What is PT or ST?

hands raised mfPT, the abbreviated terminology for physical therapy, became a common term in my vocabulary in August when I began the process of regaining movement and strength in the arm I broke in June.  My Reader, if you were to describe the meaning of physical therapy by choosing words with these two initials, what words would you choose?  One person told me they stood for pain and torture.  I did not like that!  So, I decided to create my own descriptive words that I wanted to focus upon while going to PT.  My first choice of words were patience and tenacity.  I knew it would take time to regain the mobility and strength that I had lost while my arm was in a cast.  These words helped me keep the proper perspective that use of the arm would return little be little as I diligently did my exercises and went to the therapist.  The other phrase I chose to think about was prayer and trust.  I did not have to recover muscle and movement only by my own power.  God was there to help me if I would only ask Him.  I asked for His help through prayer and then trusted Him to be faithful to answer my prayers. 

While being aware of the stiffness in my hand and arm, I thought about how God refers to the Israelites as being stiff-necked people.  Exodus 32:9 is the first scriptural reference to the Lord describing them as being stiff-necked.  This happens after the people had made the golden calf while Moses was on Mount Sinai with God.  In Exodus 33, the Lord reveals to Moses that He will not go with the Israelites into the Promised Land because they are stiff-necked.  Moses responds in Exodus 34:9 by praying, “Lord, if I have found favor in your eyes, then let the Lord go with us. Although this is a stiff-necked people, forgive our wickedness and our sin, and take us as your inheritance.”  (If you want to read more details regarding this condition found among the Israelites, you can read Exodus 32-34 and Deuteronomy 9.)

So, what does God mean when He refers to the Israelites as being stiff-necked?  According to Deuteronomy 9:6, I believe it refers to their being unrighteous because this verse says,  “Understand, then, that it is not because of your righteousness that the Lord your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stiff-necked people”  I think any person who is stubborn, obstinate, rebellious, or defiant is stiff-necked.  I think the Israelites were in need of some PT for their stiff necks!  They needed to personally spend time in prayer and not just rely upon Moses to seek God for them.  They needed to trust God to lead them into the Promised Land.  Where was their patience and tenacity to wait upon God to do what He had promised?   Maybe I should say they were in need of some ST. What is ST? I am defining ST as spiritual therapy.  What is involved in ST? I would like to suggest that the Israelites should have been singing and testifying.  While on their journey to the Promised Land, they could have been singing songs of praise to the Lord reminding themselves of who God truly was.  They also could have been testifying among themselves as to what God had done for them and how He was still in their midst.  Just like muscles that can become frozen from lack of use, faith can become cold and impersonal if not actively lived out on a daily basis.

In Acts 7:51, Stephen says, “You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit!”  Yes, the Israelites were stiff-necked, but so can I be stiff-necked if I do not follow the leading of the Holy Spirit today!  What might be some of my symptoms of being stiff-necked?   I think being stiff-necked can be an attitude problem often manifested as pride.  Could I be suffering from a spiritual stiff neck if I insist that my way of doing something is the only way it should be done?  How about when I make excuses for my shortcomings or become defensive when I am criticized?  Maybe I am in need of ST as well as PT!  One way I can procure ST is through studying and tutoring.  I am referring to my daily setting aside time to study God’s Word and to learn it well enough that I will follow His principles in all my actions.  By tutoring, I am referring to discipling – asking another person to speak into my life and to hold me accountable for my choices while helping me grow in my faith.

My Reader, how about you? Do you need some PT or ST in areas of your life that have stiffened up? Another couplet of words defining PT could be praise and thanksgiving.  This is one of my favorite exercises to loosen up some spiritual muscles that I do not use often enough.  The Lord inhabits my praise (Psalm 22:3) and His joy becomes my strength (Nehemiah 8:10).  His provision allows for both my physical and spiritual strength.  I express thanksgiving to God for His love and faithfulness that reach to the skies (Psalm 57:10). Since His love reaches to the skies, it helps me to be able to reach to the skies with my hands physically and spiritually.  I am still doing some physical exercises to get full use of my hand and arm but there has been much improvement.  However, muscles can still become tight if I do not keep limbering them up.  I also need to remain flexible spiritually so that I am ready for the Lord to be able to use me the way He desires.  PT helps me gain strength in my hand and arm, my physical being. ST strengthens my inner being, my spiritual nature.  Ephesians 3:16  tells me that I can be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man.  I need both PT and ST in my life in order for me to be able to physically raise my hand as high as I would like as well as to be able to raise my hands spiritually to God in praise of who He is.

