July 18, 2017

When You Question What You Thought You Knew

I've been wanting to blog about this topic for some time but wasn't sure how it would go over. I even wrote out first most of what I wanted to say so that I was careful in my presentation. I'm sure I will take some flack for what I'm about to post but I just want to give people something to consider. 

A few years ago when the movie Soul Surfer came out, everyone kept telling me what a great movie it was and how it was helping to further the cause of Christ. I rented it when it came out on DVD. Now, first of all let me say I liked the part about being a survivor and overcoming. I can relate! It was inspiring as far as that goes. However, the almost complete nudity in the movie left me questioning my faith. Seriously, I was a mess for quite some time afterward. The teeny, tiny, floss like bikinis worn in the movie meant my husband and son couldn't watch. They tried and had to leave the room in order to protect their minds. Yes, the family in the movie attends church services (which the girls showed up late for and were dressed straight from surfing!) and their is a missions trip involved also, but I just couldn't get past all the inappropriate dress. After all, they could have worn the surfing body suits or something instead of displaying all that flesh. Other "Christian" movies have not compromised for ticket sales! 

What had my mind messed up was how Christianity was being furthered under circumstances going against the commands of the Bible. I finally, after much Bible study and praying and soul searching came to the conclusion that Paul talks about in Philippians chapter 1. Whether Christ is preached in sincerity or in jest, (paraphrased) at least Christ is preached. Truthfully, this was the only way I could settle my mind and stop questioning what I believed to be true from God's Word. 

Still, I think movies and shows that on one hand speak of Jesus, God and faith but on the other hand display Christians doing unchristian things, waters down Christianity. It gives the idea that you can be a Christian and still act in ways that go against God's Word and it's all ok and a barrel of laughs. God may forgive sin but never wants us to be complacent or nonchalant about it!!!

Let me here name another show--Duck Dynasty. While I know I have doctrinal issues different from the Robertson family, I love the personal testimonies and stances that they take that I have heard watching interviews outside of the show. While I do think there is much humor to the show, it drives me crazy how they pray at the end of each show yet during the show they are engaging in illegal activities such as poaching or trespassing and in my opinion the ladies are not as modestly dressed as they could be. All this is in fun. (BTW, if you think this was real life and not rehearsed or any reality show is unrehearsed you are naive!) Did you know that A&E wanted to do the show at first to make fun of the family?! Little did they know that many people in this country do still care about family and God and prayer. The country certainly allowed A&E to get rich using this family. Even when they threatened to kick people off or tried to tone down the God talk, people boycotted and stopped A&E from doing so. 

Because they are famous and acting in these ways, I believe it has gone a long way to adding to the nonchalant Christianity we see today. There is no blush left. There is no striving to live a life pleasing to God. It is the attitude of "I am saved and going to heaven so how I live daily doesn't matter". So many people are on Facebook quoting scripture on one post and dropping curse words or sexual innuendos  on the next! Many are sharing pictures and posts about getting drunk and think they are right with God just because they are saved. Now, I know that when we ask forgiveness for our sins that we are forgiven. However, I can't help but wonder how many actually are sorry and ask God to forgive them after they got drunk! or do they just go on in their everyday life never giving it another thought that they have offended a holy God?

You may be thinking that I am taking things way too seriously. Well, let me just say that Christians acting in unchristian ways is why my father in law will not get saved!! Too many Christians, or Baptists he knows have cheated him in a sales contract or he's watched them sleeping around outside of marriage or covering up someone else's sin. He has no need of what we try to offer from God's Word. He is just fine. So, my question to you is...Who are you preventing from accepting Jesus as their Savior? Maybe your nonchalant attitude is sending someone who is watching you straight to hell! Sobering thought, huh?! BTW, I have fallen short of always conducting myself in a Christian manner and will stand before God someday for the stumblingblock I have been to others. So there are three fingers pointing at myself as my one is pointing at you. I am convicted when I mess up in this fashion and try to be aware of my conduct. 

I just think that if you are claiming the name Christian --- THEN ACT LIKE THE CHILD OF THE KING YOU BELONG TO!!! Sure, all of us will stumble and even fall (I recently blogged about this but it's a heart issue!) but there is a difference in that and one of total disregard for God's Word. Having the attitude that you are saved and on your way to heaven but can live your life any old way you want to and think God is pleased makes you an immature Christian who may be causing someone else to never accept the gift of Salvation.

Everyone thinks that Jesus brought in the age of grace and He did. However, Jesus didn't do away with the moral law only the ceremonial law. He actually raised the bar....thou shalt not commit adultery became, whosoever looks on a woman with lust has committed adultery in his heart already and thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate thine enemy became love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you. Pretty high standards! 

I know this was long but I hope it makes someone out there reading think about their actions. Also, if you look around and see the things that I see, find peace in God's Word. Study it, and use it to respectfully rebuke and train. 

July 11, 2017

Three Victories to Change Our Lives - Noah's Ark Series Lesson 4

Building the Ark of  Confidence
Philippians 1:6
The great victories of life are won
-not on the battlefield of military conflict,
-not in the sports arenas of the world,
-not in the market places,
-not in the scientific laboratories,
-not even in the great expanses of space;
but rather in the souls of people.
The great battles of life are won and lost inside; in the inner lives of individual people.

In the book of Philippians we see three inner victories recorded by Paul. 
Phil 1:12-14
I. We don't have to be victims of circumstances
--don't have to be imprisoned or paralyzed by any situation
--can be victors & rise above with God's help
Paul was in jail, he was sick, he was away from loved ones, was cut off from his dream of traveling and spreading the gospel
--he didn't wallow in self-pity but tells us that it all happened to help further the gospel & even helped others to be bold for Christ
--He used his circumstances & wasn't enslaved by them
***We don't have to be thermometers - we can be thermostats!
--A thermometer simply tells us what the temperature is
--A Thermostat changes or influences the temperature!
Christians can use every circumstance as an opportunity to serve Christ 
-Like a thermostat we can change or influence what is going on around us

Phil. 2:3-4, 3:7-8, 3:13-14
II. We don't have to be victims of pride
--sometimes we get caught up in being too concerned with what people think of us (good & bad)
--we also sometimes want recognition for our deeds
Paul reminds us to place others above ourselves
--that when we gain for ourselves it is loss for Christ
--to forget what is behind & press forward
We need to forget bad things & not wallow in it - this can make us depressed & unproductive for Christ
We need to forget good things also because we can become prideful and stuck thinking about the "Glory Days" - this also makes us stagnant & unproductive

Phil. 1:19-20
III. We don't have to be victims of death
--Many Bible saints were not afraid of death
--Paul stood ready for life or death as long as the cause of Christ went on

Christians do not have to fear death
Prov. 14:32, 2 Cor. 5:8, John 5:24
If you have trusted Christ as your Savior, you can know that death is just a transfer to the home office!

July 9, 2017

Stumble VS Falling

Sometimes when you are walking along, you trip and stumble. You may or may not actually fall down at this point. To stumble is less harmful usually than actually falling down to the ground or floor. It is much easier to keep going when you only stumble. When you fall, you must get up, attend to injuries and then try to continue on. 

In our spiritual life, it is exactly the same. You may stumble and make a mistake with a sin of somewhat minor proportions such as inappropriate thoughts or telling half truths or speeding slightly in the car and it is easy to correct and carry on. However, taking part in a more serious sin that leads to destruction of yourself or someone else may be considered falling. For instance, spreading gossip that destroys another's reputation, doing drugs and not caring for your child, having an affair, driving drunk and hurting yourself or someone else or stealing from another will be much harder to correct and continue on. Each time we engage in grave sin, we fall lower and lower and become weaker and weaker making it harder to get back up on the topside. 

The best thing we can do is try to keep ourselves from stumbling in the first place so that we don't go down in a fall. We can do this by keeping in God's Word; because if we hide His Word in our hearts we won't sin against Him! We can also do this by only keeping company with those who will not tempt us to treat sin like the fun house. It is really just a matter of taking precautions as best we can against even stumbling so that falls rarely, if ever, happen. 

Of course, we are humans and with that comes sin. However, we can guard against falls and keep stumbles to a minimum if we work at it. 

June 30, 2017

Creating Shock & Awe

This post is not really a venting but more of an observation. The world in general seems to have more and more people who (they claim) are trying to be different and not conforming to the current flow of society. They dye their hair crazy colors, they pierce every part of their body, they get tattoos everywhere, they dress in crazy fashions or barely dress for that matter. They want to be different, yet I proclaim they are not really being "different". They are being just like all the others who are doing those same things. Rebellion against the norm of society has always been around, but today it seems that more and more people are taking part. It is their right. It is their choice. To this I say, "Yes, it is you're choice. However, along with that comes the attention you are truly seeking. The stand out in a crowd emphasis. The shock and awe you are trying to create in those you encounter." 

What gets me is that most of the people taking part in the be different lifestyle and fashions get upset and offended when people stare at them. They square their shoulders and say things like, "I'm still the same person," "You don't have a right to judge me," "Just because I look like this doesn't make me bad,"I'm still a nice person". Yep, all of those statements they make are true. However, isn't that why you are doing it? Weren't you trying to make people look at you? I get that many consider these things an art form...body art, etc. Even those who only have one piercing in their ears wear jewelry there as a decoration to draw attention. That is what all jewelry is about. To each his own I reckon; but when you are trying to create shock and awe in others, why are you offended when you do?! If that was your point, then don't be offended be proud you succeeded. 

I learned long ago that you can't always judge a book by its cover, because at times I have been at a gas station or other store and had the guy with the tattoos or body piercings everywhere be the one to be kind and hold the door open for me yet the business dressed style guy let the door slam on me.  However, this isn't always the case. For the most part, people are easily labeled by how they look. When we worked with teens at church I taught the girls that how they looked would affect how people saw them and responded to them. I have used this illustration before but let me paint a picture. If you are in a city and see a woman dressed scantily, with lots of makeup, and high heel shoes approaching open car windows or men walking by....what is your first thought? If you are honest, you will think that woman is a prostitute. You may or may not be correct but the thought is still there. When you see someone on a motorcycle, dressed in leather with a bandanna on their head, you most likely think they are part of a biker gang. When you see someone in a suit and tie carrying a briefcase, you usually think of a business man. When you see someone in an expensive evening gown, fur coat and with their hair done up, you think that the woman is either high society or at least going to an expensive special occasion. When you see a lady in a long skirt with her hair in a bun you automatically think she is a Pentecostal. When you see two men walking down the sidewalk in black dockers with white button down shirts, you think Mormon. How you look makes people think certain things about you whether you want it to or not. When someone is dressed in black, with black dyed hair, black fingernails and black lipstick, one assumes you are Gothic (if that is still even around anymore).

So, if you are going for that look that goes against the average everyday norm of society, do not be so offended when you achieve your goal of shocking someone and making them stare at you. In reality, being different makes people stare at you, and that was probably what you wanted. There are many, many people out there who look different because they get no choice. They were born with physical differences from everyone else. Some have missing limbs, fingers or toes, some have down syndrome, some have cerebral palsy, some are blind, some are deaf and use sign language to communicate, some must wear braces on their legs or any other number of physical ailments. These people often spend time wishing they COULD be just like everyone else. 

I do believe a person has a right to do what they want with their own bodies, I just wish that if you want to step out and be different, you'd not be so upset when you get the attention you are desiring. 

June 27, 2017

The Beauty of Blood

Bob mentioned the blood Sunday and with what he was saying it made me think of how precious and beautiful blood can be. First of all, it is a pretty color! Red is bright and about as colorful as it gets. Our American flag is beautiful with its three colors and without the red it would just not be the same. 

Secondly, when you think of what blood does in the human body, you realize how special it is. Without blood there is no life! Every part of your body needs blood supply to survive. So many things are carried in the blood for our good. 

Thirdly, when I picture the work Jesus did on the cross and how He shed His blood for my sake, it makes the thought of blood even more beautiful. He took His shed blood and poured it out on the Mercy Seat in Heaven to atone for my sins. This was the end of the sacrificial law because He was the perfect and complete sacrifice. Before Jesus came, the Jews had to sacrifice daily and yearly for the forgiveness of sin as representative of the coming Savior. The Bible tells us that without shedding of blood there is no remission (forgiveness). (Heb. 9:22) 

What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus
What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus
Oh precious is the flow that makes me white as snow.
No other fount I know, nothing but the blood of Jesus.

When I picture the scene at the cross, I can see that pretty blood flowing down the body of Jesus to the bottom of the cross and it is beautiful. It is a picture of His love for me. With it comes forgiveness and bold access to the throne of grace. No longer must I confess my sins to a priest because I have but one mediator between me and God, the man, Christ Jesus. (1 Tim. 2:5) With this picture in my mind, comes thankfulness, humbleness and a willingness to please Him. In my mind, the blood is as beautiful as a mountain or ocean scene. How about you? Does the blood mean that much to you? Have you given it any thought? Maybe this post will bring a new appreciation. 

June 24, 2017

When a Soldier Lays Down Their Weapon

When you enter the military, you are trained in how to use your weapon. You are required to become completely familiar with it. You are trained how to use it in attack on the offensive and also how to use it to defend yourself and your company. As a soldier in the Army of the Lord, you are to be trained in the use of your weapon both offensively and defensively just as a soldier in the military. 

Today I want to look at what happens when the soldier lays down their weapon. 

In the military if you put down your weapon, you are vulnerable. You can no longer take the battle to the enemy nor can you defend yourself, your company or battle for the cause of your country. 

In the same manner, when a Christian soldier lays down their weapon (the sword of the Lord or Bible), they, too, are vulnerable. It is harder to stand against the fiery darts of the devil. It is harder to avoid temptations. It is harder to attack against false doctrine or teachings when you have laid down your weapon and not familiarized yourself with it. Psalm 119:11 - Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. 
The more we have God's Word in our heart, the less we will do in offence against him. 

When we leave our weapon laying on the table or the book shelf, we cannot use it to defend our beliefs, nor can we use it to fight against wrong when we do not keep it close and use it. We cannot use it to show others why they should also have the same weapon when we are not using ours. 

Make sure you are armed at all times with your weapon. Even when we have scripture memorized, in the heat of a battle, sometimes those scriptures are not as easily recalled, if you have your Bible close and handy, you can open it and find help. Keep a New Testament in your purse or car. Don't allow yourself to become complacent and lay it down and let it gather dust. If you do, you will not be able to be the soldier you need to be as the battle rages. 

June 7, 2017

Remembering Your Place

Whenever someone decides to stand up to someone bigger, more powerful, older, or the authority over them, often they get told "You forget your place!". Well, whenever this happens to you as a Christian, when you are quoting and believing the truth of Scripture, it's ok to reply, "My place is standing firmly on God's Word". This is our place as Christians! 

As you remember your place you must also remember that along with being able to stand on the Word of God, comes a home in heaven, being part of God's family, blessings from your heavenly Father, correction from your heavenly Father, bold access to the throne of grace where you can pray openly and forgiveness.

Sounds like a pretty good place to me! It's a place to seek comfort and peace in your heart and mind in the above knowledge.  Not only should it bring comfort and peace, it should bring boldness to make the statement, "My place is standing firmly on God's Word".

Just some encouragement for your week.