Archives for : April2019

From the Pen of Mary Z.

From the pen of Mary Zigan,

My thoughts especially turn toward the sacrifice of Christ on my behalf during this Easter season, and I am grateful for life! It is so wonderful to be relieved of the terrible curse, for me namely, the curse and self-abuse of food addiction. I had to over eat; I didn’t know there was anything in the world that could be done about it. After some 40 years of persevering by taking the strong hand of God, I am not only at right weight for my body, I am emotionally happy and content and above all is the freedom I have found in Christ…the Deliverer.

A gentleman once said to me in Al-anon, I spend a great deal of time passing on what I learned to others who want and need recovery from their addiction. I do it for four reasons:

  • Sense of duty
  • It is a pleasure
  • Because in so doing I am paying my debt to the man who took time to pass it on to me
  • Because every time I do it I take out a little more insurance for myself against a possible slip

What is this but a miracle of healing? Just like me, this gentleman’s circumstances made him willing to believe. He humbly offered himself to his Maker. For this man, the revelation was sudden. For others like myself, I grew into this freedom more slowly. If you are grappling with an addiction take heart.  Make the phone call, others, like possibly millions, are going through the bondage that you feel. You will not be sorry you surrendered. Just a few of the benefits to those of us in recovery are experiencing:

  • We can look the world in the eye
  • We can be alone and at perfect peace
  • Our fears fall from us
  • We begin to feel the nearness of our Creator
  • We may have had certain spiritual beliefs, but now we begin to have a spiritual experience

If you feel so inclined to want more information about recovery I can be reached by email: mzigan2442@gmail.com

Hope and Peace be with you!

Mary

Abundant Life: Possibility? or Pipe Dream?

Abundant Life: Possibility? or Pipe Dream?   By Sharon Sheppard

Probably most people yearn for the Good Life. And for each of us, this might mean something different. Some long for popularity and acceptance. For others, “Success” is the ultimate goal. Many aspire to wealth, while a homeless person might settle for just a roof over his head.

Finding the “right” life partner is high on the list of many—maybe most. We dream of being adored, swept off our feet, and ultimately marrying that one “perfect” person.

Still others thrive on adventure—new and different experiences, preferably in exotic locations—without ever giving a thought to “settling down.”

The Bible has some interesting things to say about The Good Life.  I call this passage in the Book of Philippians The Secret to Happiness:

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! . . .Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

A similar passage in 1 Thessalonians (5:16-18) urges us to “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

By the sound of these verses, we can choose to rejoice and be thankful (even when things might not be going so well). We can choose to keep in close touch with the God who created us, and He has invited us to “draw near to Him.” He longs to have fellowship with us, and He has promised that if we draw near to him (by thanking Him, confiding in Him, asking Him for what we need) He will draw near to us.

If we don’t feel close to God, we can be pretty sure that He isn’t the one who moved. Jesus said, “I have come that you might have life, and that you might have it to the full.” (John 10:10)

Talk about a Good Life! It’s available to us for the asking, and it doesn’t get much better than that!

Easter Meditation

GUEST BLOG: The following is an Easter column originally published in the St. Cloud Times by the late Duane Sheppard, an award-winning op-ed writer from St. Cloud, Minnesota

An Easter Meditation: Why Did Jesus Christ Suffer? And Why Does He Allow Us to Suffer?

It was one of those magic nights when the moon was so bright it was like daylight as I watched the landscape of the former Soviet Union rush past the window of an overnight train. I was joined by a Russian journalist on his way home from a London assignment who, like no one else I had met that day, spoke perfect English.

“Isn’t it beautiful!” he exclaimed.

We chatted for a bit, and when he learned that I was a Christian, he said, “I’m an atheist. Give me your best argument for Christianity.”

“Okay,” I replied, “I will if you’ll give me your best argument for atheism.”

With that bargain in place, I explained that I started with two premises: that there is a creator God and the Bible is his Word. It seemed logical that, if there is a creation of this spectacular magnitude, there must be a designer, a creator. Otherwise, we’re faced with putting our faith in a non-god explanation that everything in this complex, well-ordained universe came about by chance.

My belief that the Bible is God’s Word is based, in part, on the fact that it predicts future events, scores of which have happened precisely as they were prophesied. I told him of an atheist from the University of Chicago a number of years ago who said that if it could be proven that the Old Testament book of Daniel was written before the fall of the Roman Empire—which it predicted—he would become a believer. Subsequently, the Dead Sea Scrolls, which pre-dated the fall of Rome, were discovered, dramatically validating that the prediction had long preceded the fulfillment.

Hundreds of years before the birth of Christ, it was predicted that he would be born of a virgin in Bethlehem; that he would be a descendant of King David; that he would heal the lame, the sick, and the blind; that he would be betrayed by a friend for 30 pieces of silver; that he would be mocked and beaten; that his hands and feet would be pierced but that none of his bones would be broken; that his garments would be gambled for; that his death would be voluntary, like the sacrificial lamb of the Passover observance that was to atone for the sins of others.

In the New Testament, I pointed out to my atheist friend, Jesus predicted his own ignominious death and his resurrection three days later. From Genesis through Revelation, God’s plan for restoring fellowship with humankind has challenged the minds of the most intelligent, and yet it is so simple a child can understand it. God loved…gave his Son…and whoever believes has life everlasting. This priceless gift is not dependent on intelligence, wealth, political power, physical attributes, age, national heritage, or bargaining chips.

Because the Bible’s predictions, including the coming of the Messiah, have come true, I argued, it is not illogical to believer that it is divinely inspired and provides a credible account of God’s plan for our redemption through Jesus Christ.

My new friend countered with his best argument. As a Russian raised under Communism, he’d been provided with a university education. Because this same privilege had been denied to Christians under this regime, all of his teachers had been atheists. His science training had instilled in him naturalistic (non-god) explanations for the evolution of plants, animals, and humankind, and, other than questions of first causes, he had no problems with science.

He was a formidable debater, and his atheistic argument went like this: If there is a creator God who is all-powerful, who is fair, loving, and in charge, then why is there pain, disease, suffering, and inequality here on Earth? Why are innocent babies born deformed and consigned to pain and early death? If he is a God of equal opportunity, why do some die, never having heard his message?

Quite frankly, I was caught off-guard. I started to relate an idea I’d heard espoused by Dr. Paul Brand, a visiting lecturer on the campus of St. Cloud State University, who had talked about the benefits of pain. My friend stopped me short and said he was not talking about the discomfort of sitting on a tack or the minor aches and pains that send us to the doctor.

I had to admit that I had no really good answer for why God would allow terrible suffering, except to refer him to C.S. Lewis’s The Problem of Pain. Lewis said that pain “is a training ground. A time for great struggle and growth. God is slowly, but with great care and intention, changing you into the person God has created you to be. The process will hurt at times, and hurt deeply. But the person it is changing you into in the end—strong, wise, and able to face more than you ever imagined—THAT is exactly the person God wants for you to be.”

While recently watching Mel Gibson’s extraordinary film, The Passion of Christ, I was struck with the magnitude of God’s sacrificial suffering. It’s stunning to realize that the creator of the universe chose to come and live among us humbly—in diapers. That he lived a sinless life, was betrayed and denied, and took upon himself the punishment for our sins, was pronounced innocent, then humiliated, beaten beyond recognition and nailed to a cross to die a slow, agonizing death as a condemned criminal. He became a sacrifice to atone for our sins so that “Whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

During this holiest week of the year for Christians, the most significant questions any of us can ask ourselves are these: Is this story true? And if so, then what?

C.T. Studd, a missionary to China, India, and Africa in the 1800s said this: “If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.”

What’s in a Name?

What’s in a Name?    by Sharon Sheppard

When City Cousin Mary Zigan and Country Cousin, aka, yours truly, first put our heads together to talk about co-authoring a blog, we considered a number of possible blog names. Some were clever but already taken, some were copyrighted and thus out of the running, some were original but lame, and the others—well, you don’t want to know about those.

When we finally opted for thewisejourney, we knew that it could possibly be misconstrued to give readers the mistaken idea that we think we have all the answers to life, and we want to pass along our vast wisdom to you, our readers.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Each one of us is on an individual journey. And as flawed humans, all of us face thousands of decisions throughout a lifetime. All of us bungle badly at times. But sometimes we make choices we feel really good about. And all of us learn from many other people along the way.

In keeping with our blog name, we glean wisdom to share with you from many sources: things we’ve read or studied; life experiences—our own and those of lots of other people; experiences of our wise and wonderful guest bloggers; and insights from a host of other resources.

Mary and I cherish the one true Source of Wisdom: God’s Word, which is the ultimate guideline for the journey all of us travel. Over the next three months, as we develop the theme of Living Wisely, we begin by exploring the problem of pain. (See next week’s double whammy essay: which deals with such issues as Why Did Jesus Have to Suffer and Die? and Why Does God Allow Us to Suffer?)

During the month of May we will include tips for physical fitness and healthy eating, and in June we will be looking at emotional health.

Stay tuned . . .

And, as always, if you would like to comment on anything you read in our blog, or would like to read here, please email us at