rate, we’re DONE with Thanksgiving and we won’t have to host dinner again until 2013.

This kid? Will have graduated from high school by then.

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THAT doesn’t blow my mind at all.

Abundant Life

Teaching: Transformation: Becoming Like Christ

Every Sunday I provide videos and valuable links to the Truth or Tradition teachings. We’ve been following the Truth or Tradition teachings for many years now and they have truly blessed our family. We have found peace and happiness through our beliefs and we walk confidently for God. My hope, by passing on this information to you, is that what you find here, or on the Truth or Tradition website, will guide you to a better, more blessed and abundant life.

If you would like to read my views on religion and how we got started with the ministry, you can read this.

Let’s get started:

[The following article is an edited transcription of the October 2002 Teaching of the Month, “Transformation: Becoming Like Christ,” by John W. Schoenheit.]

This month we are going to be talking about Transformation: Becoming Like Christ. In this particular teaching on “transformation,” I am going to have two subtitles. One would be Dealing with Anger and Bitterness. I believe that those are two things, the hurt and pain that we feel that results in anger and bitterness, which really keep people from becoming like Christ. The other will be Participating in the Suffering of Christ.

Ephesians 5:1 and 2
(1) Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children
(2) and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

This is God’s command to us, the goal if you will, that has been set in front of us. We are to be an imitator of God. Not just be an imitator of God, but also to be an imitator of Christ because we are to “live a life of love, just as Christ loved.” We are supposed to imitate God and we are supposed to imitate Christ. These are lofty goals. Often times what happens is that in the process of trying to transform ourselves to become like Christ, we run into roadblocks. We often hold these roadblocks in our hearts in the form of hurt, pain, bitterness, and anger. These are a result of what happened to us over the course of our lives. We need to think very carefully about how to become transformed into the image of God and the image of Christ. How do we do that? What is the process we have to go through? We need to get some definitions in place because as we begin to discuss this, one of the things that is going to come up is the difference between our mind and our heart.

The Bible uses heart all the time, such as: “Guard your heart with all diligence. It is the wellspring of life.” The Bible uses the heart in a way that actually refers to the deep part of the mind, the seat, or the center of a man’s personal life, the starting point of the manifestations that occur in a person’s personal life. The heart is thus the core of your mind and the core of your personal life. Meanwhile, the mind itself is the place where you think, the place where you hold knowledge; it is the faculty of intellect. It is very important for us to understand that a very good distinction can be found between the heart and mind. If we are ever going to be like Christ as people, we have got to purify our heart. We have to. It is not good enough to just know what the Bible says. If we are going to be like Christ, we have to purify our heart.

At this point, I would expect you to say, “Why is that? Why do we have to purify our heart?” The answer actually is pretty simple. The answer is because what is in your heart is what will actually manifest itself in your life. In a battle between your mind and your heart, your heart will always win. Let me see if we can get some examples of that.

Ephesians 4:29
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

In my journey to become like God and to become like Christ, I want to get to the point that I can do this. I am not going to let any unwholesome talk come out of my mouth, none. “Okay, John, got it. This is the Word. I am only going to speak what is helpful for building others up according to their needs so that it blesses and benefits them.”

Ephesians 5:3 and 4
(3) But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.
(4) Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.

We see a stark contrast between the heart and the mind. Now, I have got the Word in my mind. I know what the Bible says. It says, “No obscenity.” It says it right here in front of me. Also verse four says, “Nor should there be obscenity.” This is a good translation of the contextual meaning of the Greek word. God does not want His children going around using obscenity. God wants His children speaking wholesome talk that is “helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” I am now holding the Word in my mind. I can give myself a pep-talk and say, “That’s it, John. You are going to obey the Word here. You are going to only speak things that are a blessing. No more obscenity, no more cursing—none of that stuff.”

How long does that last? Well, when I first stumbled across this, it did not last very long at all. I had a habit pattern of using foul language in my life because of my background and training. The fact that I knew the Word in my mind did not keep me from using bad language. I get in a traffic jam, or something else, and out comes this string of expletives. It is like “Whoa, from where did that come?” I thought that I knew what to do. I thought that I knew what the Word said. I thought that I knew better than this. I thought that I knew what right behavior was. You see, you can know what to do, but in the contest between your heart and your mind, the heart will win. That is why James 4:8 says:

James 4:8
…Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts…

Why is it so important to purify our heart? It is important because what is in our heart is going to come out in our actions.

By the way, this is why the Old Testament was uneffective in making people righteous.

Romans 8:3
For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature (The Greek word for sinful nature is sarx, which is flesh.), God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.

Now, what was it here where it says, “for what the law was powerless to do”? What did the law attempt to do? Deuteronomy 6:25 says this:

Deuteronomy 6:25
And if we are careful to obey all this law before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness.”

God wanted people to be righteous before Him. He gave them a law and said, “Look here it is. Read it. Understand it. Do it.” Reading it they could do. Understanding it they could do. Acting it out—they would not do. Why? Scripture says because we are “weakened by the sinful nature (our flesh).” Thankfully, God did what the law could not do because He sent His own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.

Can we have righteousness today? Sure we can. How do we get it? We get it through Jesus Christ. Ephesians 2:8 says that we are not saved by works. We do not gain our righteousness by works, but we gain our righteousness through Jesus Christ. [For further study read Righteousness – Every Christian’s Gift from God.]

Ephesians 2:8 and 9
(8) For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith– and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—
(9) not by works, so that no one can boast.

The reason that people could not do the law is because what was in their heart and the demands of their flesh overrode what they knew to do in their mind. This is a very important concept when it comes to becoming like Christ. If you want to become like Christ and you think that the answer is, “I am simply going to study the Word, find out what it says and then go out and do it.” Well, you have got a bit of an education coming. Like I said, we just read a verse that says, “No obscenity.” By the way, I am an advocate of that. I believe that we should clean up our mouths and the way that we speak. It is only going to happen as we clean our hearts.

That is where we are going to go now.

Matthew 12:33-35
(33) “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.
(34) You brood of vipers, [This is referring to the religious leaders and Pharisees.] how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.
(35) The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.

That is exactly right. Whatever is stored up in us; whatever is in our heart is what is going to come out of us— “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.”

I like how the New American Standard Bible translates Luke 6:45.

Luke 6:45 (NASB)
The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good. The evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.

If we are ever going to be like Christ we have to cleanse our heart. In the battle between the heart and the mind, the heart will win. If we have anger, bitterness, hurt, and pain in our heart, that is what is going to come out of us. We have to work hard to get that out. [For further study read Healthily Processing Anger.]

Cleansing the heart is not just a mental exercise. It is not as easy as cleaning a pan, where you just get some soap and a scrub brush and clean it out. We have to change the way that we live, and we are also going to have to, in many cases, come up with an explanation that satisfies our minds so that we can release the anger and bitterness that we have in our heart. If you have any anger or bitterness in your heart, sometimes you need to come up with something that is mentally satisfying where you can release that. I know that a lot of people have released a lot of anger and bitterness just because they understand that it hurts them to hold it, which is part of why the Bible says to forgive.

What I want to do now is talk about the process of cleansing the heart. It takes time and some mental and physical effort to cleanse the heart. We need to learn how to cleanse the heart. The first step would be to be confident that the change can occur. You can do it. I cannot tell you how many people I have talked to in my life, and I have even felt this way on many occasions, that say, “I will just never change. I have been fighting this, fighting this, and fighting this.” One of the keys to success in cleansing your heart is to have confidence that change can occur.

In Matthew 13:15, Jesus Christ is talking about the people and how they fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah.

Matthew 13:15
For this people’s heart has become calloused…

Ephesians 4:17-19
(17) So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.
(18) They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.
(19) Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality…

I think that you and I know that many situations in life occur where people go from bad to worse. It is interesting that a lot of times we try to be good so often, and we try to cleanse our hearts, and it is like swimming up-stream. This is because our sin nature is going in the opposite direction, yet it is so clear that people can get worse and worse in their life. Somebody who is a liar can become an addicted liar. Somebody who likes possessions can become a thief and an embezzler. We understand that people can go from bad to worse in their hearts, but the good news is that also means that we can go from bad to good. Of course, Romans 12:2 is one of the great verses.

Romans 12:2
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world,

Peterson’s translation uses the word culture there.

Romans 12:2 (The Message)
Do not conform any longer to the culture of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

This is a verse that has great hope because it says that a person can be transformed. That is what we want to do. We want to be transformed into the image of Christ.

If we are going to change, the first step is to have confidence that change can occur. Do not give up on yourself.

The second thing that I would say is that I would get God involved in your change. Pray for God’s help. 2 Corinthians 13:7 is just a really cute verse on this. I say that in all seriousness. I just read it, and I laughed because so many verses exist on prayer. This is not a teaching on prayer so I am not going to spend a lot of time on it; however, when we are talking about doing right and cleansing our heart, look how great this verse is. The Apostle Paul is writing to the Corinthian Church, and what a mess they had been. They had messed up the manifestations. They had messed up the Lord’s Supper. They had all sorts of differences (fights) among them. They had messed up the financial situation. They had all kinds of weird questions about their sexual behavior. The Church was just really having problems. This is the close of the last chapter of the second epistle. The Apostle Paul writes this to this Church.

2 Corinthians 13:7
Now we pray to God that you will not do anything wrong.

That is what we want to do. We want to pray in support of ourselves. We want to pray for God’s help.

