GOD IS GREATER

I’ve read James 1:2-3 several times before, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow,” but I never really understood what it meant until now.

Our family is under major attack—it feels like the gates of hell have opened and Satan’s minions are in full force, but even though we are going through these trying times we know that God is greater. In fact, we are now even closer to God than we were several days ago.

I believe that there is a spiritual battle taking place in our churches, and some of our loved ones have been taken captive by the enemy, “We are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12).

With the strongest conviction I have ever had, I keep shouting within my being, “GOD IS GREATER!” Those who are spiritually dead in Him can be raised from the dead— dry bones can live again. Those who have shut their eyes, ears, and heart to God can again see, hear, and know Him. No one is too far lost that he/she cannot be found by Him.

We need to pray, “It is true that I am an ordinary, weak human being, but I don’t use human plans and methods to win my battles. I use God’s mighty weapons… to knock down the devil’s strongholds… Pray in the Spirit at all times… Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers…” (2 Cor 10:3-4, Eph 6:18).

I don’t know what you are encountering today, but know that you are not alone: “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life… Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you… Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Matt 6:25, Isa 41:10, Joshua 1:9).

GOD IS GREATER!!!

Copyright © 2014 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

I struggle

I thought about an incident that happened when I was a student at Southern Seminary. I was in a “Formations” class—a course where you learn how to pray more, read the Bible more, etc. This particular class was for female students only. I wanted that because I thought it would give us an opportunity to really discuss some of our struggles.

Around the second day we were asked about our personal devotional life. No one said anything, so I thought I would share that I really struggled to find time to read the Bible and to pray consistently. Instead of people saying how they also struggled, people just looked at me. After a few seconds of silence, I said, “I guess I’m the only one that struggles with that.”

Then a woman, who had two small children, said, “I have a two hour personal worship time every night after I put the kids to sleep.” Wow! Really? Personal worship every night for two hours with small children? Are you kidding me?

So out of the class of 20-25 students, I was the only one that struggled. I found that hard to believe.

I’m not sure why people pretend that their lives are so perfect. We know that humans are not perfect so their lives wouldn’t be perfect either. If we never admit to one another that we struggle then how could we carry each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2)?

The way I see it, if a person is not experiencing spiritual struggles then there’s no growth happening.

To me, it’s a lot like exercising the body. When a person is working out then there will be sore muscles, but the person who doesn’t work out will not have soreness.

In the same way, those who are trying to grow in their spiritual walk will experience struggles because the very act of spiritually growing results in struggles. In other words, there would be no need for Satan to attack or discourage someone if that person was not trying to grow closer to God.

Just as a foot needs the leg and the finger needs a hand, Christians need one another. Stop pretending to be perfect, and admit that you need help. We all need some form of accountability so that someone can encourage us to keep going.

In 1 Corinthians 12:24-27, it says,

“…God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it” (NLT).

Christianity isn’t a “one-man show.” It’s teamwork—we can’t do life alone, we need each other.

I struggle to read the Bible and pray consistently. How about you?

Copyright © 2013 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Too busy

For the past few months, we have been trying to be “healthy.” I started to run because it was a good way to get a cardio workout plus I could lose some weight. Lately, I haven’t been able to run as much as I did. I can’t seem to find the time. I was able to run yesterday, but it had been nearly two weeks since I last ran.  

Even though I have added “boot camp” classes once a week to my schedule, I am still not losing any weight. I think it’s because my exercise is inconsistent. I used to run every other day, but now I am happy to get just two runs during the week and often I only get only one short run.

I guess it’s the same way with my spiritual walk. Sometimes it seems that my growth is stagnant. Often it’s hard to find the time to read my Bible or to pray earnestly to God. I find myself getting distracted with other things, and life in general seems so busy.

Could it be that I am investing my time on worthless things? Could it be that I am just not managing my time properly?

I know that if I took the time to exercise on a regular basis then I would see the results that I want. In the same way, if I were to be intentional in my reading of God’s Word and in my communication with Him on a daily basis then I would have more calmness in my spirit. When life gets hectic and chaotic, that calmness would positively impact me and everything around me.

It seems everything stems from our relationship with God. If our relationship with Him is fragmented, then our life in general will be fragmented.

In Psalm 37:23-24 it says, “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand” (NLT).

I need to build upon my relationship with God then everything else will fall into place, and even when I am going through the “storms of life,” I will still experience peace. 

I think I should make it a priority to strengthen my relationship with God, then maybe as time permits, I can expand my exercise time. Exercise can improve my body, but God’s Word will improve my whole being.

Copyright © 2013 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Break the habit

Today at about 10am I grabbed some yogurt and a small serving of cereal and mixed them together in a bowl. I looked at my bowl and I wondered why I did this when I wasn’t even really hungry.  On other days, I would eat just because it was 12 o’clock or 6 o’clock—not because I was hungry but because it was something that I did at 12:00 or 6:00. Eating at a certain time had become a habit.

I’ve been trying to make a habit of doing godly things like reading the Bible and praying every day. The problem I started to notice is that reading the Bible and praying is becoming a habit—I do it without thinking.  Why is that?

Galatians 5:17 says, “The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires…” (NLT). Although I want to get closer to God, my very nature is to fight it.

If I continue to read the Bible and pray “as a habit,” then I will become “lukewarm” (Rev 3:16). I have to read the Bible in a fresh way every time—I have to see what I can learn from it rather than just read the words mechanically. I have to break the habit.

Copyright © 2013 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Unnatural

Because of my busy schedule, I was not able to run in almost a week. Today as I was struggling with my workout, I thought about how unnatural it is to run—yes, we run when we are frightened or when we are chasing someone, but it’s really unnatural to run as an exercise (at least it feels that way to me).

Then I thought about how unnatural it is for us to come to God on our own. Jesus said the following:“You did not choose me, but I chose you…” (John 15:16), “All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away” (John 6:15). Ephesians 5:8 says, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord” (NIV).

I used to wonder how people can hear about Jesus yet not follow Him— they can open up a Bible and not understand the meaning of the words; but when I thought about it, I was just like that. When I was a child I knew that God existed, but I didn’t really know much about Him. Even when I was in parochial school, I never had a clear picture of what God did for me through Jesus Christ— the Bible never even made sense to me. When I became a teenager, the Bible or church was not something that I even thought about— I only cared about having fun.

God didn’t want me to continue going down an empty road so He intervened in my life. I am grateful for the new life that I was given, but every day I struggle to maintain my relationship with Him. The apostle Paul explains in Galatians 5: 17, “For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want” (NIV).

I still want to have fun and sometimes it is not fun to read the Bible, especially when I have to read through Chronicles; but then I remember that it is unnatural for us to seek the things of God so even though it may be a struggle, I read my Bible. Running as a means of exercise may seem unnatural just like reading our Bible or praying can be “unnatural,” but they are so beneficial for us. Are you struggling to do the “unnatural”?

Copyright © 2013 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Marriage

God made them male and female from the beginning of creation… the two are united into one. Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together” (Mark 10:6, 8-9, NLT).

My husband and I are slowly approaching our 29th year of marriage (we just celebrated our 28th wedding anniversary this past November). When I was working on my counseling degree I had to create a diagram of my “family of origin” and the relationships within that origin. It was like a snapshot of the marriages and divorces in my immediate family (parents and siblings). Surprisingly, I was the only one in my immediate family who had never been divorced.  Statistically, I should have already had a divorce— we were both married at the age of 19-years-old, I only knew my then future husband for only a few months, my parents were divorced when I was a young child, etc. So why am I still married?

I believe that God is the reason why my marriage has lasted this long. It was very difficult when we were first married because we hardly knew each other and we were so different, but as our relationship with God grew, so did our relationship with each other. It was still difficult but not to the degree it was when we were first married. I think the turning point in our marital relationship happened when I not only asked God to change my husband, but I also asked Him to change me.

Often a problem that occurs in the marriage is that there is a cycle of miscommunication and misunderstanding, but in order to move forward, it all has to end. I remember going several days without speaking, or speaking very little; and I also remember wanting to say “I’m sorry, let’s just move on,” but never saying it because I wanted my husband to say it first. The goal of an “argument” is not to be the “last man standing,” it is to hash out disagreements and come to a mutual solution.

I wish all marriages would flourish and last. I think if more people took the time to be truly intimate with their spouse (not necessarily in a sexual way), then it would lead to more open discussions. One way to start this type of intimacy is to read the Bible then pray together out loud. Sounds simple, but it really works. If both husband and wife really want to work on improving the marriage, and their whole heart is willing to do “whatever it takes,” then wholeheartedly read and pray together. It is also important to follow Paul’s instructions in 1 Corinthians 7:3-5.  

If your marriage is still not improving then please see a real Christian counselor (one who actually incorporates the Bible into his/her counseling), then sincerely pray for God to change you and your marriage. God can do all things— nothing is impossible for Him. Remember it is not the world’s statistics that defines your marriage—it is God who defines it.

Copyright © 2013 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti