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For those who have lost track of me, I have moved blogs, short stories, movie reviews and many other inspiring writings to Sonrisen.com.

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This is a “Good Morning” type devotional website. You’ll enjoy it.

You can always write Beloved Blogger at awake@Sonrisen.com

I would love to hear from you.

Beloved Blogger

 

 

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[Continued…]

Although Mark Temple understood he was a mere mortal on the new year, he was infinitely more aware of it by April when he got a diagnosis for throat cancer.

“You’re not going to be around forever,” he felt God saying. “I’m not messing around. What do I have to do to get your attention?”

Mark is an intelligent and prosperous man. Spiritual deafness is not part of his character. So what was stalling God’s agenda in his life?

“There were the typical distractions of running a successful business and all the trappings that come along with that,” he said.

As one who has been in the hearing field for a good part of his career, I can tell you that “background noise” is one of the leading motivators for patients to get hearing aids. It’s hard to hear over distractions.

Were there nebulous reasons why God was grabbing him by the collar? On the contrary, Mark was aware of precise works that God had been nudging him about and that made this infraction a bit more serious.

My portal to heaven was thinking on my own spiritual hearing loss and the universality of essentially ignoring God, or at least His timing and urgency.

Oh well, I guess that’s what collars are for.

[to be continued…]

“Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.’Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh.”Jonah 3:1-3a

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I suffer from being a human – especially when it comes to planning for a new year.

As I look upon sheep and meditate on Psalm 23, I realize that sheep really don’t know where they are going. They are simply led to where they are going. So, it’s one step at a time following a voice command, and occasionally, a gentle or swift poke in the butt.

In a word, they trust.

One morning when I was in Israel, I had some devotional time on what I vaguely remember being the outskirts of Jerusalem. A shepherd was leading some sheep along a hill. But as he got to some rather large bushes, the sheep seemed to disappear into them. It seemed like close to a half hour before he got them out of there, rounded them back up and continued on his journey.

My portal to heaven through that experience and Psalm 23 is that sheep don’t think ahead. They are led. Whether it’s feeding, rest, protection, direction or whatever, they simply rely on their leader.

Millions of us who claim to follow The Good Shepherd could learn a lot from dumb sheep as we plan our year ahead, make intricate goals and envision dreams that we consider so dear to us.

Sheep don't know where they are going - even in Israel.

Sheep don’t know where they are going – even in Israel.

“He leads me…” Psalm 23:2b

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Friends,

We have exciting news regarding this blog. It now comes five days a week in the form of a “Monday No-Mourning” piece, a shorter devotional-style called “Sonrise” from Tuesday-Thursday and our weekly “Weekend Warrior” on Fridays.

Hopefully, you are already receiving these. I love to write these blogs. When the new JournalWithGod.com website is redesigned, we hope to simply have these posts dropped into your email which will connect you with the site so you can read-and-journal; one-stop shop.

I must apologize for neglecting to inform readers that we transitioned to this format. The Beloved Blogger is my pen name. If you are not receiving it in the format mentioned above, contact us at journalwithGod@gmail.com and we will make sure you get it in your email.

We LOVE hearing from you: journalwithGod@gmail.com

Robert J. LaCosta

The Beloved Blogger

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Friends,

We have exciting news regarding this blog. It now comes five days a week in the form of a “Monday No-Mourning” piece, a shorter devotional-style called “Sonrise” from Tuesday-Thursday and our weekly “Weekend Warrior” on Fridays.

I must apologize for neglecting to inform readers that we transitioned to this format. The Beloved Blogger, the name I write under, comes to you in email form. If you are not receiving it, contact us at journalwithGod@gmail.com and we will make sure you get it in your email.

We love hearing from you: journalwithGod@gmail.com

Robert J. LaCosta

The Beloved Blogger

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January 15th marks the second anniversary of the passing of my spiritual dad, Royal A. Cutler, Jr….

FullSizeRender copy 21This piece of paper is on my desk. As you can see from the photo, Royal’s exercises well into his nineties would tire many people of a lesser age. I can’t remember if he showed all of them to me. But what I do remember is the vigor and determination with which he went through them.

And part of what spurred him on was his heart attack in his sixties and the physician who told him he’d be lucky to get another 10 years out of his life. The doc only missed that one by a couple of decades.

Exercise can be thought of in a lot of ways and the particular one that Royal helped me learn was exercising love. Like his arm twirls or knee bends, loving stronger was something he practiced over the years. I can recall asking him about the last time he really lost his temper. He thought long and hard and humbly said, “Probably 15 or 20 years ago.” Even his memory was sketchy, that kind of “exercising” is what is reminiscent of another elderly man who just happened to pen The First Epistle of John.

The Apostle John must have exercised this type of love for many decades before he could stuff the word “love” thirty-four times into roughly one chapter. I implore you to read it for yourself.

So if you’re wondering, “Why this scrap of paper is on my desk?” Let’s just say I’m one of those guys who has trouble getting his workout in even when it’s right in front of me.

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IMG_1949These are frigid times but we have to keep the fires of our hearts going just as we double-check our heating systems during these cold snaps.

Jesus said, “Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.” Matthew 24:12

So feed your furnace with The Word; remain in The Vine. Figuratively and literally, stay close to the brethren (and your spouse if you are married): “If two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone?” Ecclesiastes 4:11

As it is in the natural, so it is in the spiritual: “However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual.” 1 Corinthians 15:46

David Mathis wrote:

“When you memorize a ‘gospel verse,’ and keep it warm, you have hidden in your heart a divinely inspired and inerrant expression, in human language, of the very point of the whole Bible and all of history. You carry with you the sword of the Spirit in its strongest alloy. One-sentence encapsulations of the Bible’s central message strengthen our spiritual backbone and solidify our core, rooting us deep down in the bedrock of God’s heart and the nature of the world he made, and sending us into confident combat with unbelief, whether our own or someone’s else. ‘Gospel verses’ are invaluable in both evangelism and discipleship.”

See his keen insight on this subject at http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/ten-gospel-verses-to-keep-warm

We were made to fight or minister in the opposite spirit. Sometimes this feels like a rough assignment. The end of the matter is this: we are not alone. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” James 4:8

BELOW: IT’S WARM INSIDE AS LONG AS YOUR HUGGING YOUR SIS AND SHE’S HUGGING A STUFFED WHATEVER…’THE BRETHREN:” HOME GROUP SHOTS OF LINDA SERVING MY WIFE’S CAKE WITH SUE DROOLING, MIKE DISPLAYING HIS LATEST CIGAR BOX GUITAR AND ME AND LAVINA WARMING UP AND THERE WAS FINE TEACHING AND SHARING THAT KEPT THE FIRES BURNING ALL ON A HOME-GROUP NIGHT.

 

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The recent ordeal of my mother-in-law’s extended critical-status at the hospital solidified my belief in prayer and boosted my appreciation for the care and competency of medical personnel and hospitals in general.

But another thing I got out of her “close call” was how much love can be squeezed around a bedside.

Today is the shared birthday of my twin brother-in-laws, Michael and Anthony Cavaleri. Hopefully, they will get the best birthday present they have ever received. It seems only appropriate that Mom will come home from the hospital on their big day.

Throughout this past month, they have alternated sleeping at the hospital, talking to the medical staff, making decisions and keeping everyone in the loop. If you’ve been through such a crisis, you are well aware of how sleep deprivation only adds to the anxiety and long hours of watching your loved one suffer.

Through blood-shot eyes, they kept close watch over “Mother Theresa” and their disheveled hair and general “grunge” sensation didn’t dissuade them in the least.

It reminds me of the love that Jesus had for His mother through the last command of His life when He said to John, “Behold your mother!” (John 19:27)

I don’t know how many birthday presents Michael and Anthony actually remember receiving over the years. I pray this is one they’ll never forget.

BELOW: THE PARTY GOES WHERE MOM GOES.

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Who Carries Your Burdens?

“Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried…” Isaiah 53:4

I have always thought on this, especially when Handel’s Messiah keeps ringing through my mind at Christmastime.

It’s a wonderful thought. Perhaps it’s because it conjures up how all of my sins and selfishness helped load up the weight of the cross, like a pick-up truck that has so much garbage the struts are about to raise the white flag.

I had always understood that Jesus carried my sins. But I think I glossed over the preceding verse:
“…a man of sorrows acquainted with the deepest grief.” Isaiah 53:3 While He did not sin, He knew the consequences of sin and He felt it all the more:

“But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions. Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. I’ll say it again—it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” Matthew 19:22-24

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me…Do you see all these buildings? I tell you the truth, they will be completely demolished. Not one stone will be left on top of another!” Matthew 23:37, 24:2

Jesus knew the individual and collective consequences of sin and it pained Him deeply like a parent who sees a child go off in a direction that can only bring destruction.

One of the beautiful things about the CEO’s of family businesses is that they understand the minutia of customer service, employee relations and a host of other details.

It seems I was focusing on Jesus being the burden-carrier instead of how He is intimately aware of grief HIMSELF. He personally understands pain. If such a revelation can help us “give” it to Him, that would be quite a relief.

We all carry more than we are aware. Whether listening to Handel’s Messiah or listening to your inner pain, know this: Jesus can carry our burdens because He knew them first hand(s).

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I woke up thinking about a nativity set… I’ll go online and get a really big one. Go to a commercial site. Something so huge that it would put Jesus’ face IN MY FACE. It would be my way of making sure I didn’t forget “The Reason For The Season.”

A little later, I’m going through the basement to find a few decorations to bring upstairs. Mining through the cluttered corner, I discover a beautiful homemade nativity set that a friend gave me several seasons ago. It rocks. But it is small.

As I removed that box, I noticed one tucked way against the basement wall that I had forgotten all about. A frosted crystal-style lighted set of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. How could I have blanked on this? I love putting this up.

I didn’t forget to go out and get a tree. I didn’t forget Christmas shopping. I didn’t even forget to read “Advent Conspiracy” about giving more and spending less.

Suddenly, I got what I wanted: Jesus in my face, quite literally. It was as clear an analogy as I had ever experienced. My metaphor-du-jour.

Perhaps I am not alone in this business of Jesus getting shoved to the back of the basement during His own birthday party.FullSizeRender copy 10

I actually take great consolation in this lesson. Even when I “misplace” Him, He is gracious enough to display His birth right before my eyes in the darkest place of my home.

Now that’s a face you can’t forget.

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