Rest, Relaxation, and Exercise

Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit. 3 John 1:2 NLT

Yesterday, we took a short trip to visit one of our beautiful local lakes. We looked at the lengthy L shaped pier and debated whether to view the water from the shoreline or walk the intimidating pier. The choice was made to take a leisurely walk over the serene waters. There were several individuals that we exchanged smiles and short chats with during our mini adventure. The gentle breeze, temps in the 80s, and fluffy clouds provided tranquility on an already peaceful Sabbath day. After our walk, we relaxed in the shade and talked about how God intended for His created beings to enjoy the beauty of nature.

The most important aspect of our outing was the opportunity to have worship with God; we sang, prayed, and read Psalm 27 which tells us of King David placing his complete trust in God. We agreed to incorporate visits to the lake on a regular basis. Changing our routine to utilize nature as God intended has boosted our well-being. We are still smiling as we reflect on God’s love as seen in the beauty of nature. We invite you to seek out and enjoy the great outdoors. Nature provides the opportunity to understand God as the giver of all good things.

Prayer for today: Dear God, Thank you for giving us the beauty of nature. Please help us to take the time to get outside and enjoy the fresh air while we commune with you. Amen

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

Breathe In Breathe Out

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

It’s Friday and for many of us, it is our favorite day since it marks the end of the challenging 9-5 work week. The two-day weekend provides a relief from our regular routine and we look forward to relaxation and a much-needed break. It is either a time for leisure activities or a time to tackle the endless “to do” list. Our priorities of what we need to accomplish in life determine whether we relax or continue the frenzy of working nonstop.

For most of my life, I was unable to enjoy the benefits of rest and relaxation. Even though I proclaimed to be a Sabbath keeper-Friday sunset to Saturday sunset, I chose jobs that included nursing on-call duties because they provided the highest compensation. The desire for additional money led to the compromise of my mental and physical health. I was always thinking about what I needed to do, along with how I would juggle everything to fit in my tight schedule. I can recall wishing that there were more than 24 hours in a day. Although, I made the decision to pursue a 9-5 job, once I was hired, my routine of always needing something to do prevailed. I utilized Sundays to plan for the next Monday-Friday work week. I was exhausted, irritable, burned-out, and stressed out. My life was out of control due to many factors; as a result, I had a longstanding history of insomnia.

In May of 2017, I retired from my nursing career. I wish that I could say that all the stressors ended and I could finally breathe a sigh of relief. However, my priorities had not changed, I was addicted to always doing something “productive”. I justified 4-5 hours of sleep by labeling it as having a structured lifestyle. Eventually, the self-induced stress caused my blood pressure and heart rate to escalate beyond normal parameters. I began to worry about my physical health which impacted my ability to sleep and I plummeted into bad health. Even so, God interceded on my behalf by allowing a friend to invite me to a 40-day Health Restoration program being conducted at her church. As I listened to the physician describe behaviors that confirmed an unhealthy lifestyle, I realized that I was not alone.

It has taken 16 months to break the vicious cycle of not appreciating mental and physical rest. Through prayer and studying the Word of God along with healthy lifestyle principles, I have reset my priorities to include plenty of rest. I have reached a level of optimal health which allows me to use my spiritual gifts to share the good news of God’s unconditional love. God enabled me to use the reset button in my life and I can finally breathe in and breathe out.

Prayer for today: Dear God, I need to change my lifestyle. Please help me. I am tired and need the rest that only comes from you. Amen

The current health regimens that I follow:

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

Chosen by God

For you are people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all of the peoples on the face of the Earth, to be his people, his treasured possession. Deuteronomy 7:6

The Israelites were chosen by God to represent His love, grace, and mercy to others. God’s plan was to fully restore Israel after 400 years of bondage to the Egyptians. Over and over again He provided, protected, and blessed without failing. Even so, the people strayed due to disobedience and allegiance to customs of paganism. Their story is our story; we are spiritual Israel and in spite of being chosen by God, we are everything but faithful.

Consider your current job where you have worked very hard and have consistently received excellent performance appraisals. One day your Manager sends you an email requesting a meeting to discuss your future with the company. The most probable emotional response would be one of anxiety, loss of employment would be foremost in your mind. Recalling your favorable work history may or may not prevent sleepless nights until the day of the dreaded meeting. However, when the day arrives, you are offered a promotion as Manager due to the profitability of the company and the future goals for growth and expansion. As you happily accept, the financial rewards cross your mind as an invaluable perk. The company has also provided for additional training and ongoing support during your transition. You would never consider doing anything but fulfilling the expectations that were presented to you. Yet, as one of the Chosen, we are consistently disobedient to God’s way and His commands.

Perhaps we can begin to look at our lives from a different perspective. We have been created by God to give Him the utmost honor, praise, and reverence above anything that exists on this earth. God’s plan for fallen, sinful beings is to bring them to a state of complete restoration. If we obediently follow His plan, our greatest reward is Eternal Life. What other perks can supersede immortality, and life in a sin-free world? Forever living in the presence of God, always praising, singing, laughing, no more strife, or diseases; just experiencing peace in a beautiful and perfect earth.

I am chosen, you are chosen. The time is now for us to fulfill our role and meet the expectations of God’s divine plan.

Prayer for today: Dear God, I thank you for choosing me. I desire to be obedient and follow your plan for complete restoration. Amen.

