Naomi: Recovered From Depression, Orpah: Returned to Rituals, Ruth: Loyal Friend, Follower of God

"In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. The name of the man was Elimelech and the name of his wife Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion." 

Ruth 1:1,2 (ESV)

The Book of Ruth is relevant for us today. There are three personalities in this short book that are either like us or people we know. They struggled with much the same issues as we still do to this very day; loss, depression, life’s choices, and friendships.

The multi-layered messages written in it’s pages are applicable to our relationships, and /or life’s problems in general. Of course, this is true for the rest of the Bible, as well. Its teachings are timeless.

When I started this blog, I just wanted to focus in on Naomi. She points the way for many of us on how to overcome depression. This subject is the primary focus of my blog.

However, within a few verses I begin to see the other two dominate personalities emerge from the pages. They were Naomi’s daughters-in-law, Orpah, and Ruth. These two women were Moabites who lived in a country where cult rituals were practiced.

The Book of Ruth is only four chapters long from beginning to end. I want to encourage you to read it for yourself. Especially, since I’m only going to skim over it and hit the highlights. It’s found in The Old Testament of the Bible.

The first people we’re introduced to are Elimelech and his wife Naomi. She plays a pivotal role throughout this eloquent story.

Naomi was healed of depression near the end of this story. But, in the middle of the story her two daughters-in-law come into focus. Ruth, of course, plays a more dominate role through the rest of this book. This is why I’ve included a brief look into each of their lives.

Let’s find out how Naomi received her mental-health healing. And how she influenced these two younger foreign women.

The name, Naomi means happiness, and patience. And it sounds like her life, at first, reflected these qualities. But much later she wanted to change her name to Mara, which means bitterness (1:20).

What happened that would want Naomi to change her name from happiness to bitterness? Then, back to her being happy and contented.  When I realized that she had experienced a mental health healing I knew I had to study and share my insights about her.

The time frame of this story is early 1000 B.C. Naomi and her husband Elimelech had moved to the country of Moab with their two sons from the Jewish town of Bethlehem.

Bethlehem at that time was located in the present day country of Israel. For most of Israel’s history to this present day the Jewish people worship the one true God they commonly call Yahweh or Jehovah. And they observe all the laws that were written by Moses.

The Jews that practice their faith have other holy names for God, depending on the situation. They also have an exact diet that’s based on Leviticus. They were the first to receive the ten commandments to live by.

Now, Moab was completely opposite.  Their culture was saturated with practicing meaningless rituals to  their pagan idols. They practiced a licentious lifestyle that knew no bounds.  They, also sacrificed their infants to the god Molech. Maybe that’s why they no longer exist.

But, for a century or so this country did exist and is mentioned multiple times in the Bible. It was west of Israel and across the Dead Sea. Today this country is called Jordan.

When Naomi and her family left Bethlehem they had to travel about 100 miles to farm in Moab. To get there they either had to cross the Dead Sea or travel up and around it. Neither route was an easy one to take.

This young family did have high hopes that they would prosper in Moab. After all, Bethlehem was experiencing a drought. And, Moab was lush, green, and known as a place of many oasis.

Even with the better farming conditions it’s still odd that an orthodox Jewish couple that practiced a monogamous marriage would choose Moab to raise their two sons in. Why didn’t they just move to another part of Israel? Well, I can’t answer that question, but it is puzzling.

I’m sure they experienced culture shock when they arrived at their new country.  I, being a military wife have also experienced culture shock at least once in a severe way.  When my husband Jeff was assigned to Turkey for three years in the mid 1980’s, our three young daughters and I went with him to live there. Turkey is almost the opposite of everything I’ve always been use to.

Fortunately, we lived on an American military base so our culture shock was minimized. But, back then we had to be careful about eating off base because some of their cultural farming and cooking habits would give Americans Hepatitis A. I’ve been told that things have changed for the better there now.

We did get off base many times, though during our three years there. But, I went from driving anywhere I needed to go in Germany to barely driving at all during our three years there. Still, we tried to live as normal of a routine as was possible.

Well, we don’t know why this Jewish family moved to a completely opposite culture, and religion. But not long after moving there Naomi’s husband Elimelech passes away.

She and her sons decided to stay on in Moab. By this time both boys had become men. And they took wives from the Moabites. Then the five of them lived there for about ten more years. No children are mentioned being born to either couple. Then, the sons pass away. All these events take place within the first chapter.

"These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. They lived there about ten years, and both Mahlon and Chilion died, so that the woman was left without her two sons and her husband." Ruth 1:4,5

Naturally, she felt waves deep depression moving over her from losing all her immediate family members. Plus, there could’ve been other problems she had to face being the matriarch of the family, which made her also in charge of the farm.

Her grief was compounded by not having any extended family around to emotionally support her during this time. She felt isolated from her Jewish roots as well. She longed to go back to live among her people and she was ready to take the risks of traveling to get there.

Once her mind was made up she saw no need putting off taking this long difficult trip. When she could get back to Bethlehem she would have help and emotional support from her relatives there.

But, before she did anything, I believe that Naomi made sure that she was in God’s will over moving back. When she was certain that it was, then she was ready to put His plan into action. Now at first, the two women wanted to go with her. However, she wanted to go alone. So she passed a blessing on to them.

“Go, return each of you to her mother's house. May the Lord deal kindly with you,...Then she kissed them," 1:8,9.

This is similar to Isaac seeking to pass a blessing on to his oldest son Esau.

"..my soul may bless you before I die.” Genesis 27: 4b

I believe, also that Naomi missed her worship services in Bethlehem. There she was able to worship God with other Jewish believers. The men and women gathered in their respective places either in the Synagogue or wherever they gathered in their villages to hear the Torah read aloud on their Shabbat.  Doing this would’ve helped restore and heal her emotions.

"I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!'” Psalm 122:1

One thing that I’ve done on a regular basis for decades now is to read a chapter or two in my Bible as a daily habit. Bible study whether it’s in a group or on my own is a part of my mental-wellness plan. The insight I’ve gain strengthens my mental well-being.

As a matter of fact I’m going to interject some of my own recovery habits I practice that have helped me in overcoming depression. Hopefully I won’t chase  too many rabbit trails in doing this. I simply want to direct you to sources that I believe will help you achieve mental-wellness.

Just like Naomi, millions of other people down through the ages including me have and will continue to experience depression. Don’t leave depression untreated. There are some effective cures that are being used to treat this form of mental illness.

I see Naomi as a realist, and a pragmatist. She saw life as it is, not how she wished it to be. Once she made a plan to do something then she became resolute in carrying it out. And that was because it was the most practical plan. That way of her solving both hers and the family problems had always worked out in the past, so she saw no need to change things.

Before the women left Moab each woman would’ve had some fresh water in a gourd or dried animal organ, also some roasted grain, and dried fruit for stamina and quick energy. That’s what they called “travel food.”

After gathering up their small bundles the three women start out on this arduous journey together. But they hadn’t gone far when Naomi takes the leadership role and says:

"But Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go, return each of you to her mother's house. May the Lord deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me." 1:8

Naomi was a woman with a strong will. Very much like my own mother who faced many difficult challenges in her life, but yet always did her best to keep our family of seven intact, well fed with her home cooked meals, and still always worked outside our home. We three girls pitched in and helped her with laundry and meal prep. But, Mom was the glue that held our family together.

Naomi  had been the glue that held her family together and she made sure that all Jewish holy days had been observed while they lived in Moab. How do I know that? At the time of their departure Ruth told Naomi that she wanted to follow her God.

Ruth could’ve said her deceased husband’s god, but instead she said “your God” to Naomi. This tells me that Naomi had taken time to disciple her two daughters-in-law about the one true God.

Now when Naomi said her goodbys to these two younger women something significant took place at that dusty crossroads. Let’s find out exactly what happened.

A Brief Look At Orpah

 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. Matthew 13: 20-22

It didn’t take long for Orpah to change her mind and return to a hedonistic lifestyle. But why would she go back to a pagan culture where her firstborn would be sacrificed to the angry god Molech? She knew that the Jewish people were forbidden to incorporate the god Molech into their worship.

"to offer up their sons and daughters to Molech, though I did not command them, nor did it enter into my mind, that they should do this abomination," Jeremiah 32:35

It did seem logical for her to go back to her family. But, she could’ve just visited them before leaving. Don’t expect God’s will to be found by doing things logically.

Orpah looked too closely at the problem instead of looking at the solution that would’ve solved her life’s problems. Because of this she bought more problems on herself than had she gone with Naomi.

Both she and Ruth were childless and nearing or already in their thirties. During that era people aged more rapidly than we do today. Most were only one drought away from dying, in other words.

It looks like she was someone that liked “pushing the easy button” to solve her problems. Maybe she was a narcissus and just wanted to look out for “number one” when life got stressful. Whichever it was it’s clear that Orpah had a shallow relationship with Jehovah.

For the rest of her life she engaged in ritualistic practices of a meaningless religion. Perhaps she had been dabbling in the occult all along. We don’t know that for certain. But the Apostle Paul saw this situation often and wrote these words:

"They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works..." Titus 1:16

Orpah needed to let go of her past. And seek a spirit-filled relationship with the living God. When we come to Jesus we must leave the old life we once lived behind. It’s in the past. The Apostle Paul wrote these words to Christians in about 56 A.D.:

"We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin." Romans 6:6

A Brief Look At Ruth

Ruth, however, would not be swayed from leaving Naomi’s side. Instead of leaving she spoke these immortal words to Naomi:

"But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried." 1: 16,17

It sounds better in the King James Version, but I’ll let you read it in your favorite translation. I am trying to get to my main point, but a brief look at these two young women is well worth it in me pursuing my main idea of mental health wellness.

We have a lot to learn about Naomi by taking a look at Ruth. Why would this young woman even want to consider taking this dangerous journey? They could’ve died of thirst and/ or starvation. And how long would it take the two of them to walk or caravan approximately a hundred miles?

Naomi and Ruth had such a strong loyal bond between them that even the perils of this journey did not sway either of them from taking it. Neither of them sought to take the easy way out, in other words.

Ruth was not a shallow person. She had already became a Jewish convert in her heart. At the start of their journey she made a public profession of faith to Naomi.

"So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven," Mt 10:32

All of Naomi’s mentoring and teaching had taken root in Ruth’s heart, mind, and soul. Ruth knew that she could never again engage in or even want to be around pagan worship. She was a hundred percent in on her relationship with Jehovah.

"And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’" Mark 12:30

I, also see Ruth looking out for the older woman’s safety. She didn’t seem to be concerned about her own personal safety. She was someone who willingly “poured herself” out for the other person’s good. We see this later when she goes to the field in Bethlehem to gather barley that was left to the side for the poor people.  They only had what Ruth gathered in the fields, to make their daily bread.

 "And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, "'Let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after him in whose sight I shall find favor.” And she said to her, “Go, my daughter.'” Ruth 2:2

Notice that Naomi didn’t go out into the fields to work. I think Ruth told her to rest in their little home and she would go out in the hot sun and gather barley. So Naomi instructed her on where to go to gather because it was customary to only go to a relative’s field for the leftover grain.

Well, this worked out well for several reasons. The owner of the field was a man named Boaz. He took notice of how this young foreigner took care of the older Jewish woman that lived with her. And that impressed him.

But Boaz answered her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me," Ruth 2:11

Naomi

Sometimes we bring on stress and disappointment in our lives because of our  short-sighted vision and actions. Or we get blind-sighted by events we didn’t expect. It seems like both situations took place here, but God turned their bad situation around to where it became something beautiful.

This can happen in your life as well if you seek God’s will for your life. As you do don’t expect everything to work out as you’ve planned it. God’s plans are higher than ours.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11

(To be continued)

 

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How Do You Vent Your Anger?

“‘And Job again took up his discourse, and said:

“As God lives, who has taken away my right,
    and the Almighty, who has made my soul bitter,
as long as my breath is in me,
    and the spirit of God is in my nostrils,

my lips will not speak falsehood,
    and my tongue will not utter deceit.
Far be it from me to say that you are right;
    till I die I will not put away my integrity from me.
I hold fast my righteousness and will not let it go;
    my heart does not reproach me for any of my days.'” Job 27:1-6 (ESV)

Get Involved in Something Bigger Than Yourself

Do the holidays increase your level of depression? If so, then take the advice of therapists, that tell us to get involved with activities that make us feel positive about life. For me that would include being involved with activities my church sponsors that interest me.

One church connected activity I’ve enjoyed being involved with for the last three years is a community outreach Christmas Dinner that’s held at my church. I’ve “jumped in” and gotten involved in  whatever way I can with this “open door” invite at Webster Baptist Church, Webster, NC.

This community Christmas Day Dinner was started more than 10 years ago by the DeRico family. That would’ve been when Ken and Katrina DeRico’s two young adult children would’ve been quite young.

At that time they were just getting settled into living in the Smokey Mountains. They were new Floridan transplants that found themselves eating a big Christmas dinner by themselves away from their extended families.

That experience made them realize that the holidays can be a time of being away from family as well as having to choose which family to be with. And not everyone has family to spend the holidays with.

Within a year or two the DeRicos found and joined WBC of moving up here. Noticing our church has a well equipped kitchen, an idea began to form in Ken’s mind, “Why not cook a community wide Christmas Dinner at the fellowship building and visit with whoever shows up.” After all they are both great cooks so within a few years of them being up here they did just that.

I’m not sure Katrina said “Sure lets do it,” right off, but she found herself tripling her dressing recipe and wondering how many hams and turkeys they would need to buy for their first “Open Door Christmas Dinner.” After all, they found most people here had deep family roots here and probably celebrated Christmas with their extended families.

And, pray tell, how would they pay for it all?

Nevertheless, they were on a self directed mission “to visit orphans and widows in their affliction,” James 1:27 (ESV).

Now, leap forward ten plus years and below are some stats that their daughter Caitlin put up on her Facebook page. This is not to glorify them or any of the other sixty-plus volunteers that helped out for two prep days and also helped serve on Christmas Day.

Caitlin DeRico Snodgrass to Webster Christmas Outreach Dinner

We did it!

425 delivery and carryout
60 inmates got cookies
30 Sheriff  Deputies
4 Sylva PD
10 EMS
4  911 dispatch
20 Qualla FD station
30 Balsam Center
75 Hermitage Nursing Home received essentials stockings
50 Mountain Trace NH received essentials stockings
35 Skyland Care Center received essentials stockings & 2 personal gifts for 2  residents
At least 50 dined in.

“Thank you to ALL who made this possible!!! What a touching year and God continuing to show up and how!!!”

By now, Caitlin is the main organizer and scheduler. The bulk of us just show up on the days she posts for volunteers.

Now how did it all come together for them? Of course I don’t know the tiny details. But, I do know that they start in November cooking their kettle corn in WBC parking lot for  donations. Behind the scene one of them is going to all the grocery stores in town asking for donated food, which includes hams and turkeys.

They don’t ask for donations at the Christmas Dinner. All of that has been taken care of by then. There’s actually a flow of order to it all in it coming together at the right times. Nothing is overcooked and there is always plenty of it.

Of course, the dinner prep comes with a lot of anticipation and excitement every year.  Excitement in the air builds among the volunteers. And, everyone is excited about participating in it in someway.

Just being there raises my endorphins. Jumping in and helping out keeps me feeling that excitement for days later. One year we had Santa show up with his eight tiny reindeer! Okay, the reindeer were really his pickup truck but no one was disappointed with his visit.

I’ve gotten to meet so many great Christians in my church by just participating in various church connected events like this annual event. Friendships with a lot of different  people have opened up for me. This year my husband Jeff got involved with the Christmas Dinner and helped me take meals out to shut-ins.

I want to encourage you to get involved with volunteering or being involved someway with a need that’s bigger than your holiday blues. You’ll have great memories, make new friends, meet people who need you to just listen to them for a minute or two. You will become more involved in a world of happiness that’s bigger than your blues.

 

 

 

Living in the Gap of Expectations

  •  “casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7 ESV

How is living in the gap of expectations working out for you? Well, “what is the gap of expectations” you ask?

When you or I set out to accomplish a goal whether short lived or long range, our expectations are to arrive at that goal, right?

What if the goal is not the end result, though, despite your own best efforts? And, needless to say that others are going to disappoint us also. So, in the end, how well do you adjust to disappointment? Do you linger in an emotional “free-fall” going in and out of depression?

Or do you find yourself telling everyone, “I can handle it.” Or, “I’m fine.” If that’s true than good. But, I believe many of us say those cliches without really meaning it. We could be experiencing an emotional free-fall without fully realizing it.

There is a gap of emotional “free-fall” between expectations and the end result when our goals have not been met. Some of us adjust very quickly and re-prioritize our goals. That’s truly fantastic when it happens.  And I’m happy for you if you’re able to do that when you experience a failure, unexpected bad news, or that life just seems hard right now.

I’m, of course, writing to the ones that don’t easily adjust to the disappointing way of how things have turned out. Especially  when this happens, as it’s going to do, throughout parts of our lives. Not all the time, though, thank goodness.

We really don’t know what we can and cannot handle. It’s not just a cliche that we can be our own enemy. It’s true. And because it’s true, I think we end up self-medicating more than what we want to admit to. I’m guilty of that, too. But when disappointment happens we need to be spiritually and emotionally ready.

One thing that’s helped me the most in overcoming disappointments in my life is the Cognitive Behavior Therapy I’ve had over the last two and a half years on a bi-monthly basis.

Me being more fully engaged in my emotional well-being by going to therapy has helped me to see a more clearer perspective of my different life’s challenges. And it has increased my problem solving capabilities. Or put another way, I’ve learned to think “outside the box” of my own “self-thought” and “couple-thought” of my marriage.

Through the years I’ve tried group therapy and “dropping in” therapy; i.e. staying long enough to feel better then not going back.  And, my husband, Jeff and I have gone to marriage counseling, which we needed. I’m glad he willingly went with me. The end result of our couple counseling has been that Jeff was prescribed some anti-anxiety medication, which he still willingly takes. He says he feels better. And, he does communicate with me and now our extended family on a more positive note.

We wouldn’t have been able to figure out his particular issues all on our own. His past issues along with mine kept us “locking horns” over many issues throughout our four decades and counting marriage. The end result was usually anger, bitterness, and frustration.

Jeff is a “late” baby, and a “replacement” baby, born in 1952. His only living sibling was already married before he started school. And the middle sibling closest in age to him was several years older, passing away with a congenital heart disorder in his teens.

Jeff grew up nearly having an “only child” experience. As a result of that he “sub-consciously” expected to be pampered in his adult life, just like his mother had done during his childhood years.

In part, our childhood “shapes” who we turn out to be in our  adult years. The other part being our individual genetics.

Well, I’ll admit to doing my best to pamper him. That is part of a wife’s role in marriage. And, yes there have been times I’ve found doing this to be quite draining and I believe it added to my already low-grade of depression. But, I couldn’t see this situation clearly all on my own, and didn’t know the “why” of it all until we went to counseling.

Jeff’s mother was an angry, controlling person. She had a difficult personality, to say the least. But his dad was the opposite; he was mellow and pleased with all that he had accomplished in his life.

Both of his parents were about ten years older than my parents. Jeff’s mom was a teenager and his dad had just turned twenty when they married during the height of the Great Depression. My parents were married in their early twenty’s after WWII in 1946.

I was born in 1952, also. So he and I are both “baby boomers.” But I had an entirely different upbringing.  My parents were caring, but sometimes harsh throughout their lives. Plus, I’m the youngest of five children all born within a little more than six years. My dad wasn’t big on parenting us kids, leaving that responsibility to my mother.

My mom, worked hard to keep all of us “glued together” with wonderful meals, kept us three girls busy with cleaning the house, and she always kept an “outside the home” job, as well. There was always a lot of responsibility on my mother’s shoulders.

So when Jeff and I married in our mid-twenties we had different expectations of each other’s role in our lives from the beginning. And through the years, we haven’t always met each other’s expectations either.

All of my and our counseling efforts have had many good results, though. Another idea is to read some small portion of the Bible daily. You can go to Bible Gateway and find several plans to help you read through the Bible on a daily basis. I’ve done this for years and years through self-directed Bible studies. By now I don’t feel like my day is complete without reading at least a short devotion.  And pray often throughout your day.

“pray without ceasing,” 1 Thessalonians 5:17

Above all else, don’t let anxiety rule your day and your life. Anxiety is normally the outflow of two root negative emotions: fear and anger. Solve those two emotions through counseling, medication when needed, Bible study, and prayer. Doing this will help you adjust to having a more positive outlook on life in spite of whatever life “throws” at you.

Taking this action will make life more pleasurable to you and those around you.

 

Are There Generational Curses?

“… and I shall seem to be mocking him and bring a curse upon myself and not a blessing.” Genesis 27:12

I’m not sure where we Christians get the idea that curses can be passed down. Recently a relative and I were talking about this subject. My relative said that another relative of ours is under the family curse.

I asked, “What curse is that? Nobody told me that we were under a curse.” I’ve never heard this, so I asked, “Where is this written in the Bible?”

Well, I’ve looked through different versions of the Bible and I still haven’t found this teaching on generational curses. There are generational sins but that’s another subject for another day. But, these two are not the same thing at all.

The whole subject came up because of my maternal grandfather. He was born out-of-wedlock to a teenage mom in 1898. My math tells me she was 15 1/2 yrs old when she gave birth to my grandfather in a rural community here in Western North Carolina. His dad was twenty. I’m not sure whether he was married then or not.

She didn’t keep her newborn boy so he was passed around to various family members. Somewhere in there he took his Dad’s last name. Even though, his dad rejected him and never claimed my grandpa as his son. Well, Grandpa looked strikingly similar to his father’s legitimate son so there you have it. And it was then and still is a rural community. No more than a crossroads with a store and a post office.

Now, this young woman had one more son out-of-wedlock about when she turned 18. With that birth she died. It might’ve been because of her experiencing a difficult delivery or her premature death might’ve been the result of catching influenza (flu).

There was no cure for influenza back then. And, there were “mini” outbreaks of it before the 1918 large scale death of the flu that swept across America because troops were trained in large group settings, and then passed through metro areas on their way to Europe. Many people who got it back then died from it.

So, what happened to my Grandpa to bring this idea of curses about? Even I’m not sure how to answer that one. I knew him and am pretty sure he would reject that idea also. Grandpa always had two things nearby that he read: his Bible and their local paper.

He was a WWI Navy veteran that went to the shores of France. After that he came back to WNC and moved to the largest town near where he grew up, Murphy, NC. There he met my Granny and they married about 1920.  They had four children, two sons and two daughters in that order.

I knew him to be a small frame man that might’ve been as tall as 5’6″ and weighed about 140 lbs. A lightweight to be sure, but he was a hard worker.

Both of my grandparents’ sons, my Uncles J. D. and Jack, were much taller and larger bone than their parents.  My mother, named June and her sister my Aunt Mary Jo, were both small frame women.

My grandpa was well educated for his time. A relative had the foresight to send him to Rome, GA to attend Berry’s School for Boys about 1914. There he learned carpentry and farming. Then, he entered the Navy in 1917.

Both he and my Granny were hard-working, honest, Christian people: “salt of the earth” type of folks. Together they made a strong couple. They farmed most all their lives together, which was about forty years.

Grandpa only spoke when he had something to say. He said what he meant and meant what he said. I think that must be a genetic trait because that was my mother’s style of communication, and pretty much mine, also.

His childhood experiences left him somewhat hard to deal with.  But, he lived his life on two main principles: truth and logic. What is the truth here and what is the outcome going to be? Those two qualities worked well for both my grandparents.

In time, they owned about 15 acres that included a small frame house. He and his sons enlarged the house, built an indoor bathroom, and all the family farmed about a quarter of the land. In my early years they still had a horse trained for pulling a plow, but had a tiller also.

My Grandparents saw both of their sons leave to join the Navy during WWII. Amazingly, both came home being in the same physical shape as when they left.

All their children lived by the practicable values they learned from their parents as well. My mother was a down-to-earth woman who was the major influence on us five children. My dad was more of a “think-outside-the box” idealist. He worked long hours honing his sales approach by selling restaurant equipment. And, all that work paid off for them through the years.

An example of that is about 16 years into my parents marriage my dad convinced my mother to follow one of his impracticable dreams of them becoming entrepreneurs. By both following dad’s dream they became wealthy and experienced their own American Dream.

My parents became successful small business owners and, in time, millionaires! Fortunately, my very practical mother controlled the outflow of the money. And, in part, that’s how they stayed wealthy.

I’ve used these principles for my life’s direction as well. No, I’m not a millionaire. Or at least not in monetary terms that is. But, I am known as being an honest, hard-working, Christian woman.

Over forty years ago, I married Jeff, who also shares these principles. We have three beautiful daughters named Ruth, Rachel, and Esther. And two blood grandchildren, and two step grandchildren.  We love them all very much.

Now, my Grandfather had no control over the circumstances that surrounded his birth. He did not choose his parents. No one does, all our parents are chosen for us. Yes his upbringing was harsh. That experience, I believe, left him short-tempered.

But, grandpa, granny, nor any of their four children, and not their seventeen grandchildren, and so on have ever been under a generational curse. That whole idea just doesn’t exist.

Outside of accepting Christ as your personal Savior than you, and I are or were under the curse of sin. That’s the only curse I’m aware of that affects us humans. That curse can be taken away by asking Jesus to come into your heart to take up residence inside you through the Holy Spirit.

I’m still not sure where this generational curse idea developed. It’s not Biblical. Nor is it even practical.

The above verse I chose for this blog shows that we bring either curses or blessings on ourselves. And that’s what I believe.

 

 

Living A Full Life Includes Serving and Being Served

 

“And when Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever. He touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and began to serve him.” Matthew 8: 14,15

Only in Matthew’s Gospel do we read about this miraculous healing. At first glance, we would think this verse is only about healing.  After all, Jesus did heal many people during his three years of ministry.

But, there’s more to this small verse than what meets the eye. Besides the healing she received, her brief bio shows us how to live a fulfilled life without seeking the spotlight.

This verse says a lot about not only serving but being served as well. It’s about those that don’t need to be the “center of attention,” but are happiest at fulfilling a supportive role.

Her miracle healing is not to be sidelined for anything.  As I mentioned in the above story my friend Jim received a miraculous healing. My dad has survived two near fatal heart attacks.

In my early twenties I experienced a miracle phone call that kept me from dying. Just a little earlier on the day of my phone call I’d an accident while riding my bicycle. Little did I know that I had burst my vulva on impact by hitting my bike frame when I had to come to an abrupt halt. I was crossing a street when a car came out of nowhere and nearly crushed me and my bike.

So while on my way home I began to seep blood. But I was too dazed and in pain to know what to do. This is when I was single and lived alone in a small Southern Georgia town. I was almost home when this happened so I was able to make it to my apartment.

Within a few minutes of getting inside, my sister Carol called me from two hundred miles away because God placed me on her mind at that crucial time. I explained what had happened to her. She, then called my employer. From there he got the hospital to send an ambulance out to my apartment. That miracle phone call saved my life.

Yes, miracles still do happen. No question about that. But, lets look at the “serve and being served” message that’s woven into this verse. It’s not only what she did, but it’s what Jesus did, and what Peter and his wife did also.

Now, unfortunately, we don’t know her name, but countless people are serving in Christ’s name all over the World and only a few are ever known by name.

After her healing she promptly served Jesus. Now, to me this shows her gratefulness of being healed. But, it also shows her exercising her gift of service.

Doing this may have been expected of her. But still, Jesus didn’t heal everyone he walked by, either.  He waited four days to go see about his friend Lazarus who was very ill. By that time Lazarus had died, and been buried. But he experienced a miraculous resurrection when Jesus came to his grave. The whole amazing story is found in John 11:1-44.

Jesus doesn’t always heal. I can’t explain it, I just know that sometimes healing happens and sometimes it doesn’t. What I can say, though is the last year of my brother Gene’s life we all helped him in every way we could. Doing that brought all of us closer together. That’s worth more to us than what any of us could describe.

Getting back to our verse, we know that a special bond had formed between Jesus, and three of his disciples: Peter, John, and James. Did that make a difference in this story? I don’t think so, but it is God’s desire that we all draw near to Jesus (Hebrews 10:22).

So, this verse show’s us the importance of having meaningful relationships where we can draw close to a friend. That’s part of what makes life fulfilling.  We read about God’s love for us and how he doesn’t condemn us in John 3:16,17.

She could’ve chosen to be the “center of attention” since she was miraculously healed. But, she chose to serve instead. People who exercise their gift of service rarely want to be in the spotlight. But, receiving a well deserved “Thank you” is appreciated by all.

Jesus, himself, taught this very concept of service:

“It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant” (Matthew 20:26).

Part of any meaningful relationship is to receive as well as to give. Peter and his wife welcomed her into their home. We don’t read that her presence made it difficult.  What we do read is that she used her gift of service in their home. Her help would’ve been appreciated by the entire family.

Peter’s concerned for her health shows his care for her. I’m sure they had tried the usual ancient ways to lower her fever by this time. But the herbs and cooling baths weren’t curing her.

Peter believed she needed a touch by none other than Jesus, himself. So he urged Jesus to visit his home and heal his ill in-law. And that’s just what happened.

This instance may have been the impetus of him writing latter on:

 “casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

Some translations use the word “care” instead of anxieties. But, it’s the same idea with either word. We don’t have to carry our emotional burdens around needlessly. Peter was concerned about his mother-in-law so he went to Jesus about it.

Jesus always cared about others first. Here we see that he cared about her health foremost. This shows that we can’t work our way into having a relationship with the Savior.

After he healed her he spent time with all that were gathered there. In those days you just didn’t “drop in” for coffee. There’s no doubt that all the guests stayed and had a meal together. Since she served Jesus this meant that she sat near or behind him during the meal. So she would’ve been in his presence from her healing through the end of the meal.

Having meaningful relationships and being fully engaged in whatever our gifts and talents are is an important part to living our lives to the fullest. This is what brings satisfaction and fullness to not only ourselves, but to others also.

Perhaps you’ve experienced a miracle as well. I’d like to hear about it, but of course I would want some proof of it happening. I’m always looking for a good story to add to my next self-published book.

*All Bible verses are from The English Standard Version (ESV).

Living Life To The Fullest

“And when Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever. He touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and began to serve him.” Matthew 8: 14,15*

You may not see it at first glance, but the woman in this verse got to live a fulfilled life. Not only did she experience a miraculous healing but she also got to be a part of Jesus’s ministry while he was here on Earth.

Her family might’ve thought she was near death with the fever.  But Peter wasn’t ready to “throw in the towel” just yet. He went and got Jesus to come and touch her hand.

At some point we’re all going to “step into eternity.”  But, only God knows when that is going to happen. No one else does. Not even the doctors.

I got to hear a great story about a miracle healing recently when I attended a high school get-together at a downtown park here in my hometown. I saw some of my former classmates sitting at our booth so I sat down with them. I had just gotten a sloppy BBQ sandwich that had a heap of coleslaw added to it. And sitting with friends is always a good way to enjoy any evening.

We all were catching up with each other there in the booth while waving to others who were milling around. We were having a great time listening to a band that was “rockin'” out some classic Rock-n-Roll tunes.

That’s when James “Jim” Raby sat down beside me.  We had graduated together quite a few decades back and have crossed paths in our small town a few times since then. So we were just catching up on family, Sylva news, and so on.

Then, Jim showed me a picture of himself on his phone that a family member had taken a year or so back. In the photo he was lying on a hospital bed looking “white as a sheet” while being on a ventilator.

Jim told the few of us that were gathered there the entire story of how he nearly died while visiting his daughter and her family a year or so back.  Here’s what he said as best as I remembered it:

He told us that while he was visiting his daughter in Alabama he had fallen ill. He had only gone there for a short visit, but ended up staying longer than he had anticipated.

Since he has other health problems, his daughter admitted him to the hospital where he could get the care he needed. Well unfortunately, his health went from “bad to worse” quickly. Within a few brief days his children were called in to say their final goodbyes.

Jim apparently had some prayer warriors there in the hospital room, also. But even so, they felt that they had prayed all they could and were ready to accept what seemed as the inevitable.

Early, on the morning that his daughter was preparing to say her final “good byes” to her dad she had a woman she knew from her church to visit her. The women believed she had a prophetic message for Jim’s daughter.

This woman brought with her a vial of anointing oil. After the two women prayed together she poured the oil over Jim’s daughter’s head. Then told her to take her Bible, go pray for, and read the scripture over her dad in his hospital room one last time.

When his daughter walked into his room she asked that everyone else including the medical staff leave her alone with her dad. Jim told me that she began praying and reading the Bible as she had been directed to do by her early morning visitor.

Within that time frame he began improving. A day or two later he left the VA hospital. When he had fully recovered he drove himself all the back to Sylva, NC, which is about two hundred miles from his daughter’s house.

Of course, he was told all this by his daughter while recovering at her house. He was clearly out of it by the time that picture was taken that he had showed us.

My dad is also, living life to the fullest. He is 95 years old and is blessed with good health, walks unaided, and has a clear mind. We just celebrated his birthday at my daughter, Ruth and her boyfriend Dennis’ house. We had a big crowed of cousins, my dad’s brother and my aunt,  and other relatives there. You can see some of the pictures of his birthday party on my Facebook page: Patricia Jordan, Sylva NC.

One of my hobbies are to explore my ancestral roots. And since I live about fifty miles from where my American ancestors lived most all their lives, sometimes I go looking for their headstones to gain the “when” information. But I only know the “how” they lived by recalling and listening to all the family stories I’ve heard throughout my life. I hope their lives were as fulfilling as what I’ve heard they were.

Each and everyday you and I live is a day we are adding to our overall life’s story. Our legacy as some would say. Our actions, if used in positive ways can bring others as well as ourselves enrichment and fulfillment.

A great example of this is when my older sister Carol helped our brother Gene during his last year of life. It wasn’t easy and sometimes it didn’t go smoothly. He could be a cantankerous bachelor that was use to doing things for himself at times. But, she did a wonderful job of taking care of him full time while keeping up with her husband and his health issues at their house some fifty miles away.

Our brother Gene was dying of bone cancer, which had at first been misdiagnosed as muscle ache at a walk-in clinic. What he actually had, though was lung cancer that was the result of him being a heavy smoker.

Well, we all knew he probably had emphysema just by hearing him cough and gasp for air. But, it wasn’t easy to get him to go to a doctor without someone prodding him. While my mother was living she tried, and she was the only one he would listen to.  So his cancer went un-diagnosed for a long time.

His lung cancer metastasized into bone cancer. When the muscle relaxers weren’t working it was our dad and stepmother, Sue who drove him to the ER at our local hospital. By the time we all knew what his health status was we all got busy making his life as comfortable as was possible.

Our other brother, David mowed both their yards. Dennis and Ruth came over and put a wilderness camera outside so we all could watch raccoons and opossums visiting his yard on a laptop. Our other sister Deena came over and changed his morphine patch at 5:00 am. Our mother was deceased by this time. But, Sue and dad visited him. Jeff and I did what we could. We all did something or sometimes we simply visited with Gene and watch homesteaders build homes in the Alaska frontier.

Carol did the most though. She moved in and slept on his couch for about four out of seven days at first. But later, she stayed there full time. Carol drove him to all his appointments, got his medications, cooked their meals. She made sure that we had an occasional cookout at Gene’s house, helped him get his flower bed sowed with his favorite annuals, and they planted beans together. Gene lived long enough to set in the Sun, enjoy his flowers, and he even ate those beans too!

We’re all living our own life’s history every day we breathe. Are you happy with where you’re at, at this point and time in your life? If not, then what would make you happy?

I hope you’re not thinking “Oh, if only I had more money in my banking account, then my life would be perfect.” There is an old axiom that applies to that idea. It goes like this: “The more you make, the more you spend.”

A better question to ask yourself is, “Am I content with how my life is turning out? How about my career choices? Are my talents, skills, and / or intellect being fully utilized in what I’m doing?” Not every job requires our talents. But all jobs require our intellect.

Ultimately, we need to occasionally ask ourselves, “Is my life fulfilling? Or am I missing something in the ‘big picture’ of it all.” I’ve spent most of my adult life not working outside the home. I’ve been mostly content with that decision. But, I did want to finish college someday. And so I did when my children were teenagers.

I became a non-traditional college student and attended night school for two years while we lived in Sumter, SC. I graduated Coker College in Hartsville, SC in 2000. We had moved to Sumter from Turkey when my husband Jeff was still in the USAF in the early nineties. And stayed there after his discharge so our girls could finish high school there. I felt restless, so I decided to get my degree I had always wanted during those years.

I thought I might become a Social Worker when I graduated. But, when I started working in that career field I found that it exacerbated my dysthimic depression. So I’ve found other activities to do that have kept me involved and engaged. My volunteerism, writing my blog, and my other activities have made me feel fulfilled and overall contented.

By now I’ve learned the truth of what the Apostle Paul wrote, “…for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” Philippians 4:11b

Most of your life is up to you. Now there are some ideas that are just not going to work for you or I. But, I’m okay with accepting my limits.

Choosing to live a fulfilled satisfying life is better than chasing after things that become dated as soon as you get that shiny new thing. Or perhaps you’ve chased after a relationship that turned out to be toxic in the end. The list of us going after what we thought would make us happy is endless.

Some relationships may not be for us. Many tangible or intangible things you or I might want will not lead us into living a fulfilled life. What or who will then?

Start by having a relationship with Jesus. Ask Him to come into your heart and help you in making those tough decisions in life.

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” Revelation 3:20

Earthly relationships need to be as meaningful as possible. But, we need to remember that our relationships have their limits as to what you, or I and the other person can bring into the relationship.

What does living a full life look like for you? I’m not talking about a busy life, but a full rewarding life. That’s a good question we all need to ask ourselves from time to time.

*All Bible verses are from The English Standard Version (ESV).

 

 

 

Why Do Some Burn Bridges To Relationships They Should Be Cherishing?

Are you involved in a relationship where there a history of mistrust? Why do some people subconsciously sabotage relationships that they depend on always being there for them?

Yes, I’m primarily talking about the manipulators and / or emotional controllers that easily move about in our inner circle of relationships. You and I both know people that don’t seem to care about your feelings, but only theirs. Let me list a few of these type of people for you.

First, there are the “pouters” that threaten to throw a fit if things don’t go their way. This group includes people of all ages. Especially the people under the same roof as you live under. Such as parents, children, grandparents, grandchildren, and spouses.

The habit of being a manipulator begins in early childhood and deepens, like a murky river, into a person’s psyche during their formative years.  Only a trail of failure and then, hopefully counseling can change the course of that dark river of self-absorption. Change can happens but it takes effort.

What are the other types of manipulators? Well, how about the self-absorb people who weave “I, me, my, mine, or myself” into every other sentence? Yes, you know people like this just like I do. They are our detached and self-focused relatives, or friends. All you ever hear about from this type is them talking about themselves.

Then, there’s the temperamental relative that almost never shows gratefulness. Never a “Thank you” is uttered from their lips. The ungrateful can catch you “off guard” with saying something hateful in the middle of what seems like a normal conversation.

And, last, but not least are the “blasters!” They likely have what is called, “intermittent explosive disorder.” These individuals are the hardest on your nerves, to be sure. Their anger is out of proportion to the circumstance. We think of road rage as an example of this disorder. Or a family member who starts shouting over something that was simply misplace, but easily found, for instance

If a person has this disorder their behavior can develop PTSD in other family member’s psyche in a sub-conscience way. PTSD happens to more people than solders that fight in a war.

Encourage this person to get counseling and take the appropriate prescription for his/her anger issues. Anger plus fear create anxieties. Out of control anxiety needs to be controlled because it will affect this person’s physical health. Help where possible with them in making a long term solution in controlling their disorder.

As I’ve said, you know any or all of these people just like I do. What can you or I do about not being controlled, manipulated, or blasted at by our loved ones who see us as target practice for releasing their pent-up anger or schemes on?

For one, avoid conflict with these people, in as much as possible. Sometimes these people say provocative statements just to get us to react to them. That seems like an odd way to get attention, but as the old saying goes, “negative attention is better than no attention.”

Don’t become a victim of other people unleashing their negativity out on you. Become a victor instead. Becoming a victor may mean you going to counseling. This would give you a healthy outlet to talk in-depth with a trained counselor that can guide you into healthy communication habits.

If you work with any of these personality types, then talk with their boss. And tell him or her about what you’re experiencing in working with or under this difficult person.

Don’t “build” your self-thoughts on other’s negative statements they make about you. There will always be negative people in our lives. They are the “bridge burners” that sabotage their own selves of not being able to build healthy relationships.

You be a “bridge builder” to hope, and personal happiness without being selfish. Be a person known to have a clear conscience, and to posses quality of character. Don’t let negativity, whether its yours or someone else’s be the over-riding attitude that guides you through your day. Don’t let other people’s negative comments shape your own personal belief system you have about yourself.

Only listen to people or teachings that guide you into mentally healthy ideas about yourself. Follow those that help you to be the best person you can possibly be.

 

 

You Will “Walk Through the Valley of the Shadow of Death” If You Follow The Instruction Book

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;” Psalms 23:4

Psalms 23 is short, but very powerful in it’s promises. I know these promises are true. Because I’ve lived them. I have tested many of God’s promises throughout my life. But, believe me I didn’t plan on testing God’s patience and love for me. Sometimes it just happened that way.

Fortunately though, my right choices have outweighed my bad ones along life’s way. But, I have walked through the “valley of the shadow of death,” perhaps more than I want to confess to.

Let’s take an in-depth look at Psalm 23 and learn how to apply these truths to our own lives. This is where the “rubber meets the road” in any Bible study. And in doing so I will share a little about my story.

You might not be familiar with the Bible. The Psalms are about right in the middle of the Bible. Most are beautifully phrased praises to God. Some hold promises and insight into letting us know of God’s direct involvement in our lives. A few Psalms are prophetic in announcing the Savior’s coming.

Okay, now I want to jump right in to Psalms 23. Verses 1-3 are all about what God is doing on our behalf when we seek after Him.

Verse 1 tells us that God is like a Shepard to us.  A Shepard will lay down his life for his sheep.

“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” John 10:11

Verse 2 tells us that God provides us with our needs in plentiful ways. And promises to give us rest.

“And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19.

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28.

Verse 3 states that God restores us and guides us. Restoring has two parts to it. First we receive then we give.

The first part is where God restores us as individuals when we cry out to Him in our desperation:

“Restore us to You, O Lord, that we may be restored; Renew our days as of old,” Lamentations 5:21.

The second part is when we continue the work of restoration that God has done in our lives:

“Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness;” Galatians 6:1

Verse three goes on to our letting God guide us throughout our daily lives.

Verse four is a turning point in this well loved Psalms. The new believer has gone through the exhilarating stages of a fresh or renewed walk with Christ. Now we’re being told that we will experience trials and our faith will be tested. Dark clouds are going to bring some storms of trouble into our lives. But there is an important promise within the warning. Let’s take a look at what it is:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” Psalms 23:4

God will not let fear overcome us if we abide in Him. And He will send us comfort during our times of fear, anxiety, stress, disappointments, and any other attacks by Satan.

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.” John 15:4

Why I Wrote About Psalms 23

The “valley of death” can also be translated as the “valley of darkness.”  Depression is darkness. And sometimes it can lead to a loved one not making it through the “valley of the shadow of death” only to commit suicide midway through that valley.

I’ve made it my mission to tell others my story of how I’ve overcome depression in hope that it will prevent someone from doing something drastic.

In 2007 I was going through a bout of depression. I’d struggle with depression on and off for most of my life. And I’ve talked with therapists many times before this so I knew that it was time for me to get back into counseling. I checked into an out-patient mental health facility here in my hometown. In the interview process I was diagnosed with dysthymic depression by one of the Peer Support Specialists that worked there.

Having that diagnoses was the beginning of my freedom from depression. First because I was finally correctly diagnosed. Having a correct diagnoses helped me to know why many of my days had dark clouds in them, and having that knowledge put me on a path to healing.

Of course my life isn’t perfect now, but I am happier and can deal with stress and disappointment more wisely because I have mental health tools that keep me from reacting negatively when bad things happen or are spoken to me; or because of a short sighted decision I’ve made.

During my time at the facility I went through ten months of group counseling that overlapped three months of individual peer counseling I received as well. After that I took a long break from receiving counseling. I felt fine and had made the changes that I knew I needed to make.

In early part of 2017 I  began gradually becoming intensely stressed. By early Spring my daughter, Esther encouraged me to go back to counseling. It’s odd that she sensed it first, because Esther lives on the West Coast and her dad and I live in Western North Carolina. Our oldest daughter Ruth lives about 30 miles from us and our middle daughter Rachel lives in Eastern North Carolina. But, “Es” has always been intuitive. And it paid off for me to listen to her.

That Spring I began receiving Cognitive Behavior Therapy counseling by a trained therapist. We decided I needed to come in on a weekly basis. The cost was minimal because I chose a therapist that was “in network.”

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is sometimes called “talk therapy.” It’s usually a one-on-one session. But sometimes a spouse or other family members can join the sessions.

Later my husband, Jeff joined me for these sessions. Sometimes we went weekly and sometimes we went bi-monthly. The therapist suggested at the beginning that he take a prescription for his anxieties. That has helped so much in our flow of couple communication. And we are still going to our therapist.

For some reason I always thought family members just had to live with having an anxious family member in the home. Too many med’s were addictive, so we didn’t look into him taking any. And Jeff not taking an anti-anxiety prescription created a lot of unneeded stress when our girls were in their teen years.

But in recent years medications for anxieties has been produced that are not habit forming.  And that’s the type Jeff takes now. I’m proud of him for admitting he needed both counseling, and medication in order to keep his anxieties in check. And we are still going to counseling at least a few times a month.

The rest of this Psalms speak of God’s presence in our lives. And that he is continually working on our behalf.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You [have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
Surely goodness and loving kindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Psalms 23: 5,6.

Verse five describes being in God’s will is like enjoying a banquet while our enemies can only look on. Unless they know God and seek His guidance than they can’t enjoy His banqueting table.

It’s really up to us believers to go find the “lost” and invite them in to also enjoy being in the presence of God. This, I believe, is our anointing and our calling.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19, 20.

Verse six brings this beautiful sermon to a close with God’s assurance that we, as individuals, are loved by our heavenly Father. And that we also are to be known by our loving kindness.

Too many in the church have confused condemnation with conviction. It’s difficult to bring someone to Christ by condemning them. We bring people to Christ by our loving kindness. Conviction is the work of the Holy Spirit.

Throughout my childhood and adult years I’ve put up with the condemning words of others. So, I know what I’m talking about here.

I’ll let the Apostle John have the last words on this subject:

“For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” John 3:17

*All Bible quotes are from the New American Standard Bible.