Archive | September 2017

Where Is Your Faith? Luke 8:22-25a

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It’s Seahawks football season again. Last year Buddy hid in the master bathtub because the neighborhood shoots off booms and bangs every time the Hawks score a touchdown. He also runs off when a family member claps their hands to cheer a good play.

Christians, including myself, are not immune to fear. As a result, we don’t always move forward in faith when we should. Yet, sometimes Jesus pushes us into fearful situations to increase our faith and trust in Him.

“Now on one of those days Jesus and HIs disciples got into a boat, and He said to them, ‘Let us go over to the other side of the lake.’ So they launched out.

But as they were sailing along He fell asleep; and a fierce gale of wind descended on the lake, and they began to be swamped and to be in danger.

They came to Jesus and woke Him up, saying, ‘Master, Master, we are perishing!’ And He got up and rebuked the wind and the surging waves, and they stopped, and it became calm.

And He said to them, ‘Where is your faith?'”–Luke 8:22-25a

Sometimes I get frustrated with my fellow Christians. Maybe that is wrong. But here is the reason: According to the US Government Census page, our USA population is slowly approaching 326 million people. 40% of the population claims to be born-again, or 130 million, 400 thousand people. I assume they are all old enough to make the claim. When I was discussing this with a friend recently, they claimed that only about 10% of the 40% is sincere. OK, so that’s 13 million and 40 thousand people.

For several years I’ve been listening to the Christian community claim that it’s all over for America. Really?

After receiving the power of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, 12 apostles and five thousand new converts turned the known world upside down, starting a spiritual, and ultimately a cultural, revolution that has lasted for over 2 thousand years. So I ask my fellow 13 million plus fellow American believers: Where is your faith?

“And He (Jesus) could do no miracles there except that He laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He wondered at their unbelief.”–Mark 6:5-6

Perhaps the problem in America with it’s increasingly debauched culture isn’t that God has given up on America, but that we have given up on praying to God for spiritual renewal. It’s really easy to get busy with family or recreation or business and not leave time to pray. Or exhaust ourselves with guilt and worry and anger and not have the energy to pray.

Or, simply, not ask God for spiritual renewal and hunger in America because of simple unbelief. Not asking because we don’t believe it’s possible. We’re looking at the waves surging around us of cultural rot and animosity toward Christianity and the Bible and tossing our hands up in the air in despair, instead of getting on our knees and praying.

As Dr. Charles Stanley says, “The battle is won on our knees.”

I’m not satisfied in watching souls die without the Lord and hope.

I’m going to start spending more time in prayer that God raise up godly evangelists, particularly among the new generation becoming adults. And for spiritual renewal in America. Please pray with me.

Until Jesus returns, we’re to be salt (a preservative) and light. We’re all here at this time for a reason. Have faith, my friends!

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Hurting People, James 4:11-12

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When I first adopted Buddy from Silky Terrier Rescue, he was terrified of me and my family. He didn’t utter one sound for several days, not even a sniff. We thought his voice box had been damaged by abuse but it turned out he was just too frightened to make noise. When he barked at the neighbor’s dog and was praised for making a sound, he realized it was ok to make noise. Now he’s our most talkative dog ever.

For years, however, whenever I reached toward him, he would duck as if I wanted to hit him. He doesn’t do it as often now, but he still does duck occasionally and it hurts my feelings because I have no desire to harm Buddy. I don’t know the details of his previous life and can only speculate. Only God knows, but now Buddy has a family who loves and cherishes him. He gets treats and walks and hugs and personal care.

Considering this, I realize that people often act like Buddy. There might be abuse in their past or adverse circumstances that I don’t know anything about that might be causing them to act the way they do. Sometimes people act nasty or fearful because of original sin, but sometimes there are other mitigating factors.

“Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law…There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?”–James 4:11-12

When the check-out clerk who is scanning my grocery items looks sullen or is unfriendly, I try to remind myself not to react unkindly. I know how many things I conceal from people that I have far more contact with. The clerk may have been forced to come to work to save their job but may not be feeling well, their dog may have run off or been killed that morning, their kid may have just entered drug rehab, or a customer earlier that day was very rude and they haven’t been able to shrug it off yet. I just don’t know what may have happened ten minutes or ten hours ago in that person’s life. Only God knows.

