Category Archives: Faith

User-Friendly Jesus

I had coffee with a friend last night. We touched on a good many topics, but the underlying agreement between us was that it is time to cut through the fluff and get down to some serious Bible. Read what it says. Believe what it says. Do what it says. Sounds simple, doesn’t it?

Actually, it is.

But herein lies the problem. The gospel of Jesus Christ, in its simplicity, goes against the grain of human nature. Because it’s uncomfortable. It’s convicting. It’s a commitment.

So . . .

Instead of reading, believing and doing, we’ve created a user-friendly Jesus. We’ve twisted Him into a version we are more comfortable with. We’ve molded Him into our image instead of allowing Him to mold us into His. We’ve come to Him and said, “I’ll listen to what you have to say, and then I’ll decide whether or not I like it.” In a nutshell, we don’t take Jesus seriously.

We live in a world dominated by self-advancement, self- esteem, and self-sufficiency. It’s all about individualism and materialism. Who needs Jesus when we can do it all by ourselves?

I’m thinking about this today. Praying, and asking God to show me where I need to make some corrections in my life. I don’t want to hear His words and walk away, content to settle for anything less than obedience to Him. I want to experience the consequences of really believing and really doing what the Bible says. Because if Jesus is who He said He is, and if His promises are as rewarding as the Bible claims they are, then maybe the satisfaction and success I think I have in my life are nothing compared with total abandonment to Jesus.

I’m not interested in a user-friendly gospel that can be manipulated to suit my own personal comforts.

Because that’s not a gospel at all.

I’ll stand with arms high and heart abandoned
In awe of the One who gave it all,
I’ll stand, my soul, Lord, to You surrendered,
All I am is Yours.

 

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Jesus is Alive!

Empty-Tomb-Picture-14

 

It’s Easter weekend and for many all that means is an extra day off work and lots of chocolate bunnies to eat. Don’t get me wrong. I like the day off and the chocolate as much as the next person. But Easter is significant for me. Very significant.

Jesus Christ suffered a horrible, horrible death so that I could have eternal life. I’d say that was pretty significant. And the best part about it is that Jesus didn’t stay dead. He fooled the old puss-head devil, and He’s alive today! Christianity is the only faith that has an actual living God – One who paid a price for me when I didn’t deserve it at all. I am so thankful He did!

This song keeps going through my head. An oldie, but still one of my favorites.

Hallelujah, Jesus is alive!
Death has lost its victory
And the grave has been denied.
Jesus lives forever,
He’s alive!
He’s the Alpha and Omega,
The first and last is He.
The curse of sin is broken
And we have perfect victory.
The Lamb of God is risen,
He’s alive!
Hallelujah, Jesus is alive!

 

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The Secret of Breakthrough

It’s been an interesting week. I hardly left the house (except for Husband’s birthday dinner), didn’t talk much (except to family at said birthday dinner), and I don’t think I even cooked a real meal (thank you, Swiss Chalet, for said birthday dinner). As a matter of fact, the first two days of the week were spent in undeniable frustration as I stared at the cursor flashing on my blank computer screen, waiting for a breakthrough.

The definition of breakthrough is this: the act or instance of removing or surpassing an obstruction or restriction.

I realized something. Before there is a breakthrough, there has to be a block. In other words, get rid of the block. Smash it. Crush it. And plow through.

In my case, it wasn’t so easy. I’m pretty sure the block was a reinforced concrete wall several feet thick. My efforts to poke a hole through that were like trying to put out a fire with a thimbleful of water. Useless. Futile. And completely disheartening.

In the midst of my frustration, I noticed my Bible under a pile of other books and papers on my desk. This was on Wednesday, and I’m ashamed to say that I had not opened it since the previous Sunday. Flooded with a sense of remorse, I pulled it out and opened to the book of Hebrews. On purpose. I remembered reading a quote that went something like this: Our most important mental talent is the ability to imagine what has never existed. The quote came from a secular source, but the underlying truth matches up with Hebrews 11:1, which says, Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

The quote cites mental talent. The Bible cites faith.

The light came on. I had been going about seeking breakthrough the wrong way.

I was relying on my so-called mental talent instead of using my faith in the Creator of heaven and earth. I sat back in my chair and chewed on that for a while. I spent the next hour or two reading through the whole book of Hebrews, praying, thinking, taking stock of my situation, and praying some more. Then, in a flood – honestly, a flash flood – the concrete wall fell and the breakthrough was right there.

I wrote over 5,000 words that day and another 4,000 the next. Yesterday, I worked on backstory and visuals. I am so pleased with how it’s coming!

But here’s the secret. Before I even open my docx files, I open my Bible. I read. I pray. Often. Without ceasing. And when I am ready to write, the words flow as if the story is writing itself.

It’s not my talent. It’s my faith.

The secret of breakthrough.

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How To Do Family

We have a big family. Our four children are grown up and adding to the numbers on an almost annual basis, so our original 6 is now 15 and I’m sure there will be more. We spend a lot of time together and we actually like each other. But we’re not perfect. Far from it. We’ve simply learned how to do family.

People often ask me how that happened.

I don’t know. Well, I do know, but it’s not a magic formula and it was (still is) a lot of hard work. Here’s what we did:

1. Always, ALWAYS keep open communication, right from the start. All of our children, at one time or another, tried to close themselves off from us, but isolation was not an option in our family. We encouraged them talk about what was going on in their lives, even when they didn’t want to. We knew they didn’t tell us everything and we didn’t expect them to, but the point was to make sure they knew that they could. Sometimes it was parent/kid dates. Or a notebook that got passed between mother and daughter when the subject was sensitive. Or just a simple after school conversation. The open communication still happens today. Voluntarily.

2. Have fun together. We indulged in many Family Adventures. These were activities – usually free – that all of us enjoyed. Playgrounds (when the kids were little), picnics, museums, long drives to see if we could get lost, hikes, movie nights, inviting another family to join us. Everybody was always up for a Family Adventure.

3. Go to church together. Church attendance was non-negotiable for our kids. I can’t stress enough the importance of  worshiping as a family. It creates a unity that doesn’t come any other way. There came a time with each of our children when they didn’t want to go to church anymore – around age 13-15 – but our rule was that as long as they lived in our house, they had to abide by the rules of the house. And the rule was that everybody goes to church. No exceptions. Today, all of them are active in the churches they attend with their own families.

4. Pray for and with your family. I don’t even want to think about where our kids would be today if they’d had no prayer covering. I know that God saved them from a lot of heartache, physical danger and bad situations that could have sent them down the wrong path, and I am so thankful for His protection. He has kept us a strong family unit.

5. Love your kids unconditionally. No matter what they say or do. When they get married, love and accept their mates the same way. I’ve said many times that I love my in-law children just as if they had been born into our family. Really.

We’re not a model family. We haven’t escaped hard times. And we do argue periodically.

But when all is said and done, we are there for each other.

And that’s family.

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Different

Is it realistic to hold Christians to a higher standard? To expect them to be different from unbelievers? The answer is yes. Because if there is no difference, then Christ died for nothing.

We expect more of Christians because they are more.

And as a Christian, it is the power of Jesus Christ in me that changes what I can do. My capacity increases. I am capable of more. I have a purpose to bring glory to God. I am more because I have the life of Christ in me. I am in covenant with the God of creation through the shed blood of Jesus.

That is not the same as everyone else.

My perspective is different.

My destiny is different.

I am different because of Jesus.

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Beware

My Bible opened to Philippians this morning and I started reading in chapter 3. I stopped at the second verse, which says “Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of mutilation!” My face contorted in puzzlement and I figured I’d better find out what Paul was trying to say here. He was, in short, warning the Philippian church about legalists who were trying to sabotage the gospel.

Okay, that was all fine and good for the early church, but what did this mean for me today? I had no idea. So I prayed and asked God to open the eyes of my understanding and give me some insight into all of this bewaring. He showed me some interesting things.

There are dogs and evil workers everywhere, still trying to sabotage the gospel of Jesus Christ. They come in the form of preachers spewing false doctrine. Governments removing anything resembling Christian morals, symbols, and practice. Parents protesting Christian influence in schools. Seeker-friendly churches with a watered down Jesus. Church members who come across as the faithful ones, but are only concerned with fulfilling their own agendas. The sad part is that the majority of these people truly believe they are doing the right thing. And they often have no idea that they are contributing to the mutilation of Christians and non-Christians alike by filling their minds with the enemy’s propaganda.

Are these harsh words? Absolutely.

Is this what Philippians 3:2 really means? Maybe. Maybe not. But I believe that the Lord has shown me truth regardless.

The Bible doesn’t beat around the bush. You can interpret your way around any portion of scripture to make it mean what you want it to mean, but the bottom line is that there are no shortcuts in the Christian walk. The Word says what the Word says. If you don’t agree, then I suggest you get down on your knees and discuss it with God.

I don’t always like what I read in the Bible. There is much that I would rather overlook, because if I really take it for what it says, it means I have some adjusting to do. And those adjustments are usually painful.

But every adjustment, every change, every life lesson makes me stronger and better equipped to beware of the dogs and evil workers. I thank God for His love and mercy and guidance in my life.

I am encouraged and motivated when I read further in Philippians 3:10 – that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection.

And so . . .

. . . I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14 (NKJV)

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Seeing Through the Fog

fog

 

We are into our eleventeenth consecutive day of fog. Actually, it’s probably not that many, but it seems like it. As you can see from the photo, whatever lurks across the street from my house has been completely obliterated by the haze. A giant beanstalk could have been growing there all this time and we’d never know.

Have you ever noticed how fog seems to wrap around you and muffle your senses? Your balance is off. You aren’t sure where the sounds are coming from and you can’t see more than three feet in front of you. You feel like your locked into this mystical place where anything can happen. This is where your imagination can run wild. Maybe a little too wild.

