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”.