Feelings vs Scripture

The Bible doesn’t always make us feel good. I know its an odd thing to say, but its still true. You can find yourself conflicted with what you read, or maybe it shows a all-too-good reflection of yourself that you’d rather not see. Hebrews 4:12 says, “The word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow, it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

In our flesh, it can be hard to reconcile with how we feel about something with what the word of God says. Then again, its supposed to be that way. In ourselves, we look at things from our own perspective, usually in a selfish manner, and judge things and situations with how they relate to us. The Bible tries to show us how important we are, but the underlying theme is that it’s not about us. The main point of the Bible is what God did through Christ to reconcile mankind back to himself. It’s about Him.

One of the fantastic things about God is that he is constant. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. We aren’t. Our opinions on things change with age and experience. Think back to who you were and how you viewed things, say…ten years ago. How have things changed since then? We can trust God to be the same whenever we come to him. We know what his word will say. His standard will never change. His character will never change. He is I AM.

There are times when scripture may call us to do things we’d rather not do. We may not want to give up things in our life, or people in our social circles. The choice is always ours, but we still know what God would have us do. Mark 10 tells us about a rich man who asked Jesus what he must do to get to heaven. Jesus saw what was in the man’s heart and told him he needed to walk away from his fortune and follow him. The man left away disheartened. Jesus saw that the man’s attachment to material things impeded a meaningful relationship with him. He wasn’t willing to let it go.

There may be something in your life that you have an attachment to that God says you need to reexamine, or maybe walk away from altogether. In our flesh, we may not want to. “It’s not that bad.” “I’m in control.” “But is it REALLY that big of a deal?” God plainly said not to have any other idols before him. The focus in our life should be him above anything else. Is there something in your life that’s pulling that attention away from him?

Our feelings are always subject to change. We feel good one day and have a cruddy day the next. We don’t always feel effective, worthy, or useful. We don’t feel like the adopted child of God and don’t see how we fit in His plan. We may not feel that there even IS a plan. Luckily, God and his word isn’t dependent on how we feel. His purpose for us is the same on our good days and our bad. Our worth isn’t rooted in how we feel about ourselves, but how God sees us – through the filter of the shed blood of Christ. God is always with us even though there are days where we feel most alone. God is constant.

God’s word is truth. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the light.” (John 14:16). There may be things in scripture that go against how we feel about something, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s still truth. Trends in society change. Laws made by man can be updated and amended. Fads come and go. God’s word stays the same. If you find yourself at odds with something you read in scripture, its okay to question and do your research. God welcomes your attention. You’ll find that the bible is good for all teaching and correction (2 Timothy 3), and it will be our own perspective we need to change to be more like God’s.



Necessity of Action

When someone meets Christ, a part of them is changed forever. No longer bound by a past that seemed to lord over them like a shadow, they can move forward to a bright future that God has laid out for you. We are safe and secure in his promises and have a personal relationship with God the Father. Sounds good, right? Well, it is. There is no other thing more valuable than the loving grace that Christ gives us that brings us back to God.

The challenge we face after our encounter with Christ what to do next. “I’m saved. Now what?” First, I’d encourage you to spend time cultivating your relationship with God. Read his word and see what he has to say to you. Spend time in prayer. Talk to God. Listen. Work on becoming the fantastic person He already knows you to be. For those who may know God and walk with him, they can testify to the peace this relationship brings. Life is good. Even through struggles, you know you aren’t alone. As good as this is, there are many who stop there. They see God working in their live and are content to have that 1 on 1 with him. But there’s so much more that you are missing out, and its where God ultimately wants you to be. Is personal salvation enough? It could be argued it isn’t. What do you mean? I’m glad you asked.

James 2 says, “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? … In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds and I will show you my faith by my deeds.” This may sound harsh but let’s think about it for a moment. If someone is truly changed through their encounter with Christ, can they be content to let others stay lost? Can they stay within the salvation of God, guaranteed in their own deliverance, and do nothing about those around them? If so, can they REALLY be changed? Their concern is still for themselves.

To demonstrate the love of Christ, you will find you put the needs of others above your own. “No greater love has a man than to lay his life down for his brother.” Knowing what God did for you (even when you were an enemy and sinning against him), it’s a necessity to share that good news! Your burden is light. You are secure in your future. You have an identity as an adopted child of God. Reach out to those who are still looking for truth.

When you think about others who you would point to as people you’d model your own Christian life after. Why is that? Are they stagnant? I very much doubt it. They are active in their churches and their communities. They stay in motion, working towards a goal. Even if the difference they make is for the sake of one person to know God, then it’s worth it. Action is a necessity.

By no means do we want to go around, randomly doing whatever comes into our heads, that would quickly work against what God would have us do. Make a plan. Think it out. Bounce ideas of others who you know would give you the feedback you need. Maybe partner with others who already have something going you want to be a part of. Be active. Soon you will be the one others look to and think about the verse that says “I will show you my faith by my deeds.” There isn’t a question to who you are, whose you are, and the truth that you live. It demonstrates God is real and working through you.

We have the most amazing opportunity to be Christ in the flesh and have him work through us for others. Step out and work for something greater than yourself. Not only will you help others, but you will strengthen and grow your own relationship with God. What are you waiting for?


A Story of Simplicity

Religion can become complicated if you let it. Through time, we have added different ceremonies and traditions for occasions and holidays. We have different prayers we say for all sorts of situations. We have different styles of music and different services each Sunday for different demographics and multiple denominations. In the midst of all this, it can be easy to think that you have to study up on all this and how to explain it to someone in order for them to know Jesus. Shouldn’t it be easier than this?

Summer time brings with it the season of Vacation Bible School, or VBS, at churches. These programs welcome children approximately ages five through twelve and offer programs of worship, games, and bible lessons. Through the self-mandated fun the kids are brought through, church members try to impart the gospel to kids. Do they go through the twelve steps of their charter, or introduce them to the Catechism? No. They talk about the love of Jesus, his death on the cross, his resurrection, and the salvation that comes with this belief. If children hear this and believe it for themselves, then the salvation of Christ is theirs. So what happened to all the other stuff? Where did the disconnect happen between a five-year-old understanding and accepting salvation and what may happen in “big-church”?

The message didn’t change, so it must have been us. However success is found to reach people and tell them the good news about Christ, it ultimately doesn’t matter. So long as it happens. What has become a stumbling block to Christians who want to share the gospel with others is a self-imposed barrier. The gospel message isn’t a complicated thing you need a degree to understand. If you want to dive in heard first and write that doctorate thesis about the elements of the Trinity, go for it. You don’t have to be a theological scholar to be a force working within God’s will to reach people.

The best thing to use to connect with others is your own story of how Jesus works in your life. Revelation 12 says, “They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.” A personal account of the active power of God is far more effective than any self help book or YouTube video series. You don’t have to go into all the messy details of your background (it’s probably best you don’t), just tell someone the good things Christ has gone in your life and why you follow him.

Christ said himself, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 18:3). As we grow into adults, we start to put ourselves into the things we do – not that its necessarily a bad thing. We put our own touches and spin on the things we love to make our mark on it. When it comes to the message of Jesus, its HIS message, not ours. Children have a talent for seeing the simplicity in things when we miss it. Christ says here to come to him as children. Don’t complicate a simple message, just tell it for what it is. God loves us so much that he gave the best thing he had in exchange for the penalty put in place when we brought sin into our lives. All we have to do is believe it and there is no separation from God, we get access to him and can help others around us to show that love in return. It’s the best message in the world and it’s for everyone at any age. It’s simple enough that anyone can understand it and accept it. All we have to do is tell our story of how Jesus saved us.


God Redeems all He Allows

One of the most challenging places to see God at work is in tragedy. When experiencing personal loss, we look for the meaning in the mess. Why did this thing happen to this person? Sometimes it’s “why did this happen to me?”

There can be loss in a person who was a member of the faith turning away and walking a different path. We wonder how a change in their life like that can be made if they knew God. They had a relationship with Jesus before and to look at them now, you’d wonder if it had ever been real. You look to see the meaning. “God, if this person can claim that they knew you and simply walk away, then is it real or just something they followed for a while?”

What about people who cause horrible things to happen to others? Tragic accidents claim innocent lives. Kids get sick with terminal illnesses. Natural disasters all but wipe complete towns from where they stood. Why does all this happen? Where is God in the middle of all this?

Part of the challenge is simply trusting God. We see everything from our own perspective, through our own opinions, our own emotions, in our own place in time. God, however, sees everything as it applies through the big picture of creation through all of time. Isaiah 55 says “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Proverbs 3:5 reads “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.”

In the face of things that are bad for us or others, sometimes that seem most unfair, we still must trust God knows what he’s doing. He loves us and wants to work for our benefit. Usually, the things we would want for ourselves don’t happen in the manner or timing of how we would choose them. We go as far as we know and understand and have to take the leap of faith (sometimes feeling that dramatic) to trust God for the rest that we don’t.

It’s been said that God redeems all He allows. If God’s will is sovereign and will happen one way or another (Psalm 135:6), then the things that happen here on earth He has allowed to happen. Many times, it is out of tragedy that God affords miracles to happen. It’s out of desperation and sadness that God brings forth comfort and joy. God works for the benefit of all those who love Him (Romans 8:28). Even at our lowest places, amid our worst heartbreak, God is still with us to bring us through.

God redeems all He allows. If something is permitted to happen, there must still be a plan with those who are involved. There is still redemption for a lost soul, or someone who has removed themselves from the body of believers. There are lessons to be learned so we can help others. There is comfort that we can bring one another to be the ambassadors of Christ to those who may not know Him (2 Corinthians 5:20). God is a god of healing, restoration, and redemption. He loves us so much that he’s willing to afford us all every opportunity to come to him and receive His grace no matter our situation or our history.

Trust in God and lean not on your own understanding. The grand scheme of things is so far beyond our perception we would never see it all. Trust in the one who does. He loves you and continues to work for your good. “No power in the sky above or in the earth below – indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:39)


Loving Others as Ourselves

Christians are called to work for one another. Christ listed the two most important commandments when he said “Love the Lord God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. The second is like it, love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22: 36-40) Our typical nature as humans is to want to take care of ourselves first – looking out for number one. Here Jesus says that we must direct our main attention away from ourselves and put it on God first, then to others.

Scripture speaks often about helping to build up other believers and working as different members of the same body. All this is extremely important, but this focus on others doesn’t limit itself to those who are saved. Jesus wants us to push past what is easy and reach those who don’t yet know who he is, or if they do, don’t have a relationship with him. It doesn’t come naturally to reach out to others to show the love of Christ. Remember, we are by nature selfish, so the idea is against what we want to do anyway. Additionally, there is no way to know how that interaction will be received. Will they listen? Will they shut me down? Will they become hostile or angry? Usually these fears will keep us silent.

Regardless of what the potential outcome may be, we are still called to love others as ourselves. God is more concerned about our obedience to spread the good news of Christ rather than if we were successful or not. Looking back at Matthew 28, Jesus says to preach the good news to the world. He wants us to tell others what he’s done in our lives and how he can help them. He didn’t say it was us to be successful. Any aspect of conviction unto salvation is between an individual and the Holy Spirit. It’s not on you. Still, how can someone call on Jesus if they don’t know who he is? (Romans 12:14) It’s our job to tell, not to save.

Let’s take this one step further. It’s easy for us to be open with people we know and love, or even with those who are complete strangers. What about the people we don’t care for or even like? We all have those people in our lives. For whatever reason, we might be happy if we didn’t have to interact with certain individuals. Whether they are at work, school, members of our own family, or maybe even church (yes, there may be people we don’t like there too) we are still called to love them. When Jesus speaks about our enemies, he says for us to go the extra mile for them. If your enemy strikes you, offer them your other cheek. If someone sues you for your jacket, give them your shirt also. (Luke 6:27-29) We are supposed to bless those who curse us.

We all have challenges that we will work through on this side of Heaven, and loving others as ourselves will always be one of them. Remember the things Christ has done in your life. Think back to where you were when he reached his hand to you and lifted you up. He loved us when we were His enemies, and still died in our place. Knowing how Jesus has changed your life, don’t withhold that blessing from others. Step out in confidence to others and share him with others, be they strangers, or people you would give anything not to talk to. Jesus leads by example, humbling himself to the position of a servant and working for the benefit of those who were his enemies. All he asks us to do are the things he has already showed us how.


The Spirit of David

Across the barren heat of the plateau, soldiers rush to fall into line. Commanders are barking orders at their foot soldiers trying to bring focus to the battle ahead. Despite their best efforts, there is dissension beginning to settle in the ranks. Privates mumble to each other under their breath weather or not they will see battle today. “We’ve been here for weeks, and still nothing happens.” “We may as well go home.” “No fool is stupid enough to risk his neck against that.”

Chants echo across the valley. A low rumble shakes the ground as the opposing army moves into its place. Men shout insults and taunts at the worn infantry in the scorching sun as they prepare for another day of humiliation. As the last man takes his position the chanting soldiers fall silent. Their ranks divide as a hulking man steps out among them.

“Can you believe this?” “What kind of man is that?” Anxiety flows through the worn army at the sight of their opponent. Weeks had gone by now and this beast of a man has been jeering them, taunting them to send a man to fight him, but not a single soul dared.
Suddenly, a small shuffle at the front ranks of the army reveals a boy pushing his way through the men. “Who is that?” “Quick, get him back here before that fool gets himself killed!” The young man ignores the timid men behind him and shouts back at the Herculean figure across the valley. The soldiers watch as this boy, with no fear to be seen in his stance, voice, or countenance, hurls back insults at the giant in font of him and declares that he will be the one to kill him. “Is he crazy? Who let him out there?” The young man reaches down at his feet and draws some stones from the ground, placing one in what looks to be a worn out sling. Suddenly, he takes off at a sprint, emitting a battle cry that sounded like it came from ten men, twirling his sling above his head. Taken aback by surprise, the towering man starts to meet him in the middle of the field but is only allowed two steps before a single thrown stone from the young boy’s sling strikes him in he head, sending him to the ground.

A hush falls over the battle field as two armies of thousands of men watch in amazement as the boy kills the mighty champion that had held an entire legion at bay. The story of David and Goliath is one of the more widely known stories from scripture and demonstrates the empowering confidence and boldness that we can receive when we are confident in our standing with God. David had arrived at the battle to bring food for his brothers and bring back some news for his father, but when he heard the Philistine, Goliath, shouting insults to the Israelite army and against his God, he had no choice but to act.

Fear never entered David’s mind as he stepped forward to fight the towering man across from him. He had grown up as a shepherd, keeping watch over his father’s sheep, and killed predators that had attempted to take what was under his charge. He knew God had brought him victoriously through encounters that could have easily taken his life but had granted him victory. He had a proven track record of God’s support. “Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God.” (1 Samuel 17:36) Because of his proven history with God, David was able to boldly walk into another challenge, knowing God would not fail him.

When we look back, we have a better perspective to see where God moved in our lives. We can see where we received provision when our money was tight, or when extremely unlikely circumstances just seemed to work out in our favor, it was God at work. We all have a proven track record of support from God. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.” God is working in our lives for our benefit every day.

When things stack up against you, and you think you see a giant step out to challenge and taunt you, remember the times when God brought you through adversity. God has said that he will never leave you nor forsake you (Deut. 31:6), so stand confident and be bold to act. When others are frozen in fear, God will be glorified through your courage, and you will be blessed.


I Spirit and in Truth

If people were being honest with themselves, worship may be one of the harder things to do in church. Singing in church is hard to do well, and those that excel are put on a platform where they can lead the rest of the congregation. A worship leader has become the most glamorous position in church, save for maybe the pastor. Most of us try to keep up with songs we don’t know, following along with words on a screen or a hymnal (remember those?) We sing as best we can and find ourselves looking around to see how “into it” everyone else is. “I’m not that much of a fan of this song, but I’ll deal with it until the next one.” “Should I raise my hands or not? I’ll look weird if I do. Wait, I’ll raise them if I see at least three others do it first.”

However we find ourselves during worship, it’s easy to become distracted. Isn’t this supposed to be the time where we shut out the world and focus solely on God? Then why is it so hard? Is it even that much of a big deal? What if I’m not that good of a singer anyway?

“God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). We get hung up on different things going on around us or through our head when, as John states, we just need to worship him in spirit and in truth. “Need I remind you I can’t carry a tune in a bucket?” No, trust me we all know, but that’s not the point. The scripture doesn’t say anything about singing as a part of worship. It needs to be in sprit and in truth. It needs to come from the heart. It needs to be honest. It needs to be from a place of love. God continuously showers us with His love and loves it when we turn our hearts to Him. Psalm 99:5 says, “Exalt the Lord our God; worship at his footstool! Holy is He!” He relishes our praise.

“So I just sing badly, but be happy about it?” If that works for you, but that’s not just a song God wants as worship. Romans 12:1 reads, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” Again, this doesn’t bring up anything about singing. Present yourself as a living sacrifice. What can you give of yourself to glorify God’s name? How can you live your life to show what He has done for you? Maybe it’s plugging in somewhere else in church and doing something that’s a little more your speed (please anything but music, right?) Maybe it’s being the best you can be at your job, where you show every day your walk with Christ. It can be in another talent that you have. Dance, writing, public speaking, teaching, whatever shows how God has blessed your life, do that as worship. “Whatever you do, work heartily as for the Lord and not men” (Colossians 3:23)

The main thing to remember is that God just wants your love. He gave his best for us when we were at our worst because He thought we were worth it. However works best for you, there’s plenty of reasons to praise God. “That’s all great, but I still feel weird at worship in church.” Well, as with all things, we get better with practice. If you can, step forward where you can’t see anyone, or as few as you can and push back anything that will distract you to consciously focus on God. If you want to raise your hands in worship, go for it. It may feel odd to start, but God loves your effort. He’s the one whose opinion should matter anyway.

I encourage you to worship God in spirit and in truth. Some days will be more of a challenge than others, but if you’re honest with your praise, then you hit the mark. “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.” John 4:23


Our Hope in Christ

The news nowadays, more often than not, depicts a world full of negative news. Stories of scandals, political corruption, hostilities, and celebrity gossip dominate the news feed.

People looking for someone or something to believe in, rally behind figures who sound good and take a stand against…something…to champion a cause. Sometimes it’s the other way around – we find someone who speaks about something that we admittedly oppose and then we take to the internet or the water cooler to make our case for how unreasonable someone is and how its a crime that they get as much screen time as they do. Regardless of how it happens, we are presented with a divisive and trite outlook on the world today. In the face of all this, it can be easy to lose heart with the state of the world. Or is it?

With so much noise in our ear, it can be hard to see where the real challenge lies. Ephesians 6:12 says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” This verse explains that what we feel as a struggle coming from a specific person or group of people is actually against something deeper and hard to see. What Christians usually refer to as “spiritual warfare” is a fight against things that corrupt the human condition and take us off the path of what we were meant to be. Things like hate, bigotry, greed, or prejudice are what we would want to take a stand against.

All people, yes, even you, are subject to the spirits and elements of our environment. Consider a person who is immersed in an environment of self-indulgence and greed. This can come from the people they are around, the job they perform (or how they are encouraged to do their job), what people read or listen to, or any number of things. Whatever it is takes hold of their mind and their spirit and helps mold them as a person. Where decisions someone makes or something they may do still bring consequences, you can see what may have helped to get them there. It’s harder to see where someone’s intentions may be coming from and instead just confront them directly. Remember, Ephesians says “…our struggle is not against flesh and blood” our brothers and sisters who were also made in God’s image but against “the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” The spiritual battles are the harder fights to weather, let alone win. Some we will fight for the rest of our lives. The key to standing our ground is to see the fight for what they truly are and not miss the mark by making someone collateral damage and missing the mark.

Christ calls us salt and light of the world (Matthew 5:13-16). Jesus calls us to be an example for other people as we try to follow his. Jesus spoke to others in love. He addressed things directly in people’s lives, but he always showed them the path to take to make a difference. He told the Samaritan woman at the well that if she knew who she were talking to she would ask for living water instead of looking for literal water from a well (John 4). He looked at the woman caught in the act of adultery and didn’t condemn her as Jewish law would have required, but simply picked her up and said not to sin again (John 8). Jesus looked at the root of a person’s pain and addressed it, making a positive change in another person’s life. He would have us do the same to others.

2 Corinthians 4:17-18 reads, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” Living in a material world, it is easy to become distracted or upset by the physical things in front of us. The Bible tells us here that everything we see is only temporary. Our hope is not in man, for men are flawed and broken creatures. It is through Christ alone that we are able to see others and the unseen forces around them. We are made whole as he strengthens us in our weaknesses. Through Him we can reach out and help others in the same way, showing Christ living through us. Our hope is not in anything or anyone physically here, but in the one who is Eternal.

Soon, watching the news will become a different experience. Instead of getting caught up in the circus of a media story or a social movement, we can rest knowing our future is seated where “moths and vermin do not destroy, where thieves do not break in and steal (Matthew 6:20). There is a comfort that comes knowing we are loved and provided for, no matter what may be going on in a particular day. “But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory,” Hebrews 3:6.

Who we are in Christ

It’s easy to feel insignificant sometimes. Going through life on our own, we can feel like we are only setting ourselves up for failure. How can turn this around? How can we feel like we make a difference? Part of the problem is that most people don’t have a clear understanding of who they are. When we come to a saving knowledge of Jesus as our saviors, we don’t quite grasp what that means. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here!” We are made into something else when Jesus resides in our hearts. We aren’t the same person we were moments before. We weren’t slaves to the same hang ups. We aren’t in bondage to the addictions we fought against. We aren’t lost people looking for a glimpse of hope on the horizon. We are new! We are saved by the grace of God and are free to begin a relationship with the Creator.

With as great as all this is, that is where some people stop. A Christian can think that now they are saved and have a future in Heaven, all they need to do is make it through the rest of their time on Earth and wait for the Pearly Gates. If that’s your mindset, you’re missing out on so much. What does being saved mean? Who are we then? Turns out, we are a couple of things.

We become children of God. Everyone on the planet was created in God’s image. We are physical extension of himself and have aspects of his own personage. When we are saved into God’s family, we become adopted children of God and co-heirs of Christ (Romans 8:17). An adopted child is officially and legally taken into someone else’s family with an equal share to any inheritance that would be given. They carry the family name with all rights and responsibilities that come with it. In being spiritually adopted into God’s family, we share in everything God has. Jesus Christ is the firstborn from among those who share in the resurrection, and as co-heirs, we have an equal share in everything that is his. What does he have? John 3:35 says “The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in His hands.” Everything in creation and ultimate authority has been given from the Father to the Son, and we all have an equal ownership in this with Christ.

As adopted children into God’s family, we are also royalty (1 Peter 2:9). We have the ability to have an audience with the King of kings and speak with him. Modern Americans are used to the idea of having accessibility to those in power, either on a local government or a national one. Being able to speak to a king, let alone have any kind of influence with him, was something that very few people had. The King’s word was law, and there was no disputing it. We are brothers and sisters with Christ, and can speak to him, come to him with problems, tell him about our day, thank him for blessings, plead with him on the behalf of others, etc., whenever we need to. In the same vein, in being members of God’s family and co-heirs with Christ, we also have the authority to speak into our own lives inside the will of God to affect change for ourselves and those around us. We can speak against hardship and sickness. We can lead our families from a secure position and not feel like we shouldn’t have others looking to us for guidance because of who we were in the past. We have authority through Christ. We are also a royal PRIESTHOOD. A king handles legal matters and enforces the law of his land. The priesthood intercedes for others and leads in the teaching of God’s word.

They are conduits of healing and guidance and bless those they speak to. We also have this position as those who are saved by the grace of God. If someone is struggling with an aspect of life, we don’t have to point them to a pastor or minister for help, we can step in and pray with them ourselves. We can pray for one another and ask God to help, teach, or guide. We can stand in the gap for those who fight depression, who feel lost, who feel unloved, or useless. Since we have a direct connection to God through his Word and through prayer, we can be obedient and open to allow God to work through us. Not only are we able to bring Glory to him when these opportunities present themselves, but it helps to build our own faith as well.

A saving knowledge in Christ is an amazing thing, and until we find ourselves in Heaven in his presence, we can act inside God’s plan here on earth as adopted children of God’s family, and a royal priesthood to operate in his plan for our lives. When you take that first step of faith and believe these things that God says about you in scripture, you start to feel different. You carry yourself with more confidence that your heavenly Father is at your back in all that you do. You won’t feel powerless or helpless anymore, because you are no long trying to live life by yourself, but allow the Holy Spirit to operate through you, making your weaknesses new strengths. So, step out in faith. Using His word as your guide, live as a true child of God and you will see God’s hand at work everywhere

Empathy of Christ

One of the things that makes Jesus stand out among anyone else in the Bible, or any other religion for that matter, is his ability to identify and empathize with those he came to redeem. No where else do you read about a holy or figure of deity who left their righteous position to become and live among their creation. Because Christ became a man on earth and lived in a low, piteous position, he was able to experience the hardships and trials we live through in our own lives.

Jesus knew weakness and hunger (Mathew 4), he knew loneliness (Isaiah 53:3), and he knew betrayal by those who were closest to him (Luke 22). He endured this and more all the way through his crucifixion and death without sinning. Through his death we were reconciled to God and through his resurrection we will be with him, Jesus having defeated death. Jesus stood where we stood, or perhaps where we stand right now, and he prevailed. He knows how it feels in our situations.

The empathy of Jesus is what makes the grace of God so much sweeter. It’s not simply a divine decree from on high pardoning us of a sin, but it’s an intervention by someone at the right hand of the father who knows what it feels like to be in despair, weakness, need, or shame. Instead of judgement coming to us, Jesus references the blood paid at his crucifixion and calls the debt paid.

The empathy of Jesus is also what grants us an active relationship with God. We are able to gain access to the Father in the throne room at any time to talk about whatever we need to and aren’t separated by some kind of flawed moderator or barrier. God wanted a relationship with humanity. When Adam and Eve were initially created He walked among them. His desire for relationship manifested again when he became flesh to live among men and speak with us on this side of heaven. It culminated in the sin debt being paid on our behalf, because we were unable to do it ourselves, so we would have access to Him. Nowhere else is this seen with anyone, or any other god. Jesus knows what it’s like to become an adopted member of a family you weren’t born into. Joseph knew about Mary’s pregnancy before he married her, and even began to quietly break up the engagement (Mathew 1:19) but took her and her unborn child to be his family anyway. When Jesus was born, Joseph took him on as a true son of his own. As an adult, Jesus is even referred to as the carpenter’s son (Mathew 13:55), having a legitimate position in his earthly household as head of the family in the absence of his earthly father. Jesus knows what it’s like to be accepted through adoption and become part of a larger family.

The empathy if Jesus is what makes the adoption into the Kingdom of God so much more personal. The adoption as children of God and co-heirs of Christ (Romans 8:17), means we have a legal and legitimate position in God’s family. As co-heirs with Christ, we have an equal share in His inheritance as our own; everything that belongs to Christ is also equally ours! This spirit of adoption that allows us to call to God, “Abba, Father” Jesus also empathizes with. He knows what it feels like to be outside of a family and have someone choose to take you as their own and give you everything they possess.

The empathy of Jesus breaks barriers that are in place in every other religion found in the world. It makes the intercession for our judgement a genuine act of love because He has been in our place to face struggles and trials, and overcome them, but still decides to take our punishment upon Himself. The empathy of Jesus makes a personal relationship possible between the Creator and His creation, with no barrier or restriction between us and the Father. The empathy of Jesus makes the adoption into the Kingdom of God something that gives belonging and meaning. We have a secured hope in our future on earth and in Heaven because we are called children of God. The empathy of Jesus is unlike anything else in this world or the next.

