Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I Am Not My Own

“Stewardship is the act of organizing your life so that God can spend you.”
                                                                             - Lynn A. Miller, Author

I love this quote! I first saw it this weekend on our church bulletin and can't stop thinking about it. It brings a new perspective on what giving is, why we give, and what our life as Christians is all about. If the One I follow gave His life for me while I was still actively sinning against Him, where is it that I think I follow Him? If His life was spent selflessly giving of Himself, why should I expect to live any other way? If the Father gave because of His great love for us, what might my life look like as I follow in His Son's footsteps?

Generosity. That's what my life will look like. I will give what I have received. I will organize my life in such a way that God can spend me as He wills. I will recognize something that will change my life: I am not my own.

When I said yes to God by receiving for myself the sacrifice of Christ's death on my behalf, I became God's possession. In Ephesians 1:13,14, Paul explains it like this, "And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of His glory."

If we are in Christ, we are God's possession, marked as His own. We are His, and He can do with us as He wills. No longer our own, we get our marching orders through the guidance of the Holy Spirit within, and the Spirit always leads us to love, to surrender, to give. And as we live this new life of selfless giving, we find that, as Jesus said, it is more blessed to give than to receive. (Acts 20:35)

Let us organize our lives in such a way that God can spend us - now - any way He chooses. For we belong to Him.

Dr Mari

"But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)

"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16)

"The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it..." (Psalm 24:1) 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Solid Foundation

As I sit to write this morning, my mind is full and my heart, stirred. I have a loved one in prison and several others who are grieving the loss of parents and spouses. I treated a young woman yesterday who hasn't slept for days since hearing the news of her father's cancer. And I saw a beautiful lady with severe anxiety who's so afraid of doctors that she hyperventilated through the first fifteen minutes of our visit. Thankfully, I was able to reassure her enough to trust me for five minutes, long enough to do the labs we needed to begin treating her. It's a tough world out there, and I thank God that we don't have to face life's challenges alone.

As I began to get to know this woman with severe anxiety, I asked all the typical questions about her upbringing, family, friends, activities, and support system. Then I asked a question that many neglect but that I find critical as I care for hurting people. "Do you have any faith beliefs that help you in life?" The answer to this question helps me know what kind of a spiritual foundation has been laid in people's inner lives, and whether they attempt to walk through life's valleys on their own or hand-in-hand with God. This simple question opens the door to what often becomes the most important conversation I have with people. It marks a turning point.

The woman's reply came with a blank stare. She said nothing at all, searching her boyfriend's eyes as if to say, "What does that even mean?" I asked the same thing in a different way and got the same answer. "I get through life alone." Repeatedly wringing her calloused fingers and shaking her feet without pause, she said, "I can handle things alone."

In the seventh chapter of the book of Isaiah, the Lord says to His prophet, "If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all." (Isaiah 7:9) God Himself said this to Isaiah as he began to walk daily under His guidance. We either stand on the foundation of faith in the living God or we will fall. Period. This is God's word to Isaiah and to each of us.

I wonder - what ground are we standing on? Whether wrongly accused or grieving the losses of life, what helps us stand? Are we standing on a sure foundation or is our life built on quicksand?

Psalm 89:14,15 speaks of the hopeful and solid foundation of God's kingdom,

"Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; 
love and faithfulness go before You. 
Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim You, 
who walk in the light of Your presence, O Lord." 

I, too, have found great joy, peace, and comfort in learning to acclaim my God - our God. As we call on Him, He is here. As we ask for more of Him, He is faithful to reveal Himself more, showing us what we need when we need it most. The foundation of our spiritual life is critical, and the apostle Paul reminds us of the importance of the right foundation. "But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ." (1 Corinthians 3:10b,11)

With Christ as the ground we stand on, we never have to face life's challenges alone. God with us, our Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14), stands with us as our Companion, our Savior, our Redeemer, and our Strength. If we build our lives on this Rock, when the storms of life come, we will stand. And as we remain there, firmly planted, we can reach out and help others rise, sharing the One who is our foundation that they, too, may stand firm on solid ground through the trials of life.

Who can we help stand today?
Dr Mari

Thursday, October 6, 2011

iLive: A Tribute to Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs shared these words in an interview in 1993, "Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn't matter to me... Going to bed at night saying we've done something wonderful... that's what matters to me."

As we all remember with gratitude this impressive visionary, I am especially grateful for four people whose loving and courageous choices allowed Steve Jobs to live. Steve was born to a young couple during a time when the word choice has come to mean more than life. But this young couple made the selfless decision to give their child up for adoption. And then another couple, Paul and Clara Jobs, adopted Steven Paul Jobs, a boy who grew to believe that he could use his gifts to change the world for the better. And he did!

Steve Jobs has impacted our family in significant ways, for years ago he became one of our teenager's most influential role models. Jobs' spirit of innovation and creativity, coupled with an unswerving commitment to excellence and integrity, built not only a successful company but technologies that have literally changed the way we live. Some people mentor from a distance, and Steve Jobs did that for our children. May the gifts that God gave him continue to be poured upon those who will use them to help others, to simplify our lives, to do good, and to bring glory to God.

Dr Mari

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Dr Mari's Health & Hope Corner: A Spark of Hope - October 2011

Hope rises daily with each sunrise.
Follow this link to A Spark of Hope, a short read where I share sparks of hope and life I've discovered in the midst of losses. Dr Mari's Health & Hope Corner is published monthly at Hope Matters - a small thing I do with great love, as Mother Teresa taught.

I will join the HOPE team this weekend to speak at A Taste of Wellness with a Little Pink Book, a breast cancer awareness and advocacy event. I will share what I've learned on my own journey to wellness - especially that, as a doctor, the one thing I can always share with those who come to me for healing is hope, which is a wonderful, healing gift in itself!

Enjoy this month's Health & Hope Corner and join our HOPE team by sharing sparks of hope with those in your life. It's a wonderful way to live!

Spreading Hope,
Dr Mari

Saturday, October 1, 2011

A Pencil in the Hand of God

This morning I was blessed to speak at the annual retreat of a women's group from a lovely church in Daytona Beach, Florida. As I left my house to go meet them, my nine year-old son offered an unexpected benediction. He kissed me goodbye and said, "Mami, go be a pencil in the Hand of God." He was quoting Mother Teresa, who spent her life letting God write a love letter to the world through her and urged us to let Him do the same with us. What a wonderful way to live!

Mr Teresa: A pencil in the Hand of God.
My son blessed me immensely as I prepared to bless others by sharing my love of God and His Word. As I drove to the cathedral where I spoke, I remembered another quote by Mother Teresa, "Love until it hurts... What I do you cannot do; but what you do, I cannot do. The needs are great, and none of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful."

These words of Mother Teresa brought a paradigm shift to my life five years ago. When I began to pursue doing only "small things with great love," my focus shifted from me to the One who enables me to do anything good or worthwhile that I do. James 1:17 says, "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights..." I finally understood that God gets all the credit for anything good that we do - always. I found freedom in that passage, for it leaves no room for pride or self-centered boasting. It only leaves room for thanking God!

When love is our beginning and our end, what's in the middle is not only life-giving, but joyous! I am thankful for a small opportunity to share God's love with those around me, and grateful to experience His love more fully as I share what He has given me. I cannot do what others can do, but I can use the gifts God gave me to bless, to heal, to teach, to love.

This is life. Abundant life! We, too, can write a love letter to the world by using God's gifts to us for the benefit of others. Why not start now?

Be blessed!
Dr Mari

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