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Why can't all followers of Jesus just come together around scripture?

Maybe it's because we, who live in a first world country, lack desperation for literal daily bread that we might not quite get the spiritual message Jesus conveyed when comparing bread to the word of God during His temptation. 


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The Daily Hustle

(Our daughter and family are missionaries to Cambodia.  My hubby and I live there half of the year, giving help to them as we are able.  Recently my missionary son-in-law was diagnosed with stage four cancer.  They are back in the states and our trips to Cambodia are on hold for now.)

My hubby and I  spend time every morning in our Cambodian town walking on the riverside across the street from our house, for exercise and prayer.  The daily hustle for food and shelter play out before us as we make our way down the street.  The Holy Spirit teaches us a spiritual lesson while we walk by life being lived along the river.

Maybe it's because we, the privileged, lack desperation for literal daily bread that we might not quite get the spiritual message Jesus conveyed when comparing bread to the word of God during His temptation. 

In His famous prayer, Jesus tells us to,”Give us this day our daily bread,” and we recite it solemnly with no real idea what it might really mean to work every single day for just enough money to be able to stop by the open air market on the way home, and then to start all over the next day because what you had the day before is in the stomach of your children.

On our walk, we watch the local iceman stop by the same roadside shop everyday and saw off a hunk of ice for the drink shop lady’s cooler because she does not have a refrigerator.  Pennies change hands and off he goes to his next customer.  Her drinks also sell for pennies.  They are both providers…hard workers.  There are no sick days for these people, no steady income, no government assistance.

They need daily bread.

Maybe it's because we, the privileged, lack desperation for literal daily bread that we might not quite get the spiritual message Jesus conveyed when comparing bread to the word of God during His temptation. 

As we make the loop around the end of the riverside, we notice several women standing knee deep in the river washing the daily catch of shrimp.  They are not the ones who caught the shrimp, their job is to clean it…for pennies.  Soon a man on a motorcycle arrives to stack three huge baskets of clean shrimp on the back of his moto and take the fresh shrimp to the town market for sale…for pennies.  We will see this same routine repeat again the next day.  There are no weekends off if they want to eat.

They need daily bread.

And then there are the custodians of the riverside, sweeping and picking up trash every day.  One of their jobs is to scrape out the weeds that grow between the bricks… by hand.  Their toddlers play nearby.  There is no day care for those who work for pennies.

They need daily bread.  If they don’t eat they will get sick and die.

Maybe it's because we, the privileged, lack desperation for literal daily bread that we might not quite get the spiritual message Jesus conveyed when comparing bread to the word of God during His temptation. 

Maybe it’s because we in first world countries lack desperation for literal daily bread that we might not quite get the spiritual message about bread Jesus conveyed when quoting part of Deuteronomy 8:3 during His temptation.  “…man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”  Shouldn’t we hunger for His words when the belly of our soul is empty?  Shouldn’t we pursue it as if famished, never resting until full?  Shouldn’t we feed it to our spiritually starving children? Won’t they just get sick and die without it?

Father, give us zeal in pursuing daily spiritual bread as steadily as these Cambodian people pursue real bread.  Holy Spirit, remind us of the words of Jesus in John 6:25,  “…I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again…”  Nourish our souls Lord Jesus.

Maybe it's because we, the privileged, lack desperation for literal daily bread that we might not quite get the spiritual message Jesus conveyed when comparing bread to the word of God during His temptation. 

Blessings, Alice

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Walking in the light means repetitive hour by hour, minute by minute repentance. Our little Cambodian dog inspired this post with his bath shenanigans.


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Dirt and Light

My husband gave our Cambodian dog a bath the other day and as soon as the cleansing was completed, little Eli ran with all his might to his favorite spot to gleefully roll in the dirt.  Emphasis on the word gleefully.

Walking in the light means repetitive hour by hour, minute by minute repentance. Our little Cambodian dog inspired this post with his bath shenanigans.

 

I do this too y’all.  I have a “favorite” sin or two that draws me back into the dirt over and over again.  Why do I return?  I have no idea.  Habit?   Maybe.  Lack of Trust?  Definitely.  But the Master keeps cleansing me, because I keep going back to Him.  Repentance is part of my life in Christ.

Walking in the light means repetitive hour by hour, minute by minute repentance. Our little Cambodian dog inspired this post with his bath shenanigans.

 

A problem with repentance arises when God’s children cannot recognize personal sin.  Compromises are made in the heart.  Scripture is ignored.  Emotions rule.  Excuses are given.  When sin is not grieved, there is no repentance.   When there is no repentance, there is no light.

John directs this scripture to followers of Christ.

Walking in the light means repetitive hour by hour, minute by minute repentance. Our little Cambodian dog inspired this post with his bath shenanigans.

 

Lord, Help us be successful in examining the life you have given us.  Reveal to us anything that is offensive to You and lead us on the path to everlasting life.  Psalm 139:23-24

Blessings, Alice

Picture:  Light bulbs against the white sands in Pensacola, Florida.

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Even IKEA knows humans like comfort. How creative are you at avoiding discomfort?


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What Happens When Your Comfort is Compromised?

I have been thinking a lot lately about the spiritual aspect of discomfort, especially when I find myself dripping with sweat in the Cambodian heat, or when I am running low on money,  or maybe even when I can’t find something decent to watch on Netflix.  It’s funny (and wonderful) when I run across a scripture that puts an exclamation mark on my thoughts.

 

Even IKEA knows humans like comfort.  How creative are you at avoiding discomfort?

I believe the majority of each person’s day on earth  is spent in pursuit of comfort…the avoidance of discomfort.   Do you agree?  Babies come into the world howling for comfort.  “I’m wet, I’m hungry, I’m cold, I’m in pain.”  Adults are just as bad.  We like to vocalize our discomfort too.   Did you know that IKEA takes a yearly survey to ask people around the world this question, “What makes a better life at home?” (you can find this information here) In 2018 these were the five results that appeared over and over again:

  • PRIVACY
  • SECURITY
  • COMFORT
  • OWNERSHIP
  • BELONGING

In scripture there is a famous story that illustrates the fact that Jesus requires His followers to step away from comfort in order to prove faith.  Jesus asked the rich young ruler to, “Follow me.”

What He really meant was…

Follow me everyday, every hour, every minute, every second.

Follow me and leave everyone you love behind you, even if they don’t understand.

Follow me with no house, no bed, no pillow.

Follow me and be hungry, hot, cold, and wet.

Follow me with one set of clothing, no soap, and lots of bugs.

Follow me and be cursed, beaten, and tempted constantly.

Oh, and sell everything you own and give it to the poor.

The scripture says that the young man sadly walked away.  (read the story here) It wasn’t just money that Jesus commanded him to leave behind.  His mind saw the reality of discipleship, and he was overcome with fear of a future with Jesus.

But there was a different reaction by the apostles when they were given the same invitation by Jesus to, “Follow me.”  Unlike the rich young ruler, these apostles didn’t care about the deficits they might be facing.  They joyfully stepped out of life as they knew it, into an adventure of a lifetime,  Jesus.

Can you apply a modern day example for your life here?  What is He asking you to do that makes you uncomfortable?  I know there is something, because scripture says Jesus continually asks His followers to deny themselves.

He’s standing at your door and knocking.  Not pounding.  Not yelling.   He’s just knocking and knocking and knocking and knocking…for as long as it takes for you to open the door.  Then the most exciting thing will happen y’all.  Scripture says He will come into your house and eat with you as a friends.  Meals are where we linger, where bonds are made.  Meals are sharing of nourishment, soul and body.  Will you be uncomfortable?  Probably.  Will you cry?  Most likely.  Will He require much?  Yes, He always does.   Will He abandon you when you take a beating?  Never.  Will His love make all the difference?  For sure.

Even IKEA knows humans like comfort.  How creative are you at avoiding discomfort?

This life of following Jesus is hard.  To me though, every bump along the way has seemed like a paper cut compared to the deep, spiritual mentoring I have received from Him. But beware!  The enemy will do everything in  his power to keep your hand off of the doorknob.  If fear presses you to bolt the door, then you will stay comfortable, but sadness will overtake you.  Just like the rich young ruler in this story.  It won’t matter though, Jesus will keep knocking. I love that about Him.

Lord, I pray over the person who reads this post and knows in her heart that Jesus is asking her to step up or step out.  Fill her with courage to move forward with You.

These have been comments on the Words of Jesus in Matthew 19:16-22

Blessings, Alice

The picture used is our Cambodia front doors with flowers from the garden in the foreground.

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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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Loving God has been a problem for me in the past, so if you find yourself at odds with your Maker, this is the post for you.


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How to be Sure You Really Love God

Loving God has been a problem for me in the past, so if you find yourself at odds with your Maker, this is the post for you.

I believe that every human hides truths about themselves from themselves. The younger me was dedicated to scripture and to Jesus, but when I searched the deep hidden places of my soul, I admitted to myself that I loved my family more than Jesus.  The greatest command, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind”   just seemed out of reach.

Loving God has been a problem for me in the past, so if you find yourself at odds with your Maker, this is the post for you.

The solution for me?  I did something extremely simple.  I just asked the Father to help me.  And He did.

So how can you be sure you really love God?  Take a look at the love chapter in 1 Corinthians 13, commonly used in weddings and such.  Go deeper with me, and make these verses about your relationship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

LOVE IS PATIENT

Do I smile while  I wait for Him to move?

LOVE IS KIND

Am I kind in my thoughts and words toward God when trouble comes and stays awhile?

IT DOES NOT ENVY

Am I jealous of the relationship God has with other of His children?  Do I compare their blessings to mine ?

IT DOES NOT BOAST

Do I take credit for God’s accomplishments in my life?

IT IS NOT PROUD

Do I limit my time with Him because it’s inconvenient?

IT DOES NOT DISHONOR OTHERS

Do I say God’s name in a careless way?

IT IS NOT SELF-SEEKING

Do I forget to say, “Thy will be done.” when I pray?

IT IS NOT EASILY ANGERED

How do I react when He doesn’t give me what I want?

IT KEEPS NO RECORD OF WRONGS

Do I make a list of the times life just doesn’t seem fair for me?

LOVE DOES NOT DELIGHT IN EVIL BUT REJOICES WITH THE TRUTH

Do I rejoice in the promises of scripture even when culture calls the Word a fairy tale?

IT ALWAYS PROTECTS

Will I take a blow for Jesus?

ALWAYS TRUSTS

Is my default TRUST even when I am confused?

ALWAYS HOPES

Do I actively look forward to the day we will be face to face forever?

ALWAYS PERSEVERES

Do I keep running toward Him even though I sometimes have moments of doubt?

LOVE NEVER FAILS

Will love bring me to my final breath?

Does your Love checklist look less than perfect?  Mine too.  His ask Him to help y’all.

Click here for a  PDF of this love checklist in case you want to post it on your mirror or tuck it in the pages of your Bible.

Blessing, Alice

The pictures used in this post were taken in Houston of a church across the street from Minute Maid stadium.  My husband and I were on our way to an Astros game when we were stopped by the traffic light.  I rolled down the window and took these pictures.  I later enhanced them with PicMonkey photo editor.  It was a cloudy day and the steeple looked so cool against that stormy sky.

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