Battle of Wills

One of the hardest things for most Christians to do is witness to someone else. It’s a vulnerable practice that can only be improved upon with…well…practice. We don’t want to offend anyone and we want to present Jesus and the gospel in a way that can be well received, but we find that most people already have their own opinion on the subject and would rather you not bring it up anymore, thank you very much.

Right before Jesus ascended to Heaven, he said to spread the gospel unto the ends of the Earth. This is our job. To tell people. That’s it. The conviction and salvation belongs to the Holy Spirit. But what do we do about the people we want to witness to who already have their heels dug in and are ready to debate Jesus.

That’s the point that is missed by most. The salvation isn’t up to us. Our job is to be obedient in telling the good news.

In Exodus we read about the great battle of wills between Moses and Pharaoh for the fate of the Israelite people. Moses, time and again, comes to Pharaoh and says he must let Israel go from Egypt so they can worship the Lord and become their own people. Pharaoh isn’t about to agree to that. He doesn’t want to give up his great work force of slave labor. Still Moses persists. They go back and forth and Pharaoh endured plague after plague because he refused to submit to the will of God and release his chosen people.

It would be easy for Moses to become discouraged. It would be easy for a prayer to be something like “God, he still refuses to let us go. He would rather suffer all the plagues you can conceive rather than admit You are God instead of him. There isn’t a point in me going back tomorrow. He’s this close to killing me instead of setting us free.”

It can feel like that sometimes when we try to tell others about Christ. Maybe not the fear of death necessarily, but that is a reality for many missionaries. Still, we know those who are set in their ways and they don’t want to hear your speech about Jesus as your Lord and savior. Again. No matter how many times you tell it, they refuse to change. Maybe they even get mad or hostile with you. So what are you supposed to do? Give them over to their reprobate mind?

Moses sets a great example for the rest of us in the case of obedience in the face of incredible stubbornness. Moses did as God told him, even though he thought he knew the outcome. We should be the same. Remember, Jesus said for us to tell the nation’s. Was what Moses was doing that much different? He went to Pharaoh and kept bringing the message of God. It was until God made the plagues personal to Pharaoh in the plague of the death of the first born, where Pharaoh lost his own son, that Pharaoh finally relented. He saw that even he was subject to God’s will. He finally consented to let the Israelites leave Egypt; he even asked Moses to bless him before they left. The difference between the first night plagues of Egypt and the last one, was that it connected with Pharaoh on a personal level. He felt God move in his life.

Unfortunately, it was through great loss that he did, but the power of God couldn’t be denied. In the same way with the stubborn person we may try to share the gospel with, we are called to be just as faithful as Moses. We must keep telling others what God’s word says and about the news of Jesus. It will be God through the Holy Spirit that will work in someone’s life in an incontrovertibly personal way and change their life. When and how that happens isn’t for us to say. It’s simply up to us to tell. God will do the rest.

Christ as King

Most Americans’ concept of what a monarchy is like comes from the royal family in England. Multitudes watch with bated anticipation for the latest goings on from Buckingham palace with who is marrying who next, who is having a baby, and the latest fashion trends. Even in England, the Queen is more a figurehead than anything else, as most governmental power comes from Parliament and the Prime Minister. ​There come an interesting set of etiquette rules when dealing with the queen. You must address her with “your highness” and subsequently with “mam”. You don’t speak to the queen unless spoken to. When talking with the queen, one is never to turn their back to her majesty. If the conversation is over you must back away from the socially acceptable semi-circle before stepping away.

At a dinner, when the queen is finished eating, all plates are collected regardless if everyone is finished eating or not. When the queen is done, you’re done. There are many more behaviors to follow, but it would exhaust an American to oblige all these rules simply because she’s the queen. American’s put more emphasis on the value of each individual and have no problem speaking their mind or championing their own way in the face of anyone from a coworker to (sometimes) even the president. Okay, so why is this important?

The Bible refers to Jesus Christ as the King of kings and Lord of lords (1 Tim 6, Rev 17, Rev 19). Not only is he the only son of God, but he has been given complete authority over everything. He is the King above all other kings. His word is the highest point of authority. It cannot be argued against, bargained with, or disregarded. It is absolute. ​Most Americans today look at Jesus as a friend they can go to in a time of trouble. He’s an agent through which the Comforter comes. He’s seen as a teacher and rabbi. He’s an elder brother of all those born in Christ and we are co-heirs with him in Glory. Where all this is true, it seems like we take the additional aspect of Jesus being King of all for granted.

​Consider the idea if you were to meet royalty from another country. You’d conduct yourself differently around them. You’d follow all the cultural requisites that come with being in their presence and put on your best behavior. You wouldn’t want to anger or offend a member of royalty, the king much less, for by their word alone any punishment they deemed you to have would be carried out with no hesitation. If this is the case, why do we treat Christ in a different manor? Yes, the Bible says we are to approach the throne boldly (Hebrews 4:16), but that doesn’t mean we forget ourselves and, more importantly, forget who Christ is.

As Christians, we don’t want to lose the awe and power that comes with being in God’s presence. What other figure in His position wants his children to come near with whatever they need? There isn’t anything saying we can’t have an intimate relationship with God; in fact scripture encourages it (John 14:21). What better thing than to have the loving support of the King? He would make all His resources available to us to help in times of trouble (2 Cor 9:8), and He stands ready to protect His kingdom and those in it from attack (1 Cor 10:13, 2 Thes. 3:3).

​With royalty here on earth, every effort is spared by members of the kingdom to preserve and protect the king. Armies stand ready and personal bodyguards are vigilant to protect the life of the king and his heirs. However, Christ breaks that mold and turns it around. With Him, the King sacrifices himself for the sake of those in His kingdom so that they may be preserved. Through the death of the King, his Kingdom is saved and lives forever.

Don’t lose your awe and reverence for who Christ is. Our elder brother in heaven is the King of kings and Lord of lords, and continually makes intercession for us. He had every right to stay in his rightful place in heaven, but the King of all creation humbly made himself a part of it to save the family he loves. Yes, we can have an audience with the King whenever we want. We can talk with him about anything and everything and He cares about what matters to us. Still, the power and authority rests in Him alone. We can’t choose what parts of Christ we want to play up for ourselves or others. He’s our King and if we claim to be members of His family and His kingdom, then we need to live our lives to reflect that.

Intimacy with God

A new profession that has seen a rise in the past few years has been that of the Professional Cuddler. It may initially sound odd, but a professional cuddler can make up to 80$/hour providing platonic contact for those who book a session to get the nurture they don’t get in their lives. From spooning, hugging, holding hands while watching a movie, to even talking, professional cuddlers are available to provide a wide variety of services depending on your needs. The profession helps others deal with trauma like PTSD, high anxiety and stress, and other social disorders as well as fill the gap for affection that is missing from the lives of clients. Maybe someone is coping with the death of a loved one, or even simply lonely in their lives, sessions with a cuddler are to provide emotional and platonic physical contact to help.

This may seem like an odd idea, but its an idea that’s catching traction in major cities across the country. It’s easy to see why. More today than ever, people deal with more stress and anxiety in their lives. More stories come out in the news of physical assault and inappropriate behavior. The advent and growth of the internet may send information exchange into a new era, but the social development of the majority of people are stunted due to their lack of actual fact-to-face interaction with others. If you find yourself online, there is post after post on social sites like Reddit and others where people post about feeling lonely, socially awkward, and in need of a friend. Enter the Professional Cuddler. They are available, for a fee of course, to provide a therapy of intimacy and comfort that is unavailable to us in our everyday life.

The problem is connection. There isn’t much, if any. Relationships are harder to cultivate past school age. Those that you manage to find can easily go by the wayside as time is filled with work, family, and other commitments. Are there times where you find yourself feeling alone and misunderstood? Does no one see you for who you really are? Do you wish you could have at least one other friend that you can connect with on a deeper level? If so, you aren’t alone in how you feel. If you are having a hard time keeping constant relationships that you’d consider friends, who then do you turn to that can give you what you need? We all have the desire to be known and understood for who we are.

John Chapter 4 tells the story of a Samaritan woman getting water at a well. She finds herself there next to Jesus, who was resting and waiting for his disciples to return to him. Jesus asks her for water and she is confused, knowing that no Jew in their right mind would speak to a Samaritan. She questions him and he says he can offer he living water that would never run out. Jesus says “Go, call your husband and come back.” “I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.” (John 4: 16-18) After speaking with him, the Samaritan woman went into the rest of her town telling them about the Messiah, “He told me everything I ever did!”

This was a woman who was at the depths of lonely. She had bounced from marriage to marriage and was currently living with a man not even her husband. Being a Samaritan, she was considered the lowest of the low socially. It was easy to feel like an outcast. Unvalued. Barely noticed by anyone at all. Suddenly this prophet comes to her and tells her entire life story to her. This man, who shouldn’t have noticed her at all, knew her implicitly. Her entire life she had felt devoid of any real connection with anyone. The Son of Man came to her and showed her love an intimacy.

Many people only associate the word intimacy with physical love between two people. That’s not what the woman at the well needed, and that’s not what we need today. We need intimacy in the true sense of the word. We need someone to know us for the deepest, truest parts of ourselves and show love and value in who we are. We need to be seen and valued. This is what Jesus did for the Samaritan woman, and what he continues to do for people today. Jesus says in Luke 12: 6-7 “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs on your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

We are all known intimately by God. He’s the one who created us. He knows our fears, our hopes, our plans, our failures, and our victories. He knows everything about us and has called us to be part of his family. Whenever we feel alone or misunderstood, remember that the creator of the universe knows you better than anyone, and He is always with you. If you feel ostracized, move closer to him in scripture and in prayer. A close, intimate relationship with God is something that is open to everyone. All we need to do is start the conversation.

Spirit of Cain

One of the hardest lessons a child has growing up is that you only get out of things what you put in to them. We want to succeed in what we do and have all the benefits that come with that success, but are we willing to put in the work it takes to get there? Sometimes, it isn’t the case. Think back and be honest with yourself. Was there a moment when you only half-did something that was required of you? Did you do the bare minimum required for a school project, or maybe just enough to complete a task at work? I think everyone can find some time where they shortchanged something that was asked of them.

When it came time to finish your task, you may not have gotten as big a grade, or as much of a thank you as we felt we deserved. Remember, we are being honest here. It may have stung worse when someone else got the praise we felt we deserved. Instead of thinking back and recognizing where we fell short or didn’t do as much as we could have, maybe we got mad at that teacher, or that other student. “Stupid, Billy. He always gets the reward. Such a teacher’s pet.” Sound familiar? If so, we have fallen into one of the first problems humanity faced on Earth. We are dealing with the Sprit of Cain.

Genesis chapter four tells the story of Cain and Abel and the offerings they brought to God. “In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering – fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.” (Gen 4: 3-5)

Here, Cain brought an offering to God that was just some of his crop. It was what was required, and he did that, but he did just enough to get by. Abel, however, brought from the firstborn of his flock. He brought God his best and God looked on him with favor. When Cain saw this he got angry and downcast. This sounds similar to that example of the homework assignment, or the task at your job, doesn’t it? Can did just what was required of him and when he didn’t get the favor he wanted, he got mad. Someone looking at this may say, “Well, what did Cain expect? Why would God give favor for what was just enough?” Well, that person wouldn’t be wrong. 1 Samuel 16: 7 says “…People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Cain and Abel’s offering were reflections of their hearts. Abel brought God the best of what he had, the first pick of the firstborn of his flock. Cain only brought the bare minimum of what was required for the offering. Abel loved God and wanted to demonstrate that love through what he brought. Cain’s motives were lazy and self serving. After the offerings were presented and Cain got his feelings hurt, God addressed him directly. In Genesis 4:7, God tells Cain “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” God wanted to help Cain find the right path and attitude for his heart. Instead of listening to God and thinking he needed the adjustment, Cain focused his frustration on someone else – his brother.

When we don’t get what we feel we should sometimes, it’s easy to place that frustration on someone who did what they were supposed to do. They got the accolades and not us. They got what we wanted. They become the problem. Wait, up there, dude! It’s not their fault you didn’t do what you needed to. Your heart wasn’t where it should be and it showed in your actions. Remember: If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? The offerings of Cain and Abel were supposed to be demonstrations of love to God. Abel gave God his best; Cain didn’t. Think about what it would be like to be on the receiving end of a gift from two people. One person put thought and time into what their gift was while the other one picked something they figured you wouldn’t hate and got it last minute. Which one would mean more to you?

When you offer your time and energy to those that you love, put off the Spirit of Cain and take on the Spirit of Abel. Your actions, gift, whatever it is, will be a true reflection of what’s in your heart. The same thing goes for what you give to God. “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7) The gift, talent, or offering isn’t itself as important as the heart behind it. God loves someone who gives freely and with cheer. It’s the heart that matters. Bless others with the love from your heart and the blessings that come back to you will astound you.

Influence of Others

There’s an adage that says, “If you want to know what you will be like in five years, show me your closest five friends.” People may not realize the level of influence our close friends and family have on our lives. Think about it: when you hang around the same person or group of people for a good amount of time, don’t you start to pick up slang and mannerisms they use? More than that, you start to view the world like they do. You may have a fiend that feels very strongly about an issue that you never took time to think about, or may even have been on the opposite side. You might be persuaded to take a different stance on something because of the perspective of someone you know. You might begin to root for a sports team because your friends cheer for them and you want to be part of the group. Your friends have a profound effect on your thought processes and personality.

When coming to a saving knowledge of Christ, it is important to find a good group with which to plug in. There are some churches that make the mistake of bringing someone to Christ and then leaving them alone to figure out where to go from there. The intentions in situations like these are good, but the issue lies with experience. Many practiced Christians don’t know what to do next.

There is a lot that you can learn as a Christian. You don’t have to be a theological scholar to enter heaven, but there are riches upon riches in God’s Word. It is important to read scripture and determine truth for yourself, but it is just as important to find someone or a group that can help guide you in your first steps. Find someone that you relate to you, who can help make sense of things in a way that applies to your life. Proverbs 27:17 says “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” We are best when refined and brought up by one another. The book of Acts tells the story of the foundation of Christs church and how small groups came together to build each other up. A new group was established and once it could function by itself, the apostle who started it (or another leader) may move on to start a new group. The first century church was founded on relational study. Find this for yourself.

In the same way that a good group of believers can help you build and strengthen your faith, a group that doesn’t know Christ like you do as a believer can have the opposite effect. The lure of a secular life can feel good, but it cannot replace the peace and fulfillment that Christ brings. A regular routine of finding pleasure that fills the moment but leaves just as quickly is not what we were called to live. If you were delivered from a life of drug addiction, the last place you want to return is to friends who live that life. Addicts themselves, they are more likely to bring you back to where you were. We read in Proverbs 13:20, “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools suffers harm.” You may find there are some relationships that you had that are not good for you. The people you once hung out with only offer you the thing that you wanted escape from. You may not need to cut out people all together, but their level of influence needs to be different. Some relationships will need to change; you may find some relationships need to stop. “Bad company corrupts good morals.” (1 Corinthians 15:33)

The idea of losing friends may sound depressing, but consider this: you have the potential to have incredible influence on those closest to you. When someone truly has Christ in their heart, something is different. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says “If anyone is in Christ, they have become a new creation.” We are no longer the person we were. We have access to the love and power of God and something that incredible is hard to keep quiet about. People will start to see that there is a new life inside you that wasn’t there before. Christ talks about this in Matthew 5, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in Heaven.” Remember how your closest friends are an influence on you? You are also an influence on them. Let them see what Christ did in your life. Let them see what He continues to do.

The same power that raised Christ from the dead lives in us when we ask Jesus to become our savior. The same power. Just think what can be accomplished when you allow that power to change your life and affect the ones you care about most. It all starts with you.

Matthan the great grandfather of Christ

Most people don’t know who Matthan is from the Bible. As far as I can tell, he’s only mentioned once, and when he is, not much is said about him. However, he’s an immensely important person. “But if he’s so important, then why don’t more people know his name?” I’m glad you asked.

It’s hard to know where we fit in the grand scheme of things. It’s understandable that a person could look at their life and think that their sphere of influence only reaches so far and may not be that significant anyway. I would argue that isn’t true at all, we just may not be in the proper perspective to see it. Jeremiah 29:11 tells us “For I know the plans I have for you, “declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” This verse shows where God has specific plans for each of us. Yes, even you! We are all intentionally created and put where we are and when we are to fit in our unique place in God’s plan.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10) Scripture tells us that God planned things for us to do in advance of us being here. It is no accident that you are where you are and when you are. You are uniquely suited to do the tasks put before you. When you step into God’s will blessings upon blessings will come to you. He is overjoyed with someone who loves Him and runs after him.

But I’m not smart, talented, strong, (whatever excuse you reach out to use). God can’t use someone like me.” Let’s look at the people God has used before in the past. Abraham was an idol maker. Moses was a murder. Noah was a drunk. David was an illegitimate son. Solomon was the son born from a sinful relationship. There are many more. All these people would have had plenty of reason to tell God to find someone else to do what God wanted them to do, but they are credited as heroes of the faith for their trust in God and their obedience. Compare yourself to where these figures started from and suddenly you don’t seem so bad, right?

A major advantage God has from us regarding seeing the totality of God’s plan, is that he sees the whole thing from beginning to end. God is timeless. He stands outside of time and knows how things affect others in the future that we can’t see. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9) Many have talked about being able to see what God’s plan was only after seeing it in action over years. As humans that live through time, it’s hard to trust that things are going as they should when it comes to God’s plan. We want to see the effect now. We need to see the benefit to know that we are doing what we are supposed to be doing. Moving forward in that faith is hard. Abraham was credited as righteous, not because of anything he did, but because of his faith in God. He believed what God said was true and would come to pass. Step out in that same faith and you will be able to see over time how God’s plan is unfolding in your life.

Have you figured out who Matthan was yet? Haven’t taken the time to Google it? Well I’ll tell you. Matthan is found in the book of Mark in chapter one. He’s skipped over by most people who read this part but he’s incredibly important nonetheless. So, if you move down through chapter 1 and go to verse 15, you’ll find Matthan. “Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah” (Mark 1: 15-16) Matthan is the great grandfather of Jesus Christ. It is through his bloodline that we received the messiah of the world. I imagine that at times, it would have been easy for Matthan to think himself insignificant. If what we know about Joseph is an indication of his background, Matthan may not have been terribly wealthy or well off. He could have been easily a tradesman and passed that profession on to his son, grandson, and eventually his great grandson. He only has a small mention in the Bible, but it is through him that Jesus would eventually been born. He was following God’s plan. He was providing for his family and teaching them about who God is and how they are to worship Him. We know this because Joseph and Mary taught this to their son as a young man.

When you think about how you fit into God’s plan, remember Matthan. More of us won’t be able to see how we fit in the grand scheme of things until time passes. Some of us will be larger personalities that reach millions for Christ. Others will be the ones who lay the foundation for a generation to rise up and change the world forever. Trust in God. He loves you more than you know and has great plans for you on this side of heaven. Have faith that He will take you there.

The Image of God

The church during theRenaissance commissioned many pieces of art depicting scenes from scripture. Masterworks came out of this time, whether in paintings or in sculpture, and are still hailed as cornerstones of art to this day. The Sistine Chapel in the Vatican was built between 1477 and 1480, and was commissioned to be painted by Pope Julius II. The work that painter Michelangelo would be known for, the ceiling of the chapel, was painted between 1508 and 1512. At its center is the iconic image of God creating Adam, their hands outstretched towards each other.

When most people picture God in their minds, something like this image of Him appears. He’s a grey or white bearded, sage old man with a stern look on his face. More contemporary adaptations of the portrayal of God would be seen in film, from the booming voice in the sky speaking to Charlton Heston in The Ten Commandments, to the quirky humor and sage wisdom of Morgan Freeman in Bruce Almighty. Today there is no set idea of what the true image of God is; it’s more open to interpretation. Or is it?

Genesis 1:27 says that God created mankind in His own image. This verse has been the subject of great debate. Does this mean that God looks like a human? Is he closer to the old man who looks like he’s mad most the time? When looking for answers about God, the best (and only) place you should look is in scripture itself. There is no physical description for God. Later the Bible gives us a small description of Jesus. Isaiah 53:2 says that Jesus had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. Still, Jesus was magnetic. People flocked to him from all over. At best, Jesus was a very non-descript Jewish Rabbi who was the most charismatic person on the planet. So, if there is no description of what God looks like, and Jesus was an average person that he had no outstanding features to make him stand out, then how are we to interpret the idea that we are made in God’s image? You may be thinking of this from the wrong perspective.

Jesus is the cornerstone of the Christian faith. The main point of the day-to-day life of a Christian is to do what Jesus would do to emulate Him. We strive to be like Jesus. It’s through our actions that we show who Christ is and how he can help those who are lost. We are identified as Christians this way. (Christian means “little Christ”) In this way, we are the image of Jesus to the rest of the world. Ok, now we are getting somewhere.

So, if it is through our actions that we are identified to be like Christ, portraying His image, then how are we like God – in God’s image? What are some things we know about God that we share with him? The first thing we see God doing in the Bible is beginning the act of creation. God is bringing the universe into existence. He’s creating. In His ultimate power, it was easily possible for God to snap his fingers and have everything created and in its intended place, but we read that he takes a full six days to create the earth and the heavens. He takes a meticulous approach and does each step with loving intention. At each step, he declares his work good. Like an artist at the canvas, he adds color, layers, and life to his masterpiece. When it’s almost completed, he signs his work like all other artists do, with his signature, showing creation to be his; he creates humanity. He places man on the earth in His image and calls his work very good (perfect).

Throughout the rest of scripture, we read about men and women who create. Who write stories, compose songs, who make things with their hands that are beautiful works of art, and more. As sin came in to the world, man became flawed, but we were still like God. We make things with our hands (existence was made through Jesus – John 1:1), we love others and show compassion, we make families of our own, and we teach them what we know. No other thing on earth lives like this. We are unique in that we have minds of our own that create out of imagination and we contemplate life. It is when we do these things that we are like God; this is how we are made in His image.

So remember, when you decide to write, paint, sing, build, or dance, you are being like God. When you shower loved ones with affection, you are being like God. When you teach a child how to become an adult, you are being like God. Pair the best parts of being a person with the best parts of being a Christian, and you will finish your race hearing “well done, my good and faithful servant.

Jesus – King of Kings

Many Americans today have a uniquefascination with royal families. The royal family in England in particular is regularly in the headlines about a new baby or a upcoming royal wedding. Attention is paid to choices of clothes, décor, and guest lists. There is a romanticized idea of what it is like to be royalty and cameras follow family members to catch and document their every move. Every day Americans devour the latest news on what a duchess is doing, bringing an interesting reversal to a country that was founded in rebellion to the English throne.

Perhaps it’s a difference in culture that holds the attention it does. American’s don’t know what it is like to live under a monarchy. They have always prided themselves on personal freedom and a rule of the people, by the people, for the people. Concepts of absolute rule from the word of one person is something Americans can’t quite get behind for themselves. “What about what I want?” “Who are you to tell me how to live?” We don’t want a king to rule over our lives.

When someone comes to a knowledge of Jesus Christ, the idea of Him being your lord and savior gets overlooked for what that really means. The emphasis is usually put on Jesus being your savior, which is an important part of who He is. It is through Him we are reconciled to God. Our sins are forgiven and we can walk boldly into the presence of God and be with Him. This is good. Great. Unbelievable! Thank you, Jesus, for doing what I could not. We would gladly welcome him as our savior. What does it mean, though, to have him as our lord?

Jesus Christ as lord speaks to his authority. It’s an aspect of who he is. 1 Timothy 6:15 says of Jesus “He who is blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords.” Jesus has authority over everything. He says in Matthew 28:18, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” Everything in our life falls under Him. His word is final in all matters. When we ask Jesus into our hearts and accept his salvation, living under his authority is part of that.

This part of Jesus can be difficult to reconcile at times. We want to do things our way in our own time. Submitting to Jesus means trying to live by His standard and His plans, and that can clash with what our earthly selves want. Things we enjoyed doing before knowing Christ suddenly aren’t cool to do anymore. Maybe we find that friends we have aren’t good people to be around. Our inner spirit changes. We may fight and complain arguing that things we want to keep around aren’t really that bad, knowing that the argument is futile. Jesus was very clear on his viewpoints on aspects of life. His standard is very clear.

Doesn’t sound like very much fun? Well, maybe not at first. Turning away from a sinful life that we hated is easy to do. Turning away from a sinful life that we enjoyed is a different story. When we have our personal encounter with Christ, he shows us His love for us in that while we were still enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son (Romans 5:8) If anyone had a moral high ground to cast us out for the sinful lives we were leading, it was Christ. Instead, he sees us for who we are through the cleansing power of his shed blood and refuses to let us remain as we are. He calls us to be better. He calls us to live for him and help spread the good news that saved us.

We struggle with sin each day. We can look at this struggle as an unfair, unwavering, impossible challenge that leaves us set for failure, but we would be mistaken. By ourselves, we cannot overcome the things we face and come out on top by ourselves. The authority of Jesus gives us the power and strength to be victorious through Him. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weakness, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” When we look to Christ for strength against whatever comes against us, we are given the strength and authority to work in his will by looking to him for direction. Remember, Jesus is the one with absolute authority over everything. In Him we have strength and power, not everlasting defeat

Jesus being the King of kings is crucial to our lives on earth. It’s the perfect support system. Are we promised a trouble-free existence? No. “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) God’s plan will always play out like God wants it to. It is up to us to work as best we can within it. Submitting to a king means we give the responsibility and decisions over to another one over ourselves. We look to someone else to provide the answers. Having trouble with your job? Consult the King. Having trouble with your family? Consult the King. Don’t know how to shake an addiction? Consult the King. The King loves you and suffered so you don’t have to. We gain much more by living in Christ than we ever did by ourselves. Jesus says in John 10:28, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.”

Never too young to Serve God

Americans live in an unusual time where a breaking news story about a school shooting isn’t so much of a shocking story, but generates more thoughts of “Oh no, not again.” We have become conditioned to receive stories of tragedy where kids who feel bullied, alone, ostracized, and angry strike out at their classmates with lethal consequences. Upon each incident, debate continues over what can be done to combat what seems to be growing into a national epidemic. Is it the guns? Is it mental health? Is it bullying? Is it society? Video games? Social media? Voices talk over one another, each trying to contribute their two cents to the conversation. Of all the voices that speak, one usually goes unheard. Until recently.
​February 14, 2018 in Parkland, Florida was a day that brought more news stories of the same. The students of Stoneman Douglas High School had a shooter on campus and 17 people lost their lives; 14 more suffered injuries. It wasn’t long before the usual song and dance number began around another school shooting, but something was different. The students of Stoneman organized themselves and spoke out. Fed up with the senseless death and darkness they saw, they took their message to news outlets and politicians, demanding change. Students marched in Tallahassee where they spoke at rallies to make their positions heard: they wanted stricter gun control laws and they wouldn’t be silent about it.

A few weeks later, when the fervor around a news story like this would have died down, students all over the country arranged a nationwide school walk out to protest gun control laws, and again made national news. There have been critics of the #NeverAgain movement started by the students saying that the kids involved are too young to know how government works, or to affect change. Listening to the impassioned speeches given by the students in question, one would think differently. High school students have had enough, and I expect they won’t stop speaking until the change they are seeking takes place.
​The reaction to students taking charge and organizing for social change is not a new idea, but it seems like many adults have forgotten the notion. It was young people who stood for racial equality, voting rights, anti-war, anti-bullying, and anti-discrimination movements. When dramatic shifts in social policy happen, young people are at the heart of it. Can you be too young to be affective? Can you be too young to know better? Do you have to reach a certain age to be useful? If God has anything to say about it, it would be no.
​The bible gives us shining examples of how God uses young people to work through. Maybe it’s something about teenagers that brings passion and hope to their lives. Maybe they haven’t lived so long where they look back and life and consign themselves to doing things as they have always been done without question. Maybe it’s simply the fact that young people are listening to God rather than trying to figure out life’s problems on their own as adults are wanton to do. Either way, God acts through the young and old alike.

Arguably Israel’s most memorable king, David, began working within God’s plan when he was young. He was anointed King of Israel to replace Saul when he was a boy. He defeated Goliath when he was a teenager. He served within Saul’s army and was regarded as a success far beyond any of his age. David knew he was following along what God had for him and prospered because of it. He didn’t stop to say he was too young or inexperienced.
​Mary and Joseph were teenagers when they found out they were going to be earthly parents to God’s messiah. Most scholars estimate Joseph was about seventeen years old and Mary roughly thirteen. Entrusted with God’s most prized possession, they didn’t back away in fear because of their age. Knowing full well what they were being asked to do, they stepped forward and said “yes”.
​When Paul wrote to his protégé Timothy when he was working to establish the early church, he wrote in 1 Timothy 4:12, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.” Timothy was working to establish groups of believers and was encouraged by Paul to disregard any obstacle he would face simply because of his age. He was to be an example for others to follow with how he conducted himself.

Most of the stories in the bible show us examples of young people who stepped forward in faith. We forget sometimes that God works sufficiently through the youngest of us as well as the most seasoned. Jesus said in Matthew 18: 3, “And he said, ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” It isn’t the age of the children that Jesus is speaking to, but of their faith. Young people believe passionately and with no restraint. They will press on in the face of all odds and, in the right circumstances, change the world. You are never too young for your voice to be heard or to affect change. Within God’s will, young people will be the leaders who will set the example for us all.

Jesus and Me Too

First, let’s come back to 1 Corinthians 14:34. This was a letter Paul was writing to the church at Corinth. The people there were not accustomed to a service in the early church. People would talk over each other and there was a lot of chaos in the beginning. The whole section in this chapter speaks to the need for order. In an effort to direct those who had questions to address it in an orderly fashion instead of disrupting an active service, Paul writes for families to discuss questions at home where time and attention can be given to different subjects. The last verse reads, “But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.” Paul does not speak down to or about women; he encourages them to speak with their husbands about what they may not understand. If he wanted to keep women in ignorance, he wouldn’t encourage education.

There are many instances where Jesus himself made himself available to the healing and betterment of women. There is the story of the woman with the issue of blood (Luke 8:43-48) where a woman makes her way through a full crowd hoping that by merely touching the hem of Christ’s robe she would be healed. When she reached him, power went out from Jesus and he stopped immediately. Jesus was on the way to attend to someone else, but he stopped to address her and her faith. She had been made whole.

A popular story is the story of the woman caught in the act of adultery. John 8:1-11 tells about Jesus teaching to a group when he is interrupted by members of the clergy. A woman is thrown at Jesus’ feet and they tell him she has been caught in the act of adultery. According to Jewish law, she should be stoned. This was a test they were putting before Jesus to see how he would react. There are many things going on here that are a problem with what they are trying to do. One, Jesus was a rabbi, a teacher. To interrupt a rabbi as he was speaking wasn’t done in Jewish society because his words had power and authority. Nevertheless, they broke in and interrupted him, making a huge breach of social custom. Two, this woman was said to have been caught in the act of adultery. This scene has been played out in many movies and TV programs, but I would imagine that if she had been doing what they said she had been doing, she would be scared and shaking without much to cover her shame. Also consider that the law would have called for these men to stone her as soon as they saw her, but they took the time to drag her all the way to be thrown at Jesus’ feet. They are in breach of the very law they are trying to use to trick Jesus. Oh, and where is the man in this story? No one ever asks about him. Seeing through their intentions, Jesus leans down on the woman’s level, again, something that wouldn’t have happened in Jewish society, and with a rabbi no less, and starts to write in the dirt. He says, “Let the first one among you without sin cast the first stone.” One by one they leave. Jesus then tells this woman that he doesn’t condemn her but sets her on her way saying to sin no more. If anyone in the world would have had cause to lay a punishment on anyone, it was He.

There is also the story about the Samaritan woman at the well. John chapter 4 tells the story of Jesus alone at a well (the disciples had gone to get food and drink) and he asks a Samaritan woman for some water. In talking with her, He tells her that she has had five husbands and the man she is with now isn’t even her husband. Even still, He talks with her and tells her everything she ever did. She leaves the well proclaiming to the entire village that Christ is the messiah. Because of her testimony, many other people in the village found belief in Jesus. This was another example of Jesus coming down to someone else’s level that anyone else in His position wouldn’t have done. As a Jew, He wouldn’t have spoken to a Samaritan; even more so to a woman. Still, He saw someone in need of saving grace and intervened in her life.

The first people to hear that Jesus had risen from the grave were women (Mark 16). A woman prophet spoke over Christ when he was brought to the temple as a baby (Luke 2). It was a woman who intervened for her people with a king who could have killed her for speaking to him (Esther). It was a woman who showed devotion to her mother-in-law and grafted herself into the family providing the lineage that would bring Christ (Ruth).

When Paul wrote to his spiritual son Timothy (2 Timothy 1:5), he spoke about the faithfulness that his grandmother and mother showed. It was through their devotion that Timothy had a strong foundation and steadfast faith. It was because of these women that Timothy grew up into the man who would travel the world and start church after church. Women are powerful forces and there are lots of examples in the bible. Women are celebrated for their bravery, their intelligence, and their compassion. Jesus was always and will continue to be the largest advocate for women. What would He say about the #MeToo movement? I think He would say it was long overdue.

Never Losing our need for God

There was a story I heard an American pastor tell about a trip he took to the Philippines. He was there for about two weeks as a guest pastor and he was blown away by the people there and their passion for God. He saw miracles daily and the crowds worshiped for hours on end. As he left to go home he told the host pastor that he and his church in America would be praying for them, to which the Philippine pastor said, “And we will be praying for you as well.” The American pastor was confused. He appreciated the gesture, but his church wasn’t in need of anything. After asking why the pastor would be praying for them, he replied, “If you are in need of nothing, you don’t have a need for God.”

This is something a lot of churches have to contend with. We are used to having our needs met on a regular basis; we don’t turn to God for provision unless something happens out of the normal. We formulate business plans and fund raisers to go towards a new expansion, or to help youth kids go on their mission trip. These things, as great as they are, are extra things we take on ourselves to work within God’s plan. Secure in knowing our daily needs are met by our own means, we can grow complacent in our lives. Things are good. “I would ask you for stuff, God, but I don’t really need anything. Maybe go check on that other family on the other side of town.” Our own relationship with God suffers. We can take for granted the fact that all good things that we have in our life come from Him, and without them we would be in desperate need. Comfortable, we risk becoming stagnant.
​Luke chapter 8 has a story of a woman in need of healing. She had been dealing with constant bleeding for twelve years. Under Jewish law, as long as she was still bleeding she was considered unclean and could not enter the city. There was an area designated for people who were sick, had skin diseases, and where women went during their cycles to stay away from the rest of the populace. It was a quarantined area that carried with it social stigmas where the people there were not to mix with others who were considered clean. The story in Luke 8 tells of a time where Jesus was met by the head of a synagogue who wanted Jesus to come heal his sick daughter.

 

Jesus agreed and started on his way. Scripture says that as he went the people thronged him.
​Imagine a scene as Jesus is trying to move through the city being surrounded by hundreds of people. Desperate people are crowded around Jesus so much that his disciples have to keep the crowds at bay just so they can move through the streets. People are packed in closely trying to see Jesus – trying to get to Jesus. This woman that had the issue of blood was one of those people. She had been living with her physical issue long enough and knew that Jesus was there. She thought that perhaps if she were to get close enough, this holy man who heals people might heal her too. She had heard about him and about the miraculous things he had done for others. She was in need. She came into the town where Jesus was, breaking a violation of coming in to the city when she was still “unclean.” She pushed her way through crowds that filled the streets. Jesus was on his way to see someone else who was in need. He wasn’t coming for her, but still she persisted. “If I can only touch him,” the woman thought. “Then I will be healed. Maybe if I can only touch the hem of his robe – that would be enough.”

When a person’s need is great enough, they will do anything they can to meet that need. This woman, tired of being away from friends and family; tired of being cast out among the sick and socially unacceptable, she had a need that only Jesus could meet. She pushed through the crowds, passing through person by person until finally, she reached out and with the tip of her finger brushed the hem of Jesus’s robe and was healed instantly. Jesus stopped. He was surrounded by people everywhere, everyone pushing and shoving to get to Jesus, but he knew that something had happened. Jesus asked his disciples who had touched him and he was met with a strange look. The disciples looked around the mob that had formed around them and said, “With this entire crowd you ask us ‘Who touched you?” Jesus replied, “Someone has touched me because I have felt power come out of me.” The woman came forward and said she had touched him. Jesus said to her, “Be of good comfort. Your faith has made you well.”

This woman’s need for the power of Jesus is something that we should all aspire to. There were plenty of reasons that she could have given for why she couldn’t go to Jesus. She wasn’t allowed in the city. There were too many people. She wasn’t strong enough to break through the crowd. None of it mattered. She needed Jesus to act in her life and she made sure she got close enough to get in His presence. This need is what we need in our lives today. It can become a danger when we aren’t desperate for the physical things like this woman was that we may forget our daily need for Him. He supplies our needs here on earth, but more important than that, we need his presence in our lives. We need to talk with God, and we need to hear from Him. We need to push through the crowd and the distractions in our lives and break through to get to Him. In the presence of God all things are possible. Blessings overflow and we, in turn, can bless others. We need God every day.
​I would encourage you to break through the crowd and get to Jesus. In His presence, we are healed and made whole.

A Christmas story – trusting God when He calls

Even the most devout followers of Christ can doubt their purpose in life from time to time. We want to have security in knowing that we are where we are supposed to be in God’s plan. But are we really that important? Maybe you live in a large city and feel drowned out among all the people that bustle around you every day. Maybe you live in a small town that couldn’t affect the world at large no matter what happened in your life. You may feel like you are inconsequential in this world. You don’t have to look too far in God’s word to see that is far from the truth.

The Christmas story is a great example of how small, “unimportant” people were given the greatest responsibility in the world. At first look, Jesus’s earthly parents weren’t remarkable by any means. Joseph was a carpenter. The Bible doesn’t say any more about his profession than that, but what we call a carpenter was more of a general laborer or handy man of his day. Joseph wouldn’t have had any top-quality education, but lived by what he did with his hands. He didn’t come from a wealthy family. When it came time to answer the census in the Christmas story, he was late and couldn’t’ find any room at the inn. He had no means to buy someone else out or encourage the innkeeper with some additional coin to make room for them. Joseph simply lucked out that he could stay in the animal stables. Mary was a young teenager when God spoke to her concerning her conception and she knew what it would mean for her life. She would already be at a social disadvantage early in her life. She was pregnant and betrothed to a man who knew that the child she carried wasn’t his. She was going to be a social outcast due to the circumstances around her child and if she were lucky enough to get married, that stigma would carry on to her husband as well. Living in Nazareth was nothing to be too proud about. Later in the bible when people were talking about Jesus, some people were quoted as saying “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” (John 1:46) Nazareth was small and looked down on from its surrounding communities.

Looking at their situation by worldly standards alone, it would be easy to think that Mary and Joseph would have plenty of reason to doubt their place in God’s plan. They had little to offer of any consequence as far as material resources or education, and due to Mary’s pregnancy, others would whisper and gossip about the suspicious circumstances around the young family. The powerful thing is, Joseph and Mary are examples of how faithfulness to God can make you operate in great effectiveness in God’s plan. God entrusted them with his most prize possession.

Several things stand out about Mary and Joseph. They were both open to God’s voice and faithful to obey. When God told Mary that she would conceive the messiah, her response was simply “I am the Lord’s servant. Let everything you’ve said happen to me.” (Luke 1:30) In what would be the greatest responsibility in the history of mankind, a young girl submitted to the will of God and played her part in his plan. She knew what it would mean for her life and the difficulties it would bring in her future. She knew she would have to face her parents and Joseph, her fiancé, with this news. Joseph was just as responsive. When he heard about Mary’s pregnancy, he was well within his rights to publicly denounce her for the sin she would have committed in having relations with another man before her marriage to him, but he took compassion on her and arranged to have the marriage quietly annulled. (Matthew 1:19) In his own heart, he extended her grace and compassion. When God appeared to him through an angel who told him to not be afraid to take Mary as his wife and to raise the child, he married her. He took on a responsibility that wasn’t his making, but trusted God.

Miracle after miracle is demonstrated in the story of Jesus’s birth. God saw to gift his only son to a young couple who didn’t have much to offer the King of Kings, but their obedience to God’s word, were a success. They would be the earthly parents who would teach a young Jesus about who God was and instill in him the values and virtues that God wants for all of us.

No one on earth would have chosen to have the messiah of mankind birthed where and when he was. We would have put him in a rich house hold where he would have access to all the resources and education he would to make him a success. The messiah would have been lifted high among men, but then it could only be attributed to man’s success. It’s hard to trust God sometimes. We don’t see the big picture for what it is. In the things that God reveals to us as visions and plans for our future, we give every excuse for why it’s not a good idea and would never work; we wouldn’t choose ourselves for the job. It’s possible that Mary and Joseph thought something very similar.

This Christmas, remember that with God, nothing is impossible. It’s through the unqualified and insignificant that God works to show is glory. Listen and be open to what God has for you and you will find yourself reaping abundant blessings as you walk in God’s path. You may not be able to see the result of what God is calling you to do; all you need to do is trust him and answer.

No News is Not Good News

Many people today don’t follow current events on the news because there doesn’t seem to be anything good on. It seems like all the news anchor seems to talk about is another shooting, or someone being investigated for inappropriate conduct, or a protest where large groups of people shout and chant at each other. Everywhere you look all that seems to be found is negative news. It can feel like maybe no news is good news.

In the face of a world that seems to get worse each week, people can feel lost. In fact, many are. They search for something in this world that they can cling to and give them hope for the future. Parents are afraid for their children because the world at large is an angry, scary place. Well, the good news is, there IS something to hope for.

 

In Luke 4:43, Jesus says “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose”. Jesus had nothing but good news to tell people. He spoke about the kingdom of God and how everyone could get there. People during this time were desperate for something else in their life. Their leaders were out for their own self-interest and the people felt like they didn’t have a voice. The religious leaders made more of a show of how they were righteous rather than pointing to the glory of God. The world was at odds with itself and people from different cultures and backgrounds were divided and angry. This might sound a little familiar.

Christ’s message is just as relevant today as it was then. He spoke about the need to love God and others over yourself (Matthew 22: 37-39), he spoke against worry and anxiety (Matthew 6:34), and he wanted to show people who God was and how he loved them (John 14: 6-7). All of this is good news! No matter what comes up in life that may bring worry or distress, there is a comfort that can be found in Jesus. Jesus demonstrates the proper perspective. Everything in this world is temporary, but we make this world the focal point of what we base our lives on. We are caught up in work, school, or outside obligations that we can forget where our initial focus needs to be.

Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Mark 6:33) With God as the focus on your life, other things aren’t the worry they once were. Instead of being frustrated at your job, you will start to look for opportunities to be a light to others. The material things you were chasing aren’t as important as appreciating what you have. The things you want to do through your day will benefit others instead of only taking care of what you want. With God in mind, you will become a better representation of Christ to others.

It can seem like the world is a scarier and more dangerous place than it was years ago, and in some ways, it is. There is division, anger, discrimination, war, selfishness, and negativity in the news, TV, and online wherever you want to look. If you want to find bad news, there is plenty of it. However, there is good news that trumps the negative, and it’s the good news of Jesus Christ. God gave of his only son so that none would perish. (John 3:16) This is the best news we could hope for, but it doesn’t stop there. Before he ascended to heaven, Jesus tasked us with spreading the good news to the rest of the world. He wanted us to press on in his stead until he returns. For those who have found peace in Christ, the memory of what life was like before Him is a strong reminder of the difference that the good news made. It’s important to press on with that good news so that others can find that same comfort. Romans 10 says “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news.” Preaching the good news can be as simple as sharing your own story and the difference Jesus has made in your own life. With this, we are all qualified to preach to others.

So, the good news is, that no matter the bad news you see or hear, there is something else out there that is more powerful. It’s found in Jesus Christ.

Abortion From a Biblical Viewpoint

In this post series we want to give you hope on a tough topic: abortion. Please read today’s post knowing that God has hope in store for you.
In our contemporary times, abortion is one of the most divisive topics people encounter.
It’s something many have experienced in their pasts, and they worry that God and others will cast painful stones of judgment at them over it if the truth was revealed.
For others, it’s a source of regret and deep sorrow.
For even more, it’s what they consider an option if life gets off the planned track.
And for some, it was a starting point on a path to finding hope in God.
When you consider your personal stance on abortion, how does God’s Word factor in?
Many people will try to argue that an embryo or a fetus is not a human being. But God’s Word talks about how he values life in the womb. In Psalm 139, King David wrote under inspiration of the Holy Spirit,
You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.
Psalm 139:13-16 NLT

 

 

 

 

When you view a fetus through an ultrasound monitor, you have a glimpse at what God sees while a baby is growing in the womb. You were just like that baby at one time, not wholly formed yet fully human and a joy to your Heavenly Father. You were wonderfully complex and an example of God’s marvelous workmanship, even before you were born. You were highly valued by God in the womb, just like every other unborn baby.
Because God places such a high value on human life, he is grieved whenever life is destroyed. Life in the womb matters to God. Does it matter to you as well?
Under pressure, fear, and doubt, we can rationalize any sin, even the act of abortion. But God’s Word offers hope for anyone who has had an abortion. Keep reading this series to learn how.

What God’s Word Says About Abortion

God’s Word has more to say about abortion than you may realize. Today we’ll look about what God’s Word says about this important topic.
Let’s begin by looking at the law side of the discussion first. In Old Testament times, people who worshipped the false gods like Molech, Adrammelech and Anammelech practiced child sacrifice. They took their children to the pagan temples and offered them in a fire.
God viewed these practices as grave sins with serious consequences. Abortion falls outside God’s law because it breaks the commandment not to kill.
If you believe God’s Word to be true and holy, you can’t ignore these tough scriptures that address the value of human life.
Now, let’s consider the gospel side. God offers forgiveness for every sin, even for murder. Before he became a follower of Jesus, the apostle Paul was a murderer of Christians. He intentionally lived a life of destruction. But God changed his heart and gave him a new life. Read his letter to Timothy here:
How thankful I am to Christ Jesus our Lord for choosing me as one of his messengers, and giving me the strength to be faithful to him, even though I used to scoff at the name of Christ. I hunted down his people, harming them in every way I could. But God had mercy on me because I didn’t know what I was doing, for I didn’t know Christ at that time. Oh, how kind our Lord was, for he showed me how to trust him and become full of the love of Christ Jesus.

How true it is, and how I long that everyone should know it, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—and I was the greatest of them all. But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as an example to show everyone how patient he is with even the worst sinners, so that others will realize that they, too, can have everlasting life.
1 Timothy 1:12-16 TLB
Forgiveness, healing, hope, and eternal life are available to everyone who seeks new life in Christ. That’s good news everyone needs to hear, no matter what commandment they have broken. For those who have chosen abortion in the past, this passage can offer great hope.
If you are struggling with guilt over past decisions, our next post will encourage you. Please read!

Struggling with Guilt Over Abortion?

Guilt is a heavy emotion to carry around. It can take a toll on your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health.
If your guilty feelings over a past abortion are causing great pain, you can find hope and healing in Jesus Christ.
The psalmist wrote,
My guilt overwhelms me—
it is a burden too heavy to bear.
My wounds fester and stink
because of my foolish sins.
I am bent over and racked with pain.
All day long I walk around filled with grief.
Psalm 38:4-6 NLT

Deep in your heart, is this how you feel? If so, read the next psalm to know what to do.
Oh, what joy for those
whose disobedience is forgiven,
whose sin is put out of sight!
Yes, what joy for those
whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt,
whose lives are lived in complete honesty!
When I refused to confess my sin,
my body wasted away,
and I groaned all day long.
Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me.
My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat.
Finally, I confessed all my sins to you
and stopped trying to hide my guilt.
I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.”
And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.
Therefore, let all the godly pray to you while there is still time,
that they may not drown in the floodwaters of judgment.
For you are my hiding place;
you protect me from trouble.
You surround me with songs of victory.
The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.
I will advise you and watch over you.
Do not be like a senseless horse or mule
that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.”
Many sorrows come to the wicked,
but unfailing love surrounds those who trust the Lord.
So rejoice in the Lord and be glad, all you who obey him!
Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure!
Psalm 32 NLT

Confession will clean your heart from the guilt of abortion. It will usher in new life and hope where there was once grief and suffering.
Whether you were the mother, the father, or a family member, the likelihood of lasting pain over an abortion is very high. The final post in our series will address how you can find more hope.

Hope in Jesus Christ After Abortion

To find great hope and healing after abortion, let’s look at several key scriptures for guidance.
Have mercy on me, O God,
because of your unfailing love.
Because of your great compassion,
blot out the stain of my sins.
Wash me clean from my guilt.
Purify me from my sin.
For I recognize my rebellion;
it haunts me day and night.
Psalm 51:1-3 NLT

God honors those who come to him in repentance. He offers compassion, cleansing, and purification for anyone who wants forgiveness and recognizes their sin.

The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit.
You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.
Psalm 51:17 NLT
When you come to God with a broken spirit over past sin, he will not reject you. He welcomes you and offers you comfort.

“Come now, let’s settle this,”
says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
I will make them as white as snow.
Though they are red like crimson,
I will make them as white as wool.”
Isaiah 1:18 NLT

When you accept the gift of God’s forgiveness, you are clean and whole again. He will not keep your sins hanging over your head; he washes them away.

He has removed our sins as far from us
as the east is from the west.
Psalm 103:12 NLT

Your sins no longer have power over you. They are far removed from your life. That is reason for rejoicing! Here’s even more…

Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.
Romans 5:1-2 NLT

You can have peace with God because Jesus paid the price for your sins on the cross. If you believe Jesus died for your sins, you can have peace with God and not fear his wrath anymore.

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.
Romans 8:1-2 NLT

The power of sin no longer has a hold on you once you know Jesus. Find new hope in him!

 

Seeing the light through the storm

“During these storms, it is easy to ask where is God.” I am sure that you have read these words several times. There have been many pastors that have spoken about the fact that it seems that God is gone, but they explain that God is still in control. Matthew 8:23-27 tells the story of Jesus calming a storm. If he could do that, why could He not stop the storm before it started?
I agree with some of these pastors and Christian leaders that it is judgment placed upon our nation and our world. The world has fallen away from God. The United States is the first nation that was dedicated to God from its inception. Many people are not aware that President Washington prayed at a church in 1789, with the other founding fathers, dedicating the country to God.
The importance of God to the founding of the United States is evident in our founding documents. This post is not about if the founding fathers were Christians, deists, or atheists, it is not even really about the founding fathers, but the fact that the world seems to have forgotten about God. That the Lord is trying to bring people back to Him before even more happens.

• People have been saying for nearly two thousand years that Jesus is coming back soon. Yet, all those previous times there were still prophecies left to be fulfilled. The final prophecy was fulfilled on May 14, 1948, the day that Israel became a nation again. Now we are waiting for the Lord’s return. These storms should be a wakeup call.
• People seem to have forgotten about God. At the DNC on September 5, 2012, the Democrats booed that they would be placing God back onto the platform. What makes it worse is that they had to vote three times and the final vote was 2-to-1 for putting God back.
• October 14, 2013, the United States Army listed a Christian organization a hate group. All because they believed the Word of God and defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
• Just last month, the Southern Poverty Law Center basically stated that evangelical Christians were a hate group. Why?

All because they endorsed the Biblical view on marriage.
These are just a few examples of what is happening in the USA. There is an open hostility to God. What I find interesting is that these storms happened around the date of the worse terrorist attack in the United States, September 11, 2001. The attacks brought people back to God, but once people got used to the new way of living, they forgot about God.
I remember reading excerpts from a book or an article; I do not quite remember which, that showed a correlation between significant storms or trouble in the United States and the United States going against Israel. Most recently President Trump broke a promise to Israel. Again, I am not saying that the storms are the government fault directly, and I am not even able to fully confirm what the US did to Israel, but it is in an interesting point none the less.
So, where is God during these storms? He is in control. He is directing the path. He knows the end from the beginning. These storms did not take God by surprise. Being omnipotent sure has its benefits. I truly believe that the storms were meant as a wakeup call to our great nation. For too long our nation has allowed followers of God to be attacked in ways of lawsuits or physically. It is almost as if the old Roman Empire has returned with the persecution of Christians. During the last administration, there was open hostility against Christians and a refusal to mention the persecution of Christians worldwide.

I am sorry that there was so much damage and loss of life, but it is not as bad as what could have happened. It was not climate change as people on the left have postulated, but it was God trying to get people to look up to Him, not to our politicians.
As I sit and think about it, these storms are nothing compared to the horror that will happen during the Tribulation and the Great Tribulation. The people that are left behind would be happy to go through the hurricane instead of the horrors that are coming for the people that are left behind.
Jesus can come back at any time for His followers. These storms should light a fire under Christians and make them want to reach the unsaved. Non-believers are destined to Hell. How much must we hate someone to want them to go to Hell? I have heard people say that they were going through Hell during these storms. These hurricanes are nothing. Imagine all the oceans and drinking water having been turned to blood. The waters washing ashore were full of dead fish and animals, and everything that the storm waters touched was covered in blood. Not only that, but the sun was partially gone, so that its light and the stars light was reduced by a third.
To keep people from having to live through that, the Lord is trying to bring people back to Him. He does not want anyone to go to Hell or to suffer but wants everyone with Him. Being a holy God, He cannot be around sin. That is why Jesus came, to cover our sins and pay our way into Heaven.
These storms are a wakeup call and should hopefully bring more people to Him. Without God, people are doomed to an eternity of misery and loneliness. Some so many people want to be away from God, Christians have their work cut out for them. Believers need to be vigilant and keep their eyes open because we never know when He may return.

Hopefully, these wake-up calls will start to change the hearts of people, and help them rely on God.

 

Don’t be left behind

A book series that nearly every book made the best seller list is the Left Behind series. It can be found used at many thrift stores or from online booksellers. This fictional book series follows a group of people that convert to Christianity after the Rapture. They battle on the side of the Lord against the AntiChrist. While the book these books are a work of fiction, the prophecies come right out the pages of Scripture.
I have heard many people say that they do not want to read the series because they are scary. They truly are scary, but as the name of the series implies, it will be scary for those that are Left Behind. This article is also not an argument for or against the different views of the Raptures timing.
This book series and my own belief is that there will be a Pre-Tribulation Rapture. It will be a moment that will bring the world to a screeching halt. During this moment, the world will be looking for a leader to get them through all the turmoil. This will be the evil one’s associate. He will not be alone, and they will have powers granted to them from Satan. One thing that you need to remember is that these powers are only able to be granted because the Lord allows it.

Believers should not have anything to fear because we are to be with the Lord. The terrible and horrifying prophecies are meant for those that will still be left in the world. There will be two kinds of people; people in the Lord’s army and those that are fighting against Him. People will try to stay out of the Chaos, but they will not have much choice. We will look at what is coming in a future post.
We have a duty to perform before the book of Revelation becomes true. We need to reach the lost so that they do not fall victim to those prophecies. If we do not share the Glory of God to others, knowing what will befall them when they die, or what will happen to them if the prophecy were to happen now, we must truly dislike them.

I understand that there are people that may not feel comfortable sharing their faith. My question for you is: how comfortable do you think it was hanging on a cross for something that you did not do? If Jesus was willing to take on the cross and all our sins, the least we can do is share our faith like we are commanded to in the Great Commission. If you forgot what that Great Commission is, read Matthew 28:16-20. The Lord wants us to go out and teach others about Him.
I remember reading somewhere a long time ago, “If you were ever on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” This saying is a hard thing to consider. While many people consider themselves Christians, they do not always act like one. The divorce rate of Christians is the same for non-believers. We as believers need to live as if we believed what we preached. If we are members of the body of Christ, we need to live in such a way that people can see it.
It is much more than living the way Christ wants us. We can live the way He wants, but if we do not help bring people to Him, it can be useless. Bring people to Christ is important, yes, but that is still not what the Great Commission is about, it is about making disciples.
We are told to go and make disciples. If you look at the disciples Jesus made, they did not just become believers and kept the truth of eternal life to themselves and tell others about it. What they did was not teach others, but they taught others to teach others. They made disciples. That is what we are called to do. We are told to make disciples.
What does this have to do with the Left Behind book series? Quite a bit actually. If we did what the Lord wanted us to do, then we would be creating disciples. When we create disciples, we would be making people that would, in turn, make more. That means when the Rapture were to occur, there would be fewer people left behind.
The Lord does not want to see anyone to go to Hell. He wants to have people with Him. He will not force anyone to be with Him, and He will give everyone a chance to choose to follow Him. Even after He takes every one of His believers, both living and already asleep.

We should not want a single person to have to go through the horrible time that is coming after the rapture. While I have been mentioning the time, after the rapture, I have yet to call with what the Lord calls it, The Tribulation.
These will be broken down into two time periods. If we want to be more precise, the time periods will be called the Tribulation and the Great Tribulation. Each catastrophe will get worse than the one before. The Lord is going to use the Tribulation in an attempt to bring more people to Him before the Armageddon. Each tribulation will see more people return to the Lord, while others will leave from Him permanently. During the Tribulation, people will die, but there will be people that come to the Lord and will fulfill His command. They will be making disciples; they will help more people come to the Lord. They will also suffer for His name
I saw we should do our best to help reduce the number of people that have been left behind. We should teach people that we are all sinners and in need of a Savior; that we cannot make it into Heaven on our own. Jesus is the only way. We need to teach people that, and teach them to go out and teach others. We need to reduce the number of people that will be Left Behind.

God has no Favorites

A Disney classic that is in no way Christian, has a song that is a well know. This movie has many concepts that if looked at from a particular point of view can be seen as having a message that Christians should always remember. The movie I am speaking about is Beauty and the Beast. If you have not seen this movie before it is about a man that gets turned into a monster because he was mean to someone because of their external appearance. Then a beautiful woman learns to see past that and loves the beast for who he truly is on the inside.
This is something that many Christians seem to forget. Christians are not supposed to judge others, and they are supposed to love others no matter who they are. Matthew 5:43-48 teaches that people are supposed to love their enemies. If you remember the story of David anointing. When Samuel was looking at all of David’s brothers to see who would be anointed the next king, he thought that the oldest would be the one that would be chosen because of his external appearance. God tells Samuel, “But, the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart,’”(All verses taken from the New International Version). You can find the whole story in 1 Samuel 16.
Jesus did not just come for people that looked like Him, he did not come for the righteous, He did not die just for His friends. He came for Jews and Gentiles. He came for the lost. He came for the whole world, even those that killed him. Jesus knows a person’s heart. He knows what a person is really like in the darkest corners of their minds. It is impossible for a human to tell is someone is saved by looking at the external appearance. It is also impossible to tell is someone is truly saved by how long they have been going to church. There are people that have been in the church or even saved for decades, but they have not grown in maturity. They are still like a new believer, they are infants in Christ.

Jesus gives people gifts and responsibilities. These gifts are supposed to follow us into the Millennial Kingdom. The greatest thing is that these gifts are given to all believers. These gifts are also not externally seen. The only external appearance that matter are the external actions of the believer. Beauty is only skin deep. It does not matter what a person looks like, God loves them just the same. What matters is their heart. Salvation does not come from how one looks, but it comes from the love God and his Holy Son have for all of His creation.
There is also a song that reminds me of what a Christian’s mind set should be. The song I am referring to is, “Be Our Guest.” Again, it is not a Christian song by any means, but it has an important message. Christians are supposed to be loving, they are supposed to accept other but not their sins. Christians are called to be disciples of God, they are called to be the body of Christ on the Earth. What happens in many instances is that there are little clicks within a church. What happens at many churches is that new people may not feel welcome in the home of the Lord.
Christians are supposed to loving, but many have left the call to discipleship. Christians should absolutely listen to their pastor’s sermon, but they should not just spend time preaching to themselves, they need to go out and reach the lost. How are people supposed to learn about the Lord if they do not teach others? Acts 8:31 is a great example of this, “And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” This is the story of Philp and the Ethiopian eunuch. The story is very interesting. Many people skip over the part that this verse speaks of the power of God. Philip is instantly transported somewhere.

Christians are called to reach the lost. We should go out and reach others. We do not have to start preaching to them right away, in fact that may turn them away from God. What we have to do is invite them into our lives. Not separate ourselves fully from unbelievers. We can show the love of God by our actions. New believers should not be excluded from groups in the Church. Mature believers should join with new believers, they should make them part of their lives. The new believers and non-believers should be our guests. That is what Jesus did. While He did not have a home to invite them to, He did invite them to follow Him.
The point is simple. God loves everyone equally. He has no favorites. He has no reason to, and it is not in his nature. God is love, and God is creative. He did not have to create us, He did it because it is His nature. God does not care what someone looks like when He calls the person to Him. He cares about the inside. God wants us to be disciples, and to help lead others to Him. He wants his followers to remember that He loves them all. That we should care for everyone, no matter what they may have done in the past. He can change lives. Murders can lead new people. He can use them, all it takes is someone to be a disciple and to treat others the way the Lord commands. Invite them to be part of the body, even if they do not yet believe. All that may be needed is a simple relationship. That can be the starting point to help a person receive the gift of eternal peace with the Lord.

Anti Christ is coming – don’t be deceived

And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur,” Revelation 19:20 (New International Version).
​We already know what the date of the man of perdition, the evil one, the Anti-Christ will be. The Lord has declared the end from the beginning. He knows all things,and He knows that He will be victorious. It is not just Him that will be victorious, but all the people that follow the Lord. They will not suffer the same fate as the people that chose to follow the Anti-Christ. I wish that there would not be a single one that would choose to follow the evil one. Don’t get me wrong, there will be many that will be lost for all of eternity when they decide to follow him, instead of following Him; the great I Am!
“For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect,” Matthew 24:24 (NIV).
Thankfully, we will not have to worry about being deceived. The Anti-Christ will have amazing powers that will be given to him by Satan. The false prophet and some of the Anti-Christ followers will also receive powers. These signs would be poor imitations of the power of God. One sign we know that the false prophet will have closely imitates something that Elijah did many times. One of the strangest times is found in II King 1:10:
“Elijah answered the captain, “If I am a man of God, may fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men!” Then fire fell from heaven and consumed the captain and his men,” (NIV).
A more well-known time that fire was called down:
“And it performed great signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to the earth in full view of the people,” I Kings 18:28 (NIV).
​No, look at what we are told that the false prophet can do:
“And it performed great signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to the earth in full view of the people,” Revelation 13:13 (NIV).
​I can say that this will be a scary time for anyone that is still around during this time. The Bible does not tell us when the Anti-Christ will take over. There have been many people that try to say such and such person is the Anti-Christ. These can range from people like Nero to Hitler and Obama. Since we are not all in Heaven
right now, I can safely say that they are wrong. The Anti-Christ cannot take over until:
“For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.,” II Thessalonians 2:7 (New King James

Version),

We do now know who the Restrainer will be, but there are many scholars that believe that it is the Holy Spirit. That the Holy Spirit is here until the Church is

raptured and He is in Heaven with the Bride. This does not mean that people cannot be saved during the Tribulation, after all that is what the Tribulation and the

Great Tribulation are for; to bring as many people to the Lord before the End.
​I am what some call a “pre-triber”. That means I believe in a Pre-Tribulation rapture of the Church. This article is not about the different kinds of views of the

Rapture. That is an interesting read, it goes into the reason people that the pre-Tribulation rapture came from a sick 15-year-old girl, or something like that. I do

not get my Biblical views from there, but from the very Word of the Lord. Let’s just read this paper as if the Pre-Tribulation rapture is correct.
​If Christians are to be taken away before the Anti-Christ takes over, I do not think that we should spend our time looking at who the he is. We know that the people

that are left behind are people that did not believe in the Lord, or did not fully commit themselves. There will be a very intense time that they will be going

through, we should pray that as many people can come to the Lord as soon as possible because:
“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father,” Matthew 24:36 (NIV).
​So, we should not worry about looking for the Anti-Christ because we cannot know while we are here on this Earth. What we should be looking for is Jesus. There is not

a single prophecy left that needs to be fulfilled before Jesus comes back for his people, 14 May 1948. That was the last prophecy that needed to be fulfilled. That was

the day that Israel became a nation again. That is an even more interesting research topic. If you want to read about why Israel is so important to eschatology, check

back with us later and you will see.
​A favorite Christmas carol is Joy to the World. But, if that is one of your favorite songs I have to tell you something; you are wrong! In fact, Joy to the World has

nothing to do with Heaven, but of the Second Coming of Christ. We should live our lives daily, but remember the great commission. If we let people go to He

because we are scared to talk about God to them, or even mention Hell because it is hard to imagine God would create such a place. Remember, Jesus spoke of Hell more

than he ever spoke about Heaven. He did that for a reason.
​I would have to say that if you are looking for the Anti-Christ I would stop it. If you have been wondering why I have capitalized Anti-Christ, it is because it will

be a real person. It is an actual title that he will have. I pray that as many people come to the Lord before we are all taken away so that none have to suffer the

fate of eternal separation from the Lord. You will not be there with your friends. Satan is not the king of Hell. He will be a prisoner there too. May you never have

to see the Anti-Christ or suffer the same fate he will.

What am I apologizing for anyways

What am I apologizing for anyway!
Not a darn thing. That is all I have to say about that. Well, maybe I can go into some detail about what apologetics is. It comes from the Greek word πολογία. It means to provide a defense for. So, that is what we as Christians should be doing. We are not defending anything that God has done, but we are defending what people erroneously think about our Faith. There are many people that think that they know everything that they need to know about Christianity. The truth is that they do not. There are many people in academia that teach their students that Christianity is not true, that Christians are hateful and bigoted people. This is obviously not true. There are many people that have not read the Bible, but think that they are experts because someone told them something.
That is where apologetics comes in. Apologetics helps get the correct information to people. It is meant to help defeat these false accusations. You do not need to know the entire Bible by heart. You just need to know what the Bible says it is true. There have been many people in the past that have been successful apologists. None of them were apologizing for what they believed in. They were trying to make sure that people know the truth so that they do not spend an eternity separated from the Lord.
The New Testament was not really designed to be an apologetics document. What it was created for is so that we could understand the importance of having the Lord and His atoning blood in our life. But the Bible does gives us the help that we need to help to fight for our beliefs. There is even a verse in 1 Peter 3:15, “Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it,” (New Living Translation). The English Standard Version says it even better; “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.”
You can defend the Christian faith all you want. You can correct those that have incorrect information and assumption about the Lord. But, if you are not living the life that a Christian should be living, you are doing more damage than good. While virtue and faith are more suited to evangelism, it is still important for apologetics. How can you defend against anything unless you are doing what you are trying to defend?

No one would have all the answers to every single attack against Christianity. There are many people you can study to see how they did it. The best way to do it is by knowing what it is you believe and why. Jesus and Paul both also practiced apologetics all the time. More happened during the years that, as some college professor describe him; a traveling preacher and philosopher, that could even be put into the Bible. John 21:25 tells us this specifically, “Jesus also did many other things. If they were all written down, I suppose the whole world could not contain the books that would be written.” I say that it is safe to assume that Jesus had a few apologetics arguments in His time. Paul did it with the Greeks. He did not spend time talking about the miracles, but he spoke to them using logic.
That bring me to another point. When you are attempting to have an apologetics discussion with someone, knowing your audience is important. Anyone, including other believers, can be the audience of an apologetics argument. Non-believers are obvious as to why they need to hear an argument. But are you surprised that a believer is a candidate to receive an apologetics argument? The reasons that this is so is because even believers can be the victims of erroneous information. Some of this incorrect information can pollute their minds and their hearts. I am not saying that they could lose their salvation, but they can start falling into a life of moral decay.
They might take a passage such as Romans 6:1 and use it as an excuse to keep on living the way that they want. “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?” Some people may think that the opposite. That since they are saved, they can live as they want. This passage tells us the opposite is true. We should want to live a better life because we are grateful for the grace of the Lord.
How does this go with apologetics? There are people in this world that think that people become Christians so that they can get a ‘get out of Hell free’ card. This is so not so. A good apologetics argument would help defeat this false accusation. Using the passage from Romans can help people understand that we are commanded to not live a life like that. Many apologetic arguments come from people not really understanding why it is that we have hope. Others try to use science to try to show that Christianity is false. There are many different passages in the Bible that teach scientifically sound arguments.

This is an area that I would caution you against debating until you are more sure that you understand the science in case someone comes up with a rebuttal.
Remember, that the Holy Spirit can help you with this. You can ask for guidance, but you still need to be prepared to give that reason for your hope. People may scoff at you, but you should still pray for them. There is an old saying that I cannot quite remember who said it. I know it was an old theologian like C.S> Lewis or someone of that caliber. The person basically said that is Christianity is wrong, and there is no afterlife then there is nothing to worry about. But if it is right then the unbeliever has all of eternity. Do you want to think about that? Having someone suffer for all of eternity because you did not want to get embarrassed and not tell the person the truth about one of their false beliefs? I know I would not. I would not want to think about how much I must dislike someone to be part of the reason that they are condemned to the fiery pit. The Lord may have place you in such a situation to help a single lost soul. One of the people that He loved so much, that He willingly went to the cross for.

Work – a gift from God

When people think of Creation and all that the Lord had created, one thing that they many do not consider is the He also created work. Many people do not think that work is a gift because it can be so difficult. Work is a gift, because it gives us the ability to honor the Lord. Not only does it give people a chance to earn a living, it allows believer to show how they can honor the Lord in all thing. The Word has many things to say about work and how a person should act when it comes to work.
Colossians says, “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people” (New Living Translation) If you remember that you are not working for other people, you are working for the Lord. Paul was very wise in saying this. When you are working for the Lord, you are representing Him and the Love that He gives us. You are also able to show the Glory of the Lord because even if you are a crash test dummy you are working for the Lord. This can help make your day easier, knowing that the work you do here has eternal value. Sometimes it is not what you say that can bring people to the Lord, but it is your actions. If you really want to win over non-believers, work with a smile on your face.

Matthew 6:16, “And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get” (NLT). While Matthew was not talking about work specifically, the though is still the same. How are you honoring the Lord if you make yourself seem miserable just to show people how hard you are working. The real way to show how hard you are working is by remembering that who you are working for. Paul, is the greatest evangelist that ever lived. Not only did he write more than half of the New Testament, travelled around the world, won souls over to the Lord, and was running for his life; he still worked.
1 Thessalonians 2:9, “Don’t you remember, dear brothers and sisters, how hard we worked among you? Night and day, we toiled to earn a living so that we would not be a burden to any of you as we preached God’s Good News to you” (NLT).
Even though he was about the Lord’s business, he was still working himself. It was not as if he was in guess services at the local inn, he was a tent maker. It was demanding physically intensive labor. Paul still did it and honored the Lord through his work. He did not want to be a burden, and considered it a blessing to be able to work. He also considered it a blessing to suffer for the Lord. It did not matter which one he was doing, he knew that everything was for the Lord’s glory. He understood that some people would not be able to work due to cultural problems. The Lord demanded that we care for the widows and the orphans. Lepers were not able to work, but had to beg. Then there were the able-bodied people that refused to work at all. For this he told the people in Thessalonica what should happen to people that do not work.

2 Thessalonians “Even while we were with you, we gave you this command: ‘Those unwilling to work will not get to eat,’” (NLT).
This is how important Paul thought that work was. He was led by the Spirit to write this, so it was not just his own personal feelings, but a command from the Lord. If you think about it, the Lord is always working. Everything is in His hands, and He does not let anything to chance. Nothing can mess up His plans or knock Him off his throne. Another thing that the Lord can never do is go against His own nature. The Lord has worked non-stop since eternity past. Ever since Genesis 1:3 the Lord has been working, “Then God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light” (NLT). Just three verses into the Word we see that He was working. Everything may have been spoken into existence, but that is still work. He created light, can you create light? Creativity comes naturally to some people, but bring that creativity to light still demands that you work. The difference is you are doing something that you enjoy, it may not seem as if it was work.
People do not have to imagine that they are doing something that they enjoy to make work pleasurable. Some even say fake it till you make it. This can work for a while. What should help make your work better and make you smile, even if you are a professional human pincushion, is that you are doing one of the greatest jobs imaginable. Helping people see the difference that the Lord has made in your life. Sometimes the way a believer lives their lives is more important than any sermon a person wants. Hope for our future life in the Eternal Kingdom is why believers should not worry and be generally happier, but that is for a different post. Still the point remains, people could see a difference in you, and may even want to have that same peace that you have in your life.
1 Peter 3:15, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,” (New International Version). Knowing that your time here on Earth is only temporary, and the work you do now is preparing for work during the Millennial Kingdom. If there will be work during the Thousand Year Reign, obviously work is a good thing in this kingdom as well

 

Do You Know Where You Are Going

Do you know where your going…

when you die? You better – scary situation if you don’t.
God says
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23
And
The result of sin is death, spiritual separation from God. Romans 6:23.
Jesus is your answer.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son… John 3:16..

            For God so Loved the World

If you want to live with God and experience his incredible love and ever lasting life in paradise you must be born again. To be born again, according to the Bible, one has to accept, believe and have faith in his son, Jesus.

To do so pray the following prayer from your heart.

Dear and most precious God, I declare that I am a sinner and have fallen short of your glory. I am asking for your forgiveness. I will repent of my sins. I believe your son Jesus has died for my sins and that you raised Him from the dead. I want to trust Him as my personal Savior and follow Him as lord from this day forward. Please guide my life and help me to do your will. I pray this in Jesus name. Amen.

I believe if you prayed this prayer sincerely you are born again and will spend eternity with our heavenly father in paradise. Welcome home!!!

Don’t forget to spread this news to all you encounter.

What am I apologizing for anyways

What am I apologizing for anyway!
Not a darn thing. That is all I have to say about that. Well, maybe I can go into some detail about what apologetics is. It comes from the Greek word πολογία. It means to provide a defense for. So, that is what we as Christians should be doing. We are not defending anything that God has done, but we are defending what people erroneously think about our Faith. There are many people that think that they know everything that they need to know about Christianity. The truth is that they do not. There are many people in academia that teach their students that Christianity is not true, that Christians are hateful and bigoted people. This is obviously not true. There are many people that have not read the Bible, but think that they are experts because someone told them something.
That is where apologetics comes in. Apologetics helps get the correct information to people. It is meant to help defeat these false accusations. You do not need to know the entire Bible by heart. You just need to know what the Bible says it is true. There have been many people in the past that have been successful apologists. None of them were apologizing for what they believed in. They were trying to make sure that people know the truth so that they do not spend an eternity separated from the Lord.
The New Testament was not really designed to be an apologetics document. What it was created for is so that we could understand the importance of having the Lord and His atoning blood in our life. But the Bible does gives us the help that we need to help to fight for our beliefs. There is even a verse in 1 Peter 3:15, “Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it,” (New Living Translation). The English Standard Version says it even better; “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.”
You can defend the Christian faith all you want. You can correct those that have incorrect information and assumption about the Lord. But, if you are not living the life that a Christian should be living, you are doing more damage than good. While virtue and faith are more suited to evangelism, it is still important for apologetics. How can you defend against anything unless you are doing what you are trying to defend?

No one would have all the answers to every single attack against Christianity. There are many people you can study to see how they did it. The best way to do it is by knowing what it is you believe and why. Jesus and Paul both also practiced apologetics all the time. More happened during the years that, as some college professor describe him; a traveling preacher and philosopher, that could even be put into the Bible. John 21:25 tells us this specifically, “Jesus also did many other things. If they were all written down, I suppose the whole world could not contain the books that would be written.” I say that it is safe to assume that Jesus had a few apologetics arguments in His time. Paul did it with the Greeks. He did not spend time talking about the miracles, but he spoke to them using logic.
That bring me to another point. When you are attempting to have an apologetics discussion with someone, knowing your audience is important. Anyone, including other believers, can be the audience of an apologetics argument. Non-believers are obvious as to why they need to hear an argument. But are you surprised that a believer is a candidate to receive an apologetics argument? The reasons that this is so is because even believers can be the victims of erroneous information. Some of this incorrect information can pollute their minds and their hearts. I am not saying that they could lose their salvation, but they can start falling into a life of moral decay.
They might take a passage such as Romans 6:1 and use it as an excuse to keep on living the way that they want. “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?” Some people may think that the opposite. That since they are saved, they can live as they want. This passage tells us the opposite is true. We should want to live a better life because we are grateful for the grace of the Lord.
How does this go with apologetics? There are people in this world that think that people become Christians so that they can get a ‘get out of Hell free’ card. This is so not so. A good apologetics argument would help defeat this false accusation. Using the passage from Romans can help people understand that we are commanded to not live a life like that. Many apologetic arguments come from people not really understanding why it is that we have hope. Others try to use science to try to show that Christianity is false. There are many different passages in the Bible that teach scientifically sound arguments.

This is an area that I would caution you against debating until you are more sure that you understand the science in case someone comes up with a rebuttal.
Remember, that the Holy Spirit can help you with this. You can ask for guidance, but you still need to be prepared to give that reason for your hope. People may scoff at you, but you should still pray for them. There is an old saying that I cannot quite remember who said it. I know it was an old theologian like C.S> Lewis or someone of that caliber. The person basically said that is Christianity is wrong, and there is no afterlife then there is nothing to worry about. But if it is right then the unbeliever has all of eternity. Do you want to think about that? Having someone suffer for all of eternity because you did not want to get embarrassed and not tell the person the truth about one of their false beliefs? I know I would not. I would not want to think about how much I must dislike someone to be part of the reason that they are condemned to the fiery pit. The Lord may have place you in such a situation to help a single lost soul. One of the people that He loved so much, that He willingly went to the cross for.

Work – a gift from God

When people think of Creation and all that the Lord had created, one thing that they many do not consider is the He also created work. Many people do not think that work is a gift because it can be so difficult. Work is a gift, because it gives us the ability to honor the Lord. Not only does it give people a chance to earn a living, it allows believer to show how they can honor the Lord in all thing. The Word has many things to say about work and how a person should act when it comes to work.
Colossians says, “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people” (New Living Translation) If you remember that you are not working for other people, you are working for the Lord. Paul was very wise in saying this. When you are working for the Lord, you are representing Him and the Love that He gives us. You are also able to show the Glory of the Lord because even if you are a crash test dummy you are working for the Lord. This can help make your day easier, knowing that the work you do here has eternal value. Sometimes it is not what you say that can bring people to the Lord, but it is your actions. If you really want to win over non-believers, work with a smile on your face.

Matthew 6:16, “And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get” (NLT). While Matthew was not talking about work specifically, the though is still the same. How are you honoring the Lord if you make yourself seem miserable just to show people how hard you are working. The real way to show how hard you are working is by remembering that who you are working for. Paul, is the greatest evangelist that ever lived. Not only did he write more than half of the New Testament, travelled around the world, won souls over to the Lord, and was running for his life; he still worked.
1 Thessalonians 2:9, “Don’t you remember, dear brothers and sisters, how hard we worked among you? Night and day, we toiled to earn a living so that we would not be a burden to any of you as we preached God’s Good News to you” (NLT).
Even though he was about the Lord’s business, he was still working himself. It was not as if he was in guess services at the local inn, he was a tent maker. It was demanding physically intensive labor. Paul still did it and honored the Lord through his work. He did not want to be a burden, and considered it a blessing to be able to work. He also considered it a blessing to suffer for the Lord. It did not matter which one he was doing, he knew that everything was for the Lord’s glory. He understood that some people would not be able to work due to cultural problems. The Lord demanded that we care for the widows and the orphans. Lepers were not able to work, but had to beg. Then there were the able-bodied people that refused to work at all. For this he told the people in Thessalonica what should happen to people that do not work.

2 Thessalonians “Even while we were with you, we gave you this command: ‘Those unwilling to work will not get to eat,’” (NLT).
This is how important Paul thought that work was. He was led by the Spirit to write this, so it was not just his own personal feelings, but a command from the Lord. If you think about it, the Lord is always working. Everything is in His hands, and He does not let anything to chance. Nothing can mess up His plans or knock Him off his throne. Another thing that the Lord can never do is go against His own nature. The Lord has worked non-stop since eternity past. Ever since Genesis 1:3 the Lord has been working, “Then God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light” (NLT). Just three verses into the Word we see that He was working. Everything may have been spoken into existence, but that is still work. He created light, can you create light? Creativity comes naturally to some people, but bring that creativity to light still demands that you work. The difference is you are doing something that you enjoy, it may not seem as if it was work.
People do not have to imagine that they are doing something that they enjoy to make work pleasurable. Some even say fake it till you make it. This can work for a while. What should help make your work better and make you smile, even if you are a professional human pincushion, is that you are doing one of the greatest jobs imaginable. Helping people see the difference that the Lord has made in your life. Sometimes the way a believer lives their lives is more important than any sermon a person wants. Hope for our future life in the Eternal Kingdom is why believers should not worry and be generally happier, but that is for a different post. Still the point remains, people could see a difference in you, and may even want to have that same peace that you have in your life.
1 Peter 3:15, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,” (New International Version). Knowing that your time here on Earth is only temporary, and the work you do now is preparing for work during the Millennial Kingdom. If there will be work during the Thousand Year Reign, obviously work is a good thing in this kingdom as well

 

Do You Know Where You Are Going

Do you know where your going…

when you die? You better – scary situation if you don’t.
God says
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23
And
The result of sin is death, spiritual separation from God. Romans 6:23.
Jesus is your answer.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son… John 3:16..

            For God so Loved the World

If you want to live with God and experience his incredible love and ever lasting life in paradise you must be born again. To be born again, according to the Bible, one has to accept, believe and have faith in his son, Jesus.

To do so pray the following prayer from your heart.

Dear and most precious God, I declare that I am a sinner and have fallen short of your glory. I am asking for your forgiveness. I will repent of my sins. I believe your son Jesus has died for my sins and that you raised Him from the dead. I want to trust Him as my personal Savior and follow Him as lord from this day forward. Please guide my life and help me to do your will. I pray this in Jesus name. Amen.

I believe if you prayed this prayer sincerely you are born again and will spend eternity with our heavenly father in paradise. Welcome home!!!

Don’t forget to spread this news to all you encounter.

[/fusion_text]