While 2020 has overall been a pretty craptastic year, some wonderful things have come from it. (At least, they have for me.) I thought I would share the 2 most important things that happened to me in 2020.
First, I must note that I have never liked politics. Not office or workplace politics and certainly not government politics. I ascribe to the “less is more” point of view. (The less government, the better.) Therefore, I have regarded myself as a Libertarian. And, while my views are decidedly conservative, I have never much kept up with the goings-on in Washington D.C. That is, until this year.
2020 has opened my eyes to just how far this country has fallen away from our Constitution and the foundations on which this great country was founded and from where our founding fathers laid it. It is both mind-numbing and heartbreaking to see just how far down into the pit we have fallen.
And, as Christians, we are to take at least some blame in this. As a whole, we as a Church have NOT stood up for Christian values the way we should have. We have been watering down Biblical truths and letting things slide in order to look “progressive” and be “politically correct.” We have been lax in sharing and standing on true Christian values and the true rights and wrongs that the Lord teaches. The two most vital, in my humble opinion, is the abolition of the nuclear family and thinking that abortion is somehow ok. Or, at the very least turning a blind eye to these things.
So, now that my eyes have been opened about what is going in our government and politics, I can do my best to fight for what is right. It is not about being Democrat or Republican, or Libertarian. What is right is being on God’s side and standing on His truths. And, opening the eyes of everyone in this country to the truth of what is going on. You can read more about these in my posts A Time For War and A Great Awakening.
This was the first good thing that happened to me this year.
The second and easily the most meaningful to me, is the fact that I have been spending a lot more time with God. And, honestly, a lot of this has to do with point number one.
I have been meeting with friends, having fellowship, and praying for this country and President Donald Trump.
I have joined in an online prayer group led by Father Frank Pavone that prays every weekday evening. It is streamed live on Right Side Broadcasting Network.
I have been doing Bible studies with two different groups of friends. I have studied Our Bodies Tell God’s Story by Christopher West and Walking With Purpose by Lisa Brenninkmeyer. I have dug into the beautiful books of Mark and Romans with in depth 12-week studies. And, I have read and studied my first ever encyclical letter written by Pope John Paul II called On the Mercy of God. And finally, I just stared a new study on my own of the book of Isaiah.
Spending more time with the Lord in prayer, in studying His Word and in fellowship with my brothers and sisters in Christ have been life-saving this year. Growing spiritually is so fundamental. I am so grateful and thankful for this time, despite all the ugliness that has come out of this year. I wouldn't trade it for anything.
I have always been fascinated with the book of Revelation. I guess mainly because I know it is a prophecy of what is to come in this life. Or, as I have come to believe, what is happening right now. I have read it multiple times in hopes that I can make some sense out of it, but always come away scratching my head. What about you? Have you ever read it and wondered what in the heck John is talking about?
Revelation is chock-full of symbolic meaning. But, how do you interpret it? I remember asking others about this and no one had very good answers. And, ultimately, it was just something I let slip into my rearview mirror.
However, since March, when COVID-19 came into our lives and started us on this roller coaster ride of craziness, I have been turning my eyes back to God and His Word. Throw in all the insanity of our world with corrupt politics and race relations, and well, I couldn’t help but think of Bible prophecy again.
Then, at the end of June, I stumbled across a book that was soon to be released called Tipping Point The End Is Here by senior pastor of Gateway Church, Jimmy Evans. Maybe I shouldn’t say stumbled, I honestly think God sent it my way on purpose.
Upon reading that pastor Evans has studied Biblical end times prophecy, known as eschatology, for forty-five years and that the book is an analysis of Scripture, I bought it right away.
When I received it in the mail last week, I dove right in! What with everything that is going on in our world right now, it was like I was dying of thirst and this book was a keg of fresh, ice-cold, refreshing water.
Tipping Point opened my eyes to not only the book of Revelation, but to all of the prophecies of the Bible.
Did you know that 30 percent of the Bible is prophecy? Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Habakkuk, Nahum, Zaphaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi were all prophets. Not to mention Jesus himself.
I finished the book in less than 24 hours. And, I keep opening it back up to re-read it. I am blown away at what Jimmy had written. Hence, why I am here to share the book with you.
The end times can be a very scary thing; especially if you don’t know God as your Lord and Savior. If you think the times we are living in right now are bad, I have news for you, it is nothing compared to what is coming. Once the Tribulation gets here, it will truly be hell on earth.
That is why I am pleading with you today, get to know the Lord. He loves you so very much. You are His child and there is nothing you can do or have done that will make Him turn away from you. I would be overjoyed and honored to introduce you to Him. Please just reach out to me, or someone else you know who is a true Christian and you feel you can trust. Go visit a church and talk to the pastor there. Go online to any one of the following sites and listen, read, and learn: David Jeremiah, Max Lucado, or Joyce Meyer. It’s not too late. But, the time is NOW.
However, if you are a Christian and believe in God and are in a right relationship with Him, this book will give you solace and comfort. It shows you how to have hope and peace in the midst of all of our current turmoil.
This book is the proof in the pudding that God is real. It is definitive and awe-inspiring—just as God is.
Plus, honestly, no matter what you believe, Tipping Point is incredibly fascinating just from a historical and current events' standpoint.
Jimmy walks you through Israel and her history and the vital importance of her role.
Jimmy turns our eyes skyward to explain what the sun, moon, and stars have to say.
And, Jimmy gives us a play-by-play with critical insight into how we are the final generation and how we have seen every end times event fulfilled. He tells us that while every generation has seen some signs of the end times, the final generation will have every sign.
This is it folks. We are the final generation. We are living at the end of the end times.
I pray that you will not be here for the Tribulation that you will instead be with Jesus in heaven, celebrating, as I will be. It is something I am looking forward to.
But, please note that no one knows the day or time when Jesus will return. It could be today or seven years from now. As Jimmy tells us and I will end sharing with you; Plan as though Jesus in not returning for a hundred years and live as though Jesus is returning today.
Did I get your attention with the title of this blog post? I hope so! That was my goal. Do you know what the definition of masticate is? If not, let me enlighten you. Masticate is a fancy sounding word that means to chew. And, today I want to talk to you about digestion.
Digestion starts as soon as you take the first bite of a meal. Chewing is the first step in the digestion process and it is a crucial one. Chewing breaks the food into pieces that are more easily digested, while saliva mixes with the food to begin the process of breaking the food down into a form that your body can absorb and use. In other words, if you want to get the most out of your meals, the most nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, you must thoroughly chew your food before you swallow it.
So, what does chewing and digestion have to do with growing closer to God? A lot. Stay with me here.
As a kid, did your mom tell you to take your time and chew your food? To not gobble it up? Or, just not to eat so fast? If so, you had a smart mom! Per science and research, this is one instance where mom knows best. You should slow down and savor your meals. When you chew slowly and chew at least 32 times—it is better for your overall nutrition, digestion, and for telling our brains we are full so we don’t overeat.
I think we should apply these same principles to reading our Bibles. (Or, as I say, Book of Life.) I have been talking a good bit lately about growing spiritually and having a better relationship with Christ. The two best ways we can do this is by spending time reading our Bible each day and by praying. Today I am focusing on reading our Bibles.
Now, I know what you are thinking, reading the Bible is no easy task. It is a big book. Just looking at it can be intimidating. And, depending on which version you have, well, that can make it tougher. I grew up with the King James Version and all those “thous” and “arts” make it difficult to understand. As a theatre nerd, I liken it to reading Shakespeare. (I love Shakespeare, but it takes me a good deal of time to read and understand his plays. And, having two degrees in theatre, I have studied my fair share of them.)
But, fear not! Living in the 21st century has its perks! There are newer translations of the Bible that are easier to read than the King James Version. I know that there are lot of translations available and that in and of itself can be confusing. I am currently reading and studying a New International Version (NIV) of the Bible that was created specifically for study. I really enjoy it. And, below are some suggestions that I want to share with you that I think are helpful in reading your Bible.
First, take some time one day, go to a book store and pick up and read several translations. Buy the one that you understand the most. Personally, I don’t think God cares which version you read, He just wants you to read it. I think you will find the Holy Spirit in all of them! By reading it, you will be spending top quality time with the most important person in your life!
Once you have a Bible that you are comfortable with, schedule a time to read it each day. If you put it in your schedule, you are more likely to do it. You eat three meals a day (or you should) and those are scheduled at certain times. Think of reading your Bible as eating a daily meal. You need the nourishment from the Bible as much, if not more, than you need to eat food each day. Going to church on Sunday is not enough! Can you imagine only eating one day a week? That would suck! If I go a few hours without eating, my head starts to hurt. There is no way I would last a day without food, much less a week, without being completely miserable.
Then, once you have a set time to read your Bible, take your time with it. Go at your own speed. There are no rules here. No one says that you must read a chapter a day, or get through the whole Bible in a year. Maybe you just read for 10 minutes a day, maybe 30. Do what works best for you. But, I do suggest that whatever time you put into it, make it count. Since the Bible is sustenance for the soul, treat it accordingly. Don’t just pop it into your mouth and sallow it--masticate it slowly, savor it, and really enjoy and digest it. There are life-giving words in this book. Let these words become your life-blood. Let them enter your blood stream and flow to every part of your body. Let them renew your spirit, let them rejuvenate you!
And, because it can still be a hard thing to do, let me give you one last suggestion. There is a great book that was published in 2016 that can help you. Do yourself a favor and buy a copy of Charles R. Swindoll’s Searching the Scriptures when you buy your Bible. I found this book in my library when it first came out and I realized that I needed to own it. It is fabulous tool that shows you how to dig deep into the scriptures. Plus, it was a 2017 ECPA Christian Book Award Finalist in the Christian Living category. (ECPA stands for Evangelical Christian Publishers Association. You can read more about them here.) I think this book and a Bible are the two basic tools you will need to begin to transform your spiritual life.
By spending time with God each day by reading your Bible and in prayer, you will be putting yourself in the perfect position to grow in your spiritual life by leaps and bounds.
This is how you will grow your faith. This is how you will grow up. And, this is how you fight the good fight.
I wanted to share some things with you that have been on my mind lately, no pun intended (see title). And, my purpose in sharing this information is to educate you. So, before we go any further, I need to point out that while I hope this information is useful to everyone, I think it will be especially useful for those of you who “over-think” things.
I am an “over-thinker”—and I hate it. I honestly think sometimes about how nice it would be to be able to “flip a switch” in my brain and turn it off the part of me that cares about things so much. (Hence, the over-thinking.) I know that sounds bad, but, I am just being honest. Or, I think about lobotomies. I had a great-uncle that I never got to meet who had a lobotomy. (At least, I am pretty sure he did.) And, being a theatre nerd, it leads me into thinking about The Glass Menagerie and Laura/Rose. But, I digress.
I guess I just like the idea of being able to turn off my thoughts when I need to. I am learning, or trying to learn, to love myself just as I am. I mean, after all, this is the way God made me. And, the Bible tells us that BEFORE God formed us in the womb, He knew us and that we were set apart. (See Jeremiah 1:5) Plus, I also know from the Bible and experience that, through God, we are made strong in our weakness.
So, how about you? Are you an over-thinker like me? Do you pick things apart and go over them a million times? Do you obsess about people or things and wish you could change them? If so, I am here to tell you that you are not alone and there is help. Isn’t that great news??
I am part of a book club. I call it the Bible book club, as it is through a church and we read books by Christian authors to help us grow spiritually. (Side note, it is one of my favorite activities!) We recently finished reading the book The Mind Connection by Joyce Meyer and it has truly been a God-send. The secondary title of the book is How The Thoughts YOU Choose Affect Your Mood, Behavior, And Decisions (emphasis mine). Our book club not only reads books, but we work on the study guides that go along with the books we read. And, The Mind Connection has a great study guide for you to use. It helps you think about the topics more deeply and get more out of the whole experience.
I just love Joyce Meyer! If you have never ready any of her books, I strongly urge you to pick one up. Joyce writes from her heart and she writes in way that is easy to understand and follow. And, once you know her history, she will become an inspiration to you. But, this book in particular has been so helpful to me. I have already decided that I am going to re-read it again soon. And, it is one of those books that I now carry around with me, so I can quickly go back to certain sections when I need to.
For whatever reason, many people believe that they have no control over their thoughts, but it is not true! The main point of this book is for you to realize that YOU are the only person who can control your thoughts. Joyce points out that what you think about is reflected in your words, actions, decisions, and emotions. With God’s help, you can control what you think about. With God’s help, you can renew your mind and your thoughts. You can get better!
There is a question that Joyce asks in an earlier part of the book, that really struck a chord me with. She says, “I wonder how many blessings and provisions we miss in life because we simply have the wrong attitude. How often is God merely waiting to see how we respond to difficulty before He moves to help us?” My bet is A LOT! What do you think?
So, if you are like me, and over-think everything all the time, you need to read this book. You need to take all the great advice and recommendations in it to heart. It may take some time to wrap your head around it and to act upon the information in it. But, if you want to see changes in your life--if you truly want to change, with God’s help, you can! I know this is true because it is working for me right now.
Thanks to Joyce and her book, I am changing the way I think about things. And, I am NOT focusing on things or people like I used to. I am not where I want to be yet, but I am making progress. It is all about baby steps for me. I am handing off most of the stuff that I can’t deal with to God. And I am adjusting my thoughts to the good and positive things in my life. And, I plan on staying the course. Read this book and join me, won’t you?
The Bible is called by many names: The Word, Word of Life, Holy Scriptures, Holy Writ, Good Book, and Book of Books. (These are just the ones that come to me at the moment. I am sure there are some I forgot.) While these are all accurate descriptions of the Bible, my favorite is Book of Life. Why? I guess because in the simplest terms a) it is a book and b) it gives me life. I honestly think that it is the most important book you can ever read. It is often referred to as living and breathing. And, I truly believe that it is! (Which is just another reason to refer to it as the Book of Life!) And, as a Christian who longs to grow up in Christ, it is vital to take time each day to read this Book of Life. Read it over and over and over again. Each time you do, you will gain new insight and wisdom that you missed before. It may sound crazy, but it is true.
Have you ever watched a funny movie and then re-watched it later and realized that you missed a funny part? Maybe you were laughing too much from something that happened earlier. Maybe it was just a quick visual joke. Maybe you were too busy digging that popcorn kernel out of your teeth. Whatever the reason, you got something out of it the second time around that you didn’t get the first time around. The Bible works the same way! The only difference is that after watching the same movie over and over, you eventually run out of things to discover. The Bible is so dense and packed with nutrients that your spirit needs, you can NEVER run out of the hidden gems it contains. I believe that this is yet another reason people refer to as living and breathing.
The book of Hebrews chapter 4 verse 12 tells us, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.“ In other words, for those who read it and believe it, this Book of Life gives you all of the tools and resources you could ever need to live your life successfully in and for God.
Commentator Matthew Henry wrote of the Bible that it “convinces powerfully, converts powerfully, and comforts powerfully. It makes a soul that has long been proud, to be humble; and a perverse spirit, to be meek and obedient. Sinful habits, that are become as it were natural to the soul, and rooted deeply in it, are separated and cut off by this sword. It will discover to men their thoughts and purposes, the vileness of many, the bad principles they are moved by, the sinful ends they act to.” Pretty powerful stuff, isn’t it?
In today’s world, you don’t have to carry around a Bible to get the benefits from it. If you have a cell phone, that is all you need. You can either read the Bible from an app on your phone, or you can listen to it being read to you. Or, you can be a nerd like me and lug around your Bible in a tote bag. I like to keep it handy. You never know when you will get an opportunity to open it up and glean some fresh understanding, or share it with others.
So, I hope that you will take some time out of your day and read your Book of Life. Get into the habit of reading it each and every day. It could be just the refreshment that your weary soul needs. (How do I know you are weary? Well, aren’t we all??) And, I will leave you with a link to my current favorite song, “Word of Life” by Jeremy Camp. It is an energetic song with compelling lyrics about the Bible. You’re welcome! :)
I love to read. And, I am not picky about what I read. Heck, I will read anything I can get my hands on. This includes magazines, junk mail, blog posts, and even the writing on product labels, even lists of ingredients. But, I most especially love books. I love to collect them and read them. (I have been this way ever since I can remember.) There is just something magical about books, and being whisked away to another time and place. (One of my goals as an adult is to one day have a library like the Beast has from Beauty and the Beast. Plus, I would like to say that I have read every book that lines their shelves. But, I digress…)
So, yes, you can call me a bookworm! I enjoy books of all different types and genres. I tend to go thorough phases; I will read classics for a while, then young adult, then mysteries. (You get the idea.)
However, with all that said, I often find myself reading books on World War II. They can be fiction or nonfiction, but for whatever reason, I am particularly drawn to this time in our history. I think it is because I have an extremely difficult time wrapping my head around the atrocities that took place. For the life of me, I can’t understand how there could be so much hate in the world for one group of people. I have read story after story, account after account, of the concentration camps and the holocaust, and the poor souls who were forced to either die immediately, or die slow, horrible, agonizing deaths. These are hard stories to tell and hard to listen to or read—but they must be told. (Repeatedly.)
This leads me to my latest read: The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom. Published in 1971, this book written by Cornelia (Corrie) ten Boom, a Christian evangelist that I had heard of, but never knew that much about, touched me deeply, not necessarily because of the setting, nor the fact that it is a true story, but because it shows her family and their love of and for God.
If you don’t know me, I must tell you, I’m a pretty emotional person. I cry easily and oftentimes for the silliest things. I cry when I get mad, or sad. And, I often feel both emotions, and many more, as I make my way through the pages of a book. As I mentioned before, I have read a great number of true stories—both war and other happenings—and in the case of this book, I read for the first time ever about finding joy in such a desolate place as a concentration camp. And, this is simply because of God. I can’t begin to tell you what a different light that puts your perspective in.
If you haven’t read this book yet, I urge you to pick it up and read it as soon as you can. I found the 35th anniversary edition at our Ollie’s for only $3.99. (Such a great investment!) The book shares the story of how Corrie and her family helped Jews escape from the Nazis. I don’t want to give anything away, but I will tell you that Corrie and her sister, Betsie, end up at Ravensbruck. They manage to bring a Bible in with them and they share it with other prisoners and have group meetings where they share God’s message of love and they all pray together.
Betsie is such an amazing and gentle person with such a heart for God. To read about her thoughts that she shared with Corrie, and her words and actions—well, suffice it say that she is my new role model. Betsie was thankful to God for the fleas in their sleeping area and often prayed for the souls of the very Nazis that were holding them captive. Talk about giving thanks in all circumstances and praying without ceasing! I want to be exactly like her.
Their father, Casper, was also a spiritual giant who not only read their Bible to his family and the workers in his watch shop every day, but who offered help in any way possible to anyone who needed it, despite their background or social, political, or religious views. In the book, after he and the rest of his family are taken into custody, he tells the Gestapo, “If I go home today, tomorrow I will open my door to anyone who knocks for help.” He then goes on to say, “It would be an honor to give my life for God’s chosen people.” What a godly and upright man! It is no wonder that the whole ten Boom family turned out to be the fine people they were.
And, of course, there is Corrie herself. After her life in Ravensbruck, she made it her life’s mission to share the story of God’s love and share her own story and that of her family with as many people as she possibly could. She knew the importance of all of it and in 1946 she started a worldwide ministry that took her to more than 60 countries before she finally gave it up.
The building that the ten Boom’s lived in and that housed their family’s clock and watch shop is now a museum called the Corrie Ten Boom House. If I am ever blessed enough to go on a trip to Holland, I will be visiting. You can learn more about the museum here.
To learn more about the Holocaust, you should check out the fold3 website’s Holocaust Collection. There you can find personal stories from more than 600 individual victims and survivors, as well as information on the concentration camps, looted valuables, and national archives records.
If you have never read The Hiding Place, I think you can learn a great deal from it. There is a great quote from Oscar Wilde that says, “It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.” I think Oscar was onto something! While reading about the dark parts of our history can be tough, seeing how God worked through the ten Boom family during World War II will truly lift your spirits. It also proves that no matter what you may be going through, God is right there with you. One of Corrie’s most famous quotes goes, “There is no pit so deep, that God’s love is not deeper still.”
I am so glad you are here! I am Erica Strickland, a girl who loves God. My goal here is to simply share His love and light.