It happened slowly…

It happened slowly. First it was just a taste… a sliver, then what started out as a bite became several mouthfuls. That’s what happened during the days between Christmas and New Year Day. Not only did I eat things I vowed not to eat, but I didn’t work out like I should have. I fell behind on my exercises and I gained some weight.

Now I am trying hard to get back to the point of where I was before Christmas.

As I was running today, I realized that what I was doing should have been done all along, and not because the “big run” is in two weeks.

I should have been well prepared so that I could run a half marathon tomorrow; instead, I was eating like a glutton and wallowing around like a sloth. I think the same thing can happen with our spiritual life.

In Matthew 24:38-39 and 44, it says, “In those days before the flood, the people were enjoying banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat. People didn’t realize what was going to happen until the flood came and swept them all away. That is the way it will be when the Son of Man comes… You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected” (NLT).

I am scrambling right now to increase my endurance because of my upcoming run, and in the same way if people knew when Jesus was coming back, I think more people would be scrambling to read the Bible and to study His Word.

“All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step… I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should…” (1 Cor 9:25-27).

Running is hard, and studying the Bible can be hard too but we should discipline ourselves to do this. I need to be physically fit now so that I can run a race today; and I need to be spiritually fit today so that I can be ready for Christ’s return.

I need to train myself to read God’s Word the same way I am training myself for a run—with intentionality and determination.

Copyright © 2014 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Run with a purpose

For a while now I have known about my first half marathon run in January but I did not train for it like I should have. After getting back from my vacation in late October, it was difficult for me to get back into a routine.

I should have taken my training more seriously months ago—even training during my vacation, but I kept thinking that January was so far away and that I had a lot of time to prepare for it. Now we are nearing the end of November, which means that I only have a month and a half to train.

I thought about the Scripture verses that referenced running and training:

1 Corinthians 9:25-27, “All athletes are disciplined in their training… So I run with purpose in every step… I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should.”

Hebrews 12:1, “…let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”

Many times I do not take my spiritual training very seriously. I am lax in my Bible reading and prayer because I get busy with other things.

I am pressured to push myself and run now even when I don’t feel like running because I know when my race will take place, but I think I am not as serious in my spiritual training because there is no set day when Jesus will return:

“…be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him… Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come” (Matt 24:44, 42).

I think I have to change my mindset—I’m not just training for Christ’s return, I am currently in the race—I am being timed and I need to  finish strong.

Every waking moment is time on the spiritual track and I can’t stop or quit—I have to keep running. I now have a different understanding of Isaiah 40:28-31,

“The Lord is the everlasting God… He will not grow tired or weary… He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak… those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength… they will run and not grow weary.”

Copyright © 2013 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Give up!

I remember when I was about 5-years-old; my father asked if I wanted to learn how to swim. I responded enthusiastically with, “Yeah,” so he took me farther into the water (we were at the beach) and then he dropped me.

I remember trying to get my head above the water, thrashing my arms around and frantically moving my legs, but my body kept sinking towards the bottom. After a little while, I finally just gave up. That’s when I felt my father pick me up from the water.

Sometimes we find ourselves in the proverbial “deep waters” of life. We are in “over our heads” with many problems or just too many things going on at once. We try to “hang in there” but we slowly find ourselves feeling overwhelmed, tense, or even angry.

I have felt overwhelmed these past few weeks. I kept telling myself “things will get better,” but I just kept feeling more pressure and more stress. Even when I read the devotionals with my husband, I still had other things on my mind and I found it hard to concentrate on the Words we were reading.

Today, I stopped everything that I was doing.  I sat in silence for a little while, then I opened the Bible and read.

The reality is that God allows hardships to happen in our lives: “…he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike” (Matthew 5:45); but just as my father reached down to pull me from the water, God does the same thing for us. In Psalm 18:16 it says, “He reached down from heaven and rescued me; he drew me out of deep waters” (NLT).

Sometimes we have to just “give up” and allow God to rescue us.

Copyright © 2013 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

The crack

A few months ago, we thought about moving to a different house—one with a flat backyard and a wider area on the main floor for entertaining. The realtor we met at one of the houses we viewed offered to look at our house to give us an estimate of its value (what we can expect to get for it) and to give us advice on how we could sell it.

When he came into our house, he looked at the living room and kitchen. He mentioned how people are looking for an open concept (which we have) and a large ranch (again, which we have). He felt that if we put our house on the market then it would be sold right away since it was a property that was very desirable and in a good neighborhood.

Then he told us some of the things we could do to make it more marketable. He mentioned little things like de-clutter, take pictures off the wall, etc.  He said one of the big things he noticed was the large crack in the ceiling of the den. I took a good look at it—the crack had become so much bigger than what it was originally. It used to be a thin line, hardly noticeable, but now it runs across the whole ceiling and is slowly coming down along the wall. When did that happen?

It made me think about how our spiritual life can be like that crack in the ceiling. For instance, we neglect to do little things such as read our Bible, and then we neglect to pray. After a while we start missing worship services—maybe just one every couple of months, but then it becomes more frequent. Or maybe there’s a temptation that we’ve been resisting, but one day we decide to try it “just this once.” The one time turns into a multitude of times.

James 1:14-15 says, “Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death” (NLT). We don’t always notice when we have “veered from the path” or when we have “fallen away.” We convince ourselves that it’s “not that bad,” then compare our situation to those that are far worse. As a result, our lives become less joyful and we start to experience problems that were not there before. 

Take a good look at your life— has the “crack” in your life become bigger?  Don’t ignore the issue anymore. Run to God!

Copyright © 2013 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Exercise and God’s Word

I was able to run for the second time since my tonsillectomy a couple of days ago (I plan on running for the third time tonight). My recuperation was supposed to be two weeks, but I thought it would be better to wait another week before running again.

Prior to my surgery, I was able to maintain a certain plan of what I ate and when I would eat it, but slowly during my recovery time, I noticed that I would eat more or eat things that I usually would not eat.

For example, during my third week of post op, I had slow cooked spare ribs in spaghetti sauce—I’m not supposed to have meat or tomato sauce since I have GERD, but I told myself that I would just take my medication if I had a problem. Then I ate chicken almost every day with quarts of rice pudding.

Now that I’m resuming my workout routine, I realized that it’s easier for me to resist certain foods when I am exercising than when I am not— I’m certainly not eating as much as I had over the previous three weeks.  

It seemed that when I was disciplined in working out (prior to the tonsillectomy) then I was able to have self-control over the types of food or the amount of food that I would eat; but when I did not work out (like during the post-op time) then it was more difficult for me to maintain good eating habits.

I think the same principle applies in our Christian walk— when we stay focused on God’s Word then we have more strength to resist temptations, to endure the “buttons” that Satan pushes, and to overlook distractions that can keep us from living like a true believer in Christ. 

I can handle situations differently when I am “in the Word”—my attitude is better and things don’t bother me as much. My thoughts are more positive and I have more patience. I can even stop myself from saying things that I will regret later.

James 4:8 says, “Come close to God, and God will come close to you…” (NLT). “Every athlete exercises self-control in all things… ” (1 Cor 9:25); Proverbs 3:6 has, “Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take” (NLT). So true!

Copyright © 2013 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Exiled

I made a commitment to learn more about the Bible—to grow in my spiritual walk, so the last couple of days I was in a seminar featuring Dr. Peter Gentry as the main speaker. He was explaining the premise of the recent book he wrote with Dr. Stephen Wellum, “Kingdom Through Covenant.” I had no idea what the topic would be, but I knew it would be good because Dr. Gentry was a professor of mine and he offers great insights into the Bible, especially the Old Testament.

ImageIn one part of his lecture, Dr. Gentry mentioned that the church was currently on exile—that we entered into exile with the coming of Christ and that the church would enter the “Promise Land” when Christ comes again. I never thought about it that way, but it makes a lot of sense. He mentioned that just as the Israelites complained while wandering in the wilderness, there are people in our church now who are complaining.

The knowledge that I gained from the seminar is that we can’t separate the New Testament from the Old—we need to read the Bible as one Book, because the information that’s in the Old Testament is very relevant to the New Testament. I used to think that Christians should just concentrate on reading the New Testament (because it was written after Christ was born), but that thinking was wrong.

I think all Christians should continue to learn—when we learn, we grow. We can’t remain stagnant— we can’t expect to be spiritually prepared if all we do is go to one worship service a week; and we can’t expect to learn new insights from the Bible when we never study it or learn about it under someone else’s teaching.

If we are truly in exile then we need God’s guidance otherwise we will get lost along the way.  So, if you’re not going to church then start going; if you’re not studying the Bible, then go to a Bible study; and if you’re not reading the Bible then start reading the Bible—do it now!

Copyright © 2013 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

The Christian life

There have been times that I told people we are supposed to live like a Christian, but I never considered that maybe they had no idea what I meant. What does “living a Christian life” supposed to look like? Is it going to church every Sunday and reading your Bible every day?  I have heard people say that we have to sacrifice our time and go to church and then do ministry—is that what “living a Christian life” is about?

I think about the passages in Psalm 51:16-17, “You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.  My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise” (NLT).

I think God could care less about us sacrificing our time—what He really cares about is our motivation for going to church, doing ministry, reading our Bible, etc.  Does our heart truly desire to align with God’s? This is what living a Christian life is all about.  We do things not out of obligation, but because we love God, we want to please Him, and we want to be closer to Him. My personal prayer is that my heart will be broken every day so that God can reshape it.

What about you? What do you think it means to live a Christian life?

Copyright © 2013 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

I’m alive!

I never thought I would ever say, “3 miles? No problem!” or “6 miles? I can do that!” There was a time in my life when I could barely run 15 minutes on a slow setting on my treadmill and one mile was a long distance for me. I compared my running with my Christian walk. There was a time when reading one Scripture verse every day was difficult and I only prayed at meal time. I can truly say that God has “shook me” so that I take my relationship with Him more seriously. I don’t think it is a coincidence that I am able to accomplish more now than I ever had before.

I was weak in every aspect of my life— my marriage, my teaching, my time with God, my time with my children, my personal discipline, my self-control, etc. Everything I did was based on my own efforts and strength—there was nothing supernatural about it. The turning point for me was when a voice in a dream said, “You are weak… it [demonic forces] will overtake you.” I knew then that I can’t do anything without God—I needed to build that relationship with Him—I couldn’t continue having occasional conversations with Him when it was convenient for me and my schedule.

My desire is to stress to you the importance of reading your Bible and praying to God everyday (even when you don’t feel like it). Now I read a one-year Bible in the morning with my husband then pray, and I read a certain book of the Bible at night. I say this not because I want to appear “holy,” but to say that if I can do it then you can too. I do it because I need to grow spiritually strong—I don’t ever want to face a spiritual attack without proper “armor.”

In our reading today we came across these passages: “You will experience all these blessings if you obey the LORD your God: Your towns and fields will be blessed. Your children and your crops will be blessed. The offspring of your herds and flocks will be blessed. Your fruit baskets and breadboards will be blessed. Wherever you go and whatever you do, you will be blessed… The LORD will guarantee a blessing on everything you do and will fill your storehouses with grain… If you obey the commands of the LORD your God and walk in his ways…” (Deu 28:2-6, 8-9, NLT).

I think if we have a sincere desire to follow God and we build that relationship with Him by reading His Word, praying to Him, and studying the Bible, then He will bless us. I know He has blessed me more than I can even imagine possible. He has breathed new life into my withered body and dying spirit and I can truly say that I am alive.

Today I ran 13.11 miles—all things are possible with God!

Copyright © 2013 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

 Image

Such a time as this

Today I am teaching a class on campus. This is the first onsite class I have taught since my trip to Nepal. It was in Nepal that I had a dream that changed the way I “do church.” I used to only attend Bible study and Sunday morning worship, and I read the Bible sporadically; but since that dream my husband and I read the Bible together every day and then we pray, and at night I read the Bible on my own. I also attend evening worship and Wednesday services.

I believe that my armor is continually getting stronger and my sword is more sharpened than it was in the past. My desire now is to go to this class and allow God to speak through me so that every one of the students there can be changed. I think this is appropriate because the class focuses on personal adjustment and changes, and it is taught in a Christian university.

Could it be that all this preparation was meant for “such a time as this”? (A reference to Esther 4:14). I will go to this class as if I am heading into a spiritual battlefield.

What kind of preparations have you been taking to enter your battlefield? What have you been doing to strengthen your armor and sharpen your weapon?

Copyright © 2013 M. Teresa Trascritti

Troubles

My husband and I will be going to Disney World in a few days and we found out that the pool at the hotel is heated and has underwater speakers. Although I am very excited about spending some time in the pool, I am also very anxious because I don’t know how to swim.

My father tried to teach me how to swim when I was about 5 years old, but instead of floating on the surface of the water, I sank to the bottom. I can still remember the inability to breathe and the feeling of panic that I had.

Sometimes when I get overwhelmed I feel like I am drowning.  I know that some people might feel worried, anxious, or nervous when they go through certain situations. The Bible tells us, “…you know that we are destined for such troubles” (1 Thess 3:3), “…when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing” (James 1:2-4).

Don’t let the troubles of life drown you! Realize that God is testing you—so do all you can to pass the test!

Copyright © 2013 M. Teresa Trascritti