Tag Archives: salvation

A Book Review: Eternity Now: The New Testament Series

Eternity Now: The New Testament Series. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2022.

In August 2022, I received a complimentary copy of Eternity Now: The New Testament Series from Thomas Nelson publishers because I am a Bible Gateway Blogger Grid member who promised to read the books and publish an honest review of the series. My analysis is below.

The Series

This series consists of five books titled with a content description.

Volume 1: The Legacy—Matthew, Hebrews, James, Jude

Volume 2: No Going Back—Mark, 1-2 Peter

Volume 3: Grand Tour—Books of Luke: Luke, Acts

Volume 4: Death to Life—Books of Paul: Romans, 1-2 Corinthians, Galatians,

Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1-2 Thessalonians, 1-2 Timothy,

Titus, Philemon.

Volume 5: Now But Not Yet—Books of John: John, 1-3 John, Revelation

*************************

Content

The books are formatted presentations of the New Testament using the New English Translation. The editors describe the series as books that reveal “the history shaping story of how Jesus Christ changed the world and what that means to you. The reader-friendly format presents the New Testament books across five paperback volumes, making it easy to carry anywhere and read anytime.”

Design Décor Description

The books arrived in a beautiful display box—so attractive that one would be proud to place the boxed set on any bookshelf as a lovely décor addition. All five books have coordinated covers using blue, orange, black, and two shades of green. When put together, the spines of the books create an attractive design when placed in the series box. Each cover describes the book as coming “From the #1 Bestselling Book of All Times” (a.k.a. The Bible) along with a title, subtitle, quotation, and an acknowledgment that what is inside comes from the New English Translation Bible (NET). When I first received the books, I had no idea the publishers were using a unique concept in designing them to make them look like small fiction or non-fiction books—great to fit into one’s purse or briefcase.

The Positives

  1. The books are easy to pick up and browse through, easy enough for any late elementary or junior high student to read.
  2. The “ministry-first” concept is impressive, meaning there are no restrictions regarding quoting or sharing any of the Scriptures when using them in books, magazines, newspaper articles, and more. One does not have to gain permission to use as much of the translation as desired.
  3. Its simple format is excellent for seniors who might have problems holding a large, heavy Bible.
  4. I enjoyed how the layout shows the chapter headings and accurate subtopics.
  5. Another positive is that the books bold all prophecies from the Old Testament.
  6. This innovative approach to Bible reading seems accurate compared to my usually read Bible—the New American Standard Bible.

The Drawbacks

The drawbacks listed below are all due to “my personal preferences,” which may or may not affect other readers.

  1. All five books lack verse numbers while representing their story format. I understand that by not including verse numbers, one will experience more ease in reading. However for me, many times, as I was reading, I wanted to look up the Bible verse but could not find “the address” to do so.
  2. The books did not create that sacred feeling of reading the Bible. While the editor’s intent is to read each book like a novel, reading them as a novel was bothersome.
  3. Words referring to Jesus were in lowercase letters. My preference would have been to use the names of Jesus as He, Him, and Himself. Other words like scripture are also noted in lowercase.
  4. I missed the red lettering of Jesus’ words prevalent in many Bible versions.

Book’s Purpose

The book’s primary purpose is obvious. It is to get the Bible into the hands of those who might never pick up a Bible themselves, making this set a lovely gift for any occasion for boys, girls, men, and women. Not everyone will appreciate the novel format, but many will find it the most enjoyable way to read the Bible. Therefore I recommend this book series.

God Bless,

New English Translation Bible Verses:

Every scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness. 2 Timothy 3:16 NET

Jesus answered them, “You are deceived, because you don’t know the scriptures or the power of God. Matthew 22:29 NET

For these things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled, “Not a bone of his will be broken.” John 19:36 NET

Then he opened their minds so they could understand the scriptures. Luke 24:45 NET

Prayer:

Lord, give me wisdom as I approach my Bible reading. Lead me to Bible verses You want me to read and learn from. Allow me to obey all Your sacred principles, which You have made available through Your Holy Scriptures. You are a mighty God, and I love You. Amen

Books by Patti Greene

BIBLE WORD SEARCH PUZZLE SERIES

 

COVID-19: Are We There Yet? How Much Longer? [Part 3]

COVID-19: It’s Time to Take God’s Word to Heart [Part 1]

COVID-19: It’s Time to Take God’s Word and Prayer to Heart [Part 2]

Once upon a time, our family lived in St. Louis, Missouri. It was during that time when my husband and I first became acquainted with the phrase, “Are we there yet?” In the summer of 1994, while living in the Midwest, we vacationed in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan. On that vacation, that phrase “Are we there yet?” was a constant with our three children!

Of course, we were “car traveling” before there were iPads, iphones, or videos to keep the kids occupied. I was the mom who checked out baskets of library books for our trip instead! Nothing was more difficult than driving long distances with squirmy kids in the car yelling, “Are we there yet?” It was annoying. Very annoying!

That phrase, along with its partner phrase “How much longer?” is usually asked by ones wanting to know when we will reach a destination or an endpoint—like going from Point A to Point B and wanting to know how much longer until we are there or the “When will it end” mentality.

How Much Longer?

An adult may ask similar questions today—in our current COVID-19 epoch.

  • How much longer will the Coronavirus last?
  • How much longer will we have to social distance?
  • How much longer until I can get my hair dyed again?

“Longer” seemed to be the reoccurring word here, so I looked up a few Bible verses using the word “longer” or words related to “longerto get a Biblical glimpse of the “How much longer” or “Are we there yet” phrases. I am not a Bible scholar, so please use the comment section to correct me if my thoughts or translations are way off base. I speak as a layperson, but I did use Strong’s Concordance!

Bible Verses and Thoughts

And he [Moses] said unto them, I am a hundred and twenty years old this day; I can no more go out and come in: also, the Lord hath said unto me, thou shalt not go over this Jordan. My grace is enough for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Thought: We get weary and wonder how much longer we will go on living like this?

How many are the days of thy servant? when wilt thou execute judgment on them that persecute me? (Psalm 119:84)

Thought: How much longer will we have to serve the Lord? And, am I making the most of my time? Pastor Charles Stanley recently posted, “Jesus wasn’t crucified so we could sit in pews each Sunday and listen to sermons. He has specific tasks for each of us to achieve during our lifetime.” ¹

So that the Lord could no longer bear, because of the evil of your doings, and because of the abominations which ye have committed; therefore, is your land a desolation, and an astonishment, and a curse, without an inhabitant, as at this day. (Jeremiah 44:22)

Thought: God has thoughts about how much longer He will put up with evil.

Bible Verses and Translates

For thus saith the Lord GOD, how much more when I send my four sore judgments upon Jerusalem, the sword, and the famine, and the noisome beast, and the pestilence, to cut off from it man and beast? (Ezekiel 14:21)

Translates: God sometimes is tired of putting up with us.

And sware by him that liveth forever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer. Revelation 10:6

Translates: An end is coming.

These verses speak to me. They say, we are weary and are wondering how much longer we will have to put up with the repercussions of the Coronavirus. We question which Christian leaders we should believe in or listen to—not wanting to be swayed by false teachers or doctrines. We speculate whether COVID-19 is a foreshadowing of prophecy because the Lord is tired of our sinfulness. And lastly, we are reminded that there will be an end to our “shelter-in-place” period and are we prepared for it?

