Donna Martelli is a Christian freelance writer who is passionate about sharing the wealth of knowledge that the Lord has given her in her 30+ years of loving and serving Him. She has written three books, course manuals, book summaries, blogs, articles, and devotionals for many ministries, including but not limited to John 3:16 Ministries, Inc., Pastor Duke Tabor, and Faithwriters. Donna writes out of her own varied life experiences, including those of dancer, instructor, file clerk, business owner, real estate salesperson, wife and mother. Her goal in writing is to glorify God and to bless and help people reach their full potential in this life. She lives in Indianapolis, Indiana, is married with five children and 12 grandchildren.
An Open Letter to My Family
Oh, how I love all of you! How I wish for your peace, health, prosperity, and happiness. I see your busy days and endless activity, all in search of these things. I feel your walls up around me. You don’t want to hear from me. Yet, I have what you’re looking for! I have peace, health, prosperity, and happiness. I have answers to your nagging questions and calm where you have conflict. I know because I used to be like you. I want you to know the joy that I know and experience the richness of life I experience. I want you to have real fun, be a part of the real party, and be blessed all the days of your life here and throughout the life to come. Yet, you refuse the only One Who can give you the desires of your heart. I did that for a long time. I had to lose all hope before I gave my heart to Him. No one told me like I am telling you.
I’ve been to your parties. You sing, shout, and raise your hands to the god of this world, who has blinded your minds to the truth and wants only to destroy you. You allow spirits into your body that will kill you. I can’t be a partaker of that!
Please come to my party! We sing and shout and raise our hands to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Who is the Truth and gives us abundant life. We invite the Holy Spirit to live in us, and He gives us overflowing joy.
You accept and practice customs that are foreign to God’s Word, yet you think I’m strange for not allowing drunkenness and fornication in my home. I can’t side with God’s enemy on these or other matters. Once you have experienced the originals, the counterfeits are unattractive. What do I mean? Fornication is the devil’s cheap counterfeit of a gift of God. Sex is that gift if it is within His parameters (marriage). Drunkenness? What a poor substitute for joy in the Holy Spirit! On the other hand, many things I allow into my home are foreign to you, such as prayer, praise, worship, and heavenly visitations.
Please open your heart before it is too late! No one will force you, not even God Himself. He loves you! He sent His Son to set you free. We have different masters and will never have true fellowship like this. That does not mean that I am better than you.
I know all about your life. I used to live it. But you don’t know about my life with Him. You have never seen It. What made this schism between us? I said “yes” to Jesus. Won’t you at least consider doing the same? Whether you do or not, I love you. However, we have no relationship other than a surface thing. Isn’t that tedious after all of this time? You serve the temporary god of this world. I serve Jesus, Who will rule and reign on this earth forever. You belong to this world. I belong to the Kingdom of Heaven. The end of the god of this world is terrible. The Lord’s kingdom has no end.
The good news is that you can defect! I did. Won’t you come over to Jesus? Just surrender. Give your heart to Him; tell Him you are sorry for trying to live without Him. Receive His forgiveness and thank Him for loving you so much that He died a grueling death in your place so you could go free. Thank Him that when He rose from His grave, He defeated all the control that the god of this world ever had on you. Without Him, we would have no choice. He made it possible for us to defeat the kingdom of darkness. Won’t you come on over? He is the only way.
Above and beyond this life, there is eternity. We all have eternal life but can choose where to spend it. Before you is life and death. You have the opportunity to choose life. God never sent anyone to hell. He gave us a choice. He is calling you to come to Him. He made the way out! Come on!
I love you!
Spiritual Lessons From Natural Things
"Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another."
Touring the kitchen of a family-owned restaurant, I noticed a chef sharpening his knives. It is interesting to watch him do this as he rubs the knife blade against a sharp tool, ensuring it is as sharp as possible. The friction of the two causes heat, but ultimately both are sharpened.
We see the same procedure in old movies where the blacksmith sharpens his tools. The process is the same whether the devices are aluminum, iron, or steel.
These physical illustrations illustrate the point of a spiritual reality.
I recently had a problem with the actions of another. I was determined to tell her how it was, but I first discussed the situation with a close friend. I was adamant that she must repent, but my friend told me, "Give her time." This iron sharpened me.
My friend helped me see myself. Although I had the facts right, I was not operating in love. The person's sin offended me, but how much had my sin offended God? When I was far from Him, He did not leave me but continued loving me. He showed me that my way of operating without Him was not working.
My friend told me that if I continued judging her, I would be playing with fire, I realized that my job is to love her, and the Holy Spirit will convict her. Again, I must "give her time," just as the Lord gave me time to repent when I was in sin.
Honestly, my friend sharpened me, but did I sharpen him? I think I did because he grew in faith as he ministered truth to me. We came out of our conversation as two humans who were more like Christ in our hearts. I liken this to the chef's actions as he sharpened his knives. The rubbing together and the resulting friction produced more keenly honed instruments in both cases.
It’s time for New Year’s resolutions again! What big plans do you have for 2022? If you’re like me, those resolutions that are so important on Jan. 1 are barely hanging on by Feb. 1. How can we keep them? I want this to be my year, too. So I randomly interviewed several people I know to help me with this.
Paul had an interesting thought: “The key is that you have to make up your mind and do it. If you want to get rid of a bad habit, such as smoking or over-eating, you must make a firm commitment to do so. It’s coming out of an addiction, not unlike defeating alcoholism. Knowing what motivates you is very important, like why do you want to do this thing? Determination is needed whether you are going to start some good thing or stop some bad thing.”
Robin was next. When I asked her what her plan was for keeping her New Year’s resolutions, she simply said: “I don’t make any. That way, I won’t be disappointed when I don’t keep them.”
In contrast to Paul’s proactive advice, Robin’s was non-active. I suppose both approaches could work.
Barbara, an 81-year-old “church lady,” told me this: “It depends on the motive of your resolutions. You have to act in faith and give them to God. Make sure you believe in something positive like better health or closer relationships and reject negative things like fear and doubt. You must determine your motivation for what you wish to accomplish.”
I noticed that the word “motivation” was mentioned again.
Ginger had this wise piece of advice: “Be sure you do not make the resolution so big that it is difficult to maintain. It should be something that you can stick with all year: a permanent change for the better.”
Penny thinks ahead. She plans to cut way down on sweets, especially chocolate, which she loves. She knows herself well and admits that these things have been her weakness. Here is her plan:
“If I deny myself and say I won’t eat any chocolate, I will be obsessed with wanting it. When I do cheat, it will cause a chocolate binge. So, if I have only a little bite of it, my craving will be satisfied, and I will want less and less. In other words, I can’t say I will never have chocolate. I will only have a bite here and there when the craving hits. Also, I have a great support group with my friends and family who are watching me. Being accountable is probably the best thing that helps me stick with my resolutions.”
I was surprised at how many people said they don’t make New Year’s resolutions.
“Only 10 percent of people make them, probably because they don’t want to be defeated when they don’t keep them,” Dan, whom I heard on Air1 Radio, reported. “Did you know that 47 percent of the people who make them have failed by Feb. 1?”
What’s the main reason people give for failing to keep their New Year’s resolutions?
According to the website Finder.com: “Of men and women and all generations, the main reason we’re not able to see 2021 resolutions to success is because we ‘don’t have the willpower.’ Others blame it on forgetting, being too lazy, or some other reason. The most common reason for ‘other’ was COVID with 22 percent of respondents writing it in.”
Thus far, we see a few themes running through these interviews and experts. To help us keep our New Year’s resolutions, we need to be determined, motivated, committed, realistic, prepared, and accountable.
Continuing my interviews, Sarah had an idea that might work.
“I think we should not call them ‘New Year’s resolutions’ because that locks us into a whole year,” she said. “It is a source of stress that we do not need. Let’s call them, ‘January Objectives’ or make an untitled list of things we would like to change. That would give our plans flexibility, as we need to adapt them.”
Larry’s comments were straightforward and logical.
“You have to have a plan,” he said. “Write them down and keep them in the forefront of your mind. Every morning, I list things I need to do that day. I think New Year’s resolutions are too confining. I prefer to live one day at a time.”
Cecelia, another one who doesn’t make resolutions for the New Year, said: “When I had kids at home, I would make plans for them, although I did not necessarily consider them New Year’s resolutions. I would plan to exercise more or lose weight, but those were vague goals that never worked.”
John simply said of New Year’s resolutions, “Don’t make, can’t keep.”
The people in this last group are non-resolution people who get around the idea of New Year’s resolutions this way:
They don’t call them “New Year’s resolutions,” thus locking them in for a year.
They choose to live one day at a time.
They have a plan for any changes they wish to make.
They write down their plan and refer to it often.
They don’t make vague, non-measurable goals.
Whether you call it “New Year’s resolutions” or something else, plan to better yourself somehow on an ongoing basis, not just on Jan. 1. Don’t beat yourself up when you mess up. Instead, start over and commit to only a day or two. That’s easy to do, and it will get you back on track and help you stick to your plans. Remember, it’s a commitment that requires motivation and determination. Remind yourself why you’re doing this and reward yourself for your excellent work.
“Bless this house.” That’s it, just “bless this house?” Is it just me, or is this sentence missing a subject? Who will bless my house? “Give thanks.” “Be thankful.” For what are we supposed to give thanks and be thankful, and to whom? Seriously, every November, these expressions of gratitude and blessing pop up on everything from towels and napkins to wall decor and sweatshirts. They are vague sentiments intended to bring us happiness and comfort, but in their emptiness, they give neither. The freedom to make our own decisions as to whom we want to bless our house, to whom to give thanks, and for what to be thankful leaves us with no certainty or security.
What does it mean to be thankful? To express my thankfulness would require that I write my complete autobiography. My whole life is one of thanksgiving. It’s not that I have always been perfect or done everything right; it is because Jesus redeemed my life from destruction. Even when I was far from Him, He was near to me. I had my plans, but He directed the course of my life. Even the desolation caused by my sins led me to search for Him. My sicknesses led me to Him because there was no other cure. The hurt from my losses led me into His arms for comfort. I am thankful for His mercy. He did not hold me accountable for my many sins because Jesus took my punishment for them upon Himself. I am grateful for His grace which gives me the power to live a life that is holy and acceptable to Him. So, on this November day, I will continue asking God to bless my house and thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for loving me. No matter what happens, even the things I would typically identify as “bad,” I know He will turn around and make them result in good.
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28 NKJV).
Sin for a Season
“Let no man say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil; neither does He tempt anyone. But each man is tempted when he is drawn away by his own lust and enticed. Then, when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin; and when sin is finished, it brings forth death.” (James 1:13-15 MEV}
Sin blinds. A decision to sin blinds. Temptation is not sin. I have the power to rebuke it and go on, assuming I belong to Jesus and am filled with His Spirit.
“I say then, walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16 MEV)
God is not tempting me to sin. Temptation comes from my desire (lust}. Walking in the Spirit means that I do not yield to that lust. It is the Holy Spirit in me Who gives me the power to resist that temptation. No problem: my walk with the Lord continues.
But, allowing desire (lust) to conceive means that I entertain it in my mind and allow it to grow. I think about it over and over and make mental scenarios. At this juncture, the blindness begins. I am unable to see how gross my sin is to the Lord. I even think it is not sin because I haven’t “done” anything. Jesus said that to sin in the heart is to sin. It has consequences, the main one being the acceptance of darkness into my mind and spirit. Satan has no power or authority over me until I give it to him. Sin in my mind and heart gives the devil a place in my life. It permits him to influence me. I might as well say to him, “come on in; my heart is open to you and your ways.” If allowed to continue, I will commit the sin that I have entertained in my mind. The end of living in sin is death. Yes, I am forgiven, but could I ever find a place of repentance in my heart? I don’t know. Will I sell my birthright for a bowl of soup?
In the meantime, life goes on with sin only conceived in my mind. On the surface, things look pretty much the same. But, since there is no anointing without purity of heart, there is no joy, no strength, no power or authority. I am confused, and I can’t hear the voice of my Shephard. I try to do the things that I have always done by His Spirit, and I can’t. But I still try, and in so doing, I exhaust myself. Most of all, I miss Jesus! He’s been my close companion for so long. His hand stretches out to me, but it is this thing in my heart that separates me from Him. I am hurting! I want out! Help, Lord!
“Not my will, but Thine be done.” When my flesh is out of line, there is only one answer. There is only one thing that my flesh will respond to: crucifixion. It is painful to say no to that temptation, but it is worth it. The anointing is worth everything. His Presence is all that I need. The way is straight and narrow, and you and I must stay on it. Satan wants to destroy us, and he will stop at nothing. He perverts everything God has made for us to enjoy, and he uses our desires against us.
God is for us and not against us. He has given us everything that we need to walk in victory. If we truly submit ourselves to Him and resist the devil, the devil will flee from us.
“Therefore submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7 MEV)
Every good and perfect gift comes from God. He loves us! Jesus won the victory. He sent His Holy Spirit to equip us for anything we must accomplish in this life. Let us open our hearts wide and allow Jesus Christ to enter and permeate every part. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father except through Him. Whatever it is, wherever we are, He is the only answer!
(I wrote this in 1994. Look for an update soon.)