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?

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Abortion. Reputable or repulsive?

Abortion is a pretty touchy subject. It's a political issue. It's a social issue. To many, it's also a moral issue. Some people have no idea where they stand on the issue because so much information is misconstrued to fit the opinion of the informant. So what exactly is an abortion? What methods are used to perform an abortion? Who gets abortions? Can a fetus feel pain? Does the woman feel pain? What are the risks? What are the benefits? These questions will all be answered here. Let's get started, shall we?

What is an abortion?

Well, depending on where you look, you can find many different definitions of "abortion." They all pretty much say the same thing, but with some slight variation. Here are a few examples:

-the deliberate termination of a human pregnancy, most often performed during the first 28 weeks of pregnancy.
-An abortion is when the pregnancy is ended so that it does not result in the birth of a child. Sometimes this is called 'termination of pregnancy
-Abortion means ending a pregnancy before the fetus (unborn child) can live independently outside the mother.
-Abortion is the termination of pregnancy by the removal or expulsion from the uterus of a fetus or embryo before viability

Please note that an abortion can happen spontaneously as a result of complications during a pregnancy, or it can be induced. A spontaneous abortion is most often referred to as a miscarriage.

What are the methods that are used?


First, we'll discuss a medical abortion. A medical abortion is when a woman takes medication to terminate the pregnancy. As of 2003, there were two drugs on the market for this procedure, methotrexate and mifepristone.  The medication can be delivered orally or via injection and the outcome resembles a natural miscarriage.
Next, there is manual vacuum aspiration and this can be performed at any time up to 10 weeks gestation.
This procedure is also called menstrual extraction, mini-suction, or early abortion. Basically, all this does is suck the contents of the uterus out through a small tube. This lasts about 15 minutes and is about 99.5% effective in terminating pregnancy.
Now we have dilatation and suction curettage, more commonly known as a D&C, but is also referred to as suction dilation, vacuum curettage, or suction curettage.In this process, the cervix is stretched to make room for a suction tube to remove the contents of the uterus, and a small looped instrument is used to clean the walls of the uterus.
Fourthly, there is dilatation and evacuation. This is often performed in the second trimester. It is pretty similar to a D&C, but a larger tube must be used as there is more material to remove from the uterus. This increases the amount of dilation necessary, and therefore this procedure is slightly more uncomfortable.
Rarely, a dilatation and extraction is performed in the second trimester. Very similar to the previous two, but the fetus is removed mostly intact. However, the head does need to be collapsed in order to fit it through the cervix.
Another rare procedure is an induced abortion in which the woman is basically experiencing labor. Medication is given to induce labor and the cervix is opened up so that the fetus may be delivered. After looking at several unbiased resources, I was unable to find what happens to the fetus after delivery.
Lastly, and also very rare is hysterectomy. Basically a premature c-section. This is done after another attempt at abortion failed.

Who gets abortions?

In 2000 and 2001 the highest number of abortions were performed on women between ages 20-30 with 20-24 having the highest rate. Adolescents ages 15-19 make up 19% of elective abortions while 25% are women over 30. About 73% of women having an abortion had previously been pregnant and 48% of those had had a previous abortion. Non-Hispanic white women make up 41% of abortions, African Americans made up 32%, Hispanics were 20%, Asian and Pacific Islanders made up 6%, and Native Americans made up 1%.

Do the fetus or woman feel any pain?

For the woman, an abortion can feel uncomfortable. Many women describe pressure and cramping similar to menstrual cramps. Some women require minimal recovery time, while others require more rest. An abortion is just like any other medical procedure in the amount of pain a woman feels differs from woman to woman. Modern medical science does show that after 20 weeks gestation, a fetus does feel pain. It is unclear whether physical pain is felt prior to 20 weeks.

What are the risks and benefits of an abortion?