Joyfully, golden apple #2(MF)
Cheryl   

Challenge for the week:Join me in some stretching exercises of PT and ST!

Whose House Is Being Built?

nails

Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Psalm 127:1

I personally claimed this scripture four years ago when we were house hunting for our present home. With the purchase of a home being a major decision, I told the Lord I did not want any house that was not the one He wanted for us. I did not mean that the structure had to be built by the hand of God, but I wanted the foundation of our future to be built according to God’s plans and purposes.  While we had certain construction criteria for the house we would purchase regarding the type of house and how many rooms, much more was involved in my prayer.

However, my Reader, let me take you another step….

nailsUnless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Psalm 127:1

 As I meditate upon the first verse of Psalm 127, I want to expand the potential scriptural meaning of “house.”

I believe “house” can refer to our lives.  Unless I allow God to have first place in my life, it will lack any authentic significance. The use of any of my skills, talents or gifts will be futile without His presence and anointing.  If I want the Lord to build the house of my life, I must trust Him for the structure of my future.  As I strive to build my life as being God’s house on earth, I must build it according to His pattern, not according to my human ideas or efforts.  When Moses was told to build the tabernacle in Exodus 9, God gave him specific dimensions and instructions.  God does the same for me.  I search for His blueprint for the construction of my life’s house within the scriptures of the Bible.

However, my Reader, let me take you another step….

nailsUnless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Psalm 127:1

 When I think about a person who exemplifies this scripture in his daily life, our son-in-law, Jamey, comes to mind. The home he has built with our daughter and their family has Christ as the cornerstone.  God is the center of the relationships and activities within the four walls of their home. It is evident that God has the highest priority, and as a family, they let God be the Master Builder. This verse is uniquely applicable for Jamey Hinman because he is a real estate agent. He lists and sells homes; he is successful at it because the Lord is building his business.  God uses Jamey to help people find homes in the communities where the Lord’s plans for them can be fulfilled and He will be glorified. Jamey’s life is a construction tool for the Kingdom of God.  He helps his clients to sell and purchase houses; he nails down transactions that honor the Lord. Jamey is also co-pastor of LifeQuest Community Church.  Here too he is helping to build a House of God, and the labors of this church are not in vain. Incidentally, our son-in-law’s birthday is coming up in just a few days.  Happy Birthday, Jamey.  You are my inspiration for this blog as I watch you fulfill Psalm 127:1 as a husband, father, realtor and pastor.

However, my Reader, let me take you another step….

nails

Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Psalm 127:1

 While seeking the Lord as to how to develop this blog, the Lord revealed to me how Jesus fulfills this verse.  John 14:1-6 says, Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”  Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”  Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” In verses 1-4, Jesus is reminding His disciples about the eternal house God has built in heaven.  In verse 5, Thomas is essentially asking what he can do to build this house. Jesus’ response in verse 6 states emphatically that He is the way, and anything anyone tries to do to assure a place in this house will be done in vain.  Nails are used to build a frame house; and nails secured Jesus to the cross in order for Him to be The Way for us to our house in heaven.

However, my Reader, let me take you another step….

nailsUnless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Psalm 127:1

My Reader, I find it hard to close a blog without leaving you with a personal question or two.  What is the all-encompassing meaning of the word “house”  for you?  What kind of houses are you building, both naturally and spiritually?  Are you permitting the Lord to build your house?  I encourage you to think about these things this week. 

Joyfully,
Cheryl

 Scripture for the week: I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.Psalm 23:6

“Pleasers, Please!”

