Saturday, October 15, 2016

What if I am Right and You are Wrong about Eternal Matters???

I had an image or dream in my head of a conversation I was having with someone of power who was

taunting me for all that I professed to believe to be true in life.  In essence, my beliefs were being put on trial.

As this thought/dream would not leave my mind, time would pass and it would hang out just underneath the surface of my consciousness.  Almost as if I was slightly aware of it still dangling in my thoughts.

So today I decided to try to put it into words.

I believe that I have a purpose for my life.  I believe I was created to know my Creator.  I believe He wants to enter into a personal connection with me and do life with me.  As this progresses, I begin to enjoy life even if my circumstances are not enjoyable.  Continuing on with that, I then become a different person.  I become one that desires to behave in a way that contradicts my inner fleshly desires and self-centered pursuits.  I begin to long to rise above myself and proceed to do that which may not be even in my own best interest.  In all that I do, I begin to bring attention and glory to the one that Created me and the one that is continually refining and perfecting me.  My goal becomes
"to know God, to be known by God and to make Him known to others."

The image in my head was me conveying this information to another.  This other person didn't believe in the existence of God nor did this person think I had any right to believe this for myself.  Also, my intelligence was called into question as was my character and credibility.  I was being taunted as a redneck, bigotted idiot.  So here is what stuck with me.  I simply said that if what I believe to be true is indeed wrong, what did I loose.  I am pursuing right living.  I am pursuing a desire to love those I encounter.  I long for others to not be held captive by lifestyles and choices that can rob them of a happy life.  BUT here is what stood out the most to me...  WHAT IF I AM RIGHT AND YOU ARE WRONG...  What will you loose?  complete and utter separation from your creator and maybe separation from those you love,  Hell for eternity will be your eternal existence yet never be able to escape it not even in death.  In the meanwhile, you will miss out on the full life that is in Christ.  It doesn't promise to be pain free or easy, but I can tell you in the midst of bad circumstances, we can be filled with hope, love, peace, joy and strength.

I have to ask  if there are any who read this that may say "there has to be more to life than this". There has to be those who ponder purpose and meaning that extends beyond our own selfish existence.  What if I am right?  What if there is a better way of living and what if you are wrong?  Would you want to know?

Are there those in your life that may want to know?

If you are in Christ, I challenge you to not share this message with another but be the message.  Live a life dependent on God, filled with the Holy Spirit.  Not filled with condemnation but responsive to inner conviction prompted by walking with Christ.  Prompted even more as you pursue living a life that pleases the Holy Spirit that lives within you and guides you.  And living a life that lines up with the scripture because it helps you navigate a hostile world.  I personally do not want you to get puffed up with knowledge of the word but just be transformed into a loving, compassionate, gracious, pure, kind, and holy child of God.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Ever Wonder How to be Obedient?

I am overwhelmed in the best way.  I spent the last several days at a leadership workshop entitled YOU Lead and a women's conference with Beth Moore and I feel as if I have been at an informational buffet.  I feel spiritual stuffed with the finest foods which were carefully prepared just for me.

I wish I could do justice to all I received.  I would love to be able to share it all here.  But just as it takes time to digest a large meal, I too will be digesting all I received over the last several days for some time.

The best thing is that it didn't end there.  God just graciously kept giving to me.  At church this morning the message, the worship and the prayer time was so great and uplifting.  My cup is overflowing.  This week we are beginning the fall women's bible study program in our church. I am excited that we are starting up a second study for the day time which we have not had in a while.

I am praying for the Lord to fill each of us during this time.

Through the training and conference, I was reminded more than I was taught new concepts.  One concept I began the chew on was this question:  "For those of us who do regular study in the scripture, ARE WE DOING WHAT WE LEARNED?"  Are we obeying what we have already studied?  We really do not need to move forward just to gain more information if we are not putting what we have already learned into place.  Like James says, "Be doers of the word".  There is no need to continue to study the word for study's sake.  We have to be obeying it. What exactly would be the purpose of studying God's word otherwise?

So how exactly are we able to do the OBEYING of the word? I believe the simplicity of the gospel is in this, we focus on God, who He is and what He has done for us, ask Him to equip us to love Him with everything that is within us.  If we love Him we will obey Him.  That love will be our propellant to obey Him.

The message from Beth Moore this weekend was all about the anointing of the Holy Spirit.  The profound statement she made was regarding how we often manufacture the filling of the Holy Spirit and how ironic it is that we do this  The Holy Spirit filling us to overflowing produces in us fruit that is undeniably Him.  When we fake it or attempt to manufacture Jesus in our own flesh, we are empty,  and others are at best entertained and at worst repelled.  We miss out on the best part of following Jesus when we do it this way which is experiencing His power in us, intimacy with Him and the joy of doing it with Him.  The question I ask is why would we want to counterfeit the manifestation of the Holy Spirit when it is so easy to allow Him access and just be available for the real manifestation.  It will be for our good, for His glory and a benefit to all around us that are seeking hope.

Be doers of the word only by the filling of the Holy Spirit by dwelling on the attributes, awesomeness, and wonders of God.

I am His and He is mine!!!  Dwell of that.

Beth pointed out that blessed is the man whose sins are not counted against him.  She noted that in this scripture the word blessed actually could be translated happy here.  She also noted that there are a lot of unhappy Christians.  Dwell on the fact that if you have received Christ, your sins are no longer counted against you.  That should make us all shout hallelujah.  That should make us jump for joy. Get a spring in our step!!!!!!

So we have the ability to be witnesses of the Lord to a world that needs it.  We have the ability to be hope to a world with no hope.  We have the ability to demonstrate Jesus by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in us.  The world needs us to be filled.  As I said, it will be for our good, God's glory and the benefit of those seeking.  See the burden is not on us to manufacture anything, to come up with cleaver messages, to say the "right thing" or to be anything for anyone.  What we need to be is surrendered vessels to our Holy God to use, to fill, and to pour out. (this is when we are authentic instruments of righteousness)  That should cause each of us to have a sigh of relief.  We should not be holding back in anyway.  Obedience is just Him shining His light on the next thing and us following. (like Blackaby says in Experiencing God, go where you see God already at work)  We still need to be in the word so we will be able to discern His voice to us because He will not speak in a manner that contradicts His word.  We also need to be devoted to time in prayer.

In my pastor's sermon, he talked about how life sometimes overwhelms us and we feel overcome. But God can take that situation or even season and make us overcomers.  Through that, we than can be available to walk with others who are in the midst of life's trials as they go from being overcome to an overcomer. So if you are in a season of despair or feel overwhelmed with life's punches, I want to share this wonderful video from Mandisa and hope you find encouragement from it.  You're an Overcomer by Mandisa

Friday, July 15, 2016

The True Definition of Worship

Last year I posted the following: Cloud of Witnesses

I think frequently how although we are free in Christ and not to be bound by legalism; we ought to care how we reflect Christ and represent Him to the world.  We do have a cloud of witnesses watching and we really ought to care about that.

I was thinking and pondering the word worship.  I looked up the definition and this is what I found on Christianity Today website.  I just had to share it.  I included most of the article below so I take no credit:

Psalm 96:9 "O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth" (KJV). The Book of Psalms is filled with hundreds of poetic anthems used in the religious celebrations of the children of Israel that clearly instructed them (and us) how to worship God. Yet, even though I heard the word worship in conversation, testimonies, songs, and Scripture, I didn't completely understand what it meant.

