Who are you standing or kneeling for?

I’ve seen nothing but this kneeling and standing controversy on Facebook for the past couple of days. Sometimes people just want to get mad about something, and they’ll argue about things that have nothing to do with eternal things—Satan is so clever.

Yes, I was in the military, I love this country, and I think there are people who have been discriminated against, but all I really see is a bunch of people who need Christ. Satan divides— there should be no “us” or “them,” “kneeling” or “standing”— we are all the same; everyone is made in the image of God.

If you are a Christian, then kneel for Christ; if you are a Christian, then stand for Christ—kneeling or standing for anything/anyone else is just a distraction that causes division.

Christ should be first and foremost in a Christian’s life— the flag is not eternal, this country is not eternal; in fact, nothing on this earth is eternal so stop wasting your time and energy on the temporary things.

Be “the light” in this dark and fallen world so that people can find their way to Christ, and be “the salt” in the world that is full of death and decay so that they can be restored and regenerated by Christ.

Who are you standing for? Who are you kneeling for? I hope it is for Christ!

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

Run in the Race!

Last year my running had dwindled down because we bought a duplex then we had to fix it, and then clean and clear the other house so that we could downsize; on top of that I still had to work. I had to give up something so I cut down on my running. Every once in a while I ran a 10K, but mostly I ran a couple of miles or ran an occasional 5K.

This year, I decided to start running again. It was hard. I struggled to run a couple of miles. I felt like giving up and using the time to do other things, but I persevered. Today I ran 12 miles. It wasn’t a fast time, but my time didn’t really matter; what mattered was that I didn’t give up.

I think it’s the same way with our Christian walk. Sometimes things come up in our lives and we feel like we have to give up something so we give up church. Then we get used to staying in bed on Sunday mornings and doing other things with the time that used to be spent in going to church.

It’s hard to go back to church after being away for several months or several years, but we start by going to one worship service. Then the following week, we go to another worship service; and even though we might feel like staying at home, we have to get up and go to church.

Why go to church? We go to church because we need to be encouraged by other believers; we need to know that we are not alone in our struggles. Also, as a believer and follower of Christ, we are all a part of His body and a body cannot function if some part of it is missing—we all need each other (Romans 12:5; 1 Corinthians 12:12-27).

So if you have been away from the church for a while, then my encouragement to you is to start going. Let this Sunday be the first of many Sundays to come! Remember that our Christian life is like a race— it doesn’t matter how fast you run, all that matters is that you stay in the race and that you finish!

Copyright © 2016 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Two deaths

I thought my mother would be grieving my stepfather’s death—she had been married to him for almost 40 years, but instead of grief, there was relief.

My mother had been through so much— for a year, my stepfather was bedridden and my mother had to feed and change him. She had no peace— even when she wanted to go downstairs for a break, he would call for her and she would stay with him in the room.

When my mother discovered he had died, she called my brother and he wired money for her to cremate him. About four hours later, she was presented with a ceramic vase with his ashes in it. There was no funeral and no one cried for him.

I then thought about my father-in-law’s funeral. All of us were mourning his death—all of us were deeply saddened because we would miss him. The church was filled with people and they talked about all the wonderful things my father-in-law did.

There’s a stark difference between the way my stepfather and my father-in-law were remembered in death, and I think these differences reflected who they were and how they lived their lives.

My stepfather was a pedophile and a gambling addict. He molested not only my sister and me, but also my cousins and my brother’s niece on his wife’s side (these were the ones that I know about). He had also been arrested for picking up prostitutes.

My father-in-law was a godly man. He was married to my mother-in-law for almost 50 years prior to his death. He was ill for 20 years yet he continued to do ministry. He was like a father to me and he loved my children very much.

My stepfather did not know the LORD, but my father-in-law did. My stepfather did not worship God, but my father-in-law worshiped Him constantly. My stepfather denied Christ, but my father-in-law embraced Christ and told others about Him.

Deuteronomy 30:19-20 says, “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make… You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life…” (NLT).

My stepfather did not choose life, but my father-in-law did, and now the memory of my father-in-law continues while my stepfather has been quickly forgotten.

Copyright © 2014 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Pongo

Today I said “good-bye” to an old friend, a family member, actually. I remember when I first met him. My husband brought him home as a late birthday gift. They said he was a puppy, but he was at least 7 months old, if not older.

I was disappointed because he wasn’t an actual puppy, but then after about a week or so he got sick. He developed a huge lump on the side of his neck. It was some kind of a dog disease. The puppy farm that sold him to my husband said that they could take him back and give us another dog, but I was afraid they would kill him. We kept him and he got better.

Over the years my children grew up with their new “brother.” He had the terrible habit of humping visitors. It was embarrassing, but it was funny at the same time. I guess it was a sign of dominance? Hard to believe a little Yorkie/Jack Russell dog would want to dominate people who were 20 times bigger than him.

He entertained my children with his ability to high jump and his speed in running. They remember the time he tried to pick a fight with the huge dog across the street. Pongo knew that he would lose the fight so he ran away as fast as he could and got bit on the rear end in the process. The vet said he was “lucky”—if he wasn’t such a fast runner then the other dog would have bit him on the neck and he would have bled to death.

I remember watching Simba, our cat, teasing Pongo. He didn’t mind—sometimes he teased him back and they would chase each other around the house.

The past few years we’ve noticed that Pongo slept more. He no longer jumped or ran, and lately he’s been struggling to walk. About three years ago his eyes started to cloud, and now he couldn’t see anymore—he bumped into furniture, the door, and the cats. The past couple of weeks, he had urinated in our bedroom during the night—he used to “tell” us when he needed to “go,” but he stopped letting us know.

This morning my husband took him to the vet. I struggled with that. I read an article recently (http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/time-euthanize-pet/story?id=19456241) and it asked two questions: Does the pet still like to play? Does it seem happy?

I took a picture of him this morning, and I don’t know if he’s happy anymore, and he hasn’t played in such a long time (he was at least 18 and a 1/2 years old now).

ImageMy husband just called. He was with Pongo as the vet put him to sleep. I am crying and tears are streaming down my face as I write this. I will miss that little dog, but as silly as it sounds, I have hope that I will see him again. As one of my favorite seminary professors said—all dogs go to Heaven: “For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself…” (2 Cor 5:19). The “world” means everything in the world, including animals. This gives me comfort.

Copyright © 2014 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Slimy sponges

While doing the stack of dishes this morning, I got to the very bottom of the sink and saw several sponges that were slimy and dirty. In the past, I would just throw them away but today I thought I would do something different.

I turned the hot water on and waited for it to get really hot then I sprayed each one down. I watched as the dirt and grim slowly disappeared. Afterwards it was like I had new sponges.

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Today is Good Friday. When I was in fifth grade, attending a parochial school, I had no idea why “Good Friday” was “good.” How could the day they killed Jesus be good? It wasn’t until I became an adult that I realized why this day is “good.”

In 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 and 17, it says, “Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life… This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (NLT).

Jesus died so that I can be a new person—I was sentenced to die but He took my place and died for me. I have a new identity now because the old one died with Him. I was like those old and slimy sponges that needed to be thrown away, but God cleaned me:

“…you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor 6:11, NLT).

I am celebrating the life that God has given me through Jesus’ death on the cross. On Sunday, I will celebrate the day when Jesus conquered death.

Happy Good Friday!

Copyright © 2014 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Personal mission

My husband and I was at a 5-day conference a couple of weeks ago. On one of the days we looked at the importance of a personal mission statement. I knew that it was important for a company to have a mission statement, but I didn’t realize that we should have our own mission statement too.

My mission statement (although I never referred to it as that before) was to, “help people grow in their relationship with Christ.” In fact, I discovered it was the first sentence in the “About Me” section of my blog site.

Recently, I was offered an online adjunct position with a secular college after an acquaintance referred me. I have taught part-time at several Christian colleges but this would be my first non-Christian school. I went through the three week training and was assigned my first class (it starts in mid-May).

The whole time that I was filling out my paperwork, going through training, and waiting on my class to start, I kept wondering what my purpose was in teaching there. I tried to convince myself that God opened this door and that I could “witness” to non-believers there, but something didn’t seem right to me.

Today I thought about my personal mission statement—“to help people grow in their relationship with Christ” and I realized that this school didn’t fit my mission statement.

Proverbs 4:25-27 says, “Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes… Mark out a straight path for your feet… Don’t get sidetracked…” (NLT). Yes, it would be good to teach at another school, but if my main reason for teaching is to help people grow in their relationship with Christ, then this was not the right place to do that.

I wonder how many things we do that distract us from our personal mission—things we convince ourselves to do that turns into a distraction? We need less distraction in our lives.

What’s your personal mission?

Copyright © 2014 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti