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Doing Good Can Be Hazardous to Your Health

It is a difficult day to be a good person. Good people are targeted for scams and shootings. Good people are taken advantage of. We wonder, what good is it to be good?

Life in a fallen world brings suffering. There is the suffering that is common to all people—disease, death, sorrow, distress, weariness, to name a few. There are also times when we suffer for our faith. This suffering or persecution can be overt, like the Romans throwing Christians to the lions or a church being burned, or subtle like being passed over for promotion because of your Christian characters and witness.

As a Christ follower, how are we to respond to suffering? In 1 Peter 3:13-17, the apostle Peter explains that when Christ is Lord of our lives, we can face suffering with confidence, knowing that every crisis is an opportunity to witness.

When you suffer for doing right (13-14a, 17). Generally speaking, when we do right, we are rewarded. When we do wrong, we are punished. However, we live in a fallen world where Christians are persecuted for doing right. If we have a choice, it is much better to suffer for doing right than for doing evil, because those who suffer for doing right are highly favored by God. Those who suffer receive God’s blessings.

Face it with confidence (14). Because the natural temptation is to bail out and run away from suffering or persecution, Peter quotes from Isaiah 8:12-13. The historical context is that the Assyrian army is invading Israel and Ahaz, the king of Judah, is tempted to form a political alliance with the kings of Israel and Syria. Isaiah warns the king to fear God, not the enemy. Peter uses the quote to encourage his readers not to be intimidated or afraid. Because we know that persecution brings blessing, we have no reason to be afraid.

Live under Christ’s authority (15a). When we fear, we allow our enemies to take control. Instead, we are to honor Christ as Lord. Since the heart is the sanctuary where Christ prefers to be worshipped, we are to place all the areas of our lives under his authority. We are to fear displeasing Christ rather than fear what people can do to us.

Share your testimony convincingly, yet graciously (15b-16). If you want to enjoy corn on the cob in the summer, you have to plant the seeds in the spring. If you want to share your faith tomorrow, you need to be preparing your testimony today. We should have a ready answer whenever anyone asks us what we believe and/or why we believe it. We need to keep in mind, however, that we are witnesses, not prosecutors. The goal is not to win an argument. The goal is to win lost people to Christ. Thus, we need to witness with grace.

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on July 8, 2018. It is part of a series of messages on 1 Peter. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.

 

Helpful information on the challenges of aging

Book Review: The Aging Brain: Proven Steps to Prevent Dementia and Sharpen Your Mind, by Timothy R. Jennings, MD

Growing older is inevitable. Being 63 years old and recovering from a broken hip/leg, I’m well acquainted with that fact. I’m not recovering as quickly as I did in my 20’s. While I can deal with the physical challenges, I’m more concerned about the mental troubles that are associated with aging. Can I avoid dementia which my step-father wrestled with in his later years?

Dr. Timothy Jennings believes that the answer to that question is “Yes.” It is possible to maintain a sharp mind, vitality, and independence as we age. In his latest book, The Aging Brain: Proven Steps to Prevent Dementia and Sharpen Your Mind, he shares ideas that can be implemented each day to avoid disease, promote vitality, and prevent dementia and late-onset Alzheimer’s.

The first half of the book is more technical and includes up-to-date scientific research on aging. The second half of the book is more practical and includes easy to implement ideas and actions. In Part 1, the author discusses the problems of aging, how healthy brains are developed in the womb and our early years, the impact of our ancestors, and what role our genes play in the equation. In Part 2, the author explores elements that contribute to an unhealthy lifestyle and brain health including obesity, sugar, oxidation, tobacco, and substance abuse. In Part 3, the author discusses the activities that contribute to a healthier lifestyle and brain health including exercise, sleep, rest and vacations, beliefs about God, mental stress, and love. In Part 4, the author discusses Alzheimer’s, the role of vitamins and supplements, and how to reduce other risk factors. He also includes a chapter on how to care for a loved one with dementia.

Each chapter contains “Learning Points” which summarize the chapter into bullet points. There is also a section called “Action Plan” which gives simple, practical ways to implement the concepts.

The book is helpful and informative, but you have to be willing to wade through the medical jargon to understand and benefit from the ideas.

Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers www.bakerbooks.com/bakerbooksbloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

 
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Posted by on July 7, 2018 in Aging, Books

 

Of a certain age

True, True. With my leg, getting down is not a problem, but getting back up is a challenge.

 
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Posted by on July 6, 2018 in Aging, Zits

 

Confusing mix of history and magic

Book Review: Fawkes: A Novel, by Nadine Brandes

Fawkes: A Novel, is a confusing mix of history and magic. It is a piece of historical fiction based on the Gunpowder Plot involving Guy Fawkes and the failed attempt to assassinate King James of England in 1605.

The main character is the drama is Thomas Fawkes, the son of Guy Fawkes. However, Thomas is turning to stone. The only way to be cured of the Stone Plague is to join his father and the conspirators who are plotting to assassinate the king.

While the author uses many of the actual characters involved in the Gunpowder Plot, she transformed the other details into fanciful ideas. Instead of Catholics plotting to assassinate a Protestant King, it is Keepers versus Igniters, both of which wear masks which focus their magical color powers. Instead of the Black Plague ravaging Europe, it is the Stone Plague, which following its name, turns people into stone.

Part of the book, the magical use of color powers, reminded me of Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series of books. While creative, the book didn’t feel that original. Rather than draw me in and carry me along, this was a book I had to push myself to keep reading.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

 
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Posted by on July 6, 2018 in Books

 

Answered prayer

I am now eight months into my recovery from a broken hip/leg. I had another ultrasound on my right leg this morning and then met with the vascular surgeon. He confirmed that the blood clots are gone. Praise God for answered prayer. The only think remaining is to continue strengthening the leg. Thanks for praying.

 
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Posted by on July 5, 2018 in Health, Prayer

 

Honest questions about our struggle to trust God

Book Review: When God’s Ways Make No Sense, by Dr. Larry Crabb

How often do we soften Scripture to make it more pleasing? Are we more interested in a comfortable life than a Christian life? Have we not heard the call to radical discipleship? Have we reduced it to an easier call to follow?

These are among the many questions Dr. Larry Crabb wrestles with in his latest book, When God’s Ways Make No Sense. Using the stories of Jonah, Saul (before he became Paul), and Habakkuk, Dr. Crabb explains that we typically resort to one of three options when life is hard and we don’t receive the answers we want from God.

When God’s thoughts and ways make no sense to us, we Christians are confronted with three options.

  1. Resist and Run. Determine to follow God when we like the direction He leads. But when we don’t, when His thoughts and ways seem to be taking us away from the life we want for ourselves, then we feel justified in resisting His input and running off to do whatever better fits our ideas of a good way to live. Like Jonah. This option is illustrated in the life of a prophet who was enraged at God’s plan.
  2. Distort and Deny. Arrange our understanding both of how God thinks about our lives and of how He lovingly moves into them so that it matches our perception of how a loving God should think and move. Deny Scripture that contradicts what we want to believe about God. Revise our theology of God’s good news into principles for living that make obedience to God comfortable—comfortable obedience that we assume will bring satisfying blessings into our lives. Like Saul. Before he became Paul, he distorted the Old Testament’s message into what he wanted it to say and denied the value of passages that contradicted his distortion.
  3. Tremble and Trust. Sit under the Bible. Hear whatever God is saying. When we realize that God’s way of running the world and guiding our lives makes no sense, tremble. Tremble before a God whose thoughts and ways are far above our thoughts and ways about what the truly good life is and how to live it. Feel our confusion. Own our doubts. Embrace our fears. Face our disappointment. Experience our anguish.

Then trust. Trust the Judge of the earth to do right, to always advance purpose we will one day gladly agree were good. Accept that no one can fully unravel the mystery of prayer. Choose to live by faith in God’s goodness, to deny authority to what our dim eyes can see. With the eyes of faith, gaze on the unfolding story of God that with the eyes of sight we may not recognize as a story of love. Humble ourselves. Confess our pride. We think we know more than we do.

Tremble before the incomprehensible God and trust that He is good. Trust that His love is committed to our growing awareness of the deepest and happiest well-being that’s available to us now, that His love will lead us into an eternity where we will know every delight we were created to enjoy. Gaze on the cross. Remember Christ’s death. Nowhere is the love of the incomprehensible God more fully and clearly displayed.

But always remember: tastes now, the full banquet later. Tremble before what our eyes can see and our hearts can feel. Trust in what our faith can believe, that the longed-for satisfaction of our deepest thirst lies ahead. Like Habakkuk. Habakkuk’s story illustrates what it looks like to respond well when God’s ways make no sense.

Part 1 of the book lays out the stories of Jonah, Saul, and Habakkuk. Part 2 explores the concept of trembling and how it is the gateway to trust. Part 3 explains the necessity of trusting in God’s unthwarted sovereignty. Part 4 offers three parables of what a modern-day Jonah, Saul, and Habakkuk look like now.

The book is thoroughly biblical, challenging, and thought provoking. You may not agree with everything the author says or his concept of God’s sovereignty, but the book will cause you to reexamine your view of God. Well worth the read.

Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers www.bakerbooks.com/bakerbooksbloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

 
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Posted by on July 5, 2018 in Books, Quotes, Scripture, Theology

 

Long May It Wave!

Happy Birthday, America!

 
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Posted by on July 4, 2018 in Holidays