Face the “How Much Longer” Seasons of Life with God

One of the hardest things I go through in life has been the “How much longer” seasons:

  • God, how much longer until I will feel whole after my employment let me go?
  • Lord, when will my broken heart be healed?
  • Jesus, how much longer will I ruminate over an unrealistic possibility?

I tend to hang on to thoughts, desires, and concerns way longer than I should. Sometimes I know they are spiritual warfare attacks. Sometimes they occur from living in this secular world. Sometimes they are exacerbated on account of my personality—either the personality the Lord has given me OR maybe the personality traits He is trying to change in me.

As I have grown in my walk with the Lord, I have learned that all these worries need be laid at the feet of Jesus. He is the one that will give us peace and rescue our hearts from the terrible thoughts of “How much longer?”

Have you ever had thoughts so deep that you can’t share them with anyone else?

I have!

We hide them in ourselves. Often, we endure this emotional pain alone—not wanting anyone to think less of us. Sometimes, with me, it is because I don’t want to appear weak to my church family. Yes, I have said it. And, I know I am not alone in occasionally thinking this.

There are some thoughts that should NOT be shared! It is up to us to discern the difference. But remember, before talking to others, it is always best that Christ should be our first source in unburdening ourselves. He will show us if we need to share our concerns with others or not.

With the Coronavirus in full swing, you may be experiencing some of these deep thoughts or burdens right now!

  • How much longer will I be burdened with the kids out of school?
  • My husband is working from home. How much longer Lord?
  • Our family is struggling financially. How much more can I take?
  • How much longer will we be quarantined?

How to Function through the “Are We There Yet” Seasons of Life?

Strive for Contentment

We all desire contentment. As believers, we need to be content with what we have, and we learn contentment through our trials—whether it be a job loss or being thrust into “homeschooling” unwillingly. Erik Raymond in Chasing Contentment says, “Contentment is the inward, gracious quiet spirit that joyfully rests in God’s providence.” ² In Philippians 4:11, the Apostle Paul says, “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”

Respond Responsibly and Biblically

We must act responsibly and Biblically. When we abide in Jesus Christ and anticipate Heaven before the state of affairs on Earth, we are better able to honor our Lord and other people. When our lives are surrendered to Christ, learning to be joyful regardless of our situation is the result. I am not saying our situations always dissolve. They usually don’t, but we can enjoy the journey we are on until we take our trip to Heaven. This may include repentance and change on our part. When we pray and call out to our Heavenly Father to align our will with His will, Biblical responsibility may involve encountering what Matthew 7:3 says, “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” And, dealing with that takes effort!

Let God’s Word Speak Supernaturally

Did you know that we can’t depend on pastors, teachers, religious magazines, books, and online services to be the only source of our spiritual growth? We must continually read the Word of God. Furthermore, before you read, pray and ask God to speak to you through His Word. Look with anticipation for the Godhead–God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit–to enlighten you.

Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not. (Jeremiah 33:3)

Accept Christ

All the above is dependent on our relationship with Jesus Christ. If you don’t know Jesus as your Savior, you can commit your life to Him right now. You don’t just “say” any old prayer. Our prayer to the Lord should express our sinfulness while asking Jesus to forgive us for our wrongdoings, and place our trust in Him to come into our life as our Savior. Pastor Greg Laurie recently said in his Easter 2020 sermon that, “Some of you might need to change your eternal address from Hell to Heaven.” ³ We do that by accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior. (John 3:16)

Fast Forward to Our Current Situation with COVID-19

Just reading the news headlines is tiresome and tedious right now.

  • How much longer will we be inside—and then what happens?
  • How long will the Coronavirus Outbreak and Shutdown last?
  • Life-or-Death Hospital Decisions Come with Threat of Lawsuits
  • Let’s Have Christian Woodstock! US Pastor Says Despite Anti-Coronavirus Quarantine Orders
  • Personalities that thrive in isolation and what we can all learn from time alone
  • The Digital Divide

God is Sufficient

Dealing with “Are We There Yet?” and “How Much Longer?”, I have personally asked questions like . . .

  • When will [it] ever end?
  • How much longer do I have to endure this until Your answers are made clear?
  • When will You show me why? How about now?

Subsequently, I have learned that when I am weak, He is strong. Our questions may remain unanswered. Thus, we must learn to trust that there are mysteries and secrets God keeps to Himself forever or until the timing is right to share it with us.

By accepting His strength, His sufficiency, and His all-knowing qualities, we can get through these difficult times with graciousness and humility. Yes, we will fail, but we have a God who loves us and accepts our weaknesses. It is the LORD who helps and sustains us.

And he said unto me, My grace is enough for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Conclusion

In Deeper than Tears, Oswald Chambers’ short blurb is good for us to remember as we face this Coronavirus and other situations in our lives.

How many of us get into a panic when we are faced by physical desolation, by death, or war, injustice, poverty, disease? All these in all their force will never turn to panic the one who believes in the absolute sovereignty of his Lord. The thing that preserves a man from panic in his relationship to God: if he is only related to himself and his own courage, there may come a moment when his courage gives out. Don’t be disturbed today with thoughts about tomorrow: leave tomorrow alone, and bank in confidence on God’s organizing of what you do not see. ⁴

Bible Verses: Above

Prayer

My Heavenly Lord, as the world faces times of uncertainty and awe, let my feet remain staid on You! Let me trust You, follow You, and depend on You through this unusual season of life. Let me rest assured knowing that You knew this virus was coming and You know when it will end. Give me Your insights as I wait on You. It isn’t over yet. I don’t know when it will be over. But, thank you for peace as I await Your timing. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

God Bless.

greenenpastures.org

Central Houston Inspirational Writers Alive! Associate Member; BibleGateway Blogger, Member; SBC, Church Member

Edited by E. Johnson.

Works Cited

¹ Stanley, Charles. The Cross The Believer’s Motivation. In Touch Ministries with Charles Stanley.  11 April 2020. [Web]

² Raymond, Erik. Chasing Contentment: Trusting God in a Discontented Age. Wheaton: Crossway, 2017.

³ Laurie, Greg. Easter 2020. 12 April 2020, Greg Laurie Live: Harvest Church. Live Sermon.

⁴ Chambers, Oswald. Deeper Than Tears: Promises of Comfort and Hope. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2007. [Originally published in Run Today’s Run.]

Bible Verses from the King James Version.

Books by Patti Greene 

Christian Caregiving

Christian Caregiving: Practical Advice for a Happy Ending

Devotional Prayer Journals

Answer Me: Developing a Heart for Prayer

Anchor Me: Laying a Foundation in Bible Study and Prayer

Awaken Me: Growing Deeper in Bible Study and Prayer

It’s Mind-Blowing How Sewing and Salvation Merge!

It Blew Up

Living in Nigeria a few years ago, I blew up my sewing machine. (Don’t ask!) But I will say: it was my husband’s fault! He didn’t get me the right power converter; in fact, he didn’t buy me a converter at all.

In his defense, though, he did tell me not to use it until we got the correct piece of equipment!  But, I took a chance—I plugged in my sewing machine, turned it on, and after the big BANG, some nice fluffy white smoke shot out of the mechanism.

Now that I have vented, the result is that a new sewing machine was birthed out of the blow-up. My husband and I did not blow up at each other. He is sweet.

It’s Rudimentary, Right?

