High

Written by OmoobaJesu Adetunji

brighton-birdsNickname it all you want crack, dope, doe, stuff, or just go plain and simple and call it drugs marijuana, heroin. I am pretty sure by now you get where I am going and what this is about.

I’ve always wondered why people do drugs or have other addictions or cravings at certain times. Although I never really got my curiosity quench for a while, there came times (very very few times) in my life when I actually felt confusion, fear, frustration at its utmost peak and then I kind of understood why some people get into drugs and get hooked on it. The truth is they just want peace, they want stillness in the middle of a storm; they know their problem can’t just decide to take a vacation and then fly to Hawaii and stay there, but they want oblivion and just, perfect peace. The only problem is that this so called oblivion only lasts a few minutes and the peace they get isn’t really perfect, this is what they call being high, then they come crashing back down to earth and get low again.

I got news for you… there are times when you will want to get high on something! Those times WILL come. Luckily enough for you and I, God knew this would happen so He got it all figured out. It’s right there in the bible.

ISA 26:3

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are FIXED on you. (NLT)

… People with their minds set on You will keep completely whole… [MSG]

You will guard and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You and hopes confidently on You (the Voice)

 

See? Peace, not just any peace but perfect and constant peace, comes upon you when you keep your mind fixed on Jesus. When you reach the worst pits in life, you just wish all your problems would disappear and you are desperately in need of relief. Just think about Jesus and you’ll have peace like no other. Get high on Jesus. Be consumed in thoughts of Him- His love, His grace, His kindness, His words, His death, His resurrection; there’s so much to fix on!

Jesus loves you, girls, more than you’ll ever know, understand or imagine, He loves you unconditionally. No matter what you do or have done, the bible says His love never quits, His love is relentless! (I think ‘em dudes need to take love lessons from Jesus)

There… that’s something to get your mind fixed on.

Why is Salt Important to Christians?

by Evelyn Horan

salt-spoonRecently, as I was helping Mom prepare our evening meal, I  was salting  the vegetables. I thought about the use of salt in our daily activities, as it is known to add flavoring to food and  is one of the oldest and most used substance on earth.

But most importantly,  I recalled Pastor Don’s message. He said salt has a special meaning to all God’s people. He said, the Old Testament tells us Lot’s wife disobeyed God’s command to not look back at the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Because of her disobedience, she became a pillar of salt.

Pastor went on to explain that a covenant, as mentioned in the Old Testament, is a promise or an agreement between God and his people.  It is an agreement that God will care for and meet the physical and spiritual needs of all His followers. God instructed Moses to tell the people to put salt on every meal offering.

Pastor said, “When God speaks of salt as part of the ‘covenant’ He is speaking of an agreement between Himself and mankind that is purified by the symbolic use of salt. It is one of the most meaningful uses of salt in the Old Testament for we given the understanding that the use of salt, under certain holy conditions, represents God’s everlasting covenant, (a promise).”

Pastor Don gave us special references.   In the Old Testament, when God tells Aaron that all offerings of holy things, which the children of Israel offer unto God, He then has given to them, their sons and daughters, and other generations to follow, a promise  (a covenant) forever to meet their physical and spiritual needs, represented by of the use of salt.

Then in Matthew 5-l3, in the New Testament, Jesus tells the disciples and the world to be a good influence, when he says, “Ye are the salt of the earth;” but if the salt have lost its flavor, how shall it get the flavor back?  It  is good for nothing.

Next, Mark the apostle records Jesus exhorting all people to have peace in their hearts toward one another. “Salt is good; but if the salt have lost its saltiness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves and have peace one with another.” (King James Bible)

Although, I knew the use of salt in our diet is important, while I thought about Pastor’s message, I began to understand that salt also has important spiritual implications for Christians, when we consider the principles and teachings of God and apply them to our daily lives.  As His followers,  we are, as Jesus tells us, “the salt of the earth.”

While salting our food, I resolved  to remember to pattern my behavior and my daily activities, by trying to obey God’s teachings.