Sometimes life can be like that.

You’ve got a lot going on. You can’t seem to get ahead of the game when it comes to everything that’s on your plate. There are never enough hours in the day. You feel like your balance is off and you don’t know how to get it back. Your imagination runs wild. Everything becomes a very big deal. You don’t even realize that your perspective is skewed.

We’ve all been there.

Seeing through the fog is simple, however, when we take a deep breath and turn it all over to God. Really, it’s that easy. The hard part is letting it go. And not taking it back.

Let God do what He does best. Be God.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV)

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Three Days Before the End of the World

I am borrowing a post from my good friend, Pastor Chris Jordan, this morning. Enjoy!

Three Days Before the End of the World

Obviously I don’t believe the world will end on December 21st… but I am sharing these two funny pics from www.cybersalt.org/, a great website to check out if you want daily funnies in your e-mail box!

end of world oreo cookie

Here is this week’s long range Mayan weather forecast.

end of world mayan weather

“Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing.” (Matthew 24:42-46).

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God Helps Those Who Cannot Help Themselves

You’ve heard the saying, “God helps those who help themselves.” You’ve probably even thought it was a Scripture quote, spoken from pulpits everywhere by well-meaning preachers. I hate to burst your theology bubble, but this isn’t in the Bible.

The truth is, God helps those who cannot help themselves. He helps those who cry out to Him.

He comes to the rescue of the broken, the hurting, the lame and the shattered. He raises to unbelievable heights those who know they could not possibly done it on their own. He resists the proud and the arrogant ones who are convinced they must do it their way. He simply lets them.

God will search for that one who knows their accomplishments will rely on Him and nothing of themselves.  He takes great pleasure in showing Himself strong to the simple, the humble, the needy and the powerless. And let’s face it. We have no power without Him.

God opens doors that have been locked up tight. He arranges strategies that cannot be maneuvered by man’s hands. He puts things into motion, giving opportunities to those who have been cast aside.

When you dare to call out to the Source of all true power, you have found the secret to your most profound and limitless destiny. Your weakness becomes your strength in Him.

We all get the opportunity to learn the same lessons. Forgiveness. Love. Judgment. Redemption. These are the very principles of the Gospel of Christ. When we learn them, we learn who God really is. He is not a God who demands our highest performance. He is not a God who insists we achieve impossible goals before we can be promoted. He made us. He knows our humanity and our inability to reach perfection. And in knowing this, He crafted the remedy that would bring healing, wholeness and power.

It is through understanding His redemption that we will find the key to unlocking our greatest purpose. He takes what’s broken and replaces it with a priceless jewel. We get to exchange everything the enemy dumped on us for a brand new life in Christ.

When we release our dreams and hopes and pursuits and future to Him, He begins a massive outpouring of His favor. We take one step at a time with complete trust in Him, and He makes our path straight.

God helps us because we cannot help ourselves.

A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9 (NKJV)

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How to Avoid Taking a Risk

Taking a risk can be a scary thing because it means moving out of your comfort zone. Trouble is, growth doesn’t happen until you take that step out of the familiar and into the unknown. But for those who want to be sure to avoid the risks, I found a checklist for you:

  1. Never, ever examine yourself.
  2. Never hang around with smart people. Turn down invitations to associate with people who have broad intellectual or artistic interests.
  3. Do not change. Ever.
  4. Nurture a mind-set that labels creative people “flakes.”
  5. Keep your life very structured. Kill new ideas immediately and tell yourself things like: “It’ll never work,” “It costs too much,” “It’s been tried before,” or “If it was any good, someone else would have done it.”
  6. Force everyone around you to accept your situation. Never tolerate any suggestion that implies that your way may be wrong.
  7. Make your plans and goals as vague as possible. Never let anyone know what your “real” plans are, and never change your plans.
  8. Never offer encouragement or compliments to anyone.
  9. Never allow people to have fun in your presence. Keep things serious.
  10. Do not be accessible to your family and friends. Always keep to yourself.
  11. If someone offers an idea, tell them it’s dumb. If they prove it’s not dumb, tell them it can’t work. If they prove it can work, tell them it’s dangerous. Or make up something else.
  12. If someone wants to try something new, remind them of all their past failures and mistakes.
  13. Always be preoccupied with your problems.
  14. Never allow yourself to follow intuitions, gut feelings, or hunches.
  15. If you absolutely must accept a creative idea, don’t say anything whatsoever to its creator. It might go to their head.
  16. Play it safe. When you play not to lose, you don’t have to worry about taking risks, innovating or confronting challenges.

I know this list is a little extreme, but it makes a point, right?

Your growth is dependent on taking a risk. It’s called faith. Faith in the Father who created you and knows you better than you know yourself. Faith in the God of the universe who never leaves you or lets you fall. Faith in the One who wants so much more for you than you can imagine.

Time to step out. Take a risk.

In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:6 (NKJV)

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