Spiritual Warfare Prep

Spiritual Warfare Prep
We Are In The Lord's Army

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Unfair Balancing Act

   I am seeing a belief system in action, but honestly, I can't quite pinpoint who it is exactly who believes in this system. I'm thinking it is from India, but it could be more widespread than that.

   The belief system goes like this; If a boy in the United States gets to play video games and lives in a big house, then a boy in India (or wherever it may be) will have just the opposite circumstances. The boy in India will have no toys and will live in a small house without much prosperity.

   Does anyone know what this belief system is called? It may be Yin/yang, but I don't know. But my thought is, I think this belief system is carried out by others, such as Muslims. It may be that they hate the United States because we are so prosperous, and that means that people on the other side of the world will suffer. In their minds, there has to be this kind of balance.

   Anyway, I think this is an interesting thought and I hear people talk as if they are in that belief system themselves. If anyone has more insight than I do in this, please comment on it.

Friday, September 26, 2014

What Does It Mean To Be 'Holier Than Thou'?

   When I first came to Christ, one thing my mom warned me about was becoming 'holier than thou'. I was not familiar with this phrase, nor had I heard many phrases in King James English up to this point! This phrase seemed strange, yet intriguing, so I had to research.

   Holier than thou basically means, in today's language, holier than you are. In other words, it means that when I am trying to make you a convert to Christianity, I would be above you because I am holy and you are not. But is this really a true statement and why is there a concern about a person who is sharing the Gospel being 'holier than thou'?

   Well, the Gospel is composed of grace and truth. The truth is, the recipient of the Gospel is a lost person, far away from God. The truth is that all of us, not just hardened criminals or prostitutes, are steeped in sin, for sin is basically selfishness. The more selfish a person is, the less aware of God and their need of Him is there.

   So, the recipients of the Gospel (which, hopefully is all of us!) are needy sinners needing a Savior and needing to be rescued from our sins. Salvation doesn't exist in people who do not see themselves as sinners, or people who think they are basically good, but need some help from God. I still personally think that a lot of 'Christians' are in this category, for, when I talk with many professing Christians, they are offended when talking about the 10 Commandments or sin, as if to be saying, 'how could you even think of me as a sinner?'.

  But the problem with the phrase 'holier than thou' implies that the person sharing the Gospel (the Christian evangelist) is without sin. Somehow, this person thinks they have a special 'in' with God that others don't have. Basically, it is a deception of how serious their own sin is before God.

  We can see the sins of others so much more clearly than we can see our own sins, and that is to our disadvantage (see Matthew 7:1-5). If we do see our sins, we tend to justify them (I'm that way because I am tired, or, I do that because everyone hates me). While we are learning to appreciate the grace of God and the power of the Blood of Christ, grace will be meaningless to us if we don't see the depth of our sin (Note: no person will actually see the depth of their sin to the degree of that depth, but we do need to see the seriousness of our sin instead of pretending it is not there).

   The root sin of being 'holier than thou' is pride. The Bible has a lot to say about pride. You might even think that you don't have pride! That is the deception of it all, because pride will keep us away from God, and unappreciative of the Gospel as it applies to ourselves. We must apply the Gospel to our own hearts before we can minister it to others.

   People who know the Lord Jesus Christ and are abiding in Him will bear the fruit of the Spirit in their lives, and this brings glory to God. If we try to evangelize in our own strength and wisdom, we will dishonor God, and we will be the focus of our evangelism instead of God. God is the One who saves people and works in their hearts. We are in danger if we are looking for people to be convinced or changed because of our evangelistic efforts. (Thinking we are adding brownie points or notches in our belts every time we share the Gospel or make a convert).  We might live a long, long life, and perhaps will never see the fruit of our labors, but God is still at work and we need to be faithful in responding to the love of God that God has placed in our hearts.

   The bottom line is, Christians have a bad reputation for being 'holier than thou'. No wonder people don't want to listen to us when we start to share the Gospel with them. They already know what is coming (or they think they do). We tend to be very judgmental, and God's word forbids that. God will judge people for their sins. Our job is simply to bring the Gospel to them in love so they can escape the wrath of God. It is not our job to change their hearts or minds. We present the truth in love, and stand up for the truth whenever it is being opposed, but if we misunderstand evangelism and how God wants us to carry out this work, we are going to cause a lot of damage to the cause of Christ, and we will repel people to the Gospel.

   Let's take note on things we learn from the past. I saw a show on TV one time (I forgot to turn the TV off or change the channel) and on this show there was a Christian family who relocated to a primitive lifestyle (no electricity, or modern equipment) and the other family was totally worldly. The wives were swapped for a week (there was no immoral actions here that I noticed). Their basic jobs in their own homes were taken into the other's home. The amazing thing about this show was that at the end of the program, the Christian woman and the worldly woman (and their husbands) were at the table discussing the events and conclusions of the week. It was disappointing because the Christian woman was proud. While they were at the table, she asked the worldly woman why she (the worldly woman) was wearing a provocative dress. This is not how you handle people in the world. If you want to handle someone wearing provocative clothing, you either address them in private or leave it alone. I am not talking about someone who is involved in church and not addressing the situation. But this is not a question you ask someone who doesn't know the Lord yet. In fact, the worldly person could end up thinking that a good 'Christian' woman is one who doesn't dress in a provocative way, but that would be miscommunicating  the Gospel message. (This is how moralists believe). Addressing the way a person dresses (when it is wrong) goes under the category of discipleship and accountability, not evangelism. Well, the worldly woman was the humble one and told the other woman that she actually enjoyed the things she learned from her, but you could tell that she was hurt (and confused) because of the dress question. I will say though, that in the end of the program, the narrator said that the Christian woman apologized a couple of weeks later.

  I just think we need to be careful in how we treat outsiders. They are not in the light yet, and we can't expect them to act like they are. We can ask them questions in order for them to look at their own hearts, but to attack them for anything, will cause them to turn away from the Gospel, the church, or anything that has anything to do with the word 'Christian'. The key is humility, and the motive needs to be love. This is what we need to cultivate in our own hearts before trying to help others in seeing their own hearts.

"I am just one beggar telling other beggars where to find bread" D.T. Niles


For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 2 Corinthians 5:14 ESV

Friday, September 19, 2014

Do I Have A Nocturnal Orientation From God?

I have three different ways I can go today in my blog writing, so I will pick one of them. Today I will write about my condition of being nocturnal.

  You might ask why I would write an article on my being nocturnal, but as you read, I think it will help you understand a dilemma we have in our country today, and why people think wrongly about homosexuality.

   O.K. you are probably wondering what in the world being nocturnal has to do with homosexuality. Bear with me for a couple of minutes and you will see the connections!

   Almost always, when I am explaining the Gospel to someone, if there is time, I will explain what Genesis 3 is about. Genesis 3 holds the key to a lot of difficulties we have in trying to understand why there is evil in the world, if God is a God of love. It also helps us understand why human beings can be so kind and loving, yet so mean and hateful, at the same time. Genesis 3 will help us today in understanding the effects of the fall on our human bodies.

   We all know and we all agree upon the fact that God created human beings. When Adam and Eve were first created, there was no sickness. They didn't feel pain or suffer the effects of living in a battle zone. They were healthy, but they were tempted to try to be like God. The devil wanted to be higher than God, and he got thrown down to earth. Unfortunately for us, we live in the earth, and the devil roams around to destroy whoever he can.

   After the fall of Adam and Eve, when they disobeyed the God who created them, God placed a curse upon the earth. People's bodies will now die. People will feel pain. Human beings will suffer loss and growing food was now going to be a very difficult task.

  Fast-forward to the 21st Century. In America, we have hospitals and doctor's offices in every city just about. Doctors have a lot to do with trying to help people get well. People go to doctors because of the effects of the fall of Adam and Eve.

   So, I have gone to doctors to try to get help with insomnia. The type of insomnia I have is a type that people are born with and without any kind of intervention will live with the rest of their lives. It is called, 'Primary Insomnia'. In my case, for whatever reason, my sleep cycle is off. It is active during the night and inactive during the day. All I can do is to try to change this cycle. It is very hard to do this, but if I want to live and function in a real world, I will work toward resolving this issue.

   I'm sure this brings up a lot of questions. Did God create me to be nocturnal? How can God expect me to function in a world that is opposite of normal? Should I learn to live with this and just accept it? Is there any way it can be redeemable?

   In a way, this would be like asking the question, 'Did God create me with a sinful nature?' We know that all these things that go wrong with us are results of living in a fallen world. The question is really not whether God made me that way or not, but, how am I going to respond to this dilemma?

  (Note: I am not saying here that insomnia is a sin! It is just a byproduct of living in a fallen world).

   Since having insomnia is not a sin, perhaps I could learn to work with it. I have done that some, but, I still have work to do during the day, and need to be sleeping at night with everyone else in the family. It is not the end of the world if I have sleepless nights, but it is not convenient for living in America today.

   But yes, it is redeemable and I can do things that others cannot do, because of my energy level and thinking abilities at night! I can get a lot accomplished from 12 a.m. to 2 a.m.! But which is better? Is it better to be awake and active during the day when the sun is shining and everyone else is working, or, at night when all the stores and businesses are closed?

   The whole crux of this article is to point something out that should be obvious. Did God create me with a special orientation to be nocturnal?

   I don't believe God created me with an orientation to be nocturnal. Being nocturnal is normal for me, but, it doesn't lend itself to functioning in a God ordained society. It is better for me to not be nocturnal, even though there are benefits to it in some ways.

   If someone had to power to make me un-nocturnal, and asked me if I would like to be diurnal, would I say 'yes' to that? I sure would! If I have a proclivity toward being nocturnal, I would like to not have that anymore.

   No, I was not created to have an orientation to being nocturnal. Homosexuals are not created by God with a special orientation to homosexuality. The desires for same sex attraction are real. The desires for same sex attractions seem natural for the person who is a homosexual. But those desires are just byproducts of living in a fallen world. They are not desires from God.

   Although being nocturnal is not a sin, according to the Bible, homosexuality is. Homosexuality is not the only sexual sin though. People have all kinds of different sexual desires that are wrong and will be punished by God, not because of the desire itself, but because the person with the desire lives to fulfill that wrong desire.

   The overwhelming desire for same sex attraction is not a desire given by God. It is not natural, in the sense of God's natural creation, although it feels natural. It feels natural for me to become irate when someone irritates me. It feels natural for me (and I do go through these spells) to want to eat a whole chocolate cake, or eat a large chocolate candy bar. Sometimes, I will be (or think I will be) so hungry that even looking at recipes leads me to believe I could consume abnormal amounts of certain foods! And if those foods were placed before me, if I didn't have restraint, I would eat all of it. Being hungry is not a sin. Even consuming a lot of food if it is there, and if the person hasn't eaten in a while, is not necessarily wrong, but going after food continually, especially food that tastes good but is not good for us to eat, is wrong. It is called 'gluttony' and it is a serious sin before God.

   God gave human beings a sex drive and He also gave them the desire to eat food. It's when those things are used wrong, that is it sin. God's order for sex is in a marriage relationship between one man and one woman. God's design for eating is that we eat nourishing food. All these things are gifts from God but have been distorted due to the fall. Just because there is a reason for something, that does not justify it.

   Whatever the sin issue that we struggle with is, God is more than willing to help us. He will only help us if we really want help and see the need for it. If we love our sin, then it will be hard for us to part from it. But if want to be free from it's hold on us, God can break the chains.

   When Jesus died on the Cross, He defeated the devil and the armies of the devil. This is good news for us for now we do not have to stay bound by our sinful desires. But we have to know the Lord Jesus Christ and have a personal relationship with Him. We can only know Him if we turn away from our sins, and trust in Him. We have to trust in His death to cover over our sins. His blood can wash away our sins, and can also set us free from the hold of sin. God will give us new hearts that will not want to sin if we trust Him.

   The devil's weapons against us are fear, lies, discouragement and hopelessness. The devil will treat you like a piece of garbage. God doesn't treat us like that. When we come to Him in faith and repentance, He makes us new creatures in Christ. Old things pass away and new things come about. We live a new life in a new way, with a new power, and a new heart.

For more information on the Gospel message and how to know God personally, please go to http://thegospelconversation.blogspot.com  or  http://test4gp.wordpress.com

Please send an email to me if you have questions. Feel free to comment as well, but please be kind and respectful when interacting with others, even those we disagree with.

* 1 Corinthians 6:9,10
* Genesis 19
* Genesis 1 - 3
* 2 Corinthians 5:17
* John 10:10
* Leviticus 18:22
* Hebrews 13:4,5
* Romans 1

Thursday, September 18, 2014

How Many Babies Are Too Many?

  There has been a discussion on this in one of the forums I am in. The article caught my attention because the statistics are, for Islamic families, they have 6.8 children per family. But the average American Christian family is 1.8 kids. I think we already know some of the reasons for this. But to have it make more sense as to why it is a problem, we need to know what the Bible says about families and children.

   Does the Bible permit birth control? How does God view children? What about the cost of raising a family?

   I am not aware of any place in the Bible where birth control is discussed, as far as being permitted. But that doesn't mean that it is wrong. During the days when the Bible was written, there were no scientific inventions on the creation of birth control methods available. The only birth control methods available, were the natural ones. In the Old Testament, we see a man named Judah, who was to be in the ancestral line of the promised Redeemer, and he seemed to have some understanding of this, for he had three sons that are named in the Bible, and they would have carried on the family line, but because they were evil, God put them to death. Judah's daughter in law, Tamar, was married to 2 of Judah's sons. After God killed the first son, Tamar married the second son. The hope was the she would get pregnant and have this baby that was necessary in order to one day make it possible for the promised Redeemer to come. But this second son spilled his semen on the floor after having sexual relations with Tamar. He basically rejected the idea of being a father. Sure, Tamar must have been beautiful, and he enjoyed her, but, there was no intent on his part of being a dad. Judah had a third son, but refused to give him to Tamara, so, this created a problem. How was this promised Redeemer to ever come now? Judah was afraid of losing his last son, as he lost the first two because of their rejection of God.

  Over time, Judah's wife died, and Judah went to town one day and saw a prostitute and he decided to enjoy her (not a good idea!). Meanwhile, Tamar had dressed as this prostitute intending to trick Judah into getting her pregnant, so she could preserve the family line that would bring about the promised Redeemer. Maybe Judah just lost interest in God's promise and went on with his life. But, when Tamar was dressed as a prostitute, Judah got her pregnant. When he found out the Tamar was the dressed prostitute, he made an amazing statement. This is what he said, "She is more righteous than I." He realized the he was responsible for bearing children, sons in particular, in order to keep the family line going. But Tamar remembered. And she got herself pregnant in order to end up doing something right! (I'm not condoning prostitution!).

   I wrote all that because many make a doctrine against birth control using the passages that describe that scenario. There was a specific reason that birth control was not acceptable for that family, during that time. The family line had to produce the promised Redeemer and a baby son had to come out of that.

   But, if you look at the beginning of the Bible, in the book of Genesis, God gave a command. It goes like this: "Be fruitful and multiply." God wanted people and animals to reproduce. I believe this is when the sex drive came into place. It appears that God wants people to be born! When people are born, they can come to know Him and be redeemed. People can have a relationship with God! God can have a people for His own.

   There are places in the Bible where children are considered a "reward". Children are a gift of God. God's heart is for children to be in families. God wants healthy families. If society is made up of healthy families, society itself will be healthy. So, why is the issue of having children so hard for us to handle?

  I'm not going to go through all of this, but in Genesis 3, Adam and Eve listened to the devil and disobeyed God, and plunged the whole human race into the darkness of sin. Everyone born since then is a sinner. What this looks like, is basically selfishness. We love ourselves and put ourselves before others. We are not interested in God, and we want to be independent of Him. As we live out our lives, we run into many, many difficulties. Almost all of these difficulties have something to do with our selfishness (or someone else's) and how selfishness affects us. One of those expressions of selfishness is our lack of desire to have children. Children take up too much of our time. Children cost us too much money. Having children means that we will have to take care of them and we are responsible for them. That, is the expression of selfishness.

  But does this answer the question of how many babies are too many? Nature has a way of taking care of itself, and throughout History, women have birthed many children, but usually not over 20. Some could not bear children at all, and many died in childbirth. And some families did only have 2 or 3 children.

   Today though, we have control of how many children we want, for the most part. There are women that can never have children outside of a miracle. Some women use all kinds of birth control and still get pregnant. God really does control whether we have children or not, and that is not a slam on women who can't get pregnant. God loves women who are sterile just as much as He loves those who are fertile and we need to be careful that we don't start categorizing God's love by the fruit of our wombs or the lack of it.

  There are women who have lots of children, yet are terrible moms. It's not like God is saying, 'Jane is such a good mom. I will give her 12 children'. There are women who don't have children who would make wonderful mothers. There is also the need for parents to adopt children, as there are many who are abandoned or abused, or the parents simply can't take care of their child.

   Here is the heart of the situation though: What are the reasons why we don't want children, or why we don't want a large family? Some reasons make perfect sense, such as when there is a danger for the mom to get pregnant or give birth, or, if it is known that children born to certain women will be defective. But I don't think this is the situation we face in America today, or whatever prosperous country we live in.

  We live in a self-serving society. We prize convenience and ease, and even at the expense of others. We don't know what hard work is, and we don't want to know either. This was done to us intentionally. Our school system is not envisioned to teach people to think for themselves, so we grow up aimlessly, thinking we are here just for a good time.

  So, some of us enter into marriage, and are surprised to find out how hard it is. Many get out of marriage through divorce. Lots of people just live together now because it is easier (they think). Very few want children in the home. Children violate our selfishness. We can't have babies and get a good night's sleep. Children cost a lot of money and we would rather use that money to spend on nice vacations that we think we deserve. It's not in our thinking to have children, because we would have to become responsible, and that would require too much work. It wouldn't be easy anymore.

   The bottom line of why we have small families is due to selfishness. But we aren't looking at the bigger picture. Can't we see what is going on in the world. Islam, for example, has an average of 6 children per family, while the average 'Christian' family has only 1. We also have bought into the lie of the world becoming over populated. Do you think that if overpopulation is a problem, that it is too big for God to handle? The world is not overpopulated at this point, and if you were to look at the earth from an outside view, you would realize that there is way more open, empty land space than there is occupied space. No, the world is not overpopulated, and nature has a way of taking care of that anyway. And if God is sovereign, which He is, then He can work it out.

   It's not as if God has said, 'Be fruitful and multiply' until the year 2,000, then you can stop multiplying. God wants to populate the earth with people. God promises to take care of His own. The devil doesn't want people being born. The devil would eradicate the whole human race if he could.

  What about child rearing then? What if I don't want to do that? What if I want to have a nice career instead? Well, ask God about that then. The Bible says that a married woman is to be a keeper at home. Proverbs 31 talks about the virtuous woman. Both men and women have responsibilities in child rearing when children are in the home. We can't just have a bunch of babies and let them raise themselves! Yes, women are very competent in the work force. But can she do both a career and mothering at the same time and do them both well? I'm not going to answer that question, but I would propose a thought on it. What does God's word say on this issue? Would God prefer the woman to have a prospering career or would He rather have her raise children, if she is able to bear children, if the situation has to be either the career or the child rearing?

   How much of this can we be selfish in? Where do the boundaries of selfishness lie? The Bible talks about dying to ourselves, and crucifying our flesh. Jesus talks about our carrying our own crosses. The Bible talks about forsaking sin, and following God. We must abandon our desires when they interfere with what God desires for us. I heard a phrase one time that goes like this; When my will crosses God's will, my will must die.

  If you understand the valuable role of being a mother, and you are trusting in God for help, He will help you in being a mom. If you humble yourself and ask God for help, He promises to help those who ask. He will empower women to carry out their roles as moms. No mom is perfect and most make many mistakes, but we can't let that determine what we believe about motherhood.

   Do we realize the privilege we have as mothers as we raise our boys and girls to become men and women of God? The devil would love nothing more than to deceive us into thinking that it would be wise for us to have small families that we can manage easily and still do the things we want to do. But he also knows that people make up the church, and the Gates of Hell will not prevail against the church. So when you raise your son or daughter to know the truths of God's word, Satan is at a disadvantage. But if you choose to not have children, there will be no one to raise. There will be no children to disciple, nor will there be any children to equip to fight the forces of evil when the children are grown up. There would be no one to pass the baton to. But we will have the opportunity to see all the grand movies that came out and all the new gadgets to play with, that we would miss if we have children.

   When you stand before God in His presence on that day, are you going to present to Him your career, your list of movies you watched, your beach trips or trips to Disney, or, are you going to present Him with the results of what you have sown into your children's lives? Will you leave a legacy behind for your children to follow? The Muslims will. They have the average 'Christian' way outnumbered. Of course, since there is no truth for them to leave for a legacy, they will give them another type of legacy, the legacy of Islam.

  In the future, Islam will grow exponentially. Much of this will be due to the fact that they believe in reproducing. They are having babies. We are not, or not in the same measure they are. So, our few children and grandchildren will be greatly outnumbered by them. Is that what we want to have happen? Do you want your descendants to live in a Muslim populated society? Unless our hearts change, that is what we will be looking at. May we all look at our own hearts and see where God can change them?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Deity Of Christ - The Bible Is Very Clear

Allah Akbar is the chant. But is it really true or is it just wishful thinking? The way to fight against lies is using the weapon of truth. But I don't think we know how important it is to be defending the truth.

  I think in America today, we are lulled to sleep. It is more fun to watch a Harry Potter movie than it is to spend time doing spiritual warfare. What is more, we don't even see that we are in a battle. Or, maybe its just that we don't really care.

   Well, the Muslims care about what they believe in, but what they believe in is false. They believe a lie. So, we can look at what the Bible says about who God is.

  What does the Bible say about God? Is Jesus God? Is Allah God? Both the Old and New Testaments have a lot to say about this.

  Both the Old Testament and New Testament are about God being one. There is only one God, but He is Triune. The first clue of this is in Genesis 1:26 where it quotes God as saying, 'Let us create man in Our image."There are also references in the Old Testament of the Holy Spirit.

        God is so complex that our minds cannot fathom Him. Take for example, the fact that God is uncreated. He never had a beginning. Any point in eternity past, God goes beyond. Think about God also not having a limit. He has no boundaries. We are finite and we have a top and bottom part to us. But God doesn't have a top where He is stopped at. Any boundary where you think God's presence stops at, He goes beyond that point.

  But there are some interesting verses in the New Testament as well. Did you know that Jesus was the One who actually created everything? According to Colossians 1:16, He created all things that are in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, thrones and dominions, principalities and powers. All these things were created by Him and for Him. He also holds all things together. We also see this in John 1.

  In John 8:58, Jesus was talking to the Jewish people who were arguing with Him. He had just broken the loaves of bread and multiplied the fish for the people to eat, and they followed Him around because they were hungry. Everything was fine until Jesus started teaching them who He was. Then they started arguing. They weren't ready to hear this news, nor were they willing to change their way of thinking. Toward the end of the conversation in the Bible, