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!

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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!

 

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.

 

 

Makayla

I first met Makayla when she was 5, I think. Her mom had died a few years earlier and my daughter was engaged to her dad. She was the cutest little thing, sweet and had beautiful curly hair. Today she is a sophomore in High School. Wow, the time does fly. But she is just as beautiful and sweet as she ever was and a little more. We love her without any “step” and she is a joy to be around.

But there is a problem. She hates her hair. It is so curly you cannot comb or brush it when it is dry. It fizzes if she plays with it so she keeps it up on her head in a bun of sorts. The bad thing is she doesn’t take care of it because she doesn’t like it. We have spent a small fortune on shampoos and conditioners, asked everyone for advise but nothing has helped.

She thinks she is ugly because she hates her hair. She sees pictures of girls on sees them on TV and doesn’t understand why she can’t look like they do. All of this has caused her to gain weight. She is an emotional eater. She doesn’t understand the limits or why certain foods should be avoided. She is pre-diabetic, which is what killed her mother, but she doesn’t seem to care because she blames everything on her hair.

So the following is what I want to say to her. I’m thinking it might be a little too abrupt. What do you think?

From the magazines at the grocery store checkout, from billboards to TV shows, it’s hard to escape the world’s twisted idea of what it says a “beautiful woman” looks like.  The world does an excellent job of seducing women and girls into thinking they are not beautiful enough. It offers everything from beauty products to surgery to help you attain the beauty it says you deserve. But why do you listen to the worlds definition of beauty? Why is the world an authority on what beauty is?

You are a child of God. He made you for a specific reason and He made you the way you are for that reason. It is imperative to study and learn how to embrace a biblical and spiritual balance that honors the God who created you. You don’t need to work on your outer appearance. You need to work on your inner beauty character. That is where your beauty blossoms and flows to the outside of you. God calls you beautiful! Exactly the way He made you. Not the way the world wants you to be.

People Continue to Amaze Me

What is it about people? You know, the ones who take credit for things they didn’t do. Like when you clean out your grandmother’s RV to help sell it and she tells everyone how hard she worked to get it cleaned up. And why does that make us so mad?

Or when you hear your mother-in-law mention time and time again that she wishes she had a gravy boat for her dining room table. You buy her one for Christmas and when she opens it she says “Oh, a gravy boat?” I looked high and low for that gravy boat. I poured  time, energy and love into finding her the best one to fit her taste. And she acts like it was a random regifted gift. And why did that hurt my feelings?

Or my sister. My mom and dad are 78 years young this year. Every morning they work all of the puzzles in the newspaper. My sister knows this but for whatever reason the other morning, my sister had an issue that required my dads attention. See, my sister has a knack for dragging us into her drama. So she walks into my room and peers through the living room door to see dad working the puzzle, naturally. Then walks back through my room mumbling nondescript words of discontent that he is working is blankety-blank puzzles as though he is supposed to know it is “drama time”.

Or the woman at church who is all about herself. She is a ruler. Yes, you can look up the definition and it will fit her, I promise. She is also a control freak. That definition will fit too. Anyway, the other day my mom and I went to the church the day before our festival to drop off a few items for a silent auction. She was the head of that too. Go figure. She was elbow deep in coleslaw and another woman asked her where she wanted us to place the items until she could get to them. Well, the woman came unglued. She started yelling that the sale wasn’t today, that we couldn’t buy anything until tomorrow, she started to explain what a silent auction was and went on and on and on. I looked at my mom and we headed to the office. We left everything with the secretary to handle and walked away. She clearly has issues that are not up to us to handle.

Why do people continue to amaze me? I’d hate to think that I’m as self-centered as they seem to be. God is so good! Why is it that even though we pray and trust Him, when things work out, it is always a “WOW!” moment. He’s got it under control regardless of how out of control we may feel.

So, chill out…speak the truth with love…and hang on to Jesus for dear life. The ride will be worth it!

Spring Vacation

Vacation… A time of relaxation and rejuvenation. A time to visit family and old friends. A time to unwind and look forward to a restart. Actually, vacation went very well. The only hitch was mom getting a stomach bug. But everything else was great.

My sister still tried to back us out of Sunday, right up to that morning but I smiled, held my ground and held God’s hand. It was awesome to see my son and his little family dedicate themselves to Christ. It was more than worth the extra miles and aggravation.

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.

The Loss of Innocence

Imagine you are at a resort at a beautiful beach. You have a three-day weekend to enjoy the sun, the cooler weather and just be. You are watching your two sweet girls playing in the Lazy River. The cares you left at home are less stressful. No worries flood your mind as you watch your girls having fun. You don’t get to do this often and you enjoy treating your family to some much needed down time.

But then it happens…

The word “degenerate” was the first kind word that popped into my head.

  • The dictionary defines it as “to fall below a normal or desirable level in physical, mental, or moral qualities; deteriorate”.
  • I liked this one too, “to diminish in quality, especially from a former state of coherence, balance, integrity, etc.”
  • Or this one, “a person or thing that reverts to an earlier stage of culture, development, or evolution.”

I’m not sure why I kept reading down the list of meanings for this word but then I saw it. The last one and I’m not sure why I was surprised it was there.

The final meaning is “a sexual deviate”.

In contrast, I looked up the word “innocence”. The dictionary defines it as “freedom from sin or moral wrong.”

Remember the serenity that once existed as you relaxed next to the Lazy River…

The girls scurried over to their mom to tell her about a man. A man who was sitting in a tube floating in the Lazy River with his “business” out.

Before I grabbed my laptop to put this together, my mind was racing with anger. I wanted to put that anger on paper so you, too, could feel my pain and disgust. But a funny thing happened as I walked the 10 steps to my recliner, sat down and opened my computer. I felt God take away the anger. It’s not about me and what I want. Not that I can do anything from where I am but you know what I mean. I want…to do something. I want it to stop. I want to be mad. I want to be furious and I am that it happened. All children are precious and this creep is preying on them everyday. But God took away my anger and replaced it with pity.

As I write this I am still feeling what that feels like. I can feel Him removing the emotions He doesn’t want me to have and replacing them with emotions He wants me to have. I feel as sense of relief, a sense of calm, a sense of peace. I tell people about this kind of love all the time but I have never been able to write about it as it is happening.

I am overwhelmed.

I don’t feel the rage that would have allowed me to choke him had he been in front of me at the time. God has allowed me to see a small glimpse of this degenerate the way He does. Yes, I am still mad that it happened, but the emotional stress that anger causes is gone. I wish I had better words to share this with you. I sit here just shaking my head as I try to write.

All I feel now is pity…

which is a synonym for GRACE.

Stay safe and God bless

Which Mocker Are You?

It is easy to pass by someone and not realize who they are. You don’t recognize them from a photo or something. Their persona doesn’t strike you as a famous person or whatever. But if they tell you they are someone you don’t know they are, will you believe them? I met a famous actor many years ago who did not look like he did many years before and I have to tell you, it took me several minutes of staring to see it. He was bald and fat and did not look anything like he did before. I could have easily mocked him, but I didn’t. I think mostly because I was in shock.

As I read over Luke 23 at the different people who were present at the crucifixion of Christ, I can’t help but wonder what their motives were.  I get the passersby. They just happened to be there and were curious, although a grim curiosity. But what about the others?

The Chief Priests, Scribes and Elders were present mostly because they wanted to win their arguments. Whether or not they believed Jesus to be the Son of God or not shouldn’t have mattered. He was a man who had done nothing wrong. His only crime was that He disagreed with the “religious right”? And they had the audacity to mock Him on top of that? Why did they have to stand and watch Him die? Oh yea, they expected Him to come down from the cross. Such hypocrites!

Now the two Criminals. Well, one of them. They were close enough to talk (this is a naive concept since talking was extremely difficult to do considering how much stress the body is in, in that position) to Jesus or at least to see Him in a way that none of the others could. One thief did eventually “get it” and repent.  They were closer than anyone else and should have both been able to glean the awesomeness of Christ’s deity had the one not been so blind.

So…

Are you one of the Passersby who just so happens to be visiting the area that very weekend when the event is happening and you find yourself in the middle of the excitement so you get involved without knowing or caring about what is going on?

Are you one of the Denominations, Church Members, or Bible Students who disagrees with Jesus and sneers at Him because He challenges you?

Are you one of the Criminals who hung next to Jesus on the cross? They too joined in on the mockery at first, although one began to see something in Christ that all the others missed.

Christ’s death fulfilled an eternal purpose. We can analyze the events that lead up to and away from His death but the fact still remains…God has a plan. Everything happens for a reason and our understanding of it isn’t a requirement.

Stay safe and God bless.

 

Aggravation

I remember a game growing up as a kid called aggravation. I don’t think it was/is spelled the same way though. I never thought, back then, that life would be so much worse. I haven’t spoken much about my sister only because I don’t want to hurt her feelings when the subject is not on the bright side of life. She is sometimes high maintenance but that is her nature and that’s OK. As much as I would love to slap her into reality sometimes, I still love her to death…lol pun intended.

This morning brought on a little drama. She was running late, not a surprise lately. She told mom she would do something and mom was pressing her to take care of it but she was out the door because she was running late. Now the second phone line, which she runs her business off of isn’t working, and she doesn’t have time to call the company to have it checked. She just wants “someone else” to take their time to call and make an appointment to come look at it for her since she doesn’t have time to do it herself.

Yea, I get it. I should jump at the opportunity to help her out since she is so busy and needs my help but I have to tell you. When you watch someone who goes out of their way to get bogged down at what looks like on purpose, it is hard to jump in because you know they aren’t learning to plan better to do better, they are just learning to rely on you more. Wow, that was hard to write and harder to reread. You want to believe the best in people and I am usually the eternal optimist but this is really hard. I don’t think I can ever wish for her to be better and expect it to come true. I don’t think I can wish her into being a better planner. I don’t think I can wish her into being someone who doesn’t cuss and yell when she is overwhelmed. I don’t think I can wish her into being someone who is more responsible and gracious to the people around her. All I can do is hope and pray and even then God will be the one who decides when and if this comes about. This isn’t about me. I can’t make it about me.

So here I go again making a change to my mindset. That I can change.

Stay safe and God bless.