Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘From My Heart’ Category

 

My ancestors are Mormon pioneers. I come from a line of Latter Day Saints and I have distant relatives who are still Latter Day Saints. I do not believe all of their doctrine, but I do believe they have some disciplines that the Protestant church can learn from. As the Protestant church shrinks in size, losing members in droves, the LDS church continues to grow. What are they doing right?

  1. They Pray – Mormons have active prayer lives. Prayer is woven into the fabric of their lives. In the Protestant church, prayer is usually an after thought. Prayer is something most Christians do when we need something or when things aren’t going our way.
  2. They Study The Bible – Mormons study the Bible. They know the Bible and can defend their beliefs in any conversation. Most Christians in the Protestant church have a hard time defending their beliefs or their faith.
  3. They Evangelize – All young Mormons are sent on missions. It’s a requirement of all young Mormons. Evangelizing is one of their top priorities, while the Protestant church makes it difficult for missionaries to raise funds and become a missionary. Mormon missionaries spend their days going door to door talking to people while Protestants stay inside the walls of the church.
  4. They prioritize Family/Community – The LDS church has mandated that every Monday night is family night among Mormons. They spend the evening doing a Bible study, prayer or watching a family/Christian movie. It is to be an evening that strengthens the bonds of the family unit and those in the family with God. They also build community with each other through activities in the church. The women are all a part of the Relief Society and the men are all elders. I have found in the Protestant church that family life is busy with running around and very rarely is there a night at home focused on religious study. We don’t hand down our faith like Mormons do and church is not a priority other than on Sundays.
  5. They Disciple – Discipleship is a very important part of being in the LDS church. Every active member knows the doctrines and can defend their faith to those who question or oppose the faith. In the beginning they are taught by the missionaries. Later they are taught by visiting teachers, elders, and older members. Parents/grandparents disciple the children. We, in the Protestant church are largely left to disciple ourselves. We depend on Sunday school to disciple our children and ourselves. We can not be discipled by Sunday school alone! Discipleship takes relationships built over time where a mature Christian takes on the teaching of a new Christian. In the Protestant church, we gather on Sundays, but scatter the rest of the week.
  6. They Help The Needy – The LDS church takes social services seriously. They have the largest social services organization of any denomination EVER. Deseret Industries has warehouses in many large cities to help the needy in those areas. God never intended the government to provide for the needy. That was always the job of the church and Mormons take that seriously. If the Protestant church did as much instead of turning people away, we wouldn’t need a welfare system. With as many churches as there are in America and with the unlimited resources of God, there is no reason people should have to suffer in poverty.

 

I have researched the LDS church in my research on my Mormon ancestors. Although I don’t agree with everything they believe, I do believe that they do many things right. We in the Protestant church could take some lessons from our Mormon friends. We need to step it up. The Protestant church is in a decline, the LDS church had a slight uptick in conversions in 2019. If we want to transform the Protestant church, we need to get back to what’s important. Making Jesus #1 like the Mormons do.

Read Full Post »

 

I turned 50 yesterday! It is a milestone that has caused quite a bit of reflection. There is so much turmoil in our world today, that I have been reflecting on my own contributions whether for the good or bad. What have I put out into the world that made things better or made things worse? Have I been a light in this world or have I brought more darkness? How can I shine my light into a world full of hate, anger and chaos? What lessons have I learned in this half century that I can use to make this next half century better, not just for myself but for those around me?

Lessons I have learned:

  1. Jesus IS the reason – A life that isn’t Jesus centered is not worth living! There is no hope, joy, purpose, or true love without the ONE who makes every day worth living. When life is lived separated from God, there is an emptiness, a void that we try to fill with other things, but ultimately, life is not worth living if Jesus is not in it. I intentionally fill my life with prayer, digging into God’s Word, surrounding myself with other believers, and serving others. Being intentional about deepening my relationship with God, means that He is never far from me. Without Jesus, what is the meaning of life? There isn’t one.
  2. Love CAN conquer hate – I can personally testify to how love can drive out hate when we open our hearts and allow love in. Hate, anger and bitterness makes us miserable. When we carry hate and anger in our hearts, we are carrying around such a burden of negative energy that we close ourselves off to anything good. It becomes such a heavy load to carry that some are so overwhelmed by the pain and hopelessness that they make the decision to end their lives. When we decide to open our hearts to love, life changes. When we allow love in, our view of other people changes. We have to choose to love. We have to choose to let go of hate. It is a decision. I chose to open my heart and now hate has no hold on me.
  3. Money means nothing – WHAT??? I mean it. Money is the root of all evil. A simple life lived for God is a good life. I live simply. I have very little material possessions and I am free from the burden of having to financially care for those possessions. When we hoard our money and our possessions, we give up our freedom. We become robots who work to maintain our possessions and hoard more money. We give up our time to relax and play. Our possessions and money become our reason for living while the real meaning of life slips away.
  4. Community matters – Being surrounded by family and other believers gives life more meaning. We were never meant to do life alone. God made us to do life together. We need each other. Isolation brings on depression and pain. When we surround ourselves with others who share our values and lives, we can be there to encourage each other, help each other and love each other. We need other people. satan attacks when we are isolated and alone.
  5. Life can be peaceful – I realize that drama is a part of life. I don’t like drama. I don’t like chaos. I have dealt with so much worry and anxiety that all I really want is a peaceful existence. Life can be peace-filled, but that is part of having faith in a God who has every circumstance under control. We can have that deep seated peace that surpasses all understanding when we believe that God will bring good out of every situation.

 

Every lesson that I have learned is centered in having a relationship with Jesus. This next half century will find me becoming more intentional about sharing the light of Jesus in the chaos. Time is closing in. I feel it. I have more of a burden than ever to make sure that people know that redeeming love that ONLY comes from a relationship with Christ. A life without Jesus is no life at all.

Read Full Post »

 

It was January of 2011 when we decided to leave the Church as a family. We had decided at the beginning of 2010 that we would give it another year to see if things improved. They did not. We wanted to make sure that we, as a family, were making every attempt to make things work, because we really did NOT want to leave. We really didn’t want to leave on bad terms. Since then, we have struggled to find a church that we feel is right for us. I have attended other churches through the years, but have not found that home where I feel comfortable. Don’t worry, I am not putting that all on the Church. We are all human and none of us is perfect. I get that, but there are fundamental issues that I could not ignore. If it had just been people being imperfect, I could have dealt with that, but the issues that drove me away were a straying from the fundamental principals of Christianity. It was a straying away from God to please man and I could not support that.

The 12 reasons I left the Church are:

  1. Lack of meaningful prayer – I’m not saying that there isn’t prayer in the Church, but reading off our prayer requests is not all that prayer is about. Prayer is inviting God into the fabric of our lives. It is a communication with God where we talk to God, but we also listen. Prayer is the cornerstone in building an intimate relationship with God (Jesus). The Church is not teaching Christians how to pray. Most Christians don’t have an active prayer life because no one has ever taught them how to pray. Most Christians have never been taught how to incorporate prayer into their daily lives. Prayer is a partnership between us and God. Prayer is the way that God allows us to partner with Him in bringing about His will here on earth. We need active prayer in the Church.
  2. Too secular – The Church has become too secular. Leaders have decided that the way to bring people in is too become worldly. We have allowed things into the Church that are clearly against the Bible. Would Jesus watch horror movies, play violent or graphic video games, or go to rock concerts? I doubt it. Would He approve of videos in bars of comedians drinking alcohol being shown before the sermon and not having to do with the sermon? Would He approve of a church middle school girl’s group being taken to see the Twilight movies? Would He approve of a church throwing weekly watch parties to view the Walking Dead TV series? Would He approve of HIS Church becoming secular to appeal to the masses? I doubt it. We have forgotten that the Church is NOT SUPPOSED TO BE SECULAR! That’s why it is the CHURCH (the BRIDE OF CHRIST)! We need to get back to the foundation of Christianity, start teaching the Bible and allow the Holy Spirit to work in the lives of the lost.
  3. Stuck in the box – We, as Christians, are stuck in the box we call the Church. We refuse to go outside of the Church to bring people in. We expect people to come into the Church in their pain and heartache, but they won’t. People will not come into the Church, because they are afraid of being judged and they are afraid that they are not good enough. None of us is good enough! We need to be “backyard missionaries” and love the people in our own communities, where they are. We need to meet people in their need, build relationships and love them to Jesus without judging them. Jesus never intended for us to get stuck inside the walls of the Church. He set the example. He went out and met people in their need. He didn’t wait for the people to come to the Church. He healed them where they were and allowed the Holy Spirit to work in their hearts.
  4. Judgmental – We as Christians can be the most judgmental people in the world. We think we have the right to flaunt our “righteousness” while making other people feel as if they aren’t good enough to walk in our hallowed halls. Excuse me??? How did we get to the place where we think we are better than everyone else? Jesus was a humble servant and HE was the King of kings! He NEVER judged and He had every right too! Who are we to judge others, as we sit in our own sin?
  5. Lack of Faith – As a single mom of 5, I struggled at times with vehicle issues and just having a support system in place. When I reached out to local churches for help, I would get responses from the pastors saying that they didn’t have the resources to help me, but I was welcome to visit. Where is our faith in a God that has ALL the resources of the heavens and earth at His disposal? We should be a modern day example of the Church of Acts, giving our abundance to help those in need. Instead we sit back and say, “let the welfare system take care of them.” NO! The welfare system was developed because the Church quit doing the job God gave it. God designed the Church to look after the needs of the poor. He WILL provide when we have the faith to step out in faith to help others. I know of churches who save up “rainy day funds” of $28,000.00 or more, but claim they don’t have the resources to help those in need in our communities. Really? Where is your faith???
  6. Prideful Leadership – I realize that everyone sins. No one is perfect. This goes beyond that. I have seen pastors who will NOT have a mature discussion about decisions made by leadership, but instead feel like it’s a personal attack of their leadership. They refuse to be questioned about any decisions they make and if you do question leadership, you will be disciplined. Discipline could include being lectured via a Sunday sermon, being ostracised, or told to leave the church. I have heard a pastor say, “no one is going to tell me how to run my church.” Church members have a right to hold the pastor and other Church leadership accountable. The Church does NOT belong to the pastor or any other leader. The Church belongs to Jesus and we need to be good stewards with what Jesus ALLOWS us to lead for Him. When a pastor or other Church leader holds himself above those in the congregation He is wrong. When a pastor or other Church leader believes that he/she is above accountability he/she is wrong. You are leading a church, but you are not above anyone and we ALL answer to Jesus.
  7. Greed – I am blown away by these pastors and Church leaders who preach prosperity gospel. These leaders who have homes, cars and other material objects worth millions of dollars, while people are dying homeless on the streets. They sit up in their million dollar churches and guilt or bribe people into giving their hard earned dollars. I’m sure they do some good and help some people, but they have placed themselves on pedestals and believe that they have some spiritual super-power. The Bible clearly tells us not to store up treasures here on earth, but to give generously to those in need. What Bible are these people reading? Have they walked the streets and seen the need around them? Do they feel any compassion for the hurting? I am not just talking about the well known T.V. evangelists, I am also talking about our pastors in local churches in cities across this nation who think that for some reason they are to good to reach out to the homeless or the poor. Do we remember how Jesus lived?
  8. Discipleship – I grew up in the church and was never discipled. I went to Sunday school and Bible Studies, but those can’t take the place of intentional discipleship. Making disciples is about building relationships that continue outside of our Sunday and Wednesday corporate worship days. Discipleship is intentionally sharing life with a small group of people to help them grow spiritually. Jesus gave us an example of this in His relationship with His disciples. The Bible tells us to MAKE DISCIPLES! Sunday school is NOT enough! We go to Church on Sundays and Wednesdays and then leave new or struggling Christians to figure things out on their own the rest of the week. Jesus was available 24/7. I was actually discipled after we left the church in 2011. I was not discipled by a person. I was discipled by the Holy Spirit. I was desperate not to lose Jesus and I kept my heart open to the teaching of the Holy Spirit. It is a journey. He still leads and I still follow and I continue to learn.
  9. Lack of Community – We say that members of the Church are family, but we don’t act like it. Christians are the most stuck up people I know! Again, I am not talking about every Christian here. I have seen that most churches that I have visited are divided into cliques. Those cliques consist of the Haves and those that are “in” with the church leadership. They also consist of those who are thought of to be spiritually “above” everyone else. Those who belong in the cliques rarely step outside the walls of that clique to realize that we are ALL one family. We are ALL Christians and should not to be divided.
  10. Denominational Separation – Since I mentioned cliques in the above section, I think I need to mention the denominational division in the Church. Every denomination has tweaked the Bible in some sort of fashion to suit the purpose and beliefs of that denomination’s leaders. There is only ONE Bible! We should not be divided! When Jesus returns, He is coming back for the entire CHURCH! He did not say, “I am returning for Methodists, but those Baptists just don’t have it together.” And how many different Baptist Associations do we need? Really? We take PRIDE in what denomination we belong to like it’s some sort of prize, “I belong to the Southern Baptists! What denomination are YOU?” Seriously people? It doesn’t matter what denomination you belong to, if you are living in unrepentant sin, YOU ARE GOING TO HELL!!!
  11. Unrepentant Hearts – We think that if we ask Jesus into our lives and to be our Savior that we can live any way we want to live and that ALL will be forgiven. Not true! Once saved always saved is not a thing. If you are a Christian, but you are knowingly living in sin, you will go to Hell. We think that we can go to Church on Sunday and live the way we want the rest of the week and all will be well. Not true! If you profess to be a Christian then you need to live a Christian life at ALL times and when you sin go to God and repent. We will all at one time or another sin against each other and God. It’s time to repent. We wonder why our nation is in the state it is in. We have allowed sin into our churches and it is running rampant. satan is having a blast seeing how many Christians he can deceive into falling away from the Church and God.
  12. Business/Entertainment – It seems that the Church that is meant to be a place to worship God has become a place to show off to the world. It has become a contest. Which church has the most people, the biggest building, the most baptisms on Sunday, the biggest Sunday productions, the most money, the richest members, etc? Do we really need spotlights and smoke during our worship services? Do we really need our Sunday morning experience to feel like a rock concert? I don’t. It all seems sacrilegious to me. Jesus was born in a humble stable, without the fanfare. Who is the rock concert experience for anyways? I would say us, because I am pretty sure that God isn’t impressed.

I have wanted to write this post for a few years, but haven’t felt that it was the right time. Is now the right time? Maybe. I’m still not sure. These are my opinions based on what I have personally seen in the Church. I also realize that there are pastors, leaders and Christians that are living according to God’s will. What I saw was fundamental doctrinal issues that I couldn’t ignore. We all make mistakes, but when leaders go against the Bible, it’s time to leave. Will I go back?  Absolutely! I LOVE the Church with all of my heart. How could I claim to be a Christian and not love the Church? It is in finding that right church that holds to the Bible and the biblical view of how Christians should live. There is no compromise when you are a Christian. It breaks my heart to see the Church falling away from God’s will. I pray continually for a revival of our hearts. We don’t have much time left. Jesus will come. Are we ready?

Read Full Post »

 

Luke 9:1-3

When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. He told them: “Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt.

Luke 10:1-4

After this the Lord appointed seventy-two[a] others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.

Luke 22:35

Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?”

“Nothing,” they answered.

I read Luke 22:35 as part of my daily devotion time and it stuck with me. In Luke 9, Jesus sends out the disciples, telling them to take nothing for the journey – no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, and no extra shirt. In Luke 10, Jesus repeats the command not to take a purse, bag or sandals. Jesus wanted His disciples to trust completely in God to meet their needs. When they return, Jesus asks them, “Did you lack anything?” They answer, “Nothing.”

This passage brings to mind the Israelites in the Old Testament:

Deuteronomy 29:5 

Yet the Lord says, “During the forty years that I led you through the wilderness, your clothes did not wear out, nor did the sandals on your feet.

For Forty years God kept the clothes and sandals of the Israelites from wearing out and in Exodus 16, God provides manna and quail for the Israelites to eat.

I know that I have lacked faith on more than one occasion. No matter how many times God provides for me, I always wonder if He will continue to do so. It is in those moments that I hear Jesus in my heart, ” Do you lack anything?” “Have you ever lacked what you truly needed?” “Have I not always provided for you and your children?”

I am reminded that God has always provided for me and the kids. He has provided in ways that I can only describe as miracles. I still at times let the doubt creep in like a thief in the night. I let that doubt (fear) keep me from God’s will for my life. I allow my Anxiety (fear) to keep me from taking that giant leap of faith. I let that worry about the future (fear) keep me from stepping out of my comfort zone to obey God’s direction. WHAT IF GOD SUDDENLY DECIDES TO STOP PROVIDING?

He could decide to stop providing. I’m not anyone special. I don’t deserve any special blessings. God COULD at any time stop providing for me, BUT I know that He won’t. How do I know that?

In Mark 5:36 Jesus says, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” Jesus was speaking to Jairus, the synagogue leader. Some people had just come and told him that his daughter was dead. Jesus spoke those words of comfort, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” He speaks this word to us today, as well. What giant leap of faith is God asking you to take? What mountain is God asking you to move? How far out of your comfort zone is God pushing you? Are you afraid that God will decide to stop providing? As long as you don’t give up on Him, He will ALWAYS provide for you!

DON’T BE AFRAID; JUST BELIEVE!

HAVE YOU LACKED ANYTHING?

If God provided for those grumbling Israelites for 40 years in the wilderness, He will take care of you. Pray for the faith to conquer the fear that holds you back. Not every day is guaranteed. If not now, then when?

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

 

It has been more than 2 months since I last wrote a blog post. It was with mixed emotions that I found myself moving back to Indiana on March 14th. Things did not work out the way I expected them to in Georgia and I in some ways felt that I was returning home with my tail tucked. I never allowed myself to connect with Indiana. I never allowed it to become home. I never gave Indiana a chance. I was uncomfortable in my circumstances and in my desperation to run away from the discomfort, I never allowed myself to be content in knowing that I was where God wanted me. When God finally answered my years long prayer for “deliverance” I took the opportunity to run to where I thought life would magically be easier. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. I loved some aspects of Georgia, like the warmer Winters, but I also missed the gorgeous Fall foliage, lightening bugs, Spring colors, somewhat cooler Summers, and the lack of bugs in Indiana. More than anything, I missed family. I loved being with Kiowa, but I was isolated and I started to realize that I needed to return “HOME”. Yes, HOME. After 27 years of living in Indiana, I never considered it home. Now, I return and acknowledge that maybe I am a Hoosier. Maybe this place called Indiana is my home and I am now content enough to say that I will never leave again.

Sometimes, we need to leave in order to know where we belong.

Sometimes, God gives us what we want in order to make us realize that what we want may not be what’s best.

Sometimes, we need to trust God and allow God to work in the discomfort.

I made some awesome memories in my 10 months as a Georgian, but I am finding contentment in where I am right now. I am a Hoosier. Indiana is my home. The grass is NOT always greener and GOD ALWAYS knows better than we do.

Read Full Post »

 

I was helping my daughter, Cree, set up her 1st grade class yesterday when she pulled up the above poster to hang up for her kids. When I read it, it struck me that the majority of us, as adults, need to know how to fight fair. There is so much violence and hate in this world and it starts with us as adults. We refuse to listen to anyone who has a different opinion than ours. We refuse to listen to anyone who looks different, dresses differently, lives in a “less than” neighborhood, or works in a lower income job. We have become a society where CLASS places us above or below others and those above refuse to acknowledge those living in a “lower class”. We refuse to admit that we aren’t always right and that compromise does not mean we lose. We, as adults, need to step up and set a better example for our kids. We need to go back to elementary school and learn the rules for fighting fair:

  1. Identify the problem – What is the problem that needs to be solved? Is there an actual problem that needs to be solved? I have found that many of our problems start because of our own attitudes and behaviors. If there is a problem between two people or a group of people, it usually stems from heart issues that at least one person is dealing with. Simple problems such as scheduling conflicts get blown out of proportion when one or both people involved only want things their way and aren’t willing to see the other person’s side of the conflict. Our larger problems in society involve our heart issues (our feelings of entitlement, our biases, our perceptions, our belief that we are right and everyone else is wrong, and our judgmental attitudes towards others). So, what is the problem? Is it something surface level that can be solved with a simple conversation or does it go deeper? Does the problem involve a heart issue in one or all of the people involved? Is there a legitimate problem or is the problem our own attitude?
  2. Focus on the problem – When we have a problem with another person or people, we need to be careful to focus on the problem and not our own anger or our feelings about the other people involved. Each person is approaching a problem from different perspectives and view points, so we need to focus only on the problem at hand.
  3. Attack the problem, not the person – When we approach another person about a problem, we need to remember that we are confronting the problem and not the person. We need to approach the person that we have an issue with from a place of peace. Our focus needs to be on creating peace and not escalating the problem.
  4. Listen with an open mind – When we approach another person with a problem, we are coming with our own opinions, and agenda. We also, have to realize that the other person is approaching the problem with their own opinions, and agenda. We all approach problems focusing on what we want. We all approach problems with a game plan focused on how we can get what we want. We need to approach a problem focused on the best outcome for all involved. We need to listen to what other participants are saying and be open to the underlying emotions. When we approach a problem with a closed mind and a closed heart nothing is accomplished. When we approach a problem with an open mind and an open heart, it allows for compromise and the finding of solutions to all of our problems.
  5. Treat a person’s feelings with respect – We don’t know the underlying emotions or burdens that someone is carrying when we approach them about a problem. We all approach problems from our own perspectives based on our experiences, backgrounds, traditions, and cultures. We need to respect the feelings of the other people involved in the problem. We need to show respect for their perspectives, even if we don’t agree with them. We need to be kind and gentle in our approaching others about a problem. If we approach others from a defensive, aggressive, or disrespectful attitude we will never resolve the problem in a way that benefits all parties involved. If we want peace, we need to come from a place of peace.
  6. Take responsibility for your actions – No one is perfect. We all make mistakes. There are times when a problem arises because of a mistake that we have made or because of something we have done to hurt someone or cause a problem. When that happens we need to come from a place of humility and be willing to take responsibility for our actions and we need to be willing to make amends and work towards a solution to the problems that arise because of our actions. We can’t just bury our heads in the sand when we mess up. We need to be accountable and work for solutions.

 

There are fouls when approaching another person to discuss a problem. These are things that we should NEVER do:

  • Pushing
  • Hitting
  • Threats
  • Sneering
  • Getting Even
  • Blaming
  • Name Calling
  • Not Listening
  • Not Taking Responsibility
  • Making Excuses
  • Bossing
  • Bringing Up The Past
  • Put-Downs

There is so much negativity and anger in society today. There are so many people that feel that their opinion is the only opinion and that their way is the only way. There is always room for compromise. We have a choice. Will we approach the other participants of a problem with a selfish “my way or the high-way” attitude or will we come with a sense of peace and humility? It’s up to us. Do we want peace or do we want a constant state of fear and war? We, as adults need to remember that the examples we set for our kids today, will influence who they become tomorrow. Our kids will determine how our society evolves tomorrow. Will we have kids that live for peace or will we have kids that live for anger and violence? It is up to us, the adults of today.

 

Read Full Post »

 

Ezekiel 33:10-11

10 “Son of man, say to the Israelites, ‘This is what you are saying: “Our offenses and sins weigh us down, and we are wasting away because of them. How then can we live?” 11 Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?’

The Israelites were crying out from the weight of their offenses and sins. They cried out that they were wasting away because of them. Carrying the weight of our sin can be a heavy burden. I have had to repent recently of my own wrong attitudes of anger and resentment. I know first hand how sin can weigh us down and separate us from God and God’s best for us. I was wallowing in my anger and pride. I didn’t want to give an inch and was NOT setting the Christlike example that I knew I should be setting. I knew that my attitude was wrong and yet I refused to give in. What’s even worse is that I was hanging on to an anger and resentment that wasn’t rightfully mine to hold on to. It has been weighing me down. I hate knowing that I am choosing to let sin keep me from God’s presence.

So what do we do when sin is weighing us down? In verse 11, God tells us to Turn! Turn from our wicked ways! I read this verse yesterday and God used it to bring me to a place of repentance and restoration. I had to swallow my pride and make amends. I now feel reconnected to God and a relationship is in a place where Jesus can transform both of our hearts.

No one on this earth is exempt from sin. At one point or another, we will ALL sin and become weighed down by our sin and wicked ways. But God tells us that He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. He would much rather that we turn from our sin and transform our hearts. He would much rather give us life than sentence us to death.

2 Peter 3:9

 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

1 John 2:1

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.

We WILL sin! But because God does not want any of us to perish, He has provided an advocate to intercede on our behalf. His name is Jesus. If we accept Jesus into our hearts and lives, we can repent from our sin and we will be forgiven. BUT we also must TURN from our wicked ways! Accept Jesus. Repent of our sin. And turn from our wicked ways.

There is life in Jesus! Allow Him to transform your heart and live for Him.

Read Full Post »

 

Philippians 4:6-9

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

We live in a world of chaos and evil. From natural disasters to the destruction caused by human hands, I don’t believe that there is one of us alive today that has not struggled with anxiety at some level. We become so anxious about making enough money that we start living lives devoid of joy and peace. We live in fear of being in crowded areas because of the violence of the society we live in. The media bombards us with news of shootings, abuse, drugs, natural disasters, and all kinds of evil under the sun. We begin to live in a constant state of fear and anxiety. We are robbed of the joy that God so freely gives us.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We do not have to live our lives in a constant state of anxiety. God has given us a blueprint to handle the anxiety producing situations in our lives.

Part 1:

The Command:

Do not be anxious about anything – God tells us not to be anxious about ANYTHING. This is not a suggestion, it is a command. I know how hard it is not to let panic overwhelm your spirit. Believe me, if anyone struggles with this command, it is me! Still, it is a command and God expects us to obey ALL of His commands!

But in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God – God expects us to pray about and surrender EVERY situation that causes us anxiety. Not only are we to present these situations to God, but we are to give thanks! Why give thanks in a stressful, panic attack producing event? We give thanks, believing that an all powerful God has our back and is with us in the crisis. We give thanks, knowing that He may not take us out of the situation, BUT He can and will calm the storm that rages inside of us.

When you face a situation that is causing you to panic, STOP where you are and START praying. Give that situation over to God. Pray for the presence of God to enter into the situation. Pray with thanksgiving, knowing that God is already at work to provide refuge in the mist of the chaos.

The Promise: 

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

If we are faithful to give every situation that causes us to feel anxiety or fear to God through prayer and thanksgiving, He will be faithful to give us a peace that transcends all understanding. That peace that only God can give will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus.

Part 2:

The Command:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

We are to think on ALL THINGS GOOD! After we give our anxiety to God through prayer, we need to focus on the good things of God. We need to focus on the true aspects of God’s character. We need to focus on the love of God. We need to focus on how we can serve others who may be suffering. We need to focus on the positive things in this world. Turn on a Christian radio station and let the songs sink into your soul. I have the K-Love app on my phone and I listen in my car and I can tell you that there have been times when a song hits me right where I am and I will bawl like a baby. There are other times when a song will speak right to my fear and God will use the song to calm me in a very real way. Do whatever it is helps you to focus on the good that is God.

The Promise:

Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

If we are faithful to focus on the goodness of God in an anxiety inducing situation, then God promises to be with us. The God of peace promises to be with us in our anxiety. It doesn’t matter what the situation is, the God of peace has promised to be right there in the midst of it with us! If God is with us, there is nothing to fear.

I know that trusting in the middle of a panic attack seems impossible. Just remember that YOU WILL GET THROUGH IT! Take a few deep breaths. Present your requests to God with a prayer of thanksgiving and focus on the goodness of God and on the goodness that can still be found in this world. If you are faithful in this, then the God of peace will be faithful to be with you no matter what you face in life. God has your back, friend! He is faithful!

 

 

Read Full Post »

Jonah: Part 4

 

 

Read Jonah: chapter 4

Recap: In chapter 1, Jonah runs from a direct command from God to go and warn the people of Nineveh to repent or God would deal harshly with them. In chapter 2, Jonah has been swallowed by a huge fish and is now crying out to God in his distress. Chapter 3 finds Jonah back on dry land (having been vomited up by the fish) and obeying God’s command to go to Nineveh and warn the people there of God’s judgement.

In chapter 4 we find Jonah angry that God has had compassion on the people of Nineveh. He proclaims that this is why he tried to run, because he knew that God is a compassionate God and would have compassion on these unholy people. Nineveh was the oldest and most-populous city in Assyria. From the description of Nineveh in Nahum 3 we see that the people of Nineveh were wicked, evil people and Nahum 1 tells us that they were enemies of Israel and of God. Jonah was angry because God had compassion on these sworn enemies of Israel. God teaches Jonah a lesson in compassion through a plant that grows and provides shade for Jonah and then withers away, leaving Jonah in the scorching heat. Jonah was angry about the plant withering away and in verses 9-11 God addresses Jonah’s anger:

9 But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant? “It is,” he said. “And I’m so angry I wish I were dead.” 10 But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. 11 And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?” 

Yes, we could focus on Jonah, who seems to be acting like a petulant child, but I want to focus on the bigger picture. I want to focus on the lesson that God is trying to teach Jonah.

In verse 2, Jonah describes the character of God:

He prayed to the Lord, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. 

When Jonah went to Nineveh in chapter 3 and warned them of their impending doom, they turned from their wicked ways. The people listened to Jonah and repented. Because of their transformed hearts, God chose not to deal with them the way that He had intended too. He sent Jonah to warn them before He wiped them off the face of the earth. Even though they were His enemy, He still gave them a chance to repent. Why? God had created the people of Nineveh, just as He created the rest of us and He didn’t want them to perish. He didn’t want to have to deal with them harshly, just as He doesn’t want to deal with any of us today harshly. He sends His people to warn us of  the impending consequences of our sin. Romans 5:10 tells us:

 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!

We have ALL been God’s enemies! He has chosen to save every one of us because He is gracious, compassionate, slow to anger, and abounding in love. We don’t deserve His compassion any more than the people of Nineveh did, but He relents from sending calamity when we repent and transform our hearts.

What Jonah is not understanding is that God expects the same of us. We are to be gracious, compassionate, slow to anger, and abounding in love. We are to be willing to forgive an enemy. We are to warn those who are buried in their sin. We are to warn them from hearts of compassion and love. God gives us ALL chance after chance after chance to repent and change. Why do we think that it is okay for us to just write other people off just because they have offended us or they believe differently? Why do we think that it is okay to wallow in our anger and self-righteous attitudes, when it is so far off from what God wants?

I admit that I have been known to hold a grudge and have spent some time wallowing in my anger over a slight or perceived injustice. Even when I was justified in my anger, I allowed it to harden my heart against those who had bullied me or hurt me. I did not act as God would want me too. I acted as Jonah and I too, became a petulant child who was only interested in my pride, my pain, myself. I did not care about praying for the situation or about seeking reconciliation. I was willing to write the person off and never think of them again.

NOT A VERY CHRIST LIKE ATTITUDE!

My Challenge To You: Is there anyone that you think of as your enemy? Why? I challenge you to start praying for that person and the situation. Ask God to open up the doors of communication that would allow healing in the relationship. Be an example of grace, compassion, peace and love as you seek to build that relationship. Do not allow your anger turn you into a dramatic, all about me, petulant child.

James 1:19-20

19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.

Jonah was out of control. Don’t allow his attitude to keep you from God’s will for you and for those He is seeking to save. Luke 19:10 tells us that the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost. We have the same mission on this earth. We can’t seek and save the lost when we are wallowing in our self-righteous anger. Let go of the anger and take on the characteristics of God. We are to be obedient to God’s will. ALWAYS!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

 

Read Jonah: Chapter 3

In chapter 1, Jonah ran from a direct command from God and ended up in the belly of a huge fish. In chapter 2, Jonah cries out in his distress and God commands the fish to vomit Jonah on dry land. Now in chapter 3, God again commands Jonah to go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim God’s message there. Jonah obeys this time and goes to Nineveh and gives the residents there God’s message.

What I find myself wondering is: what is Jonah’s motivation for obeying God this time around?

Is he wholeheartedly and gratefully obeying God’s command?

Is he reluctantly stepping out in obedience because he knows he doesn’t have a choice?

Is he obeying, but still holding onto a rebellious heart and a grumbling spirit?

Motivation matters. For me, I usually obey reluctantly and fearfully. I don’t think I have ever obeyed with a rebellious spirit, but I know that I usually don’t obey wholeheartedly and gratefully. I will admit to arguing with God and making excuses as to why He shouldn’t use me.  Moses and Gideon were reluctant servants. Although, God does bless the reluctant servant, I believe that He would prefer us to serve like Jesus, who served from a humble heart. Jesus was on this earth to fulfill His Father’s will (Luke 22:42). Jesus never complained about His God-given assignments. He never argued with God. He did what was expected of Him from a posture of submission and love.

My Challenge To You: I want you to reflect on your own motivation to obey God. Use a journal and ask yourself the following questions:

1. Are you obeying a command from God reluctantly because you know you don’t have a choice?

2. Are you obeying, but still holding onto a rebellious heart and a grumbling spirit?

3. Do you argue with God and make excuses, trying to convince God that He needs to choose someone else?

4. Are you obeying wholeheartedly and with a humble heart like Jesus?

5. Are you obeying because you know that God’s will is above your own and that is the only thing that matters?

6. Are you obeying out of love for God and others?

Be honest with yourself. Your answers will reveal where some heart work needs to be done. I have heart work to do myself. It is a part of the process of sanctification and transforming ourselves into the likeness of Christ. It is a lifelong journey. Don’t get discouraged. God sent the Holy Spirit to guide us and encourage us in the journey, so never give up. Keep moving forward and remember that God works all things for the good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »