The Chosen

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

1 Peter 2:9  (NIV)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I want to give a heartfelt ‘thumbs up’ to the new series on the ministry and followers of Jesus called, The Chosen. Based entirely on the Bible, it is a real life depiction of being the students of a rabbi they come to believe is the promised Messiah. Get a firsthand look at living as an enemy in your own country occupied by Roman military.

There have been many televised specials over the years on the life & ministry of  Jesus Christ. We’ve seen the healings, the sermons, the betrayal, the crucifixion and resurrection. What makes The Chosen any different? The characters are so real! After seeing an episode, it feels like we just had lunch with the apostle Peter, or Matthew, or Thomas. They are so human & realistic, including their special personality quirks.

Meet Mary Magdalene, Nicodemus, and many others chosen by Jesus to help him spread his message of love and compassion. As history documents, this will not be an easy road for any of His followers. We tend to take for granted the faith we enjoy today without acknowledging what the early Christians suffered to make it real.

They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.”

Revelation 17:14

 

The Chosen has its’ own app. Get it at the App Store or Google play…”THE CHOSEN” APP. It is also available on YouTube. It’s completely free. All that’s needed is a smart phone AND a smart T.V. Here’s my special tip though! We’re not ALL tech savvy. I called my nephew to get the app from my phone to my T.V. It took us a little while to figure it out, but now I can watch it whenever I want.

The producers plan to keep it a free series! So before or after viewing the episode, we are prompted to “Pay It Forward”. It’s completely voluntary! Two seasons have already been paid for simply by viewers paying it forward.  People all over the world have chosen to spread the word and share “The Chosen”. With a $14.99 contribution, “The Chosen” is shared with 10 people. It’s a simple way we can ALL spread the word of God!

Below is a link to a very powerful and personal testimony about the virtues of humility and mercy given by Jonathan Roumie. Jonathan is the actor who portrays Jesus in the series, The Chosen. Please wait until you have 30 minutes to devote to watching it,…because once you start, you won’t want to stop!

Dear Lord,

Let us find examples of how you want us to live as we watch the followers of Jesus behaving as normal folks just like us! Thank You for giving us all an opportunity to spread Your word and Your love through such a compelling series as The Chosen.

 

Once you are on mvarga.com, please read through past blogs and find more about my books & fitness tips!

You can also follow me on Facebook, www.facebook.com/mlvarga/

FROM TRIAL TO TRIUMPH

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

James 1:2-4 (NIV)

 

‘From TriaI to Triumph’… isn’t that what Jesus did when He rose from the dead? This is still the Easter season. What a perfect time to reflect on how wondrous things can come from the most horrific of circumstances. At our Easter celebration, the pastor spoke of how we can’t experience the joyful resurrection without Jesus first enduring the pain, suffering and humiliation of the cross. He had to die before we could experience eternal life with Him.

We’ve all lived through a year where everything in life was different due to COVID. This has become our new normal. Won’t it be wonderful when we can once again go to a sporting event, graduation or concert without social distancing or wearing a mask? I’m looking forward to the day I need to buy another tube of lipstick…because others will be able to see my mouth.

In order to appreciate the normal things, don’t we first have to experience the abnormal? An expectant mother understands why her stomach must expand as the child inside of her grows. The intense pain she must endure while giving birth is soon forgotten when she holds that precious, new life in her arms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.

! Peter 1:6  (NIV)

I remember the feelings of joy and excitement when I crossed the finish line of my first New York City marathon. I did it! I actually did it!

When we went out to dinner that night, others would come up and hug or high-five me when they saw my marathon medal. It was easy to forget the countless hours spent training in rain, in heat, in cold. I was on such a high, the post-marathon soreness and fatigue seemed a small price to pay.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Those are just two real-life examples of how we often times suffer on our way to achieving the prize. Suffering is not fun, but it is real. Why does it seem to be a prerequisite for many of the things we want in life?

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 15:57  (NIV)

 

Jesus endured the pain and suffering of the cross for the ultimate goal of bringing all who believed in Him into His kingdom. A mother endures the pain and suffering of childbirth to bring new life into the world. Both are in the business of expanding God’s family!

We can also refer to suffering as gut-wrenching work. It’s not pleasant… but we do put our whole heart, soul and body into it. We endure suffering because we know it will lead to an even greater victory that couldn’t be achieved without it.

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:14  (NIV)

We keep pressing because we see a light at the end of the tunnel. In my book, The Light Through My Tunnel, I give God the glory for standing beside me as I travel the long, sometimes lonely tunnel of physical disability caused by brain injury. He will do the same for any of us! We need to pray for an open, trusting heart…regardless of our circumstances.

 Sometimes we don’t see results with one attempt. We have to reevaluate and try again. Wouldn’t life be grand if we got everything right with our first effort? Waiting, suffering and trying again are a part of life….but so are hard-won victories.

So let’s look at the trials, the adversities and the struggles of our lives as simply stepping-stones to a more triumphant way of managing our lives. We’ll fall sometimes. (So did Jesus!) Sometimes, we’ll have to look at things from a different perspective. But we will develop the perseverance to keep plugging until we reach our goal!

 

Dear Lord,

We know You don’t want any of us to suffer unnecessarily. Going through the trial often seems the only way to enlarge our outlook on our adversity. Make clear to us what You’re trying to show us. Help us to get our mind off of ourselves long enough to perceive how others could be helped through our struggle.

We stand before You broken in some way. We ask You for the wisdom to look at our suffering through Your eyes…the eyes of love.

When You deem the right time to move on our behalf, may we rejoice with You and all the angels that the trial we entrusted to You has now become a TRIUMPH for You and us!

 

Once you are on mvarga.com, please read through past blogs and find more about my books & fitness tips!

You can also follow me on Facebook, www.facebook.com/mlvarga/

 

 

The Lord is Risen!

The Lord is Risen!

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16  (NIV)

 

I know I promised only one blog every other week, but Easter fell on an off week this year. So consider this date as the beginning of a new blog year. I certainly couldn’t skip over the most important holiday on our church calendar!

I am remembering Easter 2020. We were in full lock down from the corona virus. I sat at my kitchen counter in my sweats watching Easter services from my church virtually on my laptop. Maybe it would’ve felt more celebratory if I’d worn an Easter bonnet. My mother was a big hat fanatic, so Easter bonnets were a necessary part of any Easter services.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even though I felt sorry that we could not all gather to celebrate this Easter, I woke up that morning feeling happy that we’re able to live the lives we have (locked down or not) knowing that because of this special day, the best is still yet to come!

Christ was mocked, ridiculed and beaten. He died on that cross to ensure we had eternal life waiting for us. That means more to me the older I get. If my family history runs true…I’ll be waiting a few more decades. I can’t help but smile when I think what I have to look forward to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Easter is celebrated as everything is starting to bloom after a cold, dark winter. So in many ways, it begins a new season of growth. This year churches will once again be holding in-person services. Smaller? …Yes.  Masks?… Yes.

 Yet we will be together to observe this celebration of new life.

We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

Romans 6:4  (NIV)

 

My grandmother’s name was Mary Alice. We called her ‘MawMaw’. She would call every Easter morning proclaiming, “Christ is risen!” Our response was always, “Good morning MawMaw! Happy Easter!”

May we all observe this Easter Sunday as a well-established, yet profoundly joyful celebration of our new life in Christ!

THE LORD IS RISEN!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Lord,

On this holiest of days, may we experience the joy of immense gratitude for what You have done for us.  You have made possible the opportunity to live with You eternally, with no more struggle or suffering.

We praise Your holy name!

 

Once you are on mvarga.com, please read through past blogs and find more about my books & fitness tips!

You can also follow me on Facebook, www.facebook.com/mlvarga/

 

 

 

 

Let there Be Light!

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:14-16   (NIV)

What does it mean when someone asks us to be the light? Are we to illumine a dark path by bringing understanding into something confusing? Do we offer hope for a better outcome? Maybe we’re just supposed to be present to offer companionship and encouragement.

I think the ultimate compliment is when others see us as a light just because we are who we are and can be expected to respond to life in a certain way. People with light are the ones we want to be around. They’re joyful! They seem content. We want what they have!

Who brings light into your life? Is it a spouse…a child…a co-worker? My son, Andrew lives in Arkansas. Yet he brings light into my life every time we talk on the phone. No matter what life is throwing at you, there is a real sense of peace and comfort that comes from someone that knows you completely and loves you the same way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Andrew and I frequently engage in very deep, philosophical discussions. It warmed my heart when he gave me the above plaque for Christmas this year. I keep it on my TV stand, so I can see it at night when I relax to watch television. So I’m constantly reminded to ‘Be the Good’ for others. Am I being a light in Andrew’s life? I sure hope so! Sometimes he seems bewildered that I have such a cheerful outlook on life and what’s happening in the world. And yes, he rolls his eyes when I tell him “God’s got this!”

It’s hard to explain how centered my life feels in Jesus Christ. He’s guiding my thoughts as I write this blog right now. Or is that his Holy Spirit?  Both are a constant source of light for me.

 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

John 1:4-5   (NIV)

I see Christ love for me on a daily basis as others go out of their way to make my life easier. In my book, The Light Through My Tunnel, I speak of a priest telling me I had been given a great gift. I was giving others a chance to honor God by helping me. Can’t we all do the same thing?

I believe that the best way we can display our love for God is to be a light for others. It doesn’t require a lot of talent and effort to brighten someone’s day. Others just like to be noticed. I know I do! A text, email or phone call is all it takes to let someone know we’re thinking of them. We may not think we are doing anything significant, but God notices.

We never know how our simple actions can brighten someone’s day. It can take our mind off of our concerns for awhile. God smiles when we bring light into others’ lives.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

John 1:5  (NIV)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Lord,

It’s comforting to know we can always turn to You to bring light into any darkness we’re feeling in life. Show us how You want us to be the light for others. Please let Your spirit give us the words to encourage, motivate and help those who need Your light.

Thank You for placing others in our path who bring that light to us!

 

 

 

WAIT FOR IT!

For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false.
Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.

Habakkuk 2:3  (NIV)

 

Most of us are not good at waiting. When we determine what we think is the best thing for us, WE WANT IT NOW! Ever notice how that rarely happens in our prayer lives? Occasionally prayers are answered immediately, but God usually seems to be on a different time schedule than us.

It’s very hard to look at our waiting time as a training pause, but that’s exactly what it is in most cases. What is God trying to show us? What are we supposed to be doing now….right now? In the last blog (https://mvarga.com/spiritual-insights/now-what/) I suggested it was the Holy Spirit prompting us to do the next best thing we could do at the time…. Pray? Reach out to someone? Complete something on our ‘to do’ list? Exercise?

Life is rarely what we call mountain top moments. We’ve all had those wonderful times when everything seems to just click and we look at things from a different perspective. Now we know what God wants us to do! Sometimes we call those ‘Ah-ha! moments’.

Between those ‘Ah-ha! moments’ we need to live our day-to-day life in a way that is pleasing to God, doing the things He would want us to do. It seems He wants us to stay in this stage for a L.O.O.O.O.N.G time. How long Oh Lord? That was King David’s question.

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?

Psalm 13:1  (NIV)

It’s so easy to get frustrated and impatient during this waiting time. Are we even sure we’re doing the right thing? My ever-rationalizing son, Andrew wants to see proof whenever confronted with suggestions to improve whatever is ailing him in life. After weighing all the evidence, there comes a point when we have to take a leap of faith. If it’s wrong…we’ve simply learned another way NOT to do it!

Maybe we’re just afraid to try something new. It will make us feel uncomfortable. We’re such creatures of habit AND comfort! Most times we know in our hearts when something doesn’t feel right. Red flag though! Feelings can be very, very fickle! God’s will and OUR feelings can be polar opposite things.

Are we distressed or challenged with something? Have we run out of remedies? Is the issue becoming more than we can handle? That’s the time to lean into the Lord, expecting Him to lead us to the answer. Maybe this is the time to pull out our Bible concordance to see how the Lord would want us to respond.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the last decade, I have begun my exercise classes with the instruction, “Inhale and pull yourself up to the ceiling!” It’s my way to get the whole class sitting and standing taller. Perhaps we could start our day better, if while still in bed, we inhaled and looked up…to the Lord. What an excellent way to start the day!

We have the blessed assurance that the Lord is with us wherever we go and will not leave us in distress. He will provide us the strength necessary to either endure or turn around whatever circumstances we find ourselves in.

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!

Isaiah 30:18  (NIV)

 

Remember to always look and expect others to be the hands & feet of God. We are not an island to be kept to ourselves. Most times, those ‘ah-ha moments’ happen when we’re experiencing life with other people. Through others, we arrive at what we are to do.

Our father is the God Almighty. Just like our earthly dad, He wants the best for us. We may not always understand or agree with the path He assigns to us…but know that He is always working on our behalf. God knows and sees things that we don’t even perceive at the time. How many times have we looked back only to realize He saved our neck by withholding something (someone?) we thought we couldn’t live without? That’s what a good father does.

We just need to keep doing the next best thing! God sees all our efforts and will answer our prayers in His own way and time!

A dear friend of mine from Louisville Christian Writers (also a Mary) wrote the lyrics and melody to a beautiful Christian song called, OCCUPY.

 

 

 

 

I’ll share part of the chorus with you…

            You’ve got to watch and wait, eagerly anticipating …DON”T RUN AWAY AND HIDE

            You’ve got to watch and wait, eagerly anticipating…PRAY AND OCCUPY

            You’ve got to OCCUPY, until He comes…

I have to admit when Mary gave me the CD, I had to ask her what OCCUPY meant. That word was not in my Christian vocabulary.

When we OCCUPY, we go about our normal lives remaining in the presence of the Lord. Our thoughts and actions are made always in consideration of what He would want us to do…always thinking of His will for our life and for the world.

Perhaps God has a bigger plan in mind for our life. Maybe our life is the catalyst for something that could be a greater value to others. Remember to lean into God, looking and waiting for His direction.

Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 40:31  (NIV)

 

None of us has a crystal ball to tell us the future. We do the best we can holding tight to the hope that God will work everything out for our good and HIS glory. Just keep doing the next best thing!  Like the song says… We are to watch and wait, eagerly anticipate, not run away and hide.

Then we OCCUPY until He comes…

 

Dear Lord,

We’re trying. We really are! Please show us where we need to make adjustments in our plans and dreams. We are all selfish, sinful people.

We are also Your children! Please help us to recognize the Holy Spirit’s promptings as we go about our day. Inspire us to look to You for guidance and comfort.

Thank You for placing others in our life to be Your hands and feet!

 

Once you are on mvarga.com, please read through past blogs and find more about my books & fitness tips!

You can also follow me on Facebook, www.facebook.com/mlvarga/

 

 

 

 

 

NOW WHAT?

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 

Jeremiah 29:11  (NIV)

 

A friend from my Bible study once told me that God always has us exactly where He wants us. That friend, Tracy, ended up becoming one of the many therapists I called on to help me with balance training over the years.

Friends who bring God’s promises to me are the most precious kind of companion! We all need friends that we can see God working through. Because of the daily challenges I live with, I see God working through others all the time.

How are we bringing Christ into others’ lives? Can we offer our assistance with a challenge they are facing…or introduce them to someone who can? Sometimes just offering encouragement and hope is the most immediate and profound assistance we can offer. It’s not necessary to be in church or Bible study. We can bring Christ into someone’s life just by letting them know we were thinking of them.

So if God has us exactly where He wants us right now, what does He want us to do?

Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.

Psalm 143:10-11  (NIV)

The Holy Spirit can place us in situations or with others we can help. Sometimes He will even prompt us with the right words to enlighten or encourage them. Or maybe we’ll find ourselves in a place where we’ll finally decide to help ourselves. That’s what He did for me!

Since my natural balance was taken away by my traumatic brain injury (TBI), I’ve had to retrain my body to balance all over again, just like a child. Like most children, it’s easy to lose my focus and go on to something I deem more pressing. So here I am, 23 years later, still trying to improve my balance.

I believe the Lord used all my downtime during this pandemic to push me toward doing something to finally address the balance problem I’ve been dealing with for years. Why have I not done this sooner? Like all of us, I like to see immediate results for my efforts. Balance training takes time and won’t burn as many calories as a gym workout.  Yes, I’ve been obsessed with burning calories ever since I ran my first mile.  And there are ONLY so many hours in the day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since all the fitness classes I teach have stopped operating during COVID, I found myself with ample time on my hands. My friend, Joyce suggested I begin writing a blog.  That’s how this blog Life Happens was created.

With no morning OR afternoon classes to teach, I had no excuse for not getting involved with a physical therapy program again. Haven’t I always pledged my allegiance to becoming more mobile? All I needed was a doctor’s order. My brother, John (aka my primary care physician) faxed an order over the same day.  So I am once again placing my hope in physical therapy to improve my mobility.

I believe the Holy Spirit prompted me this time…disguised as COVID and unemployment. I believe God leads us to do the next best thing we can do. This seemed like the best thing I could do not only to improve my own balance, but to give pointers to my students when classes resume again. I’m relying on my physical therapist, Denny to provide my continuing education.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Ephesians 2:10  (NIV)

 

I know I’ve used this Bible verse before. It is on a post-it note in my bathroom to see every morning as I walk out the door.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If God prepares our good works in advance, our job is simply to figure out what those good works are. Most times it’s pretty obvious what God wants us to do. When it’s not, a simple question we can ask ourselves is, “How will my actions be a benefit to others?” When our decisions and actions help other people, we can feel confident that the Lord is using us to bless others.

One afternoon when I was in the middle of a rare, but real ‘pit-party’ about my lack of human contact during this pandemic, my phone rang. It was a business-owner named Liz who was organizing exercise classes for stroke survivors. After seeing my SilverStrength® website, she inquired if I would be interested in teaching zoom classes. I didn’t think I could perform a zoom class without special cameras. I discovered I could as Liz walked me through it on zoom.

I hung up the phone and said, “Thank you God!” out loud. Was He preparing me to do His handiwork? I did not want to let Him (or Liz) down. It had been months since I led a class. Did I remember how to teach?

In ten years of leading fitness classes, I never wrote my exercise routines down on paper. I created them in my mind, practiced them in front of a mirror, and performed them in two, sometimes three classes a day. Then COVID hit. I found myself with nothing to refer back to for guidance once I started teaching again. I had to create them all again. THIS time I wrote them down!

The Lord was giving me a chance to feel useful again. He was also challenging me to design a class for a different audience than I usually worked with. I love a challenge! Of course, He knew that.

Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

Psalm 139:16  (NIV)

 

I believe God knows the challenges we are going to face BEFORE we encounter them. He puts people in our lives to get or keep us moving in the right direction. In a previous blog, Be Transformed (https://mvarga.com/spiritual-insights/be-transformed/), I wrote the Transformation prayer I pray every morning. It ends with, “Show me what you want me to do…and I will do it.

If God has us exactly where He wants us…we need to trust Him to show us what to do where He has us.

 

Dear Lord,

You know our comings and goings. You see how they interface with the world around us. Teach us to trust that You have us where You want us at any point in time.

How many times do we think, “WHAT NOW?” You know where we’re supposed to be. Guide us to perceive what You want us to do for… and through others.

 

Once you are on mvarga.com,  please read through past blogs and find more about my books & fitness tips!

You can also follow me on Facebook, www.facebook.com/mlvarga/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DEAD BUG = STRONG ABS

That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:10   (NIV)

 It’s time for another fitness tip.  We all want strong abs! We use our core muscles in every movement we do…except lying down to sleep. So keeping those muscles strong helps us to move better all day long.

Back in Jesus’ day, they didn’t have to worry about specific core-strengthening exercises. They were moving from dawn to dusk. Now we work eight-hour days at a desk and sit in traffic to and from. It’s no wonder we have difficulty keeping a tight midsection!

Let’s learn the dead bug exercise that works our abdominal muscles, both the tranverse abdominals (think 6-pack abs!) AND the internal & external obliques (think waistline!).

Consistently doing the dead bug can help our balance & stability. (That’s my favorite bennie!) It will also help control our postural movements both while sitting, standing AND moving. Proper posture is so, so important to help us move correctly!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s so important to push your lower back into the floor. Don’t let it arch at all! This will ignite your abdominal muscles & tell them that THEY will be doing the work!

Here’s a step-by-step:

  1. Allow your shoulders and lower back to fall heavy to the floor.
  2. Draw your shoulders down away from your ears. To get into the starting position, lift your arms so your elbows are above your shoulders with your fists facing in toward each other.
  3. Lift your legs so your knees are directly over your hips.
  4. On an exhale, slowly lower your right arm and left leg until they’re just above the floor.
  5. On an inhale, bring them back to the starting position.
  6. Repeat on the opposite side.
  7. This is 1 rep.
  8. Repeat 12 times. Every day I best!

 

Proper breathing is also important. Inhale as you get into starting position. (See #2 & #3 above)

Exhale forcefully as you lower opposite arm & leg. Also as you exhale, focus on expanding sideways and into the floor. Remember, lower back down! Engage all of your stomach muscles

This exercise allows us to strengthen abdominal muscles and all the front side of our core while minimizing the pressure on the low back. The dead bug exercise can teach us how to move our hips and shoulders/arms and legs without moving the spine. We do this by pushing our lower back into the floor to protect our spine.

Here is one of the guest authors from my book, The Afflicted Healer, to give us a real-life example of how to perform a dead bug properly. Mary Hayes is an ACSM  certified personal trainer and ACE Orthopedic Exercise Specialist working at Baptist Milestone. Mary contributed the chapter, Making the Day-to Day Better with Functional Training. That’s something we could all use!

 

Dear Lord,

When we ask You to make us stronger and more fit for our journey, help us to remember You put exercises and exercise specialist in our path to answer our prayer.

Please give us the determination and perseverance to stick with it until we see/feel the desired results.

Thank you for giving us all bodies that can be molded.

 

READ MORE:

After clicking, please read through past blogs and find more about my books & fitness tips!

You can also follow me on Facebook, www.facebook.com/mlvarga/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Can’t Take It Anymore!

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

Romans 12:12  (NIV)

What is it that has us at the end of our rope? Is it the Corona virus… A difficult relationship… An impossible boss… A health challenge, addiction or disability? Life happens to all of us!

No… we can’t control it. And yes…It’s not fair! But when has life ever been fair? It seems someone always comes up with the short end of the stick. I am 5’2” tall. So I know that the short end of the stick is not always the worst position to be in. It’s how we perceive and respond to our dilemma that makes all the difference in how we move forward.

I think we could reverse the order of the opening scripture to start with be faithful in prayer. In an earlier blog, Where is God in our New Normal?, https://mvarga.com/spiritual-insights/where-is-god-in-our-new-normal/I said that prayer is the most powerful force in the universe!  If we pray for God’s will in our lives, everything else seems to fall into place.

Then we can be patient in affliction. This does NOT mean fixing our affliction. Believe me! I have tried everything humanly possible to ‘fix’ my balance issues. I think it’s through trying & failing; trying & failing that we finally learn to give it to the God we’ve been praying so faithfully to.

If we can pass this tough and sometimes lonely test, then we CAN be joyful in hope. That means we make a conscious decision to not be upset or frustrated by the problem anymore. That doesn’t mean we have to stop working on it though. We just stop taking our failed attempts personally. We gave control of things to God, remember?

God will take our failed attempts and turn them into an even better way to conquer our struggle. Some times that involves following a different dream …or reacting in a different way. Ultimately, we trust God as we look for His direction.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We should never give up on what God has started. He can turn any seeming failure into a blessing for us. Sadly, this usually doesn’t happen at the precise moment we want it to. We just need to remember to be patient in affliction. We can’t get frustrated or upset with God if life is not progressing at the speed we want it to. We’re not in control. God is! He will work all things out…for us and for His glory.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41 10  (NIV)

Ever met someone who has been through a terrible ordeal? Yet they seem happy! Perhaps they have learned that having peace with God is the first step to living a fulfilling life. If we don’t think God would be pleased with our decision or actions, perhaps it’s time to reevaluate. Yes, we’re hurt & frustrated, but what alterations do we need to make to know that God has given our action His favor? God commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves. Doing good for others is one ‘sure-fire’ way we can hope for God’s favor…and it lifts OUR spirits in the process.

What do we do when we just can’t take it anymore? Do we get mad? Blame someone else? Do we feel like a victim? (Poor me!)  It’s times like this we need to think of all the good things, the blessings in our life. Be grateful! That IS the best way for a needed change in perspective!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Galatians 6:9    (NIV).

Never forget the command of our opening scripture. Be faithful in prayer. It is still the most powerful force in the universe! It WILL change our perspective!

Dear Lord,

Things are tough. They’re really tough!

Help us remember all that Jesus went through for our sake. The physical pain…the emotional abandonment…endured without a word. So that we could spend eternity with Him! Is our struggle as bad as His? It sure feels like it sometimes.

Please give us a new perspective on what we’re suffering. If there’s something we need to do, give us the strength to do it…correctly. Help us to reach out to help others in our struggles. Helping others can make us realize we’re not alone.

And if we can’t do anything about it, help us do it for You.

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Be Transformed

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:2   (NIV)

 

As we begin 2021, what goals and dreams do we want to see come to fruition? Most surely we all want to see an end to the COVID pandemic and a return to normalcy in our lives. I’ve grown tired of all the political drama and division. Dare we hope our country will once more be more united?

Perhaps we’re longing for a personal goal to be achieved…a career change, new relationship, retirement, improved health? My primary goal has not changed since 1997. It’s actually more of a dream. I want a medical miracle to transform my imbalanced body.

Instead, my dream for this year is that God will transform my heart and mind to know what He wants me to accomplish with this precious life He saved. Because of my traumatic brain injury (TBI) and imbalanced body, I can no longer move as quickly and effortlessly as I once did. So my prayer is that He will enlighten me to how I can live for Him without those things in my life.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you. 

Psalm  51:12-13  (NIV)

This is not a simple thing. Just how are we supposed to know the mind of God? We can earnestly pray to know His will. Then expect Him to show us what He wants us to do for Him.

We can read what He says through scriptures…including not just the Bible, but any God-honoring spiritual book. He’ll speak through our television, our phone, our Internet. He speaks through our family and friends. Sometimes we see His hand in circumstances in our life…or in the world. Our job is to keep praying…and listening.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you..  For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

Matthew 7:7-8 NIV

 

Once we figure out what God wants from us, DOING IT is a little trickier. Do we need self-discipline? Determination? Good ole spunk? All these qualities are helpful, but on their own, none will do the trick. We must surrender our plans to God trusting that He will show us what He wants us to do.

Doesn’t that just put us right back at square one trying to figure His will for our lives? In a way… we trusted Him to show us our dream. Surely we can rely on Him to make it happen through us.

We’re asking for a mind and heart transformation. Expect to look at life differently. We’re viewing things from His angle now. How does He want us to go forward in ways that will benefit not just us, but our family, our community, our world?

Alcoholics Anonymous or any 12 step program gives us the main ingredient for success. We must turn what we are struggling with over to our ‘higher power’. For most, our higher power is God Almighty and His son, Jesus Christ. With the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we move forward in the way we perceive that God wants us to go.

This mind and heart transformation will ultimately lead to a physical or material transformation. Wait expectantly!  It won’t happen overnight, but how long did it take us to get where we are now? We may have a lifetime of not being led by the Lord, but He can change our thinking instantly. Our job then becomes continuously tapping into that divine source.

Instead of ending with a personal prayer, I want to share a prayer I pray out loud every morning…even when I haven’t allowed time for any other prayers. It came from one of the final chapters of a book by Matthew Kelly that our pastor gave us several years ago at Christmas. I call it my transformation prayer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here I am Lord.
I know that you have an incredible plan for me.
Transform me.  Transform my life.
Everything is on the table.
Take what you want to take and give what you want to give.
I make myself 100% available to you today.
Transform me into the person you created me to be,
so I can live the life you envisioned for me at the beginning of time.
I hold nothing back.
I am 100% available.
Lead me, challenge me, encourage me, and open my eyes to
all of your possibilities.
Show me what it is you want me to do, and I will do it.

From The Greatest Lie in the History of Christianity

By Matthew Kelly

 

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Joy to the World!   Joy to us!

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6   (NIV)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We celebrate the birth of our savior on Christmas day. The three kings followed that Christmas star to find the newborn king. Christmas is a season of jubilation and love. For all it is a season of merriment, gift giving and holiday traditions. We gather with family & friends to commemorate this special day.

Being a mother, I can’t help but think of the joy & wonder the Blessed Mother felt on that day. Mary had conceived Jesus through the Holy Spirit, and carried Him inside her for nine months. Now here she was, holding the Emmanuel, born to take away the sins of the world.

I’m betting her friends didn’t give her any baby showers. Yet Jesus’ entry into the world was heralded by angels, shepherds and of course, the wise men from the East. Now fast-forward to 2020…

Maybe we don’t feel like we have a lot to celebrate this year. Christ’ birth gives us all the chance to realize that this holiday is not marked by what we’ve suffered or lost this year. We remember the love God has shown us all in sending His son in the midst of our pain. That’s a memory to hold onto.

I am always filled with Christmas memories of twinkling lights, family, laughter, Christmas songs and lots of delectable foods! Riding around to see all the sparkling Christmas decorations was always a highlight of my holiday season. I would be so sad when all the lights came down in January.

For me, Christmas really is the season of light! It still is…no matter what happens in life, Christ is still right in the center of our life. Let’s hold onto those memories during dark times. God will bring us to a new light. Wait for it!

Who can forget all the special Christmas T.V. shows? We would wait for them every year as children. Even though my favorite was Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, one of the scenes from A Charlie Brown Christmas is so precious to me!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Charlie Brown:  Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?

 Linus:  Sure, Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about. Lights, please.

 “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, ‘Fear not: for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.’”

 

That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

 

That little speech that Linus gives caused Charlie Brown to walk away joyful and full of hope. Being reminded of what we really celebrate at Christmas gives us a sense of awe.

Let’s celebrate Christmas 2020 with that same feeling of awe. Then the name of this blog post can truly resonate in our hearts. Joy to the World…Joy to Us!

A blessed and happy Christmas to all!

See you in 2021!

Dear Lord,

You came into our world as a baby and spent the rest of Your human life showing us how to live so we could spend eternity with You.

Our life is different now trying to fight this virus. Celebrating Your birthday will be different this year too. Let us hold tight to You…the source of all life… and true reason why we celebrate Christmas.

Help us find joy during this dark time remembering that You have already overcome the world.

 

After clicking, please read through past blogs and find more about my books & fitness tips!

You can also follow me on Facebook, www.facebook.com/mlvarga/

 

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