Tamara's Journeys

Journeys as great as the destinations.

Did You Hear About The Preacher’s Donkey?

February 28th, 2014

A preacher wanted to raise money for his church and on being told that there was a fortune in horse racing, decided to purchase a horse and enter it in the races. However, at the local auction, the going price for horses was so high that he ended up buying a donkey instead. He figured that since he had it, he might as well go ahead and enter it in the races. To his surprise, the donkey came in third!

The next day the local paper carried this headline: PREACHER’S ASS SHOWS. The preacher was so pleased with the donkey that he entered it in the race again, and this time it won. The paper read: PREACHER’S ASS OUT IN FRONT. The Bishop was so upset with this kind of publicity that he ordered the preacher not to enter the donkey in another race. The paper headline read: BISHOP SCRATCHES PREACHER’S ASS. This was too much for the Bishop, so he ordered the preacher to get rid of the donkey. The preacher decided to give it to a nun in a nearby convent. The paper headline the next day read: NUN HAS BEST ASS IN TOWN. The Bishop fainted. He informed the nun that she would have to get rid of the donkey, so she sold it to a farmer for $10.00.

The next day the headline read: NUN SELLS ASS FOR $10.00. This was too much for the Bishop, so he ordered the nun to buy back the donkey, lead it to the plains, and let it go. Next day, the headline in the paper read: NUN ANNOUNCES HER ASS IS WILD AND FREE. The Bishop was buried the next day.

Entrusting Justice to God

February 26th, 2014

Never pay back evil for evil… never avenge yourselves. Leave that to God, for he has said that he will repay those who deserve it. Romans 12:17, Romans 12:19

Bitterness and a hard heart builds a lonely house. Space enough for one person with a life full of misery. But God’s healing can get us out of the house of spite and toward spacious ways of grace.

Maybe you’re going through a deep mess, and wonder can He really help. This history of abuse? This raw anger? This seething disgust I feel? Can God heal this hurt in my heart?

Joseph asked these questions. He never forgot his ten brothers giving him the heave-ho. They walked away and never came back! So, when he saw them in the breadline, he snapped at them. He accused them of treachery and threw them in jail.

Isn’t it good to know that Joseph was human? The guy was so good. He endured slavery, succeeded in a foreign land, mastered a new language, and resisted seductions. He was the model prisoner and the perfect counselor to the king. We almost expect him to see his brothers and declare, “Father, forgive them”. But he didn’t. He didn’t because forgiving jerks is the hardest trick in the bag.

Sometimes it’s not easy. How do we reconcile deep pain with God’s command to forgive? Isn’t some retribution in order? Of course, and God cares about justice and execute it on behalf of truth and fairness.

Judah, who had trapped Joseph, had three sons. He arranged for the eldest to marry a girl named Tamar. But the son died. Judah arranged for his second son to marry Tamar. The son didn’t manage the situation well and died. Judah assumed Tamar was jinxed. Afraid that his third son would meet the same fate, Judah put the matter on hold.

Later Tamar heard that Judah was coming to town. Apparently she decided to get creative, disguised herself as a prostitute and made him an offer. Judah took the bait. He exchanged his necklace and walking stick for sex, unaware that he was conceiving a child with his daughter-in-law.

Judah was caught in his own sin. Things had come full circle. Judah, who had trapped Joseph, was trapped. Judah, who had helped humiliate Joseph, was humiliated. God gave Judah his just punishment, and Joseph didn’t have to lift a finger or swing a fist.

God can discipline your abusive boss, soften your angry parent or bring your ex to their senses. God never gives up. Long after we’ve moved on, God is still there, probing the conscience, stirring conviction, always orchestrating redemption.

Forgiveness doesn’t diminish justice, it just leaves it to God. Forgiveness vacillates with fits and starts, good days and bad. Anger intermingled with love. Irregular mercy. Step forward and fall back. But it’s okay. As long as you are trying to forgive, you are forgiving. It’s when you no longer try that bitterness sets in.

Stay the course. You’ll spend less time in the lonely house and more in the grace house.

 

From Adversity to Greatness

February 24th, 2014

 

Be confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6

In Genesis 37, when Joseph was seventeen, he had a dream that he would someday rule over his brothers. This peek into his destiny filled him with self-confidence as a young man. But the fact is, he wasn’t ready to rule right then. He needed to go through some character-shaping times. And indeed, he did just that, spending thirteen years facing setbacks, challenges, and even prison. And although he was forgotten by men during those times, he was never forgotten by God.

Through adversity, God molded his character so that when Pharaoh appointed him prime minister of Egypt, he was ready to fulfill his God-chosen destiny. Think about Joseph when you go through tough times in your life. Sometimes God breaks us and allows us to hit rock bottom so He can shape us into the people He is calling us to be.

I’m not saying it will be comfortable or easy. But I am saying you should consider that maybe the adversity is God’s way of strengthening you, teaching you, molding you, and preparing you for the great plans He has for your life.

 

 

 

Greek Humor In Honor of the 39th Greek Festival

February 21st, 2014

You know you are Greek if…

  •   can distinguish between kefalotiri and kefalograviera
  •   you can spell kefalograviera
  •    are an adult and are forced to be with your family at 12 midnight on new  years eve
  •   your grandmother/mother/aunt has a miracle cure for everything
  •   your mother or father still feels the need to tell you, “katse kala” in  public
  •   you have ever been hit with a pandofla
  •   can dance kalamatiano, tsiamiko, zebetiko without music
  •    at every point in your life were not talking to at least one family   member
  •   you must name your children after your in-laws
  •   you have at least 5 Maria’s and 9 Dimitri’s in your family as a result of  the above
  •   you have ever heard the phrase, “Sto leo yia to kalo sou”
  •   you have a bottle of OUZO in your house right now
  •   know what a komboloi is
  •   know how to work a komboloi
  •   you have been threatened to be eaten by the baboola/yero/pontiki when you were little
  •   someone in your family owns any type of restaurant
  •   your family inheritance includes olive trees
  •   you can’t understand why McDonald’s rejected your idea for the McFeta” sandwich
  •   your entire house is a needlepoint warehouse

What Is Salvation?

February 20th, 2014

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

I had plenty of time over the past few days to meditate on the often repeated verse John 3:16. A long time ago I remember it being explained like this:

For God… the greatest Lover
so loved… the greatest degree
the world… the greatest company
that He gave… the greatest act
His only begotten Son… the greatest gift
that whoever… the greatest opportunity
believes… the greatest simplicity
in Him… the greatest attraction
should not perish… the greatest promise
but… the greatest difference
have… the greatest certainty
everlasting life… the greatest possession

I like that, and I want to share my personal meditations with you.

“For God so loved the world”

The motivating factor behind God’s redemptive plan for everyone is His love for us. He not only loves us, He so loves us! God’s love for you is the motivating cause of salvation.

“that He gave His only begotten Son”

Our salvation, the free pardoning of our sin, and the promise of abundant and
eternal life didn’t come without cost. Our salvation came at a great cost: God gave His only begotten Son.

“that whoever believes in Him”

Salvation is not spelled “d-o,” but “d-o-n-e.” Many people seem to think their good works are the pathway to eternal life. Consequently, they do this or do that, or they don’t do this or don’t do that, to earn salvation. But our salvation is done. It’s already purchased for us with the blood of Christ on the cross. Salvation’s condition is through faith in the Lord.

“should not perish but have everlasting life”

What a promise! Those without the Lord are perishing, but those in Christ have the eternal promise of everlasting life. And NOT from our own efforts or good deeds. The promise is to those who realize that God’s love reaches down to us, and was made possible through the payment of Christ, and is received by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Try to memorize this verse this week and meditate on the fact that “God so loved the world that He gave.” Yes, God knows you, loves you, and has a wonderful plan for your life. Amen!

Lake Worth Street Festival or Greek Festival

February 18th, 2014

While waiting for my next hospital adventure I was thinking about the upcoming weekend. One of my choices might interest my local friends this weekend is the 20th Annual Street Painting Festival. Visitors watch as over 400 artists, from as far away as California, use the pavement as canvas to transform downtown Lake Worth into a temporary outdoor museum of original art and masterpiece reproductions. You literally see the streets come alive as the artists transform the pavement into works of art.

I normally attend on Sunday mornings before it gets too warm or crowded and most of the paintings are completed by then. This year artists are rolling out the red carpet with a movie theme. I am attaching posting photos from past years festivals to temp you to get out and get involved in a FREE, family friendly event. Did I mention there are various food vendors? (Check out photos of earlier festivals on photo page)

The other family event happening in Palm Beach County this weekend is the 39th Annual Greek Festival at St. Catherine’s Greek Orthodox Church. For a mere $3 donation you can discover the rich traditions and culture of Greece. You won’t be able to leave without enjoying a taste of Greek food, music, dancing, kids rides, great family fun and entertainment. www.stcatherine-wpb.org/

Whatever you chose, do it with gusto and enjoy this glorious weather!

 

Monday Funny

February 17th, 2014

A young man is travelling across the states on a greyhound bus. It’s a long journey and to pass time he chats with his fellow passengers. He’s talking to one elderly gentleman about woman, as men will tend to do when chatting with each other.

The old man says “I’ve been married 37 years as of last week” and a tear rolls down his cheek.

Noticing this the young man replies “Wow you must love your wife very much to still be that emotional”

“It’s not that” says the old man “I’ve just realized that if I’d killed her when I met her I’d be free by now!”

 

Winter’s Tale

February 16th, 2014

Today, I woke to a cool breeze that put me in the mood for a “Winter’s Tale”. But what I thought was going to be a romance, was a poor adaptation of the novel of the same name. I understand the movie is a huge departure from the intended story, which would explain why the film falls apart.

Winter’s Tale, has corralled the talents of Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Colin Farrell and Eva Marie Saint. This is an accomplished cast that would make many directors envious. The trouble is that Winter’s Tale never really comes together. The writing is smart and occasionally good, but the film flounders when it should soar, losing pace and tension as it goes on.

The supernatural story follows petty thief Peter Lake (Farrell) from the early 1900s through to the present day. In 1916, Peter is suddenly declared persona non grata by demon Pearly Soames (Russell Crowe). While on the run from his demonic mentor, Peter encounters a mysterious, winged white horse that points him in the direction of the Penn mansion. Initially looking to steal something, Peter sets aside all thoughts of pilfering treasure from the Penns when he meets and falls in love with Beverly (Downton Abbey’s Jessica Brown Findlay), the beautiful, flame-haired mistress of the house who is dying from consumption.

It’s all very romantic, or so we’re told, with a supernatural element of Will Smith portraying Lucifer, folded into the story. Pearly becomes convinced that Peter is destined to save a girl with red hair, and upset the teetering balance between good and evil. Indeed, Peter’s burning love winds up keeping him alive, and looking good for over a century, but without his memory. One day he meets Virginia (Jennifer Connelly) and her daughter in modern-day Manhattan. It soon becomes clear that fate, destiny and a whole lot of mystical, odd mumbo-jumbo are at work here, and Peter will soon discover the healing and restorative powers of love itself.

Farrell broods prettily in his boy-band haircut, clearly too old for the part but nonetheless playing it with great gusto. Crowe marches through the silliness of his raging, bonkers character with strange amounts of joy.

Somewhere in the lovely footage there’s meant to be a great movie. Sadly, the director never stopped to explain how all this beauty was meant to hang together. Winter’s Tale is an emotionally distant drama that left me cold. If you still insist on seeing it, don’t expect much.

 

 

 

Love Is In The Air

February 14th, 2014

Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet My unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you. Isaiah 54:10

Well folks, it’s that time of year again, you know – red hearts, pink roses, balloons, cards, candy, and animals that sing songs of love.

Store shelves overflow with symbols of love. They began the day after New Year’s to get ready for Valentine’s Day. Do you know that more roses are sold on today than any other day in the year? All over the world, it is the day that people show their love for someone special.

Most women and girls hope to receive a loving momento, perhaps dinner in a nice restaurant, or to have a meal cooked for them. It is a great occasion to express love and appreciation for any of your loved ones, but it is just as important to show little acts of kindness the other 364 days of the year.

It means a lot when family and friends want to spend time with you, share a meal, or just talk. God tells us in His Word how much He loves us. He promises never to leave or forsake us, to answer us when we call, day or night. He never slumbers nor sleeps.  We need to tell Him how much we love Him 365 days a year as well.

Flowers will die. Candy gets eaten. Balloons will pop. Stuffed animals may stop singing. Cards may get lost or thrown away, but the love that is shared with one another, and God’s love for us, will never pass away.

May you find little ways to show some acts of kindness to those you love before and after Valentine’s Day this year.

The Red Carpet

February 13th, 2014

Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. 1 Corinthians 9:25

Ever get tired of the awards shows celebrating actors and musicians? Last night one of the major networks reran the star studded Grammy/Beatles show. There are Emmy Awards, Academy Awards, Golden Globe Awards, People’s Choice Awards, Tonys, Grammys, MTV Music Awards, and lots more. An entire industry is built around these annual “red carpet” events, as everyone watches to see who wore what and see if their favorite stars are chosen. Meanwhile, soldiers, schoolteachers, firefighters and other true heroes, are often forgotten.

One day an Awards Ceremony will occur in heaven, where the true rewards will be distributed. The Bible says, “Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done”.

The reward ceremony in heaven will be unlike anything we can imagine. Treading the red carpet might be short lived dress up fun, but walking down the golden streets is eternal!

Forest or Trees?

February 8th, 2014

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Philippians 3:12

An arborist is a scientist who studies trees and other woody plants, usually individual specimens. A forester is a scientist who studies large areas of woody plants like a forest. The domain of foresters and arborists sometimes overlap  in the pursuit of health of both the trees and forests.

The Christian life is also made up of two similar domains: individual days and life as a whole. But isn’t it easy to get so caught up in the pressures of each day that we sometimes fail to step back and look at our spiritual life as a whole?

Questions need to be asked: Am I growing spiritually and emotionally? What differences can I see over my entire Christian life, and over the last few months or years? What areas of my life in Christ need attention? The apostle Paul talked to Timothy about making “progress” in his life.

Are you a spiritual arborist or forester? Are you focusing more on the trees or the forest? Ask God for His help in showing you how to measure your maturity. And relax, it takes time to mature and be holy.

The Monuments Men

February 6th, 2014

WWII was the most destructive war in history, but did you know it also caused the greatest dislocation of cultural artifacts in history? Hundreds of thousands of items remain missing to this day.

Last night I was invited to witness the greatest treasure hunt in history. Based on a true story few Americans have heard, The Monuments Men is an action drama focusing on an unlikely World War II platoon. In reality the burden fell to a 350 men and women, curators and archivists, artists and art historians from 13 nations, going into Germany to rescue artistic masterpieces from Nazi thieves and returning them to their rightful owners.

It would be an impossible mission. Art was trapped behind enemy lines, and with the German army under orders to destroy everything as the Reich fell. How could these seven American museum directors, curators, and art historians, all more familiar with Michelangelo than the M-1, possibly hope to succeed? But as Monuments Men they found themselves in a race against time to avoid the destruction of 1000 years of culture. They would risk their lives to protect and defend mankind’s greatest achievements and restore to Europe evidence of its own civilization.

In his best directed film since Good Night, and Good Luck, George Clooney, who also co-wrote the screenplay, proves he’s more than just another pretty face, collating archived information from Robert Edsel’s book, into a solid adventure story that seldom lags. Clooney also portrays an art historian named Frank Stokes, based on renowned Harvard art conservationist George Stout. He gathers six colleagues too old for the trenches and too out of shape for boot camp: one curator of medieval art at the Metropolitan Museum (Matt Damon), one architect (Bill Murray), one sculptor (John Goodman), one French art dealer (Jean Dujardin), one historian (Bob Balaban), one British art expert (Downton Abbey’s Hugh Bonneville) and a young German Jew who acts as a driver and translator (Dimitri Leonidas).

I highly recommend The Monuments Men as a riveting, suspenseful, and exciting film. Clooney managed to bring back big-scale entertainment with magnificent sets, stunning European locations and a fabulous score. It’s a genuine pleasure to experience a mature film about something that changed the world.

Trivia: From a newspaper report dated 13 December 2013: Police broke into the flat of Cornelius Gurlitt, the son of a Nazi art dealer who hoarded hundreds of works believed to have been looted by the Third Reich. Gurlitt has been the focus of huge media attention after a trove of over 1,400 previously unknown masterpieces were uncovered in his Munich flat. A task force appointed to research the origin of the art has said that around 590 pictures fall into the category of art looted or extorted by the Nazis from Jewish collectors. These include pieces by Picasso, Matisse, Munch and Cezanne among others

A Crazy Hunch and a High Hope

February 5th, 2014

“If I can just touch his clothes,” she thinks, “I will be healed” Mark 5:28

To touch him was a risky decision. But what did she have besides a crazy hunch and high hopes? She had no money, no friends, and no other solution. All she had was a hunch that Jesus could help and hope that he would.

What’s kept you from coming to God? Were there crowds blocking your view? Did they seem neat and clean in their faith so you backed off? If you read that story in Mark, you’ll find that only one person was commended that day for having faith. It wasn’t a loyal follower. It was the penniless outcast who reached out on a hunch with hope that He would help her.

Isn’t this the definition of faith in action? A conviction that He can and a hope that He will. Sounds similar to the definition of faith given by the Bible. “Without faith no one can please God. Anyone who comes to God must believe that He is real and that He rewards those who truly want to find Him.”

God made it so easy for us. We only have to believe that God is real and God is good. Faith isn’t a midnight vision or a voice in the forest. It’s a choice to believe that the God who made it all hasn’t left it all and that He still responds to gestures of faith.

There was no assurance, of course. She hoped he’d respond. She longed for it, but she didn’t know if He would. All she knew was that Jesus was there and that He was good.

Faith is not the belief that God will do what you want. Faith is the belief that God will do what is right.

A Man Was Walking Down A Street …

February 3rd, 2014

A man was walking in the street when he heard a voice: “Stop! Stand still! If you take one more step, a brick will fall down on your head and kill you.” The man stopped and a big brick fell right in front of him. The man was astonished.

He went on, and after a while he was going to cross the road. Once again the voice shouted: “Stop! Stand still! If you take one more step a car will run over you and you will die.” The man did as he was instructed, just as a car came careening around the corner, barely missing him.

“Where are you?” the man asked. “Who are you?”

“I am your guardian angel,” the voice answered.

“Oh yeah?” the man asked. “And where were you when I got married?!”

What’s Your Game Plan?

February 2nd, 2014

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is. His good, pleasing and perfect will.  Romans 12:2

Today is Super Bowl Sunday. This is the game quarterbacks have worked for! Today’s quarterback can no longer be just a great athlete. He must also be a student of the game with an excellent memory. The teams playing have offensive playbooks of 150–170 different plays! Even though the players who reach the Super Bowl are already familiar with the basics plays, they must still spend time in classroom situations, reviewing all the possibilities with diagrams, films, and computers that allow the players to see field situations.

However, nothing can replace the intelligence and abilities of a great quarterback. Many coaches would say that quarterback is Peyton Manning. Voted four times as the NFL’s MVP, he’s proven to be one of the quickest studies pro football has ever seen.

In 2012 Peyton was released by the Colts due to the uncertainty about his neck injury recovery and his age. Within a very short time Peyton had to learn an entire new system while becoming connected with new coaches and teammates to create a winning offense with the Broncos. Peyton’s commitment to excellence, even in his preparation for a game, shows that he can adapt quickly to difficult situations. There are precious few who could move to another team and take over the reins immediately.

In order for us to develop real character and be consistent in life, we must dedicate ourselves to studying the things that will impact us, just as a football player must study the playbook. Our playbook is the Bible.

The lessons contained in its sixty-six books haven’t changed in thousands of years. Its message provides answers to the issues challenging us at home, in our place of employment, with our neighbors, and at school. God’s Word is knowledge and wisdom that will inform, transform, conform, and reform our very souls. It will renew our minds and renovate our spirits. Amen!

 

 

Tamara's Journeys

Journeys as great as the destinations.