LOOSING MYSELF

Every day people go missing. I don’t know which is sadder, the young, the old or the in- between. But they all have one thing in common…they are lost. Some come home and some don’t. Some recover but many never do. The scars and pain will never completely heal.

I find myself feeling lost sometimes, not as horrible as the mentioned above instances but bad enough to cause me to doubt everything. My job, my ministry, my faith and even my life. But like the above, there is a hope that is always found in Christ Jesus.

I am comforted knowing that Jesus never leaves me.

Hebrews 13:5  “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

I am comforted knowing that Jesus Cares for me.

1 Peter 3:6-7 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

I am comforted knowing that in Jesus, I am redeemed.

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— 

Being content and comfortable with our life is a gift of Christian maturity. It isn’t something we are born with and it takes many years of seeking God first to attain.

When you reach a point in your life where you can stop in the midst of chaos, look up,  and give it all to God…then you know you are getting closer and closer to being able to honestly relax and give up the control you don’t really have anyway.

Finally, I am comforted knowing that Jesus is painting beauty with the ashes of my life. (Reference from Casting Crowns, Just be Held lyrics)

John 3:17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

So many times I forget all of this. It is so easy to get lost in the chaos and wallow like the pigs being content with misery and not being able to see through the fog that evil creates. But we cannot loose sight of the One who controls the universe and everything in it.

Thank you Jesus!

 

 

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A Voice in my Ear

I was lying in bed, had just turned over, when I hear a voice in my ear. I say it was in my ear because it didn’t sound as if it were coming from somewhere in the room. If I were anywhere else I would have though someone had just literally whispered in my ear. I could almost feel his breath on my skin. It was so real I was startled. I had been facing the wall and rolled over to see what was going on.  No one was there, of course, but it seemed so incredibly real.

I had never heard that voice before, which is part of why I was startled, not to mention no one in my house has that voice. But more than that was what he said. It was two small words I detest whenever I hear them together. I turn off TV when I hear it, even if it is the last 10 minutes.

He simply said “G…D…”!

I cried and prayed and begged for God to take whatever this is away from me and to never allow me to experience that ever again. It took me a while to fall asleep after that but I felt God’s peace and  I did sleep well.

I guess the devil has been trying to push my buttons lately because I feel myself inching ever closer to God. It won’t work and he will loose in the end but he is compelled to keep trying. He doesn’t realize my armor is promised in Ephesians 6 and comes from God Himself.

Thank you Father for loving me enough to protect me. In Jesus name, Amen.

Everyone hears their name from time to time. Not sure why but I have spoken to people many times who thought they were crazy. It could be a thought in their head or even a God thing. Please share if you have ever heard anything that startled you or delighted you?

Stay safe and God bless!

 

Time…

We hear all kinds of sayings about time like “time flies” or “just give it some time” and countless others. But have you ever just sat and watched a clock tick away time? I recently wanted to see what it was like to do just that. I had a little bit of time, pun intended, and sat in my quiet room and just stared at the clock. I could only do it for 3 minutes and 21 seconds. It reminded me of the days of my youth when I was practicing holding my breath for a swimming lesson.

While I sat there watching the hands of the old clock, a lot of memories ran through my mind. From childhood thru college thru the milestones and strides my children have made with their families. I started to realize that this time, we take for granted, is more precious than any rare diamond.

Time does fly by whether we are starring at a clock or going on with our daily lives. Although it does seem to fly faster when we are not paying attention to it. We cannot get time back once it has gone by. There is no rewind or do-over button for time. So how do we make the most of it?

Don’t leave anyone behind. If you have a loved one you haven’t connected with in a while, give them a call. They are probably wondering what you are up to too.

Make the most of the time you have. Whether you are living with an illness or not, don’t take time for granted. Accidents happen everyday. And even if you escape an accident, the next one is just waiting to happen.

Put the keeper of time at the front of your life. Jesus will return, this is a fact. We don’t know when so we have to be ready. Take that trip you’ve always wanted to take. Make that 15,000 foot sky dive jump. Volunteer at a hospital or assisted living facility. Tell people about Jesus while there is still time.

Once we get to Heaven, this time that is so precious now, will be replaced by the Son of the living God. Where time with Him will be glorious and forever.

God bless and stay safe!

Finding the Authentic Church and Why it is Important – Part Four

This is the final post in my series on the original church of the New Testament. I never imagined a simple essay for my theology class would spark such ferver and passion. While I hope these posts help bring on new understanding, I would be nieve to think it wouldn’t bring on new questions and even conflicts. My hope is that you are walking alongside the Holy Spirit on your daily journey.

To wrap up…The original church did not require anyone to “join” or be “voted” into it’s membership. Obeying the Gospel of the New Testament automatically made them members of the church. Several passages of Scripture reflect this truth as follows:

John 3:5, “Jesus answered, “’Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.'” 