The Priority of Worship

Worship is not the slow song that the choir sings. Worship is not the amount you place in the offering basket. Worship is not volunteering in children's church. Yes, these may be acts or expressions of worship, but they do not define what true worship really is. There are numerous definitions of the word worship. Yet, one in particular encapsulates the priority we should give to worship as a spiritual discipline: Worship is to honor with extravagant love and extreme submission (Webster's Dictionary,1828).
True worship, in other words, is defined by the priority we place on who God is in our lives and where God is on our list of priorities. True worship is a matter of the heart expressed through a lifestyle of holiness. Thus, if your lifestyle does not express the beauty of holiness through an extravagant or exaggerated love for God, and you do not live in extreme or excessive submission to God, then I invite you to make worship a non-negotiable priority in your life.
We worship God because he is God. Period. Our extravagant love and extreme submission to the Holy One flows out of the reality that God loved us first. It is highly appropriate to thank God for all the things he has done for us. However, true worship is shallow if it is solely an acknowledgement of God's wealth. Psalm 96:5-6 says, "For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the LORD made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and glory are in his sanctuary." In other words, our worship must be toward the one who is worthy simply because of his identity as the Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnipresent One, and not just because God is wealthy and able to meet our needs and answer our prayers. We must focus our practice of worship on the worthiness of God and not his wealthiness.

The Person We Worship

Think about this: Would you continue to worship God if, from this day forward, God's miraculous signs and wonders were not so profoundly evident in your life? Would God still be worthy of your worship? Or is your worship completely dependent upon the abundance of God's blessings upon your life? Do you only worship God for what he can do for you?

The Promise of Worship

Because of our God's unimaginable generosity toward us, God, in all of his glory, chooses to respond to us through our worship. This is the promise—that when we worship God with extravagant love and extreme submission, God will come and commune with us. The promise is not that we will feel great or that our heavy load will be lifted, but that God will come. And when God comes in his own time as a response to our worship, Psalm 96:13 declares, "Let all creation rejoice before the LORD, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his faithfulness."

Our Needs and God's Answer!

I want to take a look at the concept of our needs.  God created us with these needs and they are valid.
 For instance, hunger is a response to the body letting your brain know that you are in need of nutrition.  At that moment you have an option and a choice to make, to choose junk or healthy food.  You can have a Big Mac and fries, or you can have a healthy, nutrient rich salad that is full of fresh vegetables combined with a healthy protein choice and balanced out with a healthy fat. Both will respond to the body's demand of hunger, but only one of them will satisfy the nutrient demand of the body.

Just as we have this need for food, the body has so many other types of needs, i.e. companionship - removal of loneliness.  Our Creator said it is not good to be alone.  We were created to be connected both with others and with our Creator.  We can satisfy it with healthy connections with both, or it is possible to falsely satisfy it with other things.  But you will not feel truly satisfied.  We however demand this need be met with man made options that give an illusion of satisfaction but really never delivers just like the Big Mac.  Isn't it strange that the God of the Universe wants to be in connection with us, and we choose instead to relate to a man made option that can only leave us feeling either the same amount of loneliness or worse.

So the truth is I can choose and am free to choose to eat the Big Mac and fries, but if I do this for a longer period time, I will be full each time I consume it without ever meeting my nutritional demands.  Can we all see that this is a recipe for disaster. We will compromise our health. This is true for all of our other needs as well.  Any need met in the short term without regard to what you really need, will bring about long term issues.  These needs are legitimate and God longs to provide for all our needs, but we settle all too often for the world's Big Mac answer.

God's answer for our needs is Him just like the nutrient rich salad meets our physical need for nutrition.

What if we start trusting God to meet our needs?  What if we bring our perceived needs to Him?  Then trust Him to answer as He sees fit.  He knows us and our needs.  What if we allow the needs to drive us to God?  Sometimes our perceived needs are just that... perceived.  What if they are just wants in disguise?  He is able to satisfy our needs and we can find rest and peace in that.  Any unmet need can robe us of our peace.  So go to Him.

Sexual activity is a real need.  However, mankind has found an abundant way of satisfying this desire/need with all manner of perversion/activity which lies outside of God's design.  When this need is met according to God's plan and design, can be wonderful, beautiful and satisfying.  I know in this day and time it is not popular to say and most will call me old fashioned, but the truth remains that what God did when He set aside this pleasurable activity for marriage between one man and one woman, it was to connect them in oneness in such a precious intimate way.  I believe that is why the commitment of marriage is SOOO important.  Knowing that person is in the relationship, choosing to connect only with you, being committed and dedicated to love you for a lifetime. The commitment gives you a level of trust with the other person and a confidence in knowing they will be there tomorrow and the next and the next... (I know there are exceptions, but I am referring to design)  When it is done right, it is intended to bring forth the deepest level of connection we can have with another human, and this truly will take away the feeling of aloneness.  This brings forth a deeper love, a deeper commitment, and a deeper intimacy.  The only relationship that can surpass this experience is the one we can have with God Himself by His Holy Spirit which was carved out for us by His Son Jesus Christ.
When you consider the one-night stand, it can result in a pregnancy. It can satisfy the primal physical demand, but it cannot take away aloneness.  It cannot meet our need to connect and be truly intimate with another.  I believe the sexual experience for anyone outside of the committed relationship is not truly meeting the deeper needs because you are connecting sexually with another that is not required to be there tomorrow and the next... In this scenario, we are meeting the perceived need of sexual physical desire without addressing the deeper true need of connecting, intimacy and trust.

This all can happen in marriage.  Does it?  Not always but it can!  Why doesn't it?  Perhaps it is because marriage is made up of two humans who can be self-centered and self-focused.  I think a start here would be to think of the needs of your partner above your own.  Taking inventory of your own sin and issues.  However, we often keep our eyes on the sin and shortcomings of our partner and our own needs.  We take a stand and say we have the right.  Well if that is the stance you take, often times you will find yourself standing alone with your rights to keep you warm.

So here I have laid out several of our needs and ways that we have tried to satisfy each.  God created us with needs and if we will seek Him and trust Him to provide for our needs, we can be fully satisfied.  He has all the nutrients we require.  He has the RIGHT answer.  It will not be artificial flavoring. It is going to be good, perfect, and we are going to satisfied, peaceful and at rest/ at ease.

Where are you artificially meeting your own needs?  The Big Mac answer is not going to truly satisfy your needs.  Am I saying you should never eat a Big Mac? No.  But you need to be fully aware that it cannot meet your nutritional need.  Enjoy it. But it should never be your standard diet.  Your health depends on it.  This is true for all of our other needs as well.

If we could allow God to meet our needs, we could be so satisfied that we become a beautiful example to the world.  And there we can truly reveal God's glory to the world.

We can extravagantly honor him. We can submit to Him. We can choose His way so that the world can see hope in us.  For those that are lost and going to hell for all of eternity, they can see Christ manifested in the lives of His followers.

WE Christians get so wrapped up in our right to be right and our own perceived needs, our need to be comfortable, even our desire to be catered to by our choice of music or worship styles that we cannot see the true needs of the lost world that is headed for eternal damnation.  Honestly when we are in this place, we have played right into the hands of the enemy.  We have fully cooperated with his plan to take as many to hell as he can grasp.  Well how about we say NO MORE!!!  We seek God to meet our needs, HIS WAY!!!  We walk in obedience and submission and take our eyes off our perceived needs and look around us at those lost without hope.  We can then live lives in a manner that can be seen as different.  And be ready to offer up an answer when asked to the hope that we have.

We need to crucify our fleshly needs, allow God to meet the real underlying needs, rip the bandage off our pitiful hurts and wounds and allow God to heal them once and for all.  Then we can go serve our ONE TRUE GOD by reaching out to the broken lost world around us.  We need to STOP being another excuse for the lost to deny Jesus as the ultimate eternal answer.  Is it really worth the eternal life of another person for you to do as you please.  Stop being a stumbling block, stop saying you are free in Christ to do as you please.  Well if it causes another to remain lost without hope, do you really want to take that excuse before God one day?  I know I don't.

You see God will heal our wounds if we will take them to Him because He is Jehovah Rapha.
He will provide for our needs because He is Jehovah Jireh.

Let's honor Him with our lives and live glorified lives so that others can know Him.

Spend time with Him.  He will heal you and He will meet your needs!

He created us.
He knows what we need...

He has the answer we are looking for.

Friday, February 5, 2016

When the Body of Christ Loves Well!!!

