If I knew then what I know now

My Beginning of Wisdom site
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  • My Portion

    Posted on June 1st, 2015 rhonda No comments

    My Portion

    Years ago, I told some friends about how I felt about my relationship with God.

    “I work in a place where everyone gets a birthday card – the exact same card.  I guess it was done to save money.  On the one hand, I wouldn’t get anything if I didn’t work there.  On the other hand, it doesn’t make me feel special.  That’s how I feel about Jesus.  On the one hand, if I wasn’t a Christian, I wouldn’t be able to go to heaven.  On the other hand, I don’t feel special.  God hasn’t given me anything special.”

    In order to feel special, I would have wanted 100% health, and to have the job, money, apartment, and husband I wanted.  Other Christians got all of the above – plus Jesus.  I just got Jesus.

    Then, I listened to the choir soloist singing the refrain, “The Lord is my portion forever.”

    The folks in my office love chocolate.  One day, someone brought in a chocolate bar and broke it into pieces, and everyone was just happy to get a piece.  Sharing it gave us all a break from the monotony of the day, a respite, a pleasant surprise, a bonding experience, and reinforced a sense of belonging; all of that because of some chocolate.  Jesus is the living water & bread of life.  He is a Feast, and a feast is meant to be shared.  Who likes to eat alone?  Psalm 33:8 tells us to “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”  I’m starting to think differently.  I’m realizing that having Jesus as my portion is enough.  Maybe more than enough.  Everything.


  • Faith Is Work

    Posted on August 16th, 2014 rhonda No comments

    Jesus answered,

    “The work of God is this: to believe in the One He has sent.”

    John 6:29

    Sometimes, maintaining faith in God is work. How can an educated person in her right mind believe in a virgin birth? I do believe, but sometimes I wonder why I let myself believe this “foolishness” (1 Corinthians 1:25.).

    A pastor described the difference between believers & nonbelievers like this. Imagine that we all are standing at the shore, and looking at a rickety bridge and wondering whether it will be strong enough to get us across the water.

    Believers are the ones who start walking across the bridge. While we’re walking, we might wonder, “How is this rickety thing strong enough to hold me up?” Yet, it does, so we keep walking.

    Nonbelievers stay on the shore – doubting and criticizing the strength of the bridge, and sometimes actively discouraging other people from stepping on it.

    James (2:14-26) said that faith without works is dead; but faith IS work, and the most important work we can do.

    “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”

    John 6:40


  • Mercy Every Morning

    Posted on August 2nd, 2014 rhonda No comments

    Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,

    for his compassions never fail.

    They are new every morning;

    great is your faithfulness.

    Lamentations 3:22-23

    Some pastors give the subtle impression that God is doing something new and unprecedented to break strongholds in our lives and deliver us from all sorts of troubles.  It’s a special opportunity only available for a short period of time.  We only know about the opportunity because of we’re under the teaching of an especially anointed pastor, who has his antennae up and can “sense” a special movement of God.  Sometimes we risk missing out if we don’t “sow a seed” immediately.  They always talk about how God is “about” to do something.  Don’t miss it!

    Anytime God is made to sound like a salesman with an opportunity that’s only available while supplies last, something is amiss.  His word says that His Mercies are new every morning.  God is Jehovah Jireh, Comforter, and Counselor.  That “special opportunity” that we’ve heard about is not rare.  It’s available to us every day – all day.

     Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns.

    He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering

    instead of his son.

    So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide.

    And to this day it is said,

    “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”

    Genesis 22:13-14

  • Abolitionista!

    Posted on June 11th, 2014 rhonda No comments

    One of the disciples – it was Andrew, brother to Simon Peter – said,

    “There’s a little boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish.

    But that’s a drop in the bucket for a crowd like this.”

    John 6:8-9

    If you’ve ever wondered what you could do to keep kids safe & combat human trafficking, I’d suggest that you gift a copy of Abolitionista! to a tween.

    Abolitionista! is a manga comic written by Thomas Estler directly for tweens and teaching them how to recognize when they (or their friends) are in danger – and how to get out.  Eden, the 12 year old protagonist, is worried when her best friend, Delilah, gets involved with the wrong guy; and the manga follows their adventure.   I’m far older than the target audience, so reading the manga was like reading a magazine article during my morning commute – quick & easy & interesting.  I assume it would be much more of an educational challenge to an actual 10-12 year old, which is welcome.

    Parents can feel safe giving Abolitionista! to their children.  Despite being about human trafficking, it’s age-appropriate, as is the advice, which comes from characters like Eden’s teacher, “You could have told an adult . . . a teacher, the principal, or even a pastor or priest.  You could have called 911!  The police are trained to rescue people who are in trouble.”  It’s also cheap!  I ordered my copy for $7.50 directly from the website (http://www.abolitionistapress.com/)

    Abolitionista! is only cheap in price – not quality.  The bonus is at the back of the book, which is equipped with cards imprinted with the National Human Trafficking Hotline number.  The cards can be detached and given to at least 8 other people.  There’s also an Abolitionista! Bill of Rights that is child-friendly & appropriate.  Making a book interesting and educational is a hard balance to strike, and I think Thomas Estler (author), Delilah Buckle & Lizbeth R. Jimenez (artists) did it.

    Sometimes I wonder if I’m actually making a “difference” in this world.  Human trafficking, in particular, seems like an overwhelming evil to confront.  Estler reminds me that all I have to do is offer my gifts back to God, and He’ll make sure my offering has an impact. 

     When the people had eaten their fill, he said to his disciples,

    “Gather the leftovers so nothing is wasted.”

    They went to work and filled twelve large baskets with

    leftovers from the five barley loaves

    John 6:12-13

  • God is My Help

    Posted on June 3rd, 2014 rhonda No comments

    The time came when the beggar died

    and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side.

    Luke 16:22

    I heard a sermon, “The Reunion”, about the meeting between Lazarus and the Rich Man depicted in Luke 16.  It made me think more deeply about Lazarus. 

    There are only 2 stories about men named Lazarus in the Bible.  John’s gospel talked about the other Lazarus.  The intriguing thing about both stories is that, even though they’re prominently featured in each story, they were silent and inactive – dead.  Since both died, I was pretty sure the name Lazarus meant something like “Raised from the Dead”.  I googled.  I was surprised to find that it’s a baby name that means “God is my help” or “God has helped”.  Who knew?   Only a dead person can be more helpless than a baby; and God helps both.

     “Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord” (Romans 12:19), is not comforting to me after I’ve been wronged.  I like tangible demonstrations, and God truly proved His willingness and ability to avenge us.  I doubt how many times the two spoke when they were living, but in death, the Rich Man was talking to Abraham about Lazarus, instead of talking to Lazarus.  He was asking Abraham to make Lazarus his servant.  I imagine it made Lazarus feel good to hear Abraham say, “Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony” (v. 25).  He didn’t have to say anything, our Comforter spoke for him.

    Our Savior acted for the other Lazarus.  Lazarus had been dead for 3 days before Christ raised him from the dead.  John 11:1-44 is a relatively long passage, and Lazarus said nothing.  He’s completely unable to “labor or spin” (Luke 12:27); and the Bible doesn’t mention Lazarus (either of them) crying out to God for a healing before they died.  Maybe they did, maybe they didn’t.  Praise God, regardless of what Lazarus did, God made a move on their behalf – giving them each a new life. 

    If he can do that with dead men, how much can our Savior do for the living?

     Take off the grave clothes and let him go.

    John 11:44


  • The Bride

    Posted on May 6th, 2014 rhonda No comments

    “But the father said to his servants,

    ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him.

    Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.

    Bring the fattened calf and kill it.

    Let’s have a feast and celebrate.

    For this son of mine was dead and is alive again;

    he was lost and is found.’

    So they began to celebrate.

    Luke 15:22-24

    I had a mini-revelation at the wedding I recently attended.  It was an international wedding.  The bride is American, and the groom is African.  I heard someone wonder aloud why traditional American weddings make such a big deal over the bride, with the groom almost being an afterthought.  One metaphor that Christ uses to describe His relationship with the church is that the church is His “bride”.  I’ve known that metaphor for years, but I think it finally came alive for me that weekend, esp. when I compare it to the story of the prodigal son.  When the son finally came to his senses and returned home, his father (God) was so happy to see him that he ran to his son, cleaned him up, gave him new clothes, and had a party.  (Several pastors have explained to me that, in the context of the culture, it was considered undignified for a man to run, especially to an ungrateful son.)   Essentially, to the extent that He’s depicted as our Father, God rejoices when His kids come home; and if He’s our Bridegroom, He exults over the Bride.  In my opinion, that’s why traditional weddings make such a big deal over the bride.

     In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.

    It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,

    like a champion rejoicing to run his course.

    It rises at one end of the heavens

    and makes its circuit to the other;

    nothing is deprived of its warmth.

    Psalm 19:4-6


  • The Wedding Feast

    Posted on April 26th, 2014 rhonda No comments


    The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son.

    He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet

    to tell them to come,

    but they refused to come.

    Then He sent some more servants and said,

    “Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner:

    My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready.

    Come to the wedding banquet.”

    Matthew 22:2-4

    I recently went to a wonderful out-of-town wedding.  It made me think more deeply about the meaning of weddings.

    Including me, there were 4 other women who came from other states for the wedding.  The couple and their families were really appreciative of the fact that we came in from out of town and kept thanking us.  To me, a wedding invitation is a commitment.  Being invited – or not – to a wedding is a test of a friendship.  In theory, the bride & groom are only getting married once, so it’s “do or die”.  It’s like Haley’s Comet, if you don’t see it when it happens, you’ll never have another chance.  It’s an honor to be invited to a wedding. 

    It’s also unlike anything else in that the bride and groom (or their families) pay the expenses.  They pay for your food and drink and pay to reserve your seat at the reception table.  If you went to someone’s birthday dinner, it is normal to pay for your own meal and subsidize the birthday girl’s meal as well, plus bring a present.  Same thing is true for showers & anniversaries & celebrations of all stripes; but at wedding, the celebrants do all the work and the guests just get to party along with them.

    I never really thought about this as deeply before.   I’ve never thought about the importance of weddings at all.  I think that every time I’m invited to a wedding, I’m going to make my best effort to go.

     “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”

    Matthew 22:14

  • Testimony.Salvation

    Posted on April 22nd, 2014 rhonda No comments

    “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

    Matthew 11:28-30

     I haven’t shared my testimony in a while, so I figured I’d do it again.

    Some people remember the exact date & time that they accepted Christ as their savior.  I don’t.  I put the date @ late summer (maybe August) of 2002.  I was at a job that I hated.  Fridays were my favorite day of the week because it meant I wouldn’t have to deal with the folks from my job for 2 whole days.  Saturday mornings were great.  On Saturday afternoons I started feeling mildly anxious because I thought, “I only have 1 day left, then I have to face those people on Monday”.  On Sundays I was in a fairly high state of anxiety.  One day, while I was riding the bus to work, I started crying for no reason.  That never happened to me before.

    I was looking for solutions.  I picked up a book by Tony Evans entitled, The Battle is the Lord’s.  It described this war going on between God & Satan.  It was the first time I read about the purpose of angels or that humankind was caught up in the crossfire in this war.  The book also said that I could find safety in God.  Around the same time, I saw Dr. Charles Stanley’s televised sermon about the cross.  I was raised in church, but I’d never been given a clear explanation of the centrality of the cross in the Christian faith and what it signified. Stanley explained the importance of understanding that the cross was where Jesus paid our sin-debt in full, thereby reconciling us to God, ourselves, and the rest of creation.

    Before that, no one ever explicitly told me that God was against me, but that’s what I believed.  I thought God was watching me from heaven, looking for me to make a mistake so that he could have good reasons to send me to hell.  After watching Dr. Stanley, I went to bed.  While laying there, it occurred to me for the first time that God was on my side and that he wanted me to submit to his authority so that he could protect me.  So I said the prayer of confession.  Nothing happened.  No music. No lights.  So I said the prayer of confession again.  Again nothing exceptional happened around me.

    Yet, something exceptional did happen within me.  I felt relief. I felt peace.


  • The Secret of Contentment

    Posted on February 20th, 2014 rhonda No comments

    “I have learned the secret of being content

    in any and every situation . . . . “

    Philippians 4:12

    Years ago I was at Bible study, which we closed by taking prayer requests.  My request was that God give me the ability to be content in every situation.

    Instead of contentment, He told me to obey.  I ignored that for a long time.  When I finally started to practice obedience to God, life became a lot easier.  The Lord tells us that we should obey the “authorities” in our lives, because He allows them their authority.  He sent someone to tell me, “instead of asking why, ask how.  Instead of asking why do I have to do this or that, ask yourself how you can do it.”  Now when I’m told to do something, I attempt to do it immediately – and it’s easier.  Grumbling takes up a time & energy.  Immediate obedience is more efficient. 

    Isaiah 57:10 says “You were wearied by all your ways, but you would not say ‘It is hopeless’.”  It’s tiring to always be thinking of my own solution, rather than taking the solution readily available.  Also, since God is omnipotent, omniscience, omnipresent & loving, His solution is always better than mine.  My solutions never got me what I ultimately wanted.  In fact, sometimes they created more problems.  Finally, I decided that my way is hopeless.

    Obedience means observing certain boundaries.  I used to think of boundaries as restrictive.  I’ve now learned that boundaries can be protective & they can take the stress out of decision-making when I know that some things are just off limits.  I can relax & feel calm, even when I’m really busy & there’s chaos around me.  That equals contentment.


    “Lord, you have assigned me my portion & my cup;

    you have made my lot secure.

    The boundary lines for me have fallen in pleasant places;

    surely I have a delightful inheritance.”

    Psalm 16:5-6

  • Logan’s Run

    Posted on February 10th, 2014 rhonda No comments

    “We know he is our son,”

    the parents answered,

    “and we know he was born blind. 

    But how he can see now,

    or who opened his eyes,

    we don’t know. 

    Ask him. 

    He is of age: he will speak for himself.”

    John 9:20-21 

    I was a child when Logan’s Run came out in 1976.  All I can remember about the film is that people weren’t allowed to live past age 30.  In real life, no one will kill us once we turn 31.  Mentally, however, a lot of people will kill us off at 31.  The great news is that God is a savior and a redeemer.

    A newspaper recently did a weeklong series of articles following the life of a 10-year old girl, Dasani, living with her parents & siblings in a homeless shelter.  While focusing on Dasani, the reporters summarized her parents’ troubled lives.  Her parents came from poverty, were poorly educated, didn’t work regularly, were unemployed at the time of the writing, actually borrowed (took) money from their children, were aggressive, and struggled with substance abuse problems.  When I read the “Letters to the Editor” section, I felt sad.  So many people wrote in and said that they admired Dasani’s resilience & saw great promise in her, and advocated that she and her siblings should be taken away from her parents & given to foster care.  What saddened me is that no one mentioned doing anything to help the parents be better parents.  I inferred that, in their minds, everyone had written off the parents as being irredeemable.  The family was getting plenty of social services – shelter, food stamps, disability benefits, etc.  Presumably, because of that, giving the parents more resources would just be a waste of time, effort & money.

    I thank God that He is not that way.  I’m glad that even if we’ve wasted our youth & turned out not too well in life, we still have a chance.  Acts 3 & 4 tells the story of what happened when Peter (in the name of Jesus Christ) healed a man who had been lame since birth.  He was begging at a gate called Beautiful when Peter & John walked by.  I’m glad that the story finishes by mentioning that he was over 40 years old he got his healing.

    Regardless of how old you are, don’t give up.  Let God help you keep living your life to the fullest (John 10:10).


    “For the man who was miraculously healed was over 40 years old.”

    Acts 4:22