The Time Is Now

None of us can ever “get right” with God on our own. Sometimes people will hear the gospel and say, “I’m not ready to accept Jesus right now because I need to clean myself up first,” but that day never comes.

It reminds me of what Jesus said to the Pharisees: “First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean” (Matt 23:26, NIV). The Pharisees were busy trying to look or act a certain way, but their hearts had not been changed by God– “Make sure that the light you think you have is not actually darkness” (Luke 11:35, NLT).

God wants a willing spirit– we come to Him and ask Him to change us– that’s how we become “right” with Him. The time is now. “For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.” Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2, NLT).

Copyright © 2017 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti
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Preachers

Maybe I’m wrong, but preachers ought to preach the Word. I think sermons ought to pierce our hearts so that we make changes in our lives. It’s easy for us to slowly veer away from what we should do, and we need to be reminded of God’s standard so that we can realign ourselves. Preachers are meant to impact others, and when they squander a Sunday morning worship service then they are not doing what God has placed them there to do. In James 3:1 it says, “Not many should become teachers, my brothers, because you know that we will receive a stricter judgment” (CSB).

I realize that it is summer and people want a break, but why hijack the whole worship service for a children’s program or a concert? A music concert, no matter how good it is, can never replace the preaching of the Word. Music is like an appetizer, meant to prepare the heart for the Word; and if the Word is not preached then the main meal was not served. A quick gospel presentation at the end of a concert or a children’s program is not enough—that’s just a bite-size sample of the main meal.

I want to hear the Truth on Sunday morning—I want to feel conviction and love from the Father, and when I don’t hear the Word then I don’t hear from the Father. I know I can do my own devotionals at home, but then why go to worship on Sundays? Could it be that when a preacher preaches the Word that God is responding to me from the week I was at home praying and studying? Is it possible that when I feel confused that He will tell me what to do through the sermon? Do you see why it’s important to preach the Word? People want to hear from God, and preachers are God’s mouthpiece.

Please take your role as a preacher seriously— you have an obligation to make Christ known to us, and you are supposed to guide us in living a life that is honoring of God. Isn’t that what 2 Timothy 4:2 is about— “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and teaching” (CSB)? It doesn’t matter if it is summer and half the congregation has gone on vacation or they are away on mission trips, or if you have only a handful of people in your church, you preach the Word!

Copyright © 2017 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Choices

One of my classes has a discussion about “free will.” It made me think about how out of all of God’s earthly creations, humans are unique because we have free will, and we have the ability to think and to rationalize. My cats cannot accept Christ as their Lord and Savior, and no matter how smart dolphins or certain primates might be, they cannot be a follower of Christ. We are the only ones made in the image of God and we are the only ones who can be called “the children of God” (Matt 5:9). Since we have free will, we can choose how we respond to a life circumstance– we can praise God even when things are not so good, or we can “curse God and die” (Job 2:9). We can choose to follow God or not (Josh 24:15). The choice is ours. What do you choose?

When You Walk in the Desert…

PastorFran.com

He not only was old, he felt old. This man, crazy by some accounts, faithful by others, had set on this long journey to a land he had not seen yet. His throat parched, his skin burning, and his eyes stinging from the dry, dusty land, the old man still pressed. He remained steadfast through this desert journey.  

desert-43209_640And not only him, but his family, too. After all, everything went with him on this journey. His youthful-looking wife with her soft skin and sparkling eyes gave a slight smile which encouraged him along the way. The familiar sounds of goats and camels trodding along helped him to remember that his possessions were still secure. His servants, faithful to him as he had taken them in as his family, stayed by his side. He took them all in pursuit of this call he once heard. 


It was those words that…

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God is good, even when things are not good

This morning I woke up thinking about my childhood and feeling sad and angry.  In the past, I had wondered why God would allow evil things to happen, and now I can remind myself that this world is corrupt and people are sinful so that’s why bad things happen. Even though I know this, I still wonder why people would do horrible things to children.

My past isn’t very unique. Unfortunately, there are many people who have encountered similar things. I was fortunate to have forgotten most of it. I remember hearing one of my teachers, Dr. Bill Cutrer, say that if we can’t remember a traumatic experience, like our minds just blocked the memory of it, then we should consider it a blessing. I never thought about it like that. I kept thinking that I had to deal with memories, even those that were deeply buried in my mind, in order to be “healthy.”

I have to admit that even though I don’t remember everything, I remember enough. My memories are like puzzle pieces— even though I don’t have all the pieces, I can still see most of the picture and fill in the blanks. The picture is very ugly and disturbing.

