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

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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Does God seem mean to you sometimes? Accusing God is a lie the enemy has been perfecting since his garden days. This is what I do when faced with confusing feelings about God...


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God’s not Mean

During times like these, where tragedy  is falling consistently upon humanity with floods, earthquakes, shootings, and other violence, Internet trolls love to make fun of God by posting demeaning statements about Him.     Beth Moore, in her recent simulcast, said that when bad things happen, people tend to fill in the blanks with one of two things:  God is mean, or my life is meaningless.

 

Does God seem mean to you sometimes?  Accusing God is a lie the enemy has been perfecting since his garden days.   This is what I do when faced with confusing feelings about God...

With all the negative noise, sometimes it is hard for a follower of Jesus to not get a bit distracted.  I will never forget the funeral of a beloved husband, where his wife was A-N-G-R-Y at God.  In her grief she blamed God for not answering her prayer of healing for her one-and-only love.   She was bold in her fist shaking, unlike those who tuck disgruntlement toward God into the heart in order to appear strong, but silently holding a grudge.    Sorrow catches all of us off guard.  It rarely gives warning, and if it does, we are never ready for it….EVER.   We just have to be careful that the unanswered WHY that sorrow brings doesn’t create a barrier between us and God.   Pssst…that’s just what the enemy is counting on.

The key to passing through the fire with purity of heart, is found in the example of Job in the old testament.  Job lost a lot.  He lost all of his children.  He lost all of his wealth.  He lost his health.  And Job lost the support of his wife.  She advocated suicide.  And what did Job do when news of sorrow reached his ears?  He fell down on the ground and worshiped.  Job 1:20-22  He worshiped because he knew the God He served.   He knew.  In contrast, my prayers of sorrow begin with me.  Me, me, me.  But Job celebrated the fact that God is worth his worship, even while in extreme pain.

This is where scripture comes in.  What does scripture say about God as opposed to the lies of the enemy?  How can I know  my God, just as Job did?

I have prepared my Bible for the day when I am faced with emotions of confusion…for the day when the enemy accuses God of misdeeds.  This helps me take captive every false thought. 2 Corinthians 10:5   This helps me know who I believe in.

Here are a few pictures of scriptures from my bible.   I have made these easy for me to find, even through tears.

Does God seem mean to you sometimes?  Accusing God is a lie the enemy has been perfecting since his garden days.   This is what I do when faced with confusing feelings about God...

God’s own words describing Himself.  Exodus 34:6-7

Does God seem mean to you sometimes? Accusing God is a lie the enemy has been perfecting since his garden days. This is what I do when faced with confusing feelings about God...

Exodus 34:6-7

Does God seem mean to you sometimes?  Accusing God is a lie the enemy has been perfecting since his garden days.   This is what I do when faced with confusing feelings about God...

2 Timothy 6:15-16

Does God seem mean to you sometimes?  Accusing God is a lie the enemy has been perfecting since his garden days.   This is what I do when faced with confusing feelings about God...

Yellow representing unapproachable light.  2 Timothy 6:15-16

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The word IF is a testing word that usually shows up in the middle of despondency. Somehow, we think that a harmless little test will somehow increase our faith.

SOMEONE IS...A series about facing trouble with eyes and Bible wide open. SOMEONE IS FROZEN: Everyone loves someone who is spiritually frozen...a statue among the pulse of humanity. For all outward appearances, this one you love has given up on God. So how exactly should we pray for this someone?


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Someone is Frozen

Someone is…  A series about facing trouble with eyes and Bible wide open.

SOMEONE IS...A series about facing trouble with eyes and Bible wide open. SOMEONE IS FROZEN: Everyone loves someone who is spiritually frozen...a statue among the pulse of humanity. For all outward appearances, this one you love has given up on God. So how exactly should we pray for this someone?

Do you love someone who is spiritually frozen…a statue among the pulse of humanity?  Unable to move, life zips around their frozen feet, barely stirring a hair on their head.   Fear, depression, illness, or loss can be a culprit.   The speeding of time and the management of it,  can often cause a person’s spark to dim.  Watching one you love slowly melt into the wallpaper is heart wrenching.

For all outward appearances, this one you love has given up on God.   They have no confidence that they can be anything other than paralyzed, so they sit. We pray and plead for this one we love, perhaps for years upon years.

So how exactly should we pray for this someone?

I recently found a scripture in a book that many don’t commonly read…Nehemiah.  As I dug into the Word,  interested in this man who traveled from captivity in Babylon to coordinate the re-building of the wall in Jerusalem, I discovered a phrase that explained what made him move.  Did you perk up at the mention of the word move?  That’s the word that is missing from our frozen friends y’all, M*O*V*E.  What moved Nehemiah can move the ones you love too.  He says it twice, listen to  this…

“…I had not told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem...”  2:12 NIV

and

”   So my God put it into my heart to…”  7:5 NIV

I have heard Christians say, “God put it into my heart…,” for years but had no idea it started with Nehemiah.  I think it is important to note that this verse does NOT say, “She nagged me so often that I finally gave in.”  The miraculous moving of the Spirit within someone’s heart can only come from God.  I imagine the frozen heart like the hard earth, unable to hold a seed.  So the sower beats, rakes, and subdues the earth until the soil is ready to receive what the sower has to give, just as the heart receives the Spirit’s plan.  Once planted the roots shoot down to the feet and GLORY to GOD… someone is moving.

So how exactly should we pray for this someone?

That God speak into the heart of stone.

That He speak plainly and with force.

That His voice gives the frozen heart courage to move.

And that those who pray trust in the coming miracle.

Trust the sower y’all.

SOMEONE IS...A series about facing trouble with eyes and Bible wide open. SOMEONE IS FROZEN: Everyone loves someone who is spiritually frozen...a statue among the pulse of humanity. For all outward appearances, this one you love has given up on God. So how exactly should we pray for this someone?

 

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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.

+

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.

++

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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