Sunday, August 28, 2016

When you are suffering, follow Christ's example!

Rick Warren posted a wonderful article that I would like to share with you. It concerned pain and suffering and how to handle it. He began his article with a quote from the Bible:
“To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.” (1 Peter 2:21 NIV)

Rick Warren stated that everyone faces a tragedy at some point in his or her life. Not one of us can escape tragedy. Certainly, Jesus did not escape tragedy. However, Jesus did give us  fine example on handling pain with His death. He gave us a model of what we should do during the worst day of our lives. Look at 1 Peter 2:21: "To this you were called because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps." (NIV)

Rick goes on to share that several years ago before Easter, his youngest son took his life. And, it was the worst day of his life. However, he looked to the model of Jesus. The answer that came to him was Easter.

Let's look at what Jesus did during the worst day of his life on earth. First, he reached out to friends. The night that Jesus knew he was going to be arrested and executed, he gathered with his friends. All he wanted was to be with them. God didn't want his son to go through pain on his own. Being with a body of believers is what we need when something awful happens. 

Then, Jesus reached out to God through prayer. In times of trouble you need friends but you need God much more. When no one else will be with you, God will be there right by your side. Remember Jesus prayed to his father in the Garden of Gethsemane. When you pray, say something like "Lord, you can do anything because you are Lord." Then, say, "I can't go through this pain. It is too much." After that, surrender to his will. In other words, "Don't do what you want to do but what God wants for you."

Remember, you and I were not meant to go through suffering alone. When times get tough, reach out and up--because He will be waiting for you.

One other note, when I felt so alone and frightened with physical pain I had--and sometimes still have--I used to feel frightened and alone. It wasn't until my husband told me, "Honey, you are never alone; I am with you but more than anything, Jesus and God are with you." After hearing those words, I got busy praying and reading the Bible. There are three other steps I have taken that have also helped
and they are: (1) I acknowledge each day that I love the Lord with all my heart, body, soul and strength and mind, (2) love my neighbor as myself, (3) try to do what is right according to God's will and then once I do something, I leave it be and move on." After all, like all Christians, I have to be about my Father's business!

Copyright Toni Star 2016

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Instead of fighting back from an attack, rest!

I read Rick Warren's article titled, "When you're under attack, just rest." In the last year, I have read many of his articles but I found this one particularly interesting. When he writes, "The world is getting ruder," I totally get that. When waiting in line and someone pushes through or when someone gives a rude reply like, "Who cares or who are you," I am tempted to fight back with a similar comment.

When people are rude or unkind is shows how small their hearts are. Small people belittle people, while great people make people feel great. Like many, I find it hard dealing with rude people. Rick Warren says don't handle people at all. He says, "Let God handle them." This is good and true because God, indeed, is our defender.

It is true that it takes a lot of faith and humility to trust God when you are under attack, when people spread rumors about your or when you are misunderstood. Often, I want to rise up and do something about it. But, you know what? You and I don't have to do anything. You can I can be like Jesus. He remained silent when he was attacked, even on his way to the cross. He stayed silent before those who accused him because he trusted in his father, God.

Now, that doesn't mean we have to be wimps; Jesus wasn't a wimp. There were times when he showed his anger, like the time he turned the tables of the money changers. The difference there was he saw that the money changers were using the house of God for profit and not for worship and prayer; whereas when he was under attack, he entrusted his feelings to his Father.

These words from 1 Peter 4:19 can help a great deal: "So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to God who created you, for he will never fail you."

What wonderful and comforting words! We all are attacked from time to time and as Christians, we can expect it to happen but our God will never fail us!

Blessings to all,

Toni

Sunday, July 3, 2016

God will give you the power to keep going!

Not long ago, I read an article that Rick Warren wrote about the importance of "keep going." From (Philipppians 1:6a NLT) comes: "God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished."

When I thought about those words, it gave me comfort because sometimes I feel like I can't go on, I just feel tired and weary. Maybe you, too, have felt this way. When you reread those words you see that it doesn't say that God may finish the good work within you, it says that God will finish the good work within you.

What this means to you and me is that once you have surrendered yourself to Christ and have made Him number one in your life, you will be going to Heaven. The only question is how you complete your life? Some will do well during the course of their lives, while others will barely make it. To finish the race of life in a good way, you need God's sustaining grace.

As Rick Warren put it, "Sustaining grace is the power to keep on going when you feel like giving up. It is the power to do the right thing when you don't feel like doing the right thing." Think back on the times when you didn't feel like doing the right thing; like helping a person who has often been rude and unkind or when you feel physically and mentally down and someone wants you to listen to them. It's not easy, is it?

So when you just don't feel like going on--going to that meeting or helping a neighbor who is needy--know that when you are a child of Christ and have made Him number one in your life, you can go that meeting, you can make that pie for your neighbor--you can do all things through Christ. He will give you His sustaining grace!

Start each day by thanking God for the day, ask Him for his guidance and ask Him to "go before you in all you do." Make each day a good day with the good Lord!

Copyright Toni Star 2016

Friday, May 6, 2016

Your Life is Shaped by your thoughts

Not an original topic, I know; however, it is a true saying that "whatever you think, therefore you will become." Of course, we are all products of our environment and certainly our past and current environment shapes who we are. According to Rick Warren, Christian writer and author, there are five factors that influence our identity and they are: how you and I are made, connections, identity, circumstances and consciousness.

Everyday, you and I experience life and interact with others. There are days when life is good and days when life is a challenge.

Consciousness is how you and I talk to ourselves. If, however, you talked to your friends and family the way you talk to yourself, you probably wouldn't be friends too long with them because our thoughts are often filled with the lies we've heard from other people that we sometimes let simmer and fester. When you repeat other people's thoughts in your head, those thoughts go deep into your consciousness and begin to shape your identity.

Rick Warren states in his article, "Your thoughts don't have to be true to hurt you; you just have to believe them." For example, if you tell yourself that your relationship with your sister or brother won't last, then it won't. If you're afraid to do something, then you won't. Your thoughts will run your life.

However, this doesn't have to be. God is in control of everything. You can change the way you think. Circumstances and Consciousness do shape who you are but the way you respond to your thoughts and circumstances, will shape the rest of your life!

So, keep your thoughts in alignment with God. To do this, you will need to stay in contact with Him every day. Pray, meditate and read the Bible. These activities will keep you close to His desires for your life. Think of God's faithfulness as a Morning glory flower--ready to blossom each morning, ready to add glory and beauty to the day.
He will show you the way to live a more positive and uplifting life! Trust in Him, always!

Copyright Toni Star 2016

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Christianity is Changing: a Commentary by Toni Star


Christianity is changing; however, even though these words have been written before, they are disturbing.  Church attendance has dropped--not just in the U.S. but also in many countries overseas.  However, there is a rise in Christianity in many other parts of the world. In addition, some are looking at the Bible differently. Some are questioning the Old Testament and are trying to interpret its meaning by themselves.

It is important to note that many teachings of Christianity that have been solid for centuries are now being questioned such as the role of women in church, Jesus as the only way to God and changing views on homosexuality. Most importantly, many are no longer following the normal and established Christian way of living such as being married before having sex or teaching their children about God and Jesus and why they are so important in a Christian’s life. Instead, many are now accepting premarital sex, saying also that sexual abuse within the church is merely something that “happens now and then” and being more tolerant of other beliefs; such beliefs are a "slippery slope" and can water down our solid Christian beliefs. 

Keep in mind, too, that other types of faith are being more and more accepted such as alternative worship or an emerging church type of faith.

So, how are we as Christians react to react when we see our faith being watered down in our churches, on TV or in the movies? Do we look the other way and say, “Well, that’s O.K. as long as it doesn’t affect me or my family.” Or, do we say, “No, I don’t agree with this and I will either go to another church or continue stay with my church but follow beliefs that are set by God?

The decision, of course, is up to each person. From reading the Bible and praying, most Christians know and understand the importance of believing and following God and Jesus. I think, too, when we see situations where we feel a need to take a stand and can do it without being harmed, we should. Of course, this is up to the individual and of course, like Jesus we can certainly show our displeasure with how Christianity is presented by switching to another TV station, not watching a movie that degrades human beings and Christianity or staying away from individuals or groups of people who are leading ungodly lives.  Perhaps these ways are more effective.

Most importantly, as Christian writers we can proclaim the word of God and give factual information on the goodness of Christ and the importance of staying close to Him.

Perhaps one very good reason for following Christ and His Father, God comes from the following statement that was written in Revelations:

Revelation 3:15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!



Revelation 3:17 You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.”

To conclude, Christian faith and how we proclaim and live it is up to you and me. We can either set the standard of Christianity or we can follow a path that will lead us into eternal darkness.



 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Thanksgiving at Grandma's


November, then and now, signals just one thing to me, Thanksgiving at Grandma’s.  Thanksgiving at her house was paradise!  The atmosphere of food, laughter and love was wonderful and unforgettable. 

Thanksgiving morning at our house was busy.  Mom would prepare a salad or pie; we kids would dress up in our good clothes and then go outside to play. We had to be careful not to get dirty.  Good clothes in our family didn’t come easy.  We weren’t poor but we were very frugal with money and food.  Meanwhile, Dad stayed busy in the garage checking out the old Chevy.  He’d check the oil, water and the battery and then give the tires a kick, for readiness. 

Often, I would go into the garage from time to time to see how he was doing.  Often, he found things for me to do-such as checking the oil and water and inspecting the car battery to see if was clean and water filled to the proper level. I always felt important helping Dad, especially on holidays, when there was much to do. 

Later, around 12 we all piled into the Chevy, eager for Thanksgiving dinner. We would arrive at Grandma’s, all dressed up, gifts in hand, with offerings of a waldorf salad and pie. As we walked through her door the aroma of turkey and onions would fill our senses with the joy of delicious food to come.  That first whiff of turkey and steamed vegetables was delicious!  We walked through the house into her kitchen and put our donations of food and small gifts, (often a bottle of Rum) onto the kitchen table, kiss Grandma and then go into the living room where we would sit and talk.  Later, Mom and I would return to the kitchen and help Grandma with the meal. 

It was my job to help Grandma prepare the dressing, with ingredients of butter, celery, bread, milk, and onion, then help with the progress of the turkey.  Mom would put her donations of food into the already crammed refrigerator and then prepare green beans or another salad for dinner. Inside the oven the turkey was roasting, and occasionally Grandma would let me use her large ladling spoon to baste the turkey.    Later, Grandma and I would finish preparing a pie—often apple or cherry.  I would round out the crust while she prepared the filling.  After that was done, we’d check on the vegetables and then I would set the table.   

I loved that job because she had beautiful crystal and China, with delicate pink and blue patterns on the dishes and matching pink crystal for glasses. She also had beautiful silverware that was kept in a special drawer in the living room.  I would carefully remove the dinnerware from the old ornate cabinet in the dining room and tenderly place each piece in the proper setting.  I loved how it all sparkled on the table.

The meal of Turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes; real green beans, cranberries and pie filled us up till we could eat no more.  We would all sit at the large table, enjoy her traditional Thanksgiving meal and talk about the latest “Uncle Millie” or “Jackie Gleason” shows.  We all loved those shows and each of us tried to “out do” each other, with our imitations of “Uncle Miltie” or “Jackie Gleason.” The adults would later have wine or brandy and we kids would go out and play in the small backyard.  Sometimes I would deliver food Grandma prepared for an old lady across the street.  The old lady lived alone and was often too ill to prepare food for herself.  I loved doing this for Grandma, and the old lady was always happy to receive it. I took pride running this errand because I helped Grandma prepare much of the meal.

Today, I continue Grandma’s Thanksgiving meal.  I have altered some of the foods but I try to prepare most of the foods she prepared; homemade  dressing, mashed potatoes 

and pie.  Many in my family can’t attend because they live too far away.  But, those who do enjoy a Thanksgiving meal of the 50’s.  You see, Grandma’s gone, but her traditions live on in a woman from the 50’s.
Happy Thanksgiving to all and to all a blessed day with family!
Copyright Toni Star 2015
During the holidays, check out my revision edition of Maria's Final Days! End Times are upon us and this book will help! Here is the link   http://www.lulu.com/shop/toni-star/marias-final-days-second-edition/hardcover/product-22462347.html 

 

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Willfulness or Willful: The Choice is Yours!


I was talking with a friend several years ago and we began talking about people and how some are focused on Christ and are willing to do His will; while others are willful and want to do only what is best for them. The more we discussed the many examples of willfulness and willingness, we came to the conclusion that it is the choices we make each that define and illustrate our willingness or willfulness toward Christ and His message.

When you think about these two words—willing and willful—you will see how each word describes clearly Christian acts while the other one describe unchristian acts. As Christians, we’re all guilty from time to time doing things our way but it takes insight and a desire to change in order to get back on track with Christ. Think of times when you wanted to do something and then did it willingly and then recall when you did something in a willful way.

Now, think about when you didn’t want to do something but did it anyway and did it your way, and only when you wanted to do it. You were being willful, right? And, didn’t you most likely, cause problems wanting to do it your way? I know I can remember times when I was willful, like not wanting to help with chores at home and the problems and turmoil that came with it. Actually, when I was willful, it made the project or projects more difficult and time-consuming.

Then there are examples of pop stars, politicians and others who sometimes act willfully, even spitefully –just so they could have it their way! An example might be acting in a movie where they know the message is dark and offending to many but they do it anyway or being unkind or unruly to another actor or actress, when what they need to do is cooperate and help. Family members, myself included, have acted at times, willfully and have caused great frustration and anguish. There have been times when a family member has asked me to do something and willfully, I turned them down simply because I didn’t want to take time out of my life to do so.

When I think about how one acts when being willful I think of several adjectives/body languages that describe that emotion—selfish, self-centered, mean, negative, cruel come to mind--but mostly selfish. The body language would be folded hands in front of the chest, mean look, loud talking, and walking away from a conversation and others.

On the other hand, when one thinks of someone acting willingly to help out, to give to others, much different adjectives and behaviors come to mind—kind, helpful, happy, positive, giving and loving. The body language when someone is willing is a happy countenance, a smile on one’s face, opened arms, soft conversation and an agreeable and helpful attitude. What a difference in behavior, isn’t it?

The Bible presents many examples of “willingness” and “willfulness.” An example of willfulness from the Bible is when Moses was dealing with the Pharaoh, pleading to let the Israelites leave Egypt. The Pharaoh would not let the Israelites go, and so He and his country endured the plagues which God allowed, hoping to soften his heart and let the people go. .Eventually, he did –after his son died. The Pharaoh, because of his stubbornness allowed himself and his people go through many afflictions—covering of the land with frogs, dust becoming gnats and covering the ground, swarms of flies, swarm of locusts covering the land, venomous snakes and other afflictions.

In contrast examples of willingness show a different way of thinking and acting. Such an example can be found from Genesis 23:8 “He said to them, “If you are willing to let me bury my dead, then listen to me and intercede with Ephron son of Zohar on my behalf.”

And from Exodus 35:21: “and everyone who was willing and whose heart moved him came and brought an offering to the LORD for the work on the Tent of Meeting, for all its service, and for the sacred garments.”

And from Exodus 35:29 : “All the Israelite men and women who were willing brought to the LORD freewill offerings for all the work the Lord through Moses had commanded them to do.

Lastly, from Judges 5:2: “when the princes in Israel take the lead, when the people willingly offer themselves—praise the Lord!

What a difference there is in behavior when it comes to willing and willful. We see with the Pharaoh what happened as a result of his willfullness---death and destruction; while from the Israelites we see a desire and willingness to follow God and do what was right-- but only after they were willful for 40 years—wandering in the wilderness….Too bad it took so long! And in each case, look at the results and aftermath of willfulness….

Then I often think about how I could make my life better and how better to deal with people who are negative and willful. I made up a small list on how I could achieve this. This is what I came up with:

  1. When God wants me to do something, even though I don’t want to do it, I need to be open-minded and willing to do what He wants, for He cares about me and wants the best.
  2. Be aware of areas in my life where I’m willful—such as overeating, wanting to do thinks my own way, being selfish, not giving to others when they need it.
  3. Be more willing—not willful—to pray more, read the Bible more and be aware of areas where the “enemy” might attack—most likely in areas where I’ve had problems/fears before…
  4. Lastly, be willing and eager to love God more than anyone or any “thing” on earth. Keep Him #1 always. By doing that I will stay willing to follow God’s plan and this will keep me free and positive!
So, what can you and I glean from all of this? You might think that it’s “hip” to be willful or cruel; that your friends might find it “cool” to be willful.

But, you know what? Willfulness might be cool and work to your advantage for awhile but in the end, you’ll be all alone, unhappy and without anyone to share your life with. It is wise, I think, to be “willing” to be agreeable, “willing” to help, “willing” to make a difference; for all of this will lead to a better, longer and happier life. And, you will also find that by being willing to help and assist others at home or at work, you will find your life to be more fulfilling, interesting and a life that will consistently more productive, refreshing and Christ-like.

The choice is yours….Which will you choose?

Copyright Toni Star 2015