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

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

Unknown territory

I’ve recently started a mentoring relationship (God has a way of taking us out of our comfort zone).  It’s something that I’ve never done before, and something I was not really looking for. I’ve read about mentoring and even studied the topic, but I have never mentored anyone nor have I ever been mentored. Yes, I’ve raised my children—giving them guidance and support, and I’ve had people give me advice, but I think mentoring involves much more than that.

I approached the first day of mentoring like a counseling session—asking what the goal would be, etc. Unlike a typical counseling session, though, I shared more about myself— it was both of us talking a little about our current situation and about our background. I’m not sure if we ever came up with concrete goals, but I think we decided to be accountable to each other for our reading of the Bible and other books.

This is unknown territory for me—I feel kind of lost. I am the kind of person that likes to plan things—where we are going and how we will get there. This new venture is different—I have no idea what to do or what the main purpose will be but I’ll do this because I think God is trying to grow me in an area where I am weakest—relationships with others.

I think God puts us in unfamiliar situations because He wants us to stop being complacent and stagnant. He wants us to grow and flourish.  It reminds me of the Bonzai tree—if left alone it would grow in its own direction, but in order for it to look extraordinarily beautiful, it has to be shaped and moved in a different direction.

I don’t know what the end result of this mentoring relationship will be, but I know that God has placed it in my life for a reason. I just have to depend on His guidance and allow the situation to grow me in a different direction.

Copyright © 2013 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Set back

Yesterday was “Day 5” post-surgery. I was doing great—eating some solid foods, not taking any pain medication, able to open my mouth to see the back of my throat, and even though I had difficulty with it, I was able to swallow my allergy tablet.

Early this morning, I woke up with intense pain radiating from the surgical site to my ears and down my neck. The back of my throat was swollen and I could hardly swallow. It was about the same pain I felt right after I had surgery.

I quickly realized that I had forgotten to take my steroid last night before going to sleep. I quickly got out of bed to take it, and for the first time in days, I also took pain medication. As I took the meds, I started to blame my husband— “why didn’t he remind me to take my medication? Does he know that I’m not well? All he cares about is himself!”

The good thing about taking liquid pain medication is that it gets into the body quickly. The pain is less intense now, and with a clearer head I realized how easily people can revert back to their “old self.”

It’s almost effortless to exhibit Christian-like characteristics when everything is going well, but when something is wrong or if nothing positive is happening then we go back to acting the way we did before we knew Christ— doing and saying things that we shouldn’t do or say, and even relying on ourselves.

James 1:12 says, “God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation…” Galatians 6:9 encourages us to keep going, “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”

I think all of us have moments when we stumble, but we need to get up and continue on the road that God has placed us—we can’t go back to the way we were when we didn’t know Him. Sometimes that’s hard to do, especially when life is difficult; but that’s when we need to fully rely on God.

I am like a wounded animal right now. I am tired of being in the state that I am in, but I can’t let my current circumstances hold me back from growing into the image of Jesus. I need to find joy despite my pain and misery. I need to continue focusing on positive things—“Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise… Then the God of peace will be with you” (Phil 4:8-9).

Copyright © 2013 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Get back in the race!

My husband and I will be running in the “Redlegs Run” this Saturday. My goal is to run it in 30 minutes or less. Today I worked on my running speed, and I was able to run a mile in 9:46 minutes. I struggled the other two miles, but I was able to complete 3.1 miles in 29.40 minutes. I’m not sure if I will do as well in the “real” run, but I’m just happy that I am constantly improving, and I can see how I am progressing.

I thought about the Christian life and how it relates to running or training for a run; in fact, the running analogy is used several times in the Bible—Hebrews 12:1, 1 Corinthians 9:24-25, Philippians 3:14, and 2 Timothy 4:7-8.

Just as I have to push myself to increase my speed or distance, in the same way, we have to put effort into our own spiritual growth. We can’t expect to grow if we don’t read the Bible, go to worship, or study the Word.

Sometimes I have a terrible run and even though I may feel like giving up, I push forward.  I think we experience the same thing in the Christian life— sometimes our spiritual life (or even life in general) can be “dry” but we need to keep reading, praying, and studying. I think when we stop reading the Bible, studying His Word, or praying then we start losing the momentum we had gained.

When I started to run again after I had stopped running for nearly three weeks because of a pulled hamstring muscle, it was like I was training from the very beginning—running slowly and running only a short distance. Even though I was very frustrated, I kept going.

If you’ve slowly “fallen away” from worship, Bible reading, and prayer, then don’t quit—get back in the race and keep going. Remember, all that matters is that you finish the race.

Copyright © 2013 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Total trust

This morning part of our reading consisted of Numbers 9—“On the day the Tabernacle was set up, the cloud covered it.But from evening until morning the cloud over the Tabernacle looked like a pillar of fire. This was the regular pattern—at night the cloud that covered the Tabernacle had the appearance of fire. Whenever the cloud lifted from over the sacred tent, the people of Israel would break camp and follow it. And wherever the cloud settled, the people of Israel would set up camp. In this way, they traveled and camped at the Lord’s command wherever he told them to go. Then they remained in their camp as long as the cloud stayed over the Tabernacle” (vs. 15-18).

I can picture the people setting up a tent and having to break it down at a moment’s notice. They had no idea how long they would be at a certain place—“Whether the cloud stayed above the Tabernacle for two days, a month, or a year, the people of Israel stayed in camp and did not move on. But as soon as it lifted, they broke camp and moved on” (vs. 22). Everything must have felt so temporary—no opportunity to “build roots,” no opportunity to feel comfortable, etc.

I thought about Hebrews 13:14, “For this world is not our permanent home…” Our purpose in life is not to be comfortable because sometimes comfort brings complacency or stagnation. We often grow spiritually when we are uncomfortable. The people in Numbers 9 did not know where or when they were going—they just had to rely on God to guide them.

When was the last time you totally trusted God to guide you? Sometimes we just have to let go of our own comfort to follow Him.

Copyright © 2013 M. Teresa Trascritti

Be steadfast

I ran today. I was hoping to run/jog about 9 miles. During my workout I kept thinking about the idea of being “steadfast.” I think of “steadfast” as sticking to something—even if you mess up, you keep going. First Corinthians 15:58 says, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord” (NASB).

Even though the passage doesn’t refer to running, I can apply the basic principle—“be steadfast… knowing that your toil is not in vain”—to me this means, keep going… your hard work will result in something positive.  I applied the Scripture verse for running, but I can also use it for my Christian growth.  I have not become the Christian that I want to be yet. I might say something or do something that I will regret, but I have to give it to God and keep pressing forward.

Today I ran 10.25 miles—I read the Bible this morning and prayed.

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Be steadfast in all that you do.

Copyright © 2013 M. Teresa Trascritti