Thursday, February 28, 2013

That's Grace....

 My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

I grew up hearing the words to this song, It Is Well with My Soul,  and so usually take the message in it   for granted.  God forgives sin??? Of course God forgives sin!  Tell me something I don't know!  Having "cut my teeth" on the song, "Jesus loves me, this I know. For the Bible tells me so..." I can't even tell you when I first realized that God forgives sin; it's just something I've always known.

  But the older I get, the more I realize that there are a whole lot of people who don't know that and just in my everyday life, I see people all around me who are  caught in cycles of destructive behavior, bowed down with sin and also guilt, trapped in an endless cycle of tying to "find peace" in all the wrong places.

And I wonder: how many more people  are  caught in a never-ending web of bad choices, serious health issues (that on the surface seem to have nothing to do with sin), destructive addictions -  simply because they cannot forgive themselves for something they did somewhere along the way.  Long before health care people linked emotional distress to physical illness, God made the connection through the Psalmist in Psalms 32:1-3:

"How blessed is the man whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered!  How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit!  When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away..."

And just a short verse further down, God gives the solution:

Ps. 32:5 (NASB).  "I acknowledged my sin to Thee and my iniquity I did not hide.  I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the Lord" and Thou didst forgive the guilt of my sin."

"And Thou didst forgive the guilt of my sin."

Psalms 103 goes on to say that God removes our sin from us, as far as the East is from the West.  Hebrews 10:17 says that God will not even remember our sins anymore.  I may struggle to forget the wrong someone has done to me, but He can (and does) choose to wipe away even the memory of our sin once we have dealt with it openly before Him.

That's grace....
That's God...
And that's something to be thankful for on a beautiful Thursday morning.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

He loves....

      This morning I saw a very, very old, long deceased prophet (or at least the book named after him) through new eyes. Everyone knows about Jonah and the whale, big fish, whatever.  How God tells him (Jonah.. not the fish) to go one way and he goes another.  How a storm comes up and he gets thrown overboard.  How he finds that being in the belly of a big fish is actually a pretty good place to pray even though it had never been used as a prayer room before that he probably knew of.  And then Jonah arrives at the place where he was supposed to go the first time - I love the the first verse of chapter 3:  "Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time..."  Don't you love the fact that God gives us second chances?
      Jonah goes with a message that is not PC:  "Forty days and you guys are toast!!!" or something like that.  And the funny thing is: they believed him!  The Assyrians were bad guys, no doubt.  They loved to boil people alive in oil, skin them while they were still breathing, rip pregnant women open... all kinds of nasty things. In a world where torture was pretty much the norm, Jonah's audience stood out for all the wrong reasons. I can well imagine that parents threatened their recalcitrant children with things like:  if you don't behave, little Amaziah, the Assyrians will get you!!!!  And if they did use threats like that, I bet the little Amaziahs of the ancient world straightened up!
      So maybe the Ninevites believed Jonah because they knew deep down inside that they were rotters.  I mean how many innocent people do you have to torture before you figure out you aren't in the running for the local Cub Scout of the Year award????  But I'm thinking that maybe they also picked up on Jonah's unspoken attitude towards them.  I mean maybe his secret desire to see them go up in flames empowered his message. Maybe his ragged prophet attire, blazing eyes of anger, and steely voice scared them ... um... straight.    For a while.
     And then Jonah is ticked.  He sits down under a nifty, shady plant and unloads on God.  I told You this would happen!!!  Now look where this has gotten us!!!  These people are the ancient world's worst nightmare and now You can't wipe them off the face of the earth!!! What a bummer!!! God!!! You should have seen this coming!!!!
    And then God sends a worm to kill Jonah's shade plant and gives him lesson 101 about not being a hater....
     Today it hit me that the book is not about Jonah at all.
     It's about God.  Not the big fish.  Not the wild-eyed prophet.  Not doom and destruction or even about mercy. It's about the heart of God.
    Verse 11 in chapter 4 says:   "And should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?"
      God loved the Ninevites.  He didn't approve of what they did. But still He loved them.  So much so that He sent a decent Jewish man named Jonah to warn them to repent so that they could receive mercy.
      The reason this story hit me in a totally new way was because of what Gracia Burnham said yesterday at the Voice of the Martyr's conference.  She said that before she was captured by Muslim terrorists, she had been raised in a Christian home, married a missionary pilot, and been the mother of three neat kids whom she was home schooling. She felt she was a good person.    But when all that was taken from her, when she and her husband were suddenly just hostages and their world was reduced to marching for long hours between their captors, foraging for food and hiding places, climbing up steep mountain sides or wading through wet lands with muck coming up to their knees, she saw a Gracia that she didn't know existed.
       When the guys mistreated her husband (he was chained to a tree every night for a year) or some of the other women hostages, when one would encounter an innocent pedestrian and behead that person in order to steal whatever the hapless guy had and then the murderer would come back to camp, blood all over his shirt, just pleased with his booty, she hated them.
       Towards the end of their year in captivity, the terrorists were cut off from their source of food. Up to this time, food had been scarce but now it was non-existent.  They weren't in an area where they could live off the land so they had to ration what little rice they had left.  They divided up the rice each evening between themselves in equal portions and then gave Martin and Gracia smaller portions.  Martin and Gracia were already skin and bones and this stinginess was hard to bear.  They would often take their food and go back to their vine-made hammock and grumble about the unfairness of it.  She was envious of those who got larger portions.
       And then there were days when she just bottomed out. Frequently.  She would sit and cry or turn to her husband and ask, "How long does this have to go on?  How long???"  And her husband would say, "Gracia, each day is another day when these guys have a chance to experience God's grace, to realize that He loves them, and to choose to do the right things instead of the wrong things.  Each day of our captivity is a day of grace for them, a chance for them to get things right."  But still she would despair at times.
      She said she didn't like this Gracia that she was seeing - the one who hated, was envious, and who was often in dismay.
      And I don't know how to explain this well, but basically this morning when I had the luxury of sitting in my Sunday School class and listening to the lesson on Jonah, it suddenly hit me that God lavished the days of two of His best servants, and even the life of one, out there in the jungles of the South Philippines on people that very few could possibly love.  Most of the Philippinos, Christian and Muslim alike, hated these terrorists.  When some ended up in prison later on, the other inmates would have nothing to do with the Abu Sayyeff guys.
     Until they read Gracia's book, In the Presence of My Enemies, and realized that if she could forgive these guys and reach out to them after her ordeal was over, then they could reach out to the Abu Sayyeff inmates as well.
    Now, Gracia supports 4 of her former captors, sending them money each month so they can buy a few necessities in prison. She corresponds with a couple of them. And she rejoices when she hears that a new one is in prison and alive as opposed to having been killed by the military. Because as long as these men are alive, they still have a day of grace in which to turn to God, experience His love, and do the right thing.
    What I'm saying is that God really does love the world.  He loves the unlovely. He loves those that men despise. He doesn't approve of what they do but He loves them.  He loved the brutal Assyrians back in ancient times and He loves the terrorists of today.

    And sometimes He sends His choice servants into the enemy's lair simply because...
    He loves.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Accessories!!! :)

     There are times in life when the days are long and stressful, sleep is fitful, and with the first blink of my eyes, the cares of the previous day come right back in full force.  My morning starts with a groan and a halfhearted wish that the emotional "leftover"s from the day before will not be quite so stressful as a new day dawns.
     I remember quite a few days like that when my child was a toddler and also when he was a teen - sometimes there isn't a lot of difference between the two at times... ha!
    My husband always seemed to be able to roll with the flow better than I could.   I'm not sure why but I do know that once my husband told me that he was so thankful to be a  guy simply because he couldn't survive the gamut of all the emotions that I often leaped through in a single bound!  Like: Ugh.. my hair looks like heck - it's going to be a bad day...   Oh, wow, my new bracelet came in the mail!!  I love it!!  It's going to be a good day... Oh my gosh, and  just what exactly  did my neighbor mean by that crack about how kids like mine often go on to do well in life???   Look at what kind of kids she is raising!!!   Aggghhhhh, I can't believe that I spent an hour in the grocery store and still forgot the main thing I went for!!  Where is my brain???? And I haven't even ever smoked crack!!  And that guy who was at least a hundred years old, the one standing in line behind me... was he hitting on me?!!? It's been so long since anyone hit on me, I'm not sure.... On the other hand, do I look like I am that desperate???     Oh wow, that siren is awfully close and it's right about time for  Phil to be driving down our street.  I bet there was a car wreck!  What if Phil was in it??
        Let me transition for a bit:  I am not really into accessories but I do like purses and bracelets and rings and ... key chains.  Most women don't think of key chains as accessories but I sort of do. And when one breaks, it is a bitter/sweet moment around here :)  Sad because my accessory friend is headed towards the trash. But sweet because I get to go buy a new one!  Most of my key chains have Bible verses on them or Christian messages to encourage me each day.  Most of the time, however,  they just dangle from the ignition or lie buried in my purse or remain hidden under a pile of newspapers (on the days when I am in a huge hurry and, naturally, can't find them!).  But when I am out and about shopping, I almost always have them in my hand.  Yet even then  I seldom, if ever, have them on my mind.  My little accessory friends go unnoticed.
     This morning I woke up with critical thoughts and a great urge to straighten out the world...
     Thankfully I opened my Bible study lesson (Me, Myself, and Lies) and started working on that.  In the study, Jennifer talks about doing a mental closet make-over.  And today she talked about doing a make-over in the mental accessories department.  Basically she was saying that instead of wearing a string of critical thoughts around my neck, I can wear a song of praise - I can wake up singing.  Ps. 40:3  says that my Heavenly Abba has given me a song of praise to sing and I can "put that on" when I first wake up!  (Wow... I love gifts!! Don't you?)
    But something that meant even more to me was when she pointed out Lamentations 3:22-23.  I realized that this is a great mental closet accessory: instead of draping a scarf of worry around my neck, I can wrap God's lovingkindness and compassion around myself and wear it out into the day. And it will be fresh and new every morning, no matter how many times I wear it. This may sound simple but to me, it was profound.  God's love is there waiting for me, fresh and new every single morning.
      Going back to the first paragraph of this blog, about how days can be long and stressful when you are dealing maybe with a sick and also willful toddler on top of a myriad of other issues, how you can sometimes feel like you are dragging their stubborn little feet every step of the way through the land mines of blowing recalcitrant noses, forcing nasty tasting medicine down little throats, and putting little um, posteriors in time out when your precious angel is clearly less than angelic... All day long it's drag, drag, drag... Yes, you will take your medicine... No, you won't talk to mommy like that... Now see, you learned a good lesson: Kitty Kat doesn't like to be dragged around by the tail...  Yey!  You got your cowboy boots on by yourself! I'm so happy for you!  No, you can't go outside while you are sick.... Mommy loves you, that's why...   Good job!  You hit the potty! Oh, wow, you found Thomas the Tank!  Too cool! No, you can't turn on the engine and run it along Kitty's back... Because Kitty will freak out and rearrange both of our faces if you do that...
    And on it goes.
    And so it goes between me and my Abba... Some days it must seem like all He does is patiently walk me through one thing after another, dragging my reluctant feet out of one mess and helping me avoid another, encouraging me when I get it right, rejoicing with me when something joyful comes my way,  lovingly correcting me when I get it wrong.
   But unlike me, He doesn't open first one eyelid and then another the next morning and think, "Bummer, gotta do it all over again.  Hope Cathy won't be as stubborn as she was yesterday..."
   No, He is there when I wake up and His loving kindness, His compassion is fresh and new, just as if I hadn't done my best to run the world for Him the day before while He was slowly, patiently guiding my feet onto the sidewalk alongside Him, trying to keep me from running ahead of Him out into the traffic of the world,  and repeatedly tucking my small, stubborn hand into  the warmth and safety of His strong, eternal one.
  What a great mental  accessory to put on first thing in the morning - the awareness of His fresh lovingkindness!!  What a great mental gift to wear all day - the song of praise that He's fastened around  my heart -  if only I'll remember not to let it dangle there( like my unread key chains!)  but will actually read it, sing it, live it.

Monday, February 4, 2013

A Privilege....

     I don't usually do this but I want to sort of "turn this blog" entry over to a book review.  This book hasn't been released yet - will come out in mid-March I think.  But I know many people around the world were aware of the imprisonment of these two Iranian Christians and prayed for their release. Now they have published their story and I just think this is a neat opportunity to see how God answered those prayers during their 259 days of captivity.  So I'm posting the preview from Tyndale here:
Maryam Rostampour
Maryam Rostampour
Maryam Rostampour and Marziyeh Amirizadeh were born into Muslim families in Iran—Maryam in the city of Kermanshah, and Marziyeh in Rafsanjan. They met while studying Christian theology in Turkey in 2005, and realized they had become Christians at about the same time six years earlier. Deciding to join forces, they returned to Iran and began a program of mission outreach. Over the next two years, they handed out twenty thousand New Testaments in Tehran and other cities. They started two house churches in their apartment, one for young people and another for prostitutes. They extended their ministry with mission trips to India, South Korea, and Turkey.In 2009, Maryam and Marziyeh were arrested in Tehran for promoting Christianity—a capital crime in Iran—and imprisoned for 259 days in the city's notorious Evin Prison. The official charges they received were apostasy, anti-government activity, and blasphemy for which they were sentenced to execution by hanging. As many around the world prayed for their freedom, and as a result of international lobbying, Maryam and Marziyeh were released in 2009 and cleared of all charges the following year. They consider it an honor to have experienced a little of Christ's suffering by being imprisoned in His name. After their release, they emigrated to the United States and now live near Atlanta.

Their book is called Captive in Iran.    Two good ministries who support Christians in Iran are Iran Alive and Elam Ministries.   I'm also going to put a YouTube video here from Iran Alive which has definitely touched my heart. Many people in Iran are living without hope. Two-thirds of their population are under the age of 30.  About 40 % cannot find jobs - they have a huge unemployment rate. Many have turned to drugs - they have the highest per capita drug usage of all the nations in the world. They also have a high suicide rate.  At the same time, they have people coming to Christ by the thousands and a lot of it is because of people like Maryam who are willing to go to prison in order to present the gospel to their countrymen.  

Today so much that we hear about regarding Iran is their leader's development of nuclear weapons.  But there is another story and that is about how God is working in marvelous ways to reach these people and give them hope.  I really believe that it is a privilege to join God in this work by sending our prayers towards His throne of grace for these precious people.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

My Turn to Whine... :)

     Some things that bother me... (It's my blog and I can whine if I want to... ??)
     First, the  Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy is not about gun control, either for or against. It's about children and educators and the families who lost them.  Please don't use "Sandy Hook" and the words "gun control" in the same sentence  around me.  Again, I don't care which side of the fence you are on regarding this issue, I just don't want the loss of these precious kids to be obscured by a political debate.  May not make sense but that's how I feel.

    Second,  don't use angry, ugly names to vilify politicians and, in the same breath, tell me you got fired up via Christian radio. I am a devout Christian who  loves the Lord, esteems  His word and (most of the time - ha) tries to love all people, but especially my brothers and sisters in Christ.  But if Christian radio stirs you to anger over and over again, then in my humble opinion,  you need to quit listening to it.  The last time I looked, the book of James contains a warning about how the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.  Be a good citizen, examine the issues, and vote responsibly - make your voice heard. But don't decry Gabrielle Giffords as a hardhearted monster because she is for gun control and had the temerity to say so to congress.  I am a conservative but I respect her and certainly, if anyone has a right to voice their opinion on gun control, she does.  I personally feel that crime is an issue of the heart but I respect Mrs. Gifford's right to voice her honest opinion and am deeply sorry that she ever has had to pay such a terrible price for doing her best to serve our nation.

    Third, keep your eye on the ball.  God entrusted a message of reconciliation to His people.  II Cor. 5 says that we are His ambassadors, entrusted with a critical message - that man through His sin has become an enemy of God but that God, in love, wants to reconcile us to Himself.  That reconciliation is through the high cost of His Son's sinless life and the spilling of His innocent blood to pay for our guilt. (He is the slain lamb who takes away our sin forever).    The Gospel is so simple a child can understand it; a Down's syndrome adult can explain it; and a broken shell of a person, no matter where they have been or what they have done, can embrace it.  Please, let's quit squabbling over side issues.  When we get to Heaven, there won't be any.  In the meantime, let's work together to give out the message of reconciliation that has been entrusted to us.  The peripheral issues can be settled by the One who saves us and He has a myriad of  ways to correct our thinking and keep us in the center of His will. He doesn't need us to be theology cops checking up on one another.   If you have trouble believing that, please meditate on Romans 14 in the J. B. Phillips New Testament.

Sadly, not many German theologians stood with him.
    In keeping with that last point, I'd like to share a story Corrie ten Boom used to share.  I'm paraphrasing it because I haven't read it in a long time so please bear with me.  After WWII, Germany was in shambles. Before the war, it had been the center of Christian theology, having the most prestigious seminaries in Europe with scholars who could debate the finer points of Christian teaching without end.   And yet, the Holocaust came and millions of lives were lost.  The church, intellectual as it was,  clearly was asleep at the wheel and European Jewry nearly perished as a result.  After the war, the leading ministers were fragmented and combative (argumentative) towards each other, pretty much as they had been before.  There was no spirit of cooperation among the Christian leaders.

    It was in that atmosphere that Corrie found herself when she tried to speak at a pastor's conference.  The divisiveness over peripheral issues was so strong that God was not free to work in  the hearts of her audience; their hearts, which were supposed to be made of flesh,  seemed to be made of stone.  Finally, she brought a box of chocolates to one of the meetings. Chocolate was a rarity during the war years and afterwards.  The leaders were very grateful for this unusual treat as they ate the candy. Afterwards she told them that they didn't eat the expensive treat properly. They were surprised and protested that they didn't know what she meant.  She said something like, "You didn't check out the chocolates.  You didn't ask me if they were from Belgium, Holland, or Germany.  You didn't debate which was the best chocolate or what was the best way to eat them."  They protested again - that chocolate is simply meant to be eaten.  She replied, "So is the Gospel." One of her favorite sayings was that in nearly 8 decades of serving the Gospel to sinners, there was always plenty for everyone:)

   If you belong to Jesus and He lives in your heart, it doesn't matter to me if you are a-millennial, pre- millennial, or what. (When Corrie first heard these terms, she went to a pastor and said, "Pastor, what does a-millinial, pre-millinial, post-millinial mean?" He replied, "Corrie, that is a pre-post-terous question!")  I also don't care if you speak in tongues or not.  If you are living the Word, sharing the Gospel, loving the Lord and others, we are on the same team.  Nor, honestly, do I care what the sign outside your church says.  (As a friend of mine said, please show me the spiritual  fruit that the majority of the congregation, along with the pastoral staff, brings to the table.  Your church can say, "First Pentecostal, Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist Bible believing, Spirit led, Heaven-bound,  Christ-followers par Excellence" on it (if you can find a sign big enough to hold all that) but if the church as a whole is cold, argumentative, arrogant, insular,  and/or dead, the sign outside means nothing. I need to see love, peace, patience, kindness, meekness, self-control, etc inside).      Ditto for many other issues that, in my (humble!) opinion, serve only to distract from the One who deserves all the spotlight - my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

    As a former pastor of mine used to say: Jesus Christ, the one and only!
   And His gospel - so simple a child can understand it.
   Available for a lost and dying world.

   For me, that is what it is all about.
   Thanks for bearing with me on this.


     Things I'm learning from Jennifer Rothschild, who is blind but can see waaayyyyy better than I can, if that makes sense.
     The Bible lesson this week sounds like it was on gardening but it really wasn't.  She talked about fruit and roots.  Fruit is what you say. To yourself especially but also to others.  It's what we can identify if, while driving down the freeway with our mind in "neutral", we mentally stop and examine our free-flowing self-talk.  I am  so stupid! How could I have missed that exit again!  What????   That . **&%$#jerk just cut in front of me... Um... tomorrow is going to be so cool! I can't wait to see so-and-so again... Ugh...  I just wish I didn't look like Tubby the Tuba... I bet she's still as skinny as ever... I hope my husband isn't expecting a hot meal tonight... Maybe we can go out to eat again... It's been a stressful day.  I could use a nice meal cooked by someone else. I can diet tomorrow...
     All of that is what Jennifer calls "fruit", much of it internal... some of it, um, external... like when the jerk cuts you off on the freeway...  Sometimes we want to cringe and drag our verbal fruit right  back into the basket and pretend it never rolled out to begin with. But most of our internal fruit just flows along at the rate of 350 words a minute without us paying much attention to it and without anyone else really knowing.
    Yet it's there. And it influences all we say and do. And it doesn't spring from thin air.
    Our self-talk is rooted in what we believe.  If our beliefs (the roots from which our words and actions spring) are true, then our fruit is good. If our beliefs are false, then our fruit is detrimental.  Everything we say or do springs from truthful concepts or presumptuous, false assumptions.

    Having said that, I have to admit that sometimes I just hate it when I'm doing a Bible study and I find myself the object of the lesson....
   The other day, I was waiting for my niece and I wanted to get a watch. To understand this properly, you have to realize that I don't even wear watches as a rule. Over the years, I've had many.  Always, after a short time, I forget to put them on, I forget to set them correctly, I don't like them because I really don't like wearing jewelry when I'm typing so I take them off, set them down, and .... usually, eventually, lose them.
   But I happened to see this watch on Wed  and I couldn't forget it.  I'd already picked out  two purses (which I was pretty sure would make me happy... and they would have!!!! If only I hadn't seen this gorgeous bracelet/watch for a mere 54.00 on the way to the cash register to pay for my purses!!!!). (The watch in the picture isn't it, by the way:)
    So for the first half hour, while I waited for my niece yesterday, I kept thinking about that watch...  Would I have time to go get it after my niece got finished with her interview?  Should I spend that much money on a watch? (The answer was "no" but I acted like I didn't know that, telling myself this time it would be different...  Like I'm almost sixty and my life is littered with dead and/or lost watches... so I need another potential electronic corpse on my hands... ha!)  Would Phil consider buying it for me for Valentine's day?  (The answer was "yes", I was sure, but just in case... I was seriously considering buying it for myself and then telling him, "Look what you got me for Valentine's day!!!"  Only I'd already decided to do that sort of with the purses...)
   When it became clear that my niece's interview was not going to finish any time soon, I got out my Bible.... Yep. I had it with me and for a reason.... Um... it was my turn to lead our discussion group Thursday night at 6 and it was  already 4 p.m. Thursday afternoon  and I hadn't finished the last day's lesson yet....  But my self-talk was all about this watch that I just had to have or else I couldn't really be happy.... Sigh...
   So I opened my Bible, got out Jennifer's workbook study, Me, Myself, and Lies and started working on roots and fruits.... But still... for the next thirty minutes my thought life was bouncing back and forth like a yo-yo between lies-are-roots-that-lead-to-bad-fruit and  if my niece makes it out to the car in the next 15 minutes or so, I think I can still have time to finish my study and pick up that watch - maybe on the way to the Bible study if I leave my house early enough...
    Thankfully I ended up waiting for an hour and a half.  The first thirty minutes, as I've indicated,  were spent  plotting and planning  about the watch. The next thirty minutes were spent  thinking about the watch and the Bible study which was no easy feat, let me tell you!:)  And then, finally,  during the last thirty minutes, the Bible study kicked in full force and I found contentment and joy right there in my grubby car on Applebee's parking lot with my duct-tape covered Bible, my workbook, my pen, and.... no watch!!! Imagine that!!!
     Before it was over,  I asked God to lead me from one truth to another and I began to write them down in the front of my Bible as He brought them to mind:
     Truth:  God doesn't condemn me. :)  :)  :)  Romans 8:1
     Truth:  I am rooted and grounded in His love!  Ephesians. 3:17
     Truth:  God is always with me.  Here in this car. At home.  I'm never alone. Awesome!  Hebrews 13:5-6
     Truth:  Because I am His child, if I am wronged and ever need to be vindicated, He will do it.  Isaiah 54:17
     Truth:  I can know Christ by sharing in the fellowship of His suffering as well as His resurrection life.  Phil. 3:10
    Truth:  Things are, um, basically... refuse and gold is just Heavenly tar for paving celestial roads with... if you compare them to the value of knowing Christ.  Phil 3:10;  Rev. 21:21
    Truth:  Christ is my life.  Col. 3:1-3
    Truth:  Jesus gives joy.  John 15:11  (Watches don't...:)
    Truth:  Man looks on the outward appearance but God looks on the heart.  I Samuel 16:7
    Truth: I am at peace with God.  Romans 5:1
    Truth: I have a deep down  peace through Christ that cannot be destroyed by hard times.  John 16:33
    Truth: I am truly rich now (II Corinthians 8:9) and will be even wealthier later on.  I Peter 1:4

     And that's where I ran out of time... but not out of truth:)
Don't get me wrong:  there's nothing bad about  buying purses and watches!  But my self-talk was erroneous - I have to get this watch to be happy... In fact, I can't be happy (contented, satisfied) until I get it! And it stemmed from a false assumption (the root, if you will) that I don't even notice and/or question which is ....  If I really want something, I have to have it or I can't be happy.  (Even though if you had asked me, I would have told you, in all honesty, that I didn't believe that).
     I know from experience that I would enjoy the watch for a few days or even weeks, but just like the purses I got on Wednesday, it would not bring me pleasure for long... There will always be something else that catches my eye, entices my spirit. There will always be the purses that I didn't get (but I still remember!), the watch that I saw on my way out  of the store, the new book that I just have to read, etc. (Incidentally, I do love the blue purse that I got on Wednesday but...unfortunately,  I can't fit my car keys into it and still have room for my cell phone...  So now I carry my keys everywhere I go! :)
     Anyway, the truth is:
     Jesus gives deep down joy.  Things give, at best, temporary pleasure. (And it is possible to want something, not get it, and still be content. I proved that yesterday sitting on the parking lot at Applebee's...)
    Which leads to another truth: I want things but I need Jesus.