Some of the benefits to the woman electing to receive an abortion are the avoidance of financial or emotional hardship due to pregnancy and motherhood, removing the evidence of a rape or case of incest, or maybe the pregnancy was unintended and the woman is not ready to be a mother, or the pregnancy was posing a health risk to the woman, and the procedures usually take about 15 minutes and most are outpatient procedures.
Some risks involved with an abortion include uncontrollable bleeding, infection, a tear in the cervix or uterus, and a failed or incomplete abortion.

Here is where I start writing my opinion...

At just 5 weeks gestational age (that is just 3 weeks after conception), a child heart starts beating and some organs are in place. At 6 weeks, the heart's beat has become rhythmic and is going at a rate of about 150 beats per minute. About 39% of abortions occur this early. If a human being is pronounced dead when their heart has stopped beating, then why are they not pronounced alive when their heart starts beating?




Science has not proven if a fetus can feel pain prior to 20 weeks gestation, but modern ultrasound imaging shows that a fetus does jerk and fight when a suction tube enters the amniotic sac, and their heart rate skyrockets. Maybe they do not feel physical pain, but that sure sounds like fear to me.



In the above video, you can see this happening to a 12 week old fetus. About 3.9% of abortions occur at 12 weeks. That's about 40,000 babies each years that struggle like this.
When you look up information on abortions, you find that any pro-choice or unbiased producers refer to the baby as "fetal matter" or just the "contents of the uterus." They never call it a human, baby, child, or infant, and they rarely call it a fetus.


At what point is a fetus a human being?

A fetus is parasitic. It's true. It takes vitamins and nutrients from the mother and gives nothing in return. That is the definition of a parasite. But is this parasite a human? When can we call it that? Well, I have some very simple logic for that. It is a human when it can no longer be anything else. What does this mean? Well...at conception, the baby certainly doens't look like a baby, so can we call it a human? Well, will the fertilized egg ever turn into say...a puppy? Nope. Never has that happened. How about a sapling? Or a reptilian baby? What a bout a kitten, fish, chick, whale calf, or foal? No, it won't. That fertilized egg will only ever become a human child, if it is given the chance to. So, it needs to be considered a human being at CONCEPTION.

What about a woman who is raped?!

Rape is a horrendous thing. I myself am a victim of sexual abuse and cannot fathom having become pregnant by an abuser, but it is a sad truth for many women. I just have one question...who is the criminal? Is the baby the rapist? No! So why should the child die for it's father's crime?! I could never kill a man's children if he went to prison for murder and his wife was unable to support the children on her own. That's ludicrous. So why kill one just they are the product of rape? Adoption is always an option.

Well, I didn't intend to get pregnant...

There is only one way to create a child, and that is by uniting a human sperm with a human egg. So, if you do not want children, would it not make sense to not engage in the act of uniting a sperm and egg? That seems logical to me. And if this logic eluded you, why should the child pay for it? Why should the child die because his parents didn't want him? Adoption is always an option.

Well, sometimes abortion is necessary to save a mother's life... 

No, it is not. Not a single study has ever shown that abortion actually has any medical necessity to it. It does not lower maternal mortality rates or increase the availability of optimal prenatal care.

What if the child has a defect that means it'll die after  birth?

Then so be it! Let it live until then! What harm comes from allowing that child life until birth? We can only guess the child's chance of survival, we cannot guarantee it. Miracles happen. That child may live after birth.

I  could go on and on. Every human has a right to life, no matter how small they may be. This concludes this posting. I hope you have been enlightened!    

 
 
 
 
 
 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Christians Have Too Many Rules!

The Bible has a lot of rules. I mean…a lot. I honestly have no idea just how many are there, and I felt no urge from the Spirit to Google it because it is enough to say that there are a whole stinkin’ lot of them! Leviticus is probably the most well-known book of the Bible for spouting off rules that seem unnecessary, questionable, or just plain ludicrous (do not wear clothing made of two different materials…huh?)# If you’d like to look at other befuddling laws in other books of the Bible just hit up Google and type in “laws of the old covenant” and browse away! The Ten Commandments are also well-known, and rightly so as they are relevant today. When God gave the nation of Israel the laws to live by way back in the day, He was providing them with a means for hygiene, health, and a healthy society. Many of those laws have science to back them up nowadays. However, The Ten Commandments were something He decreed for all nations and generations. They are relevant to every culture, even today, and will be until the second coming of Christ. So why do we have these rules to follow, if God knew they would no longer be relevant at some point? Well, we don’t. They are documented in the Bible, but that is what we call the old covenant. We are under the new covenant. Jesus came to Earth as God in human form and sacrificed himself to save us from our sins, therefore creating a new covenant with mankind to save us from Hell. That means a lot less headaches trying to follow along with all the rules. We no longer have rules, per say, but a standard that we are held to. I already mentioned The Ten Commandments, and while they are set up as rules, they outline the standard God holds us to. Being a Christian is so much more, though. Jesus came to Earth to live a life that we should emulate as best we can everyday. You see, when Jesus came to Earth, He left man (and woman) with a rational, simple, and necessary standard to live up to.
The standard we are required by God to live by is rational; it just makes plain, good ol’ sense. For example, the first of the commandments says that you shall have no other gods before the One True God. Well, duh! If you come to realize that God exists and that He created you and loves you unconditionally…why on Earth would you follow another “god?” That makes no sense! The second commandment of not creating false idols, pretty much goes along with that first one. Then there’s the fourth one. Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. Um, God expects us to work and earn our living…but He gave us a day to rest. Who would forget to rest?! I don’t know about you, but I like to take a break every once in a while. Look at any of The Ten Commandments and you will find that they are each rational. For more information on those commandments, and what they mean, click here. Now, we are also commended by Christ himself to love. When he was asked which of the laws of the old covenant (which wasn’t the old one, yet) was the greatest, he replied “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”# So, we’re supposed to love people, okay, fair enough, but how is that rational?  Now, God is love. He does not just love us, He actually is love. God is also good. So, if God is love and God is good, then we can use the transitive property of mathematics to derive that love is good. We want to be good, right? So then it would be rational to love. With me so far?
Not only is God’s standard rational, but it is also oh so simple. Every single of the commandments is short, sweet and straight to the point. They are all black and white with absolutely no gray area. I feel no urge to even go into any specifically, because it is that simple. Visit the page I referenced earlier if you need proof. Love, however, can be a bit complex if you don’t have the right definition of love. Many people today are misguided in thinking that love is an emotion. If something makes you feel good, gives you butterflies, or makes you happy in general, you claim to love it. However, that is called infatuation. It would be very hard to love everyone and everything as God does, if we were trying to be infatuated with everything. So then, if that’s not love, what is? Well, the Bible defines that for us, too! It makes it very simple! Take a look at 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. Go ahead. I’ll wait… Now, how simple is that? Love is patient. There’s no wiggle room or gray area there. It’s patient…end of story. It’s kind and humble and steadfast and all these things. Now, it’s not easy to be all of those things all of the time, regardless of who you are dealing with, but now the goal of loving is a lot more reachable than when you think of infatuation. See? All of God’s “rules” are simple. They are, in fact, much more simple than modern law. The Bible says “do not kill,” but the State of California says “(clickhereforlaw)” People go to school for years to get a grasp of modern law, and still spend their lifetime learning about it and how it works, but people can spend just a few hours and get a firm understanding of what God commands of us.
Last, but certainly not least, God’s standard is absolutely necessary to a healthy, happy, functioning society. Commandment number five says to obey your parents. If children did not obey their parents, we would be in big trouble. Children who do not obey their parents grow into adults who do not obey the law. Commandment number five is necessary to producing law-abiding citizens. Commandments six through nine state that you should not kill, cheat on your spouse, steal, or lie. All of these acts encourage distrust and chaos. These rules are necessary to maintain harmony among people. Commandment number ten says to not covet, or to not want what someone else has. This is necessary for our own state of mind. When you want something that someone else has, you become dissatisfied with your own possessions. This is also applicable to family members and environments. Wishing that your son was potty-trained as early as your neighbors, only leads you to be unhappy with your son’s current abilities on the toilet. Dissatisfaction makes loving much more difficult and can lead to bad moods and harsh words or thoughts. Therefore, this rule is also necessary to maintaining harmony. Regardless of what the rule may be, rules are necessary by principle. We cannot function adequately without boundaries. Look at children who are raised by permissive parents who have little or no rules and fail to enforce them. These children grow up lacking self-control and respect for authority. In a study once done in an elementary school, children were offered to pick and choose whatever they wanted for lunch, rather than having set healthy portions and food groups available. In this study, children did pig out on junk food for the first week or so, but they certainly went back to a healthy, balanced lunch shortly thereafter. Why? Because we need structure. Humans thrive off of structure. Rules are necessary. We want rules! People are happier with rules, plain and simple. We set personal rules for ourselves all the time. We know our tendency to do wrong and to make poor choices, and we use the precedence of our past to create boundaries for ourselves. “Okay, in bed by ten before a test!” “No more dating musicians!” “I am not going to buy potato chips anymore!” We know we’re flawed. We just know and we make rules accordingly.
So, we know now that when Jesus came to Earth, He left us with a rational, simple, and necessary standard to live by. We’ve discussed why it’s rational, simple, and necessary…but just what is that standard? We can examine the Bible and pick it apart and try to interpret every little verse, or we can do it the easy way. Sin is what separates us from God, right? Well, what is sin? Sin comes from the Greek and was a term used in archery and it literally means “to miss the mark.” Sin does not necessarily mean breaking a “rule” that God has laid out for us. It means to miss the mark that God has set. It means not hitting the bull’s-eye. The bull’s-eye is Jesus Christ. We are to emulate Him in everything we do. The Holy Spirit will convict us of our wrong, there is no need to study rules and regulations in the Bible. For example, you can say that well, “I just cannot conclude that homosexuality is wrong. The Bible tiptoes around it, but doesn’t come right out and say it.” However, we know that God created sex for reproduction. We know he created woman to be man’s helper. Just on these two facts alone, we know that it is a sin. Simply because it misses the mark. Woman is supposed to be man’s helper, not woman’s helper. Sex is supposed to result in children and between the same gender, it does not. We can also look at the controversy of premarital sex….or any heavy premarital contact. We know that we are supposed to emulate Jesus. Do you think Jesus was walking around having sex with anyone he pleased? I think not. I have WWJD tattooed on my inner wrist to always remind me. I am not called to obey God’s rules, I am called to follow Jesus’ example. So, just because you can’t find a verse strictly forbidding it, does not mean that it’s okay. The Holy Spirit will convict you. You’ll know you’re in the wrong. Follow the example He set and evade sin. It’s not hard. It’s not oppressive. There is more than enough room for fun and laughter and love in the Christian life.


