Choosing the road to life and wellness

This scripture from the Bible book Matthew reminds me of the famous poem by Robert Frost. The late poet Robert Frost won four Pulitzer Prizes for poetry; his work is among the most widely read and often quoted poetry to this day. Listen to it here if you don’t remember it.

Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.

For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

Jesus in Matthew 7:13-14, ESV
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

The Road Not Taken

This scripture from the Bible book Matthew reminds me of the famous poem by Robert Frost. The late poet Robert Frost won four Pulitzer Prizes for poetry; his work is among the most widely read and often quoted poetry to this day. Listen to it here if you don’t remember it.

“The Road Not Taken” was originally published in The Atlantic in 1915 along with two other poems from Frost. It is now widely considered to be one of the most popular works of American literature.

“Its signature phrases have become so ubiquitous, so much a part of everything from coffee mugs to refrigerator magnets to graduation speeches, that it’s almost possible to forget the poem is actually a poem. “The Road Not Taken” has been used in advertisements for Mentos, Nicorette, the multibillion-dollar insurance company AIG, and the job-search Web site Monster.com, which deployed the poem during Super Bowl XXXIV to great success.”

What does the poem mean?

The poem’s meaning has been extensively dissected, discussed, and debated; most assign a deep meaning about life, choices, regrets, what-ifs, etc.

(This and several others in this post are affiliate links, meaning I earn a commission to fund this blog if you make a purchase through it.)

So I was surprised to read that Frost himself didn’t take the poem nearly as seriously as everyone else has. He claimed that he wrote it as a joke for a friend.

At poetryfoundation.org , Katherine Robinson wrote,

“Soon after writing the poem in 1915, Frost griped to Edward Thomas that he had read the poem to an audience of college students and that it had been “taken pretty seriously … despite doing my best to make it obvious by my manner that I was fooling. … Mea culpa.” However, Frost liked to quip, “I’m never more serious than when joking.”

As his joke unfolds, Frost creates a multiplicity of meanings, never quite allowing one to supplant the other. When Frost sent the poem to Thomas, Thomas initially failed to realize that the poem was (mockingly) about him. Instead, he believed it was a serious reflection on the need for decisive action. (He would not be alone in that assessment.) “

What did Jesus mean in Matthew 7?

This scripture is part of the Sermon on the Mount attributed to Jesus (I’ve written other posts about these verses from Matthew chapters 5-7.) It also is widely known and quoted, as well as other verses like the Golden Rule, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Beatitudes.

The overall message of the Sermon is anything but a joke; Jesus makes bold and daring statements in this passage, which explains why it is so widely quoted and taught on. One famous preacher, Oswald Chambers used it often enough that his wife included several selections when she published a collection of his sermons as a daily devotional know as My Utmost for His Highest.

In a devotional titled “All Noble Things are Difficult” for July 7th, he wrote

“The Christian life is gloriously difficult, but the difficulty of it does not make us faint and cave in, it rouses us up to overcome.

God’s grace turns out men and women with a strong family likeness to Jesus Christ, not milksops.”

It is always necessary to make an effort to be noble.”

Oswald Chambers

Milksops. That’s not a word we hear often; I looked it up and it means exactly what it sounds like. What happens when you dip bread into milk? It gets soggy and falls apart. So a milksop is ” a person who is indecisive and lacks courage.

Choices, choices, choices

Despite Frost’s assertion that his poem was a joke, multiple commentaries dissect it extensively and assign all kinds of meaning to it, suggesting that we do believe that our choices matter in life, whether relationships, finances, education, or health.

Doctors and other health professionals now believe that lifestyle is one of the chief determinants of health and emphasize preventing and even treating illness with nutrition, exercise, mindfulness, sleep, healthy habits, and stress management.

Consider the Foundation

Whether you’re building a house, a career, a family, or your health, what you build on matters too. Jesus concluded his sermon with a building lesson.

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 

 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.

 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 

 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

Matthew 7:24-27, ESV

Reading these verses reminds me of the rain storms we endured in Oklahoma this past spring leading to extensive flooding causing loss of homes and businesses; other parts of the country suffered the same, and now we’re watching coastal areas deal with devastating hurricanes. We’re pretty helpless to defend our property against the ravages of nature. That doesn’t have to be the case with our health if we build well. To paraphrase Oswald Chambers, “It is necessary to make an effort to be healthy.”

The Legacy of Oswald and Biddy Chambers

Here’s the story of Oswald Chambers and his wife Biddy. After his death, she collected writings from his lectures and talks into books and the well known devotional mentioned above. In the introduction she wrote,

it is sent out with the prayer that day by day the messages may continue to bring the life and inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

 

Biddy Chambers

exploring faith, hope, and love

Thanks for joining me to explore poetry and scripture; my hope is that this prompts you to further explore on your own. Here are some other posts from this series

How to satisfy hunger and thirst

Opportunities to do good Living and giving lavishly

Why pray The Lord’s Prayer

5 lessons I learned when the lights went out

 

To start following Watercress Words , use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Thanks so much.

                              Dr. Aletha 

Faith, Love, Hope

Learn more about Lifestyle Medicine from Baylor College of Medicine

“Lifestyle medicine (LM) involves the use of evidence-based therapeutic approaches, such as a predominantly whole food, plant-based diet, regular physical activity, adequate sleep, stress management, and avoidance of risky substance use, to prevent, treat, and, oftentimes, reverse the chronic disease that’s all too prevalent,”

What is Palm Sunday?

Palm Sunday is one of several “holidays”, or more correctly holy days that Christians “celebrate”, meaning observe, in the weeks before Easter which we call Lent.

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Jesus Enters Jerusalem
(Mark 11.1-11; Luke 19.28-38; John 12.12-19)

The prophet Zechariah had said 

“Announce to the people
of Jerusalem:
‘Your king is coming to you!
He is humble
and rides on a donkey.
He comes on the colt
of a donkey.’ ”

The disciples left and did what Jesus had told them to do. They brought the donkey and its colt and laid some clothes on their backs. Then Jesus got on.

Many people spread clothes in the road, while others put down branches which they had cut from trees. Some people walked ahead of Jesus and others followed behind. They were all shouting,

Hooray for the Son of David!
God bless the one who comes
in the name of the Lord.
Hooray for God
in heaven above!”

When Jesus came to Jerusalem, everyone in the city was excited and asked, “Who can this be?”

The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Matthew21 CEV

Contemporary English Version, Second Edition (CEV®)

© 2006 American Bible Society. All rights reserved.


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The “holidays” of Lent

Palm Sunday is one of several “holidays”, or more correctly holy days that Christians “celebrate”, meaning observe, in the weeks before Easter which we call Lent.

Lent starts with the well known Fat Tuesday-Mardi Gras and Ash Wednesday.

Holy Week starts with Palm Sunday, related in the story above. At my church on Palm Sunday, the preschool age children march into the auditorium waving palm branches and sing a song for us. The parents and grandparents sit up front, proudly taking pictures and video. It’s a day to celebrate before we observe solemn sad days before the week is over.

cheesy-free faith-focused stock photos

Some photos in this post are from Lightstock-quality photos and graphics site- get a free photo here. 

(This is an affiliate link)

sharing the HEART of health

FAITH LOVE HOPE- words created with letter tiles
These three remain, faith, hope and love, and greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

To start following Watercress Words , use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn, links are on the left side bar here and the Home page. Thanks so much.

                              Dr. Aletha 

Fasting for the body and the soul

Observed by Catholic , Orthodox, and Protestant Christians, (although the dates may differ) Lent is a time of spiritual reflection, contemplation, renewal, and commitment.

The practice of fasting is one of the Christian Disciplines.

people holding lit candles in the dark

What is fasting?

Simply put, fasting means to refrain from  foods and/or drink either partially or completely, for a specified time periods.  Religions other than Christianity also practice some form of fasting.

Traditionally, one  observed Lent( the weeks that precede Easter) by avoiding certain types of food (particularly meat, eggs, and milk products).  In some traditions, partial fasts were observed where participants would eat only one meal on certain days. Another way to fast is to avoid all food for a specified time frame, usually one day.

Many who observe Lent today are not as strict.  Often they choose to abstain from a particular food or particular behavior such as television or social media during Lent.

The purpose of fasting during Lent  is to refrain from something to redirect the time and energy  on our relationship to God.

man praying on holy bible in the morning

Medical fasting

You may be more familiar with fasting for medical reasons.

We physicians frequently ask patients to fast for 8-12 hours prior to performing certain blood tests. The meaning of the result may be different depending on how long ago the patient had eaten. This is the case when we test for diabetes (sugar or glucose) and hyperlipidemia ( cholesterol and triglyceride).

Another common time for medical fasting is prior to surgery or procedures, especially those done under general anesthesia. Many people become nauseated at this time and may throw up or regurgitate stomach contents. If these get sucked down into the lungs it can cause respiratory distress and lead to pneumonia, both serious complications of surgery. Having the stomach empty of food and liquid can minimize this risk .

There is evidence now that intermittent fasting may aid in weight loss. Dr. Monique Tello discusses intermittent fasting for the Harvard Health Blog at this link.

Intermittent fasting: Surprising update

ashes in the shape of a cross

40 days of sorrow

The 40 days of Lent are also a time of grief.

This tradition begins with the first day of Lent, Ash Wednesday. Ashes are put on believers’ foreheads during religious services as a sign of repentance.

The practice of putting ashes on one’s head is an ancient sign of mourning that was often done at funerals or similarly sorrowful occasions.  In this case, the ashes represent sorrow over our sins and the pain and death caused by sin.

two women sitting on a rug with open books

Whether you formally observe Lent or not, we may consider this as a time to slow down, quiet the noise in our lives, open our hearts, and listen for new inspiration for using our gifts to create new ways to serve others.

“For even the Son of Man  (Jesus ) came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Mark 10:45 NLT

New Living Translation (NLT)Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

40 Days of Decrease

Last year I experienced Lent with this devotional book by Alicia Britt Chole and I recommend it to help you observe a spiritually meaningful “fast” during Lent.

(Please note this is an affiliate link, a link which will help support this blog with a commission when a purchase is made.)


Every day offers a meaningful consideration of Jesus’ journey and then invites readers into a daily fast of heart-clutter, the stuff that sticks to our souls and weighs us down. 

Amazon

Thanks for exploring the HEART of health with me.

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Some photos in this post are from Lightstock-quality photos and graphics site- get a free photo here. 

(This is an affiliate link)

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

To start following Watercress Words , use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Thanks so much.

sharing faith, hope, and love with you

                              Dr. Aletha 

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Resolve to love this year

Whatever you have resolved to do this year, why not add LOVE to the list?

you cannot love without giving. Amy Carmichael

Matthew 22:36-39 CSB

And one of them, an expert in the law, asked a question to test Jesus.

“Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest?”3

He said to him, 


“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.

This is the greatest and most important command. 

 The second is like it:

Love your neighbor as yourself.

The Christian Standard Bible. Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible®, and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers, all rights reserved.

I hope you watch and enjoy this video, I think it has a powerful message. Whatever you have resolved to do this year

  • quit smoking
  • lose weight
  • exercise more
  • read books
  • finish school

why not add LOVE to the list? It might be the easiest-or the hardest-to accomplish.

RESOLVE TO LOVE THIS YEAR-FROM WATERCRESSWORDS.COM

Thanks for joining me for this post, please follow this blog where I regularly share words of

sharing faith, hope, and love.

1 Corinthians 13:13

                              Dr. Aletha 

cheesy-free faith-focused stock photos

Some photos in this post are from Lightstock-quality photos and graphics site- get a free photo here. 

(This is an affiliate link)

Living and giving lavishly

Therefore, because God is so generous to us, we’re to be lavishly generous to others.

Exploring the Golden Rule from

the Sermon on the Mount

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

Matthew 7:12 ESV

The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®). ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

 
 
 
 

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

Matthew 7:12 NIV

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

LIVING AND GIVING LAVISHLY-www.watercresswords.com- exploring the heart of health with faith, hope and love

What the late Reverend Billy Graham said about the Golden Rule, from his book

The Journey-How to Live by Faith in an Uncertain World 

“How different our lives would be if we actually practiced this!

Instead of ignoring people or treating them harshly, we’d handle them with respect and kindness.

Instead of manipulating them for our own purposes, we’d help them achieve what is best for them.

We’d also try to see life through their eyes. Most of all, we’d point them to Christ, for the greatest gift we can offer anyone is His salvation.”

(from Chapter 21-When Others Disappoint)

Other books by Billy Graham (these are affiliate links used to help this blog share the HEART of health)


Life Wisdom: Quotes from Billy Graham


The Enduring Classics of Billy Graham

Understanding the Golden Rule from desiringGod.org 

 
“The word so indicates that Jesus’s teaching is his conclusion from what he’s said previously. The entire Sermon on the Mount might be in view.
 
But it may be that Jesus is thinking more specifically of what he has just said, in Matthew 7:7–11.
 
‘Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
 
For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.
 
 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent?
 
 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!’
 
 
 
 
There he tells his followers that God is their loving Father and always gives good things to those who ask.
 
Therefore, because God is so generous to us, we’re to be lavishly generous to others.
 
The Golden Rule is glorious overflow.”
 
 
 
Read  the rest of Stephen Witmer’s  article at desiringGod to find out
 

Three Things Jesus Didn’t Say

Does this make you think differently about the Golden Rule, what it means, and how it plays out in your interactions with others?

Who has been “lavishly generous” to you?

Who have you helped to “achieve what is best for them”?

FAITH LOVE HOPE- words created with letter tiles
These three remain, faith, hope and love, and greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13 graphic from LIGHTSTOCK.COM, affiliate

 

 

exploring the Golden Rule

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

To start following Watercress Words , use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Thanks so much.

                              Dr. Aletha 

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In another post based on Matthew 7 I wrote

” She thought about a young man she knew whose life had gotten “sidetracked”, and suddenly realized her negative attitude toward him wasn’t helping. As she began thinking about him in a more positive way, she saw ways that his life could be turned around that she had not considered before. Her new attitude seemed to create an ability to see a new vision for his life that she hadn’t been able to before. “

continue reading at

5 unexpected rewards by ditching a critical spirit

The surprising blessing of discomfort

Also well known and often quoted is a daily devotional book, “My Utmost for His Highest”, by Oswald Chambers. Some call it the most beloved devotional book of all time. 

Matthew 5:3-10

The Beatitudes make up several verses of the Biblical book of Matthew .

Matthew recorded these lessons that Jesus taught in his “Sermon on the Mount”, some of the most well known and often quoted verses of the Bible.

a ceramic cross with the Beatitudes Matthew 5:3-10

(To support this blog, there are several affiliate links in this post. I hope you find them useful, and if you purchase anything through them, you are supporting this blog’s mission.)

Finding “Our Utmost”

Also well known and often quoted is a daily devotional book, “My Utmost for His Highest”, by Oswald Chambers. Some consider it the most beloved devotional book of all time.

Oswald Chambers

Chambers was a Scottish Bible teacher in the early 1900s who was popular due to his penetrating examination of the Bible. After his death his wife Biddy chose many of his talks and published them as a book of daily devotions.

Now almost 100 years later, Christians still find comfort and challenge from his pointed observations and interpretation of scripture.

Here is an excerpt from the devotional for July 25 in which he reflects on Matthew 5:3-10.

“The Beatitudes seem merely mild and beautiful precepts for all unworldly and useless people but of little practical use in the stern world in which we live.

…we have to decide whether we will accept the tremendous spiritual upheaval that will be produced in our circumstances if we obey His words.

The teaching of Jesus is out of proportion to our natural way of looking at things and it comes with astonishing discomfort to begin with. “

Oswald Chambers’ book continues to be available in print and now through modern technology another way to access his insights-

the My Utmost for His Highest app for iPhone and iPad

Read daily inspiration from My Utmost For His Highest in the edition of your choice.

  • 365 days of thought-provoking devotions.
  • Automatically opens to the current daily reading.
  • Join the conversation on each day’s reading.
  • Set reading reminders.
  • Download on the App Store

Listen to music inspired by the devotionals

 
The Beatitudes-The surprising blessing of discomfort-watercresswords.com

Author Kim Phuc Phan Thi also referenced a Beatitude in her memoir Fire Road 

“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled.”  (Matthew 5:6)

“I would run my finger along those phases, wondering if those words could really be true. If I pursue your ways, God, will you really satisfy that which is hungry in me?”                    

excerpt  from FIRE ROAD 

                                Read my review of  FIRE ROAD 

Thank you for considering  the affiliate links  and advertisers that support this blog. You are helping it grow and support those who offer medical care to the sick and needy throughout the world.

Share your personal reflection

After you read through the Beatitudes, leave a comment- which one makes you the most uncomfortable and why? Is it good to feel uncomfortable sometimes?

To start following Watercress Words , use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Thanks so much.

Please share this post and come again to Watercress Words for more  

words of faith, hope, and love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)

Thank you so much.    Dr. Aletha                 

And now these three remain-faith, hop and love, as read from a Bible
1 Corinthians 13:13, photo from the Lightstock.com collection (affiliate link)

How to be blessed, happy, and healthy

Just as there may be many ways to define or describe being blessed, there are many ways to define health or describe being healthy. I addressed this in a previous post that I hope you will read.

This section of the Bible book Matthew is known as The Beatitudes.

Matthew recorded these lessons that Jesus taught in his “Sermon on the Mount” , some of the most well known and often quoted verses of the Bible.

a ceramic cross with the Beatitudes Matthew 5:3-10
The Beatitudes, Matthew 5:3-10

The dictionary defines  beatitude as “a state of utmost bliss or supreme blessedness.”

Beatitude inherited its blessedness from the Latin word beatus, meaning both “happy” and “blessed.” In the Bible, the Beatitudes are a series of eight blessings, such as “Blessed are those poor in spirit; theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” And in 1958 writer Jack Kerouac coined the term “The Beat Generation” because he felt its members were seeking beatitude. (vocabulary.com)

Most modern English translations of the Bible use the words blessed or happy in these verses. The Easy-to-Read version calls it “great blessings.”

The Amplified Bible lives up to its name using several different words to express these sentiments. These include

  • spiritually prosperous, happy, to be admired
  • forgiven, refreshed by God’s grace
  • inwardly peaceful, spiritually secure, worthy of respect
  • joyful, nourished by God’s goodness
  • anticipating God’s presence, spiritually mature
  • spiritually calm with life-joy in God’s favor
  • comforted by inner peace and God’s love
  • morally courageous and spiritually alive with life-joy in God’s goodness

Copyright © 2015 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, CA 90631. All rights reserved.

Just as there  may be many ways to define or describe being blessed, there are many ways to define health or describe being healthy. I addressed this in a previous post that I hope you will read.

 

 

Improving health with 7 life elements

(Here is a brief excerpt)

Spiritual Wellness – what brings, peace, harmony, and purpose to our lives.

woman with hands bowed in prayer

Our sense of ethics, morals, right, and wrong is usually based on what we believe to be true and meaningful,  and likely involves faith and support for an organized belief system or religion. Without belief in something, our lives can drift aimlessly and we can fall into restlessness, doubt our purpose, and lose hope for the future.

Both states-blessed and healthy– may be determined

not by what we have, but by who we are,

not by what we get, but what we give,

not by chasing them, but by living them.

Maybe they are both a journey, not a destination.

The Beatitudes- How to be blessed, happy and healthy- watercresswords.com

I’ve written more about the Beatitudes and other lessons from the Sermon on the Mount. Here is one.

 

 

 

How to satisfy hunger and thirst

“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled.”  (Matthew 5:6)

“I would run my finger along those phases, wondering if those words could really be true. If I pursue your ways, God, will you really satisfy that which is hungry in me?”                    

excerpt  from FIRE ROAD 

                                Read a review of  FIRE ROAD 

Thank you for considering  the affiliate links  and advertisers that support this blog. You are helping it grow and support those who offer medical care to the sick and needy throughout the world.

 

 

 

Please share this post and follow Watercress Words for more words of

faith, hope, and love

(1 Corinthians 13:13)

Thank you so much.    Dr. Aletha                 

1 Corinthians 13:13, photo from the Lightstock.com collection (affiliate link)