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!

 

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!

 

And the Winner is…

I was reading my morning devotion and the scripture verse was Exodus 34:14 “for you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God“. It went on to talk about how Paul explained to the church in Corinth that he was jealous for them with a godly jealously in 2 Corinthians 11:2 (For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy.”). And more scripture that tells us we are created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27, “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him”). If jealousy is in His image then how can it be a bad thing? So I started to wonder about this jealously Paul (and others) was speaking of since, in my understanding of the word, ranks up there with envy.

To make matters worse, envy is defined as “the desire to have for oneself something possessed by another, covetousness”. OK, so now, we’ve added yet another word to this issue that is clearly talked about in scripture under the heading of “Thou shalt not”.

But never fear, my trusty dictionary will clear this up. I dug around in the “jealous” department and discovered that it isn’t actually similar to envy although we sometimes use the different words and meanings interchangeably. Way down in the definition of jealous I found that it also means “solicitous or vigilant in maintaining or guarding something” and ” intolerant of unfaithfulness or rivalry”. Phew!

Now we’re getting somewhere. But as I pondered my own “jealously” issues for Christ, it brought up questions. Could all those people standing around preaching and yelling (“repent and be saved” or “Jesus is coming, get right with God or die”) and a variety of others, actually be reacting to this world out of Godly jealously? We tend to think they are a little nuts, ignore them and continue on about our day but what if it is real honest Godly jealously? What if they have it right and we are just uncomfortable with their delivery? What if, instead of ignoring them and walking briskly away, we shaked their hand and acknowledged our new understanding of their mission?

I don’t know if this will help me when I get passionately defensive of Christ or if it will fuel my patience and love of those who choose not to follow Him. But at least now I have a new found understanding and tolerance for those who choose to shout it in the streets.

This ending wasn’t anything I had envisioned for this post when I started it. I paused a lot and prayed a lot over it so hopefully it is what God directed me to write.

Stay safe and God bless.

And the Verdict is…

My dad was working a puzzle today and asked me if  g-u-i-l-t-y was the correct spelling for the word “guilty”. For the first time that word hit me like it never has before. I was slightly stunned as I sat there and pondered what it felt like to be pronounced guilty of something. Yes we are all guilty of lying but hopefully grow out of that as maturity sets in. And I’m sure everyone has gone home with a pen from work in their pocket from time to time. So what was it today about this word.

It felt as though I had just been given a moment to physically feel what being guilty really feels like. That shock when you think your life is about to change forever. Just a brief amount of time that couldn’t have been more than several seconds but felt longer. I am guilty, me, I did it. For that moment I felt guilty. I felt condemned. We talk about that and explain it as we spread the Gospel but this was the first time I had ever physically felt my guilt.

But God wasn’t done with me yet…

Before I could feel bad about that guilt, God replaced it with feelings of redemption, forgiveness and grace. I love it when God gives me small glimpses into His heart.

Stay safe and God bless.

A Lie is Still a Lie

I’m not bragging when I talk about myself by any means. I use my experiences as examples of hurdles you can jump over too. I was fired from three jobs during the course of my years as a software consultant because I wouldn’t lie to clients. I know the look on my face the first time was priceless. The deer in the headlights thing comes to mind. But to ask someone to lie…how do you do that and expect them to actually do it? When I said “No” the look on his face was as though I had slapped him, so I’m sure I was the first “No”. When he stuttered the “W, W, W, Well, you’re fired” at me, I calmly stood up and walked out with my head held high.

The second time I said “No”, the man asked me “Why not?”. I was all too happy to tell him. I explained to him that my committment to God was greater than any amount of money and I had no intention of dishonoring God for any man. He sat there with a dumbfounded look on his face only because I’m sure he had no idea what I had just said. I struggled to contain my laughter at his reaction while holding back my anger all at the same time. Again I calmly walked out.

The third time I said “No”, went about the same way as the second only there were several people in the room. After I made my stand they all made snide comments as though I were not in the room at all. It was somewhat comical at first but as I thought about what they were asking me to do, I started to wonder why I was in this situation another time. I left the room watching them out of the corner of my eye as they clamored to figure out what went wrong. I sort of smiled as I left but not because I felt I had gotten something over on them, I was smiling because that is what God wanted me to do. I wanted to get mad and say things I knew I shouldn’t. But it wasn’t my reputation on the line here, it was theirs.

There are tons of liars in scripture. God never said the lies were OK but he still used the people who made them for His purposes. From the serpent who lied to Eve throughout time, liars will be a part of life. Lets look at a few from scripture.

Genesis 31:7 (NKJV) “Yet your father has deceived me and changed my wages ten times, but God did not allow him to hurt me.

1 Kings 21:1-16 NKJV) “She wrote letters, saying, Proclaim a fast, and seat Naboth with high honor among the people; and seat two men, scoundrels, before him to bear witness against him, saying, ‘You have blasphemed God and the king.’ Then take him out, and stone him, that he may die.”

Proverbs 11:1 (NKJV) “Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord, But a just weight is His delight.” and Micah 6:11 (NKJV) “Shall I count pure those with the wicked scales,
And with the bag of deceitful weights?

People lie for all sorts of reasons but the ones that have impacted me the most are the ones where people are attempting to profit from their lies. Back to the third time…See, they had invested about two months of 40-60 hour work weeks in me to get me ready for this client project not thinking that my lying would be a show stopper. Needless to say they were livid. One of them came after me crying his eyes out because he knew his failure to convince me to lie would be the lose of his job. Another was mad enough that I was ready to defend myself because his body posture was very aggressive. And from a woman who was fairly sweet the day before, came words I had never heard in my life.

I know it is human nature to lie in order to avoid difficulty we choose not to face, but I also know there are consequences. Whether we face them now, later or seem to get away with our lies, there is One who knows every word and every thought that we have ever had. While it is true that God is a forgiving God, I personally never want to do anything on purpose to disappoint Him.  Romans 3:4 (NKJV) “Certainly not! Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar. As it is written: “That You may be justified in Your words, And may overcome when You are judged.”

Stay safe and God bless.

No Pain, No Gain

I use to hear that on the softball field or in the exercise room. Later in life I would hear doctors say that pain equals something bad and that it is a signal to back off. So what changed? Were the coaches wrong or misguided? Or were they just talking about a different kind of pain?

Listening to how everyone complains about how much they hurt is sometimes annoying for me. The other day I observed a woman holding her abdomen clearly in pain and wanting someone to acknowledge her for it. I didn’t because I didn’t want to have that conversation but why was she doing that? Was she looking for sympathy? Was she in real need? I’m not sure. She continued on so it must not have been that dire or did she just push through it?

Pain and suffering are a fact of life just like death and taxes as my dear departed grandmother used to say. But they too have a purpose. So instead of looking at this sometimes grim subject grimly, I decided to look at the positive things that can come from life’s pain and suffering.

Pain and Suffering has the ability reshape us. Isaiah 48:10 (NKJV) “Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.” God will purify and refine us. He can take our weaknesses and make them into strengths. We have to be willing to see them as weaknesses and be willing to turn them into something useful instead. If we continue to hide our candles (weaknesses) under a basket, our flames (growth) will be snuffed out.

Pain and Suffering has the ability to create spiritual maturity. James 1:2-4 (NKJV) “My  brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” The more we rely on God and allow Him to take care of us, the easier it becomes. It should be a natural thing when something goes wrong for us to look up and say to God, “You got this Father” and let Him have it.

Pain and Suffering has the ability to prepare us to comfort others. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 (NKJV) “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ.” Think about it. Can someone who has not suffered offer you hope?

Pain and Suffering has the ability to bring us closer to God. Job 42:5 (NKJV) “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You.” Have you noticed that the more you talk to someone the closer you become to them? The relationships we have can truly be measured by the amount of interaction we have with each person. The true friendships are the unique ones. Like my friends in North Carolina I don’t talk to but once every few months or sometimes less. We are old friends and can pick up where we left off no matter how few times we speak to one another. But our regular relationships suffer if we don’t interact on a regular basis. Our relationship with God works the same way.

There have been times in my life when I stop and wonder to myself what could God be doing that He is so busy that we haven’t spoken much lately. Yes, I chuckle a little because I know it is me, then I cry a little because I know it is me. Then I apologize to Him and my prayer life gets back on track, for a while. But this is human nature. It is something we have to work hard at because life is hard.  

Pain and Suffering has the ability to mold us further into the image of God. Romans 8:28-29 (NKJV)  “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.  For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”  God did not forsake Jesus, He raised Him three days later. It was His purpose and He knew it.

We will endure pain and suffering of various kinds.  Hopefully we will use our experiences to comfort and encourage others along the way. I know Jesus suffered unbearable pain but looking back I also have to believe he finds it was worth His inheritance. I would never compare my pain to what He felt but I can tell you, it will be worth it no matter how bad it gets.

Stay safe and God bless.