Sunday, January 11, 2015

No Fear

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Hold Fast

Dark, cold and wet has been the only weather I've seen for several days now. Ready for a break in the clouds. Even still, I know the sun is shining behind that thick layer of clouds overhead. The weather has been kind of like the feeling of discouragement that overshadowed the early part of the week while still dealing with my knee still hurting and my tires on my car seeming a little unbalanced. But I hold fast to what I know persists in the midst of all these little things that distract me, and that is the goodness of my Savior. That my circumstances shouldn't determine how I feel or act. That He can get through to the deep places that just need an extra measure of His presence. That I'm still dealing with my knee hurting (less now than earlier in the week, but it still has that twinge in it that makes me treat it with special care as I go about my day), and my tires are still a bit wobbly (tried to deal with that tonight, but Walmart's air compressor broken!) but I can be joyful in my Lord, and I can let His peace overwhelm me, instead of being overwhelmed by my circumstances. Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. (‭Philippians‬ ‭4‬:‭4-7‬ NLT)
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Set Apart

To be holy, or set-apart, is a call to change. We are to no longer be who we used to be before calling on the name of Christ. To call yourself a Christian implies an initial change of heart, as well as a desire to continue to change! God may love you right where you are, but He definitely doesn't want to leave you there! We continue to grow and change from our old life to then strive for holiness and righteousness as we live out our walk as a Christian. If you have no desire to change from how you were living before - after you've come to Christ, what are you really doing? Does not the thought of Christ dying on the cross for your sin cause you to want to change your life and turn from what you used to do? Who can go on worshipping idols, living in sexual sin, getting drunk, etc. if you have turned to Christ? Am I saying that it's easy to stop sinning? Absolutely not! Even Paul, who wrote a majority of the New Testament, admitted it was a daily struggle. But the desire to NOT sin any longer is going to be evidence of your walk. There is a battle between the flesh and spirit. But if you willingly and unrepentantly keep on sinning you are on dangerous ground. It might be a good time to reevaluate where you really are standing. If you find yourself in a place you don't want to be, and you want to change, turn to Jesus, and let Him work in you. It doesn't take pomp and circumstance to come to Christ. Just simply come to Him. It may not be an easy road, but it is quite the journey.
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Jehovah Jireh

Jehovah Jireh - God the Provider  I've been worrying about many things lately. Even after hearing this last Sunday about how we need to be joyful in all circumstances, be prayerful, and be thankful - it is still a challenge. Things come up and they just try to trip you and make you worry. You think that your circumstances are too overwhelming and you just want to wallow in that self-pity and pout about how everything is going wrong. But you must remember to rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). When you don't feel like doing these things is the most important time to be them. These aren't things we do. They're things we are. So the last few days I've found myself overwhelmed, struggling to *be* these things. Then today, God reminded me again that He is faithful. That He will make a way where all I see are difficult circumstances. Holy Spirit encouraged me and reminded me that my God is a God who provides. Little things throughout the day just encouraged me - from being told how good I looked since I was discouraged about being at a plateau in my weight loss journey, to having fun losing at Uno at our year end lunch at work, to finding a purple plaid shirt at Rural King, among a myriad of other ways Holy Spirit has reminded me today to be joyful, prayerful, thankful, and that He always provides, whatever the need. “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. (‭Matthew‬ ‭6‬:‭31-33‬ NLT)
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Response to Rob Bell article on Relevant

Posted to my Facebook page on December 22, 2014 at 11:31am

I've not seen this show, but I did read the article linked here. The following is a quote from the article: "During the second segment, Bell dug further into his illustration by discussing the cross of Jesus Christ, and why it is the ultimate metaphor for the “reconciliation of all things.” His message was simple: The cross is such a culturally enduring symbol because it is a representation of what God did for us in order for people to be able to be reconciled to His perfect love[...]"

My question would then be: How can you talk about reconciliation and the cross and not talk about sin and hell? What's the point of having a Savior if there's no sin or hell to be saved from? Being saved from a messy past or a poor current situation here on earth isn't the complete answer! What did God do for us with that cross that Rob so (seemingly) trivially pointed to? He sent His Son to die for our sins so we'd have everlasting life! (John 3:16 {everlasting life being the opposite of everlasting death, which is where we would be going without Him}) Yes, love is good, because God is love. Yes, love (God) wins. But you cannot only highlight a single part of the Gospel. When you do that it ceases to be the Gospel because it ceases to be delivered in wholeness. The greatest love of all is that although we sinned, God still loved us in our sin, and sent His Son to take our sins upon Himself and die for that sin, so we could spend eternity with God. THAT is the greatest love. THAT is what people really NEED to hear. THAT is the point of the cross.

Re: Leaving Church

(Posted on my personal Facebook page January 9 at 11:39am)

I keep seeing these posts from various publications about why people are leaving the church. The gist of all the ones I've read is that the church isn't doing enough to meet people where they are. The church should basically accept the lgbt community as it is, allow those who don't believe in heaven or hell to spread their misinterpreted doctrines, and allow swearing and drinking in excess. Here is a paragraph from this particular article (below at the end of this post) that pulls out some of the biblical examples of people the author apparently identifies with: 

"Even if we are the woman in adultery, or the doubting follower, or the rebellious prodigal, or the demon-riddled young man, we can’t be anything else right now in this moment; and in this moment, we need a Church big enough, and tough enough, and loving enough; not just for us as we might one day be then, but for us as we are, now."

Well, I have news for this author: The adulterous woman was forgiven and told to stop being adulterous; The doubting follower had faith and believed; The rebellious prodigal came home; The demon-riddled young man had his demons cast out from him! To think that you can come to Jesus and stay the same, without even a hint or an inkling of desire to ever change is the biggest lie out there about Christianity. And to go around hating on the church because YOU refuse to change... How in the world is that going to make a better church? Or even a better you?

No, people are leaving the church (in America) because they don't feel catered to, they aren't having their feelings met, and they aren't getting instant gratification.

If that isn't your reason for leaving the church, at least stop harping on how the church has failed you and look at what you can do for the church to help reach people! If you want a church that looks like Jesus, you better start acting like Jesus. Keep in mind, Jesus wasn't a social activist hipster.

Pay It Forward

I know that some people who post those "pay it forward" kind of things are just doing it to encourage others to do the same and give to those in need (if you've done this in not trying to step on your toes, I really want to encourage you to something greater). I've seen churches and prominent Christians post things about what they did to help someone. Sure, it gets a lot of likes and retweets and shares, and may even make you feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside. But that's just temporal stuff. What lasts is when the only person you share that good deed with, other than the one who received the blessing, is God. What if we did that? What if, instead of looking for some likes and shares and a viral Internet post to showcase our good deeds, we took those things before God. We would have the satisfaction of knowing that our all-knowing Father had seen what we'd done. Then, instead of having an Internet post that will spike in interest for a few minutes and be forgotten the next, we would also know that we would be rewarded in a more long term way. Again, maybe this is one of those things where we may not get rewarded this side of Heaven. But this is another way we can show our love to God - by being obedient to what He's asked of us. I'm learning a lot about that in my own personal study. Maybe I'll post more about obedience later. Like I said, I'm still learning. This was the verse of the day on the Youversion Bible App. It's a verse that has come to mind when I see the blogs and the Pinterest posts about paying it forward or posting your kind acts, etc. I don't want to make an act of kindness about me. I mean, shouldn't our kindnesses point to Christ anyway? Father, help me to give generously to those in need, without feeling the need to share (or overshare) on social media or elsewhere. Let me guard my speech, that it wouldn't be about me boasting about what I've done, but that I would boast only of You. Give me eyes to see that the reward from you should satisfy. In Jesus' name, Amen
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Do Good and Don't Give Up

Whatever you're doing.  However you are serving others. Don't give up. Don't quit. Even if you are not given credit. Even if no one ever sees what you do. If no one ever hears of your deeds. Don't quit. Don't let pride steal away the blessing that is coming. Don't do it for the blessing. That's just the icing on the cake. But do good out of response to God. Because He loves us. Don't let the worldly desires of acknowledgment and accolades weary you if they don't come. Do good because you are a child of God. Do good because deep down in that new person that you are, you really want to. The flesh doesn't want to do good. It gets tired and lazy and selfish. But don't you know we all struggle with that tired, lazy, selfish flesh that just wants to stay comfortable? Doing good isn't always comfortable. Sometimes it's dirty, or too cold or hot, or stinky, or it keeps you up late. Sometimes doing good runs you face first into your fears that you have to trust to God while you strive to keep at it. But whatever you do, don't give up or get weary in doing good. There's a blessing coming. I don't know when, or where, or how (or if?) that might manifest this side of heaven... But a blessing is coming. Even if it's only our reward in heaven, isn't that enough? Isn't Christ enough of a reward to keep us motivated toward doing good? I'm convicted in my own spirit of these things as I write this. He should be enough for me. God, I thank you for the opportunities You have given me to do what is good. Help me to stay strong in the doing, and focus on You. I praise You for your abundant grace, that You do bless your people this side of heaven. But let whatever blessings you have for me on this earth not be my focus or my goal. Lord, help me live to please Your Spirit and do Your will. In Jesus' name, Amen.
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New Year's Eve

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