Tuesday, December 23, 2014

His Gift

Christmas is here and I've invested good time in preparing for the holiday celebration with cooking, cleaning, setting tables and wrapping gifts .  I'm enjoying the blessings God has given, but my mind has been fixed on something better than the temporal things.  My mind is set on The Gift, Jesus Christ.    

Today as I wrapped things I made and purchased, my heart was filled with joy because of the gift that God gave to all of us even before He founded the world.  Sure, we know that it was approximately two-thousand years ago that Christ actually came to that stable, but it was long before that that He'd determined to come, and it was just a matter of His timing before He actually arrived.  What an amazingly expensive gift He gave!   Truly it was the most costly and elaborate gift ever given.  The Lord of All gave up His heavenly abode and condescended to earth making Himself a lowly babe of plain birth.  And this was determined to be before the foundations of the world!  He knowingly made you and I and all that is, with the  complete understanding that His love for us would demand this very costly sacrifice.  Isn't that astounding?  I'm am just in awe! 

I've seen how easily the hearts of mankind are drawn to inferior things.  As humans created with a greater purpose, people long for the deepest Love, yet they often settle for the cheapest of thrills.   From things like a short substance high, a cheap sexual thrill, an illusive moment of revenge, romance, victory or conquest, maybe it's as simple as that good feeling of personal accomplishment.  No matter what it is, it will never satisfy.  This is because you and I were created for an entirely different purpose than personal glorification.  We were created to glorify God alone.  And our hearts long for what can only be found in the worship of Jesus Christ.  

When we get our eyes fixed on temporal things, we are bound over to failed expectations and disappointment.  Often confusion and depression can set in when the things we reach for so passionately are ripped from our grasp.  

Hebrews 3:1 
 "Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest."  

The things of the world, including the "wisdom" it has to offer are worthless things.  We are encouraged then, to fix our eyes on Jesus, who is the greatest gift ever given.   

As you celebrate Christmas this year let the worldly things diminish in your affections.  Enjoy the gifts God has given you, but do not let those gifts or their giving usurp the rightful place of exaltation that Jesus deserves in your heart.  If you fix your eyes on Jesus, the blessings God gives will have their proper place, and the passions that try to war against you will be powerless to overcome you.   

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

In the "No"

Currently my life is filled with peace and joy. Nearly every day I wake up to a hand massage from my loving husband, a steamy cup of coffee and quiet-time for bible reading while my very well behaved children get ready for class and begin their studies. These are just a few of the luxuries that I enjoy. Some call me blessed. Others call me spoiled. I call me extremely grateful.

I have lived long enough to become acquainted with sorrow as well as joy. Through all of life, God has been with me. It may be easy for a man who has not studied God's word thoroughly to conclude that his good life is evidence of God's favor and approval, and that a man's ill fate in life is evidence of God's disapproval. Much of the world believes in this sort of "Karma". And while I do believe God when He says that we reap what we sow, I do not believe it's quite like "Karma". I believe what I've witnessed in both scripture and real life, that while I live and praise God both "good" things and "bad" things may come just like in the life of Job.

I know that God holds my life in His hands and that even in times of suffering and hardship, He may be bringing eternal blessing to my soul. Though the enemy may intend my suffering for evil, God intends it for good. Anyone who reads the book of Job (specifically chapter 33) should come away with the knowledge that affliction readies the heart for surrender. Though a man may feel righteous and just, God's ways are so much higher than our own, that it is nothing for Him to humble us and impart wisdom not only through dreams and visions, but also through suffering in order to "turn a man aside from his conduct" or "keep man from pride".

Job 33:29
"Behold, God does all these oftentimes with men, to bring back his soul from the pit, that he may be enlightened with the light of life."

The book of Job resonates strongly with me. It isn't the typical scenario of a "love story", but to me, it is one of the greatest love stories of all time. In it we see a righteous man afflicted by God's permissive will and Satan's malicious hand. The majority of Job's friends preach at him the sort of "Karma" I mentioned earlier, insisting that there must be some intentional and hidden sin in his life that warranted God's afflicting hand upon him. But throughout the book, Job goes toe to toe with his accusers maintaining his heart of integrity. It isn't until Elihu speaks, then God, that the point of Job's suffering is made clear. And in the end, both Job and his friends are left humbled before God for His righteousness. And God is shown to be supremely merciful and loving. This is as it should be in our own lives.

Like Job, being steadfast in our trust of God brings us the same peace that caused Job to refrain from cursing Him as his foolish wife suggested. Job repented in sack cloth and ashes, calling out to God yet even though he was given no answer for several days and lost everything dear to him, he still praised God. It is easy to exclaim with joy when our prayers are answered with the obvious "yes", but Job demonstrated that we can exclaim with joy and faith even when the answer is "no". He called out to God for relief, and it did not immediately come. He asked for answers, yet was made to wait and endure many words of foolish counsel. All through this he praised God and honored Him.

When I pray, I am often reminded of Job and Elihu. Wisdom is found in surrender, even in the heart of suffering, and my heart is filled with praise to my faithful God, because He is worthy to be praised both in the "yes" and in the "no".

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanks Giving 2014

Psalm 100:4-5

"Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. For the LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting, and His faithfulness to all generations."

I'm sure that during this time of year people's ears can become calloused to the words "give thanks".  After all, it's a phrase used for marketing especially during this season.  But Psalm 100:4-5 tells us to enter God's gates and courts with thanksgiving and praise.  It's a natural part of authentic worship.  

As I was saying good night to my children tonight, I asked them this question, "How do you think I would feel if I gave you a gift and you said,'Thanks', then just set the gift down and never looked at it again?".  Their response was immediate, because the answer was obvious to them.  

Unlike God, my gifts can miss the mark and be just another "thing" sitting around taking up space.  But with God, all things are good.  He knows how to give good gifts to those who ask of Him, and he is gracious even to those who do not worship Him.  When God gives gifts, it's because of His goodness and mercy toward us.

He's given us many gifts.  But one of the most precious is the gift of being able to come to Him in prayer and worship.  Through Jesus, anyone who would come to God can approach Him without hesitation.  What an awesome gift!  But many people have a hard time praying.  They struggle with what they should say.  They struggle with remembering that they should or can pray.  And there are ever so many distractions that keep us from seeking God in prayer.  Yet, it's  one of the greatest privileges we've been given.  

My kids have at various times confessed to me that they just don't remember to pray. I'll tell you what I tell them.  If you are aware right now that you should pray more, start right now.  And before you stop praying, ask God to draw you close and remind you to seek Him.  God is interested in you seeking Him.  He's given you this gift because He wants you to have it!  But if you say a glib "thank you" and then set the gift down and walk away, your "thanks" is disingenuous.  Instead of getting into the habit of setting aside the gift of prayer, take it up right now and put it to use!  Night or day, busy or not, tired or energized...God is there waiting for you.  
Today's call for thankfulness does not end with the setting sun.  Be thankful continually.  And enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name.  It is the worship you were created to give.  It is the gift and privilege He died to give you.  

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Gussied Up For Jesus

Isaiah 64:6
"...and all our righteous deeds are like filthy rags."

It's sometimes difficult to listen to a Christian brother give his testimony. Not because the story is uninteresting. More so because so often our stories are so similar in content. One thing that many believers and soon-to-be believers often share is their belief that they were not able to come to Jesus because their sin was too great. It isn't uncommon for people to feel the need to "clean up their act" before they approach God for forgiveness. This misunderstanding, though common, is not even remotely connected with reality.

In Isaiah 64 the words "filthy rags" is used to describe our righteous deeds. I've been told that "filthy rags" refers to something along the lines of menstrual cloths. That's what God thinks of our attempts at righteousness apart from Jesus. That's pretty extreme on the gross factor scale in my opinion. In reality, not one of us would wrap up a nice pretty box filled with "filthy rags" and bring it to anyone, let alone God, as a peace offering. In fact, now that I think of it, just the opposite is used as a sign of surrender. A white flag seems so much more appropriate, don't you think? But God doesn't even desire a white flag from us. He wants NOTHING from us...because nothing will satisfy Him except Holiness. And the long and short of it is, we are not holy. Nothing we touch is holy. Nothing we think is holy. Nothing we can conjure is holy...ever. In light of that, it seems we are doomed, don't you think?

Think of all the people out there in the world who work so hard to do the right thing and be the right kind of person. Think of all the deals men make with their gods, all the pleading and reforming they do just to get on the good side of the "man upstairs". But it's all for naught. Because God doesn't need or want anything from us. And nothing we could bring to Him would ever satisfy. That just seems so...hopeless! And not at all like the movies, if you ask me. How misleading is that! I call "No Fair" on behalf of all those who look to Hollywood to be their moral compass. No fair indeed! They tell a good tale, but in the end it's just a futile lie that gets us nowhere.

What is a man to do? How can anyone ever approach a God who needs nothing and desires only perfection? Like I said...we're doomed! And that's exactly the point of the Law of God. It's the mirror that shows us our need for Godly mercy and grace. Do you know what that is? Godly mercy is when God does not give us what our deeds deserve. Godly grace is when God gives us what we do not deserve.

Isaiah 59:16
"And He saw that there was no man, And was astonished that there was no one to intercede; Then His own arm brought salvation to Him, And His righteousness upheld Him."

God knows something that every man needs to learn. There is not one man, woman or child who is holy, just, righteous or pure. Not one thing we can do will please or impress Him. That is exactly why He knew that His own arm would need to bring salvation to us. He knew that only His own holiness would be sufficient to atone for our sin. And consequently, when He created the earth, He did so with the full knowledge of how things would play out. And from the foundations of the world He knew that there would be some who would come to Him on His terms, and He wrote their names in the Lamb's book of Life. Who is this Lamb? Jesus, the Son of God.

Jesus is the one who laid down His heavenly glory in order to take on the physical body and limitations of men, so that He could become the perfect sacrifice that would satisfy His holy Father. He died in our place and rose from the grave having concurred death in the process. Now, do you really think, after hearing about this, that you could possibly add to it? Do you think that any attempt you make to get gussied up for Jesus will be of any benefit? God doesn't. He said our righteous deeds are as filthy rags to Him.

That's not bad news I hope. But if it is, then let me clarify even more. You do not need anything except Jesus to come before God the Father. Jesus is everything anyone will ever need. His own arm worked salvation for you. And it's free. And it isn't limited to the "good" people...because there aren't any! Not one. That's why He came.

If you are trying to fix things in your own way, trying to clean up your act and get all gussied up for Jesus before you come to Him, consider what God Himself says about your efforts. Filthy rags...that's what He thinks. And it's even grosser than it sounds. Instead of waiting until you get it together, just come...come as you are. He said,

John 6:37
"...whoever comes to me I will never cast out".

If you come to God, in the name of Jesus, because you believe He is the perfect sacrifice for your sins and that only though Him can you be will not be turned away. There is no need for any other improvement to be made upon you except that Christ redeems you.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Seventy Times Seven

"If ye from your hearts forgive not..."

Matthew 18 gives a humbling account of the teachings of Jesus on the subject of forgiveness. In this account Peter approaches Jesus and asks the question, "Lord, how many times should I forgive my brother who sins against me?" Then, on the heels of his question he gives the number "seven". I know seven is said to be the number of perfection. Maybe that is why Peter settled on it. But Jesus was quick to multiply Peter's standard making it seventy times greater.

Seventy times seven; He also said that we must forgive as God forgives. Do you suppose that God's threshold for sin is only 490 sins per person? I am certain that His mercy is new each morning because He says so in scripture. That's fairly limitless, until the day when I cease to have breath in my lungs and I am no longer given a new morning. Instead of hearing a limitation upon the amount of sins we're expected to forgive, consider that Christ was showing us how far God's mercy supersedes our own. We need to remember that the human mind is always simplifying what is by Heavenly nature more complex than we can comprehend.

Isaiah 55:10

"For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts."

If we are to think like God, love like God and have mercy like God, then we need to do so with an eternal mindset rather than with limitations of time and human perspective.

As human beings we simply do not have the capacity to store anger and un-forgiveness. In our hearts, anger quickly turns to bitterness. And as anyone can testify, bitter people have a kind of pathetic-ness about them that causes them to waste years of their lives wallowing in their pasts. Their bitterness compels them to gossip, malign and color the reputation of those they feel have wronged them, for the sake of petty revenge. The end result is that they perpetuate the cycle of hatred with anyone who will entertain their poisonous words. A man after God's heart avoids feeding into the bitterness in others, knowing that without gossip, a quarrel dies, as scripture tells us.

Inevitably each of us will be given the opportunity to grapple with the subject of forgiving a brother who sins against us, simply because, as fallen individuals, everyone will fail and sin and offend someone at least once in their lives, probably more. And as the Body of Christ, we struggle with sin in sinful man. We struggle with our own sin and with each others. So, when Peter brings the question of forgiveness to the forefront, I believe it's because God knew it was an issue that every single believer would have to come to terms with, because as Jesus explains in Matt. 18, how we forgive is directly connected to how God forgives each of us. That's pretty serious business.

I've met some who find it easier to forgive unbelievers, or someone who lives like one, excusing their sin on the grounds that they "know not what they do". They look at it as though their sin were merely a "mistake" or a "moment of weakness". But those very same people are quick to condemn and withhold forgiveness from a brother or sister in the church. Their belief that their brother or sister in Christ "should know better" keeps them from offering the same mercy God offers. This double standard is blatantly wrong and flies in the face of godly love. Often those who withhold forgiveness become divisive naysayers who take every opportunity to sew discord among the brethren.

According to Jesus in Matt. 18, Christians are to forgive their brothers who sin against them just as they would like God to forgive their own sin. The phrase "Seventy Time Seven" may help to keep our minds open to forgiving each other when we feel offended.  Though there may be those who continue to sin against us, even in the church, God's mercy is to govern our reactions and our attitude towards them. This does not mean that God expects us to put up with continual harassment. God does not intend for his children to be powerless to maintain godliness within the body. The biblical protocol for dealing with sin in the church is fairly straight forward and quite effective. But each individual is instructed to forgive as the Lord forgives. This is a task that each of us must own personally, forgiving others from the heart.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Common Contempt

As I was reading scripture this morning I noticed something that had escaped my attention previously.

In the accounts of Jesus' trial both in scripture and in various dramatic depictions of the story, Pontius Pilate seems to be an unfortunate man caught between a rock and a hard place. And when he washed his hands of the guilt of Jesus' condemnation it comes across as though he were actually forced into his ruling, playing the part of the innocent.

It always amazes me how people can twist and manipulate their stories to free themselves of their guilt. So convinced in their own innocence, they tell a good tale and paint such a good picture of their "plight", that they actually manage to convince others that the wicked situations they "find themselves in" are of no fault of their own, but that they are truly victims. It's astounding. Pilot is one of those men, in my opinion. The fact that he could find no reason to condemn Jesus, yet he did, should give us a glimpse into the kind of man he was. But if you still can't see it with that evidence before you, consider Luke 23:10-12.

"And the chief priests and the scribes were standing there, accusing Him vehemently. And Herod with his soldiers, after treating Him with contempt and mocking Him, dressed Him in a gorgeous robe and sent Him back to Pilate. Now Herod and Pilate became friends with one another that very day; for before they had been enemies with each other."

Pontius Pilate and Herod had been enemies. But after Pilate sent Jesus to Herod who had him beaten, mocked and ridiculed, they became fast friends. If Pilate's act of washing his hands of the guilt of Jesus' death were a true indication of his innocence in the matter, he wouldn't then have become friends with the man who treated Jesus so contemptuously. The very fact that he bonded with his enemy over Jesus' mockery, beating and death is indicative of the character of the man and his guilt.

Ecclesiastes 1:9
"What has been will be again. What has been done will be done again. There is nothing new under the sun."

The Bible is such a good guide, informing us of the schemes of the devil and the way in which to deal with them. And this verse often comes to mind to reassure me that the evils that are witnessed in the world are nothing new, but rather just a different version meant to ensnare God's people.

Like Pilate, people don't yoke themselves to the wicked without having at their core, a common contempt for God.

It should be our goal to be of the same mind as God.  If there is any doubt as to how God feels about this, take into consideration James 4:4.

"Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God."

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Spiritual Ebola

"By His wounds we are healed."

I don't know about you, but the Ebola virus sounds like the nastiest virus a person can contract. Sure many viruses cause fever, body aches and headaches etc., but the internal and external bleeding is what adds the major gross factor. No, I'm not afraid of blood. But being completely unable to get away from your own rotting destruction sounds completely horrible to me. Also, knowing you are dying, and knowing that your very presence poses a great risk for anyone who comes in contact with you or anything you've touched would bring a terrible sense of guilt and fear and desperation. After all, who wants to be alone when they die?

Sometimes I think of sin like a Spiritual Ebola, a devastating virus that rots us from the inside out. One might be able to "deal with it" and hide it for a while, but eventually it becomes exceedingly obvious that something is drastically wrong. It doesn't just affect the "wicked" either. Even "good" people drop like flies when they become ensnared by sinful lusts. And those who don't take precautions to guard against being ensnared often succumb in the worst way, seemingly without remedy.

Like those who have contracted the Ebola virus, many may not understand early on just how dangerous and contagious their condition is, until it overtakes them and they can no longer deny it. Some, who are so steeped in sin, though they see their condition, often seek out others who "accept them the way they are" because they do not want to be alone. No one wants to die alone.

I know that we can't turn off our love for others. I would hope not anyway. But rather than exercising restraint, some are so calloused to their own wretchedness that they risk the exposure of their loved ones to the very thing that is destroying their own lives. Unfortunately this happens all to often. Generational sin is passed on and on because children are like little sponges and can't help but pick up on their parents habits and regrettably, they often become just like them, sometimes even worse.

However, unlike the Ebola virus, there is a free and immediate cure for those with "Spiritual Ebola". What is necessary is to recognize your condition, and the cure is there for the taking. A man who recognizes his need for spiritual healing from sin needs only to look to Jesus, the one who takes it away. Other religions will tell you all the steps a man should take to overcome the problem of sin. But no other religion offers such an answer as that of the Christian Faith. They either down play the problem or create a list of "works" to perform in order to be set free.

Like a man who was healed from the Ebola virus would never carelessly put himself in the same situation from which he was saved, one who has truly been saved from their sin would not run back to the source of their spiritual death and readily embrace it again. Once enlightened and set free, the conscience rejects it's former death sentence and earnestly clings to life. If this isn't a victory you've experienced, it might just be that you haven't truly been saved.

If a person comes to Jesus for any reason without ever seeing the depravity of his soul and desperate need of forgiveness, then he has come to Jesus for the wrong reason, and quite possibly may not truly know Him. The family faith, being blessed, being physically healed, having needs met, bargaining submission for favor of some kind, responding emotionally to the call of God but not surrendering spiritually...all of these reasons for coming to Jesus are called "false conversions". A false conversion brings nothing but disillusionment, sorrow, anger and lack of victory over sin. Those who have "come to Jesus" during emotional moments or times of desperation often find themselves empty and lacking any formidable faith. They find themselves in complete disbelief, feeling duped. Their exodus from the Christian Faith leaves them believing there is no God and that religion is just a crutch...because that's all it ever was for them. Their Spiritual Ebola was never really cured. They never even knew they had it. They were merely treating some other symptom and equating it with the Cure.

If my words are resonating with you right now, do not even hesitate to call upon God. Plead with Him for the forgiveness of your sin. There is no sin too great that He can not forgive. If you're looking at your life and recognizing a pattern of slavery to sin that you've not been able to overcome, and your shame is driving you to repentance...repent! God will indeed set you free and in His Spirit you will find the strength to overcome. I'm praying for those of you who read my blog posts. And I'm asking for your salvation and edification in the name of Jesus Christ.

If you're interest, you can drop me a line and share your story with me. I'd love to hear it. You can reach me at

My prayer is that you will see your need for Jesus. He can and will forgive your sin if you call upon Him.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Untainted Joy

Before you read this blog post, please read Psalm 23.

I'm praising my Lord today for the way He continually leads me beside still waters and restores my soul.  Still waters; the concept has intrigued me often.  

As a young girl my family and I had the pleasure of camping on a few occasions.  My mom and dad liked to go to "The Secret Spot" where my grandfather used to fish.  There was a dam there and the waters flowed steadily over the stoney wall creating a bubbling, gurgling hum that carried with it tales of where the waters had been.  It was a great place to dream and imagine, as I rested on the banks with the sun's kiss barely able to reach me through the thick canopy of trees. 

I always liked to go to The Secret Spot, but at night when it was time to rest, I found it difficult to sleep with the river's chatter.  I had never guessed that the sounds that had been so beautiful to me while lying on that bank, would become an annoying distraction that would hinder my rest.  

Such is the way of many things in life.  For a time, they seem beautiful, and you appreciate them for what they are worth in the moment.  But to linger too long can lead to regret later on.  Like a shepherd who knows to graze his sheep in various places, so God leads us to new green pastures where we can be refreshed.  As it says in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, there is a time and season for everything.  Learning to trust The Shepherd and hold His blessings with an open hand, is a key lesson in the life of a person with untainted joy.

It is no wonder to me that so many people have no rest in their souls.  Their days and minds are filled up with the to-do's of life to the point where they have no capacity for the simple pleasures of meaningful godly conversation or a quiet walk on a sunny fall day.  But if we take a moment to think about the things that "restore" our souls, it is quietness that usually comes to mind first, and after that it is meaningful relationships.  I'm not talking about the kind of life sucking relationships where lying, divisive, gossiping tongues reign.  They don't foster peace at all.  No, that kind of relationship is one from which you should be thankful to distance yourself.  God has taught me this.  And with this lesson, untainted joy became my reward.  He leads us to quiet waters.

The Good Shepherd continually guides us along right paths for His name's sake.  But even still, there may be some dark valleys that He leads us through.  But in spite of this, the one who trusts in Him will have untainted joy.  Even in the presence of their enemies, those who hope in Him fear no evil, though it is sure to come, for our enemy seeks to destroy our joy.  

His poison seeps into our lives via any avenue it can, continually trying to corrupt every good thing God has given us.  It is responsible for every failed relationship, every selfish disposition, every snide remark, every prideful response, every puffed up mind and every accusing, divisive tongue.   They are all forms of Satan's poison, and the intent of their use is to steal, kill and destroy so that any joy we might have is tainted with hurt and regret.   But God comforts and restores my soul.  He can restore yours too. 

I am filled with praise for my Heavenly Father, because He continues to lead me to green pastures of peace and untainted joy, in spite of the enemy's intent.  I will sing of His goodness.  I will tell of His love.  He has given me the gift of sharing in the ministry of Truth and I am humbled to be called His own.  

More Benevolent Than God

Let me preface this with 2 Peter 3:9,

"The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient with you, not wishing for anyone to perish but for all to come to repentance."

Now, as you continue to read, keep that verse in mind, especially this part, "but He is patient with you, not wishing for anyone to perish but for all to come to repentance".

I've been thinking a lot about forgiveness lately. Especially in light of verses such as Mark 11:25, Matt. 6:14-15 and Matt. 18:35. It's a very weighty topic, don't you think? I mean, if we harbor un-forgiveness in our hearts, God will not forgive us! I don't know about you, but that gives me pause. And the topic takes on a whole new weight for me.

In light of this, through the years I've given careful consideration to what forgiveness is and what it isn't. And I think I do a pretty good job of examining my heart. But there's always this niggling question, "Am I a forgiving person?" But one thing I think is important for me to keep in mind in this whole "forgiveness" thing is the fact that I am not more benevolent than God.

Simply put, there are unrepentant people who walk the earth doing evil and loving it, and I don't forgive them.

WHAT!!!!! Did she just say that? Yes. I did. I said it because it's true.

First of all, their sin is not something I'm responsible for forgiving. I'm only responsible for forgiving those who sin against me. Second of all, God only forgives those who are in Christ. So for me to run around with a mini savior complex, offering forgiveness where God will not, is tantamount to me saying, "Hey, I know God doesn't forgive those who will not repent, but I will". Sorry, that's not my place either. Because I'm not more benevolent than God.

What I will say is this, I am not God, therefore I do not know who does and does not have their name written in the Lamb's book of Life. Because I do not know, I will continually take the Truth with me where ever I go, and I will teach and preach and sing about the gospel every chance I get, in hopes of people hearing that truth and repenting. I fear there's not a lot of time, you see, so I get right to it, because it's the most important decision a man can consider.

Imagine it like the frame of a door being hauled around on my person. Where ever I go, where ever I sit, when ever I gather with others, I have this doorway with me. As I sit, knowing I'm on the "inside", I can only share with you what that door is, and hope that you come in. I won't force you to come. And I won't belittle you if you don't. But I also won't make you feel like you're already on the inside with me, giving you false hope. I'll make sure you know that there is an inside and an outside, and the only way to be saved is to be on the inside. That "Door" is Jesus Christ.

John 10:9
"I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture."

I'm not like some who think they are being like Jesus when they treat the gathering of believers as though it were a leper colony. For some the current trend is to trade iN a church pew for a bar stool. But I think what is forgotten by people who claim that Jesus prefered the company of sinners, rather than the religious, is that no matter who Jesus ate with, reclined with, walked with or laughed with, He was ALWAYS with sinners, because everyone, religious or not, who walked the earth with Jesus was a sinner. And He never condoned sin, even though He was gentle with the prostitute when she washed His feet with her tears. The point of her tears was that she was repentant. There was always the call for them to forsake the sinful life He was reaching into. Never was tacit approval given, to those who lived in sin. "Come, follow Me", was His call. It concerns me that so many have taken the words "love" and "forgiveness" and turned them into tacit approval by God to keep holding onto sinful life styles, rather than forsaking them.

Jude 1:4 says,
"For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ."

This topic is very worthy of our full consideration. In the verse above it talks about people who "were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation". Now, keeping in mind the very first verse that I prefaced this post with, that God is patient, not wishing for anyone to perish but for all to come to repentance, I encourage you to understand that in spite of God's patience, He is aware of the fact that there are some who simply will not repent, and their condemnation has been written about long ago. They are those who turn the grace of God into a license for immorality. They say things like, "Oh yeah, me and the Big Guy upstairs have an understanding", or "It's all about love! I don't judge anyone so they shoudn't judge me", but that message is one of bondage. Rather than leaving their lives of sin, they make the sinful life an acceptable practice and they insist no one should question or condemn it, and those who speak against it are seen as being judgemental.

That's a very sad thing to me. And when I consider the people I know who have embraced rebellion toward God, and flat out refused to surrender to Him, or when I think of those who say "yes" with their lips but refuse to yield their lives, I am broken hearted. And I find myself CLINGING to the part of the verse that says, "He is patient with you", because I desperately long for your salvation.

But one thing I can not do is forgive you for Him. That doesn't mean that I condemn you. That doesn't mean that I wish ill upon you. It simply means that it is not my place to forgive you. The sins you commit are not sins against me, they are sins against a Holy God. And when you continue to walk in your sin, I will not be there to "love" you into the kingdom when you face judgment. The one you need is Jesus, the one who can wash away your sin forever. I know from reading scripture that Jesus did not "look the other way" when someone He was with was sinning. To paint a picture of that jesus is to paint a picture of a false god.

Jesus, the Son of God was not given over to passive acceptance of sin what so ever. He said, "Be holy as I am holy" and He expected it to be done. Keep in mind that as I've posted before (READ HERE), holiness is a gift only given to those who surrender to Christ. It is found in Him, and living in accordance with holiness is an act of sanctification. Jesus prayed for this, for those who believe in Him.

But there is this push in many Christian circles to be like a Jesus I don't know. The push is for Christians to blur the line between God's children and the order to save them. The equation of "love" with acceptance of a sinful lifestyle is something I don't see in scripture. The equation of "forgiveness" with tolerance, even going so far as to affirm someone in their choices is also something I do not see. Simply put, if God has condemned sin in sinful man, who am I to undo that? That's my point. I am no one to change what God has said. I simply am not more benevolent than God.

If God's love for us took on the act of His wrath for sin being poured out upon Jesus while He hung on a cross, then I am no one to diminish or taint that picture. It's perfect just as it is.

God hates sin. God will not forgive anyone who refuses Jesus' call to repent and "come out from among them and be separate" (2 Corinthians 6:17).  And if God won't forgive you, who am I to mislead you that way?

Instead, what I will do is keep pointing you back to the truth. That God is indeed patient with you, but He will not be mocked. You don't know the day of your death, but He does. Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your heart. Call upon Him and repent. Turn away from your sinful life completely. Don't think that just because some join in with you in your choice of entertainment,  that He is not angry with your sin.  He's not ok with your life, even if they seem to be. He is restraining His judgement while He waits for you to call upon Him and repent. Do not be a fool and assume that God will look the other way as they do.  In the end, it is God you will face.


Monday, October 27, 2014

The Right To Be Holy

The tactics may vary, but there is one common agenda for the deceiver, and that is obviously to keep people from knowing what God has said. The knowledge of our origins, the fall of man, the history of The Law, the prophesies of the Redeemer and their fulfillment, the promises to the redeemed, the struggles of the early Church and the common hope we share with them and finally the judgment of God, all carry with them the keys to understanding and obedience. It is common practice for the eyes of the lost to be blinded to the truth of these things, whether in part or in whole. But with the theft of truth comes the bondage of ignorance and sin.

The theft of Truth has been occurring since the days in the Garden of Eden. Satan's first objective was to bring into question what God had said. And once he caused Eve to question His word, the rest was a down hill slide. Ever since that day, the same has been happening in every culture and every society. We can see that what king Solomon wrote was true, even for the tactics of our Enemy;

Ecclesiastes 1:9

"What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun."

Though I could list several ways that this theft affects the children of God, I want to take a few minutes to talk about just one. The right to be holy. When I say that, I can't help but think of police officers informing suspect criminals of their Miranda rights. "You have the right to be silent...". Can you see why? I'll say it this way, "You have the right to be holy. Anything you say and do can and should be sanctified. You have the right to Counsel. You can not afford The Counselor, but He willingly gives Himself for those who are in Christ...".

When Jesus spoke of leaving this earth, He said,

"But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will convict the world of sin and righteousness and judgment:" John 16:7-8

Unfortunately, many believers who long to be sanctified are held back by ignorance of one simple truth, that those who are in Christ are given holiness as a gift, and by hiding the word of God in their hearts they are able to overcome sin and rebellion. The Holy Spirit leads and guides us into all understanding. But those who do not belong to Christ have minds that are darkened and they can never be holy even if they succeed in donning a form of godliness, because any godliness apart from Christ lacks power and worth.

Let me reiterate, the children of God have the gift of holiness. It is not rooted in their own worth or strength. It is rooted in the perfection of Christ and given by the Spirit of God to those who surrender their souls to Him. And it is accomplished through the Word of God.

When Jesus was praying in John 17:17, He said, "Sanctify them by your Truth. Your word is Truth.". It's no wonder then, that the enemy seeks to corrupt our understanding of Truth. And consequently, there are many who are in bondage to the belief that they will never overcome. I was once one of these believers, and until I began believing God's word and hiding it in my heart, overcoming temptation was out of my reach.

Jesus' prayer, "Sanctify them by Your Truth, Your Word is Truth", has the power to unbind those who are in bondage to sin. Jesus said that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. We find our hope and our strength to overcome sin in the gift of holiness from Jesus, and the sanctifying work of His word. You have the right to holiness. It was given to you at the Cross. Exercise your right. He said, "Be holy, as I am holy". And with Him, all things are possible, even if right now it seems out of your reach.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

This I Call To Mind

Lamentations 3:19-24
"I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind..."

I love this chapter and these verses.   I've dwelt upon it for twenty-two years.  It first stood out to me when I was at AFLBS in Plymouth, MN back in 1992.  When I first considered going to bible school, I was afraid that I would stand out as a "heathen".  I'd been a Christian since 1978, yet I still felt so unworthy of owning the name "Christian" because I knew what God had saved me from.  Not only that, but I knew that I didn't know scriptures or doctrine like others.   So, before I went to bible school, I spent an entire year getting to know my bible, just to save face.  Wow!  What a confession!  Isn't that a poor motivation?  I look back at this and I am ashamed for my pride.  And not only that, but I know that this pride was the very thing that caused me to stumble while taking classes at AFLBS.

You see, when I finally got into my classes and around the other students, I realized that they were no different than I was.  And that was a big surprise to me.  I had believed and feared that they would be coming from strong Christian homes and would have a good knowledge base of scripture and The Faith.  And I knew that I was not coming from such a home.  I feared that I was going to be "way behind" them in their knowledge and I didn't want to appear ignorant.  But what I found was that they came from ordinary family homes just like I had, and that they weren't super spiritual people...they were just like me.  In fact, having taken the entire year to study scripture on my own had given me a head start I wasn't expecting.  And for a time that puffed me up.  My pride caused me to wander.  And I paid dearly for it.

The Psalmist said, "Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey Your word." Psalm 119:67
He also said, "It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn Your decrees." Psalm 119:71

After I became puffed up and let my pride cause me to wander in places I should not have strayed, God striped me of every confidence I had and left me with only one thing to cling to...His mercy.

When I think of Lamentations 3, I am instantly back to my wandering and I am cast down with shame for it.  Yet at the same time, I am filled with hope because of The Lord's great love for me.  If you'll notice, I didn't finish the quote of the verses in Lamentations.  I did this for a reason.

You see, I've known many people through the years, the majority of them through the church.  And what I've seen many times is the way some recollect their pre-salvation days.  It isn't uncommon for people who align themselves with the church to remember their pre-salvation experiences with snickering and conspiratorial giggles, almost as if there is no shame in it.   But the thing is, none of what the wicked do is amusing in God's eyes, nor is it cute.  This doesn't usually happen when someone is "giving their testimony".  This usually happens in leisurely times away from the church building, when people feel at ease to be themselves, times when their guard is let down and they don't feel pressure to look the part of a "contrite Christian", times when they are not pretending.

When we look back upon our sin, we should be cut to the heart.  And when we consider with a sober attitude, how we've offended God with our sin, we should rejoice at His great mercy that He has shown us.  To look back endearingly to the days we spent reveling in our rebellion is to forget what an abomination all of it was to God.  Instead, we should be down cast within...and then the beauty of the hope we have because of God's unfailing love will have it's proper place in our hearts.
When first I quoted this verse, I left off midway through vs. 21,  "...and this I call to mind..."
When you are feeling comfortable to be yourself, what do you call to mind when you remember your affliction and your wandering?

Like the writer of the book of Lamentations, I would encourage you to remember your affliction and wanderings as with bitterness and gall...and be downcast within yourself.  Because the moments we spent rebelling against our God are shameful.  He said, "It is shameful even to mention what the wicked do in secret."  (Eph. 5:12)  We should also consider that they were moments for which Christ hung upon the Cross.  To smile and laugh and remember them with even a hint of glee is a shameful thing.  Instead, recall them with a sober heart and how Jesus, in His great love for you, endured the Cross and how you were not consumed because His compassions never fail.

Vs. 21-24
"Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:  Because of the lord's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning:  Great is Your faithfulness.  I say to myself, 'The Lord is my portion;  therefore I will wait for Him.'"

Praise be to God who saved us from our wicked ways and gave us an eternal hope that rests upon God's mercy.  May our pleasure and joy be rooted in His love, and may we forsake even the memories of wicked pleasure.  May the Lord be our portion and our delight.  

Saturday, October 11, 2014


Several years ago, my mom gave me a roaster oven for Christmas.  It was very useful to me, but last spring I collected sap and used the roaster oven to slowly cook it until it turned into syrup.  For several days I diligently babied the thickening syrup anxiously awaiting the yummy treat.  Unfortunately, when I wasn't present, some unknown "force" turned the heat up on the roaster to 400 degrees.  It wasn't long until the syrup was charred to a 4'' thick black mass in the bottom of my roaster pan.  And let me tell you, it seemed it was there to stay.   

God has created you and I to worship.  He's created us for something special and He loves our obedience as we do His will.  The things He uses us to do or create are often times awesome and amazing, inspiring others in their walk with The Lord, building them up in their faith.  We have a purpose and it is good.  But sometimes an outside "force" comes in and wreaks havoc in a person's life.  Sometimes that "force" is his own stubborn will.  No matter the reason, the results are a mess, that seem completely hopeless to overcome.  Often others give up on that person, writing him off with dismissive words that cut to the heart.

My roaster pan was charred and unusable for a long long time.  It took much effort to scrape and chip away the charred sap. And when Paul and I got to the end of the chunks, the roaster looked irreparably damaged, as if the sap took the enamel completely off the pan in some places.  So we set it aside, ready for the dump and I purposed not to chide myself too much.  Paul comforted me with the affirmation that I could replace it.  Then it rained, and the roaster pan sat with rain water in it for a good while.  After a time I looked at it again to make sure it was a lost cause.  What I saw was that more specks of sap had soaked off and I realized the enamel was good, and that there was still hope!

We've scrubbed every once in a while over the summer and today, as I was cooking apples, I decided to scrub it once again.  To my delight, the pan is nearly restored!  It's taken a while, but that's alright.

God knows our intended purposes.  And when we mess up our lives it can seem completely hopeless.  Some have even concluded that their lives aren't worth living anymore and they give up.  But God never gives up.  He can take our "charred mess" of a life and redeem it.  Even when others give up, we must always remember that the end of the matter is in God's hands.  So, even when someone seems to be a complete wreck, when someone seems to be a "hopeless cause", we MUST hold out hope that God can redeem that person.    

Maybe you are one who's life is a mess right now.  Maybe you are even thinking you are a lost cause. Maybe someone else has said as much.  I'm here to tell you that God is in the redemption business.  He is the great restorer of our souls and our lives.  Though there may seem to be insurmountable issues, and maybe you believe you've gone to far, but God is able to scrape away the charred mess and restore you to perfect use.  Sure it might be painful.  Sure it will take some time.  And no, you might not be usable while you are in your current state, but in time, and through the process of restoration, He will re-establish your faith and your footing so that you are once again the person He created you to be.  

My roaster has some "character" now.  It doesn't shine quite like it once did.  But I can sure use it as much as I ever did.  And I am ever so pleased to have it back.  

I'm certain that the Heavenly Father is even more pleased when one of His children repents and seeks restoration with Him.  Return to The Lord and wait patiently for Him to restore your life.  He will do it.

2 Peter 3:9
"The Lord is not slow about His promises, as some would understand slowness.  But He is patient with you, not wishing for anyone to perish, but for all to come to repentance."

Phillippians 1:6
"For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it." 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Gift

Ecclesiastes 9:9"Enjoy life with your wife whom you love all the days of your fleeting life which He has given to you under the sun; for this is your reward in life and in your toil in which you have labored under the sun."

My husband, Paul and I have seen many years together.  We are working on our 20th year of being married but I knew him for a couple years before we tied the knot.  What an adventure it has been!  

For me, it began when I was 16 years old.  For some reason, I felt I needed to start praying for my future husband.  So I began making a list of the qualities I wanted in him and I prayed, asking God to equip him with those qualities and others as He saw fit.  I diligently prayed and as my list changed, so did my prayers. And I'm convinced that all the while, God was shaping me as much as He was shaping my husband to be.  What a refinement process that must have been.  I only know from my own perspective what my refinement was like.  But God knows from His eternal perspective what happened and will continue to happen.  I am confident that no matter what refining work God does within my heart or the heart of my husband, He has given me a beautiful gift to ease that process.

That gift is the gift of romantic love.  The gift of marriage.  I am so in love with my husband that it makes my days joyful and light and gives me something fantastic to look forward to every day.  I would never have known how grand of a gift I was asking for, had I not gotten to spend my last 20 plus years loving Paul.  Sure, we said, "I do".  But the romance didn't begin there and it certainly didn't end there.  It's honestly been the greatest gift I have ever been given.

This gift is as precious to God as it is to me...possibly even more precious, because He's realized it's potential all along, even before I knew what I was asking for.  I'd be lying if I tried to tell you that it's always been easy.  We've gone through our share of hard experiences.  But in linking arms and pushing through together, we've grown even closer than we would have, had we not gone through those times.  He has been my faithful friend, my lover, my confidant, my champion, my support, my pastor and my encourager our entire life together.  And when things have arisen to threaten that bond, he's never once wavered in his love and pursuit of me.  We purposed to faithfully love each other on our wedding day, and that has never changed for either of us.

It might sound arrogant to some, but I'll risk writing it.  What I want is for my children to see how in love Paul and I are together so that they will pattern their expectations and their intentions after us.  I want them to see us fight and make up.  I want them to see me cry and Paul comfort me.  I want them to see me comforting him too.  I want them to see us experiencing the good times together and pushing through the hard times together...because that is part of this gift of marriage.  We take the good and the bad and we praise God through it all.  If our children see our weaknesses and how we pull through it together, they will expect and purpose to be faithful like that with their own spouses.   It will be their "normal", because it is our "normal".

What Paul and I have, is becoming increasingly rare...but it is not extinct.  There are many people out there who intend to love God by faithfully loving their spouses for better or worse.  I'm banking on this, even as I pray for my future sons and daughters-in-law.  Even though I've seen the definition of "normal" change in our society and even in the church, I believe there is a different standard to strive for that is empowered by God.  It is a faithfulness that is higher and far superior to what the world would encourage.  And I believe it is both a gift and an obedience.

Knowing how many people, both in and out of the Church, have had their lives touched by divorce, I am certain that this subject carries the potential to insight hard feelings.  I'm not here to bring condemnation upon anyone.  I am, however, here to bring encouragement to those, who are right now considering throwing in the towel and giving up.

The gift of a wife is a "reward", one to delight in all your fleeting days.  I know it's hard.  But I also know it's very very good.   It's a gift worth fighting for.  It's a gift worth clinging to.  But the world would have you believe that you "don't deserve this".  It would push you to believe you will never and never have found the kind of love you deserve in your marriage.  It would convince you that you'd be happier if you walked away, that your children would be "just fine" in spite of the choice it wants you to make.  But what the world will not remind you of is that your husband or your wife is a precious gift.  Have you ever seen your spouse as a precious gift?  Do you think of him that way now?

If you can't see this, then I would encourage you to take some time before you make any life altering decisions and dwell upon that thought for a while.  He is a gift.  She is a reward.  Fight for what God has given you, and don't let yourself be so easily entangled.  Your enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy.  He does not go easy on us because we are Christians.  He wants to ruin your life, your marriage and the lives of your children.  If your heart is being drawn in by the lie that divorce is your best option, consider the great God who gave the gift of marriage and then consider who it is that has your best interest in mind.  If God is for you (and your marriage) who can be against you?   Reach for the gift and the Giver.  He will show you what it means to be faithful.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Spiritually Rich!

This weekend Paul and I are at the Desiring God Conference in Minneapolis, MN.  I am truly impressed with the great wealth we have in this nation.  What a gift to be able to sit with thousands of other Believers learning more about the Christian Faith and the Great God we serve, freely and without fear.  We are not meeting in secret.  We are free to listen, learn, love and worship openly.  Wow!  We are rich!

That richness doesn't just involve our ability to worship.  We also have the great wealth of comfort and ease.   We have such wealth in our nation, I can't help but to think of how rich we are in comparison to countries where getting water is a constant struggle or where medical help is next to impossible.  Having lived in  Turkey for a couple years as a child, I can appreciate their struggle some.  But what I've never experienced is a hinderance to my worship.  And that is what is standing out to me tonight.

When I say hinderance, I'm not talking about getting dirty looks for praying publicly before a meal.  I'm talking about the persecution going on in places like Iraq, Indonesia and Sudan etc.  They could only dream of doing what we did today.  Literally thousands of worshipers, singing, crying, praising and hearing the word of God being taught were all gathered together openly in a huge air-conditioned auditorium with cushy seats and a beautiful ambiance.  I am blown away.  I am simply amazed at this HUGE gift!  It brought tears to my eyes while I was there, and I am still humbled by this awesome privilege.

For those of you who do not live in the US, you may not have ever experienced this kind of liberty.  Maybe you know Jesus, but open corporate worship is not your norm.  Maybe you do live in the US, but have never seen the value of corporate worship.  Consider it a gift!

I'd like to pray for you.  I would love it if you could be here taking part in this amazing gathering.  But mostly what I pray for is that you will know God and be known by God.  If you do not, but would like to,  I can help with some things.  You may contact me if you like and my husband and I will do our best to help you know about God.

For tonight, consider taking the time to thank God for the amazing and wonderful gifts He's given you.  When we start looking around, it isn't difficult to see them.  It is very humbling.  And it is good.    You might even discover that the opportunities you have to worship with others is a gift and privilege, and it might take on a whole new appeal.  No matter what, if you belong to God, one day we will be worshipping Him together as a united body.  That day is going to be astounding.  Until then, I sure am thankful for experiences like I had today.  These moments are just a taste of what is coming.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Happy Is The Man

Proverbs 3:13
"Happy is the man who acquires wisdom, and who acquires understanding."

Have you ever noticed that there is never a lack for distraction?  Always, when my heart is filled with praise, there is something that rises up to steal my attention.  In my opinion, this is no coincidence.  I am convinced that when God says that "The enemy comes to steal kill and destroy" it includes the theft of our happiness.  

But wisdom and understanding surpass the enemy’s reach.  The one who clings to them acquires Godly happiness.  We all have happy times in our lives, but there is something distinctly different between the earthly happiness of the common man, and the eternal happiness of the man of God.  Our joy never fades, even in the face of adversity or trials because it is rooted in hope.  The happiness of the man who has found wisdom and understanding is an eternal kind of joy that gladdens the heart for now and causes the heart to rejoice over the future.

As a Believer I've experienced this.  I've experienced a thoroughly happy heart that can not be clouded by the condemnation of scoffers or their sins against me.  It does not diminish when physical circumstances change.  And when I die, I am confident that my happiness will only blossom into the original joy that Adam and Eve were created to experience.  

If there were one thing that could rob me of that joy, the thought of people I love, rejecting God and suffering for all eternity might be it.  But with the promises of God continually being at the forefront of my mind, even that horrific thought has no power to diminish my joy, because I have confidence that God loves each and every one of us so much, that He will continually work to redeem His own.  And that brings me right back to the hope that gives me the joy I have.   

My prayer is that I will continue to represent God's love justly, so that each and every one of you who hears me sing or reads my words will come away having been built up in knowledge, rooted in Truth and firmly established in the Faith.  I pray for that, even if you are one who at present scoffs at the word of truth, doubts the Christian faith or suspects the intent of believers who share their faith.  God's love surpasses all of that, and He loves you.  

Monday, September 22, 2014

Hallowed Be Thy Name

I've met many people through the years, who have shared their stories with me.  And what I find is that their stories confirm what God's word says.  There is no power, no authority by which we can overcome sin except the power found in the name of God.  

Acts 4:12
"And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Though many people reach out for help, they are unaware of how enslaved they are.  They just know that things are not going well in their lives and they want relief.  But some, though they know what God has said, refuse to accept it.  In general, there seems to be this notion of self sufficiency that convinces people that they don't really need God.  They're intent upon figuring things out on their own, and doing things their own way.  They don't really want to hear spiritual truth or consider that they are experiencing the effects of living outside of God's will and need to repent.  

What they really want is acceptance, and maybe a little "good luck" to help them get over their slump.  They work deals with themselves, God and who ever else they can utilize, trying to maintain control by pulling their strings until they are as tight as they can be, yet there is no real deliverance from the webs of entanglement they've gotten themselves into.  And those who try to help them in any other name but the name of Jesus merely placate the problems, which often results in enabling the one ensnared to go deeper and deeper into their sin and rebellion.

I can understand how those who are not saved would not understand their lack of power.   But what I don't understand, is when those who know God try to step in to "save the day" by their own power or their own wisdom, in any other name except the name of God.  I don't even know if they realize they are doing it.  But it happens.  It can be in the name of decency, the name of kindness, the name of humanity, the name of love.  It may be done in the name of "protecting the innocent", but rather than confronting the one entangled in sin about the fact that God has condemned sin in sinful man, and rather than offering true hope for overcoming the sin that is causing distress and hardship, they try to avoid such topics and say things like, "That's none of my business".  They would rather offer less controversial help, but no other help is powerful enough to free a man from the sin responsible for wrecking lives.  

I've seen it many times.  And it always ends the same way.  Someone is in trouble.   His life is falling apart.  Someone with good intentions steps in to help "sort things through".  Support is offered and given, but the in the end, the sinner goes right back to their sin...which is the catalyst for yet more entanglement.  And in the end, the person who stepped in to help becomes embittered and angry because their efforts were ineffective.  

Yet when Faithful Christian approaches the one enslaved with the truth of God's word, he is met with scorn by the would-be helper.  I've even seen Christians go out of their way to console non-christians when another Believer has dared to suggest that repentance is needed.  I've seen them make apologies for the fact that someone dared to preach the truth to them!  Brothers and sisters, this should not be.  

Though I can't be sure, I think what happens is that these people lose sight of the power of God's name.   They forget what life was like without Jesus and how powerless they were to overcome sin without Him.  Maybe they even begin to believe they weren't so bad before they were saved, and that they somehow overcame their circumstances in their own power.  

Another reason could be that they are embarrassed by the boldness of the Truth of the Gospel.  I've witnessed many Christians make apologies for it, as if it is a scandalous thing for someone to tell a sinner about the Law of God and their need to repent and be saved.  

It's true that many bad things have been done in the name of Jesus.  Bad or misguided people have used God's name in vain, twisting His words and using them as weapons to harm others.  But the Gospel is beautiful.  The message of redemption from sin is life giving.  Those of us who have been redeemed should always remember how powerless we were and how beautiful the Gospel is!  And we shouldn't believe the lie that tells us we should, or even could, exercise some other form of tenderness that stands apart from the Gospel.  Nothing is as tender or as powerful as the name of Jesus.  No name can save but the name of God.  No attempt to loose the bonds of slavery will be met with success unless it is empowered by the name of Jesus, and predicated upon His Law.   

When Christians lose sight of these things, they can easily cause others to stumble.  People see the Spirit of God in us.  They recognize that we are not enslaved.  But some have refused them the only help there is, and instead offer them an inferior solution conjured by their own wisdom or strength, because they are too cowardly to reiterate the Truth that saved them.     

What is needed is love.  The love of God is complete in that it gives the good news along with the bad.  It doesn't avoid the subject on the pretense of propriety.  God is holy.   When we sin against God, He says we reap what we sow.  Iniquity, though an uncomfortable subject, must be addressed.  The good news that follows the subject of our iniquity is the Cross of Christ.  

Isaiah 53:5
"But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and by his wounds we are healed."

Jesus paid the penalty for our sin and ransomed us from death.  He Himself bore our iniquities.  And in His name alone is the strength to overcome and the wisdom to choose the narrow path that leads to life. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Tears, Kisses And A Costly Jar Of Perfume

For some time I've been grappling with what Jesus called the greatest commandment, "Love The Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength".   In searching out what it actually means to love God, I had to ask myself, "Do I love God or do I merely love being loved by God?".   

In John 14:15, Jesus equated keeping His commandments with loving Him.  In 1 John 5:3, love for God is also equated with keeping His commandments and we are told they are not burdensome.   2 John 1:6 says that love for God is to walk in obedience to His commands.   But when we consider the Pharisees, we must also conclude that keeping the Law was not always proof of someone's love for God. Sometimes legalism is merely religion.  So while obeying God is an evidence of loving God, it may also be just a religious act motivated by pride or self righteousness.  

In Luke 7, we are given a story that gives us a little clearer understanding of what it means to love God. 

Luke 7:36-50 
"Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him to dine with him, and He entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table.  And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume.  

  Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself,  'If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner.'

  And Jesus answered him, 'Simon, I have something to say to you.' And he replied, 'Say it, Teacher.' 

 'A moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.  When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?'  Simon answered and said, 'I suppose the one whom he forgave more.' And He said to him, 'You have judged correctly.' 

  Turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, 'Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.  You gave Me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet. You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume.  For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.' 

Then He said to her, 'Your sins have been forgiven.'  Those who were reclining at the table with Him began to say to themselves, 'Who is this man who even forgives sins?'  And He said to the woman, 'Your faith has saved you; go in peace.'"

In this account of what happened at that dinner party, Jesus says of the sinful woman, "...she loved much...".  Her response to the presence of God was faith and humility.  With tears, kisses and a costly jar of perfume she loved Him.    

1). She loved with her tears of contrition and faith.  

2). Her kisses were pleas for mercy; The recognition of His Lordship; 
Psalm 2:12 
"Kiss his son, or he will be angry and your way will lead to your destruction, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him."  

3).  The perfume she poured out upon His feet was the surrender of her life and the profit she would forsake in doing so; Her obedience would come at a great cost to her, but she considered Him more worthy than any earthly gain she might have had in living in disobedience to Him. 

1 John 4:10
"This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins."

"Loving God" and "Loving being loved by God" are inseparable. 

Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to "Love The Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength."  With tears, kisses and a costly jar of perfume she loved much. Each represented her yielded heart. I too have many tears. And though my love may be poured out a bit differently, I hope to love as deeply and passionately and with as much abandon as she did.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Those Born of God Will Not Continue To Sin

1 John 3:9 "No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God"

1 John 3:6 "No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him."

But...but...WAIT!!!!   Are you trying to tell me that Christians don't sin anymore?  I can assure you that many Christians I know still struggle with sin.  And scripture also tells us that there is no one righteous.

Ecclesiastes 7:20 "Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins."

That part,  "...and never sins" might seem to be in contrast to 1 John 3:6.  But we need to remember that all scripture is God all of scripture is true. So here in lies the harmony:
There is no one who never sins...AND no one born of God will continue to sin.

It doesn't mean we will never means we will not CONTINUE to sin.  So what does that mean?

Lying, stealing, cheating, hating, gossiping, grumbling, intoxication, adultery, un-forgiveness, etc.  are all clear cut, non deniable obvious sins.  There is no excuse for someone to "continue" in them....unless he or she is not saved.  If that is the case, self discipline is not enough to free one who is enslaved to such sins.  A slave can not free himself.

Ecclesiastes 8:8
"...As no one is discharged in time of war, so wickedness will not release those who practice it."

Fortunately, God has given us civil and criminal law to help the saved and unsaved alike.  Usually for someone who is not saved what is necessary for him to break free of such sin is the fear of legal or natural consequences such as the loss of freedom, loss of loved ones, loss of health or the fear of death.

But for the one who has come to KNOW Jesus, the pursuit of holiness isn't so much motivated by fear as it is love, though fear does help the forgiven sinner resist temptation in the same way that it drives the unforgiven sinner to seek God's mercy.  The pursuit of holiness doesn't end with overcoming the obvious sins mentioned above.  Rather, every day that goes by God reveals to the Christian sinful mindsets or habits that had never before been realized.  The Holy Spirit brings conviction and the Christian repents because of genuine love and contrition.

The sin I struggle with today is different sin than I struggled with 20 even 30 years ago.  I do not excuse my sin nor down play it by telling others quip little phrases like "don't judge me because I sin differently than you".  We are to abide in Jesus and likewise, He abides in us.  Because of this, the Spirit of God within me will NOT allow me to excuse my sinful behavior!  He won't let me ignore the truth that He DETESTS sin.

 Romans 6:16-18,  "Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?  But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient FROM THE HEART (emphasis added) to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness."

 1 John 3:9 says, "No one born of God will continue to sin."

If you are having no victory over sin, consider that it is possible that you are not really saved.  Maybe you didn't come to God on HIS terms.  Maybe you are not really abiding in Him.

He's not here to enhance your life or complete you.  He didn't die to enable you to be successful.  He died because we were sinful and couldn't pay the punishment for it.  He died because we are all guilty and he willingly takes on the guilt of those who come to him.  But for those who refuse to come to Him on His terms they remain condemned and enslaved to sin.

So unless you came to Jesus to be forgiven because you saw with certainty that you are guilty and separated from God and needed a Savior and were grieved because of your sinfulness, it is possible you came to the wrong jesus, a false god created in your own image; a jesus who is ok with your sin, one who "understands" how hard it is to be good and that you are only a weak human; a jesus who agrees with you that your sin is actually a "condition" or "disease" for which you just need medical intervention; a jesus who doesn't really hate sin as much as those radical zealots say he does.

Trust me, the real Jesus truly does love and understand you...but he has not given you a pass on owning your guilt and your responsibility to repent of sin (stop doing it).   You must first OWN your matter how much worse someone else in your life is.  You need to come to the God who Is and repent and ask for forgiveness.  He will come and wash away your sin and give you a new heart and new nature.  From that day on your new nature will war with your old nature...and your new nature WILL win if you abide in Him.  Because Jesus overcame sin in sinful man.  You will not CONTINUE to sin.  Your  conscience will burn within you until you repent, overcoming the temptation to wander.

Romans 6:22  "But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification (holiness) and it's end, eternal life."

Sanctification is not an option.  It's a mandatory gift that we receive.  The Holy Spirit in each of us who are saved ensures that we no longer comfortably sit in sin (continue in sin), but instead creates a longing within our hearts for holiness.

If you are saved, throughout the refining process, which will last your entire life, God will never leave you.  The seed of faith within you will never die.

1 Peter 1:23 "you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;"

But know this, God is not indifferent to the sin you harbor in your heart and life.  He desires you to forsake your sin.  Just as he told the woman caught in adultery, "go and sin no more" so he desires the same of you.  And if we will not obey willingly as slaves to righteousness, he disciplines us as His children so that we will no longer choose sin over righteousness.

Hebrews 12:10-14 " but He disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness.  For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.  Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.  Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord."

These drooping hands and weak knees spoken of here are indicative of the man who will not resist sin, one who half-heartedly makes little effort to strive for righteousness.  His discipline is intended to steer us toward straight paths that lead to holiness.  When we refuse to obey God we open ourselves up to His correction.  Do you know what a fearful and serious thing that is?

Hebrews 10:31 " It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."

It is a good thing to fear The Lord.  It is a means by which you will avoid the sins that cause you to stumble.

Proverbs 16:6 "By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for, and by the fear of the LORD one turns away from evil."

Today I exhort you to turn from evil.  Repent of the sins you've been giving yourself over to and seek God.  Call upon Him and He will save you and direct your path.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Good Bye Face Book

This blog post is not intended to guilt people into closing their face book accounts.  What this post is about is my own exodus from a fictitious world where "friendship" is something that is cultivated with glib quotes, touched up photos, and "likes" given to affirm a very needy culture.  At this point I feel I must again point out that this post is not intended to insight feelings of indignation or guilt.  So if you're feeling offended, take a step back and draw in a deep breath, and allow yourself to comprehend that this is not about you.  This is my assessment of Face Book;

Several years ago a friend of mine told me about the world of Face Book and the wonders of being able to be "connected" with friends and family.  Having family and friends spread out across the USA, the possibilities for staying connected seemed hopeful.  But little did I know, the world of Face Book was more than it cracked up to be.  

My first Face Book account was a personal account with my name and the place where I lived fully visible for the purpose of letting everyone know that I was, indeed, the Amy that belonged to my family and friends.  But very quickly people I didn't know were asking to be connected (aka "friends").  

The number of "friends" I had kept climbing.  Some may be flattered or receive affirmation by having so many "friends" and take it as a show of other's actual interest.  But not me.  You see, with the befriending of people who didn't really know me, and also some whom I thought did know me, the ugly side of Face Book began to peek it's head.  Face Book became less about actually building up my relationships with family and friends and more about the constant challenge of wading through the shallowest of thoughts and reveries of people I didn't even know.  It seemed the world was hungry and thirsty for drama and that meaningful interaction or encouragement was very rare. 

Through the years there have been several bible verses that have really stuck with me.  One passage in particular has been 1 Thessalonians 4:11;

"But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more (in love), and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you."

My family and I live on a small farm three and a half miles from the nearest town.  It has been a very good place to "make it our ambition to lead a quiet life, work with our hands and mind our own business".  And we have been very happy in our small little paradise.  We intentionally haven't spent much time "in town" for the simple reason that "minding our own business" has taken a priority over the limited benefits of the activities taking place there.  

Now, before you jump to a wrong conclusion, I want you to know that our children have been privileged to be a part of church activities, the local homeschool group, act in plays, participate in music festivals and competitions and travel and sing throughout our many years of camp and music ministries.  I bring this up simply for the fact that I know (from experience) that there are some who haven't yet learned to "mind their own business", who would weigh in with their condemnation, casting aspersions about our family for hiding away on our farm and not "socializing" our children.  For those who are being so tempted right now, just stop.  Look up Matthew 7:12 and do likewise. 

Back to my assessment; 

When I opened myself up to the world of Face Book I never realized my quiet life would be threatened.  But soon I realized that the purpose of Face Book is to get millions and millions of people to make it their ambition to mind other people's business while making their own business fodder for gossip.  

After a time of wading the waters of shallow thought with the masses, I thought that it might be good to begin sharing my thoughts on scripture passages from which I was learning, in hopes of sharing a status of more significance than the norm.  At first it seemed that people really responded well.  And many encouraged me to keep writing, telling me that my posts encouraged them throughout the day.  But after a short time of that, I began getting messages from others accusing me of "posting at" them.  

It was a strange and interesting social experience.  With one single post I could get several messages from various people accusing me of directing my thoughts and words "at" them.  Of course they were wrong.  But telling them this was futile, because people are more narcissistic than they realize and these people were convinced that my words and God's word, about which I was writing, were in fact solely directed at them personally.  No amount of reasoning seemed to alleviate the mounting animosity some people were having in response to my personal reflections on the scriptures I was reading. 

I thought to my self, "Enough of this nonsense".  I opened up a public page which didn't have the same capability of interacting personally with those who own private pages, and I began using it instead of my own private page.  I thought I had found the answer to the problem.  After all, if I couldn't see other's posts, those who made them couldn't accuse me of putting up my posts in response to the content they shared.  And since I make it a point to stay disconnected from the local town gossip and drama by keeping to myself on my quiet little farm, I thought for sure I would be able to share my thoughts with the face book world in peace.  It had great potential to be a good ministry.  I used my public page like a Pinterest board, pinning my thoughts and devotionals to it, simply out of love for the truth and an earnest desire to share with others in the quest for understanding scripture.  Nothing I posted had anything to do with the local town gossip or what ever the current drama happened to be.  I was out of the gossip loop because I like it that way.  I thought had found a way to live my quiet life, work with my hands and mind my own business while still being able to be a light of truth in the dark world of Face Book.  

However, that notion was short lived.  I found that rather than viewing my public page as a pin board for the things that had captured my own attention and interest (such as one would view a Pinterest wall), those who were hell bent upon villain-izing me remained quick to surmise a connection between my words and what ever drama was taking place in their own little circles.  And here's the amazing part; it wasn't the stereo typical "non-christians" who were raising this ruckus, as one would assume.  Rather, many who claim to be  "christians" were the ones dissected my words with a vengeance.  

I know I've written about this before, but I want to put this out there again.

Matthew 7:6 says,
"Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces."

For most of my life, when I read that verse, my mind would focus upon the "trampling" part.  That didn't seem so bad, I guess, because I don't really feel a need for other's approval.  But other people's Face Book behavior really made me realize the significance of the last part of that verse;

" and they will turn and tear you to pieces."

Yes, you are reading that correctly.  And what I can tell you from personal experience is that this is true.  After these naysayers were done trampling my words, they did indeed turn and try to shred my character, maligning me with false testimony and misrepresentations of who I am and what I think, that were based solely upon their speculations and their gossip. I guess they must have glossed over the ninth commandment.  

Reaching out to the Face Book community has opened my eyes to the nature of man in a way that I never was able to see previously.  What I realized is that people will naturally gravitate to the broad path, even when bearing the name of Christ.  And when bolstered by anonymity or secrecy, they will snoop, accuse, become indignant and act like little yipping dogs that relentlessly nip at the heels of who ever they get in their sights.  

I can honestly say that I've endeavored to be a godly person both on line and off.  I've diligently shared the truth of God's words with love and prayer in hopes of being an encouragement to those who use Face Book as a social forum.  But I have grown weary of the social norms of Face Book that make such wicked and divisive behavior acceptable.  For this reason, I've shut down my public Face Book page.  

I still want to write and share about what I'm learning, but in disconnecting from the venue of Face Book, I hope to distance myself even further from those who are incapable of reading my words without surmising insult or personal accusation.  Such contentious behavior has never been attractive to me, but I've put up with it for far to long, hoping the entire time that people would eventually see my heart and God's a little clearer through the devotionals I put up.  

God's word says;

Proverbs 18:24
"A man of too many friends comes to ruin..."

While pushing the need for many "friends", Face Book applauds the narcissism of our society and feeds into the folly of shallow thought and revery.  It's inferior substitution for actual relationships lends itself to the disillusionment and discouragement of many, while at the same time giving frequent opportunity for causing division and disunity.  While some may be able to glean from the use of it, I don't believe I've met one person who has been able do so without encountering divisive drama in their own lives or the lives of their "friends" at some time because of their involvement with Face Book.  After trying many ways and making many attempts to avoid the pettiness of others to no avail, I have personally chosen to withdraw from Face Book all together, and invest my time and attention elsewhere.   And God has blessed me with much peace because of it.

Many of you have given me the privilege of encouraging you and joining with you in prayer over various situations.  I am so thankful for that part of my Face Book ministry.    I am still willing and able to pray and answer questions if anyone has a need.  You can reach me at or  I am still interested in hearing from those of you who have a prayer request or a need for someone to listen or encourage.  May God bless you.