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!

 

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 One

I have often wondered why churches are so different in styles and beliefs, thinking they were all pointing to Jesus. I was naive to think that and very very wrong.  I started researching what the different denominations were and why they are different. Growing up I just figured it was different friends and family that gathered at the different churchs for whatever reason. It took me a while to grasp the concept that it isn’t about Christ that makes their differences. It is about themselves. It is about satan. It’s about people twisting church into their own comfortable place to gather.  A place where their rules feel better than God’s rules. A place where man creates and controls the atmosphere. A place where the masks cover the sins beneath. Where worship is planned in advance thus removing the spontaneous authentensity. Where people put on shows of faith and generosity that don’t come from the heart or the Spirit. I’m not talking about the Muslim and Jehovah’s Witnesses and such. I’m talking about the Christians.

Don’t misunderstand…I am a Christian. But because of these differences, I consider myself a Christ Follower instead. I think it is a more specific description considering all of those differences. I decided to do some research to discover what Scripture says the authentic church should look like. I opened my Bible up to Acts to start my journey. The first thing I ran across were the requirements for membership into God’s church. This reminded me of my childhood when my cousins built a fort and put a sign on the door that read “no girls allowed”. I eventually made my way in but only after completing a dare. I don’t remember the dare but knowing them it was a creepy one. It seems there are always requirements for membership regardless of what we are joining.

I found the first step in Acts 2 which says that sinners are to hear the word of God (Acts 2:37). This makes sense since you cannot believe in something you don’t know or learn about first. How can anyone believe or know about Christ unless he learns about Him first? Romans 10:17 reinforces this and reads “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God“.

Since hearing the word produces faith in Jesus as the Son of God, faith is the second step. Faith is defined as “confidence or trust in a person, belief that is not based on proof, and belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion“. This step is important since you cannot move forward to the next step without it. It is also important to be learning about Jesus from an authentic church and not learning things that are not true. Otherwise, what is your faith based on? Lies, half-truths, man-made rules and junk that will deceive you and destroy your walk with Jesus (Acts 2:22-37, John 3:16).

Adam and Eve knew they had sinned in the garden before their eyes were opened. They tried to hide from God but He knew what they had done. His reaction was not for His benefit but for their benefit. He wanted to hear from them whether or not they would tell the truth and be sorry for what they did. The next step is repentenance (Acts 2:38; 17:30). Repentenance is explained as “Repentance goes beyond feeling to express distinct purposes of turning from sin to righteousness; the Bible word most often translated repentance means a change of mental and spiritual attitude toward sin [Century Dictionary]”. Turning from sin means not going back. Not repeating the sins we asked forgiveness for. Of course we all sin and yes, sometimes we recommit them, but having a heart of repentance and faith in Jesus can keep us from those sins if we choose to fully and deligently repent. It takes work. It takes prayer. It takes commitment. Trust Jesus and keep your eyes on Him.

Confession of Christ must precede Baptism so this is the next step. (Matthew 1-:32, Acts 8:37, Romans 10:9-10) Since we are baptized into Christ (Galations 3:27), it is Christ we are to confess our belief in. Confessing in someone else would not make us Christians. Therefore baptism would be a waste of time. Being baptized into Christ declares our gratitude and love for our mighty saviour. It is Him and only Him that saves us.

Lastly we are to be baptized in water for remission of sins. (Acts 2:38, Mark 16:16, 1 Peter 3:21) Let me apologize now. I don’t mean to step on toes but I have to be honest or this blog is for not. No where in Scripture is sprinkling for baptism used. You will find general sprinkling for other purposes (example Hebrews 9) but never for human baptism. I can only speculate about the ramifications of this error but I, for one, would not take any chances. I would encourage you, if you have the slightest bit of doubt, to be baptized in water so you will not end your days wondering if you did the right thing.

So there you have it. This is only the beginning of my journey. There are many more aspects of the authentic church to come. Please feel free to comment but I encourage you to back up your comments with Scripture since Scripture is the ultimate authority.

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…

Tolerance and Jesus’ Example

My tolerance is rock bottom. I need Jesus’s help to raise the bar. People don’t discipline their children when they do something wrong. They make choices without regard to whether it pleases God or not. They make decisions and life changes that go against the moral grain. Fake praises or condolenscences to make themselves sound good are a waste of time and look ridiculous. Talking about a subject they know nothing about while using big words that make no sense, may sound smart to the person doing the talking but others usually see through it. My patience is wearing thin. It is getting harder to keep my mouth shut. A part of me knows that my telling them the truth will fall on deaf ears but another part of me just wants to get it out.

Jesus knew what this felt like. When the crowd confronted the woman who was caught in the act of adultery, Jesus bent over and drew in the sand, more than once. He was giving them time to realize the wrong they themselves were doing. They missed the grace Jesus offeres to everyone.

John 8:6-9 (NKJV) This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear. So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”  And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.  Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.

So while I rant and rave about the things that are wrong in the world, is Jesus bending over and writing in the sand while I stand and wonder what it is all about? Yea, I’m pretty sure He shakes His head and writes in the sand a lot these days.

Stay safe and God bless.

Do you have the answer?

I need your help! I’m not sure what this means but I can’t seem to figure it out. So here goes.

I prayed and asked God to allow me to see people the way He does. Instead, now I see all of their sin. Their stupid choices, their sinful decisions and behaviors, the willful disregard for God and His love. I find myself picking apart their issues. Being their judge of sorts but I am painfully aware that I have no business judging anyone. We all sin. So what is this? I don’t like it and I can’t seem to make it go away.

I prayed the prayer hoping to see the beauty in people. Instead I see the junk. Not everyone mind you, just the ones that I know for a fact have made or are making horrible choices. I don’t want to see the junk, I want to see the beauty. I know there is beauty there but for some reason the junk flies in my face. I don’t like it. I want it to stop.

I know we all sin and are all equal to one another in God’s eyes so why do I care so much about their junk? Why does their choices to sin bother me so much that it’s all I see when I look at them?  Am I so in love with God that people who toss Him aside make me this angry? Could that be what this is? Could it be that easy? It’s hard for me to even talk to them, it is so bad. I have to suppress the urge to smack them and shove the truth down their throats. Wow, that was harsh.

I have been praying for a few days for this to change. I’m not sure what God is trying to show me or teach me about myself or Him but I’m ready to get it and move on. Seriously, how do I make this stop?

Stay safe and God bless…

Are You Doing It Right?

I am constantly on a quest for self-improvement. I want to get so close to God on this earth that people will think I am already in Heaven. I know that sounds a little silly but I am happiest when I am in the presence of God and to be as close to Him as possible is a moment by moment quest.

It isn’t exhaustive by any means. It is actually easy as long as I don’t let the things of this world interfere. Today, as I was working on my studies, I came across this sentence. “Daily put-off the old self and put-on the new self by biblically responding to life’s irritations and offenses.” I had read and studied the passage in Ephesians 4 for years but here was a solution I had not learned before. Here was the HOW… “by biblically responding to life’s irritations and offenses.” 

Ephesians 4:22-24 (NKJV)  that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.”

Suddenly I felt vindicated or something. I often wonder if I am doing things right or if God is shaking His head at me. But this tells me how I should be responding and that I am mostly getting it right. I’m not sure why this was a surprise or “ah ha” moment. I guess I second guess myself too much. Well, I just wanted to share in case you are like me and needed some clarification. We’re OK after all.

Stay safe and God bless…

 


 

Old-fashioned Communication

All too often the people we love die before we have time to really get to know them. Most of us never know how we feel about each other because we always think that tomorrow is another day. What’s the hurry? We’ll have plenty of time to talk and get to know each other later.

I knew my Nana’s favorite bird and her favorite color but she had no idea what my favorites were. It isn’t her fault, I was more observant or I never let on what my favorite things were. Maybe she knew all along and I was too young to realize it.

So I got to thinking about my grandchildren. I love them dearly and while I was privileged to spend many years with them when they were younger, now I am 10 hours away and the phone and computer just don’t seem to be good enough. Those things lack the intimacy that spending face-to-face time with them holds. So I decided I would write them a series of letters or cards and express my love and appreciation for them. I personally would keep these and store them away forever but I don’t expect them to do that realistically. I just want them to see and read how I feel about them while I still can. I don’t want them to ever have to wonder about that.

I had to warn my daughter of these impending letters so that she wouldn’t think that something medically horrible was going on with me. At least that I know of. I just don’t want to miss the opportunity to tell them how special they are. Even it if means more to me that it does to them. And while I re-read this, I should probably make mention of how proud I am of my own children. They are amazing too.

I will post the letters as I send them. I know they love getting mail even if there isn’t any money in them…lol.

Stay safe and God bless.