Why didn’t anyone protect me? Didn’t anyone care?

I suffered for several years. There were times that I wished that someone would have called child services and place me in a foster home but no one ever did. Instead, I endured it. This is what makes me sad— that no one cared enough to help me, and that those who I was supposed to trust were the ones that were abusing me.

This week, I saw two news stories about children being raped— one was killed and the other was basically left for dead. This is what angers me. I want to vindicate these children—I want to physically punish the people who did this to them, but I can’t.  All I can do is pray to God that the child that is still alive will recover completely, and that justice will prevail.

I am a grandmother now. When I was a mother I was able to protect my children, but as a grandmother, my powers of protection are very limited. All I can do is pray for my grandchildren.

So what was the point of bringing this up? Just that sometimes we remember our past and we cry about it, we see things in the news and we get angry about it, and many times we have no control over circumstances, but we have to give it all to God. We have to believe that He will take the bad stuff and have something good come from it.

I didn’t have a great family growing up, but I have one now. God gave me a loving and supportive husband, and together we have our own family. I wasn’t a perfect mother, but I loved my children, and I cared and protected them.  If any good could come from a terrible past, it is that I learned how to be a real parent, and I hope that the faith I have in God has been instilled into my children. God is good, even when things around us are not good, and only God can make something good come from something bad: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good…” (Gen 50:20, NLT).

Copyright © 2017 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

What Are Dreams?

I remember when my children were babies and I would watch them sleep. Sometimes their eyes would twitch then they might let out a quick cry, like they were frightened; and other times I would see them smile. I often wondered what babies dreamed— they hadn’t been in the world for too long so why would they frown, whimper, or smile when they slept? Could they be dreaming about future events? Could that be why we sometimes have that feeling of “déjà vu”?

Is it possible to see a glimpse of the future through dreams? I’m not sure. Many years ago I had a dream where I saw myself walking on a hill surrounded by children in tattered clothing. They were smiling and welcoming me— some were reaching up to hold my hand. I appeared to be 70 or more years old— my hair was all white and in a bun. The dream was brief; it ended when I saw what I looked like.

I have had dreams that made me wonder why I dreamed such a dream. I’ve had a couple of dreams like that—  once, where an imp tried to convince me that the Bible wasn’t true but I told him that Jesus would come back as He said He would, then another time when I saw the sun split in half and everyone was terrified because we were all “doomed” and God saved us.  I came to realize that dreams like that assure me that I have a real faith in God.

There are yet other dreams where I actually talked to people I have never seen before, and I wondered if that person was having the same dream about talking to me— I guess a lot of people have experienced this because I’ve seen movies and TV shows about that.

Then there are dreams when I feel like I’m watching a movie, where I’m not even in the dream— I think that’s when my mind just wants to rest and not solve an issue in my life.

So what’s the point of writing this? I guess it’s to say that sometimes dreams can be important (like when you are struggling with something and you want to figure out what to do), and sometimes dreams can help solidify your personal beliefs. The only one who can sort that out is you, so stop turning to books or articles that tell you what your dream means because dreams are personal and can’t be generalized. If you really need help understanding your dreams then ask the One who is the maker of dreams— God.

Copyright © 2016 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

The True Church

I think many Christians would agree that life can be difficult and that we will all struggle with something at one time or another, but often people do not realize that those “in the ministry” suffer from the same struggles.

To some degree, those in ministry suffer from depression, anxiety, fears, etc. Most times, people in ministry will not admit that they struggle because they are afraid of what people will think about them—that maybe they will think less of them.

The truth, though, is that there are people in the Bible who struggled—for example, Elijah the Prophet, and Paul the Apostle. Experiencing some of the struggles that people in the congregation encounters is a great way for those in ministry to connect. I think it also helps the congregation to realize that they are not the only ones struggling, and that just because they are struggling it doesn’t mean that they are less of a Christian.

We are told to “carry each other’s burdens” (Gal 6:2) and to “encourage one another” (2 Thess 5:11). These Scriptural passages would not be in the Bible if personal struggles were not a part of our lives. So in our struggles, we should turn to one another for encouragement and support. We should also draw closer to God: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33). We have to do both—draw closer to one another and to draw closer to God.

Perhaps if people were more open about their struggles and we supported one another through these struggles then we can have the True Church—“All the believers were one in heart and mind… And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all” (Acts 4:32-33).

Be the “True Church”!

Copyright © 2016 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti