Talk to God

I have encountered some people who feel that a Christian ought to project a “perfect” life. I’m not sure how they came to that conclusion, but because they felt this way they didn’t appear “real” to others. Sometimes people are afraid to admit their faults because others might ridicule or shame them. If we are not honest with one another, then how can we help each other? I think about these two Scripture verses: James 5:16, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other…” (NIV), and Galatians 6:2, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (NIV). We should be honest with one another, but most especially we must be honest with God– even though He already knows what we are thinking and feeling, there is something in speaking about our feelings/thoughts with Him that helps to change our perspective.

We often set boundaries, being careful in knowing when, and with whom, to divulge. Sometimes we can’t divulge everything, even when we trust the person we usually confide in; but we have God. I think about Matthew 6:6, “… when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen…” (NIV). The Scripture verse is about people who pray in public just to appear righteous, but I think the fact that we should go into a room and pray to God on our own shows that He is the only One we can truly express our most inner thoughts and feelings. Sometimes people are so distraught that they can’t even verbally express what they feel, but God understands us, “…We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God” (NIV).

So, the take-away is, we need to be “real” with others—none of us are perfect, which means we all make mistakes. We should share our faults and heartache with one another, but sometimes we can’t so we must turn to God. Even though you might not know what or how to pray, go someplace to be alone and just talk to God.

Copyright © 2018 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti
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“One Thing” For All Marriages

I’ve been married for almost 32 years. There was a time when I didn’t think we would celebrate our 17th wedding anniversary. My marriage had a rough start. Not only were we teenagers when we got married, but we came from different backgrounds and we had varying views of what marriage should look like. For instance, my husband was somewhat of a “traditionalist”— he wanted me to take his last name yet he wanted me to work outside of the home; I was a little less traditional and wanted to keep my last name, but I wanted to stay at home with any of my future children. The way we each handled conflict was not very healthy— we mimicked our parents in what they did when they encountered conflict in their own marriages (i.e., yelling, throwing dishes, storming out of the house, punching walls, etc.).

Although we attended church, we never really grew as a couple. Even while attending seminary together, we still “butted heads” and we had poor communication skills (at least when we spoke to each other). We took a “marriage enrichment” course, an elective for both of our degree tracks, and after a few weeks we spoke to the teacher, Dr. Cutrer (Dr. C.), and his wife. The discussion with them helped us to realize that we had a lot of work ahead of us; and even though we were more aware of how we were speaking to each other, there was still something missing in our marriage and there was still an underlying tension in our relationship.

It wasn’t until several years later that our marriage actually took a turn for the positive. I was a doctoral student at that point, and my dissertation was on long term marriages that were on the verge of a divorce and how marriage mentoring helped their marriages (https://oatd.org/oatd/record?record=handle\%3A10392\%2F3736). The focus of the study was on marriage mentoring, but there was something other than marriage mentoring that every couple said changed their marriage; and it was that one thing (technically, two things) that changed our own marriage.

That “one thing” was reading the Bible together as a couple then praying with and for each other after reading. The first time we read together felt a little awkward to me, and praying aloud was “different.” We pressed forward though, and now after nearly five years of reading the Bible and praying together, our marriage is stronger and more God-centered than it has ever been. When we have a conflict, we are no longer trying to “win” the argument, nor are we expressing our emotions in a negative way— instead, we readily apologize to one another and we find a solution to the issue.

Our marriage is not perfect, but it is more forgiving— it exemplifies Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” It is also less selfish than what it was—“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others [your spouse] above yourselves” (Phil 2:3).

Whenever we have the opportunity, we tell couples in our church that they should read the Bible together and pray for one another because to actively worship God through their marriage supernaturally changes the marriage and it changes the way they interact with one another. So, if you are married, and you want a more fulfilling marriage, then start reading the Bible together, and then sincerely pray for one another—you will not regret it.

Copyright © 2016 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

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

Run with a purpose

For a while now I have known about my first half marathon run in January but I did not train for it like I should have. After getting back from my vacation in late October, it was difficult for me to get back into a routine.

I should have taken my training more seriously months ago—even training during my vacation, but I kept thinking that January was so far away and that I had a lot of time to prepare for it. Now we are nearing the end of November, which means that I only have a month and a half to train.

I thought about the Scripture verses that referenced running and training:

1 Corinthians 9:25-27, “All athletes are disciplined in their training… So I run with purpose in every step… I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should.”

Hebrews 12:1, “…let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”

Many times I do not take my spiritual training very seriously. I am lax in my Bible reading and prayer because I get busy with other things.

I am pressured to push myself and run now even when I don’t feel like running because I know when my race will take place, but I think I am not as serious in my spiritual training because there is no set day when Jesus will return:

“…be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him… Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come” (Matt 24:44, 42).

I think I have to change my mindset—I’m not just training for Christ’s return, I am currently in the race—I am being timed and I need to  finish strong.

Every waking moment is time on the spiritual track and I can’t stop or quit—I have to keep running. I now have a different understanding of Isaiah 40:28-31,

“The Lord is the everlasting God… He will not grow tired or weary… He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak… those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength… they will run and not grow weary.”

Copyright © 2013 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

Riding a bike

I have heard the saying, “You never forget how to ride a bike,” but in my case it is not true.

ImageSeveral weeks ago I rode a bike for the first time in almost 30 years. I had difficulty going forward without nearly crashing whenever I was on the bike.

I remember how much I enjoyed riding when I was younger, and I really wanted to get better at riding the bike again so every time we would go camping I would make it a point to ride the bike.  Now I am slowly relearning how to ride one.

Yesterday, my youngest son came to visit us at the local campground. He needed a key code to get in so I thought I would ride to the gate on my bike. I guess my mind was on getting there so I didn’t even think about how unsteady I had previously been on the bike.

I realized after riding nearly effortlessly there that I had remembered how to ride again— it was like something in my brain just “clicked.”

I was able to ride with only one hand on the handle bar and I could look back without swerving out of control. I was riding fast and veering around people and other obstacles— it was such a great feeling.

Sometimes I think my relationship with God is like riding a bike— I forget how to worship Him. I read the Bible, but I forget to think about how awesome God is. I pray, but I don’t really remember the One I am praying to. Often, I read the Bible and pray to God as if I was a “robot.”

When I spend more time in strengthening my relationship with God, then I remember everything about Him. I remember all the prayers He answered, and I can recall the many times He had guided and protected me.

I suppose it is easy to forget about God—the Israelites did, many times, in the Old Testament. I think that if I never stopped to think about God and what He means to me then I would forget about Him too.

I want to put as much effort in knowing God as I did in relearning how to ride a bike. I want to worship God like I did when I first became a believer—all I wanted to do then was to please God and to thank Him for everything.

My prayer now is, “Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me… Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you… Unseal my lips, O Lord, that my mouth may praise you” (Psalm 51:10, 12, 15, NLT).

Copyright © 2013 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

I’m alive!

I never thought I would ever say, “3 miles? No problem!” or “6 miles? I can do that!” There was a time in my life when I could barely run 15 minutes on a slow setting on my treadmill and one mile was a long distance for me. I compared my running with my Christian walk. There was a time when reading one Scripture verse every day was difficult and I only prayed at meal time. I can truly say that God has “shook me” so that I take my relationship with Him more seriously. I don’t think it is a coincidence that I am able to accomplish more now than I ever had before.

I was weak in every aspect of my life— my marriage, my teaching, my time with God, my time with my children, my personal discipline, my self-control, etc. Everything I did was based on my own efforts and strength—there was nothing supernatural about it. The turning point for me was when a voice in a dream said, “You are weak… it [demonic forces] will overtake you.” I knew then that I can’t do anything without God—I needed to build that relationship with Him—I couldn’t continue having occasional conversations with Him when it was convenient for me and my schedule.

My desire is to stress to you the importance of reading your Bible and praying to God everyday (even when you don’t feel like it). Now I read a one-year Bible in the morning with my husband then pray, and I read a certain book of the Bible at night. I say this not because I want to appear “holy,” but to say that if I can do it then you can too. I do it because I need to grow spiritually strong—I don’t ever want to face a spiritual attack without proper “armor.”

In our reading today we came across these passages: “You will experience all these blessings if you obey the LORD your God: Your towns and fields will be blessed. Your children and your crops will be blessed. The offspring of your herds and flocks will be blessed. Your fruit baskets and breadboards will be blessed. Wherever you go and whatever you do, you will be blessed… The LORD will guarantee a blessing on everything you do and will fill your storehouses with grain… If you obey the commands of the LORD your God and walk in his ways…” (Deu 28:2-6, 8-9, NLT).

I think if we have a sincere desire to follow God and we build that relationship with Him by reading His Word, praying to Him, and studying the Bible, then He will bless us. I know He has blessed me more than I can even imagine possible. He has breathed new life into my withered body and dying spirit and I can truly say that I am alive.

Today I ran 13.11 miles—all things are possible with God!

Copyright © 2013 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

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