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

Changing our Thoughts

Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. Genesis 6:5 NKJV

The fall of Adam and Eve led to the first human death of their son Abel by the hands of Cain his brother. Cain had anger toward God because his sacrifice was rejected due to disobedience. His displaced anger resulted in an innocent victim losing his life. When sin entered the realm of humanity, evil escalated until man’s/woman’s thoughts were continually wicked. It is hard to imagine being around just one person with constant evil thoughts. However, prior to the Great Flood, the entire population chose evil over good, and only Noah and his family were saved from destruction.

Satan uses a process to control our thoughts. God has not given him the ability to read our minds or our thoughts, but he is able to execute his plan because he watches our behaviors and our actions. Since we have a propensity toward evil, it is easier for the seed of strife to enter our hearts than good thoughts. Proverbs 23:7 tells us, “For as a man thinketh so is he.” Our thoughts come into fruition through our behaviors and actions. You are what you think.

There is a popular evangelist that calls our bad thoughts-stinky thoughts. She says that we need to practice conscious awareness of our stinky thoughts and halt them immediately. A few years ago a co-worker and I were eating lunch together and a young lady walked into the break room and she said, “I don’t like her and I replied, “Why? you don’t even know her” and she responded, “you know how it is when you just look at someone and you don’t like them.” I remember giving her direct eye contact and relaying that it was not a productive way to live. Unfortunately, she is unable to keep a job because of her poor interpersonal skills and negative thought processes.

Is there an effective way to control our stinky thoughts? Our prayer group discussed the importance of having godly thoughts in great length. My cousin interjected a very humorous solution; she recommended identifying the bad thought by verbalizing the words, “Stinky thought,” and immediately praying for Divine intervention. Although we enjoyed a good laugh from saying these words out loud, our group has started using the method of saying these two words to acknowledge and stop a bad thought. Confession of ungodly thoughts by praying is required to eradicate the evil thoughts that prevail because of sin. We can gain the victory by inviting God to help us replace bad-negative thoughts with good-positive thoughts.

Prayer for today: Dear God, Please help me to manage my stinky thoughts by always focusing on your love and your goodness. Amen.

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

Overcoming Hurtful Words

“When exposed to varied scenes in life, and words are spoken that are calculated to cut and bruise the soul, speak to yourself: ‘I am a child of God, an heir with Jesus Christ, a co-laborer with God. I must not therefore have a cheap mind, easily to take offense, always thinking of myself, for this will naturally produce an inharmonious character. It is unworthy of my noble calling. The heavenly Father has given me my work to do; let me be worthy of the trust.’” Our Father Cares by Ellen G. White

As I read this passage, I thought about the many hurtful words that I have given and received throughout my life. Yes, the power of the tongue has the ability to wound or to heal, to tear down or to build up. When we are placed in a situation as the receiver, we should choose to turn and walk away. When we have chosen to be the giver, we should stop and pray immediately. There are times when we are placed in precarious situations due to no fault of our own. Mentally raising the white flag in retreat and foregoing retaliation is our best and only godly option.

The disobedience of Adam and Eve led to discord, disunity, and the division of human beings that exist even today. Hurtful words are extremely painful; how we react is even more important than focusing on the bitter words. We must pray, forgive, rise above the incident and focus on our status as a Child of God. Once the seeds of anger and resentment are planted in our hearts, we have put aside our status as Christians-Christ like and given ourselves to serve under the rule of Satan.

“Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from Evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer.” 1 Peter 3:10-12

God was already aware of the impact of His created beings falling into sin. Even so, we have the Word of God and prayer to invite God into our lives when we experience hurt. Trusting in God to take care of every painful situation enables us to experience spiritual growth as we draw closer to Him.

Prayer for today: Dear God, I have been hurt and I have hurt others by speaking devastating words. I ask you to forgive me and to help me move forward in my relationship with you. Amen.

Sonya Johnson Ruiz


Your Spiritual Appraisal

…For a great reward awaits you in heaven…Matthew 5:12

The criteria for being a good employee and an asset to a company has changed significantly within the last 10 years. Performance appraisals are utilized as a tool to measure employees who have met or not met a company’s standards for productivity, attitude, and overall contributions. Imagine if God utilized performance appraisals to measure our spiritual life. Not only would we give up and throw in the towel, we certainly would feel that God’s expectations were unfair and unjust.

Serving God is merely a choice; it is a conscious decision to receive the most expensive gift from the Giver-Jesus Christ. I am unable to imagine giving my life for individuals who enjoy being enslaved to the pleasures of this world when the opportunity to live spiritually free is available. It feels like a breath of fresh air when we take the time to realize our Salvation is a gift. We do not have to earn favor. All God asks of us is to live by faith and have complete trust in him. When we consider how much God is willing to do for us, our spiritual benefits outweigh all earthly rewards.

Eternal life is immortality, never an ache or pain, no more drama, sadness, strife, violence, sickness or death. We will have constant joy and be in the company of God, Jesus, the angels, our loved ones and friends who fell asleep in Jesus-they will be raised first when Jesus comes, and persons who have lived from the times of Genesis to Revelation through our present time. The criteria are to willingly give 100% of our hearts and minds to God.

Then I saw a new Heaven and a new Earth, for the old Heaven and the old Earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying look, God’s home is now among his people he will live with them and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever. Revelation 21:1-4

Prayer for today: Thank you God that our reward of eternal life is not based on our merits, but on your love and desire for us to live with you forever. Amen.

Sonya Johnson Ruiz