Monday, April 30, 2012

Red Words: Be Light and Salt

I'm continuing with the Red Words in the Bible. These are Jesus Commands. It helps me to study these and keep them in mind. If you have time, the commands today are elaborated on by Jesus and reading them in context will broaden your understanding.


Matt. 5:16 Let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

Luke 11:35 See to it that the light within you is not darkness.

Mark 9:50 Have salt in yourselves and be at peace with each other.

John 12:35 Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you.

John 12:36 Put your trust in light while you have it, so that you may become sons of light.

Dear Father, I want to let the light of your Word and the light of your Holy Spirit - within me shine. Keep me learning to do this. I know sometimes I hold back out of fear, shyness, passivity or laziness. Teach me how to let it shine so it will draw others to you. You are revealing residues of darkness in me and helping rid me of these.  I also want to be salty - add your flavor to my conversations and my relationships. Help me break old habits and any resistances that keep me bland or that hide your light.  Fill me with your light each day.  I thank you for the knowledge that you are the Light of the world. 

Blessings, Dottie

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Healing Power of Laughter

One key in times of crisis is the healing power of laughter. Life is serious but it needn't be solemn. Humans are the only creatures who can laugh at themselves. We have the ability to stand outside of our selves and see humor in the midst of pain. Laughter helps us bear our pain and our problems. We don't laugh because we're happy. We're happy because we laugh. Laughter eases stress and enables us to keep things in perspective. When we laugh we release emotions just as we do when we cry. Laughter is cathartic. Laughter heals.

Laughing benefits our cardiovascular system by increasing the oxygen in our blood stream. Laughter exercises our lungs and the muscles used in breathing. It stimulates our organs. Studies at Stanford University show that laughter causes an increase in dopamine, an important brain chemical. Dr. Paul Pearsall in his book Super Immunity cites evidence that laughter enhances our immune system.

Research on infants showed that babies smile when one month old.  At 9 weeks they begin to chuckle.  From 4-6 months of age they learn to giggle.  At 10 months they laugh at visual things which are funny.  At 12 months of age babies can initiate fun games such as peek-a-boo. Research has also shown that the average 4 year old laughs every four minutes during his waking day!  Unfortunately, in the process of growing up and becoming "civilized" we lose our ability to laugh.  We forget how to play.

When we laugh and play we have more energy, are more creative and more flexible. Our problems seem less overwhelming. In our culture play has been thought of as frivolous or a waste of time. But play renews us, preparing us for work. Years ago, Norman Cousins, former editor of the Saturday Review of Literature, used laughter to overcome pain. When he was ill with a disease of the connective tissues he discovered that watching old Marx Brothers movies and reruns of Candid Camera TV shows allowed him to be pain free for several hours afterwards.

If you don’t laugh very often, study someone who does and imitate that person. Learn to find humor in the events of each day and use humor to lighten your relationships others. Notice what makes you laugh. Perhaps you have a favorite comic strip. Clip it out and post it to prolong your laughter. Also look for books, TV programs or movies that make you laugh.

Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10

Blessings, Dottie

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Red Words in the Bible

About a week ago I wrote about immersing myself in “the red words” in the Bible. I compiled all the commands of Jesus in the four gospels combining those that repeat. This alone stunned me.  For instance, how often He said “Listen.”  Do we listen?  We don’t listen very well or very much.  Knowing how important this is helps me listen much more. 

Listing the commands of Jesus helped me know more clearly what’s important and kept my focus more on Him and His word. It’s awesome to think of the fact that these “red words” are the very words of Jesus, our Lord and Savior. And He said them not just to his followers then but to all of us who now follow Him.

Last week I wrote about His first command and my journal comments about it - "Repent".

The second command of Jesus is "COME, FOLLOW ME."
Matt. 4:19       Come, follow me and I will make you fishers of men.
Mark 1:17       Come, follow me and I will make you fishers of men.
Mark 2:14       Follow me. 
Luke 5:27       Follow me.
John  1:4        Follow me.
John  12:35    Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, my servant also will be.
Matt. 8:22       Follow me and let the dead bury their own dead.
Matt. 19:21b  Then come, follow me.
Mark 10:21b  Then come, follow me.
John 21:19b   Follow me!
John 21:22b   You must follow me.

Dear Father, I do come and I do follow you though my progress is slow and erratic and often I fail to follow.  Part of me would rather “do it my way.”  I forget to ask you for direction, I forget to look and see where you are leading, I forget to listen.  Help me turn to you in all things and follow you. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

How important is touch?

Touch is one of our five senses and a vitally important one. It is an excellent means of communication. Most of us, at times, avoid affectionate touch yet most of us have a hunger for it. We begin our lives being held and touched by those who care for us. Contact with another's skin provides warmth and heat as well as touch and it makes us feel loved. The skin absorbs the infrared rays of the other person during touch. This is essential to our health.
Babies in orphanages during World War II were fed and diapered but not held. They died from the lack of touch even though all other needs were provided. As parents we often kiss our child's injury to make it well. This is a tradition that confirms the healing power of touch. There is evidence that married men live longer than single men. I suspect this is due to the fact they receive more affectionate touch.
There are many ways to make contact with another person. Though touching is more primary, we also make contact with our eyes and with our words. Here are some things you can do to make contact with your partner: 
      1.  Ask your partner to hug you when you feel the need for this. Don't expect him or her to make the first move or to know when you want this. Also, give affectionate pats, hugs and kisses. 
      2.  Give "verbal hugs" to your partner by saying "I love you" and by commenting on positive feelings you have about him or her.
      3.  Be sure that you have eye contact with your partner whenever you are talking.   
      4.  Be persistent. Nine year old boys and older often pull away from physical touch because of their mistaken belief that boys aren't supposed to need or want that. Husbands often have a nine year old still inside. Be persistent about touch and your husband may accept more affection. You can touch a shoulder or a hand affectionately. You can give pats on the back. And you can offer a massage at bed time.
We close ourselves off to those we love when we are angry or resentful, when we fear being hurt or simply because the old pattern we learned as children is so strong. When touching is difficult for a couple, counseling may be necessary to heal the anger and hurt and to learn how to become more intimately involved with each other.

“I belong to my lover and his desire is for me.” Song of Songs

Blessings, Dottie

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Resurrection Doubt? No, He's Alive!

Historic Holy Markers of the Faith
From Ash Wednesday to Easter is 40 days. From Easter to the Ascension is also 40 days. Add on ten more days and the church is born at Pentecost. These historic and holy markers of the Christian faith span all churches. My plan is to comment on some of the post resurrection appearances of Jesus today and on the Ascension of Christ and the birth of the church at Pentecost in the weeks ahead. This is where Changing Churches originated.
Christ the Lord has risen! He's alive! Do we believe this? The disciples spent three years with Jesus, living and learning from Him. They saw the healings and miracles and knew He was the Messiah. But they didn't expect Him to die. They witnessed His arrest, trial, and crucifixion, though some ran away and hid. Some helped bury Him. Then they hid together and grieved.
Three days later they saw Him! Can you grasp the surprise, amazement, and yet belief in their voices?
Mary said, "I have seen the Lord! (John 20:18) She knew it was Him!   
The two men on the road to Emmaus did not recognize Him until He broke the bread and revealed Himself to them. They said, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?" (Luke 24:32) Their hearts burned within them even before they recognized Him. Does your heart burn within you in His presence?
Thomas wouldn't believe the reports of the other disciples until he saw Jesus a week later. Then he said, "My Lord and my God!" (John 20:28) I imagine he said this with a hushed and humble voice. He may have even bowed before him. Wouldn't you? Do you now?
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most essential doctrine of the church. Any who don't believe this truth are denying Jesus, Christianity and Scripture.   
He said He was the Son of God. (Luke 22:70) He said He would rise from the dead. (Luke 18:33) And He did. He said He would return and He will. (Matthew 24:30) What a marvelous faith we have.
Blessings, Dottie

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

How Do You Read the Bible?

I’ve read the Bible in many different ways over the years as well as in many group Bible studies. One of the most helpful and challenging ways I have read the Bible involved a study of the commands of Jesus.  A speaker at a conference in July 2004 prompted this.  A remarkable, Spirit filled Christian, she said “I was on the remedial path (in the Christian life) until I studied the commands of Jesus.”

I decided to try it.

I immersed myself in “the red words” in the Bible.  I compiled all the commands of Jesus in the four gospels combining those that repeat. This alone stunned me.  For instance, how often He said “Listen?”  Do we listen?  We don’t listen very well or very much.  Knowing how important this is helps me listen much more. 

Listing his commands helped me know more clearly what’s important and keeps my focus more on Him and His word.  It’s awesome to think of the fact that these “red words” are the very words of Jesus, our Lord and Savior.  And He said them not just to his followers then but to all of us who now follow Him.

Here’s his first command and my journal comments about it.

Matt 4:17     Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.
Mark 1:15    The time has come, the kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news.
Luke 13:3     Unless you repent you too will all perish.
Luke 13:5     Unless you repent you too will perish.

I turned away from you after knowing you well in my youth. I wandered far from you and from your church. You accepted me back even before I repented but led me on a path of repentance following that. Working The Twelve Steps for Christians in 1992 was quite a revelation to me, especially the searching and fearless moral inventory. As you know I then repented big time - writing thirty letters to those I had harmed including one to you and one to your church. This was a scary step but very helpful and your acceptance and forgiveness and that of the church opened my heart to you more and lifted a load from my heart.

This spring I journaled Psalm 51 in which David is repenting all his sins and this brought me to repentance on some issues that I had not been conscious of before. Your love was there forgiving me. 

The “little sins” are the ones I “forget” to repent about now. Help me be aware of times when I’m irritable, critical, picky, self-focused or unloving in any way and help me turn around and go the way of your love.  Change my heart, O Lord.

Friday, April 13, 2012

How can we make our marriage safe?

A loving relationship needs to feel safe in order for the individuals within it to grow and flourish and in order for the relationship to grow and flourish. When criticism, anger, and blame creep into our relationships we no longer feel loved, nor do we feel safe. Imagine a safe place for you. When do you feel safe? Where and when do you feel comfortable and secure? Where are you?  Notice what you see, smell, taste, hear and touch when feeling safe? What emotions are you feeling?  Notice who else is there with you? You may feel close to God, to other people, to a pet. You may remember special past experiences of safety. Get a clear picture of your safe place. 
This is the kind of comfortable place you need to create within yourself and in your relationship with your husband. Most of us feel safe when we are loved, accepted and protected. Most of us also have times when we feel very unsafe; times when we feel very threatened. This is because we all have unmet needs, unresolved hurts and pains from our childhood and we’re vulnerable human beings.
The next time your partner blames or criticizes you stop and picture your safe place and try to stay within it. When both partners express their anger, hurt or pain at the same time it is non-productive and often makes things worse. When one partner is angry, upset or in pain, the other one needs to act as the helper or healer or nurturer - not jump into their own anger or pain. This is a very difficult task and most of us fail at it at times.
Keep focused in your mind on your goal of having your relationship feel safe and comfortable and loving for you both. Also hold onto the memory of your own safe place. It will not be easy to remain centered in your own safe place while your partner is “attacking” you. This is love in action and it can revolutionize your relationship. 
The first thing you need to do while remaining in your safe place in your mind is to listen to what your partner is saying and be ready to mirror this back to him or her. Just listen and hear. Next summarize back what your partner has said. This will help your mate feel you have heard his or her viewpoint. It doesn’t mean you agree with what was said. Simply say, “You said....”  Then ask, “Have I got it right?” and “Is there more about that?”
The next step is to see the incident from your partner’s point of view. You might say, “I can see that from your point of view...”
Next listen for your partner’s feelings about the subject and empathize with these feelings. “You feel (hurt, angry, sad, disappointed, etc.)...” Learning to do this will take practice and determination.  A change in one person often leads to a change in the partner.   

When you’re kind to others you help yourself; when you’re cruel to others, you hurt yourself.”  Proverbs 11:17 The Message

Blessings, Dottie

Friday, April 6, 2012

Gethsemane, Arrest and Trial, Crucifixion and Burial

Today I’m listing the Holy Week Scripture from Thursday night to Friday. Ponder the meaning of these events. Jesus, the son of God died for us.

Gethsemane – In the garden of Gethsemane Jesus sweat blood and tears. Matt. 26:36-46, Mark 14:32-42, Luke 22:40-46 He prayed “Let this cup pass from me, nevertheless, not my will but yours be done.”

Arrest and Trial – Matthew 26:47-27:26, Mark 14:43-15:15, Luke 22:47-23:25, John 18:2-19:16. Pilate said, “I find no basis for a charge against this man.” Luke 23:4

Crucifixion – Matt. 27:27-56, Mark 15:16-41, Luke 23:26-49, John 19:17-37.
Jesus prayed, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34

Burial – Matt. 27:57-66, Mark 15:42-47, Luke 23:50-56, John 19:38-42
Joseph of Arimathea went to Pilate and asked for Jesus body. “Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock.” Luke 23:53

In Christ, Dottie

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Holy Week Thoughts

Most churches will have special services this week to recount the events of the first Holy week, to commemorate the Last Supper, to honor our Lord’s agony in Gethsemane, His betrayal and arrest and His suffering and death on the Cross to redeem us.

Let the meaning of this week sink in to your soul in a deeper way than ever before. Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you the amazing significance of this event in history. Wrap your mind and heart around the fact that Jesus lived a sinless life, taught profound lessons in love, showed us God’s character, and voluntarily died to save you and me. We can’t stand in God’s presence in eternity without Christ’s blood covering our sins.

Here’s what scripture says about the effect of Jesus sacrificial death for those who are alive in Christ:

“God has forgiven you all your sins: Christ utterly wiped out the damning evidence of broken laws and commandments which always hung over our heads, and has completely annulled it by nailing it over His own head on the Cross. And then, having disarmed all the powers ranged against us, He exposed them – shattered, empty, and defeated—in His final glorious triumphant act!” Col. 2:13b-15

            On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
            the emblem of suffering and shame,
            and I love the old cross where the dearest and best
            for a world of lost sinners was slain.
            So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
            till my trophies at last I lay down;
            I will cling to the old rugged cross
            and exchange it some day for a crown.”

In Christ,


Monday, April 2, 2012

The Events of Holy Week

We will be blessed this holy week if we read, study, meditate and pray on the events of this week as recorded in Scripture. Today I’m listing Monday through Thursday. Meditate on His life as you read through these events.

Sunday: Jesus “Triumphal Entry” into Jerusalem occurred on Sunday with Jesus riding on a donkey fulfilling Zechariah 9:9’s prophesy, “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See your king comes to you, righteous and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” See Matt 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:29-44, John 12:12-19.

Monday: Jesus is anointed (for burial) at Bethany (John 12:1-9) and he clears the temple of the money changers. Matthew 21:12-13, Mark 11:15-18, Luke 19:45-48

Tuesday: His authority is questioned. Matt. 21:23-27, Mark 11:27-33, Luke 20:1-8. And Jesus teaches in the temple. Matt. 21:28-23:39, Mark 12:1-44, Luke 20:9-21:4.

Wednesday: Judas plots against Jesus. Matt. 26:14-16, Mark 14:10-11, Luke 22:3-6

Thursday: Jesus and His disciples eat the Passover meal, the Last Supper, the first Communion. Matt. 26:17-29, Mark 14:12-25, Luke 22:7-38, John 13:1-38. Jesus says to his disciples “This is my body, broken for you, do this in remembrance of me.” In John 14:1-16:33, He comforts the disciples, and in John 17:1-26 He gives His high priestly prayer, praying for them and for us – for our unity in Him.

This is a holy week with much to ponder about Jesus, our Lord and Savior.

Blessings, Dottie