Moving on . . . Last night and today, I used my new machine for the very first time. It was awesome! Sort ofl

First, a good friend eventually had to come over and show me the ins and outs of this wondrous contraption. “Piece of cake,” I thought to myself when I first started using the machine on my own. And it was, until the stitching was pulling from the bobbin on the backside! At that point, the frantic call to my friend ensued. Thank goodness for friends who can help us when we encounter difficulties of any kind!

Second, I decided to get fancy and use one of those complicated computerized stitches. Yes, it looked amazing, but do you know how LONG it takes to sew a 60×126” tablecloth hem with one of those fancy stitches? Luckily, I was able to use that stitch on just one side and go back to the “fast stitch” on the other of the fabric.

But then I had noticed I had inadvertently sewn two seams in the opposite order from how they were supposed to be sewn.  Oh no! I had to get out that pesky stitch remover (ah, yes, they are called “seam rippers”), and what a hassle they are to use! It’s complicated!

Flawless or Not

When all was said and done, however, and my project was completed, I was happy with the result. True, the tablecloth didn’t fit the table it was made for quite like I would like it to, but I’m not perfect and my sewing lines veered over some.

My project definitely did NOT meet the consistent and FLAWLESS standard 5/8″ seam allowance I longed for. Again, sewing is complicated—at least for me!

Given the annoyance that this experience had turned into (one, by the way, which was supposed to be fun), I could not help but wonder whether the historical Biblical experience with sewing was anything like this…

I didn’t have to look very far to find out.

Disobedience

The only documented instances of sewing are in Genesis 3, the first book of the Bible. They occurred because our two heroes, Adam and Eve, did something questionable (read: “not very smart”), namely disobey God. One case explicitly involved sewing, the other strongly implied it.

The explicit case occurred right after Satan tricked them into eating from the tree God told them to avoid:

The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat;but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die. Genesis 3:2-3

We all know what happened next. Satan twisted God’s words; as a result, Eve, then Adam ate of the tree, and God gave the three of them a good chewing-out, complete with curses for all, to seal the deal.

Fig Leaves

So, where did the sewing come in? Read on:

Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings. Genesis 3:7

They sewed! Without a machine, no less! It couldn’t be any less frustrating than it was for me, even if they had to get out needle and thread to get the job done. Although… wouldn’t it be a hoot to imagine Eve, seated at a kitchen table in the Garden, hitting the foot pedal on her Singer Quantum Stylist to knit all that foliage into something wearable?

Hey: The Bible doesn’t say how she did it, or how long a “day” really was in Creation, or any of several other things, so it is possible after all! I’m just sayin’…

Guess I’ll ask God about it when I get to heaven.

Better yet, I could just ask Eve herself!

The second, and implied case arose, it should be noted, after the curses were cast upon the earth and things were no longer in their original intended perfect state. God replaced the fig-leaf clothing Eve made with something more substantial:

The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them. Genesis 3:21

OUCH!!! Of skin??? That means… something had to give up its skin (and, probably, its life!) to compensate for man’s folly. Possibly some of those animals Adam had spent his days naming.

Come to think of it, those fig leaves were just minding their own business, too, when they were yanked off the tree and woven into the forerunner of the Grass Skirt.

There seems to be a theme here: because man messed up, something innocent had to die.

Hmmm…

Because man messed up, something innocent had to die.

Hmmm!

BECAUSE MAN MESSED UP, SOMEONE INNOCENT HAD TO DIE.

HMMM! I seem to have heard that somewhere before…

Animal Sacrifice

Fast-forward to the New Testament, and the life (and death) of Jesus.

Throughout the remainder of the Old Testament, animals were slain repeatedly to atone for the people’s sins, in bloody and gory ceremonial rituals designed to temporarily satisfy God’s anger against them. It had to be done on an ongoing basis, because sin did not stop, either.

But it would take the sacrifice of the most innocent and undeserving (and ONLY sinless) man to ever live, dying the most horrific and unreasonable death ever recorded, to heal the rift once and for all, for everyone, everywhere, and forever.

All four Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – give us various glimpses into the Lord’s time on earth, beginning with His birth, all the way to (and beyond!) His being “pierced for our transgressions” in getting nailed to the cross.

Instead of needles, He bore a crown of thorns. What was being “patched together” was the relationship between God and man, which was torn asunder back in the Garden of Eden.

Even more ironic is that at the instant Jesus died, not only was this relationship “sewn up”, but in keeping with the Hebrew love affair with contrasts, it was the curtain in the Temple which was ripped apart:

And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split. Matthew 27:51

The tearing of the curtain around the Holy of Holies symbolizes that God has opened the way for everyone, Jew and Gentile, to come to Him; until then, only the Chief Priest could enter, and at that only once a year.

Wow… what a trip, from my living room to the cross at Calvary! I guess all roads do lead there!

I wondered how God felt sewing those clothes for Adam and Eve. At first, I am sure He felt extreme sadness that He was even sewing. They sinned and He was grieving. But He was taking them at their lowest point and helping them to move on.

That’s God for you!

Sin

How do we feel when we sin? Sometimes we have friends to help us out of our depression, uneasiness, or whatever we happen to be feeling momentarily. Sometimes, we remain in our sin for a long time – sort of like spending all that time on that fancy stitch which took forever for me to make. But we can get out of sin quickly; to do so, we must decide to do something else, or go a different direction.

What happens when we mess up and go in the opposite direction from the Lord? Just like when I sewed two seams together incorrectly, I had to decide to undo the error and change course. It wasn’t easy to put my ego in check and “just do it”, but the result was a peace and joy about my project.

Rescue and Care

In 1 Peter 5:6-7, the Bible says, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” God’s Holy Spirit is waiting to rescue and care for you today!

Do you feel you are going in the wrong direction as Adam and Eve did? Have you committed a grievous sin, as they did? God wants to help.

Just because your mother or grandmother was a good cook or a good seamstress does not mean that you will be one also. Do not think that just because your father or grandfather was a good man who served God regularly and spoke of the joy he will have in heaven that you will automatically go to heaven also.

You Must Decide

You must make those decisions for yourself.

The Bible says:

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23

But we can choose to ask God to forgive our sins, accept his offer to “sew” us up and make us whole.

Today, seek God for yourself and you will be “sew” happy you did! Let Him press out the wrinkles of your life and allow Him to make you the beautiful person that you were meant to be.

God Bless.

greenenpastures.org

Works Cited

All Bible verses come from the New American Standard Bible unless noted otherwise.

By Patti Greene [with contributions and edits by E. Johnson]

===============

Patti Greene is a fun-loving (but serious) coffee drinking wife, mom, and Grammi! She serves as a Bible teacher and Sunday School helper in her home church in Katy, Texas. She writes and speaks with the sole purpose of leading and maturing others in Jesus Christ and His everlasting love. To receive blogs from GreenePastures.org delivered straight to your email, please sign up from this blog or email her at Patti@GreenePastures.org with your email address, and you will be added to the email listing. You will need to confirm your decision to be added to the blog by email. You can also catch up with her on her Twitter feed at (@PattiGreene13) or her Facebook Patti Greene-Pastures page at (https://www.facebook.com/author.greene).

Books by Patti Greene [Order today for Christmas]

Christian Caregiving

Christian Caregiving: Practical Advice for a Happy Ending

Devotional Prayer Journals

Devotional Books by Patti Greene

Answer Me: Developing a Heart for Prayer

Anchor Me: Laying a Foundation in Bible Study and Prayer

Awaken Me: Growing Deeper in Bible Study and Prayer

@PattiGreene13 #PattiGreene13 #bgbg2

Literally, 27 Bible Verses to Ponder Throughout Christmastime

The Christmas Story: Luke 2:1-19 (KJV)

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and PONDERED them in her heart.