The first step in transformation is to have confidence that you can change, and second pray for God’s help. Get God involved. Ask for His insight and wisdom. The third step is to realize the seriousness of the situation and prepare to do the hard work and take drastic action.

Read the rest of the article here.

If you have any questions, or would like to learn more about God’s wonderful message, please visit the Truth or Tradition website. You can also keep track of the ministry through their Facebook page, their YouTube Channel, or follow them on Twitter.

Thanks for reading.

(Comments have been turned off. The information is here to inform and bless you. God granted you the gift of free will – take it or leave it).

More from Write From Karen

Life

Waiting to Celebrate

Annnnnnd ….

We’re ready. I spent most of today cleaning the crap out of my house (sometimes literally, but never mind). We only host Thanksgiving for Kevin’s family every third year (we trade off with his two sisters), but I sometimes swear it’s our turn more often than it’s theirs.

Whenever we host Thanksgiving, I overkill – a lot. We usually use Thanksgiving as our excuse to get some things done around the house. We don’t do these things BECAUSE of Thanksgiving, we do these things because it gives us a deadline to finally do what we’ve talked about doing for years.

For example THIS go-around we:

  • Completely gutted our kitchen and put in new cabinets, appliances and floor.
  • Ripped up our carpet from the living/dining room and put in hardwood floors, complete with new love seat/sofa and TV media center (or commonly referred to as an entertainment center for us hillbilly types)
  • Repainted our front bathroom walls and cabinet, put in a new counter top and sink and new accessories.
  • Got a new roof. (Which leaks – don’t even get me started).

And if we had had time, we would have ripped the carpet out of our family room (it’s buckling – HOW ANNOYING considering the carpet is only THREE years old! GRR) and put in hand-scraped wood. (Our family room is an outdoorsy-type room – rock fireplace, paneled walls). But we ran out of time so … that will get done before NEXT Thanksgiving dinner.

Anyhoo …

I am now putting the yeast rolls into the warming drawer because the house is too cold for them to rise otherwise. Kevin plans on putting the turkey into the oven at midnight and then getting up at 6:00 to take it out and carve it up. Doing it this way will save time and counter-top space in the morning as we can get the turkey carved, put away and the mess cleaned up to make room for our other dishes.

I plan on making The Pioneer Woman’s mouth-watering mashed potatoes, stuffing, and deviled eggs. My sisters-in-laws are bringing veggie dishes and my mother-in-law is bringing the pies (she usually cooks about ten of them).

We’re cooking a Honeysuckle turkey and using some special vegan butter because my niece has all sorts of food allergies and I wanted to be able to make at least one thing she could eat with the rest of us (her mom will have to bring other foods for her to eat). I feel sorry for the girl – it must really suck to not be able to eat what you want to eat.

We plan on eating at noon and then we’ll likely play games, eat pie, play more games, eat left overs for dinner, play more games and then Kevin’s family will likely leave about 7:00 p.m.

It’s going to be a long day … but it’s going to be a great day. 🙂

Life

I Am So Thankful For …

I was reading Emily’s 100 More Things: Thanksgiving Edition today when I thought, “Hey self, you should make a list, too!”

Though I can’t think of 100 things (okay fine, I could probably think of 100 things, I’m just too lazy to list 100 things, hush), I’m pretty sure I can come up with twenty five things. And because the technical writer in me LOVES how Emily put her list into nice, neat little categories, I too shall put mine into (less than neat) similar categories.

People

1. God. (I know God is not technically a “person” but just humor me, okay?) I would be nothing without our wonderful, gracious and loving Father.

2. Husband. Truly. I shudder to think where I would be in my life right now without my best friend and help mate. It’s not even worth imagining because it’s THAT scary.

3. Children. I always wondered what my life would be life with children, now I can’t imagine what my life would be WITHOUT children – they define me.

4. Extended Family. I truly have the best extended family a girl could ask for. Everyone seems to be firmly grounded and well adjusted – thank God for no ugly dramas.

5. School Administrators. For without them, I wouldn’t have a job.

6. The folks at Truth or Tradition. For without them, our family wouldn’t be as informed or blessed when it comes to spiritual matters.

Spiritual Matters

7. God. I know. I listed Him twice, but I think He’s worthy, don’t you? 🙂

8. Articles from Truth or Tradition. These articles have blessed me countless times, not to mention, they keep me humble and give me strength and comfort.

Here are a few that I hope bless you as well:

Thankfulness: A Blessing for Your Life

The Benefits of Thanks-Living

What is the Point of Prayer?

The Problem With Blaming God

You can find many more articles here.

Social Media

9. Twitter. My husband doesn’t get Twitter, but I do. In fact, I’m on Twitter waaaay too much, but I’m thankful for it because it allows me to feel connected to the outside world. Since I work from home and I don’t have any friends, it really does keep me sane.

10. Facebook. I think our families have grown closer since Facebook. I honestly don’t think our family has connected so much before Facebook came along – now we know what everyone is doing and that’s a GOOD thing (mostly).

11. My blog. Since I don’t have a lot of friends (but I’m always looking for that special woman friend who is basically like me, but far less annoying), it’s really my only opportunity to vent. I can record my thoughts and put them out there and the fact that people read what I have to say? BONUS.

12. Blog readers. Though I’ll be the first to admit that I blog for me, I would be lying if I didn’t admit that it’s REALLY NICE to know there are people out there that give a crap about my life – as boring as it may be. 🙂

Computers/Programs

13. My PC. It’s my doorway to the only socialization I get.

14. My laptop. I love that I can write anywhere at any time. (I don’t DO pen/paper. I LOATHE writing long hand).

15. Photoshop Elements. I love that I can pretend to be a graphic designer, or trick people into thinking I’m a much better photographer than I am (not) by editing/creating in Photoshop.

16. Dreamweaver. A program that virtually creates websites for you. (Which is a blessing because I may be a designer, but I’m not a computer programmer – Dreamweaver does all the technical stuff for me).

17. AVG. Finally. A virus program that I can trust and doesn’t give me a migraine!

Family Vacations

18. Washington D.C.

19. Western Caribbean Cruise

20. New York

21. Saint John, New Brunswick

22. Halifax, Nova Scotia

Favorite Things

23. Our Home. I truly LOVE our home. It’s so comfy and I love our neighborhood. I get annoyed whenever Kevin starts talking about moving. Our house is paid for and it’s a wonderful house, WHY would I want to move??

24. My Car. It’s a Pontiac Vibe and it drives like a go-cart. And if that sounds fun? Then you’re right – it’s a fun little car. It’s also very reliable and great on gas.

25. My treadmill set up. I’m thankful that we have room for it and that we can afford it. I’m also thankful that it motivates me to stay in shape and control my girth. And believe me, my girth needs lots of control.

Life

No Turkey for Us, New (Leaky) Roof, NaNoWriMo FAIL

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope your days are full of fun and, well, full, period. 🙂

We’re not celebrating Thanksgiving today. Our Thanksgiving has been pushed back to Saturday. Kevin’s parents went to Texas last week to attend a Reliv meeting (which by the way, I’ve been drinking a Reliv shake every day for a while now and though I can’t tell a HUGE difference, I do think all of the extra vitamins ARE helping with my energy levels), and while on the way back, Kevin’s father felt so run down and weak, he couldn’t even walk.

They stopped at a hotel and when my father-in-law (FIL) didn’t feel any better, my mother-in-law (MIL) took him to the hospital.

He had pneumonia and his blood sugar levels were in the 700’s – which I’ve since learned is BAD. As in, the man had to have insulin shots bad. *zoink!*

To my knowledge, my FIL has never had sugar problems before, but I found out that his brother died of diabetes so now I’m a little spooked – will Kevin inherit the same problem when he gets older? We’ll have to keep an eye on that. At any rate, my FIL was in the hospital until yesterday. They discharged my FIL and my in-laws went to a hotel to get a good night’s sleep before hitting the road for home today.

So of course, today is the day that Mother Nature decides to be a bitch and spit ice and snow at us. In fact, looking at radar? My in-laws are in for a real driving treat all the way home today as the bad weather extends their entire route. My brothers-in-law are driving to meet them in Arkansas so that when they meet up, they can take over the driving and let them relax the rest of the way home.

My in-laws are in their 70’s and the family hasn’t been happy with their business trip excursions for quite some time. I wonder if they will stop driving all over the countryside now that this happened. Though I don’t wish them to just sit at home and do nothing, driving cross country is probably not the best thing for two mature adults to do on their own.

We talked to our family on Tuesday and everyone decided that it would be better for everyone if we postponed Thanksgiving until Saturday – so, that’s what we’re doing. I turned the fridge down to a colder setting in the hopes of thawing our turkey out a little slower – I certainly don’t want to serve turkey that tastes like the inside of our refrigerator, you know? I think we’re going to have to cook the turkey tomorrow though – and that will save us some time Saturday morning.

We already have our ham, but it’s precooked and is supposed to last in the fridge for 10 days, so we should be okay with that.

Kevin and I have been super busy getting the house under control. We’ve done a lot of deep cleaning, and he spent an entire morning getting Jazz’s room under control. We went through his “toys” and got rid of a bunch of stuff – stuff that he’s outgrown and never even looks at anymore. We also rearranged his furniture so that now his room seems bigger and you can actually walk into it without having to navigate an obstacle course.

In the middle of cleaning, organizing, and shopping in preparation for Thanksgiving dinner, we got a new roof. We actually hadn’t planned on getting the ball rolling on a new roof until spring, but this guy knocked on our door and offered to do a roof inspection for us and in the process (i.e. we actually paid attention), we noticed that we did indeed have four separate leaks: Kevin’s office, Jazz’s closet, above our bed and the fireplace.

In other words? It was bad. Our insurance company came out, agreed, and gave us an estimate – we were getting a new roof.

The roofers came out Tuesday and worked like dogs the entire day and almost finished the entire thing – the only part they had left to do was over our garage. They came back out Wednesday morning and finished the job – in the rain.

In fact, that’s how all of us woke up Wednesday morning, to the sounds of men walking on our roof – at 6:30 in the morning!! It was still dark out!

That was a little irritating. And I was a bit annoyed, and a little worried, that they were working in the rain, but they completed the job at 9:30 in the morning and I must admit, it looks great …


(It was a dark, industrialized gray color before).

even it DOES leak.

*SIGH*

I know!

We had a cold front move in last night and it brought a lot of rain and wind. I had a sinus headache (which I normally get when the weather drastically changes like it did last night) and I was sleeping in the recliner (because the combination of sleeping sitting up and putting in nose spray works for me nearly every time), when I heard what sounded like tapping. I thought at first Jazz was tapping on his desk. But the tapping sounded weird and the tempo changed and I suddenly knew, our house was leaking somewhere.

I shot out of my chair and followed the sound to the hot water heater closet. It was dripping around the pipe leading into the hot water tank. GRRRR. I put a pot under the drips (because yes, it was dripping that fast), put down some towels and went back to bed. When we looked at it this morning, it looks like the leak must have plugged itself somehow because there really wasn’t that much water in the pot. Nevertheless, we will be calling the roofing company to come back out and fix it tomorrow.

GRRRRR.

But it looks like the leak around our fireplace is fixed because it DIDN’T leak there, so that’s good, I suppose.

This roof is supposed to last us 30 years, but we are only expecting it to last around 20 years. Missouri gets a lot of extreme weather (hot/cold temps, hail, high winds) so I’m sure that will take a toll on it. At any rate, getting a new roof is yet another thing we can cross off our to-do list.

*****

Dude has developed some weird gum thing. It’s like a blood blister and is located just off a front tooth. He popped it the other night. I did a little research online (which you always have to take with a grain of salt because it’s pretty easy to veer off a dangerous path and think you’re dying or something) and I think he just got something caught under his gum thereby irritating it. His tooth doesn’t hurt and he says it’s not really even that tender when you press on it, so I’m not too concerned at this time, though I did notice that it’s puffing back up again today. He flossed yesterday, just to make sure nothing was caught in there, but I suppose something could still be caught in his gum somewhere. Kevin said he used to get the same things whenever he got a piece of popcorn kernel stuck and doesn’t act like he’s too worried about it.

I’ll give it another week and if it doesn’t look like it’s healing up, I’ll take him in for a teeth cleaning.

*****

I’ve given up on this year’s NaNoWriMo.

*SIGH*

I know!

I never, ever thought I would say those words out loud, or that it would ever happen, but yep, it happened.

I just can’t get excited about the challenge this year. I think, in large part, because my story just sucks. And I’ve been super distracted this year (which really isn’t an excuse, except it IS).

No really, we can be honest.

I don’t care about it. I wrote a little over 16,000 words of crap.

No really, we can be honest.

However, one bright spot in this confession is that I DID come up with better story idea. One that DOES excite me and one that I think definitely warrants an entire novel. I haven’t started on it yet, but I intend to very soon.

In the meantime? I FAILED.

I can’t believe how incredibly hard it is for me to admit that to you. I guess, after participating in NaNoWriMo for the past five years, I’m a bit burned out on the whole concept. I mean, I CAN do it. I’ve proven it to myself time and time again and when I put my mind to it, I can EASILY crank out 2,000 words in a few hours so I know I’m capable of producing quantity when I have to. (Notice I didn’t say anything about the quality).

I’m disappointed in myself, but not AS disappointed as I thought I would be. Again, I just think I’m burned out on the challenge and I have had absolutely NO desire to … get involved in any way this year.

I do plan on trying the challenge again in January though working with my new idea. Let’s see how far THAT goes.

*****

I haven’t started my Christmas shopping yet, though I have about five things in my Amazon.com cart that I will probably order today.

I don’t participate in Black Friday in any way. I think the whole concept is ludicrous – stand in line and save a few bucks? No thanks, my time is worth more than that. But no offense to anyone who does!! I just don’t have the patience, or the desire, to go through all of that. And it seems like stores are opening sooner and the chaos gets worse each year.

Nothing about Black Friday tempts me in any way.

Now Cyber Monday, on the other hand …

We plan on putting our Christmas tree up on Sunday. We usually put it up the day after Thanksgiving, but since Thanksgiving has been postponed this year, putting our tree up has been postponed, too.

*****

I finally set up my new computer. I’m now running Windows 7 and I must confess, IT ROCKS. I’m also working with a dual processor and OMG, I can’t believe how quiet, and FAST, this thing is!! I’m used to working alongside a jet engine so the fact that I can’t hear this machine at all is a little disconcerting.

I have one program that looks like it won’t run on Windows 7 – bummer. BUT, Kevin thought ahead and actually bought me a machine that has XP partitioned on the hard drive, so SCORE!

Now, if I could only figure out how to access it …

Abundant Life

Audio Teaching: Justification by Faith

by John Schoenheit
This teaching shows that what Martin Luther proclaimed almost 500 years ago is still true. It examines the basic tenet of true Christianity – that any man who believes in his heart that Jesus Christ is Lord is justified by that faith alone, independent of any good works on his part. Good works should be the fruit of a Christian understanding his salvation, but justification is by faith alone.

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Teaching: The Transformed Life

Every Sunday I provide videos and valuable links to the Truth or Tradition teachings. We’ve been following the Truth or Tradition teachings for many years now and they have truly blessed our family. We have found peace and happiness through our beliefs and we walk confidently for God. My hope, by passing on this information to you, is that what you find here, or on the Truth or Tradition website, will guide you to a better, more blessed and abundant life.

If you would like to read my views on religion and how we got started with the ministry, you can read this.

Let’s get started:

[The following article is an edited transcription of the April 2008 Teaching of the Month, The Transformed Life by John W. Schoenheit.]

This month, I want to talk about the Transformed Life. I want to talk about you and me transforming our life so that we can live like Christ. I will tell you that a couple of dozen years ago, I would have titled this teaching The Renewed Mind. I now think differently about the renewed mind. I no longer think of the renewed mind as a goal to reach; but rather, renewing the mind is a process to reach the goal of the transformed life.

You and I have a constant battle going on in our lives between our mind and our heart. What is in the heart will win the battle. That is why when it comes to obeying God we need to remember Ephesians 5.

Ephesians 5:1 and 2
(1) Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children
(2) and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

If we are going to obey God and live a life of love, then knowing the Bible is never enough. Actually, we should understand this from the Law of Moses. The Law of Moses taught us that knowing the Bible, or knowing what to do, was never enough.

Romans 8:3
For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man,

What does it mean here when it says, “What the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature”? The Law had all the right commandments: do not lie, do not cheat, do not steal, love your neighbor etc. But you and I both know that knowing the commandments is not enough to obey them. If we are going to obey the commandments it is not enough to have knowledge. We have to transform are hearts. A constant battle is occurring between what we hold in the depths of our hearts and the information that we are holding in our minds.

This really came up for me a number of years ago. I had been raised atheist, and through my college life, I did not have the cleanest mouth. I used some profanity but I never really worked diligently to get it out of my life. I had a number of people tell me that it was wrong for me to use profanity. I would always say to them to take me to the Word and show me. To their shame, they never could. A few of them would take me to the commandment: “Thou shalt never take the name of the LORD your God in vain,” but that is not about profanity. Then I read:

Ephesians 5:3 and 4
(3) But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.
(4) Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.

I read those words, “obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking” and it hit me so hard that I can tell you exactly where I was. It was 11:30 at night, and I was sitting on my bed. I read that and I thought, “this has got to be wrong.” I could not have been wrong in reading the Bible all these years. I jumped off my bed and being who I am and owning the research library that I do, I started pulling lexicons off the shelf: Bullinger, Bower, Thayer, Liddell and Scott, and Theological dictionaries. Sure enough, in the context of the Roman empire the Greek word which was translated “filthiness” in the King James Version was talking about obscenity. That is the major definition. That night I made my mind up not to use profanity. I said, “That is it, John, now that you found out that this is wrong in the eyes of God, you are done. No more profanity will be used in your life.” I can tell you that lasted until probably the middle of the next day. What was the problem? The problem was that my head knew that using profanity was wrong, but I had self-righteousness in my heart, I had anger in my heart, and I had bitterness in my heart. In the battle between your heart and your mind, what is in your heart will win. This is so important for us to understand. If you and I are going to live like Christians we need to understand what Romans 8:3 is saying to us. The Law could not make anyone righteous in the eyes of God because unless you clean up your heart, you do not have the power to do the Law.

I am sitting here looking at this verse that says that we should not use obscenity, and I did not have the power to live that law because what was in my heart was overriding what was in my head. When we talk about the renewed mind, it is a key to transforming our hearts. If you and I are going to live godly lives before God and before Christ, it is not going to be because we know the Bible. It is going to be because we clean out our hearts. In Matthew 12:34, Christ is speaking to the religious leaders.

Matthew 12:34
You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.

We run some youth events at our camp, Camp Vision (in Bloomington, IN). It is a camp. We have cots. We do not have a shower in every room. It is not a hotel. It’s a camp. Sometimes we have campers who do not get enough sleep or it is not their mother’s kitchen and they have to eat camp food. They may have to wait in line at the bathhouse for a shower and occasionally they start griping. An incident occurred where a person was being pretty foul mouthed and just nasty in general. I confronted him about it, and he said, “Well, I am only like this when I am hungry and tired.” I thought to myself, “Well that is it.” What is going on in the heart? What is going on in the heart is privilege, me first, and self-centeredness. What happens when this person is hungry and tired? What happens is Matthew 12:34, “Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” All of a sudden the nastiness in the heart that is so concealed when everything is going your way comes out. It is like two people driving down the road in separate cars. One has love and joy and peace in his heart where he has worked on that and built that. The other person has selfishness and anger and bitterness in his heart. Both people are driving and have flat tires. The first man who has love and peace in his heart and has cultivated a clean heart, says, “Oh, a flat tire. Okay.” He gets out and takes care of his tire and drives on his way. The second man fixes his tire in the exact same amount of time and gets on his way but with an explosion of anger and profanity, kicking the tire, and throwing lug nuts. What is the difference between the two men? One person cleansed his heart, and the other person did not. Out of the overflow of the heart is what is going to come up and out in your life.

Matthew 12:35
The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him,

That is right, you and I need to learn the keys to store up good in our hearts. Christ went on to say:

Matthew 12:35
and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.

Christ also speaks about the same basic concept:

Mark 7:21-23
(21) For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery,
(22) greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.
(23) All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean.'”

Absolutely! If you have theft, murder, adultery, greed, and deceit in your heart, you can read a commandment that says, “Thou shalt not lie,” and know the Bible says such a thing; however, when you are pressed, you are going to lie. Why? You will lie because what is in the heart is what will come out of you. That is why you and I need to think in terms of the transformed heart, not the renewed mind.

I want to talk to you a little bit about the heart and about the organs of the body. I was pretty deceived about this—I kind of thought that everything happened in the mind, the brain. I really got a wake up call one day when I was doing some translating work in the book of Revelation and I saw a very interesting occurrence.

In this teaching we are using the New International Version [NIV]—a Bible with which I have a love/hate relationship. This is one of the times that I hate it.

Revelation 2:23
I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.

That is great. It says that I search your hearts and your minds. Wonderful, except the Greek text reads, “I search your kidney and your heart.”

Revelation 2:23 (KJV)
And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

At that time, I was pretty arrogant and self-assured. I had read Bible dictionaries and Bible encyclopedias and studied the culture for years. I was well aware of the arguments of the scholars. They said, “Oh, those poor Greeks and Romans. They were so ignorant. They thought that some how the kidneys were involved in the thinking process.” I would read those articles and echo that also, “Those poor Greeks. They did not really know, so they say that God searches your kidney because they think your kidney is what actually thinks.” That is where I was living until a couple of years ago when I was trying to loose weight. A friend of mine sent me a book called The Maker’s Diet by Jordan Rubin. I read something in his book that has sent me on a two year quest that has been truly mind blowing. I feel that this information is important enough to take some time out of this teaching and explore what science is now calling the Enteric Nervous System.

Rubin writes:

“People are taught from childhood to believe that the brain is essentially the boss of the body. While it is true that the brain is the centerpiece of our mental capacity of our nervous system, it is also a fact that there are nearly one hundred million nerve cells in the gut alone [Your gut is your esophagus, your stomach, and your intestines] about the same number that are found in the spinal chord. Fully one half of your nerve cells are located in the gut, so your capacity for feeling and emotional expression depends primarily on the gut and only to a lesser extent on your brain.”

I cannot tell you what that did to me when I read it. “Wow, the gut has as many nerves as the brain.” A lot of your feelings are located in your gut. This was amazing to me.

Rubin continues:

“Most people would say that the brain determines whether you are happy or sad, but they have their facts skewed. It seems that the gut is more responsible than we ever imagined for mental well-being and how we ‘feel’. Award winning science writer Sandra Blakesley specializes in cognitive neuroscience. This is what Sandra wrote: ‘Have you ever wondered why people get butterflies in the stomach before going on stage? Or why an impending job interview can cause an attack of intestinal cramps? And why do antidepressants targeted for the brain cause nausea or abdominal upset in millions of people who take such drugs? The reason for these common experiences is because each of us literally has two brains, the familiar one encased in our skulls and a lesser known but vitally important one found in the human gut. Like Siamese twins, the two brains are interconnected. When one gets upset the other does too. The second brain in the gut is called the enteric nervous system. The enteric nervous system processes a complex neural circuitry, and this second brain in your gut can act independently from the first brain in your body. Literally, it learns from experiences, remembers past actions and events and produces an entire range of ‘gut feelings’ that can influence your actions. Early in our embryo geneses [meaning when we were early on in the womb] a collection of tissue called the neural crest appears and divides during fetal development. One part turns into the central nervous system; the other migrates to become the enteric nervous system. Both thinking machines form simultaneously and independently of one another until a later stage of development. Dr. Michael Gresham, professor of anatomy and cell biology at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York described the body’s second nervous system in his book The Second Brain. ‘The brain is not the only place in the body full of neurotransmitters. A hundred million neurotransmitters line the length of the gut, approximately the same number that is found in the brain. The brain and the bowel has got to work correctly or no one will have the luxury to think at all.’

Rubin continues:

‘We are still discovering ways that the enteric nervous system mirrors the central nervous system. Nearly every substance that helps run and control the brain has turned up in the gut. Major neurotransmitters associated with the brain including serotonin, dopamine, glutamate, noraepinephrine, and nitric oxide are found in plentiful amounts in the gut as well.”

Interestingly enough, we are going to find that if properly translated, the Bible is going to say that the modern research that is just being done in the last 20 years about the enteric nervous system is correct. By the way, why does this information about the enteric nervous system show up in a book about food and diet? The answer is, how many people do you know that are overweight or pudgy and they do not really feel good about themselves? The research is showing that the reason that people do not feel good about themselves if they are overweight is that you cannot fool the brain in your gut. It is trying to tell us to lose weight and get in shape. It produces feelings that, “I do not feel good about myself.” That was in The Maker’s Diet.

Once I realized that the Word of God had been telling me all along that my feelings and my thoughts were generated from more than just my brain, all of a sudden, what the Bible called the heart made sense. I had always known that the Greek word nous was the place in your mind where you think, as we read when Jesus Christ said, “Out of the heart comes all these thoughts.” The heart is not just a muscle. It is part of the enteric nervous system. Good independent research has been done that shows that the heart muscle even contains an independent memory. If we were to look in the Bible, we would see that it has been telling us this all along.

Psalm 26:2 (KJV)
Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart.

The word “reins” is the Hebrew word for kidneys. In the Old Testament, it is saying just like Revelation 2:23, “Test my kidneys and my heart.”

Psalm 16:7
I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart [kidneys] instructs me.

The word “heart” in the Hebrew is kidneys. Your enteric nervous system, your second brain, is producing thoughts and emotions. How many of us at night have woken up with a good idea or had a dream that helped us, provided guidance, or insight into our lives? Look at this verse. This is the Word of God teaching us about ourselves. It says, “Even at night my kidneys instruct me.” Wow, a pretty powerful truth.

I am going to shift to the bowels. If you remember, the second brain also involves the neurons around the bowels.

Philemon 1:7
Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts [bowels] of the saints.

The Greek text reads “bowels” for the word “hearts”; you have refreshed my bowels. I do not understand how these neurons and everything work together, but I can tell you this. I have spent times with good friends where I will be down or stressed or up-tight or having a bad day, and a good friend will come and spend time with me and have a cup of coffee and talk, and then I feel so much better afterwards. It is not that you have a cognitive reason. You just feel better. That is what this verse is telling us. It is telling us that the whole second brain in the gut is producing thoughts and emotions and feelings. The Word tells us here that the “bowels are refreshed.”

I do not have time to go into the liver and belly verses. They are in the Word of God. That is why the Word of God has to be properly translated if we are going to derive truth from it. People sometimes say to me, “John, why are you [Spirit & Truth Fellowship International] working on a translation of the New Testament?” We are because these verses need to be translated properly if we are going to learn what God is telling us about Him and about us.

Why do I bring all this up in a teaching on the transformed life? I think that it is important when you and I go to become more like Christ, that we learn what is involved. We are not just a brain that is stacked on a bunch of muscles. God has just interwoven the emotion and the thinking and the life of God through our whole body. The brain does the thinking, yes, as when I memorize a scripture like, “thou shalt not steal,” and this is resident in my brain. If selfishness is in my heart, and by heart it can mean the inner core of the brain, but it means more than that—If selfishness is imbedded in the cellular memories of my body that exist in my heart muscle, my gut, and wherever else that they exist that we have not even found out about yet, I do not care if I memorize “thou shalt not steal” ten billion times and have it posted on every wall in my house, for I will end up stealing. Why? It is because what is in my heart will come out.

Read the rest of the article here.

If you have any questions, or would like to learn more about God’s wonderful message, please visit the Truth or Tradition website. You can also keep track of the ministry through their Facebook page, their YouTube Channel, or follow them on Twitter.

Thanks for reading.

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