Romans 6:3, “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?

Galatians 3:27, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

Acts 2:47, “praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”

Acts 8:35-40, “‘Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him.  Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?”

Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.”

And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”

So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing. But Philip was found at Azotus. And passing through, he preached in all the cities till he came to Caesarea.'”

Next, the original church was organized with men leading as elders, deacons and evangelists. This rightly starts with Jesus being the only head of the church as stated in  Ephesians 4:15; 5:23 and Colassians 1:18. Jesus delegated authority to others as stated in Matthew 28;19-20, Ephesians 2:20 and 1 Corinthians 15:8. They then exercised government through their written documents collected in the New Testament as stated in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 and 2 Peter 1:3.

Each local church was autonomous – no higher body of men legislating over it as found in Titus 1:5. This means no board of directors, no conference, no  synod, no pope etc., can govern His church.  These leaders/elders cannot make laws for God or His church, they can only implement them.

To qualify as an elder of His church, one must be the husband of one wife as stated in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. They can be divorced or Scripture would have said so since divorce was discussed in Scripture. This also means only men can be leaders and pastors. Scripture does not say “the wife of one husband”! Scripture was very specific. We cannot add to it or take away from it or it falls into the false teaching category.

The original church wore the name of Christ and it’s members were called Christians. The following Scriptures reflect this fact: Romans 16:16, Ephesians 3:15, Colassians 1:18, Ephesians 1:23, Romans 7:4, Revelation 21:9, Acts 20:28, Acts 11:26, Acts 26:28, 1 Peter 4:16, John 15:8, Romans 1:7, 1 Corinthians1:2, Philippians 1:1, Luke 8:21, Galatians 3:26; 6:1, 1 John 2:1 and Acts 4:12.

One final note about leadership in the church. There is no place in the leadership of a church for anyone who has chosen to alter the biblical definition of birth gender. Choosing to live and behave contrary to Scripture is a sin. 1 Corinthians 6:8-10 states, “No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren!  Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites,  nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.” One side note, this doesn’t mean you can’t drink beer or liquer. Remember, even Jesus celebrated with wine. It just means you should not get drunk.

Well, that’s it. My quest for finding the qualifications for the original church of the New Testament is complete. Now for the search of the church that closest follows these qualifications. I have eliminated more than I have left to explore. Unfortunately the list is short so I should be able to finish by the end of February. I would love the opportunity to discuss my findings with them. If I should have the opportunity to do so, I will surely include those discussions when I report back in February.

I hope I haven’t offended anyone. That is not my intention. Being right is not my goal in life. I felt moved to find the truth in scripture then act on it. These are the findings I have come to believe based on my research. As always, if you disagree, please by all means let me know why. I research because I want to do things God’s way and not mine or anyone elses.

Stay safe and God bless!

 

Walking a Thin Line

My rededication to Jesus Christ was a very dramatic event encircled by even more family drama. Recently I’ve been struggling with truth. The more I study and learn the truth, the more I see false teachers in our midst. My question is…since Scripture commands we spread the Gospel in truth, not adding to it nor taking away from it; How do we handle hearing first hand, someone who is preaching false teaching?

Since I moved back home a few years ago, I have been attending the church my parents were invited to many many years ago. They never found a reason to leave. Which on the surface is great since satan is constantly looking for ways to divide us. But deeper down I wonder if that is enough. I won’t reveal the denomination only because I don’t want to offend anyone.

Last night during the Christmas Eve service, Preacher mentioned a little baby who was only 8 days old the same night last year, when his family brought him forward to be Baptized. I cringed and hung my head. This isn’t biblical. This isn’t what Jesus wants. This isn’t how He intended it to be yet throughout the world this false teaching is spreading like wildfire.

My first instinct was to jump up and say “That isn’t how any of this works.” But I sat there praying for the child hoping sometime in his future that Jesus will grab him and set him on the right path. I then felt guilty for not being able to say anything. Not being able to jump in and set things straight. Not being able to let everyone know that if this is what you did when you were a child, you need to fix it because it wasn’t the way Jesus wants it to be.

I have already resolved myself to looking for a new church. I have researched almost every one in town to see which one proclaims the true Gospel of Christ. This was also prompted by my previous four part blog on Finding the Authentic Church. Here, I sent out 25 questionaires to local churches asking general practices from forms of worship to theological beliefs. Unfortunately I only received two back. Neither of which meet the New Testament church definition. I am happy to report that I have found one church that proclaims the true Gospel of Christ and operates as described in Acts 2. I plan on attending for the first time on New Years morning. My prayer is that I focus more on the journey than the destination. Only because I know God is up to something and he will use this journey to teach me. My hope is that I learn tolerance for people who make bad choices. Walking that thin line is exhausting because I feel responsible to say something. I pray for them everyday.

God Bless, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

 

 

 

 

Finding the Authentic Church and Why it is Important – Part Three

The Original Church expected it’s members to live holy lifestyles. That is that the Spirit will come into your heart and life and nuture your walk so that you will possess and exhibit these qualities. The problem is though, we have to listen and be obedient. The first key verse to this point is Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” This refers to our renewed nature or post salvation expectations and goals. Note that “fruit” here is a singular noun. Meaning these qualities go hand in hand with each other as one quality and develop slowly over time.

The next verse is 1 John 2:15, “ Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” By human nature the more the love of the world succeeds in our hearts, the more the love of God receeds. God knows how narrow the human heart is so He wanted John to include this warning against loving the world more than loving God. You cannot serve two masters (Luke 16:13), here the two masters being referred to are God and Money.

Also we are to live soberly, righteously and godly. Titus 2:11-12 reads “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age. The display of these virtues are evidence of the acceptance of God’s gift of grace. To live soberly does not mean you can’t drink a beer from time to time. God wants us to be in control of our faculties and not fall into sin which often happens when we are not sober. We are to stand out to the point where people around us ask us what we did to make such a change that they become interested in the change too. We were not created to be perfect, but we are expected to try.

James tells us in 4:4 “ Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” James is telling us to remain separated from the world so that we don’t become stained by the behavior of the world. When we love the flesh more than we love God, we are taking God off of the throne and placing the world there instead. Clearly, the world does not offer salvation in any form.

Revelation 2:10 explains what we must do in order to receive a crown of life in eternity. “Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” What a glorious promise from the Father of mankind. Again, being faithful does not mean we have to be perfect. Jesus Christ is our perfection. Our spiritual riches are the ones that last further than a lifetime; they last an eternity. This all begins with choices. We are the only ones in control of the choices we make.

Well, there you have it. Only one more part left to write. I hope you are being challenged to reread sections you thought you understood. As always, I welcome your comments and I would be happy to engage in conversation about anything you disagree with. I never claim to have the answers, I usually come up with more questions in the process. As always, please reference scripture, our authority for God’s Word.

 

 

Finding the Authentic Church and Why it is Important – Part Two

The original church of the New Testament has five distinct parts of worship. The first one is found in 2 Timothy 2:15 and 4:2 which explain that the sermon should be preached from the Scriptures. This may sound obvious but I once listened to a preacher go on and on about family and friends and read jokes and lots of unnecessary chatter, never once mentioning any scripture or Christ during his “sermon”. I was amazed that the congregation had nothing to say to this man who obviously was not there because of a calling to serve Christ.

Warnings about false teachers can be found in Romans 16:17, 1 John 4:1-3, 2 Timothy 4:1-5, Matthew 7:15-20, 2 John 1:7-11, 1 Timothy 6:20-21, Galatians 1:8, Revelation 22:18, Colassians 2:8, Titus 3:9, Acts 20:29, and Matthew 6:1-4 to name a few. We have to be actively looking for them and questioning what we hear in order to keep from being decieved. If you find a preacher teaching one thing that is not in God’s Word, how can you trust anything he is preaching?

Financial giving, which is actually linked to fellowship, is another part of authentic worship. In 1 Corinthians 16:1-2, 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 he instructs the perishioners in Corinth to collect charitable gifts the same way and level of expectation he instructed the Galatians in their letter. He mentions his instructions to Galatia in hopes of encouraging them to do the same or better in collecting their gifts.

Years ago a member of our church challenged me to give 15% of my pay each week. He quoted the scripture in Malachi 3:10 where God promises he will open the windows of heaven and pour out blessings with not enough room to receive it. I was so blessed as I struggled for several months to achieve my goal of 15%. I was blessed because I prayed up my struggles and God was faithful to bless my effort. He never left my side. Even during times where there wasn’t enough money to buy gas to go to work, something always came along to satisfy the need. A few years later I was blessed to challenge a young man whose wife had recently left him to take care of their home and their two small children. He was convenced it couldn’t be done. I shared my doubts about my challenge and how I overcame them and he was encouraged to try the same. I saw him a month later and he was elated. It was working for him too. He asked how he could ever thank me and I told him to keep it up and share with someone else who needs the blessing.

When we said “we are to be a cheerful givers”, our children thought we were crazy. But as they got older and had the means to give and watch their gifts bring smiles and tears to those they gave to, they finally understood. If you’ve never felt what it is like to give someone a financial gift, you should try it. Even if it is only five bucks, I promise you, you will feel the Spirit stir inside your heart. My favorite thing to do is to give the cashier extra money as I leave the drive through and instruct her to give it to the person behind me. They smile and pass on the blessing.

There are different names for Breaking Bread. This is the next part of authentic worship. Whether you call it the Eucharist, Holy Communion, Lord’s Supper, or something else; it is correctly referred to in Scripture as the Breaking of Bread. Scripture also explains in Acts 20:7 that the Breaking of Bread should be performed on the first day of the week; every week. In 1 Corinthians 11:23-29 he describes the manner in which it should be performed. Some preachers say the elements of the bread and wine take on the very presence or essence of Christ himself, which is in error. Scripture clearly explains it is to be done in “remembrance” of the sacrifice that Christ made. He also explains when it is not to be taken. We are to have our hearts right with God, having no unbelief or anger toward Him. Also not to treat it as you would a common feast but instead with reverence and awe.

Praying should be a part of every sermon as well. In Acts 12:12 and 1 Thesselonians 5:17 it explains how prayer was a vital part of the original church services. Some preachers get so wrapped up in their sermon or finishing up on time that they don’t pray with their congregation. Scripture is clear that praying during the course of the service is a vital part of authentic worship.

The last part of authentic worship is to make a time for everyone present to sing praises to God. Acts 2:42, Ephesians 5:19 and Colassians 3:16, 1 Corinthians 14:15 and Hebrews 2:12, all have examples of how this should take place. They sang without any musical instrument accompaniment…only the voices of those singing. Other scripture talks about instruments being in existence and used at festivals and weddings but nothing was played during the church services.

There you have it…the five distinct parts of worship of the original church of the New Testament. As always, I welcome your comments or discussions but please reference Scripture since God’s Word is our source of truth.

 

Vacation Bible School or Battle Mom Royale

This week has been amazing so far. I have been looking for the Holy Spirit to show up and He certainly has done so. I am praying for a particular woman though and I’ll tell you why.

The first day she and I had a small confrontation. It wasn’t just between her and I though, she made sure the entire church knew about it. I guess that sounds a little bitter. I am praying it up but I haven’t turned it loose yet. Hopefully this post will help make that happen.

She was standing on the opposite end of the same pew I was standing in. She was motioning to her daughter for her to go to her. She neglected to speak to me or my two co-leaders personally. She didn’t care that we have a checkout process. She was ready to go and wanted what she wanted. I was in the process of dismissing another child while this was going on, so I put my hand in front of her child to stop her and instructed her to wait. I specifically said “No, you need to wait”. That was all I did and said. The woman loudly proclaimed at me “That was rude.” I know I looked at her in amazement because I was dumbfounded. I didn’t think it was rude to protect her child. I didn’t know this woman from Eve and because I was already talking to one child, I had not heard her child tell me the woman was her mom.

Admittedly, I had hoped she would be polite enough to walk over and ask me for her child but apparently I was expecting too much. So as I stood there like a deer in the headlights, she had placed her hands on her hips by now and was glaring at me. I had to stop my gaze from becoming a glare and quickly turned to the next child hoping I could shake this and it be done with. I went home, vented a little and was ready for the next day.

Sure enough, the next day we were both back and ready to tackle anything. My joke, sorry. This time she was polite and waited for her child’s name to be called. Rather smooth but without any eye contact. No problem. Let’s move past yesterday’s whatever it was.

Thursday, today, rolls around. Her daughter responded to the invitation. Hallelujah! What an awesome time. I was excited, the workers were excited, so we were anticipating equal excitement from her mother.

Again she stood a pews’ distance from any of us three workers and said “Where’s Roni?” I remained where I was and projected politely to her, “She responded to the invitation.” Instead of smiles and other exciting exclamations she started rambling. As she rambled, she walked past me to where my two co-workers were standing without looking in my direction or acknowledging I existed. Her rambling went like this “She got saved two weeks ago. She knows all about Jesus. She doesn’t need to talk to a counselor.” By this time I stopped listening and started praying for her. I wanted to say a lot but I knew it would fall on deaf ears. My two co-workers tried to calm her down and explain that she still had questions but the mothers response was a rude and abrasive, “Yea, I get it. Roni is an attention hound.” And she walked away.

OK, putting this on paper, of sorts, did help me release the anger and animosity I think I had been feeling along with still being dumbfounded by her behavior. But now it has changed to sadness. I’m still dumbfounded how a mother could act that way let alone have those feelings about their child.

Today, Friday, I was talking with another leader who is a little more familiar with this woman and learned a few things. She has made being a foster parent a career. She has adopted five children and is working on number six. She is traveling at the speed of sound and missing everything God has placed in her path.

We have no idea what these children deal with on a daily basis, or the parents for that matter. I will be praying for Roni and her mom for some time to come.

Stay safe and God bless…