Showing posts with label Christian Living. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christian Living. Show all posts

Friday, September 9, 2022

God's Word Became Real

God's Word is alive-it did not dry with the ink. Some Christians believe that the Word cannot be heard or understood based on individual verses, yet God speaks to the heart through a verse or chapter.

I have been perplexed lately about the disturbances I have felt in my heart. I listen to others talk and hear their ideas concerning leading people to the Lord and how they believe they should live. All are good, but something is unsettling to me.

I have been praying and seeking God about this. I did not know if I was missing something, believing falsely, or what was going on. I began to look up the word 'reasoning' because this seems to be happening in the conversations. And, in my Christian walk, I do not count on reasoning but simply believing God.

John 8:47 (KJV) He that is of God heareth God's words: ye, therefore, hear them not, because ye are not of God. I read John 8:47, and this helped me a lot. Based on my own experience with Jesus, it was not arguments or justifications, but the overwhelming presence of God and the realization that this was the truth that brought me to salvation.

During the 70s, the "Jesus Movement" began. Many of my friends were saved, and we talked about their experiences. I was not moved and did not feel a great need to 'find Jesus. I was working on a poem about the origins of creation and asked a woman I worked with, a pastor's wife, if I could come and speak with her and her husband about some questions I had about descriptions in the Bible
. We talked for a long time about the giants in the land and some aspects of what the Word said about creation. As I left, the pastor suggested I read the book of John.

Not knowing the Bible but remembering the word "John," I got out the Catholic Bible my mom had given me when I was married. I opened it, found John 1, and began to read. This is what I read, and this is what happened.

In the beginning, was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God...and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. John 1:1-14(NKJV)

Agnostic eyes read these words.
My brain translating concepts into thoughts:
Flowing electricity
Through the fortifications of all I knew.
Stunned, I stared at lilac walls,
Laced with the afternoon sun.
I sat, looking at the big book in my hand,
My brain clicking internal binary codes,
Programming inroads
Through disconnected memory files
And suddenly,
Organized sense awoke.
A veil was lifted:

I gasped, "I'm saved."

Friday, January 26, 2018

God cares for small prayers


God answered a small prayer for me today. I had a large box of photo matte paper I had gotten from work. The paper was high quality, 4ft. by 4 ft. I only wanted four sheets, but had to take the entire box. I had set it outside with a big “FREE MATTE PAPER”.

No one took it. The box fell over, was rained on, and too heavy for me to bend and lift into my trashcan. Yesterday, as I thought about how I would cut it down to get rid of it, I asked God to touch the heart of the trash man to pick up the box for me.

This morning, I heard the recycle truck. When I left for work, I saw that the person had lifted, folded, and placed the box into one of my trashcans.

I smiled, and thanked God. He really does care about even the small details of my life.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Submission to God-What does this mean?


Submission to God
Submission to God is an ongoing process in the Christian walk. Submission means to come underneath God, to abdicate your thoughts, plans, and ideas to God’s Word, and His plan for your life. This can be confusing as we move through life, faced with choices and challenged by the desires of our hearts.
As a noun, submission is the condition of being submissive, humble, or compliant; an act of submitting to the authority or control of another. As a verb, submission is to yield oneself to the authority or will of another; to permit oneself to be subjected to something; to defer to or consent to abide by the opinion or authority of another.
Submission is not a natural concept. We are taught to be independent, think for ourselves, and rely upon our own resources. Submission has negative connotations: giving in, backing down, servitude, and cringing.
Submission to God is first to trust God and learn that He is loving, kind, and has a good plan for your life. As you grow in God, you begin to understand His Word is not written to hurt you. God understands the human nature; He has given wisdom in the Word to help us live well.
As we come to understand God’s Word and trust Him, we begin to see the opposition that exists in our hearts towards living a Christ centered life. It is our natural desire to hurt someone who hurts us, but God asks us to forgive. In our quest for success, we often look for ways to get gain an advantage over another person, to promote ourselves, and contrive methods to achieve our own ends.
David, a man after God’s own heart, contrived a way to be with a woman who was not his wife. Then, when she became pregnant, tried to find a way out of the situation.
God does not look for our strengths. God looks at our hearts. 1 Samuel 16: 1-13 tells us how David was chosen to be Kind. When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Then Jesse called Abinadab and had him pass in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, “The Lord has not chosen this one either.” Jesse then had Shammah pass by, but Samuel said, “Nor has the Lord chosen this one.” Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The Lord has not chosen these.”So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?” “There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.” Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.” So he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features. Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.”
What does this have to do with submission to God? David trusted God and knew Him as his strength and his source. He accepted that God had anointed him, and set out to learn to be a king. However, the power clouded his judgment, and he carried out his own agenda.
What is amazing is that when David was confronted with his sin, his inner man immediately went to his knees. He was, in his inner most being, submission to God. (Psalm 51) What impressed me the most about David’s submission was verse 16:  "For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it."
God is not looking for us to perfect ourselves. He is looking for hearts that are imperfect, yet willing to trust Him and try. God will create smooth paths within us. He will reason with us, and show us the wisdom in living a life modeling His Son Jesus. Submission is trusting God and letting Him change our heart and our life.
Psalm 51:1-19 (ESV)
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. 
Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.
Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you. Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.
For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
Do good to Zion in your good pleasure; build up the walls of Jerusalem; then will you delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on your altar.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Follow your heart without fear


To follow your heart means to trust your instincts. The heart is the choicest, the essential and most vital part of an idea or experience. To have heart is to have the courage to follow your convictions. When a person follows the heart, the way is sometimes contrary to what is expected. Others may say he is a fool, or he is chasing a pipe dream. However, when you have a dream, and pursue it, you are following our heart.


"If a man does not keep pace with his companions perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music he hears however measured and far away." (Henry David Thoreau)


There is an expression "the heart wants what the heart wants." This is true, but the phrase is often only associated with the emotions. Emotions are strong feelings, sometimes driven by love, and sometimes by intense anger. When we follow our emotions, we do not always follow our heart. Sometimes the feelings we have for another person pull us away from our dreams. Important people in our lives may not understand, or have the patience to support us while the dream becomes reality. They may argue with us, berate us or insist that it is them or the dream.


When faced with decisions, there are often times of confusion and doubts. We look at the pros and cons, weighing rewards and consequences. No matter how we turn the decision or the situation, if we have no peace, we are not following the heart. When we have no peace, it’s best to be silent. In the solitude of self, the heart will whisper the right choice. It is important not to allow emotion or desire to silence the truth our heart is telling us.


"If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew to serve your turn long after they are one, and so hold on when there is nothing in you except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on'. " (Rudyard Kipling)


So how do we know the difference?

If your emotions are leading you to give up your dreams, you aren’t following your heart.

If your motives are to please those you love, you aren’t following your heart.

If you are taking the easy way, you may not be following your heart.

Following your heart takes courage and conviction. You may have to walk away from people who are important to you. You may have to confront your shortcomings, and determine in your heart to press on. Following your heart is not always easy, but the reward at the end is worth it.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Who is the holiest in God’s kingdom



Who is the holiest in God’s kingdom? Is holiness what we do or is it where the heart lies?
Salvation is a free gift from God, and all He requires is our belief and submission. It is as simple as walking through an open door, and as difficult as trying to get the locked door open. During the average lifetime, everyday living bruises us, and causes us to lock down our hearts
Education introduces alternative thoughts on reality. Society promotes self fulfillment and moral freedom. The truth is housed in shades of gray. My understanding of salvation is a level playing field.
We enter into God’s kingdom by accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior. God’s love was always with us, and didn’t increase because we are now His child. The faith we have was already measured out by God, and now becomes active. In God’s eyes when we are saved we are as holy as we will ever be. 
I have been in the Kingdom for more than 30 years. I have observed many ‘movements’ within the body: the faith movements (name it and claim it), the prosperity movement (honoring those who are well off more than those who are not), and the judgment movement (those who have trouble and illness must be secretly sinning).
While faith is the substance of following Christ, prosperity, or righteousness, is the strength of Christ in us, and judgment exists within our personal relationship with Jesus. God is in control, and these movements have passed away because they were man-made. 
Yet within the individual groups of believers, some of these ideas still exist. I met one woman who vehemently opposed Joyce Meyer, call her a prosperity teacher. I tried to explain that the Word refers to prosperity as righteousness. And this left me wondering: Why is it so hard for people to believe that God wants us to prosper?
I have an illness called positional vertigo. I can get very sick at times, and have to limit my movements. Why am I sharing this? Because I met a woman in a denomination who walked up to me and asked me if I had aids because she heard I was ill. I had never really spoken with her, and only known her a short time.
I thought, off all the illnesses a person can have, why did she leap to this one? I honestly can’t look her in the eye. Not because of her question, but because of the heart if sprang from. Who thinks these things? How can a person go immediately to one of the worst conditions in America just because another person has an illness?
I have met believers who have many rules: don’t wear makeup, don’t go to movies, don’t play cards, don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t fellowship with unbelievers (now that one blows me away, after all, are we only suppose to shine the light on each other?).
I had a conversation with a young woman who had accepted Jesus as Lord. She was thinking of turning back because she couldn’t conquer all the ‘don’ts’ she was being told to do. I shared with her my own salvation experience. I was told by a woman I couldn’t be saved because I was a hippie. I thought about the statement, but knew in my innermost being that Jesus was real and that I decided to follow Him. 
I didn’t change overnight; it was years of praying, listening, and being cooked in the silver pot, all the dross skimmed off, then being cooked again.
Who is the holiest in heaven? God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. No matter what we do as Christians during our journey on earth, we cannot earn a higher place in heaven.
We can draw closer to God always by learning to let our nature, our thoughts, our judgment, and our hearts give way to what God is doing in our lives. For me, that is deflecting my pride, keeping my tongue, being submissive to the rules at work, doing good wherever I see to do it, and handing my tendency for melancholy over to God every time I find it swimming in my soul.
It is remembering that we live in an imperfect world, shrouded in darkness, and it is my ‘job’ to shine a lot in this darkness. My light is kindness (even when I don’t feel kind), consistency in my actions and reactions (even when I want to slap someone), smiling, and listening for the opportunity to encourage, provide, and perform a good deed for someone. 
And I do this for unbelievers. Imagine that?  

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Lifting God Higher



I have to share a song I heard this morning. It’s Higher by Unspoken and it will move your heart and soul. What amazing lyrics. The words are an echo of my heart. I ordered the CD Follow Through tonight.

This is my favorite verse:

“The devil's got a target on my heart and my soul
But let me tell you, brother, what the devil don't know
The lower I go, the more I'm gonna lift you….
Singing hallelujah 'til I hit the dirt, oh...”


Honestly, all that life throws at us, we hit the dirt often. As I am lying in the dirt, I look up. I remember that God is good all the time. Even when it seems so bleak, God is there, and I do need to remember to use these opportunities to lift God higher. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Choosing a heart of peace

We live in a stressful world, dealing with rudeness and a lack of empathy for others. I made a decision some time ago to choose a heart of peace. For a while now, I have been letting God work on my heart to react with peace. It’s not always easy, but it is always worth it. By choosing peace, people are easier to work with, because they have no cause to react to a peaceful answer. 


Romans 12:18 advises us “If possible, on your part, live at peace with everyone.” This can be a humbling process, at least it is for me, because my part is to stand firm and not allow gossip, disrespect, or the need to be right interfere with my peace. I have learned that trying to argue with people leads nowhere. I have learned that gossips and disrespectful people are digging holes for themselves.

I remember poems I have read, and what my Mom always said about me. I march to the beat of a different drum. Henry David Thoreau wrote “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.”  Being a Christian I am marching to the beat of a different drum. But God also wants me to walk in the measured beat of the world, understanding that without Christ, we lack understanding.

One of my favorite poems is also a source of advice and remembrance when I am in stressful situations.

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;


If you can fill the unforgiving minute                                                                      
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
 And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son! -  Rudyard Kipling

Monday, September 26, 2016

Even Jesus had to be patient



I was reading Luke Chapter 12 this morning, and found a statement that surprised me.  Even Jesus had to be patient.
Jesus was talking with his chosen twelve, and shared His personal challenge with stress. I can't say I have ever read where Jesus expressed His own experience with being patient.  I read the Word to discover how to be a better Christian, how to handle a situation, and to strengthen my faith in God. But did you notice: I was reading to find out what I should do and what I could experience. When the Holy Spirit lit up these verses for me, I was filled and thought about this all day.

