Sunday, December 30, 2012


I’ve been challenged by a lot of things lately. Probably most challenged by the book, “Forgotten God” by Francis Chan.  Here are a few excerpts.

If the Holy Spirit dwells within you, a number of things should be a part of your life.

1. The Spirit helps us speak when we are in precarious situations and need to bear witness.  (Mark 13:11; Luke 12:12)

2. The Counselor teaches and reminds us of what we need to know and remember.  He is our comforter, our advisor, our encourager, and our strength. He guides us in the way we should go.  (Psalm 143:10; Acts 9:31; Acts 13:2; 1 Cor. 2:9-10; I John 5:6-8)

3. From the Spirit we receive power to be God’s witnesses to the ends of the earth. It is the Spirit who draws people to the gospel, the Spirit who equips us with the strength we need to accomplish God’s purposes. The Holy Spirit who not only initially draws people to God, He also draws believers closer to Jesus.  (Acts1:8; Romans 8:26; Ephesians 3:16-19)

4. By the power of the Spirit we put to death the misdeeds of the body. The Spirit sets us free from the sins we cannot get rid of on our own. This is a lifelong process we entered into, in partnership with the Spirit, when we first believed. (Romans 8:2)

5. Through the Spirit we have received a spirit of adoption as children, which leads us into intimacy with the Father, instead of a relationship based on fear and slavery. The Spirit bears witness to us that we are His children. (Romans 8:15-16)

6. The Holy Spirit convicts people of sin. He does this both before we initially enter into right relationship with God and as we journey through this life as believers. (John 16:7-11; I Thessalonians 1:5)

7. The Spirit brings us life and freedom. Where the Spirit is, there is freedom, not bondage or slavery. In our world that is plagued by death, this is a profound truth that points to real hope.  (Romans 8:10-11; 2 Corinthians 3:17)

8. By the power of the Holy Spirit we abound with hope because our God is a God of hope , who fills His children with all joy and peace.  (Romans 15:13)

9. As members of God’s kingdom community, each of us is given a manifestation of the Spirit in our lives for the purpose of the common good.  We all have something to offer because of what the Spirit gives to us. (1 Corinthians 12:7)

10. The fruit of being led by the Spirit of God includes love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These attitudes and actions will characterize our lives as we allow ourselves to be grown and molded by the Spirit. The Spirit is our sanctifier. (2 Corinthians 3:18; Galatians 5:22-23)

While I’ve heard all of these ideas before, it really seemed to come together as I looked at them all at one time.

The Holy Spirit living in us and through us makes us different. My Christian life is dependent on the Holy Spirit to live in me and through me.

One final thought ….

"What would your church look like if everyone was as committed as you are? If everyone gave and served and prayed exactly like you, would your church be healthy and empowered? Or would it be weak and listless?"

If you find these ideas interesting of challenging, then I encourage you to get the book and read it.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Reaction to the CT School Shootings

As a school teacher for the past 27 years, I can say that we don’t just teach children.  We love them, play with them, encourage them, discipline them, cheer for them, laugh with them, praise them, and then love them some more.  If you’ve ever been one of my students, you will always be one of “my kids.”  If a gunman came after you, I would do everything I could to protect you.

How could something like this happen …

The government has systematically taken God out of our culture.  We are not to speak of Him in public.  We disallow the 10 Commandments from being hung in public places.  We disallow the nativity to be out at Christmas.  We say Happy Holidays not Merry Christmas.  We ban public prayer. However, these things did not cause this shooting.  The reason goes deeper…

There has been a cultural shift over the last generation from a God-centered culture to a self-centered culture.  We encourage self-expression.  You can say or do anything you want because that is your right.  We even encourage children to do this. Kindergarten kids curse in school and we laugh at it and think it is cute. 

We have raised a generation of children who all got trophies in everything they ever participated in.  No one loses.  Our children haven’t learned to deal with defeat. We have so guarded their self-esteem that they now lack it because nothing has meaning. 

We’ve dismissed the Bible as the basis for all truth.  We have no moral absolutes.  We do what feels right.

We have no “family unit”.  Marry whoever you please – no matter what sex they are.  Our children have no concept of a natural loving family that encourages each other and spends time with each other.  We have taken away all discipline until each child does whatever he wants.  We’ve raised a generation that hasn’t been held accountable for anything.  Parents try to buy their kids love and obedience through expensive toys.

We don’t teach them about the Creator God who loves them and who has created them exactly as they are for His purposes and glory.  We don’t teach them that God is all knowing and it is Him who we ultimately are accountable to.  Instead, we teach them that life is disposable and if it is inconvenient, then just abort it. 

We, as a nation, have turned our backs on God.  We don’t fear Him and we don’t worship Him.  Then why are we surprised when our young people kill each other?  Where have they learned that they are fearfully and wonderfully made?  Where have they heard that the God of the Universe loves them and wants to know them personally?  Not in school. Why – because teachers are forbidden to talk about God with their students.  We can hand out condoms but not Bibles.  We can teach about evolution but not creation.  We must teach tolerance of all kinds of sin but we can’t teach to love God with your whole heart and to love your neighbor as yourself.

It is time our nation got on its knees and humbled itself and prayed for forgiveness.  These events are what we now reap for what we’ve sowed.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I got a big “NO!”

I teach at a small private high school.  About 50% of our student body are international students.  This obviously means our student body is very diverse in lot of ways …. language, customs, holidays, and religion.

As an employee, I am allowed to answer any of their questions.  However, I am not to push my customs, traditions, religion on them.

A young Chinese girl came to me and said, “Mrs. X was telling us about the Christmas Story.  Do you know it?”

I smiled and replied, “Yes.  You mean the story about the birth of Jesus as it is told in the Bible.”

It was at that exact second that her demeanor completely changed.  She exclaimed in her broken English, “NO!  Not the Bible.  I don’t want to know the Bible. I want to know the movie.”

I backed off.  I told her I had seen that movie a long time ago.

I did as was expected of me by the rules of the school.  I didn’t press the issue.  I didn’t tell her about Jesus.  It was obvious that she didn’t want to hear anything about the Bible or Jesus.

Did I do the right thing?  I wanted to tell her all about the birth of my Savior.  I don’t think it would have meant anything to her though because she didn’t want to hear.

I am feeling frustrated, sad, guilty, etc….


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Prophesies about the Birth of Christ

The prophets foretold the birth of Christ for hundreds of years.  In anticipation of the Christmas season, I’ve been reviewing some of those prophecies and lining them up with the New Testament.  Below are some of the things I’ve been examining.

Isaiah 7:14   - Virgin Birth
“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”

In this passage, the prophet Isaiah was addressing the family and descendants of King David, and speaks of a virgin being pregnant with a child, and giving birth to the child. Isaiah says this in the context of it being a sign from God. He also says that the child would be referred to as "Immanuel," which means, "God with us."
Matthew and Luke record details involving the birth of Jesus, saying that he was born of the virgin Mary and is the Son of God.

(Matthew 1:18-23; Luke 1:26-31))

Genesis 49:10  - Tribe of Judah
“The scepter will not depart from Judah,
nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
until he to whom it belongs shall come
and the obedience of the nations shall be his.”

The context of this verse is Jacob is blessing his 12 sons. This blessing was also a prophecy. Jacob told his son Judah that his descendants would be rulers and that one of his descendants will be an ultimate ruler.

Jesus' ancestry is traced back to Jacob's son, Judah, in Luke 3:23-34 and in Matthew 1:1-16.

Isaiah 9:6   - Names of Jesus
“For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Micah 5:2    - Born in Bethlehem
“Marshal your troops now, city of troops,
for a siege is laid against us.
They will strike Israel’s ruler
on the cheek with a rod.

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
from ancient times.””

The prophet Micah prophesied that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, a small village near Jerusalem. Jesus fulfilled this prophecy about 2000 years ago. Although Jesus was raised in the town of Nazareth, he was born in Bethlehem.

(Matthew 2:1)

Jeremiah 23:5  - Lineage of David
“The days are coming,” declares the Lord,
“when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch,
a King who will reign wisely
and do what is just and right in the land.

The Messiah would be a descendant of King David. David ruled over the land of Israel about 1000 years before Jesus was born. Jesus is recorded in the New Testament books of Matthew and Luke as being a descendant of King David.Messianic prophecies

Psalm 21:10  - Presented with gifts
“May the kings of Tarshish and of distant shores
bring tribute to him.
May the kings of Sheba and Seba
present him gifts.”

This predicts the gifts the magi would bring Jesus.  (Matthew 2:1-11)

Jeremiah 31:15  - Predicts Herod killing the children
”This is what the Lord says:
“A voice is heard in Ramah,
mourning and great weeping,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more.”

(Matthew 2:16-18)

Isaiah 40:4 – Predicts the coming of John the Baptist
”A voice of one calling:
“In the wilderness prepare
the way for the Lord;
make straight in the desert
a highway for our God.”

The Messiah would be preceded by a forerunner. (Matthew 3:1-2)

There are many more prophecies about Christ in the Old Testament.  Learning the Old Testament helps you understand the New Testament.  Take some time this Christmas season to meditate on the birth of the Savior. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012


Commitment can be defined as the decision to do what needs to be done, no matter the cost.  I see this kind of commitment in many of our service men.  They are committed to their unit and their country to do anything necessary in order to get the job done.

Christian commitment really starts with God’s example.  The problem – a lost and dying world.  The solution – God sending his Son into the world to die for us.  Our sin cost God the life of his only Son.  He was committed to me before I even acknowledged him.

What does He ask from me in return?  My love and commitment. 

Read John 21:15-19  Jesus asks Peter if he loves him more than these and Peter answers that he does.  Jesus tells him to feed his lambs.  Following Jesus and feeding his sheep became Peter’s mission.  Peter might not have understood it all at first but as he grew in his faith, he went on to help found the Christian church. This commitment went on to cost Peter his life.

Love for Christ isn’t just a feeling or an emotion but is a commitment to obedience. 

Luke 9:23 “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”

Jesus also said,”If you love me, you will keep my commandments”  (John 14:15)

Christian love is a commitment to obedience but not in order to win God’s favor.  It’s not for what I can get out of it.  It isn’t from a selfish motive.  It is in response of what God did for me that I demonstrate my commitment to Him.  I should be saying the words He gives me; I should be going where He tells me to go; I should be doing whatever He tells me to do.  All of this should be done without considering the cost.

Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

Hebrews 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

Faith is not just believing God exists.  The book of James says that even the demons believe. 

Faith and commitment go hand in hand.  Faith needs action.

By faith Noah built and ark.  He not only believed God, he did what God told him to do.  He was laughed at.  He was ridiculed.  He was despised and yet he endured the persecution and completed his project. 

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place to receive his inheritance.  He didn’t know where God was leading him.  (Hebrews 11:8)

Hebrews 11 is called the “Hall of Faith”.  It talks about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets.  These were men who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, received promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, and put foreign armies to flight.  (vs 33-34)

This chapter is followed by Paul’s model for commitment in chapter 12. 

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  (Hebrews 12:1-2)

Paul goes on to encourage us not to grow weary or fainthearted .  We are to strive for holiness.  Striving for holiness becomes the commitment, the goal.  Why?  Verse 14 – without holiness I can’t see God.  What motivates me – verse 2 – the joy set before me.  The confidence of knowing what God has promised, he will fulfull. 

Commitment tells me to try my hardest.  Commitment leads me to do “whatever it takes.”  Commitment says “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” 

What Christ has done for me, what Christ does in me daily, what Christ will do for me in the future – all of these motivate me to commit my life to Him. 

Jesus said “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  (Matthew 11:28-30)

Monday, December 3, 2012

Surrender, Submission, and Sacrifice

These are not ideas that we like to think about.  However, they are words that I have been contemplating for a couple of weeks.

I can submit certain areas of my life to Christ really easily but there are other areas that I sometimes try to manage myself.  Surrender in part is OK with me but not complete surrender.  Sacrifice is easy as long as I don’t really have to give up anything I really like or want.  However, following Jesus is not about me.  It is not about what I can keep or what I can gain.  It’s about losing everything for the sake of the gospel.

I like to think that I am the master of my own destiny.  (I like to be in charge.)  I like to decide what I want to do and how I want to spend my money.  I don’t like to be submissive. I submit to my boss because I want my paycheck.  But I don’t always do that with a good attitude.  However, following Jesus requires that I bow humbly before Him.  It requires that I make the purpose of my life to serve Him.  Discipleship cannot exist without submission.  (Ouch)

Surrender is similar to submission.  It is the idea of giving up all my perceived rights in order to follow Christ.  Everything I think is mine is really His.  I forfeited my right to possess anything when I chose to follow Christ.  All I have is to be used to serve and worship God.  I have to give up all sense of ownership.  This isn’t an easy task.  However, I must let go of everything I cling to in order to be transformed into a servant of Christ.

Sacrifice is like the final stage.  I sacrifice my freedom in order to be a servant.  I sacrifice my creature comforts when I surrender to Him.  I sacrifice my way of life to follow Him.  I need to go where He sends me.  I need to do what He asks me to do.  I need to reach out to the lost and the lonely.  I need to give generously to those in need, even if I don’t think I can afford to do that.  He has promised to provide for me.

Following Christ is not a guarantee that I will live “happily ever after.”  Sometimes being a disciple of Christ is dangerous.  It could cost me friends, popularity, money, a job, or even my life.  But, it is the only way to find true freedom and everlasting life.

These words are scary.  Which one are you most uncomfortable with?  Do you readily humble yourself and submit to Him?  Do you acknowledge His Lordship over your life?  Are you able to give up everything that you worked so hard to acquire?  Do you still hold on to some things? Are you willing to sacrifice everything for the sake of the gospel?  Will you give up your life? Can you honestly say your aren’t holding anything back from God? 

Discipleship isn’t an easy path.  God never promised us an easy life.  He did promise eternal life.  He did promise rest, peace, mercy, and grace.  The road to eternity may be difficult but the destination will be greater than our wildest imagination.  Our minds simply can’t conceive how amazing heaven is going to be. 

Submit, surrender, and sacrifice.  He alone is worthy of our devotion and worship.  He alone is mighty to save.


Philippians 3:7-8 “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.”

Mark 8: 34-37 ““f any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.  For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life?  Indeed, what can they give in return for their life?”

“'He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose'. “
Jim Elliot (Missionary to the Auca Indians who was martyred for the gospel)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Put the robe on

I’ve been studying Matthew 22:1-11 this week.  The chapter starts with a parable about a wedding feast.  Parables are not true stories but stories Jesus would tell to make a point.

Jesus is telling this story to a crowd of Jewish Pharisees and scribes who don’t want anything to do with him. They think they are good enough and that they don’t need Jesus.

Verses 1 & 2  - “Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son.”

Who does the King represent in this story?

God is the King and he prepares a wedding banquet for his son.

Who is his son?

Jesus.  Jesus is telling the story about the big wedding feast that God is preparing for him.  The Bible refers to this in the book of Revelation.  What happens at the end when Jesus comes back? There is basically a big wedding feast; a big party. Who gets to go to that party?  People who have placed their faith in Jesus.

Verse 3 - “He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.”

So who is Jesus talking about here?  Who refuses to come?

The people he is teaching right now.  These Jewish Pharisees and scribes don’t want to come. In fact, they are actually planning to kill him.

Verse 4 - “Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’”

This king appears to be quite a generous guy.  He sends out the invitation. The people refuse him. And he invites them again.  He is kinder than I would have been. 

What happens next ….

Verse 5 - “But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business.”

These are people who don’t want to come.  They don’t care about the King’s son.  They don’t care about the party at the end.  They are going off and do their own thing.

Verse 6 - “The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them.”

Any idea what Jesus is referring to here?

In the Old Testament, the prophets would come and say repent and sometimes the people would actually kill them.  Jesus had a relative that was killed recently. Who was that?  (John the Baptist)  And Jesus is about to get killed.

Verse 7 - “The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.”

The King is mad and rightly so.  They’ve killed his servant and refused to come to the wedding feast.

Verse 8 - “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come.”

This is a key part.  Jesus said - Those I invited did not deserve to come. They weren’t worthy to come to the feast. 

Why is it that they aren’t worthy? What have they done?

They refused the King’s invitation to the wedding party for his son.  They didn’t want to be bothered. They said, “We don’t need your party.”  We’re good enough. It is because of this attitude that the king says they aren’t worthy.

If you find yourself thinking I want Jesus. I want to be there with the King’s son. I want to be at the wedding party at the end.  Then that is a good sign that you aren’t one of the unworthy ones that are spoken about here.  If you love Jesus then you aren’t unworthy.  Even Christians make mistakes.  Our mistakes don’t disqualify us.

The only people who are unworthy are the ones who have chosen not to have anything to do with Jesus.

Verse 9 - “So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.”

Wow – what a generous king!  Invite them all in. They can all come.

When you were reading about the first guests, were you thinking about all the wealthy people being invited?  Here the king says – go and get everyone.

Verse 10 -“So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.”

What – both bad and good?

They were all invited to the wedding party.  The king doesn’t have a problem with bad people. (The way society views people as bad)  Who do you think are bad people?  thieves, liars, murderers…  What does it take for me to be called a thief?  Did you ever take someone else’s pencil and not give it back.  You knew it wasn’t yours….  does that make you a thief?

I am still trying to figure out how that works? The king and his son are going to have a big party at the end and bad people are going to be there.  When I have a party I don’t usually invite bad people.  I don’t want my house trashed.  I don’t want my stuff broken or stolen.  I just don’t want “bad” people in my house.  Not this king.  He said bring them all in.

Verse 11 - ““But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes.”

So the king comes in and sees all the people.  Does he say, “hey, why are there bad people in my house?”  No.  He knows they are there. 

What is the one thing he spots?

In that culture, when you went to a wedding, there were special clothes you would wear – especially if it is the king’s wedding party.  In fact, some kings actually provided the clothes for the guests to put on.

All the people put the robes on – good and bad.  That is all except one guy who said, “I’m not going to wear this thing. I don’t need this robe. I’m fine the way I am.” And so he is at the party without the robe.

That is the thing that the king spots.

What is this robe?

Remember this is a parable and the robe symbolizes something.

All the people wearing the robes all look the same. The good and the bad.  It doesn’t matter that they are bad. It looks like they have never sinned. They look like the righteous.

Except the one man. Look how the king responds to the attitude the man has who thinks he doesn’t need the robe.

Verses 12&13 - “He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless.  “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’”

This is an image of hell.  This person can’t come into heaven. He isn’t clothed the right way. He is a bad person. He can’t come to the party. He will ruin the party. He must have the robe to come to the party.

All of these robed people who are at the party, is it because of anything special they have done?   No.  They simply accepted the invitation to come and put on the robe.

Jesus says in verse 14,“For many are invited, but few are chosen.”

God says to the whole world, “Come to my party.”

Some people say, “No, I don’t want to come.”

Some say, “I’ll come but I’m not wearing your clothes, I’ve got my own righteousness. I’m good enough.”

Still others accept the robe from the king and put it on and go to the party.

The robe symbolizes the offer of salvation.  It is a free gift offered to every person.  You simply have to choose to accept it from God. Once you accept the gift of salvation, his robe of blood covers your sin.  The fun part about this robe is once you put it on, it doesn’t come back off.  Your name is now written in the Lamb’s book of life and you are going to the big party with Jesus.

In summary, God has sent you an invitation for the wedding feast. What choice will you make?

Will you ignore it because you have better things to do?

Will you get mad at the person who delivers the invitation.

Will you try to come without your robe?

Or, will you accept the invitation, put on the robe, and party with Jesus.


Ok – now that you’ve read it.  This is my lesson for Junior Church on Sunday.  What do you think?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Post-election reaction

I Peter was written about 60 years after the death of Christ.  It is a letter from Peter to the believers who had been dispersed throughout the world and were under intense persecution.  Peter, himself, had been beaten, threatened, punished, and jailed for preaching the Word.  He knew what it took to endure without bitterness.  He never lost hope and he remained true to his faith.  He lived an obedient and victorious life. 

The world was in a terrible mess during Peter’s lifetime.  Nero was the reigning power in Rome and was responsible for the persecution that was taking place.  Despite the circumstances, Peter exhorted the people to “Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.”  (1 Peter 2:17)

If those Christians in the first century found a way to show honor to Nero, then surely I can find a way to obey God by honoring our President.  His religious views and different than mine.  His values are different than mine.  But I am commanded in 1 Timothy 2:1-2 to pray for my leaders.

“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”

God’s judgment is coming to this country.  We (as a country) have made wrong choices.  We slaughter the innocent.  We live immoral unholy lives.  We are no different than Sodom and Gomorrah.  (See Genesis 19 for how that turned out.)

It is time for God’s people to ban together and pray like we’ve never prayed before.  It is time for us to reach out to the lost.  More than ever, we need to fix our eyes on Jesus.  We need to persevere.

“Don't burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don't quit in hard times; pray all the harder.”  (Romans 12:11-12)

Our all knowing heavenly Father was not taken by surprise by our election.  He loves us with an everlasting love and yearns for each of us to humble ourselves and pray.   

“if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”     (2 Chronicles 7:14)

Monday, October 22, 2012

WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?)

A local church is advertising a Thanksgiving dinner.  The following is an excerpt from the announcement that appeared in their bulletin:

“Due to limited space, we must limit reservations to our church family, instead of including guests.”

Do you see anything wrong with this idea?

They are having a Thanksgiving dinner that is just for their church members.  It is an exclusive dinner.  No guests allowed.  Is that what Jesus would do?  Is that what Jesus would ask us to do?

How do you align that philosophy with the commandment to “Love your neighbor as yourself.”? 

How does that fit with the parable of the sheep and the goats from
Matthew 25:35.  “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in” 

This parable gets pretty intense when you read the end of it.  Here are verses 40 – 45. 

“’The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ They also will answer, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.”

What do you think? Is it OK for a church to have a members only Thanksgiving dinner?  Am I blowing this out of proportion?  Perhaps you don’t see a problem here.  After all, they just want to have dinner together…

What if in John 6 when Jesus was teaching the crowds and it dinner time came Jesus had said, “We have 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish.  That should be enough for me and the disciples to each get a bite.”  Was that what Jesus said?  No!  He gave thanks and God blessed what they had and they fed 5000 people that day.  They didn’t have to turn anyone away and all they had was 5 loaves and 2 fish.

Do you think that this church is afraid of running out of food?  Have you been to a church dinner lately?  There is usually lots of food left over and lots of people who have eaten way too much. Do you think it is because of space/seats?  If so, then the church members should be rejoicing over the problem and should be the first ones volunteering to give up their seats for the guests.  You never how one small act of kindness can impact another person. 

When we accepted Christ, it became our mission to reach out into the community and bring others into the church and into faith with Christ.

2 Peter 3:9 says that God doesn’t want anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

In Matthew 28, Jesus gives us the commission to go and make disciples.

1 Corinthians 11:1 tells me to be an imitator of Christ.  Am I doing what Jesus would do?

If I know of somebody in need, then it is my responsibility to show them Jesus.  That can be through my actions, through my words, or even through a simple invitation to Thanksgiving dinner. 

If I want to be the hands and feet of Jesus, I have to open my eyes to the poor, to the needy, and to the suffering.  I need to look in my own community and in the world.  And then I need to allow my heart to be broken by the things that break the heart of Jesus.

So what do you think?  Is a members only dinner appropriate for a church family? 

Take a look a the video below and think about how it relates to this scenario.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

No Condemnation

Our memory verse at church this week is Romans 8:1.  “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.“

Some translations let out the last part - “who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.“

I think this part is important and here’s why.

When we come to Christ and accept him as our Savior, we are to come in repentance.  The Biblical definition of repentance is a change of direction.  It involves turning our backs on our previous lifestyle and moving in the direction that would be pleasing to God.  This is what the second part of this verse means – not walking according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

When you accept Christ you are a new creation.  The old is gone, the new has come.  (2 Corinthians 5:17)

I have had times in my life when I have experienced guilt over past sins.  I look at things in my life and think how in the world could I have done that.  I know better.  I deserve to feel guilty.  So I beat myself up with guilt and condemnation.  Is this what God wants me to do?  No!  This doesn’t come from God.  God says “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  So why do I feel this way …. because I am trusting my feelings rather than God’s truth.

If there are unconfessed sins in our life then a feeling of guilt can come from God. This is the Holy Spirit convicting your heart and trying to get you to rectify your relationship with God.  1 John 1:9 says “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." 

Jesus said, "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned." (John 3:17-18a)

The devil wants to rob you of God’s peace and joy.  He comes with false guilt.  When you are feeling guilty, examine your heart.  Ask yourself if you have repented of that sin.  If you have sincerely confessed that sin and repented, (turned away from it) then stand on the promises of 1 John 1:9 – that God has forgiven and cleansed you and that there is no longer any reason to feel guilty.

We can't change our past, but we can learn from our past and learn to meditate on God's truth. The promise of Romans 8:1 to be free from condemnation is for every Christian.  Don't let the power of other people's condemnation rob you of God's peace. Fix your eyes on Jesus and walk with Him. 

Think about the life of Paul.  He was persecuting and killing Christians.  Then God got ahold of him.  Paul repented and was saved.  After that he went on to found many of the New Testament churches.  Paul knew what he was before and knew the sins that Christ had forgiven him of.  He didn’t let his past interfere with his present. Instead he allowed God to change him and use him.

I have talked with some people who have insisted that a Christian needs to make restitution for past sins.  Some believe that repentance requires undoing all the wrong we have done.  If our salvation required our undoing all our past sins, then we would never be saved.  There is a place for restitution. As the Spirit of the Lord leads you, your heart will want to make right some of the wrongs you may have done.  However, it is important to realize that repentance doesn’t require restitution.  If I could provide restitution for my sins, why would I need the blood of Jesus?  Jesus shed his blood and died to take away my sin.  My forgiveness is in His hands.  When God forgives me of my sin, that sin is forgotten.  It no longer exists.  (Psalm 103:12)

So, my forgiveness is based on my repentance.  My salvation comes from the blood of Jesus.  It is by His grace that I am saved. I can’t do any of it for myself. Don’t let anyone convince you that restitution is a part of it.  Good deeds do not remove sin. 

Abide in Christ.  Continue in a close walk with Him.  Live according to the Spirit and not the flesh.  Put on the full armor of God. (Ephesians 6)  Never let the devil make you feel guilty over past sins because: There is therefore no condemnation ….

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Challenges Ahead

I’ve been working on this idea for awhile but just couldn't seem to get it to say what I wanted.  Here it goes ….

Sometimes it feels like I am just going through the motions. I do the same thing day after day.  I get up.  I get cleaned up and I drive to work.  I work on pretty much the same thing every day and then I drive home.  I eat dinner. I work on a few things and I go to bed. Then I get up and do it all over again.  Day after day like a lab rat on a wheel. Life is pretty predictable.  It sort of reminds me of the movie “Groundhog Day.”

Life can be really mundane and boring.  It grinds away at me.  People are mean and swear at me every day.  Sometimes it seems like I am a punching bag.  Life is vicious.  It doesn’t kill me quickly but gradually wears away at me.

I feel insignificant.  I feel dissatisfied. My soul desperately wants to run from the urgent things and focus on important things.  I just don’t know how to make it happen. I know this isn’t the abundant life that Jesus promised.

When I am discontented, I begin to think through some more deep and difficult questions.  Questions like: Is this what I am supposed to be doing?  Is this where I am supposed to be?  Why am I here?   Is there more to life than this? Is what I believe about eternity really true? Is it really worth it?

Are these times in my life dangerous?  They cause me to question, but they can also cause me to be dissatisfied with the status quo.  They are the enemies to my settled beliefs.  They make me uneasy.  They stir me up.  They make me think.  They may even make me angry.  However, these are the questions I must ask myself if I am ever to become the person God has created me to be.

Only after asking the difficult questions and coming to grips with my beliefs and my answers to those nagging questions can I move on.  Only after becoming dissatisfied with the way the world is and the way my life operates can I change my perspective on it.  It can make me a change agent for others who are aimlessly going through the motions.  It can lead me on a mission to help others discover why they are here, why they are alive, what it is all about.

I needed to come to the place in my life where I owned my own Christianity.  It isn’t my parents’ faith and it isn’t my culture’s faith.  It is my faith.  It is my commitment to Christ.  It was (and is) my struggle to own my own beliefs that lead me to realize that they are worth fighting for. I had to start to honesty living what I say I believe.  My faith has become real, living, and active.  It effects what I do and say every day.  It effects every decision I make and how I treat others. 

I no longer live life as a spectator but as an active participant with a role to play.  I have a story that is worth sharing with others.  I never know who I might impact and who they might turn around and impact.  I will never know the impact my faith can/will have on the world around me.

Take the challenge.  Have the courage.  Throw yourself whole-heartedly into your Christian life.  Imagine, dream, work, pray, serve, and live a radical life. There are challenges ahead but none that can’t be conquered. 

Henry Varley inspired D.L.Moody by saying, “The world has yet to see what God can do with one man fully consecrated to him.”  Moody replied, “By God’s help I aim to be that man.”

What’s stopping you?  Do you want to be that person?  Listen to your heart.  Act in obedience.  Live with a strong commitment to your faith. Dare to be different than those around you.


I’ve been greatly impacted by the book Honestly: Really Living What We Say We Believe and some of these ideas are from that book.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


There could only be one possible topic for this post.  A lot has happened in the last week. 

First of all, thank you for any prayers you might have offered on our behalf in the last couple of weeks. My husband has had several job offers and now needs to decide which one to accept.  Lord thanks for your provision.  Now please grant him wisdom to make a good decision on the position to accept.  We want to look at what would be best for our family not just the job that pays the most.

I had a car accident last week.  I am thankful that it was very minor and that no one was injured.  Cars can be fixed. Lord protect me as I travel each day.  (I drive 100 miles round trip each day.)

It looks like our house plans are moving along.  We should be able to close on our loan by the end of the week.  We should have our building permit by the first of the week.  Lord thanks for my parents and their patience as we’ve gone through all of these plans.  Thanks that we could live in their house.  (We’ve been there since the beginning of June!) 

Our daughter is doing well in college and she is coming home on Friday for her fall break.  We are excited to spend some time with her.  Lord thanks for giving us such a wonderful child.  Thanks that she loves you and desires to serve you.  Protect her and guide her in the way you want her to go.

I am thankful for my job and for the people I get to work with.  I did talk to one other lady this week who is a Christian.  She was glad to talk to me as she doesn’t know of any other Christians in the school.  Lord make me a light in the darkness.

As you may recall, we moved in June and so we’ve settled into a church and just moved our membership.  We are excited to be a part of this body of believers. Lord thanks for this small independent church.  Thank you that the pastor preaches the Word and stands for the truth.  Lord, bless this congregation and provide for our needs.  Help us to seek your face above all else. 

Those are the major things in my life that come to mind today as I think about what I have to be thankful for.

What do you have to be thankful for today?

I am reminded of a joke a friend told me the other day.  Some say their cup is half full and others say their cup is half empty.  I’m just thankful I have a cup.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Desires of your heart

I was reading Psalm 37 and read over a familiar verse.

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”  (Psalm 37:4)

This got me to thinking about two things.

  1. How do I delight myself in the Lord?

I think God desires me to totally trust him.  I am not to live in fear.  The more I trust God to care for me, the more I can ignore the stress of life and the hardships that come with daily living. I will have no need to fear bad news because I have trusted God with my life, my family, and my future.  (Easy to say, hard to live out …)

I’ve had to learn to trust God one problem at a time.  I was not able to just “jump” into trusting God with everything.  I am still learning to daily trust God with each detail of life.  I can’t just say I trust God when I see that I have no other options.  It should be my first choice. 

It is a moment by moment commitment of my life and my will to God.  I need to daily come to His feet and listen.  I need to get away from work and distractions and concentrate on the Word.  I need to be sensitive to the leading of the Spirit.  In order to delight in the Lord, I need to do what pleases Him.  I need to know His Word so well that it is the first thing that comes to mind when faced with a challenge.

Think about it this way.  When I delight in something, my thoughts are constantly turning towards it.  I think of it early, often, and late.  It makes me smile to think of it.  It cheers me up when things aren’t going my way. 

“In your presence is fullness of joy; in your right hand there are pleasures forever.” (Psalm 16:11)

2. What are the desires of my heart?

If I delight myself in the Lord, He will help me see my true desires.  When I think I know what I want in life, I present those ideas to the Lord.  I wait for an answer from Him.  I pray for peace as I move forward on an idea.  One important point is to keep seeking the Lord.  As I keep in the Word, God will reveal what the desires of my heart should be. 

God wants my greatest passion to be knowing Him and loving Him.  My relationship with Him should take precedence over everything else in my life.  He wants me to completely commit my life to Him so that my thoughts, goals, and lifestyles are shaped by His will and the things He loves.

The funny thing is, as I commit my life to Him, His desires become my desires.  Things I never thought I wanted, start to come up.  God reveals what my deepest desires are and they may be things that I’ve never even thought about.  My heart and my desires change to reflect what God’s desires for me already were.


Some other verses to consider:

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matt 6:21)

“Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”  (Matt 6:33)

“The heart of a man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”  (Prov. 16:9)

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,” (Ephesians 3:20)

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  (Romans 8:28)

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will”  (Romans 12:2)

“For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”  (Phil. 2:13)

“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.  But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. “ (Psalm 1:1-3)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

God knows best

I was reading a story in the book of Daniel that is familiar to all of us.  I learned about it a child.  It is the story of the fiery furnace.  The story is in chapter 3 and involves the king of Babylon, king Nebuchadnezzar, making a golden image, and his requirement that all in the kingdom must bow down and worship the image when the gong sounded. 

There were three courageous faithful Jews who refused to bow down and worship the idol.  They were Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  When the other people (Chaldeans) reported this to King Nebuchadnezzar, he was mad and gave the order that the three men be arrested and brought before him.

When these three Jews were brought before the king, they admitted that they had not bowed to the idol.  They knew the punishment for their decision and yet they didn’t make excuses.  They simply told the king the truth.  They held fast and refused to bow to the idol even when faced with certain death.

Their response to the king is a fascinating one.  “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”  (Daniel 3:17-18)

They were convinced that God was able to save them, if He wanted to.  They were not going to defile themselves by bowing to the idol.  In essence, they were saying even if God doesn’t choose to save us, that is his choice and He is still God and we will still serve Him and worship Him.

So the King was furious.  He had his men fire the furnace up seven times hotter than normal and then had the three Jews tossed in.  The fire was so hot that it completely vaporized the soldiers.  (This would be cool to see in a movie.)  The king somehow was able to see into the furnace because he sees four men in the furnace and he recognizes the fourth man as a divine being.  I think at that moment he is thinking, “Oh, no.  I’m in trouble now!” The king quickly has the men released from the furnace.  Amazingly, they came out without even a hair on their heads being singed.  They didn’t even smell like smoke.

The king knows what he has to do next.  He orders his entire empire to worship the God of these three men.

It is easy to see that God was with these three men.  The idea that He showed up in the furnace is evidence that God goes through our trials with us.  After all, He went through the fire with them.  He will never leave us or forsake us in times of trouble. “God is our refuge and our strength, an ever present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)

As a Christian, we sometimes have to do things that the world will not be happy with.  Perhaps you need to stand-up to the boss who wants you to lie, or fix the books, or do some other unethical thing.  We need to stand for truth.  Our first obligation is to obey God, even at the risk of losing our jobs.  We must stand firm in our faith at all times.  We must never compromise our principles.  When we face the consequences for these actions, we can be assured that God is with us. 

God is able to deliver you from whatever you are currently going through.  Just remember, even if He doesn’t rescue you out of it, He is still God and He is still worthy of praise.  Perhaps what you want rescued from is really going to be used to further mold you into being more like Christ. 

Take a few minutes to listen to this song by Laura Story entitled “Blessings”.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Focusing in the middle of the storm

Sorry I haven’t been on here for a week. It is not because I didn’t have things to write about but I just haven’t had time to write.

Do you find it coincidental that my last post was about being in a spiritual battle and two days later my husband loses his job?  We know that we are not dependent on that job to provide for us.  We know that God provides for us and we are trusting Him to continue to do that. 

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 4:19)

On September 6th, I used this quote and it has come back to my mind repeatedly over the last week.   “Faith says,”I trust God, regardless of what is happening, I will press on; I will not be a wishy-washy, halfhearted, fair-weather friend of God. I will trust God when it is difficult. I will persevere when I see the night is coming. I will persevere when life is hard, when I fail, and when I don’t feel like persevering.”” (Johnnie Moore)

We are trusting God in the midst of this hard time.  We will praise God in the good times and in the bad because He is worthy of praise and that fact is independent of anything I am going through.

In the midst of the storm remember, think, meditate on who God is. Think about his character. 

He is:

  • infinite – Psalm 93:2; Psalm 145:13
  • incomprehensible – Job 36:26; Romans 11:33 - 34
  • eternal – Revelation 1:8
  • sovereign – Daniel 4:35
  • transcendent – Isaiah 40:21-26
  • majestic- Jude 1:25; Psalm 8
  • all-present – Psalm 139: 7 - 16
  • all-knowing – Psalm 139:1 – 6; 1 Kings 8:39
  • all-powerful – 1 Samuel 2:6 – 10; Genesis 18:14
  • unchanging – Psalm 102:27; Hebrews 13:8; James 1:17
  • holy – Revelation 4:8; Isaiah 6:3; Psalm 77:13
  • wise – Isaiah 28:29; Jeremiah 10:12
  • truthful – John 3:33; Numbers 23:19; John 14:6
  • good – 2 Chronicles 7:3; Psalm 119:68; Psalm 145:9; Mark 10:18
  • faithful – Deuteronomy 7:9; Psalm 33:4; Psalm 100:5; 1 Thes. 5:24
  • merciful – Nehemiah 9:31; Daniel 9:9
  • kind – 2 Samuel 22:51; Jeremiah 9:24;
  • patient – 1 Timothy 1:16; Nehemiah 9:30
  • just – Deuteronomy 32:4; Job 37:23; Psalm 99:4
  • righteous – Isaiah 51:6; Psalm 89:14

“Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the skies.
Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
your justice like the great deep.
You, Lord, preserve both people and animals.
How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house;
you give them drink from your river of delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light we see light.
 Continue your love to those who know you,
your righteousness to the upright in heart.”  (Psalm 36:5-10)

Focus on God and his character in the midst of the storm.  Focus on truth and not the lies the devil throws at you.  Focus on who you are in Christ.  (See the post – I am


“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”  (Philippians 4:8-9)

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  (Romans 8:28)


If you think about it, pray for us.  Pray for a job for my husband.  Pray for peace in the midst of the storm.  Pray for us to walk by faith and not by sight.  Pray that I will “fix my eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith”.

Monday, September 24, 2012

You are in a war

Our Pastor spoke yesterday about putting on the armor of God so that you are ready to engage in a war with the devil.  This post contains some things I’ve thought about since that sermon.

John 10:10  “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

The thief in this verse is understood to be the devil.  Never forget that the devil has unending desire to steal, kill, and destroy anything he can in your life and he will destroy you if he can. He is not going away.  He is going to continued to hammer at you. 

1 Peter 5:8-9 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”

Be alert – Be aware. Be awake.  The devil wants to catch you off-guard.  Be ready.  Be prepared.

Never forget the devil’s intentions – to steal, kill, and destroy

He will steal your reputation, your peace, your good judgment

standing firm in the faithHow do you do this?  I think this is accomplished through being in the Scriptures on a daily basis.  You need to know the Word of God. When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, he rebuked Satan by quoting Scripture. 

James 4:6-8 “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble. Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

To resist the devil, you need to live a life of humility.  The proud and arrogant are easy targets for the devil. 

Submit yourself to God.  Keep seeking God’s will for your life.  Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus.  (Hebrews 12:1-3)

Come near to GodThe nearer you live to God in your daily life, the more difficult it will be for the devil to attack you.  How do you live near to God?  Get together with other believers and encourage one another. (Hebrews 10:25)  Have a thankful heart.  Be in prayer.  (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18Be in the Word. 

Have a repenting heart.  Confess your sin regularly.  Keep short accounts with God.  Don’t let anything interfere with your fellowship.  (1 John 1:9)

Ephesians 6:13 “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”

Remember that you are not fighting flesh and blood but your are in a spiritual battle.  You are fighting the spiritual forces of evil.  Jesus has already won this fight.  We need to stay close to him.  Incorporate as much Scripture as you can into every facet of your life – into your thoughts, words, and actions. 

You can only do that if you know the Word.  Start today.  Pick a verse and start memorizing.  You can’t learn the whole Bible over night.  Give yourself time but get started. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

I am…

This is kind of a follow-up of yesterday’s post – Who Are You?

In Jesus Christ, I am …

  • Saved by faith (Ephesians 2:8-9)
  • Forgiven of my sins. (1 John 1:9)
  • Protected from the evil one. (John 17:15)
  • Loved by the Father.  (John 17:23)
  • Justified by faith (Romans 5:1)
  • Made righteous through the obedience of Christ.  (Romans 5:19; 2 Corinthians 5:21)
  • Set free from the law of sin and of death.  (Romans 8:2)
  • Enriched in every way.  (I Cor. 1:5)
  • Given wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. (I Cor. 1:30)
  • Bought with a price, and I desire to honor God with my body.  (I Cor. 6:20)
  • Reconciled to God, and I have been given the ministry of reconciliation.  (2 Cor. 5:18)
  • Blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. (Eph. 1:3)
  • Holy and blameless in God's sight.  (Eph. 1:4)
  • Strengthened with power through His Spirit in my inner man.  (Eph. 3:16)
  • Confident that He who began a good work in me will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. (Phil. 1:6)
  • Not needy, for God shall supply all my needs according to His riches in glory. (Phil. 4:19)
  • Delivered from the domain of darkness and transferred to the kingdom of His beloved Son.  (Col. 1:13)
  • Not fearful, for God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind -- which happens to be nothing less than the very mind of Christ. (2 Tim. 1:7; 1 Cor. 2:16)
  • Redeemed (Gal. 3:13)
  • Adopted into the family of God. (Eph. 1:4-5)
  • Crucified with Christ and I no longer live but Christ lives in me. (Gal. 2:20)
  • Born again. (John 3:3)

    Wow, what any encouraging list!  It’s good to remind ourselves who we are and that this was only possible because the sinless Son of God willingly gave his life on the cross so that we could be saved.

    Have a great weekend.

  • Thursday, September 20, 2012

    Who are you

    I am currently living with my parents and my husband is currently living with an uncle.  We are in the process of trying to build a house.  We are hoping to be in our house together by Christmas.  Our relatives have been great taking us in and taking care of us, but I have to tell a story.  (Mom forgive me.  I love you.)

    I work long days.  I have an hour commute each way and then I drive out and feed our dog – who doesn’t live with either of us but is currently living in a friend’s backyard.  Anyway, I am usually gone about 11 hours.  One of the huge blessings of living with Mom and Dad is that Mom cooks supper almost every night.  It is amazing to walk in after a hard day of work and smell something good already cooking in the kitchen.  (I will definitely miss that when I move out.)

    Last night we are sitting around the supper table and Mom decides that the casserole that she fixed didn’t have enough salt in it.  So she picks up the salt shaker and shakes some onto the casserole that was still in the dish.  I already had some on my plate so she reaches over and salts the food on my plate.  I use very little salt when I cook.  I just try to avoid it and so my natural reaction was, “Mom, what are you doing!” To which she replied, “It needs more salt.  It tastes flat.”  I am just not used to someone else messing with the food on my plate.  After all, I am 51 years old.  I can salt my own food. 

    The more I thought about this situation, the more I realized that I am still my Mom’s little girl.  I will always be her child and age can’t change that.  She has always looked out for me and she will continue to look out for me as long as she is able to.  Her salting my food was a demonstration of her love and care for me.

    I began to think about who I am.  I am a daughter, a wife, a mother, a teacher, an administrator, a friend, a neighbor, a writer, a Steeler fan, a reader, a music lover, etc….Who are you? 

    Did you remember these?  I am a follower of Jesus. I am a child of God.  I am a new creation.  I am a witness.  I am more than a conqueror.  I am a temple of the Holy Spirit.  I am an overcomer.  I am a co-heir with Christ.  I am an ambassador for Christ.  I am God’s workmanship created for good works.  I am a spiritual light in a dark world.  I am part of the family of God.  I am a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation. I am blessed beyond measure.

    Have a great day and never forget who you are.

    Tuesday, September 18, 2012


    I have been driving about an hour to work every day since the beginning of June.  I have found the time to be refreshing.

    The time I have spent with the Lord has been amazing.  I pray out loud and talk to God as if He is sitting in the seat next to me.  Sometimes I sing choruses or hymns.  Then about the last 30 minutes or so I put on a Christian radio station (the Compass).   I didn’t realize how good this time was until I lost it…

    I guess I didn’t lose it but I traded it.  I traded my time alone in the mornings and afternoons for a traveling companion.  I am now carpooling with a man who lives near me.  With gas at almost $4 a gallon, it seemed like a good financial decision.  He’s a nice young man and we talk casually going to and from work.  However, I miss my prayer time. 

    It is really hard for me to find alone time.  I get up at 5:30 and leave for work at 6:30 and usually get home again about 5:30.  Then there is dinner, the dog, chores, my husband and daughter to help, and before I know it, it is bed time again.

    I need to go back and look at my priorities and something has to go.  I’m not sure what it will be.  I do not function well in the morning and so getting up any earlier would be counterproductive. I am exhausted by bedtime.  I welcome any suggestions….

    What have you traded that has cost you time with the Lord?  Have you shortened your prayer time for Facebook, music, TV, reading, sports …..  These things aren’t bad but anything that takes you away from spending time with God every day is a hindrance to your Christian walk.


    Psalm 5 1-3  “Give ear to my words, O Lord. Consider my meditation. Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King and my God. For unto Thee will I pray. My voice You shall hear in the morning. O Lord in the morning, will I direct my prayer unto Thee and will look up."

    Psalm 139:23-24 “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

    Thursday, September 13, 2012

    Psalm 51

    Last Thursday I wrote a post titled “When life knocks you down”.  I used Psalm 51 as a reference.  When I went to church Sunday night, the pastor taught from Psalm 51.  Since then I have had this song stuck in my head…..  (See video below)   Think God is trying to teach me something?

    This is a song I learned about 30 years ago.  I haven’t thought much about it since then but it came to my mind this week.  Music is powerful.  I remembered the entire song.  Protect your mind and input good things.  The brain’s ability to remember and recall things is amazing.

    2 Corinthians 10:5 “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

    Wednesday, September 12, 2012

    Start talking

    God has plans for the world. He laid out those plans in his Word.  You remember ….

    “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:16

    “He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”  2 Peter 3:9

    “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”  John 10:10

    God’s plan for the world involves knowing Him, worshipping Him, and glorifying Him.  (See Psalm 96)

    It was God’s idea to use people to help accomplish His plans. It is amazing that He uses people despite their flaws, doubts, and failures to do terrific things.  We are all sinners and He is perfect and holy and yet He is able to use us to reach the world around us. 

    This is a part of faith that a lot of people miss.  We are to take God’s plan for the world personally and take responsibility for making a difference in the world.  God is already at work and all He desires is for us to get onboard with Him.  We need to join in with the mission of reaching the world for Christ. 

    This isn’t just for the chosen few.  This isn’t just for the pastors and the missionaries.  God’s plan was for all of His people to be involved.  His mission is our mission.  It starts with having compassion for the lost. It requires hard work and dedication and in the end it will bring forth the realization that the gospel is worth our all.  (Think about that one.)

    Now is the time for Christians to stand up and be counted.  Go public with your faith.  Tell someone what you believe.  Believe that God has the power to change the world and that He can use you to change your corner of it.

    So, are you ready to live what you believe?  If so, then start talking about Jesus  …

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

    When life knocks you down …

    “Faith says,”I trust God, regardless of what is happening, I will press on; I will not be a wishy-washy, halfhearted, fair-weather friend of God. I will trust God when it is difficult. I will persevere when I see the night is coming. I will persevere when life is hard, when I fail, and when I don’t feel like persevering.”” (Johnnie Moore)

    Everyone has difficult times in life. It isn’t a matter of if trouble will come. It is when trouble comes, how will I survive? When I am getting clobbered by the world, how will I deal with it? God doesn’t shield you from difficult times. However, He will help you get through it. He will make you “more than a conqueror”.

    We will all cry our share of tears, have our misfortunes, and make our mistakes. We will fail. We will stumble. We will let ourselves down. Even as well-intentioned Christians, we will sometimes respond to problems in ways that just make things worse. We will disappoint ourselves. We will disappoint others. We are sinners. We are flawed people who are apt to prove it sometimes by the decisions we make.

    You could have the faith of the Bible heroes Moses, David, and Peter and you will still have to deal with failure and discouragement. These men all failed at some point in their Christian life. (Moses struck the rock. David sinned with Bathsheba. Peter denied Christ.) However, they refused to let failure define them. They found a way to navigate through their failures, deal with their problems, and bounce right back up into serving the Lord.

    How did they deal with their sin? Take a look at Psalm 51 as an example. This was written after David sinned with Bathsheba. He confessed his sin. He took responsibility for it. He repented (determined not to do it again). He asked for forgiveness. He asked God to cleanse him from his sin. Only then was his relationship with God restored and David could move forward with his relationship with God.

    You might wonder why God would let you encounter some of the difficulties you are experiencing in your life. I think sometimes He allows things to happen in our lives to teach us lessons that can only be learned in the midst of strife and turmoil. (I’ve learned a lot through some difficult times in my life.) Sometimes the difficulties we are going through are our own fault. There are consequences to sin. Sometimes the difficulties are just the result of living in a fallen world. When Adam sinned and sin entered the world, so did some of the difficulties of life. We need to trust God and persevere through them.

    God believes in us sometimes more than we believe in ourselves. He knows we will get through it and be better for it in the long run. Some things can only be learned through first-hand experience. Like a young boy learning to play baseball, you have to get in the game to really see what you can do. It’s only when life knocks us down that we really know we have the strength to get back up and do it again.

    When we find ourselves stumbling in our relationship with God, disappointed in a decision we’ve made, frustrated with words we spoken, or upset with how we reacted in a crisis, we shouldn’t stay down long. We have a God who loves us, forgives us, and wants us to get back up and persevere through it.

    2 Corinthians 4:8-9 “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”

    We aren’t defined by our failures but by what we do with them. We will have our ups and downs, our good days and our bad, our triumphs and our defeats. That is part of life.

    However, we serve a risen Savior. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. He makes the sun to rise and set. He sees the beginning and the end of time. He is faithful and trustworthy. He loves us with an everlasting love. When life knocks you down, get back up. When you blow it, confess it to God immediately, and then move forward. There’s a whole lot of living left to do. Do it hand in hand with the Savior.

    “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” (Psalm 51:10 – 12)

    Wednesday, September 5, 2012

    Personal not Private

    As I was commuting to work this morning, I thought about the fact that Christianity is a personal faith.  You can’t inherit your faith from your parents.  Eternal life isn’t found in your culture or how you were raised.  We must individually come to a point in our life when we recognize we are a sinner, ask for forgiveness, accept that Jesus paid the penalty for our sin, and ask Jesus to be our Savior.  It is a personal decision.  No one can do it for you.

    On the flip side of that, some Christians feel like their faith is a private thing.  That’s not what the Bible says.  Yes - I had to personally accept Christ as my Savior but I am not to keep that to myself.  I am supposed to tell others about my faith.

    Romans 10:9 – 10 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”

    1 Peter 3:15 “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,”

    I’ve been writing about living out our faith and that is important but we are also to speak about our faith to others.  Acts 1:8 says that we will receive power from the Holy Spirit to be a witness.  Matthew 28:19 tells us to go and make disciples of all nations.

    Our faith was never intended to be private.  As I write this blog, its primary purpose is to take what God is teaching me and share it with others.  I am not perfect.  God is still working on me.  He is molding me into what he wants me to become.  Sometimes He has to break me down so He can build me back up in order to make me more like Christ.  It can be a painful process but a very worthwhile one.  It is like a refining fire.  God has to melt away all the impurities from my life. (1 Peter 1:7) 

    The gospel changes people.  I am not who I was before I accepted Christ and I am not who I was last year.  It is a journey.  It is a process.  I need to completely submit my life to God.  That is hard because as I do, He continues to show me areas that I am still holding on to.  I am not who I want to be and I am not who I will be next year or next week.  As I continue to trust God and submit my life and my will to Him, He will change me and it will happen from the inside out.  As that happens, He wants me to praise Him and tell others of His goodness, grace, love, and mercy.

    What about you?  Are you a Christian?  Have you started a journey with the Savior?  Is he refining you - burning away your alloys so you can be pure and holy?  Are you telling others what God is doing in your life?  If you’ve kept it a secret, make today the day you go and tell…. 

    Tuesday, September 4, 2012

    It’s simple but it isn’t easy

    I guess I should say “I’m sorry” to my audience.  One of my friends who reads my blog told me my last post was boring and that I should stick with Bible stories or personal stories.  She found those posts to be much more interesting.  I’ll try to do better.  Smile

    I think most Christians want to live out their Christianity.  Most would not tell you that they want to be a hypocrite.  Ask any little child what they want to be when they grow up; how many would say, “I want to be a hypocrite when I grow up.”  No.  That is not what people intend to do but it is what happens frequently.  Perhaps it isn’t overtly hypocritical but anyone who says they believe in Jesus but doesn’t live a life that reflects those beliefs, is a hypocrite. 

    It really is simple.  Do what God tells you to do.  It’s not just enough to believe.  We need to submit our lives to the truth and live it out daily.  I’m not saying it is easy.  It is often a battle of the wills.  Your will must give in and be submissive to His will.  It isn’t enough to just read the Word daily.  We must live it out daily.

    This is sometimes hard for me.  I like calling the shots.  I like being in control.  That’s why I got a degree in school administration.  I like making decisions and planning out events.  I desire to be the master of my own destiny. I don’t like being submissive.  I like being independent. 

    A lot of people are like me.  We’ve been raised in a culture that says I can do anything I set my mind to.  I can “have it my way”.  I can achieve my dreams if I just work hard enough.  I customize my car, my PC, and even my dinner.  I get to pick exactly what I want and when I want it.  After all, I’m entitled to that, aren’t I?

    Now the problem….  It doesn’t work that way in my relationship with God. I have to put God on the throne in the very center of my life and make my life revolve around Him, His glory, and His will.  He has to become more and I have to become less.  If He is to be Lord of my life, then He has to be in charge.  I must submit to Him.

    Idolatry is basically making something more important than God.   A.W. Tozer said “The essence of idolatry is the entertainment of thoughts about God that are unworthy of Him.”  

    The Israelites built a golden calf.  They actually had a physical idol.  Most of us don’t have anything that tangible that is an idol in our lives but we do have idols.  It could be money, relationships, popularity, or success.  These aren’t necessarily bad things; they just have a misplaced priority.  We have an omnipotent God who talks, listens, and works in our world and in our lives.  Why settle for something less to worship?

    Do you value anything above God?  What about yourself?  You can be your own idol when you put your desires and will above God’s will for your life.  I have to intentionally examine my life for things that are trying to subvert God's place.  I have to determine in my mind and my heart that I will keep God on the throne of my life.  I have to purpose in my heart to seek His will and walk in His ways; to submit my will to His.  Not my way Lord, but yours.  Not my plans Lord, but yours.  Not my thoughts Lord, but yours.  Not my desires Lord, but yours.

    It is a daily fight in my life to love the Lord God with all my heart, mind, and soul. 

    Daily I need to ask:

    • What would God have me do today?
    • What would God have me say today?
    • How would God have me spend my money today? 
    • How would God have me react to my spouse today?
    • How would God have me use my time and talents today?
    • Is what I am doing, pleasing God?

    God is the only source of real truth.  I must daily devote myself to this truth.  I must turn from idols in my life.  I must choose this day and every day to serve the Lord.  Daily surrender all to Jesus and freely give Him reign in my life.

    It’s simple but it isn’t easy.

    Monday, August 27, 2012

    Abrahamic Covenant

    We’ve been studying the book of Genesis in our Wednesday night Bible Study at church.  We’ve spent the last several weeks discussing Abram.  (We haven’t gotten to the part where his name was changed yet.)

    It is through Abraham that God reveals his purpose and his goal for the universe.  It was in his promises to Abraham that God reveals that He has a plan. 

    Genesis 11:10-32 traces the genealogy of Abraham.  In chapter 12, God calls Abram to leave his home and go to a land He would show him. I don’t know about you but I’d be asking God exactly where is that land I am headed to….  I like to map out my direction in life.  Abram obeyed and left without knowing the destination.  God continues to make promises to Abram.

    I will. These words introduce the covenant promises in Genesis 12:2-3.

    I will make you a great and mighty nation. 

    I will bless you and make your name great.

    I will make you a blessing.  From Abraham came the people of Israel.

    I will bless those who bless you, and curse those who curse you. 

    In you will all the families of the earth be blessed.

    To your descendants I will give this land.

    The purposes of God, and the future of Israel, are focused on a particular place, Palestine.  As we read on into the Bible, we realize that these first promises give the Jewish people their sense of identity. 

    Perhaps this overview will help define this.

    Genesis 12 – Abrahamic Covenant – (see the I wills above)

    Genesis 15 -

    • covenant to Abraham’s physical seed
    • land defined: Euphrates to Nile

    Genesis 17

    • covenant with physical seed, forever
    • land of Canaan everlasting possession

    2 Samuel 7 – Davidic Covenant

    • David’s line a royal family forever
    • David’s kingdom to be forever
    • Chastisement provided for, but kingdom to last forever

    Jeremiah 30 – 31 New Covenant

    • Abrahamic promises reconfirmed
    • Davidic promises reconfirmed
    • Summary of elements
      • physical seed of Abraham in view
      • Davidic line through which covenant fulfillment is realized
      • land of Canaan in view
      • New Covenant made with Israel
      • involves individual and national conversion
      • looks to time of universal knowledge of the Lord

    When God made his covenant with Abraham, there was no one greater for Him to swear by.  Therefore He swore by Himself, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.”    (Refer to Hebrews 6: 13-18)

    This promise is clear and important.  The promise is fulfilled through Isaac. The land is Palestine.  The contract with Abraham was unconditional.  Understanding the covenant is important to understanding the rest of Genesis.  The stories of Isaac and Jacob are told because they are inheritors of the promise.  Later on in Scripture, Moses would remind the people of their heritage and their promised destiny.  The children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob become a nation who is called to reveal God to a world without hope.


    I referred to notes from my Old Testament class for this post.

    Friday, August 24, 2012

    Dental floss and gum

    Yesterday I slept a little longer than I should have and I had to hurry to get ready for work.  I’m driving on the interstate hurrying to get to work when all of a sudden I realized that I hadn’t brushed my teeth.  I really like clean teeth and this discovery was really gross.  What do I do?  I was halfway to work.  If I turn around and go back to brush my teeth, I would be late.  I decided to continue on.  When I got to work I had just a couple of minutes to spare and I pulled out the floss I keep in my purse and started flossing.  I don’t think my teeth have ever been flossed that well before.  Then I searched through my purse and found some peppermint gum.  I thought, it won’t be so bad.  My teeth are flossed and I’ll chew some gum to freshen my breath.  I went on in to work and made it through the day fine. 

    Now, why do I tell this story?  I was thinking about how this incident relates to our Christian life.  There’s really no substitute for brushing your teeth.  One day with just floss and gum was fine but I wouldn’t want to live with just flossing and chewing gum.  I need my toothbrush for healthy teeth and fresh breath.

    In my Christian life there is no substitute for reading the Bible.  I know some people read devotion books, or Christian books, or perhaps play some Christian music.  While all of those things are good things, they are not a replacement for time in the Word.  Just like the floss and gum are good things to have in addition to the toothbrush but they aren’t the main tool. 

    The Word of God is referred to as the sword of the spirit in Ephesians 6.  A soldier wouldn't dream of going into battle without his sword. 

    In Hebrews 4:12 it says “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

    Just like your dental health, if you neglect using your toothbrush your teeth will not only not be clean but they will become unhealthy.  So it is with your spirit.  If you neglect your time in the Word of God your spiritual life will suffer.

    That’s it for today.  Enjoy your weekend and brush your teeth.