Laughter Is God’s Gift To Us

by Evelyn Horan

laughingSometimes when we feel stress and concern from our daily experiences, we prayerfully turn to God for His understanding help. Often, we receive help from our Heavenly Father through His gift of laughter to us, as He uses our friends and family to help relieve the pressing tension that has occurred.  Then, we are able to regain our good judgment to solve our problems. At such times, lighthearted laughter and a smile or cheery comment can lighten the pressing situation.

I’m certain many of us can recall times when a friend or family member has been aware of our concern and has tried to ease the situation with a humorous approach to the difficult problem.

In sharing lighthearted laughter from their remarks, “Hang in there! You can solve the problem. It’s a piece of cake!”– “You can do it. I’m sure of it!..”  ” We’re backing you all the way,”..You’re the mighty problem-solver. Go for it!”

“Oh, sure,” we say, ” easy as falling off a log, as long as it’s not too high. Remember I’m afraid of heights!” We all laugh heartily, and that smooths out the past tensions.

With a feeling of relief, and a happy attitude, we can now look at the situation clearly,  with confidence in our ability to meet its challenges.   Because God’s gift of laughter, through caring friends and family, has helped, and now we are renewed and fresh, with clear thinking, we can approach methods to solve our problem that seemed too difficult, only moments ago.

With much relief, we turn gratefully, to a caring God whose bountiful love and understanding provide a way for His children to overcome the pressures of life that can come from stressful living in school and other places. It is easy to believe, we should happily praise our God for His goodness to us by giving us the gift of laughter to share with one another.

We joyfully sing our songs of praise, like David the Psalmist, with sincere gratitude and thankfulness, as we try to fulfill God’s desires for us.  And now, with God’s gift of laughter, shared with friends and family, we often find our problems are no longer insurmountable, and our daily struggles and concerns begin to seem minor as they become solvable.

Giving to God Brings A Return Blessing

by Evelyn Horan

giving-handsMany of us have heard our pastor say that one tenth of our income, or “the tithe” belongs to God.  It is true that the amount of finances I’ve given to God has come back to me, many times.  We’re told the principal of giving is that we must give first to God to release the “flow,” so that He, in turn, can give back to us.  In other words, we give to Him first; then He can give back to us.

I  have often worked as a baby-sitter with an uncertain income.  Just when I thought there would be no offers for work, I would get a phone call, and I would have a new job. This happens many times, as I continue to “contribute my money gifts to God.”

When new work comes to me, I recognize it is God’s gift back to me.  Keeping in mind, God’s generosity to me, I know that God wants to bless us.  But first, we must be willing to give to Him, trusting in His promise to always meet our needs. Then  when we share our finances joyfully with God, we discover how He blesses us again and again when we first give to Him.

Looking for Light

by Veronica Williams

‘The Lord is my light and my salvation whom shall I fear?’ (Psalm 27:1)  

lightHave you ever been afraid?  I know some children won’t go to sleep at night if a light isn’t left on, the reason being their scared of the monsters in the dark.  Are you afraid of monsters and things which go bump in the night?  As little children before we go to sleep we are taught to say our prayers.  I remember in addition to asking the Lord to bless mommy and daddy that I was taught to say the following prayer:

‘Now I Lay me down to sleep

I pray the Lord my soul to keep

If I should die before I wake

I pray dear Lord my soul to take

I often wonder if saying those words are reassuring to a small child.  Essentially we’re asking that the Lord keeps us safe as we sleep, and if he is ready to take us home that our souls go to heaven.  In addition to those words a night light will ensure that most young children feel safe and are able to sleep in their own rooms by themselves.  Being able to see what’s in the room takes away the fear of unpleasant things lurking in the shadows.

I believe that Jesus Christ who proclaimed himself as the light of the world can be seen in a similar way.  He too shines in the darkness and makes us feel safe and secure able to face most of the threats in the world.  In John 8:12 Jesus tells us that he is ‘the light of the world.  He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.’

We are very fortunate that we as Christians can rest in him and know that through him our salvation is assured.

 

Sometimes I Make Mistakes

by Evelyn Horan

face in handsThere are things in my life that cause me problems.  Sometimes, I make decisions that are not  right for me. It’s not always easy to say “no” to suggestions and activities others ask me to share with them, and  I make mistakes by giving in to their ideas without using the wisdom God has given me.

At times, I think I’m the only one who starts out with  good intentions, and then something goes wrong in the situation, possibly not according to God’s will.  That’s when I feel disappointed in myself. I wonder what I could have done differently? Why did things turn out badly for me?  Then just before I feel really discouraged, I remember God is my friend.  He cares when I make mistakes, and He’s always ready to help me straighten out the problems I’ve created.

Last Sunday in church I heard a story about a rich man who had two sons.  His youngest son had many problems and destroyed his life badly. The youngest son asked his father to divide up his property and give him his share because he wanted to go out on his own and live life the way he wanted to.  His father knew his son’s plans weren’t the best, but he knew if his son were to learn how to use God’s wisdom for us, he would have to let him have his way.  So the father gave his son his share of the inheritance.

“Good! Now I’m free,” the young son told himself.  He left home and went away.  He began spending money on what he thought was a good time.  He made new friends who helped him spend his money.  They led him into many kinds of unwise behavior.

But as soon as his money was gone–so were his friends.  Then a famine spread over the land and food and jobs were scarce.  The young son finally found work–caring for pigs!

He began to think of home.  He remembered how much his father loved him.  Even his father’s servants had plenty of food, but he was now hungry and starving.  He decided he would go to his father and ask him to forgive his foolish behavior.

For many days the son walked home.  As he approached his home he saw someone running toward him.  Was it his father? Ignoring the dirty, smelly rags his son wore, the boy’s father threw his arms around his son.

The boy told his father he had made many unwise choices. But his father didn’t let him finish.  He took off his robe and wrapped it around his son.   He told his servants to prepare a banquet to celebrate the wonderful day!

Great love came into the runaway son’s heart.  He discovered his father still loved him and had forgiven him for his lack of intelligent use of God’s wisdom for him. This same thing happens, when I realize God loves me in spite of my lack of intelligence and wisdom in my activities.  He runs to meet me, when I decide to return to Him.  He throws his arms around me and gives me His understanding love. God is willing to love me in spite of my mistakes.  It’s so easy to love Him back, when I know He’s always there for me with His love,  encouraging and forgiving me, when I ask Him in my prayers.

From now on, I’m going to be more careful by asking myself, “Is this what God would want me to do?”  Then,  I’ll make wiser and better choices in planning activities in my daily life that would be pleasing to God.

Imperfect Sinner

by Veronica Williams

‘The integrity of the upright will guide them’ (Proverbs 11:3)

smiling girlAre you good at berating and generally beating yourself up? Or do you leave it to others to chastise and point out your failings?  As a young woman I was very confident and I believe fairly infallible.  It isn’t that I was arrogant, just that my parenting instilled a healthy and positive self-esteem, and I didn’t think I was particularly imperfect.  I was aware from going to Sunday school and church that man was born in sin, and that we needed to be aware of our sinful nature.  I learned about the seven deadly sins, which are lust, gluttony, greed, laziness, wrath, envy and pride, and was aware that I needed to avoid these things. Essentially however, I did not feel I needed to criticize my own behavior or that I regularly needed to identify my faults and punish myself accordingly.

As I grew to adulthood and had differing emotional experiences, such as losing my first job or being ignored by some young man who I liked, I learned emotional pain and how to deal with rejection. One of the main reasons someone will blame themselves or believe they are at fault is if they are emotionally scarred.  They may then beat themselves up in a variety of ways.  For instance they may do something extreme like becoming a lesbian or a nun if the object of their affection does not reciprocate their affections. Fortunately I took a more balanced approach and instead of beating myself up believed that it was his bad luck; and simply moved on to another young man who was expressing an interest in dating me.

Not everyone takes things on the chin in the same way, and some may look for reasons to chastise themselves or believe that they have done something for which they should be penalized or punished. Inevitably this is not the case and good thinking is the better way forward rather than finding fault with yourself.  This is a healthy way of looking at things however our life experiences are such that the attitude of siblings and partners, often encourage us to believe the worst of ourselves. For example you’re so lazy couldn’t you have done that for me or pointing out what they think is some other deficiency in your character.

I remember quite vividly the first time that someone indicated that they thought I was pretentious and not a very genuine person.  I was mildly shocked that I was presenting in this way and took a step back to re-check my personality.  It is, I believe always good to listen to fault finders; if only so that you can refute their views.  Fault finders come in all sizes, shapes and ages, and range from ordinary people through to prominent officials.  Sometimes you can be so caught up in your own importance that you fail to recognize your own imperfections.  Having assessed this implied deficiency in my character I am pleased to say that it was the observer’s perception that was at fault.

A final thought is that we are all imperfect and may have several character traits which other people are less than pleased with.  If that is in fact the case some religious insight might prove useful in providing a basis or foundation for understanding our imperfections.  We ultimately have to gain some understanding of our own characters and often use our internal barometer to identify the right and wrong of a situation.  Additionally we are socialized into knowing the expectations of society; and have an understanding that we would be penalized if we did something wrong. I believe it’s better to roll with the punches rather than metaphorically give ourselves a severe thrashing.

A Tale of Bravery

by Veronica Williams

scared-girl‘Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You.’ (Psalm56: 3-4)

I was pleased by the young girl’s determination not to be the underdog in the scuffle.  Despite having been kicked and punched several times in the stomach by the older girl she got up and began to defend herself as the onslaught began once again.  Fortunately the bell rang indicating that playtime was over, and the teachers had now finished lunch.

Her antagonist shouted “I’ll get you later after school.”

The little girl shrugged her shoulders and headed for the line where her classmates were lining up.  Maybe if she made a quick dash after school she might be able to avoid the confrontation.  Then she remembered the bible story she had been listening to last week at Sunday School.  It told the story of Jesus who knew that he would be crucified and suffer pain and die.  However, that did not stop him from preaching the gospel and healing the sick.

She recalled what her Sunday school teacher had said that Jesus was a friend and protector of little children, maybe if I say a little prayer he’ll look after me as I walk home from school.   So the little girl closed her eyes and put her hands together and said very quietly:

God in heaven hear my prayer
Keep me in thy loving care
Be my guide in all I do
Bless all those who love me too.
Amen

I tell you this story because there are times in life when we too are like this little child, backed into a corner and don’t know who we can rely on.  It’s at times like this that we need to call on the name of Jesus.

If you have experienced bullying, been intimidated or have a similar story to the girl in the story don’t be scared go and talk with one of the teachers or an adult who you can trust. I bet you didn’t know that bullies are often really cowards who need to make themselves seem clever in the eyes of other people, so they will pick on someone who seems weaker. As I have pointed out it’s always a good idea to let an adult know what is going on and also always fight back, after all what have you got to lose.

Are you Misusing God’s Name? Why Is the Third Commandment Important?

by Evelyn Horan

girl seriousSometimes I find myself so involved in an exciting conversation with others that I make a slip and use the Lord’s name in vain. When I’m chatting with my friends about an exciting event or situation, I’ve been guilty of using God’s name in a disrespectful way.

After I’ve said those words, I know I shouldn’t have done it,  because I remember that the third of the Ten Commandment tells me, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.” And, that is just what I have been doing, taking God’s name in vain.

Recently, we’ve been discussing the “Ten Commandments” in the Bible study I attend.  We learned that in Bible times, a person’s name represented something of his character or personality.  God cares deeply about His own name. So we discussed the meaning of “in vain” as it applies to followers of the Lord. We should not say His name in a careless or profane way as I had been doing, because we have a responsibility to uphold God’s reputation to the world. We should always keep in mind that God is holy and we should treat Him that way by showing reverence for His name in our speech.

God is the creator of heaven and earth. We need to approach Him with adoration and love as we live our daily lives.  He is our refuge and our strength. He cares for our needs.  We must  remind ourselves us to think of  creation and the many miracles God has performed for mankind.  Above all else, He gave us His son Jesus, who died for our sins.

At Bible study, our pastor said this, “Believing and knowing all this, it is easy to agree that God trusts us to avoid using His name in a thoughtless way.  Instead, we should continue to  worship and honor Him by only using His name with words of adoration, love, and praise.”

These thoughts have really stuck with me.   I resolved  that from now on, I’m going be more aware of my language when I become too excited in my conversations. I’m going to make a true effort to be more careful in my speech, and I’m going to remember the third commandment.

Going On

by Evelyn Horan

rememberingRecently, my best friend, ever since our grammar school days together, went to be with the Lord. And now, I am having a difficult time without Amy’s smiling face. I believe my loneliness can lead to depression and hopelessness, and I want to avoid these feelings. I wonder how I can overcome a tendency to feel self-pity? How do I pick up pieces and begin again when nothing looks inviting and bright? What can I substitute for the empty place in my heart without my best friend? In my prayers, I ask God to help me cope with my loneliness and grieving.

Caring family and friends gently remind me there are others who are facing loneliness, often as in my situation, through the loss of a friend, who might have moved away, or one who has gone away to college, and is no longer close by, and the list goes on. I do understand, I need to be in close contact with my family, and other friends. I am trying to avoid withdrawing into myself by assuming they are too busy for me by visiting with them and making phone contacts to keep these ties strong and binding.

As I allow my thinking to explore other areas that can help dispel loneliness, I think of more ways I could become involved. There are clubs and organizations in school and in the community and there is an immediate satisfaction in acquiring new friends, and as a benefit, I’m sure some can relate personally to my loss. When my friends tell me about their membership in various clubs and organizations, I notice their cheerful enthusiasm in recalling pleasant experiences in activities to stimulate and inspire their effort and interest.

Loved ones also suggest, I should assess my capabilities, my interests, and perhaps my long forgotten hobbies and desires. I should try to be rid of self-absorption and look around at my present environment. The question I ask myself, is can I put aside my loneliness by reaching out to others?

I believe I must try to do this, even though, I have to push myself to make the effort. I could try to become involved in student activities in school, by participating in various organizations Folks tell me I might also want to think of doing volunteer work after school in some sort of activity in the community. They suggested, I might want to try volunteer work in a hospital to assist in whatever capacity there might be a need.

Further, I could consider my hobbies. Perhaps painting, exploring crafts, and engaging in many kinds of needlework, or trying other creative outlets would be helpful, as I especially enjoy needlework and crafts. Thinking of pursuing hobbies I have put aside, I could explore organizations and groups interested in specific kinds of hobbies. As a member, it is possible to meet new friends and enjoy their companionship.

Finally, and most important of all, I should continue to seek spiritual nurturing as I trust in God, to help me. My church attendance, and fellowship with members, while I participate in church activities, will bring new friendships. Soon the feeling of belonging to my church family will dispel negative feelings that now weigh on me. I will no longer feel so lonely. My prayer life will grow, and my closeness to God can become more intimate and more personal.

In time, thinking “outside myself ” will offer ways to fill my empty hours. As I consider the many possibilities to help me overcome my loneliness, I feel a new zest for living, entering my grieving spirit. Beginning now, I shall try to plan busier and more active days ahead. Coping with my loneliness isn’t easy. But, I am confident that by trying new ideas, I can get a good start in finding an acceptance of my loss. Through prayer, and trusting in an understanding and loving heavenly Father, I can find contentment and happiness, for I know He will help me overcome my heavy feelings of loneliness.

 

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