Jesus was speaking with the crowds “So stop concerning yourselves about what you will eat or what you will drink, and stop being distressed.” Luke 12:29 (ISV). I believe Jesus had stopped speaking to the crowd, because “Peter asked, "Lord, are you telling this parable just for us or for everyone?" Luke 12:41 (ISV)

Jesus answered His disciples: "I have come to bring fire on earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with, and what stress I am under until it is completed!” Luke 12:49-50 (ISV).

Jesus taught others not to be afraid because the Father would supply their needs. He told them how much God loved them, and how even the hairs of their heads were numbered. Even ass Jesus spoke these words, He was practicing patience. Jesus knew when He started His ministry how it was going to end. Jesus knew He would be crucified and rejected by the very people He was helping. And He helped them anyway.

I spent a portion of my lunch hour today reading different versions of Luke 49 and 50. The words remained the same.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Worry sneaks quietly into our heart


 


Sometimes worry sneaks in before you know it. I have been going through a stressful period; don’t we all have these times in life? I came back from vacation in Florida and had some little red bumps on my legs. My doctor sent me to a dermatologist. Turned out, I had squamus cancer on my face and basil cancer on my legs.
I had to go weekly for four weeks to have my skin dug, scraped, and sewn. I found out I am a bleeder, so Waa, this was tough. Then there is the concern of how to pay for all this. Add to this the need to do major and minor repairs on my home. My home had its 72 birthday this year.
I became negative in my thinking, worrying about finances and repairs and cancer. The words of my mouth were complaints and whining. This Saturday I was getting ready to visit my brother for his birthday. I knew he would ask me how things were, and I was rehearsing my problems.
Suddenly the Holy Spirit reminded me “What about God?” This hit me like a brick. How could I go to my brother’s house and complain, when I serve such a mighty God. I realized that over the past few weeks I had let worry creep in like crabgrass. It was choking me and I did not even notice it.
I had to apologize to God right then. I asked Him to create in me a contrite heart and a right spirit. I asked him to restore my salt so that I would not lose my ability to praise God and be a witness with my life.
I felt like going to every single person I whined to and apologize. However, this would not serve a purpose. Instead, I have purposed in my heart to be more watchful. The Word says in life there will be trouble, but God delivers the righteous from them all.
I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. Psalm 27:13-14 (NIV2011)

 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Cancer is changing my heart


So maybe I will go in another direction with Christian Living. How about personal experiences? Right now, I am going through surgeries for skin cancers. I had squamous cell carcinoma and basil cell carcinoma. The doctor removed the squamous and one of the basil cell spots.
Cancer is always scary. I found myself looking to Jesus for strength. I realized that I am not ready to die, I still have some dreams and hopes, and I have sweet grandkids. This is my second round of cancer, and this moves my focus to how fragile we are as human beings.

I am more aware of kindness, more aware of my surroundings, and have a heightened sense of sharing the love of God on the earth. I listen to Joyce Meyer a lot. In her teachings, she discusses how God looks at our hearts. I have found many instances in the Word to support this.
But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7 (NASB77)

The unbelievers in our lives, the ‘world’, may listen to our words about Jesus, but they look at how we act. Knowing this helps me to be diligent at work, kinder in the grocery store, and generally more adamant about controlling my moods and temper.
Cancer may, in the end, consume my flesh, but God has my heart safely in His hands.

 

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Loving the unlovely


Do you know people who make you crazy? People who are just mean, or seem to be bent on making you look bad. I have lots of experience with people like this. My challenge as a Christian is to love them.
 
So what does that mean to my walk with Jesus? It means I have to be kind, patient, and look for opportunities to get along with them. Sometimes this means saying I am wrong when I am not, saying I am sorry because they perceive I have done something to offend them. Other times it means standing and taking their anger and accusations quietly without lashing back.
Truthfully, this makes me crazy. I have difficulty understanding why people are so proud. I believe they have not realized that they are someday going to die and nothing they think right now is going to amount to a hill of beans. I believe that pride, that preening little devil that lives in us all, stands like a guardian on the cave of insecurity inside us all. When we let pride free, we lose the ability to practice love.
I think of Jesus standing before the accusing crowd of Pharisees and Pilot, listening to the nonsense they were all spouting. Jesus did not say a word. What words would you have to rebuke such nonsense? Many times when dealing with people I have no words. Some folks think I am weak, one person told me I was “milk toast’.
But why should I shame my Savior just to look good to a person who is going to die and turn into dust?
Matthew 5:44-46 (NKJV)
But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you?

Friday, December 11, 2015

Sometimes being a Christian is hard work


No matter what happens in my life God is there with wisdom and comfort.

(radicallychristian.com)

Yesterday was a trying day at work. I was asked to prove I did not make a mistake, that I was not “wrong”. My pride pounded in my chest, my anger flared-the Holy Spirit counseled “do the work, see if you made an error. Swallowing my pride (this is my private battle), I did the work, and low and behold, I was correct.
People do not always believe we are who we say we are. As Christians, it is our job to ‘do the work’, to let our hearts and personalities be open to God, changed to reflect His glory.
I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. Psalm 27:13-14 (NIV)

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Strength in Psalms


I love the Psalms. I get such comfort and strength as I read and think: This was a man, just like me, limited and subject to the human nature. However, David and other psalmists loved God with all their heart, to be able to realize God’s power and mercy towards our lives.

Psalm 7:1-17 (NCV)

LORD my God, I trust in you for protection. Save me and rescue me from those who are chasing me, Otherwise, like a lion they will tear me apart. They will rip me to pieces, and no one can save me. LORD my God, what have I done? Have my hands done something wrong? Have I done wrong to my friend or stolen without reason from my enemy? If I have, let my enemy chase me and capture me. Let him trample me into the dust and bury me in the ground. (When I read this, I do fear a little. I wonder at David’s confidence in his relationship with God)

LORD, rise up in your anger; stand up against my enemies’ anger. Get up and demand fairness. Gather the nations around you and rule them from above. LORD, judge the people. LORD, defend me because I am right, because I have done no wrong, God Most High.

God, you do what is right. You know our thoughts and feelings. Stop those wicked actions done by evil people, and help those who do what is right. God protects me like a shield; he saves those whose hearts are right. God judges by what is right, and God is always ready to punish the wicked. (I pause here and pray for those whose hearts are still dark; I don’t want anyone to suffer God’s punishment)

If they do not change their lives, God will sharpen his sword; he will string his bow and take aim. He has prepared his deadly weapons; he has made his flaming arrows.

There are people who think up evil and plan trouble and tell lies. They dig a hole to trap others, but they will fall into it themselves. They will get themselves into trouble; the violence they cause will hurt only themselves. (This comforts me. Sometimes I wonder why people are cruel; this reminds me that human nature has always been like this)

I praise the LORD because he does what is right. I sing praises to the LORD Most High.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Are You Judgemental


I realized today that I am judgmental. I was blind to it. I was praying about something that has bothered me since a few months after I was saved. God told me I was judging. So I am praying and searching my heart to see why these kinds of things bother me so much.


I was saved into a church with many rules. No makeup, no movies, women wore skirts, and so on. What I began to notice is that although people will not go to the movies, they would watch the movie on TV. The women darkened their eyelashes with hairspray. People found ways around the doctrine they professed to believe.
I saw a woman who did not drink spit out a bourbon hot dog she had been porking down. One of the women in the office mentioned there was bourbon in the sauce. I understood why she did it, but she just looked ridiculous to the unbelievers in the group. She had already eaten twelve of them, and swallowing one more would have been polite.
Today on Facebook I saw a girl share the cover of a book she was excited about reading. On the cover, there was a bare-chested man and a woman kneeling so that her head hit his belt buckle. The woman’s blouse was falling off her shoulders and down her breasts. I laughed and had to refrain from responding. This is the same girl that brought a conversation to a screeching halt one evening when she loudly announced she would NEVER see an R-rated movie. She made such a pucker face, everyone just stopped talking.
This kind of mindset drives me crazy. It makes me crazier when I see this in Christians. We get so much opposition from unbelievers, and when we are not true in all our actions, we just look stupid.
Christians have a core belief that Jesus is Lord, God’s Word is true, and baptism is important. Yet depending on the denomination and maturity level, we do have differing beliefs. We all walk in the light that we have and operate in the measure of faith God has given us.
I guess that I think if you have a belief like not wearing makeup or going to movies, then live with it and do not try to have fake makeup and watch the movies on television. The movie does not get any holier because it is on TV. If you do not watch R-rated movies, do not read R-rated books. Just be true to what you believe, and do not say things to impress other believers. The only one we have to impress is God.
But as I pray, God says to me “What is that to you? You do as I have instructed you.”   

Does the Bible support slavery:Why would we ask such a question

Does the bible support slavery? This topic is trending, but I have to ask “Why?” Slavery exists in today’s global society, and has existed since the beginning. Slavery highlights the condition of man’s heart, to capture and subjugate others to a man’s will. I have to wonder if we, as Christians, do the same with God’s Word.
 
Depending on the condition of our hearts when we read the word, we “hear” it is different ways. Are we still holding onto the illusion that our will somehow has an effect on God’s Word? Have we learned to push our own thoughts, desires, and expectations aside so that we can truly hear what God is saying?

I have heard of a type of study termed Precept. This study involves three steps: observation, interpretation and application. Precept offers sound advice about interpreting the scripture in that Precept teaches that one scripture alone cannot form a belief, but the belief must be supported throughout the scripture. What caused me to pause in this is the third tier of Precept: The first step in application is to find out what the Word of God says on any particular subject through accurate observation and correct interpretation of the text. Once you understand what the Word of God teaches, you are then obligated before God to accept that truth and to live by it.

While the concept of Precept is excellent, are we studying God’s Word in this way to increase our knowledge of God’s Word, or to increase our submission to God’s Word? Submission means to surrender our concepts, expectation and desires to God and be willing to hear what He says to us.  As we study God’s Word, we acknowledge that God discussed slavery. However, Jesus teaches us that we must treat others as we would treat ourselves. Jesus teaches us how to live as Christians in Matthew 5. The entire chapter is devoted to bringing our flesh into submission to God’s Word. Even if the Bible discusses slavery, Matthew 5:39: But I say to you, do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. (ESV) Cross reference.

This is the will of God:

Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come; buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David. Behold, I made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples.
Behold, you shall call a nation that you do not know, and a nation that did not know you shall run to you, because of the Lord your God, and of the Holy One of Israel, for he has glorified you.
Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. 9For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall make a name for the Lord, an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.” Isaiah 55:1-12 (ESV)

Sunday, December 28, 2014

I can do all things through Christ



"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" Phil 4:13 (NKJ)
This is a great testimony of faith, which requires us to swallow our fear and stand on strong legs. To accept this statement as truth means that we are willing to act, even if we are afraid. We meet challenges head on; we rely on the strength of Jesus in our times of sorrow and crisis. We keep the eyes of the heart firmly fixed on the Rock, and on the truth that God is able, even when we are not.
In the mind's eye, we stand; we take the hand, lean on the arm, of our loving parent. We cast aside our pride, the independence in the human spirit that craves to do it by ourselves, to prove to God that you are worthy. God does not care about your worthiness. He already knows you weakness, your sins, and your limitations. When the Christian accepts that God is real, and that He is the rewarder of those that seek Him, God stands, opens His arms, and accepts us. He does not say, "Well, okay, come into my kingdom. But if you want to stay here, you better straighten up." He greets us as a mother greets her newborn child, taking the fragile, helpless infant into her arms, cradling the child, filled with joy, and overcome by love.
Just as a child learns to crawl, walk, and interact with strangers, always keeping a watchful eye on the mother, so Christian learn that they can accomplish all the things that they are asked to do by keeping a watchful eye on God.
"So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. When you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. (1Cor 10:12-13)  This passage reminds me it is Christ who is strengthening me; there is no room for pride. In each situation, it is important to remember that God will not ask us to do what we cannot do. If we become involved in a situation or challenge that is beyond our capacity, God Himself will provide the way to remove ourselves.
As we mature in the Christian walk, we learn that God is always with us, always on our side. Life throws us curves, disappoints us, and challenges us. However, as the pride, selfishness, and worthless ambitions dissolve, we begin to adapt to the personality of God. We grow to understand who we are in Christ, and seek His purpose in our lives. The closer we get to Jesus, the more we understand that in ourselves we know nothing.
We begin to see the world as God sees it, filled with humans looking for hope. And we have that hope. "Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound; everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me." (Phil 4:10-13)
"I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me" is the verse from the King James Version. Knowing that we can do all things through Christ, we are strengthened by that knowledge.

Friday, December 26, 2014

What does it mean to defend Christianity


What does it mean to defend Christianity? In addition, whom are we defending it against?

There is a teaching within Christianity termed Apologetics. The name is misleading; there is an instant translation in the mind of the world surrounding this terminology. The metal image of the word translates to apologize, which means to ask for forgiveness or express regret. However, the word apology comes from the Greek word ‘apologia’ that is a term used for a formal, usually written, defense or justification of a belief, theory, or policy. Apologetics equip Christians to answer some of the hard questions often asked of Christians.

Whom do we defend Christianity against? This is a difficult question with a simple answer. We defend our faith against those who would undermine our beliefs and those who seek to disprove Christianity. In addition, in this, there is no one way to construct a defense.

Defending your Christianity means to protect it from harm, to represent Christianity to those who are accusers, to support your position, and to resist opponents. It is important to remember who the accuser is.

Ephesians 6:12-14 (ESV) says, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.”
 
I choose to attest and assert that God is a living being, and Jesus is my Lord. I will not argue with people of other faiths. I have an acquaintance who is Muslim. She is very devout, and a very nice person. We find that there are many beliefs in God that we share. She accepts that Jesus was a prophet, but not the Son of God.

I have a friend who believes that we are all energy, and when we die, our energy goes back into the earth. (So we could be a tree.)  I have no reply, short of giggling. He wanted to debate this we me, and, after a few hours of exchanging beliefs, I told him that we would wait until we die, and see who is right. He stared at me and did not speak of it again.

I understand that as Christians, our mission is to share the message of Christ. However, I also believe that Christianity is a revelation of God, and no amount of my words can bring about that revelation. I will discuss and answer questions, but I do not offer a justification for my belief.  God needs no defense against those who refuse to believe.

My job as a Christian is to be one, everyday. This means to practice patience, to show respect to all people, and to bring the peace and the love of Christ wherever I go.  I share with others the truth that God loves them, and can meet them where they are. I encourage them to consider the word of God, and to accept Jesus as their Lord.

When they ask me about their lifestyles, wanting to know what they have to give up, I respond by asking them to seek God, and ask Him what they should do. I can offer what I would do, but I will not tell them to do what I do. I did not get to where I am in the Lord quickly, and God bore with me while I grew into Christianity. I bear with others.

As a Christian, my enemy is the darkness that permeates the earth. I was born into this darkness; I grew up with the conflicts of right and wrong, good and evil, and have to choose daily how I will proceed. I am tempted with anger, with judgment, with pride. However, I choose Christ. I consider what God would have me do in a situation. Sometimes I have to sit quietly on my proud self, repressing my urge to slap somebody. I pray, and I wait.

I think of Ephesians, where Paul writes, "there is neither Gentile nor Jew, and we are all in Christ". I ponder the plight of the church today. There are so many alcoves in the church. If Paul were writing today, he might say there is no longer Baptist or Catholic, Protestant or Pentecostal, but there is one body in Christ. This one body is the defense of Christianity. The basic truth has survived. There is one God, one Son, and one Holy Spirit. It is the attestation of the truth that God lives. God does not need defending. He did not send Jesus to defend, but to offend. The light offends the darkness. However, once the light is there, darkness cannot overcome it. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

What are your opinions worth


I have opinions. We all do. The important thing to remember about opinions: you are going to die and so are your opinions.
Our opinions form structure and standards in our lives. But what is good, or bad, for us may not be for another person. I was listening to a young woman tell me how she was mad at her sister for having a baby so soon after her sister was married. The young woman believed that a couple should be married for at least a year before having a child. Okay.
I responded that it is a good idea to wait awhile to have a baby, but that is a choice each couple must make. I talked with her about the standards or opinions, she sets for herself, and how these standards are what will guide her life. However, these personal standards, or opinions, are for her, and don’t guide or govern those around her.
This conversation reminded me of how important we as individuals think our opinions are. I recalled the discouragement and dismay I have seen when opinions are thrown around like the truth.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Honoring your parents


I saw a woman in the elevator at work. She was taking her mom to or from an appointment. The woman’s mother looked to be around eighty or so. She had twinkling blue eyes and she smiled at me. The woman with her mother looked bored and aggravated, as if this action of taking care of her mother was the most unwelcome chore in her life.
I remembered when my Dad was in the hospital at the end of his life. He was very ill, and apologized to me for being such a bother. I thanked him for the great life he provided for me, and told him never to apologize. I said “Dad, you didn’t throw us out when we were too much trouble, you made sure we were fed, sent us to good schools, and never turned your back on us (there were six siblings) even when we deserved it.”
People are living longer now, and many people have taken on the role of caregiver to their aging parent. I see some of them. They are aggravated with their parent for being old and needing care. And, yes, it is difficult. But so were they when they were they were babies, toddlers and teenagers.
If you are in this situation, remember your parent took care of you when you were unlovable. And, the way society is today, your parents could have ignored you, walked away from you, or simply thrown you out of the house.
There is a psychological toll when a care-giving child has to come to terms with the fact that they, the caregiver, are no longer children. It is a kind of forced adulthood. However, do not dishonor your parents. Do not act as if this is a huge inconvenience and wear your distain on your face. No parent wants this situation when the roles reverse.
Remember the fifth commandment:
Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. Deuteronomy 5:16 (ESV). This is not just for kids.

Friday, March 21, 2014

What is so wrong with prosperity


I have been looking at the many objections to prosperity teachings among Christians. I did a word study of the word prosperity and found some interesting information.
Prosperity comes from the Latin word prosperitas and means good fortune and success. The word prosperity was first used in the 13th century. So what happened in the 13th century?
The first hand-written English language Bible manuscripts were produced in the 1380's AD by John Wycliffe, an Oxford professor, scholar, and theologian. Wycliffe was well known throughout Europe for his opposition to the teaching of the organized Church, which he believed to be contrary to the Bible. With the help of his followers, called the Lollards, and his assistant Purvey, and many other faithful scribes, Wycliffe produced dozens of English language manuscript copies of the scriptures. They were translated out of the Latin Vulgate, which was the only source text available to Wycliffe.
I looked at John 1:1  in the handwritten English version. Old English.
Today, the word prosperity means "the condition of being successful or thriving; especially:  economic well-being." (www.merriam-webster.com)  I am thinking that the association with economic success is what causes Christians to pause.  In the Word, we are cautioned: For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. 1 Timothy 6:10 (KJV).
However, many people forget that it is the love of money, and not the wealth itself, that is the root of all evil. There are many scriptures that point out how riches are deceitful, and those that trust in them trust in vain. Trusting in wealth is foolish. Wealth can come in many forms: a wealth of talent, a wealth of knowledge, a wealth of beauty-trusting in any wealth instead of trusting in God can create a heart of pride and self-confidence.
God wants Christians to be prosperous. God wants His children to be rich in spiritual knowledge, wisdom, spiritual gifts, and in love. He wants His children to thrive. Throughout the Old Testament, God tells Adam, Noah, and the Israelites to be fruitful (abundantly productive, thriving). In the New Testament the Word says: That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;  Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; Colossians 1:10-11 (KJV)
Our lovely English language, which gave birth to the word "prosperity", has many meanings for the same word. Fruitful, an adjective, means productive, rich, abundant, successful and profitable.  Prosperity, a noun, means success, richness, and wealth.  Each is part of the same theme God has for His people- that we would be abundant in the riches and wealth of His Spirit and multiply the Word of God (Jesus) in the earth.  For the heavens and the voices of angels are “saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”  Revelation 5:12 (ESV)