Typically, I only post a blog if I have something to say.  Over the course of many months, I have had very little to say.  Lately I have done a lot of reading, studying, ministering to others and been very quiet. Several studies ago, I did the Armor
of God study by Priscilla Shirer. She placed a challenge to the reader "for the next seven days, try not to say or do anything in response to feelings of insecurity, fear, or really anything that is out of alignment with your true identity in Christ.  You might be surprised at how quiet you become."  The challenge to the author herself was "not to say or do anything that originates from a place of insecurity... before I choose to accept an invitation... respond to a tweet...add a comment to a conversation, I stop and make myself consider the motivation behind it. Am I doing this because I want validation or the approval of a person, group or people? Or am I doing this from a posture of value and worth in Christ? I want to train and discipline myself not to placate old feelings that the enemy is dredging up from my past."

So I took the challenge seriously and since then, I have been much quieter in general.

However, lately, I have sensed it was time to begin speaking again, write again.  My mind is flooded with stuff again.

I had lunch with several ladies the other day, and I was reminded of some truths that no one in the body seems to want to discuss, face and admit.  The truth of the matter is the body of Christ is made up of human beings!  There in lies the biggest issue. If the Triune God had left that one thing out of the body, it would be absolute perfection.  It would not have all the issues that face Christians.

  • I cannot tell you how many times I have heard others or thought it myself, "I can love and trust God, it is His followers I have problems with."
  • Trouble with this thinking is scripture tells us to love one another and to bear with one another's burdens.

So now that I have spoken the obvious, let's take a look at what may be the root of the issue. It is me, it is you, and it is any other human that has responded to the drawing of the Holy Spirit, accepted the price God paid to settle the sin debt that we owed by sacrificing His son Jesus, and welcomed the Lord's activity into their life.

Is it ok that I am flawed as a follower of Christ?  Will you allow me to admit that without God, I am an absolute mess.  I would not be someone any of you would care to be around.  At best, I would be self motivated to be kind. I would treat people better if there was something in it for me otherwise, I would do what is best for me.  I would say hurtful things if I thought it would make me feel better.  I would think of my self more than I do of others.  I would not love very well if at all. However, I have to choose to allow the Holy Spirit to help me, enable me and equip me so that I do not follow my nature of self-centeredness.

If you encounter me and find any redeeming value in me, it is the work of the Holy Spirit.  If you have experienced the me that I mention in the previous paragraph, I am so sorry.  That is truly the me that walks by the flesh.  That is the me that blows it and misrepresents God in the process.  In as much as I will die to myself everyday is as much as I can reflect the image of Christ in my life to each of you.

Anyone of us can wound and injure others either intentionally or unintentionally.  We need to be aware of the weightiness of our action and take responsibility for them.  We do not want to be like the diciples when they were trying to keep the little children from bothering Jesus, and Jesus scolded them for it.  He said do not keep them from coming to me.

Any of us who claim to be a follower of Jesus and yet walk out the desires of our flesh, need to remember that we may be preventing someone from coming to Christ based on the way we are living. I for one do not want to be a roadblock for someone else.

This is a great reason and motivation for us to walk dependent on the Holy Spirit in our lives and obey each thing He places on our hearts.  There are so many who have been hurt and wounded by the body, and they are staying away from Jesus because of His followers.  If you are one who is hurt, on behalf of the body, I am so sorry.  On behalf of Jesus, His arms are open wide to heal your hurts. On your behalf, please forgive and find a place to fellowship with other believers.  According to Hebrews we are not to forsake the gathering together and especially as we see the day of the Lord approaching.

We all need each other.  The word says the world will know we are Jesus' disciples by our love for each other. Let's love each other well.  Let's cut each other some slack.  Let's recognize that we are all imperfect vessels in need of help, guidance, love, forgiveness, compassion, and a huge dose of grace.

Let's desire to love one another, let's resolve to be unified in Christ and in love, putting others interest ahead of our own.  Can you imagine what a church operating in this manner would be like.  I for one love to see it.  It is not perfect, but it is good.  I love my church.