Tuesday, January 16, 2018

I'm Moving!

A big thank you to all my faithful friends who've been reading this little blog since it began back in 2012. After this final post, my blog will be moved to my new author website. New posts will appear there.

It's not hard to find, and Mom, even you can do this! The directions to get there are simple. Let me help you.

1.  Click here--> www.JillMarieThomas.com
That will take you to my brand spankin' new author website.

2.  Find the word "Blog" on the pink menu bar and click on it.

3.  Voila! You are looking at my blog. Scroll down then click on the title of the latest entry (or any other entry) to open up the full post to read it.

4.  When you're done reading the blog post, if you want to go back and look around at the rest of the website, use the back arrow in the upper left of your computer screen. Although the website is still a work in progress, I invite you to explore the other options there by clicking on the various items in that pink menu across the top.

5.  Please SUBSCRIBE (!!!) in the subscribe box on the home screen if you wish to receive notifications of future blog posts in your email.

As usual, I will continue posting about twice a week, or sometimes less when I'm vacationing or traveling on business.

Please continue following the adventures over at jillmariethomas.com and I will give my best effort to provide valuable food for thought and helpful life lessons.


Thursday, January 11, 2018

Rice Christians

The following is an excerpt from my work-in-progress Bible Study booklet on Job:

In the very first chapter of the book of Job, Satan presents this challenge to God: “But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”

Shortly thereafter, on another day Satan doubts Job’s faith in God and sets forth a second challenge to God: “But now stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.”

So, the book of Job begins with Satan essentially calling Job a “rice Christian.” The term “rice Christian” came about in the 19th century because starving and needy people would come to the missionaries for the rice rather than the Savior. The term has evolved since then to negatively mean anyone who seeks the benefits of Jesus without desiring the relationship with Him.

Missionaries in numerous foreign lands have observed the phenomena and are often disheartened by it. Sadly, wherever there are evangelistic efforts, there are occasionally impure motives in evidence.

People sometimes make a profession of faith in Christ while having the true motive of obtaining rice (thus the term “rice Christians”), soup, blankets, or other aid.

The tendency of people to misrepresent themselves to gain something is nothing new. Satan brings the ploy to our attention in Job, perhaps the oldest book of the Bible.  Many missionaries have encountered this sort of pretense in countries all over the world, as we will see below by the variety in labels missionaries have given these folks. Even Jesus spoke directly about people who act one way, but have another hidden motive.

“Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.”
                                                                                    John 6:26-27

Maybe in the United States we don’t really consider rice as something for which we would fake a religious conversion. Think about it, though. I bet each one of us can draw from our memories instances of people who have ulterior motives.

How about that person who goes to church to increase the list of his business contacts? To find "followers" for his social media platforms? To pass out more business cards?

Or what about those politicians who suddenly begin regularly attending services right before an election? Often after the election they are nowhere to be seen.

Then there are those single young adults and older divorcees who are simply attending church to hopefully change their relationship status from single to married.

“Rice Christians” profess their faith but mostly want something else.

Other labels given over the centuries for these people include:

Curry-and-rice Christians - named such by missionaries in lands experiencing great hardship and poverty.

Famine Christians – named by missionaries who felt that without a famine the people would have not even come to hear the message.

Loaf-and-fish Disciple – some missionaries were extremely careful not to attract this type of native who only came for a handout.

Are you a “rice Christian?”

What form do your prayers typically take? Do you pray mostly like these:

“Father please give me ___________.”

“Lord, help me with ______________.”

“Jesus, I need ____________________.”

“God, can you please _____________________.”

“Oh Lord, will you _____________________.”

Now put yourself in the place of a father or a mother. If your child is always asking you for STUFF, aren’t you eventually going to wonder how your youngster really feels about you?  Won’t you start feeling like a giant Gimmee, Gimmee Vending Machine?

Real faith is not just about getting things we need, even though our Father God is wondrously generous and gives us way more than we could possibly deserve. Instead, it’s about a loving relationship and a growing depth of closeness and communication with Him.

There is no impure motive associated with it, rice or no rice.

Monday, January 8, 2018


I don't know what it is about every New Year, but I find myself compelled to declutter, downsize, and organize my home each January.

When I dismantled the Christmas tree the other day and put away all the other household holiday decor, it appeared as if my rooms grew to twice their holiday sizes. The walls, tabletops, and furniture looked stark and sterile. I actually liked the streamlined look, to be honest. Simple. Easy. Clean (and easy to keep clean).

The same efforts can be made in many other areas of our lives. Maybe the new year is a good time to reorganize things like our time usage and weekly schedules. Perhaps I need to rise earlier and shift my waking hours earlier. Could I better consolidate my weekly food shopping, banking, and other errands?

Possibly my financial budget needs some tweaking too.  Are there areas in which I just don't need to spend as much as I have in the past? Restaurant meals have always sapped a good chunk of our extra bucks.

Perhaps my acquisition of new material items can be minimized.  I recently heard of a 2018 challenge group in which the participants will buy no new clothing, shoes, purses, or jewelry and accessories in this entire year. And furthermore, how can I continue my quest to give away much of what I have that is excess?

What are my "cigarettes and booze" items, those items I freely allow myself to purchase?  I'm not a smoker or drinker, so for me, it's books.  I allow myself to spend plenty of money on that beloved habit/hobby of mine. Maybe I need to finish reading my entire pile before I order one more book.

I've been studying through the book of Jeremiah for the last month or so, and today I came across a verse that nearly leaped off the page and into my heart and mind.

     " ... for who is he who will devote himself to be close to me?" declares the Lord.                                                                                                 (Jeremiah 30:21)

No matter how much we declutter, organize, or minimize in this brand new year, let's keep the main thing the main thing: staying close to Jesus. He's earnestly looking for those of us who yearn to deepen our relationship with Him with every passing day.

Let's start and end our days by spending quality time with Him in prayer and in His Word. That's a sure bet to keep our lives in the proper order.

In this new year, go ahead. Organize, sort, declutter, minimize, and re-organize to your heart's desire.  Just please, stay close to Him.  He's looking for those who will.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

The Gift

Christmas has come and gone. Miles were traveled to spend time with the family. The New Year was adequately welcomed, though not with sauerkraut in this household. The company has gone home. All that glorious chaos is over and done.

I'm not a huge fan of New Year's resolutions, so I decided to make my first blog post of this new year a reprint of a poem I had written a year ago during the holidays. It reminds me of the true GIFT of the season, and I hope it will help you focus on what's truly important as we open a brand new calendar.

"I Have You, Jesus"

Here we are

Just four days from Christmas
I have everything
I could need or want
For I have you, Jesus

Outside my home, chaos looms
Shoppers, decorators, salespeople
People driving too fast, intent on their preparations
Not me, though
I have you, Jesus

My heart is full
My mind is at peace
I'm satisfied
I feel no need
For I have you, Jesus

Bells are ringing outside Wal-Mart
Children are singing in holiday concerts
The market is bustling
Grocery stores are re-stocking
I'm good.  I have you, Jesus

Gifts are piled
Trees are decorated
Stockings are hanging
Manger scenes are arranged
And I have you, Jesus

The company will come
The presents will be given
Children will toss the wrappings
Not knowing that you are the Gift
So thankful, for I have you, Jesus

All the chaos settles
The holiday ends
Folks go home
The parties fade
But you are here always, and I have you, Jesus

You are everything, Lord
The beginning and the end
The Gift now and forever
My peace and my joy
So thankful I am, for I have you, Jesus.