Mary, Jesus’ Mother Pondered: So Should We!

When I finished reading the Christmas story above, the word pondered resided in my heart as I was deciding what the Lord wanted me to share in this blog.

After pondering, I opted to share a daily verse—one from each of the 27 books of the New Testament—to meditate on over through the Christmas season.

Every book of the Bible contains some key or famous verses to mull over and below are 27 well-known Bible verses for you to ponder from December 1st through the 27th.

Ponder means to think about, give thought to, consider, review, reflect on, contemplate, study, meditate on, and to turn over in one’s mind.¹

My prayer is that you will reflect on these verses each day from December 1 – December 27th as you approach and prepare for the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.

Bible Verses

December 1

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28 (NASB)

December 2

For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many. Mark 10:45 (NLT)

December 3

Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots. Luke 23:34 (KJV)

December 4

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6 (NRSV)

December 5

Jesus said to him, “I am the [only] Way [to God] and the [real] Truth and the [real] Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. Acts 1:8 (AMP)

December 6

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23 (NASB)

December 7

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 (NLT)

December 8

But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. 2 Corinthians 9:6 (KJV)

December 9

By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness,  gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. Galatians 5:22-23 (NRSV)

December 10

 For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us]. Ephesians 2:10 (AMP)

December 11

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:6 (NASB)

December 12

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Colossians 3:12 (NLT)

December 13

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (KJV)

December 14

For this purpose he called you through our proclamation of the good news, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Thessalonians 2:14 (NRSV)

December 15

For the love of money [that is, the greedy desire for it and the willingness to gain it unethically] is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves [through and through] with many sorrows. 1 Timothy 6:10 (AMP)

December 16

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15 (NASB)

December 17

For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds. Titus 2:11-14 (NLT)

December 18

That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus. Philemon 1:6 (KJV)

December 19

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely,and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2 (NRSV)

December 20

If any of you lacks wisdom [to guide him through a decision or circumstance], he is to ask of [our benevolent] God, who gives to everyone generously and without rebuke or blame, and it will be given to him. James 1:5 (AMP)

December 21

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8 (NASB)

December 22

The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. 2 Peter 3:9 (NLT)

December 23

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. 1 John 4:7 (KJV)

December 24—Happy Christmas Eve

And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment just as you have heard it from the beginning—you must walk in it. 2 John 1:6 (NRSV)

December 25—Merry Christmas

 Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but [imitate] what is good. The one who practices good [exhibiting godly character, moral courage and personal integrity] is of God; the one who practices [or permits or tolerates] evil has not seen God [he has no personal experience with Him and does not know Him at all]. 3 John 1:11 (AMP)

December 26

For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand [a]marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. Jude 1:4 (NASB)

December 27

Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. Revelation 3:20 (NLT)

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

God Bless.

greenenpastures.org

Works Cited

Ponder. Oxford Dictionaries Thesaurus. Accessed 30 Nov 2019. oxforddictionaries.com.

Bible Abbreviations:

NASB—New American Standard Bible; NLT—New Living Translation; KJV—King James Version; NRSV—New Revised Standard Version; AMP—Amplified Bible

===============

Patti Greene is a fun-loving (but serious) coffee drinking wife, mom, and Grammi! She serves as a Bible teacher and Sunday School helper in her home church where her husband also teaches in Katy, Texas. She writes and speaks with the sole purpose of leading and maturing others in Jesus Christ and His everlasting love. To receive blogs from GreenePastures.org delivered straight to your email, please email her at Patti@GreenePastures.org with your email address, and you will be added to the email listing. You will need to confirm your decision to be added to the blog by email. You can also catch up with her on her Twitter feed at (@PattiGreene13) or her Facebook Patti Greene-Pastures page at (https://www.facebook.com/author.greene).

Books by Patti Greene [Order today for Christmas]

Christian Caregiving

Christian Caregiving: Practical Advice for a Happy Ending

Devotional Prayer Journals

Devotional Books by Patti Greene

Answer Me: Developing a Heart for Prayer

Anchor Me: Laying a Foundation in Bible Study and Prayer

Awaken Me: Growing Deeper in Bible Study and Prayer

@PattiGreene13 #PattiGreene13 #bgbg2

I am not a None—One of the Religious Unaffiliated

I am NOT a none. I have never desired to be a none! And with God’s grace, I will never become a none. So, what is a none? Merriam-Webster dictionary defines nones as “the ninth day before the ides according to ancient Roman reckoning” or “the fifth of the canonical hours”.

However, those are not the nones being spoken about in this article. I am talking about the nones as defined in the Oxford University Press website in an article titled “3 Things You Might Not Know About Nones” by Elizabeth Drescher. Drescher defines nones as “a name for people who answer ‘none’ when asked what religious group they most identify or to which they belong.”

It is based on this definition, I will be providing informational quotes from various writers and researchers that will provide enough information for you to understand and intelligently discuss nones with others. In addition, I have included links for easy location of the entire articles.

Currently, nones or my personally made-up word noneship are not within my everyday vernacular or even official words yet, but I daresay that in the next few years, they will join the Merriam Webster’s New Dictionary Word List along with their most recent newest words such as cryptocurrency, wordie, Chiweenie, Schnoodle, ooh, mm-hmm, and welp.

Who is a None?

Becka Alper from Pew Research says, “a growing share of Americans are religiously unaffiliated. [They] recently asked a representative sample of more than 1,300 of these “nones” why they choose not to identify with a [particular] religion.

Out of several options included in the survey, the most common reason they give is that they question a lot of religious teachings. Six-in-ten religiously unaffiliated Americans – adults who describe their religious identity as an atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular” – say the questioning of religious teachings is a very important reason for their lack of affiliation.

The second-most-common reason is opposition to the positions taken by churches on social and political issues, cited by 49% of respondents (the survey asked about each of the six options separately). Smaller, but still substantial, shares say they dislike religious organizations (41%), don’t believe in God (37%), consider religion irrelevant to them (36%) or dislike religious leaders (34%).”

Alper, Becka. “Why America’s ‘nones’ don’t identify with a religion.” Pew Research Center. 8 Aug 2018.

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/08/08/why-americas-nones-dont-identify-with-a-religion.

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“The Christian share of the U.S. population is declining, while the number of U.S. adults who do not identify with any organized religion is growing, according to an extensive new survey by the Pew Research Center. Moreover, these changes are taking place across the religious landscape, affecting all regions of the country and many demographic groups. While the drop in Christian affiliation is particularly pronounced among young adults, it is occurring among Americans of all ages.”

“America’s Changing Religious Landscape.” Pew Research Center. 5 May 2015.

http://www.pewforum.org/2015/05/12/americas-changing-religious-landscape/

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“Curiously, the religiously unaffiliated are “about twice as likely to describe themselves as political liberals than as conservatives.”

  • 63 are either registered Democrats (39%) or lean toward the Democratic Party (24%)
  • 72% support legal abortion
  • 73% support same-sex marriage

Hess, Andrew. “The rise of the nones.” Focus on the Family. Focus on the Family. Accessed 21 Sept 2018.

https://www.focusonthefamily.com/about/focus-findings/family-formation-trends/rise-of-the-nones

What is Interesting about the Nones?

“Look at any survey about the state of religion and you will find the same story of decline. Fewer Americans today than in past decades identify with a religion, attend church, engage in religious practices, and view faith as an important part of their lives. Those who advocate the secularization of society applaud such cultural change because they see it as evidence that people are turning away from all things supernatural. However, these trends may be less about our abandoning the supernatural and more about our abandoning each other.”

Routledge, Clay. “Americans quit church but still search for meaning, now as loners.” Nation Review. 14 July 2018.

https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/07/traditional-religion-has-social-value-individual-quests-leave-people-isolated/

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This seems like a circular argument: “The nones are growing because the nones are growing! But sociologically, it makes a kind of sense. Some nonbelievers might have stayed in organized religion in previous generations just because it was socially expected, and there were consequences for not joining the religious crowd. The numeric growth of the nones has removed some of those barriers so that other closeted nones feel more comfortable leaving religion too. There is an infrastructure and support system for them.”

Riess, Jana. “Why millennials are really leaving religion (it’s not just politics, folks). Religion News Service. 26 June 2018.

https://religionnews.com/2018/06/26/why-millennials-are-really-leaving-religion-its-not-just-politics-folks/

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“In 2014, 23% of adult Americans identified as what media and academics have come to refer to as religious “nones.” Although the term covers a lot of territory—atheist, agnostic, unaffiliated, “nothing in particular,” and “spiritual but not religious”—it does not include anyone who identified with a particular faith tradition.”

Winston, Diane. “Millennials and the ‘none’: Why 40 years of religion in US Elections may change in 2015. Vice News. 30 June 2015.

https://news.vice.com/article/millennials-and-the-nones-why-40-years-of-religion-in-us-elections-may-change-in-2015

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Nones are building communities in myriad ways, some of them more organized than others. From meditation groups to the very church-like Sunday Assemblies,  the religiously unaffiliated are finding ways to connect with one another.”

Blumberg, Antonia. “How the ‘Nones’ can find a sense of community outside of religion.” Huffington Post. 22 July 2015.

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/religiously-unaffiliated-nones-community_us_55afe508e4b0a9b948535f3a

Why Do the Nones Believe Like They Do?

“Today’s young nones, immersed in their online lives, may feel as though they are very connected. But as many are collectively realizing, online connections are weaker than advertised. We may have many [acquaintances] within digital reach, but numerous online relationships are no substitute for deep, real-life friendships. Similarly, a wave of spirituality apps promises to supercharge your mindfulness and positive thinking. Although beneficial, app spirituality, too, leads to a solitary practice.”

Asma, Stephen. “Religiously unaffiliated ‘none’ are pursuing spirituality, but not community.” L.A. Times. 6 June 2018.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-asma-nones-spirituality-20180607-story.html

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“As a pastor, as a researcher, as an educator, as just a Christian who cares, the single greatest contributor to the attrition rate [of the Christian faith] has been the breakdown of the family,” McFarland said in an interview with the Christian Post.

Blair, Leonardo. “Parent Failure to Transmit Faith to Kids Helping Fuel Growth of Religious ‘Nones,’ Study Suggests.” Christian Post. 20 Sept 2018.

https://www.christianpost.com/news/parent-failure-transmit-faith-kids-helping-fuel-growth-religious-nones-study-227489/

How Can the Nones Come to Know Christ?

An important new survey by Pew Research asks, “why people who were raised in religious homes but who now identify as religious “nones” — having no religious affiliation — decided to leave the faith of their childhood. The results were varied, but according to the survey, “Half of ‘nones’ left childhood faith over lack of belief, one-in-five cite dislike of organized religion.

So today, America needs another great awakening, one which will convert the unconverted, restore the backslidden, and set the complacent on fire. Whether they know it or not, the “nones” are crying out for this very thing.”

“God’s solution to the ‘Nones’ who have left the faith.”  The Stream. Accessed 21 Sept 2018.

https://stream.org/gods-solution-nones-left-faith

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Conclusion

So how can you know God? It all starts with accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Jesus Christ provides a relationship with the Father and eternal life through His death on the cross and resurrection (Romans 5:10)

Lord Jesus, I ask You to forgive my sins and save me from eternal separation from God. By faith, I accept Your work and death on the cross as sufficient payment for my sins. Thank You for providing the way for me to know You and to have a relationship with my heavenly Father. Through faith in You, I have eternal life. Thank You also for hearing my prayers and loving me unconditionally. Please give me the strength, wisdom, and determination to walk in the center of Your will. In Jesus’ name, [A]men.

“How do I accept Jesus as my savior.” In Touch. Accessed 21 Sept 2018.

 https://www.intouch.org/read/content/how-do-I-accept-Jesus-as-my-savior

While some people have no idea what is their purpose in life, some are convinced their life journey is to seek knowledge, to pursue status, to become wealthy, to promote tolerance, to reproduce or a host of other purposes.

The bottom-line is, what do we believe is the meaning of life?

As believers in Jesus Christ, we should believe that our purpose is to fulfill what God has appointed us to accomplish on this earth. When the spiritual dimension of life is void of the Trinity—God, the Father; Jesus, the Son; and the Holy Spirit, we become part of the none community. Let’s not let that happen!

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Bible Verses:

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6)

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. (John 10:10)

Come to me all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, help me to believe in You. Help me to see You with new eyes. If You are real, let me know that. I’m tired of the life I am living. I want to know that beyond what I can see, there is a God that loves me and wants what is best for me. Help me to leave my proud behavior and unbelieving thoughts at Your feet. I want to know if You are real. Amen.

God Bless.

greenenpastures.org

Member of IWA-Inspirational Writers Alive!

Member of Biblegateway Bloggers #bgbg2

Edited by E. Johnson

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Please share, forward, retweet, and/or comment if you liked this article or find it might help someone you know. Thanks.

In addition, I would love for you to join either my blog or newsletter. Just go to GreenePastures.org and look on the upper right-hand side of the blog to join!

Books by Patti Greene: Available on Amazon

Christian Caregiving: Behind the Scenes

My newly released book, Christian Caregiving: Practical Advice for a Happy Ending, was published in May 2018. To me, this is exciting news! I am amazed at how God worked in putting this book together, so I want to share some background information about how this new release came about. So, humor me for a few moments!

Here Goes My Story

Once upon a time, not so long ago, my church* asked me to teach a class on caregiving. When I was first asked to teach this class my first thought was, “Why in the world would anybody ask someone to teach a caregiving class while they are in the midst of it?” However, after pondering and praying, I felt the Lord say, “Go Ahead!” I had no curriculum to follow. The class was put together by my own research, prayer, my living circumstance, the Holy Spirit and by my husband who was willing to stay with my mom (with whom we live), so I could go to the church to teach the class.

I taught the class not just once but twice.

Just as I don’t know how to express my gratefulness for this teaching opportunity, I don’t know how to express my gratitude for how this book came into being.

I had no intention of putting the highlights of the class into a book until way after I finished teaching the second class, but then again God impressed me with His words, “Go Ahead.” Each of the chapters overviews one of the six class lessons taught at my church.

At the same time as God’s “Go Ahead” words impressed me, I was asked to teach a couple of classes at Houston’s First Baptist Church at the Inspirational Writers Alive Conference in August 2018. One of the classes I am teaching is titled Traditional Publishing vs. Self-Publishing. This opportunity was another big catalyst for this book because if I were to teach on self-publishing I wanted to experiment with how publishing with Amazon was done so I could share it with the class. Thus, this book was created through Amazon. I published my other books differently.

As with all new ventures, there is a learning curve. I  learned how to purchase an ISBN (International Standard Book Number) on this publishing journey. In addition, I found out that companies can format books specifically for Amazon Print, Kindle, Smashwords and more.

I had an awesome editor. He’s the best. He tells me when what I write doesn’t make sense; he corrects my incomprehensible grammar, illogical expressions and unreasonable comparisons. Wow. I couldn’t do this without him. He lives in Michigan. (He’s probably reading this newsletter now, cringing and in tears!)

I was so excited to be able to use the photograph of a friend of mine on the front cover! The cover shows her with her mom in a facility while caregiving. [This is a good place to say that this wonderful person also designed the covers my other three books.]

But, with this cover, I just went with a pre-formatted cover using a photograph she sent me. I am so grateful to her. She lives in New York. And who else can put together someone from New York with someone from Texas! Can I mention that I have never met this lovely woman? That’s a God thing.

It is always scary to push the “SUBMIT” button on a book one has written, but I did. A week after this book was published, it was brought to my attention that I didn’t handle something correctly.  I was made aware of it and just in the nick of time, I was able to correct a serious problem. This issue cropped up because I totally ignored a major plagiarism rule that I knew and have taught to others for many years. It made for some tense days, but God worked it out perfectly by me being able to delete my book off Amazon and resubmit it with the needed adjustments.

On my first submission, I ordered 30 books which I assumed would come with the first submission’s printing, but miraculously when they arrived, they had the issues corrected. God even prepared me through my former career as a librarian. I didn’t realize I had to type up the publication page — the page after the title page — since I didn’t do it for my other books, but with Amazon, I had to. My librarian experience taught me how to prepare that page with ease. Now, that’s specific! And, God knew long ago that I was going to need to know how to figure out Library of Congress subject headings!

I say all that to say that what is available on Amazon is the “best copy” I could do!

And one more thing: discovering the identity of the front cover picture’s photographer came late, but it came just in time and I was able to get the release I felt comfortable with in using the lovely picture on the front cover.

My Final Remarks

God is good and when we obey Him, He makes things all work out. And, even when I faced those stressful days between copy 1 and copy 2, I felt very peaceful that He was working it out. I didn’t know how He would do it, but He did. I feel like it was like turning the water into wine. Just miraculous!

If you are in the caregiving phase of your life or you know someone who is, I recommend this book to you. My prayer is that it will be very beneficial to you, your loved ones, and your friends.

Here Are Some Fun Facts To Know About This Caregiving Book!

The hardest part of putting this book together was the Endnotes and Bibliography.

My husband wrote the paragraph describing the book on the back cover. I didn’t put his name on “his” paragraph. Sounded too nepotistic for me. Ha.

My picture on the back cover is five years old. I am now in the process of trying to become a blonde. Yes, you heard me correctly! But, it’s not turning out too well.

The book is now available on Amazon.com for purchase both in print and e-book format. If you have Amazon Unlimited, the book is a free download. The book retails for $8.95 and the e-book version is $4.99. I think if you purchase a print book, you can get the e-book for 99 cents.

Thanks so much for reading my story. My readers are my lifeline and guide to my writing.

With so many adult children facing caregiving questions, this book may be the answer to most of their questions. I am asking you to share, forward and repost this article to your friends and family members.

God Bless,

greenenpastures.org

CHRISTIAN CAREGIVING: Practical Advice for a Happy Ending by Patti Greene

ISBN-13:                                978-0692115381—Christian Caregiving—Print/Softcover

ISBN-Kindle:                      0692115383—Christian Caregiving—Kindle

Quotes:

Patti Greene’s book, Christian Caregiving: Practical Advice for a Happy Ending, is an excellent resource. It addresses the key points in what you need to prepare for. Written from a Christian perspective, it gives prayers and Bible verses to provide comfort during this difficult time. If you have read any of the author’s other books, you know she has a heart for God through her many years of prayer and journaling that led to her books. This would be a great resource for churches, caregiving groups, and anyone that has aging parents.

—JT, St. Louis

Christian Caregiving is a clear and concise resource for those of us who want and desire to care for our elderly family with the love of Christ. I have found the basic suggestions and information to be invaluable. Many of us who find ourselves in this season of life sometimes are simply overwhelmed with the magnitude of life decisions that have to be made. Knowing that this book has simplified topics and clear directives on what caregivers should do, consider and execute, has made the process much less daunting. Reading this book and taking note of the suggestions that Ms. Greene has so carefully put together has helped ease my concerns during my family’s caregiving season.

—AR, Houston

Bible Verses:

Commit your works to the Lord and your plans will be established. (Proverbs 16:3)

I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever. (John 14:16)

Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), so that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth. (Ephesians 6:2-3)

Prayer from Chapter 1 in Christian Caregiving: Practical Advice for a Happy Ending

Dear Lord,

Help me to be the best caregiver possible. Give me wisdom and a desire to honor You in how I serve. There are so many issues. You know my time and my schedule. Let me experience joy as I honor my loved ones. Let me seek knowledge. Let me be wise in my dealings with others. Let me be generous with my hugs and kisses. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Edited by E. Johnson

*Bear Creek Church, Katy, TX

Feeling Trapped: How To Relieve Anxiety, Depression, and Hopelessness

Have you ever had a feeling of being trapped? If you have, it is not a pleasant experience.

Imagine being trapped in an elevator; trapped in a coal mine; trapped in solitary confinement, or even trapped by human trafficking. In everyday life, we can be “trapped” in our marriage, our career, our home, our physical body, our financial situation, or even in our place of worship.

The feeling that you cannot do anything to escape these situations is discouraging and scary. Sometimes these situations can cause us to become apathetic, slide into a mental illness, or even become suicidal.

Everyone experiences “feeling trapped” at some point in their life—if not physically, emotionally.

Individuals with physical disabilities may feel trapped in “their handicap.” Those with mental illnesses feel trapped in their psychic.

Trapped: Unfortunate Life Circumstances

Unfortunate life circumstances usually build upon 4 phases. First, a concern leads to an anxiety. Anxiety leads to depression.  And depression leads to hopelessness. How one moves or fluctuates through these 4 stages are dependent upon one’s emotional stability or specific happenstances that occur along the way.

The first and only time I entered a tanning salon, I was quite panicky. It was mainly peer-pressure that lead me to enter the doors of the tanning salon in the first place. Once there, I should have felt secure since the instructions given were thorough and detailed even before I entered the tanning room. However, I felt uncomfortable about how I was dressed (or should I say not dressed) as I rotated myself into the tanning bed. As I laid in the booth, my anxiety rose. I wasn’t sure what thought overpowered me—the regret of even being there or my fear of a severe heat rash burn. I wanted so much to close my eyes and relax, but I feared that if I fell asleep, the attendant might never come back. My fear became so exaggerated I truly believed I might die.

Apparently, I suppose the instructions were not as good as I originally thought because I learned later that there is a space where my hand could have fit to open the tanning lid myself. I was unaware that the lid didn’t lock! There was a way of escape, but I didn’t know it. The same goes for us when we encounter unfortunate life circumstances.

While the illustration above is biographical and true, it is told as a “moral tale” to share how we may react under pressure. The question now presents itself as, “What happens when one feels trapped?”

When You Feel Trapped and Your Dreams Are Shattered

When your dreams are shattered, you may turn to psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, fortune tellers, clergy, and more. You will do anything you can to be free from the situation. Then, when the “helpful” people cannot provide relief, you become depressed and hopeless. At this point, you may lose your will to go on, because your dreams have been shattered. You see no viable choices to rid yourself of the deep rut you find yourself in.

You might . . .

– Divorce your spouse and leave your children,

– Quit your job,

– Change your living situation,

– Resign yourself to being mentally or physically deranged,

– Claim bankruptcy,

– Drop out of the church, or more.

When a situation becomes too painful, you want to escape instantly. But, there is another option. That option is to trust in the Lord to help you through the trials you are facing. Sometimes we are even fixating on the wrong aspect of our dilemma. Somewhere in my concern over the tanning bed, I probably should have been more concerned about the ultra-violet radiation and the possibility of getting cancer, but I wasn’t.

Trust in Jesus: The Way of Escape

God is a mighty God—always willing to help you escape distressing perpetual life emergencies. When you reach a severe lowness in life, God’s desire is for us to look up and receive His son Jesus Christ. Trusting Christ and asking Him to change your heart is the best place to start. He loves you and wants to help you with the pain and agony you are experiencing.

In Receiving and Giving, author David A. Peterson writes, “God never steps over us in our trouble. God never turns a blind eye to our need. God is never insensitive to our broken dreams. God is not put off by the consequences of our rebellion. Our walls are ever before Him.”¹

God’s Gift of Salvation

God desires a personal relationship with you. His gift of salvation is available to you. Without Christ in your life, your existence may seem incomplete.

But, God has a plan for your life. To experience His will, you must accept Jesus Christ with a change of heart towards Him. Through a personal conviction when God Himself comes to you, we can repent, turn from our sin, and have faith in Christ. Once this occurs we are born again into the family God.

While situations may not improve overnight, you have the assurance that God is on your side and that He is helping you live securely and contently with all of life’s unexpected turns. God is always present to give you wisdom and understanding. Through all your ins-and-outs of life, God’s guidance will help all you to remedy and work through your distressing situations properly.

Jesus Christ is powerful. He can heal your marriage, find you a new job, and provide miraculously for your every need.

We do not have to live a lifetime of feeling trapped. His love and His willingness to lead our lives into productivity are absolutely astounding.

8 Steps to Relieve Our Concerns, Anxiety, Depression, and Hopelessness

  1. If you haven’t already accepted Jesus Christ, you must ask God to forgive your sins, to accept Jesus Christ, and have faith in Him to be your Lord and Savior.
  2. If you have accepted Christ but are not following Him fully, you must recommit your life to worship Him with your entire body and soul.
  3. Pray and not lose heart over your situation.
  4. Brainstorm your problem. Think of ways to change your situation and spend time going through all the ideas you come up with and see what might work. Then, give all these ideas to Jesus in prayer again.
  5. Determine not to make any changes until you experience both His guidance and direction.
  6. Accept and seek help—medical, spiritual, or both.
  7. Read the Bible and determine not to proceed with any action that is contrary to the Word of God. You may need to talk to a mature believer or a pastor for help in discerning what is right from wrong, especially if you are a new believer in Christ.
  8. Share your concerns with a trustworthy friend or counselor.
  9. Understand that God may be teaching you a valuable life lesson through your situation.
  10. Then, start again with No. 1.

Jesus asks, “What do you want me to do for you?”

Bartimaeus, a blind man was sitting by the road begging when Jesus was passing by. He heard a multitude of people going by and he asked what the commotion was all about. He was told Jesus was passing by. He called out say, “Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me!” He was sternly told to stop and be quiet, but he kept crying out to Jesus. Jesus stopped and commanded that this man be brought to Him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” Bartimaeus said that he wanted to regain his sight. Jesus told him, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.” His request was granted, and he received his eyesight, began to follow Jesus, and glorified God. (Luke 18:35-43)

Think of the possibilities. When you feel trapped, wouldn’t you like God to ask you, “What do you want me to do for you?” Trust Him and start the process by telling Him what you want Him to do for you. His answer might just be exactly what you need to start afresh!

Bible Verses

Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38)
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (Philippians 4:6)
Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows. (Luke 12:7)

Prayer

Dear Lord. It is hard for me to fathom that you can get me out of the situation I am currently in. I feel trapped with no way out. I don’t think I can take it anymore. Lord, help me in my unbelief. Help me to reach out to you and accept your salvation and guidance. Teach me to pray. Teach me to desire Your will and Your Word. In Jesus’ Name. Amen

God Bless,

Member Inspirational Writers Alive; Bible Gateway Blogger Grid Member


¹Peterson, David. Receiving and Giving: Unleashing the Bless Challenge. Houston: David A. Peterson, 2012.

Bible verses are taken from the NASB if not noted otherwise.

If you found this post helpful, please like/share it so others can get the benefit. Thanks. If you would like to receive email notifications of new posts or to receive monthly newsletters, please click here and scroll down on www.GreenePastures.org to subscribe.

Books by Patti Greene

Answer Me: Developing a Heart for Prayer (A Devotional Prayer Journal) by Patti Greene, click here

Awaken Me: Growing Deeper in Bible Study and Prayer (A Devotional Prayer Journal) by Patti Greene, click here

Anchor Me: Laying a Foundation in Bible Study and Prayer (A Devotional Prayer Journal) by Patti Greene, click here

Caregiving Part 5: Spirituality

Caregiving. My husband and I moved in with my mother when my father passed away a year and a half ago. Mom is a fragile 91-year-old. Her health is not good, but her mind is phenomenal. Today I drove Mom and her friend to their church for a special service. We stayed afterward for the end-of-the-year Women’s Club luncheon. The women chatted, laughed, and enjoyed fellowship with their friends. You might ask why I chauffer my mother around like this; I do it because I love my mother and I want her to continue to enjoy the church she has attended for the past 50 years. It is there she fellowships with her friends and shares a spiritual connection with others and the Lord.

As a caregiver, our concerns usually center around our parents’ emotional, physical and social life. One aspect often lacking in caregiving is an interest in the elderly’s spiritual life. Whether you are a part-time caregiver or a full-time caregiver, giving yourself to the spiritual needs concerning your parents is truly a privilege.

For those who take their spirituality seriously, a sense of purpose and fulfillment undergirds their lives. Despite this fact, some do not understand or take seriously this component of another’s life. Understanding spirituality is complicated because there are so many scenarios and so many definitions of spirituality at play. They involve answering questions such as:

  • Are you a part-time caregiver or a full-time caregiver?
  • Are your parents living in the same town or city as you are?
  • Are you a strong believer, a ‘sort of’ religious person, or an uninterested individual?
  • Have your parents lived a dedicated life for Christ and the church? Have they attended church sporadically? Or, have they rarely explored any ‘religious’ life?

Once you mix and match all these different dynamics together, it’s time to discern and pray about your part in your parents’ spiritual life. Regardless of your parents’ spiritual background, caring for them is one of the most compassionate undertakings you or your siblings can pursue. Included in regular caregiving responsibilities, being a part of allowing your parents to pursue or continue their interests in God, church, and spiritual growth is an important part of caregiving.

But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. (1 Timothy 5:8)

Your Parents

Many seniors who have attended church all their lives develop a deeper desire for the things of God when they get older; but many do not. Some glide into old age making their spirituality more of an inward feat and not a community feat. In Spirituality and Aging, Sociology Professor Emeritus at Marquette University David O. Moberg says, “Many scientists who study spirituality and aging have concluded that spirituality increases with age. However, it is also important to acknowledge that other prominent researchers disagree with this premise.” ¹ Gerontologists are starting to see how the spiritual life regarding their patients yields an unexplainable peace and calmness as they face the future. As a result, their physical well-being is often affected in a positive way. They see their patients with faith as possessing strength and tranquility regarding their future.

Driving Forces Why Seniors Depend on God

  • Many seniors are concerned about their death and the afterlife.
  • Their faith provides strength as they face illnesses, loss of friends, and loneliness.
  • They have more time to pray and read their Bible.
  • Concern over a reduced income and the ability to meet their needs.
  • A renewed or deepening dependence and guidance by the Holy Spirit.

At a time when seniors tackle new challenges, many undergo losing their support systems. This should be a huge consideration in churches as “baby boomers” are starting to fit into the senior adult category.

Driving Forces Why Seniors Abandon their Faith and Church

  • Lack of activities for seniors—Feeling of alienation may occur when more emphasis is given to youth ministries, young adult ministries, or any ministries besides senior adult ministries.
  • Miss traditions—They feel left out, unwanted, unneeded in the congregation. Seniors enjoy the familiarity of things past, i.e. hymns, Sunday dinners, fellowship luncheons.
  • Difficulty adjusting to change—The new programs and facilities are too much for them. Adjusting to change is especially hard for the aging population.
  • Hearing loss—They can’t hear the preacher or Sunday school teacher.
  • Stimulating services (music, yelling, confusion)—The British Alzheimer’s Society discusses noise triggers by saying, “[People with Alzheimer’s] feel bewildered or anxious because there is too much noise, too many people around, or a change in a familiar routine.”
  • Other disabilities—There may not be handicapped parking or wheelchair accommodations at the church. They may be unable to get to church due to disability or inability to drive themselves. Or maybe, there is too much walking to get to their classes or sanctuary easily.

Caregiving and You

As a family caregiver member, it is imperative for you to be cognizant of your parents’ needs. This includes their spiritual needs.

Practical Ways You Can Help

  • If you live in the same town or city as your parents, bring them to church and church functions.
  • If you live out-of-town, contact their church organization, friends, or other family members to set up transportation.
  • If your parents are in a facility, investigate what kind of spiritual activities that are available.
  • Make their living environment familiar and comfortable, i.e. put their favorite cross in their room, be sure their Bible is easily accessible.
  • Provide notecards, stamps, and addresses so they can write and minister to their friends.
  • Get their hearing checked by an audiologist.
  • Get their eyesight checked by an optometrist or an ophthalmologist.
  • Purchase a large-print Bible for them if needed.
  • And, if you or family members live in the same city or town, be sure to visit them!

Whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:11)

Questions Caregivers Must Ask

  • What hindrances are my parents facing?
  • My parents used to attend church. Why don’t they go now?
  • How do I approach my unbelieving parents about Jesus Christ?

These are just a few of the many questions caregivers might have. You may want to spend some time thinking, meditating, and praying for what questions need to be asked and how you can be a part of the solution.

How to Pray: Ten Tips for a Better Prayer Life

Keep Yourself in Top Spiritual Shape

Being connected to God’s divine source can help you manage better as your caregiving duties progress. Continuing or starting to seek God’s presence and strength in your life will assist you as you care for and minister to your loved ones. Understanding you are not perfect alleviates a mindset of inadequacy. Remind yourself of all your parents have done for you. If they haven’t done much, it is time to ask God how He wants you to treat them and care for them regardless of the past. God is available to help you as you support your parents. By being their caregiver, you can be assured, God has given you a divine assignment—one that you won’t regret.

Salvation and Eternal Life

On our most recent visit to my mother’s oncologist, we were discussing mom’s diagnosis and future prognosis. In his matter-of-fact intonation, he said, “Mrs. —————, life is a terminal illness!” While we don’t want to think about life like this, it is true. We all will die and face an eternal future.

As we live our earthly life, let us be ever mindful about our eternal destination. Gaining an understanding of our future existence is significant in understanding life-and-death anxieties and angsts.

Both caregivers and parents and all humanity will die. CRU (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) discusses four laws in the booklet “Have You Heard of the Four Spiritual Laws?” ²

Four Spiritual Laws

Law 1: God loves you and offers a wonderful plan for your life.

John 3:16

Law 2: Man is sinful and separated from God. Therefore, he cannot know and experience God’s love and plan for his life.

Romans 3:23

Law 3: Jesus Christ is God’s only provision for man’s sin. Through Him, you can know and experience God’s love and plan for your life.

John 14:6

Law 4: We must individually receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord; then we can know and experience God’s love and plan for our lives.

Revelation 3:20

A Heart-to-Heart Prayer

If you or your parents have not accepted Jesus Christ, now is the time to have a frank conversation with God. If you are unsure how to pray for God’s salvation, a simple well-meaning prayer can be the best decision for both of your lives.

Dear God, I know I’m a sinner, and I ask for your forgiveness. I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son. I believe that He died for my sin and that you raised Him to life. I want to trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord, from this day forward. Guide my life and help me to do your will. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.” ³

If you have accepted Jesus Christ but your parents haven’t, now is the time to have a candid heart-to-heart with them.

Eight days before my father passed away, I had a candid heart-to-heart with him. He prayed a prayer akin to the prayer written above. As we sat on his couch at 5 am we quietly talked together and talked to God. Some may call this a deathbed conversion. No matter what it is called, my father accepted Jesus Christ and God used me to help him make the best decision of his life.

Caretaking means being responsible for various aspects of your parents’ life. As we face our parents’ sundown years, let’s do what we can to help them hold on to, delight in, and agree to take part in their spiritual life while at the same time progressing and preserving our own spiritual life.

Do You Fear Death?

Bible Verses: See above.

Prayer:

Dear heavenly Father, as I consider all the needs of my parents, let me be mindful of their whole being. I pray for their emotional, physical, social, and spiritual life. Make me aware of their needs. Let me offer my help. Give us both peace. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

God Bless,

Member Inspirational Writers Alive; Bible Gateway Blogger Grid Member

Edited by E. Johnson; Bible verses are taken from the NASB if not noted otherwise.

Works Cited/Bibliography

¹ Spirituality and Aging. http://www.nap411.com. Accessed 10 May 2017.

² Greene, Patti. Anchor Me: Laying a Foundation in Bible Study and Prayer. Bloomington: WestBow, 2016. [Permission given from CRU for Have You Heard of the Four Spiritual Laws summary.]

³ Begin Your Journey to Peace. www.peacewithgod.net. Accessed 10 May 2017.

Coming Soon: Caregiving Part 6: How to Prepare, Embrace, and Survive the Final Moments


If you found this post helpful, please like/share it so others can get the benefit. Thanks. If you would like to receive email notifications of new posts or to receive monthly newsletters, please click here and scroll down on www.GreenePastures.org to subscribe.

Books by Patti Greene

Answer Me: Developing a Heart for Prayer (A Devotional Prayer Journal) by Patti Greene, click here

Awaken Me: Growing Deeper in Bible Study and Prayer (A Devotional Prayer Journal) by Patti Greene, click here

Anchor Me: Laying a Foundation in Bible Study and Prayer (A Devotional Prayer Journal) by Patti Greene, click here