A Pinch to Grow an Inch

 

Pinched

By G. P. Avants

 

 

Endure hardships as discipline; God id treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?”

                                    Hebrews 12: 7

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You have to have heard this one on your birthday. Well, after you get the regular birthday song we use to add on a little more.  “A pinch to grow an inch and a sock to grow a block.” Sometimes if it was Mom and Dad they would add, “and a smile to grow a mile.” This was given as some sort of blessing for another year?   A pinch to grow an inch and sock to grow another block?  Of course my brothers loved that part. That meant a nice red mark and a slug in the same arm. It was yet another reminder that I was getting older and hopefully a little git wiser.

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Pain in its many degrees and forms is supposed to be a teacher. It warns us of danger and to avoid greater harm. We can learn from those pinches, pulls and punches or look at them as a constant annoyance. Maybe that’s where we pray for wisdom and insight. I have gotten this stitch in my side for years. Yes, you could call it a pinch that is trying to tell me something. In recent years, actually this week, that pinch got my attention. It warned me that I was pushing myself a little too hard.

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I found myself unable to walk or even breath without pain. What really bit was that I was feeling really healthy. I was proud of myself that in my early forties I was feeling and looking better than I had in years. I thought I had overcome my back and arthritis issues. This pain was a nagging reminder that it hadn’t gone away. I am in pain (though getting better) and wondered what I did to make it this happen.  Am I fighting heredity? Is it bad choices? Not stretching? The cold weather? I am sure it’s one of a combination of all of these that attributed to my condition. But that’s not why it happened. No, I think it was a gentle reminder from the Lord. He was telling me not to get too confident in my health. It can go just like that. It’s not the place to put my hope.

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Does God want me to be miserable and unhealthy then? Should I just give up and not try to take care of myself. In my frustration I spoke to the Lord about this. It seems like I have had so many start overs that is it time I just give up and not try. No, I think it’s a deeper issue. David in the Bible told God to search his heart. Tell me if you find any wicked way in me and remove it. Job was a Godly man whom God tested as well. His whole life fell apart. Why? God knew there was something deep inside. It was pride.

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Pride in oneself and accomplishments doesn’t have to be big to cause a major problem. It’s like that yeast Jesus talked about. Its small, but it grows. It only takes one tiny microscopic germ to give you the flu and drop  you whimpering to the cool side of the toilet. God loves us the way we are, but loves us too much to leave us that way. He knows how to remove dangerous things that may be in delicate places in our very soul. He knows what we will face and how to keep little unassuming things from collapsing the entire household of our life.

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So I see that pinch not as a pain, but a gentle constant reminder that God is at my side. He is teaching me to walk with Him in honesty and purity. Humbly I take each thing in my life and bring it before him. If it means a shaking, and adjusting or a total fresh start I need to trust him. One hundred percent of the time He’s always right. I don’t think He’s going to break that track record.

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So, now that I know what the pinches are for I wonder what the socks are for? Do I really need to grow a block?

 

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A Night in Sickbay

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By G. P. Avants

“Why is my pain unending and my wound incurable?”

                                             Jeremiah 15: 18

Ah! I thought I had been in pain before. This was terrible! These nurses are supposed to be professionals. They were attempting to put an IV in my arm but, it took numerous painful piercings to get it in.  I hate going to the hospital but, it was one of those times when I had no choice. I had gotten the flu which had me dehydrated. The only way they could re-hydrate me was through an IV. My veins were so weak that the nurse had to poke, pull out, poke, pull out and finally it was in.

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I had to stay in a cold, uncomfortable bed and could not fall asleep.  I was miserable and it didn’t seem to end. The pain and the discomfort were constant and I wanted to just go home.

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Sometimes, I wonder if I will be able to endure what is coming. I fear that if I have to physically suffer for my faith that I will wimp out. I have a high tolerance for pain however, not for extended periods.  I don’t want to give up and not be faithful to the end.So, I know that I can’t do it in my own strength.  If I am asked to suffer I know that the Lord will be with me through it. Well I do believe that He will temper us all to prepare us for tough times ahead. I know we don’t want to hear this but, we are heading for the End Times. We will suffer for our faith. It may be physical, mental, emotional, or all of the above.

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Lately He has been allowing me to have longer illnesses. He has been helping me to deal with mental attacks and how to distinguish truth from lies. I have an illness that is stress related. I have to rest. I have to slow down my lifestyle and truly listen to what the Lord would have me do. Basically, my life is being prepared to end this race well. I may face disappointment, heartache, and frustration but the Word says, “Do not Worry.” But my faith in the Lord is going to overcome the world. That is a fact.

 

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My prayer for you is that you will be a victor in your faith and not a victim in this world. I pray that whatever the Lord is taking you through, that you will trust Him. Circumstances, you can’t trust them. However the Lord is able to make you victorious.Don’t fear the pain in whatever form it comes in. He can work through your weakness and suffering. If it’s any help remember it all passes. What God has for us is free from illness, IV’s, cold hospital beds, rude people…

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Posted in beating stress, Bloggers, Christian inspirational, companionship, Faith, God, God's Kingdom, God's Love, Inspirational, Jesus, Relationship with God, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

A Little Dirt Can’t Hurt but Clod Clobbers Can!

dirt clods

By G.P. Avants

“If someone is caught up in sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.”

                                    Galatians 6:1

 

“Put it down and nobody gets hurt.”

“Yeah, but you’ve got that dirt in my eye!”

“It was an accident. I was just messing around. I didn’t do that on purpose.”

“It still hurts.”

“Just put down the dirt clod, okay.”

“Hmmmmm.”

“It’s just making it worse, you know.”

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Stuff happens. We can get smacked, bumped and experience misunderstandings. It can all be those little things that really don’t mean much. They can all be accidental without any malice behind it. What happens to create huge problems is letting those hurts fester and grow. I might have been the one that got some dirt in a friend’s eye It happened when I said something not very nice about them. It got back to my friend and we never talked about it. You know what that is like. It built up and instead of a shower of dirt assailing me, I get smacked upside the head with a rock hard dirt clod. My friend has begun the ugly process of turning on me and spreading rumors.

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I have a choice at that point. I can go to my friend and clear up the mess. If really I value my friendship, then I can admit my mistake, small as I think it is, and ask forgiveness. Hopefully, I can restore a friendship and clear the air from any flying projectiles. I may or may not get my friend to say sorry, but at least it’s a start.

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The alternative solution? I get a bigger, harder dirtier clod. Yeah, something that will really crush my old buddy. You know some deep dark things from their past that they only shared with you. Uh-huh, that’ll work. Sure I might feel better but I  would destroy a friendship?! I know from experience how hard a good friend is to find. Why would I try to find ways to sabotage it? I think I should try all that I can to salvage, restore, and renew that special relationship. Even if it means I eat a little of the dirt myself. As we last left our two friends from the beginning of the story, they were at a stand-still. If you could write the outcome of their dirt clod war, what would you have them do?

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Posted in Anger, brotherhood, Character in Crisis, Christian inspirational, Christian living, encouragement, friendship, God, God's Kingdom, God's Love, Inspirational, Jesus, misunderstanding, Relationship with God, relationships, siblings, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Measure of a Failure

By G.P. Avants

It’s Christmas Eve. Merry Christmas everyone. If you’re like our family, we start watching Christmas movies right after Thanksgiving. This year we have been a little slack on our flicks, but we started off with a classic. Honestly, I have never watched this film from beginning to end , but I am glad I finally did.

It’s a Wonderful Life really is a story about a man who considers his entire life a failure. George Bailey has always unselfishly helped everyone who ever needed it. He has missed so many opportunities in his life to leave his Home of Bedford Falls, and change the world. But, circumstances around him always hinder his progress and seem to snuff out his dreams.

George is a normal man, and not a saint. He even admits it. He stuffs his regrets and anger deep down inside. Like a tinderbox, it takes one unfair moment to bring his whole world crashing down. George snaps when his bank’s deposit is lost and the evil small town monopolizer, the greedy Mr. Potter’s plans to destroy George’s family legacy come to fruition.

I will not spoil the movie more than I did, but George got low, really low. He wished he were never born. We see a picture of what unfinished dreams mingled with regret do to a good man. Life is unfair. It really is. So many things in our lives that we desire get squashed before they ever see the light of day. George I agree with you that this life is not wonderful hand to be dealt most of the time. (Wow, I am getting myself a little bummed out thinking about unfulfilled dreams.)

I love the moment when George saw what seeds were planted when one applied their faith. Everyone he helped came through when he and his family needed it the most. George’s perceived life of a failure failed to proof true. It all came to a heartfelt moment when he opened a the book Tom Sawyer from his guardian angel, Clarence. He wrote, “No man is a failure who has friends.” George was at a loss for words as his home kept filling up with generous well wishers.

Isn’t that true. When we pour ourselves out for family, friends and even random strangers, we are investing into eternity. When little acts of kindness could appear futile or often neglected, God uses them for greater purposes.In most cases to stir a lost soul’s shaken faith.  If you feel like things are failing and you are falling apart, consider that nothing ever slips past the ever vigilant Lord. He might be very well storing up something greater that we never dreamed could happen. He wants you experience a sigh of great joy and not a sigh of defeat. Nothing or no one has ever failed when they they commit their lives to God.

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A Let it Be and See Story

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By G. P Avants

 

“Whoever is thirsty, let him come.”

                        Revelation 22: 17

 

Messy Room

Okay, here’s another confession. When I was a teenager I was really messy. When asked to clean up my room, it got done, but don’t look under the bed. That was a black hole waiting to suck up anything that got into its gravity well. My mom probably never thought I’d grow up to be a neat freak, but I did.

Neglected plants

Now, I hate to see things neglected and run down. It really bothers me because I don’t want to look like I don’t care. I guess I secretly fear if I slack off then I will slip into the ‘I don’t care attitude. Here’s what is weird. There are times when things are meant to be left alone. Some things do better when we take our hands off it and let it grow. There are times when I watch things grow in my garden and nothing happens. Yet, I go away for a weekend and wow, things have really begun to sprout.

Wilted Flowers

Other times things get a little dry and wilted. I use to think that was bad, but in some ways it’s a good thing. When there is less water, plants are forced to stretch their roots. That not only helps them get to deeper resources but the roots anchor the plant in for those storms that might be coming.

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A little quiet and some times of testing work for plants and of course people too. Hey, A type people (like myself)  know its hard to rest when you see things that need to be done. However, there are times to let it be and that’s okay. If you are very active and busy you at least need that day of rest. A good friend I talk to says it’s good to get two if you can. Sure, resting can feel like laziness to an A Type personality. My wife is B Type so seeing her kicking it is natural. It is tough to do, but I am trying to chill more often and find a slower pace.  We will all experience dry times too. I have been wilted, crispy, and not my best the past few weeks. Yet, I know that God is deepening my faith, my roots, preparing me for harder times.

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I don’t know where you are right now but I know God uses active and inactive times in our lives. I pray that you will know when to let it go and let you grow. If it helps, take that deep breath, and see what God is doing and join Him.

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A Car Load of Pretty Women

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By G.P. Avants

“No temptation has taken you but that which is common to man, and God is faithful…when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand under it.”

         I Corinthians 10:13

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Gassing up at Circle K is usually a no- brainer. Pay the attendant, pump the gas, and you are on your way. That’s usually how it works. But today I was in for a surprise. Out of a car next to me stepped out a beautiful woman. Being a married man, a gentleman, and a Christian man I know that ogling is a risky game to play.

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I was good and I tried to admire without gawking. Then before I could avert my eyes, another woman emerged from the car. The stunning fact was the whole car was filled with beautiful women. I figured it was a beautiful mom out for a ride with her beautiful older daughters.  So, I, by God’s grace, did my best to get out of there without embarrassing myself.

Pretty Women

Women may not always understand how men are designed but, men are visually stimulated. God made many beautiful things in this world and I am glad that he took the time to form women. I think they are one of his greatest creations. I take that back, they are.

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With that said, what ruins the simple appreciation is our sinful nature and the temptation to act on our lusts. We are all tempted by something in our flesh that appeals to us. Unfortunately, so many wonderful things get ruined because we lust and desire things in the wrong way. Just when we think we might have matured and are able to handle that age old temptation, another one of a similar kind, pops out of the vehicle. We all are tempted by a carload of something intent on luring us away.

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So, what can we do to not get trapped? Something needs to change on the inside. Our perspective needs to change. A strength we do not possess to overcome that temptation needs to reside inside. The fact is the temptations are not going to stop coming. In fact, there are many other cars out there filled with even more captivating things. They will stop at nothing to wear us down and drag us willingly into sin.

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We need a change of man in us. I remember a communist leader once remarked  that, “I can put a new suit of clothes on that man”. He boasted of fixing a person’s outward circumstances as the key to his happiness and success. In contrast, Jesus says, “I can put a new man in that suit of clothes.”  Our outward circumstances may not change but, we can. He is able to make a new man that can face the temptations in life and truly be an over comer.

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So, when temptation comes knocking what are you going to do? You do have a choice, you know. You can go and answer the door yourself or maybe…you can say, “Jesus, it’s for you.”

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Posted in Christian inspirational, Devotionals, End Times, Faith, God's anger, God's Kingdom, Holy Spirit, Inspirational, Jesus, Relationship with God, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

12:35

By G.P. Avants

“Be patient, then brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains.”

James 5:7

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Everyone is familiar with the ‘eleventh hour’. That is usually when miracles happen and we are rescued from our hour of “doom”. What if the Lord chooses to allow the “hour” to come…and go? We are allowed to have the trial come upon us and then what? What is the aftermath?

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My retainers were lost and if you’ve ever had them you know that easily $400 out of your pocket. I knew the seriousness of it. I tried to do all I could do to hunt them down because we didn’t have the money. They weren’t found. I didn’t want two years of painful braces to go backward just because of lost retainers. I had to go and get another pair ordered. I try to be very careful with the things I am given responsible over. So, my tendency is to beat myself up mentally for loosing something important. So, even though this thing is only made of watermelon- colored plastic and metal it has a big financial burden to it.

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So I muttered a frustrated, tired prayer:

Lord, after all of that you asked for my trust and my faithfulness even if things didn’t turn out the way I thought the trial should go. You are looking for a deeper trust when the stakes are higher.

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Can we trust Him even when nothing works out the way we think they should? It’s in these troubles when it seems the Lord appears negligent and forgot my problem existed. I feel my faith shaken up a bit. Then I have to remember in times like this that He hasn’t changed. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. All the promises He’s backed up with the life of His Son are still in place. He’s just making those promises real as I am asked to apply them to real life issues. Isn’t that things really happen, though? We say we have faith, but the apply it changes everything. Faith has feet and hands.

I am listening

The retainers were found after the fact. After going through all that hassle, they turned up. Was God late? No. He got my trust. It what He was looking for, the retainers were only tools for that end. He knew when to reveal things. But things continue, much like breathing your next breath. Another test came when I tried to call and stop the new retainers from being made. So, will He come through? He will in His way and His time to work it into me. Call and wait on the Lord. I am still waiting. I’ll let you know what happens.

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