Final Apology

So many time, in so many ways, I’ve apologized for having so many long gaps of time between writings. Each time I’ve tried to change, it has ended in failure. Of course, there’s always the possibility that I will change. I’m working on it again.

I’m working on changing many things in my life right now. And I’m actually being fairly aggressive about it. I’ve been writing on the regular for a couple months now. I mean writing things other than journal. Like actual, “real” writing. “They” say it takes twenty-one days to form a habit, and ninety days to turn it into a lifestyle. I’m about two thirds of the way to a lifestyle as a writer, and I’m enjoying it.

In the past I’ve allowed things to get in my way. This time I’m not. I’m seriously striving to create a lifestyle as a writer.

I had two stories published in an Anthology last year. The stories, Talitha, (my favorite), and Paulie, (good, but not as good as Talitha as far as I’m concerned), are in “Reasons For Hope: Speculative Fiction and Poetry” by The Writing Journey and edited by Tim Yao. It’s available on Amazon if you want to buy it. (Shameless plug!!) There are many good stories by many good writers. But when I saw my name in print, I knew I wanted more. Yet still I just dabbled.

In June of this year, in the midst of the hubbub of the busiest month at my j.o.b. I saw a facebook meme. I wish I could remember exactly what it said, because it’s changing my life. It had to do with focus, something I’ve struggled with for my entire life. It stressed that you have one thing that you are meant for, and you need to focus on that one thing. I believe, however, that there can be subsets, so to speak. Or, to put it another way, I hedged. I have more than one thing.

There will always be Jesus. He is my One and Only. And in spite of another near miss of a mission trip to Kenya, I still believe that I shall be a missionary in my future. But I also know that I AM a writer! Not, want to be, or will be in the future, but I AM a writer.

So, I have renewed my focus. I have a flash fiction piece and a novelette submitted to publishing houses for inclusion in anthologies. I’m hoping to hear something soon. I’ve also been involved in research to FINALLY continue my Ephesians study. And I’m looking forward to November and NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month. I intend to finish my novel by the end of November, if not sooner.

Most of my off time, now, is spent writing or researching. I’ve looked up more stuff on Google in the last month than in the last two years combined. I’ve wondered what people would think if they looked a the history of Google searches by a writer, especially a mystery or horror writer’s history. 🙂

All this is to say that I will not be apologizing again. I’ll either stay focused, and write, or I won’t. You will either get new content, or you won’t. Also, soon, you will be able to read more from me on Distractifying.com. (As soon as I figure out how to get it up and running.) I’ll post something here when it launches. If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you know I get distracted easily. Distractifying will be a way to use those distractions to continue writing. I look forward to turning it all into production.

Thank you for supporting me and not giving up as I’ve gone through so many changes, yet stayed the same. Here’s to enjoying the next months and years of shared words!

1 Timothy 1:12-16

“I thank Him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our LORD, because He judged me faithful, appointing me to His service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our LORD overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display His perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in Him for eternal life.” (1 Tim 1:12-16 ESV)

Yep. This would be me, and every sinner, saved by His grace and mercy. We all think we are the “foremost.” But He does judge us faithful and appoint each and every one of us to His service.

Yes, as I said a couple weeks ago, it’s easy to say “Yes” to Jesus. But there is a cost to discipleship. When we turn our lives around, start walking with Jesus instead of away from Him, there is a price to be paid, a job to be done. It’s not a free ride or a government handout. We have work to do. We have been called into His service.

And what is this service, you ask? While there will be some variation, mostly it is to live your life for Jesus.When I was a new Christian, I heard someone scythe the Christian’s life is sometimes the only Bible a non-believer sees. People are watching you, more than you may ever know. When Jesus comes into your life and you make that 180 degree turn, and people start noticing that you are different, they will ask. “What happened? What’s changed?” And that’s when you have the opportunity to tell them, “Well, Jesus became the LORD of my life. And with His help I have given up cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs with no withdrawal symptoms, no cravings, no real problems whatsoever. The desire for Jesus just drove out the desire for all the other things.” (Yes. This is what happened to me. Over the course of about one month, I went from smoking nearly 3 packs of cigarettes a day, drinking at least a quart of bourbon a day (Yes, every day), and smoking about an ounce of pot a week, to clean and sober. I gave it all up, cold turkey. I walked away from it all, straight into the arms of Jesus.)

Before I let Jesus in, I called myself”Spiritual.” I believed there was some sort of superior being, god, if you will, but I didn’t see god as God. And I certainly didn’t get the whole Trinity thing, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I didn’t get the religion thing, the you have to believe this way, or that way, or whatever way. I was very much an individualist. One friend from high school recalls me saying, “All this religion crap is bunk,” or words to that effect. She, a very devoted Christian, (who prayed for my salvation for about 28 years – Thanks Deb – Love you!), was debating with another student, from Iran, about Jesus vs. Allah. Not only do I remember the debate, we were waiting for the start of geometry class, but I also remember telling them that I thought they were both “cracked.”

Those who knew me in my days BC (Before Christ), and who know me now, know what a great transformation God did in my life. And that, my friends, is the point to the last line in this passage, that “I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display His perfect patience as an example to this who were to believe in Him for eternal life.” He waited, patiently, (even more patiently than Debbie’s 28 years) for me to come to the point in my life that I could say yes to Him, let Him redeem my life from the pit of hell and become an example of His great love, patience, mercy, grace, forgiveness, all of the above and even more so.

He turned my life around, and now I serve Him. Everything I do is for His glory. I work for Him, I rest for Him, I even play for Him. It’s all for Him. Thank You Jesus. His patience is for you too. He will wait for you. His mercy and His grace is for you. He will extend it to you whenever you ask. So I ask you, what are you waiting for? Just open your heart to Him, say, “LORD, I’m sorry for all I’ve done against You and Your Word. I do believe in You, Jesus, and I want You in my life. I ask for your forgiveness, grace, and mercy. Please come into my life to rule and reign. Thank You.” It’s that simple.

And when You have done this, please, let me know. It’s not required that you let anyone know, in fact, in some countries it’s safer if you do keep it to yourself. But, for the most part, it’s easier in community. God will lead you if you’re on your own, but having someone pray for you, guide you, point the way and direct you around the pitfalls, just helps.

For this week’s Scripture memory verse let’s stick with today’s theme, 1 Timothy 1:16, “But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display His perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in Him for eternal life.”

READING PLAN

Day 36 Exodus 15-16 Psalm 33 Mark 12

Day 37 Exodus 17-19 Psalm 34 Mark 13

Day 38 Exodus 20-21 Psalm 35 Mark 14

Day 39 Exodus 22-23 Psalm 36 Mark 15

Day 40 Exodus 24-25 Psalm 37:1-22 Mark 16

Day 41 Exodus 26-27 Psalm 37:23-40 Luke 1

Day 42 Exodus 28 Psalm 38 Luke 2

 

1 Timothy 1:1- 11 Part 2

As I mentioned in the last post, Paul had issued a warning, documented in Acts, to beware of certain people in Ephesus who were preaching a different doctrine, drifting into myth and speculation, and not stewarding the faith in the proper manner. Here, he is urging Timothy to stand up boldly for the true faith of Scripture, “proclaiming the true and original message of faith As taught by Christ and the apostles,” (pg 2094, ESV Fire Bible).

What is that “true and original message of faith”? Verse 5 of our passage says, “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” I really like the first two lines of the study note in the ESV Fire Bible for this verse. It says, “The ultimate goal of all instruction from God’s Word is not Bible knowledge in itself – knowledge cannot save us – but an inward spiritual transformation that radically changes ones moral character. If genuine, this change will express itself in love and purity of heart (i.e., total devotion to God in thoughts, motives and behavior),” (pg 2094).

We hear lots about purity nowadays. We hear the good, the bad, and the ugly. You need to keep yourself pure for your future spouse. It’s something that the world doesn’t seem to care about anymore. And it’s something that’s difficult to do, because of the pressures put on us by the world, unless we stay plugged in to the Word and lean in to the support of Holy Spirit. But if we do stay in the Word, stay in tune with Holy Spirit, if we are transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2), the automatic result will be purity of heart from which moral purity follows naturally. But if we drift, get distracted, listen to the voice of the world, we can be drawn away quickly.

We need to know who we are listening to and not let those outside influences distract us from the voice of our One and Only. And that’s not always an easy thing to do. Sometimes the voice will be a voice calling from the wilderness, a generic voice of the world saying that this is okay or that is okay. “It’s okay to live together, you’re probably going to get married eventually anyway.” “There are dozens of pens in the supply closet, this one won’t be missed.” It’s like the cartoon of the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other. Don’t give in to the devil’s voice.

Other times the voice is a friend, even a close friend. “Oh come on, we’re adults. What’s wrong with an R- rated movie? The sex scenes (or the violence, or the foul language, or the depictions of the occult,…) aren’t that bad.” “Come on, the party’s going to be great. You don’t have to drink (or get high) if you don’t want to.”

And sometimes the voice is a professing strong Christian, or even a close family member. “But don’t forget what Paul said, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet,”” (1 Timothy 2:12). (Okay, opening a huge can of worms here. Much more on this in a future post.) And sometimes those loved ones, family members, or purported strong Christians fall into the realm of verses 6 and 7, which state, “Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.” (ESV). They read the Scriptures, but they don’t listen to Holy Spirit for proper interpretation, they only listen to their own thoughts, or those of the world, and they end up being off, taking things out of context. And when it comes to being off, a little or a lot makes no difference. Off is off when it comes to the Word of God.

Our only influence should be Holy Spirit. He lives inside us. He knows us better than anyone else in the world. He is the Spirit of God, given to us as a gift, to be a helper to us when the voices of the world start calling out to us. He is the Voice of Truth spoken of in the Casting Crowns song. So, the Voice of Truth, Holy Spirit speaking inside of us, keeps us focused on our King of kings and LORD of lords, Jesus. And staying focused on Him, being in His Word, keeps our minds renewed, resulting in a pure heart which, naturally, leads us to keeping ourselves pure. Pure of heart, pure of mind, pure of body. This should be our aim.

This week’s Scripture memory verse is Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Last week I forgot to include some questions for thought. This week, I’m remembering in time. So, what voice do you listen to most often? Do you listen to the Voice of Truth? Or do you tune it out and listen to friends or family or voices of the world?

READING PLAN
Day 15: Gen 28-29 Psalm 15 Matt 18
Day 16: Gen 30 Psalm 16 Matt 19
Day 17: Gen 31 Psalm 17 Matt 20
Day 18: Gen 32- 33 Psalm 18:1- 24 Matt 21
Day 19: Gen 34- 35 Psalm 18:25- 50 Matt 22
Day 20: Gen 36 Psalm 19:1- 6 Matt 23
Day 21: Gen 37- 38 Psalm 19:7- 14 Matt 24

Thanks for the Tire!!

{Here it is, folks. I finally got it here. Actually, this will be it’s second post. First one went to my old blog. NO – I won’t tell you it’s name! This was actually written at least 2 weeks ago. It’s been so long I’ve forgotten!}

I’ve been nursing a slow leaking tire all winter. During the frigid, frigid cold, I was putting air in it twice a week. The regular cold of winter just necessitated air once a week, and once it started to warm up, every other week was fine. Until last week…

Friday, after work, I stopped to get air because it had been awhile. It was down to 12 pounds of pressure when it should be at 32. That’s not good. So, the wonderful guys at Discount Tire, where I go, filled things up all around and I was on my way. I stopped to shop at Aldi on the way home and when I got out of the car, I heard it. There was a hissing sound and the tire was visibly lowering. I grabbed my few items and beats feet for home. The tire was completely flat before I got there, but I nursed it to my neighbor’s house.

My neighbor, Rich, and his son Josh, rebuild cars. They have a fully outfitted garage. They had my tire changed in a jiffy. They have helped me out with other things as well. Rich is a great neighbor. So, here I was with a little donut spare tire on my car and at least 40 miles to drive before I had opportunity to get back to Discount Tire. I drove cautiously and carefully, and made it back to Discount Tire on Saturday after work. Then the fun began!

It was a beautiful day, and very busy at Discount Tire. Everyone and their brother decided it was time to get things fixed because it was so nice out. I waited patiently in line while those ahead of me were taken care of. Finally, my turn came and I explained the tale of repeated fillings which culminated in the total flat the day before. We went out to my car and took the offending tire out of the trunk. While Rich and Josh checked the usual places, finding nothing, assumed that it just lost it’s seal and would simply need to be re-mounted. NOT SO! On the back side of the tire there was a tear, nearly an inch long in the sidewall of the tire. I don’t know, but I’m atributing it to the MASSIVE dip in the road in an area of construction that simply caused it to pop on my last trip over. (I know that sounds weird, but I know what I really mean. It’s really more involved and complicated than that.) But, what it boiled down to is I needed to replace the tire.

The young man who was taking care of me told me that to replace the tire with a similar type and quality would cost about $140. Since I’m looking for a new car now, I really don’t want to put money into this car is I don’t need to. I explained all of this to him and told him I would be okay with a used tire or a re-tread or anything else that wouldn’t cost me $140. He said, “Let me go check some things.” He was gone for about 5 minutes, then came out to the waiting room and started typing on the computer. He typed, I struggled to keep my mouth shut, thinking that he was typing an invoice for something that I wasn’t sure I wanted because I didn’t know how much it would cost. Then he printed it out, and I still struggled, but managed to keep my mouth closed. He brought the invoice around the counter to me and I looked at it. And I looked. And my eyebrows furrowed and I looked again, trying to find the bottom line number in all the stuff that was printed on the page. He finally circled the number for me because I couldn’t find it.

Folks, in case you hadn’t figured out yet that I love Discount Tire, I’ll tell you now, straight out, I LOVE DISCOUNT TIRE!! I had to do a double take when I looked at the circled number. It was $00.00 That’s right, I got a different tire, mounted, balanced and put on my car for nothing! I have had 2 flats fixed, air checks and fills for the last year, and now a new to me tire and I have yet to pay them a single penny. These guys have done incredible things for me. One of the days in the winter, when I woke up to a nearly flat tire, I went to the shop. They don’t open until 8am. I had to be to work at 8am. They opened up the door and filled my tire early so I could get on my way. They are forthright, appear to be honest and above board, clean cut, hard working, all the right things in a company. I “almost” can’t wait until I need tires so I can buy them there.

Just wanted to put this little tidbit out there to let you know that there are still places that believe in treating their customers right. If they keep treating me like this, they have a customer for life!!