Thursday, January 20, 2011

Who Knows? By Jaye Lewis

Hello Friends,

This is a subject that has long been on my heart. It has lain heavy, like a great heartache. Who knows the condition of our pet's souls? From those who believe that we all merely melt into the ground, with no hope of any afterlife, to those who believe we can kill a chicken and find wisdom, to those Christian theologians who profess to know the mind of God -- all profess to know the condition of an animal's soul.

I have often said that someone who abuses an animal is just as likely to abuse a human being. The study of human psychology, or abnormal human psychology, has proven it to be the case. However, this is not an intellectual treatise. This is from the heart of a woman who believes the words of Jesus when He gave His sermon about worry.

"Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?" Matthew 6:26 KJV

"Therefore do not worry...." Matthew 6:31 KJV

Jesus has given us a perfect example of our worth, compared to the value that our Father in Heaven places upon these little creatures. The significant phrase is "more value than." We have more value in God's eyes, than the value of His precious creatures whom He feeds. God feeds these wonderful creatures, because they have value to Him. He loves them.

Jesus tells us in another part of Matthew, just how precious are these small creatures.

"Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's will...Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows." Matthew 10:29, 31

A copper coin was not worth very much in Bible times. Yet Jesus was not telling us to have contempt for the little birds. He was holding them up as an example of how precious we are to God. We have value to Him. He loves us.

Let's take a look at that Scripture with today's yardstick. In America, a copper coin would be a penny, which is worth very little. So, perhaps we could say we are worth many pennies. Doesn't make us seem worth very much does it? But that's not what Christ was saying. He was saying that our Father in Heaven has placed great value upon us, though I sometimes wonder why. He was saying to our stubborn, hardened hearts that God loves us, and His love is worth everything.

It's not about us. It's about God. He holds the yardstick, not us. We are not to place value upon ourselves. He is the one who places the value. We are to be as humble as the smallest sparrow who comes to my back deck to feed.

My point is that animals are precious, especially our pets. They are not only precious to us, but they are precious to God, and I don't see why that is not crystal clear. I have heard more than one preacher extol on the worthlessness of animals, citing one of the most misunderstood passages in Scripture.

"Who knows the spirit of the sons of men, which goes upward, and the spirit of the animal, which goes down to the earth?" Ecclesiastes 3:21

That is the single line in Scripture that a Christian preacher will seize upon to teach a doctrine that the Bible doesn't even speak about: the false doctrine of animals without souls. It infuriates me. It makes me angry because that is NOT what that Scripture says. Look at the end of that sentence. There is no period. There is no exclamation point. There is a question mark. And the first two words hold the key. "Who knows...?"

Who knows? You? Me? Them? No. That is why we must not take Scripture out of context. Read the entire passage. Shoot! Read at least a paragraph. How did a question turn into a statement? I don't know, and it makes me heartsick. I am no theologian. I make no claim to be. However, where the Word of God is concerned, I tread lightly. We must not pretend to know it all. We know little, especially when we try to understand the heart and mind of God.

On a very human level, however, I am certain that we have been given these close relationships with God's creatures, who were created before us, so that we might learn from them. They teach us a lot about ourselves. And according to the Son of God, they teach us a lot about God.

Who knows? Only God knows. We can only hope to try.

With love,
Jaye Lewis

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Good Seed by Jaye Lewis

Hello friends,

When Edmund Branch arrived in China, in 1899, he had such high hopes. The young missionary had dreams of converting all of China to Christianity. Edmond spent twenty years learning the many different dialects of the people, and he gave thousands of sermons. He was well known, and loved, by everyone who knew him.

When "Fa-dil," as the Reverend Father was known, arrived in a town, the whole village turned out, and they shared with him, all that they had. Edmund was often reminded of the "Widow's Mite," the parable that Jesus spoke of, where the rich came to the Temple and offered great wealth, asking for God's favor. Then a widow came and gave a paltry sum, but Jesus said that she gave the greatest gift, because she gave "all that she had." So, were the Chinese people to Father Edmund Branch. They gave him all they had.

In spite of his popularity throughout the villages, Edmund was despondent. In the twenty years that he spent, preaching in China, he had only one convert, a young boy of humble birth. He became Fa-dil's assistant, lighting candles on the altar of the primitive church, and serving as his altar boy. In that time the young man got married, and his wife converted, but no one else converted to Father's faith. They remained Buddhist. Finally Father "Fa-dil" gave up, in despair, and he returned home. He was a failure, and everyone knew it.

For forty-five more years Edmund served in obscure parishes, this humble missionary, who served God without a single convert. Finally, at the age of eighty-five, Edmond retired from the active priesthood. However, he couldn't resist one last trip to China, and to the village where he had baptized that one young boy. Fa-dil stepped out of the Twentieth Century automobile
and into the era of yesterday, when he had first placed his foot on the soil that was China. He had wired ahead, the time of his arrival.

An old man stepped forward to meet him, bowing with respect, and smiling broadly. Then he ran to embrace the Father, his beloved Fa-dil. Tears rolled down Edmund's face, as he embraced his only convert. Soon the entire village emptied out of the huts, and they all lined up to kiss Fa-dil's hand.

"Fa-dil," said the Chinese elder, "will you baptize my family?" For they had all become Christians, because of their saintly grandfather, who had taught them the Gospel.

"Certainly, I will!" Edmund smiled, thinking ironically, that he'd finally made a couple more converts.

"Where is your family?" Edmund asked, puzzled?

In halting, yet very good English, the, now, much older convert of Edmund, grinned his answer.

"Here they are!" He cried.

His arm swept to include all the smiling faces, who waited to kiss Edmund's hand. Hundreds were lined up, maybe a thousand people, lined up to kiss Edmund's hand and request Baptism. Every person baptized in the following days were all the descendants of the young boy whom Edmund had baptized. You see, Edmund had not been a failure after all. He had merely planted a good seed, and just as Jesus said, he had reaped a thousand-fold.

To the end of his days, Edmund never forgot the day he baptized nearly a thousand people. He cherished the lesson that he had learned. Success is not measured in the amount of the harvest, but in the depth that one sows a good seed.

With love,
Jaye Lewis

Friday, January 07, 2011

Encouraging Words: Growing Old With Humility by Jaye Lewis

Hello friends,

It is difficult for me to choose which Book in the Old Testament that I most closely identify with. The Old Testament has taught me many things about God, the Bible, and myself. No Old Testament figure has had more of an influence on my life than David. Hero he may have been, and hero he may remain, but David's heart belonged to God. It was before God that David knelt, not in pride, but with humility.

"This poor man cried out," David acknowledged speaking of himself, "and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles." Psalm 34:6.

David knew who he was. He was no wimp, as we would say today; yet he knew that every victory he ever had, whether against another, or against his own human failings, God was his victory.

I first read about David at the age of twelve. The Bible was forbidden to me, yet I disobeyed and I read it in secret. I must admit that I had backing from my mother. I'll always be thankful for her encouragement.

I was raised in the old Catholic Church, where personal reading of the Bible was forbidden. The Pope was called the vicar of Christ on earth, and the priest represented Christ to us in our own Parishes. Much of the Catholic Church in my childhood, actually stood in the way of a personal relationship with God. David, on the other hand was a shining example of a man whose relationship was so personal, that he willingly and humbly opened himself before God, fully expecting wrath, yet gaining God's mercy and His love.

That is where I want to live my life with God, personal, exposed in His sight, admitting of my sins, and repenting from them. I want to throw myself upon His mercy, knowing that I don't deserve it and cannot earn it.

David danced before God. He celebrated Him in his life, in spite of his sinful ways. David hated his own sin. Once he realized that He hurt God, and hurt Him he did, David humbly repented and begged for forgiveness. Because of this, God not only called David friend, but He called him His beloved. That is what the name David means, "beloved."

This is the relationship I desire to have with God. I try to live my life with humility, and often, I fail. I try to be brave in the face of tragedy, and boy, I really fail at that. But I try, and sometimes, by the grace of God, I am victorious, and when I am, I praise His name.

I know that someone reading this might be confused as to what I mean. I'm so sorry. How difficult it is for me to express what all this means to me. I can only confess that God is as real as my heart beat, which I can feel but cannot see. He is more powerful than a strike of lightning, which can be seen, but little understood.

There are so many things in nature that are as mysterious as faith in God. For instance, gravity is one of the weakest forces in nature, yet it keeps the planets from colliding, and from throwing ourselves into the sun. Why? Science can teach us many things, but only with limitation. Science can tell us how the sky is blue, but they cannot tell us why. There are so many diseases that once were deadly, yet in our understanding of nature which surrounds us, there has been found a cure.

Really? You might say. Name one medicine that has given us a cure which has changed the world, you might demand. Okay. Penicillin. Penicillin changed the world. Where did it come from? Mold. Even when I was a girl, penicillin was so powerful against infection, that one shot was enough to cure you. Now we have so many derivatives, such as Augmentin and Amoxillin, which are made in a laboratory. Science can discover but it cannot create. Science can only imitate that which God has done.

There are so many miracles that God has done, within my own life, which fill me with wonder and humility. Praise His name. In my blog I have enumerated so many of these events. If Science would only consider that there is a God, and that they need Him, what wonders and medical cures could be brought about. If Science would have humility and acknowledge God, many secrets in nature might be understood.

Humility before God is not something that comes easy to me. I like to whine and complain first. I even manage to blame God for many troubles that I have brought about myself. I am a messy, clumsy child of God. I often wonder if He rolls His eyes at me. And, why am I still here? That question I cannot answer I cannot find, but I enjoy every moment that I spend with Him, and loving Him makes my heart smile. He is my first love, and whether I am going to like tomorrow or not, I pray that I will accept it with humility.

The Touch of His Hand by Jaye Lewis
I have been to the top of a mountain
Where the air is crisp and clean.
I have seen the Gulf meet the ocean
In a tempest of blue and green.

I have heard the deepest silence
In the eye of the hurricane;
Yet, in the storm that raged within me,
I found the sweetest Name.

The Name that created the heavens,
And rules them to this day;
The Name that rules, within my heart
Can never be stolen away.

Where ocean greets the gulf stream;
Where shore meets the sunlit sand;
Where mountain meets the heavens;
I can see the touch of His hand.

In awe I seek the distance,
Where galaxies collide;
This God of minute detail,
From Him I cannot hide.

He follows my every footstep.
He's sought me all my days.
He's taken residence in my heart
And teaches me all His ways.

I do not learn that easy.
I struggle as David did.
Yet, He sought me in my darkest place,
Where I thought that I was hid.

And, still, He seeks the corners
Of the soul that is burdened with sin;
He pierces all the secrets,
And spreads His Light within.

Go to Him! Wait no longer!
He desires to save your soul.
Go, now, to your Savior, Jesus!
His Love will make you whole!

And if you already know Him,
Hold Him close within your heart.
Be a guiding light to others
And His love will not depart.
© Jaye Lewis, 1999

With love,
Jaye Lewis

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Growing Old With Diabetes by Jaye Lewis

Hello friends,

It's hard to believe that we're into a new year. I hope that this finds you all well. No, I mean it. Being well does not mean that all sickness is gone and you're ready to hit the snowy slopes. If that is true, than I congratulate you, but to me, being well is a state of mind. Being well means I WILL NOT GIVE UP!!

Having diabetes can mean a lot of depression, especially after the holidays, because during the holidays, we usually gain weight. Here we are, another year older and not much wiser. Diabetes is a diabolical illness. It is a tenuous balance between weight-gain and weight loss. It is especially difficult to lose weight since the loss of a single pound can send your blood glucose levels spiraling downward. Exercise, along with diet, can mean ups and downs that boggle the imagination. I've been doing both, and it is very slow, since a little too much, along with not enough testing could send my blood glucose suddenly down into hypoglycemia and shock. So I'm being careful.

I test about six times a day. I've had doctors who have denied prescriptions for more than three times a day testing. If you have one of those doctors, send them packing. No one should have the right to play God with your life. I'm a great patient, as long as I have a good doctor. I've fired more than one doctor, and I've told off a few others. It's important that you have a doctor who makes you feel confident and cared for. The bottom line, however, is this: you are the only person who cares most about you. You must be your own physician. You must know more and care more for your own body than any doctor you will ever have.

The irony of all this is that when you do take care of yourself, and you must, often the doctor finds you less appealing. Have you ever had a doctor who said, "I have to get off the phone! I have sick people to care for?!" Ah yes, I have had that doctor, more than once.

One of the problems with growing old with diabetes, are the other diseases that also attack your body. It feels, sometimes, as though I'm falling apart bit by bit. Like an automobile, first a fender falls off, then the steering wheel, then the side mirror, then the tires, then the motor... Well, you know. I also have asthma, trigeminal neuralgia, arthritis, high blood pressure, diabetic neuropathy, heart arrhythmia due to my medications, and so forth. You, also, have a host of medical conditions, and the whole package can cause depression and a desire to give up.

I have had friends who gave up. A friend of mine periodically would decide, today I do not have diabetes. Then she would stop her medication, head to the pancake house, and she would order everything on their menu. She would then proceed to eat her way into the emergency room of the hospital. She hurt her friends, her husband, her children, and she hurt herself.

Another friend would simply take the day off from diabetes, stop her medication and head to the bakery or a restaurant and eat whatever was chocolate and available. Why they did this, I never understood. For them it was a way to take control, but they held hostage everyone in their family. We do not have that right. Going off of our medications and deliberately eating everything in sight is NOT taking control. It is letting the disease take control of us. My family is worth more than that. Any sacrifice, any struggle is worth the effort, for myself and for them. We must put our health, and the love of our families, before our selfish desires.

My friends, if I seem as though I'm preaching, I hope that you will forgive me. If I am preaching, it is only to myself. I have been selfish. I have worried my family. And the worst of all things has happened in my life, giving me a frightening wake-up call. My precious husband, the love of my life, has had a heart attack, and he almost died. Praise God, he survived through life changing surgery. Immediately the whole family went on his diet.

Because of this near tragedy, I am eating better than I have in a long, long time. Slowly, I am backing down on my insulin. Slowly, I am taking baby steps with exercise, all the while realizing that every step forward requires an adjustment in my thinking and an adjustment in my medications. It's not easy, but very slowly, I am losing weight, and I am feeling encouraged. I have gone from I can take control to Please God, take control of my life!

So, this new year, I have not, nor am I making new years resolutions, dooming myself to failure. I am reevaluating my life and my choices, and choosing to be all that I can be, through the grace of God, for Him, for my family and for myself. So help me God!

Heavenly Father, I know that there is for me, and each of us, a time when we must say good-by to this world, and enter the eternities. However, for today and tomorrow, I pray that you will grant me the time to glorify you with my life until You come for me, to take me home. I love You, Lord. You know that, because you can see my heart. I have been lazy. I have been willful. And, worst of all, I had given up. Please Lord, light my path, and make it straight before me, as only You can.

With love,
Jaye Lewis

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