Similarly, a coworker may be acting like a butt because they were told bad news about a relative or had an ugly family fight that morning. Or they may just feel cranky from lack of sleep and it’s an aberration and I need to be patient while they work it out of their system.

I’m not saying that people should make excuses for acting badly toward others, but we are all human and I am certainly not Miss Sunshine 24/7 myself and need others to forgive and be patient with me, too. “Love is patient, love is kind…” (1 Corinthians 13:4)

Now there are indeed times to judge because we are told to “Open your mouth, judge righteously…” (Proverbs 31:9) ¬†We’re not supposed to remain silent and let evil triumph. “Like a trampled spring and a polluted well, is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked.” (Proverbs 25:26)

But in most circumstances of life, I need to remind myself to be patient, be kind, and not judge. Not to be reactive or defensive, but to be proactively loving. I’m still learning because I have my “hot buttons” but I think I’m doing better than I used to because of God’s life in me.

God bless you this week.

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Without the power of the Spirit of Jesus Christ in our lives, it’s difficult to be the person we want to be. God gives us a new heart, a new spirit, and the mind of Christ when we admit we’re sinners and give our hearts to Him. Becoming born-again isn’t just about escaping Hell and going to Heaven; it’s about entering into a close relationship with God and becoming a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:7). If you aren’t a believer in Jesus Christ, He invites you to enter into relationship with Him. Please pray: “Lord, I admit that I have offended You and done what is wrong in Your sight. Please forgive me of my sins and enter into my heart and my life. Make me a new creation by the power of Your Holy Spirit.” If you prayed this prayer, please find a Bible-based church to fellowship with other believers and grow in the knowledge of God. As a fellow believer in Christ, I love you and so does the Lord.

Simplifying Idolatry, Exodus 20:4-5

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Buddy is sticking out his tongue because he’s uncomfortable with having his picture taken. (I’m disappointed in my new phone’s camera but wasn’t willing to pay $700+ for a new phone when a $200 phone does everything I need–except take great photos!)

I sometimes feel uncomfortable with some discussions in the Christian community. In my opinion, at times well-meaning Christians make Christianity too difficult and discourage sincere people. The latest focus in sermons and articles appears to be idolatry. It seems, basically, anything a person really likes is being defined as idolatry. As a result, I think people–including myself–are becoming too preoccupied with self-examination and sin-focused, rather than being Christ-focused and rejoicing in His goodness. It’s hard to be a happy, joyful Christian who attracts miserable unbelievers to your religion when you’re gloomy and self-obsessesed, perpetually worrying if this or that activity, object, pet, or person is an idol.

Now, I have no desire to deny the seriousness of sin. God takes idolatry very seriously.

“You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God,…”–Exodus 20:4-5a

But I believe the following is a much simpler and workable definition of idolatry:

Anything that, or anyone who, causes you to disobey God.

For example, a pop singer takes heroine so young people start taking drugs because it’s cool. No. God says our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19) and is a gift, being “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). That singer has become an idol.

Your boyfriend/girlfriend/fiance asks you to have sex with them and you say OK, knowing that God forbids extramarital sex (Hebrews 13:4). That person has become an idol to you.

You purchase a sporty red convertible, taking on enormous monthly payments and new debt, potentially straining your marriage and reducing your ability to tithe or give to those in need, knowing that your current automobile works just fine and you could live with it, but you lusted after a new car. You have made that car (or your desire for status) your idol.

A friend lures you into gossiping about a coworker or slandering someone because you care more about the opinion of that friend rather than about the potential harm you’re doing to the person you are slandering or gossiping about. You’ve made that relationship an idol.

You don’t compliment people at work or nominate them for awards because you don’t want them to look good to management and potentially jeopardize your own chance for a promotion. Your job, or your own ego, has become an idol because you aren’t trusting God to provide for your needs or to elevate you in His proper timing.

You watch an awards show because it showcases your favorite performer, knowing that there will be overtly sexual performances and profane lyrics–you’ve made entertainment an idol.

I’m pretty sure you’ve gotten the idea that I’m trying to get across. I believe this definition of idolatry as “anything that, or anyone who, causes you to disobey God” is easy to understand and takes less self-indulgent introspection to identify.

Most of God’s commands are pretty clear in the Bible.

I hope this helps simplify your Christian walk.

God bless you.