Who are you standing or kneeling for?

I’ve seen nothing but this kneeling and standing controversy on Facebook for the past couple of days. Sometimes people just want to get mad about something, and they’ll argue about things that have nothing to do with eternal things—Satan is so clever.

Yes, I was in the military, I love this country, and I think there are people who have been discriminated against, but all I really see is a bunch of people who need Christ. Satan divides— there should be no “us” or “them,” “kneeling” or “standing”— we are all the same; everyone is made in the image of God.

If you are a Christian, then kneel for Christ; if you are a Christian, then stand for Christ—kneeling or standing for anything/anyone else is just a distraction that causes division.

Christ should be first and foremost in a Christian’s life— the flag is not eternal, this country is not eternal; in fact, nothing on this earth is eternal so stop wasting your time and energy on the temporary things.

Be “the light” in this dark and fallen world so that people can find their way to Christ, and be “the salt” in the world that is full of death and decay so that they can be restored and regenerated by Christ.

Who are you standing for? Who are you kneeling for? I hope it is for Christ!

Copyright © 2017 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

 

The Time Is Now

None of us can ever “get right” with God on our own. Sometimes people will hear the gospel and say, “I’m not ready to accept Jesus right now because I need to clean myself up first,” but that day never comes.

It reminds me of what Jesus said to the Pharisees: “First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean” (Matt 23:26, NIV). The Pharisees were busy trying to look or act a certain way, but their hearts had not been changed by God– “Make sure that the light you think you have is not actually darkness” (Luke 11:35, NLT).

God wants a willing spirit– we come to Him and ask Him to change us– that’s how we become “right” with Him. The time is now. “For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.” Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2, NLT).

Copyright © 2017 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Preachers

Maybe I’m wrong, but preachers ought to preach the Word. I think sermons ought to pierce our hearts so that we make changes in our lives. It’s easy for us to slowly veer away from what we should do, and we need to be reminded of God’s standard so that we can realign ourselves. Preachers are meant to impact others, and when they squander a Sunday morning worship service then they are not doing what God has placed them there to do. In James 3:1 it says, “Not many should become teachers, my brothers, because you know that we will receive a stricter judgment” (CSB).

I realize that it is summer and people want a break, but why hijack the whole worship service for a children’s program or a concert? A music concert, no matter how good it is, can never replace the preaching of the Word. Music is like an appetizer, meant to prepare the heart for the Word; and if the Word is not preached then the main meal was not served. A quick gospel presentation at the end of a concert or a children’s program is not enough—that’s just a bite-size sample of the main meal.

I want to hear the Truth on Sunday morning—I want to feel conviction and love from the Father, and when I don’t hear the Word then I don’t hear from the Father. I know I can do my own devotionals at home, but then why go to worship on Sundays? Could it be that when a preacher preaches the Word that God is responding to me from the week I was at home praying and studying? Is it possible that when I feel confused that He will tell me what to do through the sermon? Do you see why it’s important to preach the Word? People want to hear from God, and preachers are God’s mouthpiece.

Please take your role as a preacher seriously— you have an obligation to make Christ known to us, and you are supposed to guide us in living a life that is honoring of God. Isn’t that what 2 Timothy 4:2 is about— “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and teaching” (CSB)? It doesn’t matter if it is summer and half the congregation has gone on vacation or they are away on mission trips, or if you have only a handful of people in your church, you preach the Word!

Copyright © 2017 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Choices

One of my classes has a discussion about “free will.” It made me think about how out of all of God’s earthly creations, humans are unique because we have free will, and we have the ability to think and to rationalize. My cats cannot accept Christ as their Lord and Savior, and no matter how smart dolphins or certain primates might be, they cannot be a follower of Christ. We are the only ones made in the image of God and we are the only ones who can be called “the children of God” (Matt 5:9). Since we have free will, we can choose how we respond to a life circumstance– we can praise God even when things are not so good, or we can “curse God and die” (Job 2:9). We can choose to follow God or not (Josh 24:15). The choice is ours. What do you choose?

What Are Dreams?

I remember when my children were babies and I would watch them sleep. Sometimes their eyes would twitch then they might let out a quick cry, like they were frightened; and other times I would see them smile. I often wondered what babies dreamed— they hadn’t been in the world for too long so why would they frown, whimper, or smile when they slept? Could they be dreaming about future events? Could that be why we sometimes have that feeling of “déjà vu”?

Is it possible to see a glimpse of the future through dreams? I’m not sure. Many years ago I had a dream where I saw myself walking on a hill surrounded by children in tattered clothing. They were smiling and welcoming me— some were reaching up to hold my hand. I appeared to be 70 or more years old— my hair was all white and in a bun. The dream was brief; it ended when I saw what I looked like.

I have had dreams that made me wonder why I dreamed such a dream. I’ve had a couple of dreams like that—  once, where an imp tried to convince me that the Bible wasn’t true but I told him that Jesus would come back as He said He would, then another time when I saw the sun split in half and everyone was terrified because we were all “doomed” and God saved us.  I came to realize that dreams like that assure me that I have a real faith in God.

There are yet other dreams where I actually talked to people I have never seen before, and I wondered if that person was having the same dream about talking to me— I guess a lot of people have experienced this because I’ve seen movies and TV shows about that.

Then there are dreams when I feel like I’m watching a movie, where I’m not even in the dream— I think that’s when my mind just wants to rest and not solve an issue in my life.

So what’s the point of writing this? I guess it’s to say that sometimes dreams can be important (like when you are struggling with something and you want to figure out what to do), and sometimes dreams can help solidify your personal beliefs. The only one who can sort that out is you, so stop turning to books or articles that tell you what your dream means because dreams are personal and can’t be generalized. If you really need help understanding your dreams then ask the One who is the maker of dreams— God.

Copyright © 2016 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

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

“One Thing” For All Marriages

I’ve been married for almost 32 years. There was a time when I didn’t think we would celebrate our 17th wedding anniversary. My marriage had a rough start. Not only were we teenagers when we got married, but we came from different backgrounds and we had varying views of what marriage should look like. For instance, my husband was somewhat of a “traditionalist”— he wanted me to take his last name yet he wanted me to work outside of the home; I was a little less traditional and wanted to keep my last name, but I wanted to stay at home with any of my future children. The way we each handled conflict was not very healthy— we mimicked our parents in what they did when they encountered conflict in their own marriages (i.e., yelling, throwing dishes, storming out of the house, punching walls, etc.).

Although we attended church, we never really grew as a couple. Even while attending seminary together, we still “butted heads” and we had poor communication skills (at least when we spoke to each other). We took a “marriage enrichment” course, an elective for both of our degree tracks, and after a few weeks we spoke to the teacher, Dr. Cutrer (Dr. C.), and his wife. The discussion with them helped us to realize that we had a lot of work ahead of us; and even though we were more aware of how we were speaking to each other, there was still something missing in our marriage and there was still an underlying tension in our relationship.

It wasn’t until several years later that our marriage actually took a turn for the positive. I was a doctoral student at that point, and my dissertation was on long term marriages that were on the verge of a divorce and how marriage mentoring helped their marriages (https://oatd.org/oatd/record?record=handle\%3A10392\%2F3736). The focus of the study was on marriage mentoring, but there was something other than marriage mentoring that every couple said changed their marriage; and it was that one thing (technically, two things) that changed our own marriage.

That “one thing” was reading the Bible together as a couple then praying with and for each other after reading. The first time we read together felt a little awkward to me, and praying aloud was “different.” We pressed forward though, and now after nearly five years of reading the Bible and praying together, our marriage is stronger and more God-centered than it has ever been. When we have a conflict, we are no longer trying to “win” the argument, nor are we expressing our emotions in a negative way— instead, we readily apologize to one another and we find a solution to the issue.

Our marriage is not perfect, but it is more forgiving— it exemplifies Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” It is also less selfish than what it was—“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others [your spouse] above yourselves” (Phil 2:3).

Whenever we have the opportunity, we tell couples in our church that they should read the Bible together and pray for one another because to actively worship God through their marriage supernaturally changes the marriage and it changes the way they interact with one another. So, if you are married, and you want a more fulfilling marriage, then start reading the Bible together, and then sincerely pray for one another—you will not regret it.

Copyright © 2016 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

$1.5 Billion Dollar Lottery!

Temptation is different for everyone, but everyone is tempted. These past few days I have been tempted by the lottery that climbed to $1.5 billion dollars. I was so tempted that I tried to figure out when and where I would buy just one ticket without my husband or children knowing. I thought about what I would do with the money if I was the sole winner—would I move? Would I upgrade my camper? Would I travel in First Class to Europe? I wouldn’t have to work anymore—I can just enjoy life.

