The True Church

I think many Christians would agree that life can be difficult and that we will all struggle with something at one time or another, but often people do not realize that those “in the ministry” suffer from the same struggles.

To some degree, those in ministry suffer from depression, anxiety, fears, etc. Most times, people in ministry will not admit that they struggle because they are afraid of what people will think about them—that maybe they will think less of them.

The truth, though, is that there are people in the Bible who struggled—for example, Elijah the Prophet, and Paul the Apostle. Experiencing some of the struggles that people in the congregation encounters is a great way for those in ministry to connect. I think it also helps the congregation to realize that they are not the only ones struggling, and that just because they are struggling it doesn’t mean that they are less of a Christian.

We are told to “carry each other’s burdens” (Gal 6:2) and to “encourage one another” (2 Thess 5:11). These Scriptural passages would not be in the Bible if personal struggles were not a part of our lives. So in our struggles, we should turn to one another for encouragement and support. We should also draw closer to God: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33). We have to do both—draw closer to one another and to draw closer to God.

Perhaps if people were more open about their struggles and we supported one another through these struggles then we can have the True Church—“All the believers were one in heart and mind… And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all” (Acts 4:32-33).

Be the “True Church”!

Copyright © 2016 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Run in the Race!

Last year my running had dwindled down because we bought a duplex then we had to fix it, and then clean and clear the other house so that we could downsize; on top of that I still had to work. I had to give up something so I cut down on my running. Every once in a while I ran a 10K, but mostly I ran a couple of miles or ran an occasional 5K.

This year, I decided to start running again. It was hard. I struggled to run a couple of miles. I felt like giving up and using the time to do other things, but I persevered. Today I ran 12 miles. It wasn’t a fast time, but my time didn’t really matter; what mattered was that I didn’t give up.

I think it’s the same way with our Christian walk. Sometimes things come up in our lives and we feel like we have to give up something so we give up church. Then we get used to staying in bed on Sunday mornings and doing other things with the time that used to be spent in going to church.

It’s hard to go back to church after being away for several months or several years, but we start by going to one worship service. Then the following week, we go to another worship service; and even though we might feel like staying at home, we have to get up and go to church.

Why go to church? We go to church because we need to be encouraged by other believers; we need to know that we are not alone in our struggles. Also, as a believer and follower of Christ, we are all a part of His body and a body cannot function if some part of it is missing—we all need each other (Romans 12:5; 1 Corinthians 12:12-27).

So if you have been away from the church for a while, then my encouragement to you is to start going. Let this Sunday be the first of many Sundays to come! Remember that our Christian life is like a race— it doesn’t matter how fast you run, all that matters is that you stay in the race and that you finish!

Copyright © 2016 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

When I was a child…

I remember when I was about 3 years old, the neighbor’s little boy liked me (I think he was about 4 years old). One time he came over and knocked on the door to see if I wanted to play outside with him. I opened the door and said to him, “I only like boys who have black hair like my daddy,” then I shut the door.

When I think about that episode, I feel so badly for that little boy. Did he run home to his mother in tears? Was he emotionally crushed? There is a saying, “Out of the mouth of babes…,” meaning kids will say anything without considering the feelings of others— they can say things that might seem harsh or even “cruel” even though that is not their intention.

Some adults never grow out of this phase. They say things about people or to people without thinking about how their words will be received. The sad part is that some who do this are claiming to be Christians. The Bible is clear about how we should use our words: “Let your conversation be always full of grace…” (Colossians 4:6). In Hebrews 3:13 it says, “…encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today”…”

Before any words come out of our mouths, we should ask ourselves this question: “Will my words build up or tear down?” If it is to “tear down” someone then bite your tongue and keep silent. If it is meant to build the person up, then be sure you say it with love (“…speak the truth in love…,” Ephesians 4:15).

There’s no reason why anyone should say hurtful things about people or to say hurtful things about them “behind their backs.” Ephesians 4:29 and 31 reminds us, “…Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them… Get rid of all … harsh words…” (NLT).

It’s not always easy to keep quiet or to say helpful things. I find that when I am overly tired or when I haven’t been reading God’s Word like I should, then I am more likely to say things that I will regret, but that is not an excuse.

No matter how tired or spiritually dry I am, I still need to have self-control—I can’t just say anything that comes into my mind, especially with words that will hurt someone else: “When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things” (1 Corinthians 13:11). All of us have to grow up.

Copyright © 2013 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Mr. Olson

For the last couple of years I had been searching for one of my high school teachers who really impacted me.

ImageDuring my senior year there were three choices for high school English—Mr. Wilson’s class (the college prep course taught by a high strung teacher who never allowed students to talk or brush their hair in his class), a “Career English” course (where students learned how to write resumes, go on job interviews, etc.), and Mr. Olson’s class (I thought of his class as the “middle range class”).

The thing that surprised me was that his class was a college prep course, taught in a more relaxed environment. I learned how to write research papers, and I joined Jr. Toastmasters that year (which I later found out that he helped organize at our school).

A few years ago, I found out that Mr. Olson had a Ph.D. degree (it was in the yearbook, but I never bothered to read about the teachers).  He never insisted that we call him “Dr. Olson” (unlike another teacher at the school) —we just called him “Mr. Olson.” He was humble, inspiring, and encouraging.

I remember when we had a cross country meet on base and part of the course ran past his house (I didn’t realize he lived there).  He came out of his house to see the runners. He saw me as I was crying while running uphill. He looked at me and clapped his hands, encouraging me to continue.

Mr. Olson was the reason I wanted to go to college—he made me realize that I had “what it takes” to get through school.

Today I did an online search for him and I found out that he had passed away in March 2011 (http://www.obitsutah.com/obituary/5505/wayne-david-olsen.htm).

I really wanted to tell him how much he had influenced me, and now I am extremely sad that I did not get a chance to tell him before he died.

We shouldn’t wait until tomorrow to tell someone how much they mean to us. Do it  today!  “How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone” (James 4:14, NLT).

Copyright © 2013 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

The schemes of the devil

Satan has a way of discouraging us. It seems to happen when we are in the process of drawing closer to God. Sometimes the devil discourages us by using other “Christians” to accuse us of not being a real Christian. I had this type of encounter recently and it bothered me. I had to think about what would make someone say such a thing when it is not true. I came across several Scripture verses that seemed to give me the answer.

In John 8:44 it says, “…He [the devil] was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (NIV).

Ephesians 6:11-12 reminds us that the devil schemes against us, “…For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (NIV).

So the bottom line is that Satan wants to destroy Christians (John 10:10), and he tells us lies to discourage us. I went to sleep thinking about this false accusation and my first thought this morning was about this accusation. I think it is time that I stop letting lies distract me from thinking about God.  It is Sunday morning and it’s time to “put on the full armor of God” and also to “take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (Eph 6:10, 16).

Thank you, God, for your Words of encouragement!

Copyright © 2013 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Don’t quit!

I woke up with dread as I thought about my run today. Since I had pulled a muscle a few days ago, I was not very interested in running; in fact, my last run, two days ago, was so awful that I wondered why I was even running in the first place.

When I started my run, I kept stopping for one reason or another—I had a heart palpitation, my knee brace was too tight, my clothes felt binding, etc. I kept decreasing my speed, and after a while I just felt like giving up.

Then I thought about Satan’s schemes: “…Satan will not outsmart us. For we are familiar with his evil schemes” (2 Cor 2:11, NLT). He wants to discourage us—he wants to make us quit because if we quit the small stuff then it would be easier for us to quit the big stuff.

I took off my knee brace, increased my speed and ran. I was able to go 10.02 miles because I didn’t give up.

What is Satan tempting you to quit? Don’t let him win!

Copyright © 2013 M. Teresa Trascritti

Strength

I’m reading through Isaiah and came across this Scripture verse that had given me much encouragement in the past—“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).

Many years ago I was in a situation where I felt much hostility from people who were my superiors. I was being falsely accused and pressured into recanting something that I had said.

Although my husband was very supportive, it still seemed like a very lonely and depressing time for me. God’s Word was a comfort. Sometimes we need to be reminded that we are not alone; and even though we feel scared, we need to know that we have nothing to fear.  

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God gives “strength to the powerless” and “power to the weak” (Isa 40:29).

What kind of opposition are you going through? Think about Isaiah 41:10 and give it to God!

Copyright © 2013 M. Teresa Trascritti

Never give up

After reading our Bible this morning I went downstairs to work out. As I was running on the treadmill I kept constant watch on my time, pace, and distance. When I found myself slowing down, I would adjust the pace; and when I got tired and felt like quitting, I would grab the handles and keep going.

It reminded me of God and His Word. The Bible helps us to gauge our progress in our Christian walk— how are we compared to those mentioned in its pages? Are we following the good examples or the bad ones? Ephesians 5:8 declares, “For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light!”

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What do we do when we feel like giving up—do we grab onto God (like I grabbed the handles of the treadmill to keep me going) or do we just fall to the ground? Joshua 23:8 says, “…cling tightly to the LORD your God…” Psalm 46:1 tells us, “God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.” Finally, 2 Corinthians 4:1 states, “…since God in his mercy has given us this new way, we never give up.”

If you haven’t been reading the Bible or turning to God for help, then I urge you to start today.

Copyright © 2013 M. Teresa Trascritti

The Valley

I’ve only been running/jogging for a few days now, but I’m starting to notice a pattern of when I am prone to getting tired during my run. At about 2.5 miles I start to struggle but after a couple more miles I have more energy. The up and down pattern of my workout reminded me of life in general. I think all of us have felt sadness or depression at some point in our lives. In fact, there are several accounts of sadness or even depression that is illustrated in the Bible: Hannah (1 Sam 1:10), Job (Job 7:11), and Jesus (John 11:33-35) are examples.

To me, being sad or depressed is like being in a valley—the beautiful mountains are all around and I just want to be in the midst of its beauty but I’m in the flat area—isolated and alone.

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When I am in the valley I try to think about Psalm 23: 4— “Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me” (NLT).

Being in the valley can be a lonely place, but that’s where God works on me. I think God puts me in the valley sometimes to get my attention so that I will turn to Him. I find that I rely on Him more when I am in the valley, and when I get out of the valley I am stronger, spiritually. I don’t really like the valley, though, so I have to remember Him even when I am not in the valley—“… Beware that in your plenty you do not forget the LORD your God…” (Deu 8:11), but if this is the way God wants to shape me, then I am willing to go through the valley because I know He has meant it for good and He will take me through it.

Copyright © 2013 M. Teresa Trascritti

The meaning of my dream

Something I shared with a friend:

The vivid dream that I had about a possessed TV and a voice telling me, “You are too weak… it will overtake you,” made me realize that I have to do more Bible studies/devotions and to dedicate myself more to the Lord. It’s so easy to get distracted in the U.S. As I was trying to fight a demon in my dream, a voice said, “You are weak… it will over take you.” I am now trying to read and pray in the morning before I do anything and at night before I go to sleep. I really need to properly put on God’ armor so that I can be strong.

We trained pastors in Pokhara. Many of them were from rural towns—one man traveled for three days just to attend the training, and another actually walked for a day then rode a bus for a day and a half. They only know basic Bible but have some confusion about the role of men and women in ministry. It was good just to help them sort through all that and to reinforce that they need to devote themselves to the Word before they minister to people because if they are weak in the Word then they will not be able to properly equip the people.

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We were in Pokhara for a week. Our days were long– we taught from 8 am to 6 pm at night, but even though we were tired, it was such a blessing. We were able to build some relationships with people in the community. Some of them remembered us and a few spoke English– this made it easier to talk to them. Pray for Nethoy and her family, for Harry, and for Anjana and her family. Anjana’s father has a liver problem and I am hoping that God will heal him.

We are back home now– it’s good to be back home. Now we have to put into practice what we have learned. We thought that we were there to teach others, and we did, but most importantly God taught us. He is so good!