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Living holy and fit both spiritually and physically in today's culture.

There are a whole lot of ways to answer this question, just make sure yours is the right one. Mine wasn't.


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Why do you want to go to Heaven?

Why do you want to go to heaven?

Is it to see someone that you miss desperately?

Is is to escape something terrible?

Is it to get relief from pain?

Is it to avoid hell?  (yes, there is a hell)

There are a whole lot of ways to answer this question, just make sure yours is the right one. Mine wasn't.

These are all legitimate desires, but not one is spiritual.  Self-preservation and self-gratification are favorite ways for the enemy to tempt the one looking too closely in the mirror.  One juicy bite of pride in the garden long ago caused the Father to leave. The God of the universe, who was once seen by two pair of eyes, is now referred to as invisible.   I wonder if Eve, after all the punishments were announced,  I wonder if she missed her intimate life with God?  Did she long to hear His footsteps in the garden?  Was the worse consequence she received that day, the separation from her Creator?

That’s all God wants of us ya’ll.  He wants us to long to see Him.  To anticipate a reunion. To love Him more than that special person you miss.

I have personally had heaven issues in the past, one of the reason for this post.  I artfully hid this secret from my inner self.  The fact that Jesus was in heaven was just secondary to the reason I really wanted to go.   Thankfully the Holy Spirit specializes in wake up calls.

So exactly what did my repentance look like?

Honesty came first.  I didn’t love God as He commanded…with all my heart, my soul, my mind and my strength.  I was a halfhearted lover.  And y’all, that’s never good for a relationship.  (I wrote a post about that here) Next I admitted to myself that I was helpless in knowing how to drum up this kind of passion in my love for God.  Finally,  I turned to the Holy Spirit for help.  He helped me change my behavior toward God.  And let me note here, the behavior came first, the fervor came later… a miracle performed by my friend the Holy Spirit.  I began drinking in scripture, praying with purpose,  making time for solitary praise and meditation, and I started talking about Jesus to everyone…just as if I couldn’t live without Him.  Soon I discovered I couldn’t.

There are a whole lot of ways to answer this question, just make sure yours is the right one. Mine wasn't.

Now… HIS face is the first one I want to see when I step out of my earthly body.

In my imagination,   this is what heaven looks like to me.  Upon my arrival, those I love are close but not in the forefront.  They are to the side eagerly anticipating  the moment I catch the first glimpse of the One who died for me.  My eyes are locked on Jesus as my mother and father take my hands.  Together we worship Him, joining our voices as a family united in our joy.  He is the center of our attention.  As it was in the beginning.

Blessings, Alice

Picture:  taken on my 2018 trip to Rocky Mountain National Park near Estes Park, Colorado.

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There are two ways to bear a burden:  with God and without God...and I hate to say it but I am experienced in both ways.


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Two Ways to Bear a Burden

There are two ways to bear a burden:  with God and without God...and I hate to say it but I am experienced in both ways.

Without God

Bearing burdens without God includes lots of fear, stress, anxiety, and plenty of self-pity.  Burdens are heavy y’all.  It’s like the earth’s  gravity has increased and each movement is cumbersome and toiling.  My heart is heavy, my soul is heavy, and I get so tired.  Tired.  Wondering if the heaviness of what I am carrying will squish me right into the earth.  When my youngest son was hit by a Mack type Truck while riding a motorcycle in Cambodia, I was beside myself with fear.  God spared his life.  He survived with a broken pelvis and dented up arm.  But then the fever came.  Sitting in a developing 3rd world hospital was scary enough, but waiting for the fever to break caused me to just about come undone.

It doesn’t have to be a dramatic accident that causes us to lose it.  It could be the day to day living in an oppressive situation or the unending absence of an unanswered prayer.  It’s times like these when the enemy loves to lie to God’s children.   I can’t begin to understand God’s will, and why some things happen, but I do know that in life,  God requires us to go through hard times.  It may be for a  moment, or it may be for a season, but some things are just required.

There are two ways to bear a burden:  with God and without God...and I hate to say it but I am experienced in both ways.

With God

My advice for bearing burdens with God, comes from the direct experience of failure.  Wallowing in my fear, I couldn’t figure out how I had gotten so far from God.  I took these measures to reset my faith.  First, I decided to admit my need for help to people who could remind me of scripture and pray over me.  I also found comfort in the promises found in the Word and in the declarations of God’s character…a sure way to fight the lies from the devil.    Sometimes I would fall asleep quoting particularly relevant verses over and over.   I also took deep spiritual comfort in the idea of sharing in Christ’s suffering.  Another way I fought my way to peace was to be grateful.  I made a list and used it when I prayed.  Finally, I admitted to myself that I had a problem with trust.  I begged Jesus to show me how to say “Not my will but Yours.”  (links to scriptures are included)

I love what Oswald Chambers said about burdens:

“Roll thy burden upon the Lord”– you have been bearing it all; deliberately put one end on the shoulders of God…Commit to God “that which He hath given thee”; not fling it off, but put it over onto Him and yourself with it, and the burden is lightened by the sense of companionship.

There have been time when I have been so distraught that words can’t be formed.  Those final days when my mother lay suffering with ALS were a nightmare….a perfect moment to turn to the Comforter.  Pray to the Holy Spirit ya’ll.  Tell Him to take your groans before the Lord…and He will.

Blessings, Alice

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We traveled a lot this summer and in one of the hotels, I was surprised to open the nightstand and discover a strange book along side the Gideon Bible. My initial response, as a follower of Jesus, was extreme sadness for the one who placed it there


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Look at the Other Book I Found in my Hotel Nightstand

We traveled a lot this summer and in one of the hotels, I was surprised to open the nightstand and discover a strange book along side the Gideon Bible.   My initial response, as a follower of Jesus, was extreme sadness for the one who placed it there

We traveled a lot last summer and in one of the hotels, I was surprised to open the nightstand and discover a strange book along side the Gideon Bible.  I had never seen a Bhagavad Gita before and when Googled, discovered it is one of the Hindu books of scripture.  My initial response, as a follower of Jesus, was extreme sadness for the one who placed it there.  Living in Cambodia where the people predominately follow Buddha and Hindu practices, I’ve discovered that Buddhism as well as Hinduism, are not only predominate religions of southern Asia, but are part of the cultural fabric in which they live…a way of life that has been passed down for centuries.   So I grieved the soul who placed a book of man’s words next to a book of God’s words.

We traveled a lot this summer and in one of the hotels, I was surprised to open the nightstand and discover a strange book along side the Gideon Bible.   My initial response, as a follower of Jesus, was extreme sadness for the one who placed it there

Upon reflection, my grief upon seeing these two books side by side has surprisingly been replaced with something else…hope.  Because in America, where zeal for one’s different beliefs promotes discussion, a chance for the name of Jesus to be spoken out loud just might present itself.  A seed just might be planted.  An example just might be set.  Someone just might seek God and if she does, she WILL find.  (a promise from Jesus)  These opportunities are not always available in Asia.  There are no Bibles in hotel nightstands there.

So,  may the one who placed the Bhagavad Gita next to the Bible become curious.  May she pick it up and wonder if there is more to life than endless reincarnations.  May curiosity overcome fear.   May a stiff, unused Bible from a hotel room drawer become her best friend as the living words lead her to Jesus.

When there is a Bible, there’s always hope.  I’m betting that is why the Gideon Society place a Bible in every hotel room to begin with.

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Find out about a terrible spiritual struggle I had while I was living in Cambodia that I pray you can use as a parable for your own anxiety.


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When It’s Not a Cobra After All

One of the challenges of living in Cambodia six months out of the year is snakes.  They pop up when you least expect them.  During our first three months of living here, there were several snake sightings in the yard.  I never saw one myself, but the guys living in the dormitory across from my house always said the same thing, it was big…it was black…and it would run away by crawling up the bamboo plants next to the wall.   Beyond the wall of our house is a wild area, perfect for all kinds of critters.  I guess every once in a while the black snake decides to hunt on our side.

So here is the problem.  Two Khmer friends were living on the property, and described the snake by gestures…making their arm go up as if in a striking position.  It also appeared that they were describing a cobra hood.  So naturally I Googled cobras and discovered YES there are cobras in Cambodia.  Thus began the reign of terror in my mind.  One night I was so overcome by my own fears that I cried myself to sleep repeating scripture, Bible by my cheek.  It turns out that the experience I had with the cobra is a perfect metaphor for the anxiety I experience when I don’t trust God.

Find out about a terrible spiritual struggle I had while I was living in Cambodia that I pray you can use as a parable for your own anxiety.

There was a communication gap.

First of all, I never saw the snake myself.  I made hasty assumptions based on my own fear.  This is often the case when life circumstances look grim, I seem to find myself believing the worst.  I jump to conclusions.   The enemy knows me.  He tempts me to abandon ship when the ship is not really sinking.  He tempts me to yell out,  “Master, how can you sleep when the waves and wind are overtaking the boat?”

But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, you of little faith?”  Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea.  And there was a great calm.  Matthew 8:20

I seem to live in a cycle.  PANIC…CRY OUT FOR HELP…GREAT CALM.  Why can’t I ever just skip the first two parts and go straight to great calm?

The facts were less scary.

One day I was by myself inside my house (we have three houses within the walls of our complex), windows open, when the constant bark of our dog Quondo drew my attention to the yard.  I saw a dance going on between Quondo and the black snake.  Quondo would bark, and the snake would rise up as tall as the dog’s head.   Several things I noticed in my excitement:  Each time the snake would take a strike posture, it would quickly turn to flee, it was terrified, and most importantly, I noticed it was NOT a cobra.  But it was big.  So I started yelling for help.  Once Quondo killed the snake, with a little help from a friend with a shovel, I got a good look…a rat snake.

Find out about a terrible spiritual struggle I had while I was living in Cambodia that I pray you can use as a parable for your own anxiety.

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Y’all, I still didn’t like the idea of a snake on the property, but no one was going to die horribly.  I had wasted all those days filled with the possibility of  death when I never even considered that Jesus was in the boat.  To be honest, ALL of my anxious moments in life turn out exactly like this.  I find myself hearing Jesus say,  “Why are you fearful, you of little faith?”  My cheeks momentarily heat with shame, and then I enter into the calm of trusting Jesus.  I need to stop assuming the worse.

Snakes in the yard

There evidently is a whole family  of black snakes living on the other side of the wall because the incident above was not the last time I saw a big black snake.  There were several more sightings and more observations on my part.  The biggest surprise to myself was that my fear no longer crippled me.  The day of our big Christmas event arrived.  I went back to my house when I saw the snake drop down out of the tree in front of my house.  I saw the direction he was heading and ran to find Quondo or one of the guys in the house. Everyone was busy, even Quondo. Surprisingly I found myself okay with that.  I was living in the great calm that only can be experienced when Jesus changes a heart.  When someone, like me,  decides to start trusting, even though occasional snakes drop in.

I still don’t like snakes.

Just because I wasn’t overcome with anxiety over the prospect of a snake in the yard, that didn’t make me a snake lover…just watch me run!  In keeping with this analogy, I could say the same thing about things I stress about.  I am learning to trust in Jesus for my safety, but it doesn’t mean I am comfortable going through suffering.   I still don’t like it.  At all.  And that’s okay.  The point is that when the enemy presents a problem that seems like a cobra, I will remember this experience and try not to jump to a conclusion that will debilitate me.

Find out about a terrible spiritual struggle I had while I was living in Cambodia that I pray you can use as a parable for your own anxiety.

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Pictures:  +Quondo my hero.  She keeps the property safe from all intruders.  When we wake up in the morning we often are surprised  with the remains of an animal she has battled in the night.  ++My favorite place in the world,  the Montana ranch where my father grew up.  This is a view of Snake Butte at sunset.  The story goes that my great aunt was visiting from out of town one year when my father was a teenager, and she decided to go to the top of this butte to get some pictures.  What she found on top was a nest of rattlesnakes.  Legend has it that there were hundreds of them…anyway, there was a lot.  My father and grandfather blew them up with dynamite.  At least that’s the story.  Appropriate for my Cambodian snake tale wouldn’t you say?  The name Snake Butte stuck from then on.

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Why our family DE-emphasized Santa. Just one opinion.


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Why Our Family DE-emphasized Santa

From the earliest of age I have not been very impressed with Santa.  I remember laying awake terrified that a strange man would be lurking around in our living room, and worse, that my parents would let him.  Later, the idea of presents dried my tears when sitting on the mall Santa’s lap, but I still didn’t like it and I have pictures to prove it.

Why our family DE-emphasized Santa. Just one opinion.

When I had children of my own I decided that there would be no more white lies about Santa.  Here is my reasoning.  I spent a good deal of time training my kids to know the difference between real and make believe, especially from the Bible.  Let’s face it, there are plenty of crazy stories in the Bible that seem like fantasy.  When we opened the  Bible together, everything they heard…snakes talking, arks floating, men in fiery furnaces, Jonah being swallowed by a fish, God being born in a  manger…no matter how fantastic…all of it was TRUTH.  I was determined that my children would be able to trust me to tell them the truth, even about Christmas.  I would stop the innocent Santa lies of my mother, and my grandmother before her.  I would never tell them that there was another man who had the same omniscient qualities as God…someone who knew everything about them…when  they  sleep, and when they are awake. I just couldn’t do it.

Lest you think we were opposed to Santa altogether, let me be clear that Santa still came to our house.  We still had all the fun of Christmas morning that the rest of the world did.  The only difference was that the kids knew the real origin of all the gifts under the tree.    Our children enjoyed talking about Santa as if he were real, much like my granddaughter imagines she is having conversations with her stuffed animals.  We never had any problems with our children revealing this big secret to their classmates once they were school-aged.

I know this idea is not for everyone, but it worked for our family.  My daughter is now a mother and she and her husband are putting more emphasis on the birth of Jesus than I ever did.  If I could do it again, I would use this time of year for our family to grow spiritually together with an emphasis on giving.

Blessings for a wonderful Christmas, Alice

Why our family DE-emphasized Santa. Just one opinion.

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