Scripture: That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil – this is the gift of God. – Ecclesiastes 3:13
So, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it for the glory of God. – I Corinthians 10:31
Interpretation: Food is both satisfying to the body and a gift from God.
Application: Eating and preparing food is part of God’s plan for me. Not only is it part of His plan, but it is a gift that I must use for His glory.

 Scripture: “Everything is permissible for me” – but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me” – but I will not be mastered by anything.  “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food” – but God will destroy them both. – I Corinthians 6 12,13
Interpretation: Food has its positive purposes, but eating must not be an end in itself.
Application: Although eating and preparing food is part of God’s plan for me, my entire life must not be consumed by food.  I must not eat just to satisfy my craving for a particular food, but I should eat to gain energy to live my life in a way that glorifies God.

 Scripture: “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me” – John 4:34
Man does not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. – Matthew 4:4
Interpretation: Physical food is not the only kind of food available.
Application: When I do not allow my life to be focused only upon food, God will show me how His will for me involves more than eating three meals a day.

free Bible#1LOOKING BACK at the scriptures I have quoted from my Bible, I realize how eating properly glorifies God. To personally be a good steward of my body, I must eat a balanced diet of nutritious food.  As a wife, mother and grandmother, I serve not only my family, but I also serve God when I prepare healthy meals. I enjoy doing God’s will by cooking and baking, but there is more to life than just physical food. In order to completely fulfill God’s will for me, I must recall the example of Jesus who had the proper perspective between natural hunger and spiritual hunger.  In his book Desiring God, John Piper states, “Jesus cherished His Father’s will like we cherish food.”  This  is serious food for thought for me!  I pray that the food I serve to others will give nourishment to their bodies for healthy development so they will be able to fulfill the will of God in their own lives. I wish to serve God in the variety of ways He directs, and I feel providing a balanced diet for my family is one of these ways.

computerLOOKING AHEAD to the recipes in my computer file, I am now searching for a healthy snack that I can bake and have on hand when our grandchildren come to visit.  What I find is a recipe for Apple and Cheese Pleasers that I remember making as an after school treat for our son and daughter when they were growing up.  This recipe is healthy, but it also tastes good.  I originally found this recipe in a small Quaker Oats Wholegrain Cookbook and it is listed as a high protein breakfast cookie. It satisfies hunger in a healthy way as well as gratifies the desire for a little sweetness.

My Reader, I hope I can entice you to bake a batch of these cookies for a wholesome treat.  The recipe is listed below. As moms and grandmas, we have the spiritual responsibility of praying for our families, but we also have the responsibility of providing nutritious food for them.   School has started and it is apple season, so I encourage you to prepare this after school snack for those you love.  May your actions be pleasing to God as you offer kids and grandkids these Apple and Cheese Pleasers.  And, may you hear someone in your household say, “More ‘Pleasers, please!”

Portable Apple & Cheese Pleasers”
¾ c. flour
2/3 c. margarine, softened
1/3 c. brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 ½ c. oatmeal, regular or quick
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
¾ c. raisins
1 c. chopped apple

 Combine first eight ingredients in large bowl and mix well.  Add oatmeal, cheese and raisins; mix well.  Stir in apple.  Drop by heaping tablespoonful on ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown.  Store in tightly covered container in refrigerator or in a loosely covered container at room temperature.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Joyfully,
Cheryl

Challenge for the week:  Every day eat food that will satisfy both physical and spiritual hungers.  Feed your body and your spirit.

Teacher and Student

school-1-mfSeptember is here and, for us in New York state, this is the first week of classes. If you live in another part of the country, school may have already started.  Anyway, today my thoughts are turning to teachers and students.  Our family fulfills these two roles well. We have six grandchildren as students. Our son is a classroom teacher who is just completing his year as New York Teacher of the Year and is still having amazing doors open for him within the field of education.  Both our daughter and daughter-in-law have taught school and are currently involved with volunteering in the elementary schools where their children attend.  Our son-in-law is a part-time pastor who teaches from the pulpit.  Are not teacher and preacher similar words with only different letters at the beginning?  I have taught in various capacities over the years and my husband also taught school for a year.  That is enough educators for one family! However, today I am expanding the roles of teachers and students from a broader perspective.

study (MF)Several years ago an important statement was made to me: “Everyone is a teacher.”  Hmmm.  That leads me to come to another conclusion:  “If everyone is a teacher, then everyone must be a student.”  I want to develop these two statements from two different viewpoints.  First, if everyone is a teacher of mine, then I am everyone’s student. Secondly, if everyone is a student of mine, then I am a teacher to everyone.

Green Apple on Books

If everyone is a teacher,
then I am everyone’s student.

My stepsister-in-law, Karleen, is the person I have heard say, “Everyone is a teacher.”  She would often make this comment about two older parents for whom we had mutual love and concern.  We might shake our heads as we observed some of the opinions and actions of her mother-in-law and my dad, but then Karleen would bring our focus back to the proper mindset by saying, “Everyone is a teacher!” Yes, these two specific people, and everyone else around me, is a teacher from whom I have the privilege to learn. The older generation has more wisdom to share with me than I might want to give them credit for.  I also can learn from the younger generation as our grandchildren are teachers of mine as well.  Both the irresistible and the irritating mannerisms of people can be teaching tools if I have the proper attitude.  I want to remember that every person I come in contact with is either teaching me something I want to do or something I do not want to do. I want to embrace wisdom and knowledge and common sense from the teachers God has placed in my life.

Bible Meditation (PD)For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know,
and what he teaches is true—it is not a lie.
I John 2:27 NLT

My best teacher, the Holy Spirit, lives within me! I want to quote John Bevere from his weekly devotion on August 8, 2013 entitled “Welcome Him as Your Teacher.” He writes, “The Holy Spirit plays many roles in our lives, but probably His greatest role is that of Teacher. He is always teaching us something….Scripture is the timeless textbook of the Spirit. God’s Word is the record of God’s thoughts. To think like Him, talk like Him, and act like Him, we need His Word—and we need to understand it. That’s the job of our Teacher: to lead us and guide us into all truth, unfolding the meaning of the scriptures we need, right when we need them.”  The Holy Spirit is my favorite teacher.  I want to learn from Him and teach like Him!

people possibilities 6 mf

If everyone is a student,
then I am everyone’s teacher.

My last statement is the perfect transition for me to think about how I am everyone’s teacher.  I realize that I feel more responsibility being the teacher compared to being the student!  I desire to have a positive influence upon my family and friends.  How can I be the best teacher God wants me to be?  Am I portraying teachable traits and visible virtues to inspire those God has placed in my life to be followers of Christ?  What knowledge has God imparted to me that I can share with others?

Bible Meditation (PD)Jesus says, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father
 and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
Matthew 28: 19-20 NIV

What Jesus said to his disciples, He still says to me today.  He specifically tells me to teach what I have been taught by His Spirit who lives in me.  Going to all nations suggests to me that I am to be a teacher everywhere I go.  He is telling me to be a witness, or a teacher, for Him by the life I daily live.  The people who are a part of my life are the students God has entrusted to me.  I desire to be the best teacher possible with God’s help.

people possibilities 5 mfIn conclusion,  everyone is a teacher and everyone is a student!  My Reader, you and I do not need to be involved with education inside the four walls of a school building to be teachers and students.  The world is our classroom.  Actually, we are fulfilling these two roles whether we comprehend it or not. Every person I come in contact with is teaching me something I want to do or something I do not want to do.  In this sense, I am their student. Every person I come in contact with is learning from me something they want to embrace or something they want to avoid in their own thoughts and actions.  In this respect, I am their teacher.  It is September and formal required education has begun, but teaching and learning never stop. My Reader, are you a student who is following the leading of the Holy Spirit as your best teacher? Are you an exemplary teacher throughout your area of influence in the eye of God?  What kind of grade would receive as a student? In which role are you most comfortable?

 Joyfully,
Cheryl

Challenge for the week: Be aware of how you are a teacher and how you are a student.   Pray especially for the teachers and students involved with formal education during the 2013-2014 year.