30 down 70 to go

My diet is doing great! I’ve lost thirty pounds since January and my goal is another thirty by the end of the year. This diet has even identified the plateau I’m on right now and has shown me how to bust through it. I’ve combined this with some Herbalife protein shakes (comes in lots of flavors) that takes the place of my snacks or whenever I get that “have to have chocolate” urge.
Keep up the great work and connect with www.thecandodiet.com.

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Soul Food

Hi Everyone.

Sorry I’ve been off-line so long. I’m in Peoria, Il working with the Red Cross on the flooding here. The days are long but rewarding as we are helping many people in need. I’ll be heading home at the end of the week to catch up on things there then get ready for my next assignment. Disaster season is here. Are you prepared? Click here http://www.redcross.org/support/emergency-preparedness to get ready!

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this message from Rabbi Eckstein

April 28, 2013

“How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word.” — Psalm 119:9

One evening a Cherokee Indian told his grandson about a battle going on inside him: “My son, it is between two wolves. One is evil: Anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego. The other is good: Joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”
The grandson thought about it and asked his grandfather, “Which wolf wins?”
The old Cherokee replied, “The one that I feed.”
Psalm 119 is unique among the book of Psalms. Like some other psalms it follows the sequence of the Hebrew alphabet, but unlike any other psalm, King David pens eight verses for every one of the 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet.
Whenever this acrostic structure is used, it’s a sign that the psalmist wants it to be all-encompassing. For example, Psalm 145 follows the alphabetical structure and is a song of praise. In that case, the psalmist wanted to praise God in every way possible – from A to Z. Our psalm is a request and a prayer. The psalmist is asking for help in pursuing a life of goodness, free from sin. In following the alphabetical structure, times eight, David is expressing his overwhelming desire to serve God in every way possible and not be led astray.
Like the old Cherokee in the story, and like all of us, David had a battle raging inside of him. He asked, “How can a young person stay on the path of purity?” In other words, how can we guarantee that the good wolf will win? In the tug-of-war within every human being, how can we change the odds in favor of good and less in favor of evil?
The answer is: “By living according to your word.” By nourishing our souls with the words of the Bible, we dramatically increase the odds of our good side dominating our lives.
For the remainder of the psalm, David poured out his heart, asking God to help him learn the Bible and to keep its laws. He committed himself to “meditate on your precepts and consider your ways” (v.15) and he begged, “strengthen me according to your word ” (v. 28). David knew that with effort and God’s help, he would be able to feed his soul what it needed to fight the battles of life.
If King David placed so much value on learning God’s Word, we should value it no less! Let us learn from David’s example and set aside time to study our Bibles as often as we can. This is the soul-food that our beings require–to live, to thrive, and to overcome evil.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein

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Jump Into Abba’s Arms

Todays guest author is Sharon James writing for Girlfriends in God

April 16, 2013 Jump Into Abba’s Arms by Sharon Jaynes

Today’s Truth “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see,” (Hebrews 11:1 NIV).

Friend to Friend One night a family was startled from sleep by the piercing blare of their smoke detector. The house was on fire and smoke swirled up the wooden staircase. The father bolted from his bed and ran to his children’s room. He grabbed his eighteen-month-old baby out of his crib, and dragged his four-year-old son by the hand. They were half-way down the stairs when the little boy remembered his favorite teddy bear in his room and broke away to go back and get it. In the mayhem and confusion, the father didn’t realize his son wasn’t with him until he reached the front yard.

By the time the little boy found his teddy bear, the flames had filled his room and trapped him inside. Smoke burned his lungs as he coughed and cried out the open window.

“Daddy! Daddy!” he cried. “Help me!

His dad called up to the lad, “I’m right here, son. Jump and I’ll catch you.”

“But Daddy,” the boy cried, “I can’t see you!”

“That’s OK, son,” he called. “I can see you! Now jump!”

The boy blindly jumped from the open window and landed safely in his father’s arms.

I love that story. It is my story.

So many times my Heavenly Father calls me to jump. Sometimes He tells me to jump out of a situation, and sometimes he calls me to jump into an opportunity. Either way, I usually baulk at the idea…at least a little.

“But God, I can’t see You,” I cry.

“That’s OK,” He replies. “I can see you. Now jump!”

And so I jump. And He is there every time.

What about you? Is God calling you to jump out of a fiery situation? Is God calling you into a new opportunity? Well sister, if He is, jump. You might not be able to see Him, but He can see you. And that is all that matters.

Let’s Pray Father, thank You for always being there for me. Help me to have the courage and the faith to jump out of any fiery situation that could singe my character, char my faith, or leave me smelling of smoke. Help me to have the courage and the faith to jump into any blessed opportunity that could increase my faith, build my character, and leave me wearing the fragrance of Christ. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

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On That Day

Hi everyone. sorry it’s been hit or miss the last few days. Internet access has been spotty at best and non-existent at worst. Duluth has also been hit with several snow storms the last several days including 40-45 mph winds and we are expecting another one this afternoon.

April 14, 2013

“Praise the LORD, all you nations;   extol him, all you people. For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever. Praise the LORD.” — Psalm 117: 1–2

Bible trivia question: What’s the shortest psalm? The answer: Psalm 117, with a total of two verses.
The Sages explain that this psalm is about the messianic era. The brevity of the psalm symbolizes the clarity that will reign in those days. In those days, everything will come down to the one idea expressed in this psalm: Everyone on the face of the planet will recognize the Lord and praise Him. Peace on earth and righteousness will abound. Life will be clear, easy, and simple.
The prophet Zechariah also expressed this idea and said: “The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD” (Zechariah 14:9). The Sages ask: Isn’t the Lord already the only God? Hasn’t the Lord been King since the beginning of time?
The answer is yes. And no.
One time a woman approached a rabbi to complain that her son was getting into religion. She didn’t like it one bit. She said, “I don’t believe in God!” She was expecting a lecture on the evidence of God’s existence, but the rabbi just said: “So don’t.” Shocked, the woman replied, “How can you say that?” The rabbi said, “If you want to live in a godless world, then go ahead.”
In other words, for a person who doesn’t believe in God, in a way, there is no God. There are no rules to live by, no meaning to the events in life, and certainly no one to turn to when things get rough. If we don’t believe in God, in a way, He isn’t there.
Take eating as an analogy. Some people don’t believe that what they eat will have any negative effect, so for them, there are no rules about what they eat. They feel good and enjoy all kinds of food, believing that good nutrition is a hoax. Until one day they find themselves overweight, with clogged arteries, high blood pressure and diabetes. That’s when they begin to believe that there is such a thing as eating healthy, and so they begin to live differently.
The same thing will happen in messianic times. Many people live life as though God does not exist. So in a way, for them, He doesn’t. He can’t be there to comfort and guide them if they refuse to see Him! But one day, it will be clear to the whole world that God does exist. On that day, everyone will accept Him as their King and live their lives accordingly.
Make “that day” today. The more we believe in God, the more we will experience His love and guidance right now. Why wait?

With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein   Founder and President of Holy Land Moments

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Identity Crisis Solved

The Lord really uses this Pastor to touch my heart continualy


Connecting Points

Friday, April 12, 2013

Today’s Topic: Sovereign Identity

Today’s Text:  Ephesians 1:5 (ESV) In love He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will,

This morning the Holy Spirit spoke a truth to me concerning the issue of the Father’s Sovereignty. It started with a question that raced across my mind – “What about identity?” He instantly got my attention, and I knew exactly what He meant. You see, when it comes to the truth of God’s Sovereignty, we generally and primarily think of it in terms of activity, i.e. God’s control of nature, political powers, circumstances and events. Yet Sovereignty, by pure definition, demands control of more than just activity. It must also include the control of identity.

As the Holy Spirit spoke to me, He convicted me of my abuse of my identity. He opened another compartment…

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Feathers in the Wind

Today’s guest post is from Rabbi Eckstein founder of Holy Land Moments

April 10, 2013

“When anyone has a swelling or a rash or a shiny spot on their skin that may be a defiling skin disease, they must be brought to Aaron the priest or to one of his sons who is a priest.”— Leviticus 13:2

The Torah portion for this week is a double reading, Tazria-Metzora, from Leviticus 12:1–15:33 and the Haftorah from 2 Kings 7:3–20.

Anyone who has ever spent time at the school or neighborhood playground has undoubtedly heard this retort before: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” However, anyone who has been verbally abused can tell you, it’s simply untrue. While kids can learn to recover from such verbal assaults, the fact still remains: words can hurt.
Most of this week’s Torah reading centers around a spiritual malady that presents itself as a physical disease. It is a disease that can affect a person’s possessions, home, and eventually, body. The person who is afflicted with such a disease is called a metzora in Hebrew. The term is a contraction of three other Hebrew words: motzi-shem-ra, which means “spoke badly about another person.” This reveals the crime of the afflicted – one who uses words to harm another person.
While we know words can be hurtful, is the offense really that bad? After all, words are just words. Sure, they may sting for a moment, but then they are gone with the wind. Aren’t they?
A story is told about a man who went around slandering the rabbi of his town. After some time, the man regretted his actions and asked the rabbi for forgiveness, saying he would do anything to make amends. The rabbi told him to take a pillow and open it up in order to let the feathers scatter in the wind. The man did as was told and then returned to the rabbi. The rabbi said, “Now go and collect all of the feathers.” The man replied, “But that’s not possible!” Then the rabbi made his point: “And so it is with words. Once they leave your mouth, it is impossible to retract them and who knows how far they will spread.”
This is why the Bible views the sin of speaking badly about others as such a serious offense, even equating it to a disease. Words are compared to arrows; once shot, their direction is no longer in our control, and their effect can be deadly. The tongue is so powerful a weapon that God created two gates to contain it – one is our teeth, the other our lips. We need to carefully consider our words and think before we open our mouths to speak. After all, broken bones can heal, but hurtful words go on forever.

    With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein

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Pension Plans

Yesterday the mail was later than usual, like about an hour and a half late. I didn’t mind that much as I wasn’t expecting anything anyway. So imagine my surprise when I saw Mary Jo, the mail carrier, and she said she had a certified letter that I had to sign for.

It was from a company that I had worked for and it looked like the same kind of stuff they normally send. But why would they need a signature for that junk? I signed her cards, opened it up and started to flip through the pages. Page two caught my eye really quick.

It turns out that I had been paying into a pension plan even while I was on long-term disability. The papers wanted to know if I wanted a monthly allotment or a lump sum. I turned to May Jo and asked her to look at the paper and see if she saw the same numbers that I did? She did and suggested that I call the company to verify what the papers said.

I quickly went to my apartment and called the pension department and the young man kindly walked me through all the papers telling me which ones I needed to fill out, sign and send back.

After taxes are taken out there will be enough to pay all my outstanding bills making me debt free, a security deposit on a new apartment closer to my Daughter’s family and get a new used small truck for me! My Daughter suggested I take the tithe on the money and split it between my current church and two other pastor friends who are in the middle of expanding their church buildings. Great idea!

It’s almost 1:00 in the morning and I can’t sleep. I’ve been lying in bed thinking of all the ways to spend the rest of the money. After laying there for an hour asking God to forgive me for being so selfish, I suggested to Him that I just ride out this little storm of greed because he knew that I really wanted to be accountable with His money.

It seems to have worked because the tempest in that teacup has calmed down and I can truly think of the money as God’s and not mine. I want to be accountable to him and use it wisely remembering that as I spend each dollar I will not be able to spend that dollar again.

I don’t need a $200 camera or a Wii or to buy a data package for my phone. I don’t need to buy any number of electronic “toys” that I really don’t  have to have just because I finally will have the money to get them.

What I’d really like to do is take a trip to Georgia and see a very dear friend whom I haven’t seen face-to-face for almost twenty-five years. We talk on the phone weekly for about an hour at a time. We’re on the same “friends and family” carrier so the minutes don’t count against our bills. I wish I could take us both to Israel but that’s not going to happen either!

All this talking about pension plans make me very aware of another Pension Plan I have. One I didn’t have to pay anything into. In fact, I had nothing to contribute to it at all. Jesus paid the premiums himself with his very life. This Pension Plan was sealed and guaranteed by God, Himself, when He raised Jesus from the dead and seated him at His own right hand, the Position of Power.

God gave Jesus the power to rule over all kingdoms of the earth and bring to himself all those who choose to accept his free gift of mercy and grace, granting to us Salvation for all eternity.

All we have to do is agree with God that we have broken trust with Him, that we have broken His laws and chose to go our own way. We have sinned and deserve to pay the price of our sin ourselves.  But God in His great mercy sent His only Son to die in our place to pay the price for our sin so that we can stand pure and blameless before Him as His adopted children. All we have to do is repent of our sins and as Jesus to come into our life as Lord and Savior.

1 John 1:9 says that “If we confess our sins then He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

That’s all there is to it and then we receive the best Pension Plan of all, an eternity with Jesus.

I think I can go back to bed and get some sleep now. Night all!  Zzzzzzzzzzzz

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