Monday, April 20, 2015

Do Right and Wrong Exist?

We live in a world where we're told so frequently that everyone is entitled to their own opinions and their own lifestyle. We're told "to each his own" and anyone who thinks differently is labeled as close-minded and hateful. Is this okay? Is this the way God designed the world?
No, it isn't. God clearly expressed His standard that He expects us to live up to...and by "us" I mean Christians. We are supposed to be a standard that can lead the world to Christ. For more on that standard, read here.

So now, what about the rest of the world? They're supposed to follow the rules, too, right? We need to tell them when they're sinning, right? Wrong.

The Bible is very clear about the fact that we need to hold each other accountable in Matthew 18. However, notice that last line...how are you supposed to treat a pagan? Well, for one, you are supposed to love them. Read 1 Corinthians 13 and replace the word "love" with your name. If each phrase is true, then you're doing a good job of loving others. Notice, it never says to condemn. We are told in 1 Corinthians 5:12-13 to mind our own business.

If your unsaved neighbor sells drugs and dressed immodestly, your job is to love them and set a good, godly standard, and leave it at that. If your unsaved cousin is gay, you love them and set a good, godly standard, and leave it at that.

I feel I should add that if you pick and choose which parts of the Bible you want to follow, you need to seriously consider your salvation. When someone has truly accepted Christ and been filled with the Holy Spirit, they will be convicted of their wrongs and will begin to change. One who outwardly claims to follow Christ, but inwardly continues to blatantly choose sin is one who we should avoid. These people are liars and will try to warp our perceptions of Truth.

In conclusion...yes, right and wrong definitely exist. Matthew 7: 13-14 says “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." So, we can draw from that that there are far more ways to be wrong, than ways to be right. God does not says "to each his own." Psalm 18:30 says that His way is perfect, so it's our job as Christians to study His word and follow His way.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Memory Verse for March 2015

Well, ladies and gents, I am back in the game...I think. I have felt the urge to blog again. My family has needed my time and attention very much in the last 3 1/2 months. My husband and I welcomed our third child to our crazy family, and he's been in the hospital since birth. And not just our local hospital. His condition is so severe, I was flown to UCSF while I was in labor, so that he could receive the care he needed. So, we've been here in San Francisco ever since and have stood by and watched doctors make decisions for our son. It's rough, but it's been an amazing experience and we have been very blessed by it. This experience has inspired the memory verse for this month. Proverbs 3:5 reads...

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding."

Isn't that beautiful? We can trust Him! In fact we need to trust Him! This world is terrifying and confusing without God. Bad things happen that make no sense to us in our limited understanding, so we need to trust Him to do that's best. We've been doing just that during these last few months, and it has made all the difference in the world!

Remember to follow on Facebook for reminders and word pictures for this month's verse!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Memory Verse for November!

I don't think everyone is going to be happy about the choice of verse for this month, but I am positive it has been placed in my way for a reason. I was once told that if you find a verse repeating itself in your life, God is trying to get your attention. Well, multiple people have quoted this on their own over the past few weeks and the Holy Spirit has definitely convicted me in this area, so I've made it the memory verse for November!
Ready? Philippians 2:14...

"Do everything without complaining or arguing."

I wince when I read that. I like to complain and I love to argue. I'm going to start applying this to my life, one day at a time, with the help of our Lord. I'll start with the first part, and then add in the second.

What wonderful advice! How can we be a light in the world if we're always complaining about what's wrong with it? Why do we spend so much time dwelling on what is wrong rather than on what is right and good? Satan wants to keep us down! Don't let him! I refuse to give him a foothold, so I refuse to complain or argue anymore!
 

So, you don't have to implement it like myself, but record it to your memory this month! I will post more word pictures to Facebook for you all to refresh you each week!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Anxiety

Everyone has some amount of anxiety. Everyone. Whether it's just the occasional butterflies in your tummy, or if you have full blown panic attacks regularly, or anything in between, we all know what it feels like to be anxious. I'm no exception...I know a thing or two about anxiety...hooooo boy!
Aside from some of the traumas I mentioned in my testimony, I struggled with anxiety in my day to day life. I was medicated for quite some time and was one of those individuals that needed Xanax in my purse for those panic attacks that struck whilst driving, at the grocery store, in the middle of church, etc.
Anxiety is scary. It is all-consuming. It is debilitating for some. Some people live in fear of leaving their homes lest they a panic attack sneak up on them in public. They are unpredictable and seemingly without cause.
For me, personally, a panic attack usually started with a tightening in my chest. My heart rate would accelerate and my breathing would soon follow. My mind would begin to race and if I didn't recognize this as the onset of an attack, I would spiral out of control. Without a pill and some positive self-talk, I'd begin struggling to breathe and crying uncontrollably and become so completely terrified that I became totally incapable of any kind of functioning. Forget being a mother when one of these suckers hit! If I did manage to talk myself down, the best I got was a mild state of panic, or as many like to refer to it, a fight-or-flight state. In this case, I was on edge, often seeming angry, until the panic wore off on it's own.

I tell you what, people, that is no way to live.

So, what changed? My perspective did. It was not easy by any means, the process or the decision to embark on the journey. You see, it's more comfortable to say "I have no control over this" than to take responsibility because if you don't have control, then it's not your fault. I thought for a long time that a shrink and a pill were going to be a part of my life forever...something happened to me as an infant and it scarred me with life-long anxiety and there was nothing I could do about it.
God spoke to me through Miss Priscilla Shirer one Monday night at Bible study. She was speaking about the strongholds in our minds that hold us back and how the only way to destroy these mental, emotional, and spiritual strongholds was with spiritual weapons. This wisdom comes from 2 Corinthians 4:10.

 "The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds"

That got me thinking...instead of repeating "I am a good mom. I am a good person. I am safe. There is no reason to be afraid. God loves me, etc" when panic struck, maybe I should be repeating Scripture. Maybe, each morning, instead of writing down something positive I think about myself, I should write down something positive about God, or something positive that God says about me.

Sounds great in theory, but oh my word was it difficult!

You see...Satan does not like when we fight back. He wants us weakened by our own insecurities and our insecurities are a result of our pride. Yes, you read that right. It is prideful to think that we know better than God. That is exactly what we do when we say "I'm not good enough" and He says we are a masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10). We are prideful when we say "I can't do this" and He has said that we are conquerors (Romans 8:37). We are prideful when we say "I am alone" when He will do it for us (Galatians 2:20).

Satan wants us to be prideful. He wants us to allow these thoughts. Then, when his demons come after us, we are weak, we feel defenseless, and we fall. Yes, I said anxiety is a demonic attack. That sounds like I'm some crazy Pentecostal, I know, but you know how you can tell? An ailment is a demonic attack if it attacks the spiritual life of the sick. A cold is probably not an attack, but depression is. A broken foot is likely not some spiritual destruction, but anxiety is. Etc...etc...etc.

Call me crazy if you'd like, but as soon as I wrapped my head around this, I began to get better. The Bible is full of references to battling demons, so look there first. See how many times we are told of warfare against demons (you can start with James 4:7, 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, Mark 16:17, 1 Peter 5:8, and Ephesians 6:12).

So...how do we use this to fight off anxiety? You learn His word. You study and memorize and repeat His promises in moments of darkness. Scripture is your divine weapon mentioned in 2 Corinthians.You remind yourself that you can do all things through He who strengthens you (Philippians 4:13). You pray unceasingly (Philippians 4:6-7). You recognize that He is always with you (Psalm 23:4). Finally, you need to not be afraid of looking or sounding foolish and you tell Satan to go away! You tell him that you are a child of God and you rebuke him in Jesus' name, and then you be still, and let God do His thing (Psalm 46:10).

Just yesterday, I was driving home and I was trying my best to hear the song on the radio rather than the thoughts in my head and my chest began to tighten. You see, my family is in the middle of a move that isn't going very smoothly. I am 31 weeks pregnant. My husband is working 14 hours a day. My kids are a handful, because they can sense all of my stress. I have baby shower today where I'll be the center of attention (something I have anxiety about). And I am dealing with a dozen different doctors right now and travel arrangements for our unborn son who will need heart surgery just after birth. I am an absolute stress-case! It's no wonder my heart rate accelerated; anyone would understand me having a panic attack...life is rough right now! However, as soon as I felt that, I did not accept it. I prayed for deliverance and began reciting Psalm 46:10. The radio began to play Move by MercyMe followed by The One I'm Running To and King of My Heart. As soon as I asked, I was given relief. No pill. No shrink.
Now, it wasn't that easy from the start. When I stopped my therapy and medications over a year ago, I stumbled and I fell a lot, but I kept at it. Changing your thinking is hard, but the Bible tells us to hold every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5), and practice makes perfect. It takes time, but if you are willing to put in your effort, and you can trust Him to do His part and change you by the Holy Spirit...you will experience freedom.

And I tell you what, after 22 years of being held down by anxiety...freedom is so, so beautiful!

God is good!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

October memory verse!

So, who managed to memorize Psalm 46:10 last month?

This month I've got a doozy for you. It's a fact we all know, but I think most of the time it fails to resonate within us the way it should. The verse for memorization this month...is Romans 5:8. Yes, I did steal this from my son's Awana handbook! So what is Romans 5:8?

"While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

Do you understand that? While we were still sinners, He died for us! He didn't die for when we got our act together or because we were perfect people. He died for us while we were screw ups! While we were liars and murderers and thieves! How many humans do you know who would love you even at your very worst? They do exist...but there sure aren't many.


Dwell on that this month. I will post word picture on our Facebook
page each week to keep it in your head. Think about some of the worst things you've done this month and think about how Christ died for you despite those things and how now, because of that sacrifice, they have been washed away!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Memory Verse for September!

My son started Awana a couple of weeks ago, and it has me inspired to memorize verses myself. The best way to grow is through studying His word...so I imagine having some verses in our memory banks will only be that much more helpful, right? So...I have elected to pick a verse each month to share and I will be posting a word picture to our Facebook page once a week to help embed those words in our brains.

So...let's start things off with one that has been showing up in my life over and over...so I'm thinking it's one that He wants me to learn: Psalm 46:10.



"Be still and know that I am God."

 
Pretty simple, right? But oh, so powerful, too!
What a wonderful reminder that we need to cease our worrying, planning, anger, fear, and let go of our illusion of control and just know that He is God, He is good, and He will never fail and we must obey His perfect will!

Have a wonderful September, watch out for my word pictures, and I will give you a new memory verse come October! God bless!!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Hell.

Most people don’t like to talk about Hell. It’s uncomfortable. It’s unclear. More often than not, when people do talk about Hell, it’s to manipulate and scare someone to Christ. Not a good idea. So, Hell is typically a subject that people avoid and there is no need to feel uneasy about it or to use it as a weapon. Let’s take a look at Scripture to see what it says.

Who will go to Hell?

No one wants to hear that their dearly departed is in Hell, so most people just stick with “they’re in a better place” and with good cause…that would be just plain rude to imply the opposite, but some people do, in fact go to Hell. Who?
Matthew 25:31-46 implies that all who love toward those less fortunate will gain eternal life and those who reject them will receive eternal punishment. Revelation 21:8 says that the “cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars--their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur.” However, the lake of burning sulfur is NOT the Hell (or Hades) that people go to at the first death. That is the second death. Hades is thrown in the lake as well.
So, wait…being a good person gets you into heaven? No, not exactly. Acts 16:31 tells us that simply believing in Jesus Christ as your Lord will save you.
So, who goes to Hell? Everyone who does not believe that Christ saved them will. If you simply accept your salvation, you’re golden. Literally.
Now that sparks the question of “well what if they had lived a few more years? What if they would have eventually accepted Christ, but they died too soon?” That will not happen. If a person has not yet reached an age of accountability, or was simply taken before they were ready, then He will send them wherever they would have chosen to go. He is GOD after all, He is all-knowing. He knows where you would have placed your faith had you been given the chance.
As unimaginable as it is that someone could have a true God experience and still turn away from Him…well I do not have an answer for that. I can’t imagine someone coming face to face with Him and not falling to their knees in awe, but the Bible says that it will happen.

What is Hell like?

Well the Bible says that there will be flames and moaning and weeping and gnashing of teeth. Do I take this literally? Heck to the no!
Flames are used several times in the Bible to represent judgment. God is a fiery God. Jesus returns to Earth engulfed in flames. These are symbols of judgment and because Hell is the result of your judgment…it makes sense for it to be referred to as fiery. I do not think people will actually burn for eternity. God puts people in Hell because they don’t want to be around Him. It would be quite childish to say “well, since you don’t want to be around me, you can just burn! Ha!”
What about weeping and moaning and gnashing of teeth? Well…I can imagine that if you spend your life condemning He who gave you life and ultimately land yourself in Hell…once you have realized that you really messed up…you’re going to be pretty upset! People weep and moan and gnash their teeth when they mourn the loss of a fellow human, a loved one, so can you imagine the mourning that would occur after realizing that they lost God, lost all love? God is love, so it’s safe to say that there is no love in Hell.
Pretty depressing, really. People don’t need to be whipped and burned and tortured for eternity to make Hell scary. Just being away from God is scary enough all on it’s own.

Why does God use an infinite solution for a finite offense?

Well…there is actually a really simple explanation for that. The length of time it took to commit a crime has no bearing on how severe the crime was. For example…if you were to rob a bank, it would probably take days, maybe even weeks or months to plan and perfect your escape and then, eventually, to pull off the heist. In the state of California, that would earn you three to nine years of prison. However, let’s say you kill someone. No planning at all. You just pull out a gun and shoot a man and it takes you all of ten seconds. In most every state that would be a minimum of 25 years, but you’re really looking at life in prison. So the crime that took months gets you 9 years and the crime that took ten seconds gets life.
Because the time it took is not relevant to how heinous the crime was. What is the worst thing a person can do? How about to mock and dishonor the One being they owe absolutely everything to? Not to mention the influence they may have had on taking others from God. Not a finite crime when you look at it that way, is it?

Why doesn’t God just force people to go to Heaven?

Well honestly, that’s just dehumanizing. God had given us the power of free choice and nothing speaks of His love and respect for us more than his willingness to send us to Hell. He respects our decision to be apart from Him, no matter how much it grieves Him. What a gentleman! To think…if you want nothing to do with Him, He will respect that and stay away from you! Wow!

Why doesn’t God just destroy people who don’t choose Him?

Well come on now…that’s worse than forcing them to go to Heaven! That’s totally immoral! He respects your choice. Period. End of story.

Why doesn’t God give people a second chance?

Well now, here’s where things get tricky. Many people think that once you go to Hell, well then that is that. Others, however, think that Judgment Day is the final say. I happen to fall into that second group. Let’s look at the Scripture now and make sure I’m not just spouting fantasies…

Revelation 20:11-15 talks of the judgment of the dead. It says that all dead come forth to be judged based on what is written in the book of life. Now there is much disagreement on the book of life and the Lamb’s book of life. I, myself, believe that they are different.

The book of life contains the names of every single person who has ever lived. The Lamb’s book of life contains the name of every individual who is born again, and only those who are born again. That can be argued seven ways to Sunday, and we will never really know the true answer until we die, but for now, this is what makes sense to me.

Now, every person will be judged based on what is written in the book of life. The name implies that what is written is from your life, but let’s not assume, we all know what that does. I believe that what you did in death is also recorded. The amends you made and the forgiveness people may have asked for whilst in Hell. At this point of judgment all of that will come into play and every soul will have the choice to accept or reject God and His son. Those who reject will be thrown into the lake. Will anyone reject Him? Seems highly unlikely, but the Bible says it will happen. Also, anyone who’s name is not written in the book of life will be thrown in. Who is this? These are the “people” Satan has created in his pathetic attempt to imitate all that God does. I could go on into much more detail and pull on all sorts of Scripture, but I already put my husband through that, and quite frankly, if you want the verses, leave a comment and we can chat.

The bottom line:

Everything that anyone will ever tell you about Hell is just speculation. This entire post is just my speculation. You can study Hell until kingdom come and you will never truly know any answers. God is blatant about many things in His word and Hell is not one of them. Some things He gives you a taste of, but nothing more. Why? Because He knows we are imperfect and we will misuse information and become arrogant. Maybe. I don’t know. That’s the point.

No one knows.

So then what do you tell people when it comes up? You tell them just that. “I have an idea. I have something I believe in, but I don’t know.” We know that God is perfect and holy and ultimately good, and so with that knowledge we trust that Hell is necessary and that it is not a cruel or evil way of dealing with a sad situation and we accept that we just don’t know all there is to know.

You know Hell is only mentioned in the NIV translation 14 times. Grace is said 123 times, Faith 254 times, and Love 232 times. So you tell me…what should we be talking about more? What is the message God is sending?