When confronted with someone trying to denounce or question the Christian faith and they throw “there are just too many rules” at you…just tell them that God’s rules are no harder to live by than society’s rules!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Christians Are Hypocrites!

     Okay, first, I'm sure many of you are wondering if I really meant that. Yes, I did. Christians are hypocrites, and it's horrendous. Think of pastors of churches who preach about loyalty to your spouse as being second only to your loyalty to God, and then they are caught in an affair. Really? You call that loyalty? How about the countless women who use "prayer requests" as time to gossip about the people in their life? Aren't Christians supposed to look down on gossip? How about the millions of Christians who preach about love and not to judge each other, and yet, then riot and picket and hate on homosexuals, abortionists, liberals, and other various people groups with different views than them? That, my friends, is hypocrisy! Matthew 7:3 states "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?" Jesus himself warned against hypocrisy, so what's the deal?! In Matthew 23, Jesus goes on a very passionate rant against the Pharisees, and one of the most common insults he throws at them is that they are hypocrites! You hear that? They were hypocrites. Why is it so comfortable to rest in hypocrisy? If the Bible clearly states that hypocrisy is wrong, then why do we find so many Christians guilty of this sin?
     For one, we find our leaders are hypocrites. Monkey see, monkey do. There are so many pastors who look at the sins of the world and preach about what the Bible states is wrong in the world without preaching what is wrong in the church. Maybe more teachers should be teaching how to take the plank out of our own eye, and not how to spot the sawdust in our atheist friend's eye. Do you think maybe we could win more to the cause if we tried that approach? What about love? Jesus was all about love. How many times have you heard a sermon about loving sinners? I don't mean loving your Christian neighbor when they wrestle with sin. I mean have you ever heard you pastor talk about how we are supposed to treat homosexuals, according to the Bible? Not likely. It's easy for us to love and forgive ourselves or our friend after a divorce, but we don't extend that same love toward a homosexual who has been "married" for ten, fifteen, twenty years. Is it a sin? Yep. Is divorce a sin? Yes!! So why do they get treated differently? All sin is equal in God's eyes!
     What are some other leaders in our lives who are hypocrites? How about our parents? Everyone sins, but how many of us grew up with parents who taught "do as I say, not as I do?" What kind of a message has that sent us from infancy? That it's okay to do wrong and still point out that others shouldn't do it. We are quite literally taught from birth to be self-righteous! Did you parents involve you in their prayer time when they asked for forgiveness of their sins? Did they involve you in their effort towards repentance? Some parents do model these wonderful lessons to teach their children what is means to rely on God, but some do not. So what do we learn? We learn to judge others without judging ourselves!
     How about the world we live in? The secular world is full of hypocrisy, sure. Are we separated from this world? My family does not have a television and we only listen to Christian radio, so we have some amount of separation from the secular world. Is that true for most Christian homes? Nope. With a lack of physical separation from the secular world, we lose our ethical separation as well. We begin to rationalize the Bible. We begin to think the way we used to, before we gave ourselves to Christ. We begin to turn to hypocrisy. We become these yo-yo Christians who repent and live righteous lives and then, slowly, our resolve begins to deteriorate. The world breaks us down and we find ourselves living in abominable sins and not caring one lick, but still judging others for their sins! And then the process starts all over with more repentance.
    Let's not forget the most evident reason why we are hypocrites. We are human. Sin is inevitable. Everyone sins and hypocrisy is a sin. However, judging someone else's hypocrisy is also a sin. The Bible tells us to alert our brother to their sin, but it never tells us to judge our brother for his sin. So if you're reading this with someone in mind, I suggest you stop, repent from your judgment and pray for forgiveness. Humans are also incredibly ignorant. It's really easy to see the sin in others without noticing the exact same sin in our lives. Sometimes we are hypocrites without even realizing it! Humans are also arrogant. How many Christians do you know feel like their sins are moot because they just need to pray for forgiveness? Just because you know your God will forgive you, does not mean you have the right to judge the Muslim who does the same thing. Focus on yourself and lose the arrogance. God's forgiveness should humble you.
     Take a minute to read 1 Corinthians 13 in it's entirety. It's not a long chapter. We are clearly told that nothing we do will ever matter if we do not love. Notice that it never once says that love is a judge. You want to remove the sin of hypocrisy from your life? Refrain from judging others! Love everyone, regardless of what sin they have in their lives. We are supposed to emulate Jesus Christ and He loved all passionately. He loved so much He died for sinners. Not for Christians. He died to murderers, for democrats, for rapists, for homosexuals, for pedophiles, and for thieves. He thought they were worthy of His love. Who are we to say that He was wrong and we should be more picky about who we love?
     Search yourself. What is the plank in your eye? Ask your neighbor, your friend, your spouse, or even your children. What can you improve on? Spend more time fixing yourself instead of trying to fix others, and maybe our world will look just a little brighter.
    And a final note...if trying to evangelize,, you come across someone who's problem with Christians is hypocrisy...if any of the information in here is not going to be helpful to explain our imperfections...you can wrap this entire piece up in one sentence.

Christians are not perfect people. Christians are forgiven people.