Then I thought about how my husband would react if I won—he would be very disappointed with me, and the church would think I was a hypocrite. I know they wouldn’t accept any lottery money from me, but I would feel compelled to give money to some kind of charity so I’d try to find a few just to ease my guilt.

As I put more thought into what the $1 ticket might bring (I don’t play the lottery so I’m assuming the tickets are a dollar), I thought about the life I already have. I wouldn’t want to move—I like where I am, I love my old camper—I personalized it and it feels like it’s a part of me, and I like to find bargain travels.

If I gave money to my children so that they can buy better cars and better homes then what have I taught them? I wouldn’t have taught them that hard work brings self-satisfaction, and that paying off student debt, a car loan, or the mortgage brings a sense of accomplishment.

I then thought about the other things that would result from a lottery win—people trying to kidnap my children and grandchildren for ransom, people trying to kidnap me to extort money, etc.

I recalled the words I had read on a friend’s Facebook page recently—“Am I not enough?” Is God really enough for me? Wouldn’t He give me the desires of my heart and meet my needs? He has never left me hungry, and we’ve always had enough money to pay our bills. Do I really want to forsake God for the lottery? Some might say that God could use the lottery to bless someone, but that’s just a way to justify it.

So I’ve come full circle. I was tempted to buy one lottery ticket, but after much thought I’ve decided to be content with what I have and to trust God for all my needs. Plus, I enjoy my job of interacting with students and trying to bring them closer to God (also, I think I would be really bored after a while of doing nothing).

I am now honestly afraid of winning the lottery because of the unknown road that it would take me. If you’re tempted to buy a lottery ticket—don’t. Pray harder and trust God more!

Copyright © 2016 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Attacks on Paris

The horrific attacks in Paris, the “City of Love,” have claimed over a hundred lives with many injured. Many are angered, sad, or scared, but this heinous act is just a reminder of five things:

  1. The earth is controlled by Satan: “We know that we belong to God, but the whole world is under the power of the devil” (1 John 5:19, NLV)
  1. Because Satan controls the earth, there will be violence: “…the land is full of darkness and violence” (Psalm 74:20, NLT)
  1. We have to show the world that their hope lies in God: “Our hope comes from God… May your hope grow stronger by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13, NLV)
  1. We must pray for those who commit these acts of violence: “But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!” (Matthew 5:44, NLT)
  1. We must never give up hope, even in the midst of tragedy: “Let us keep looking to Jesus. Our faith comes from Him…” (Hebrews 12:2, NLV)
Copyright © 2015 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

The Truth About “Fifty Shades of Grey”

I never thought there would be a day when sado-masochism would be considered “romantic,” but it has happened with “Fifty Shades of Grey.” What makes this storyline so appealing to people? Is this really the type of relationship women secretly want? Would the lead female character endure these sexual games if the main character wasn’t a rich guy?

“Romance” has progressively been redefined over the last few decades. My idea of romance came from Disney movies like “Cinderella” or “Sleeping Beauty,” but when I was a teenager, the big “romance” movie was “Endless Love,” basically a warped Shakespearean love story about two teens who have sex and encounter tragedies in their lives. Then, when I was a young adult the romance movie was “Pretty Woman,” a story about a prostitute and her rich client falling in love with one another. Seeing this progression, it makes sense that society would consider “Fifty Shades of Grey” as “romantic.”

In a world where there is no real moral standard, “romance” or “love” can be anything. The truth is that the people who are enthralled by “Fifty Shades of Grey” have a miserable existence— they have no real purpose for living. They gravitate to a twisted “love” story because they desperately want to escape reality, and the storyline is so void of realism that it pacifies their need to forget about their own lives.

The real issue isn’t about sado-masochism disguised as “love,” but an internal emptiness that people generally feel. The popularity of “Fifty Shades of Grey” is a symptom of a greater issue— the need for God. Only God can fill human emptiness by giving people a true purpose for living and providing them with a new outlook on life. An invitation is given to all: “Come to me with your ears wide open. Listen, and you will find life… Oh, that you would choose life… You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life…” (Isa 55:3, Deu 30:19-20). Now, get a life!

Copyright © 2015 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti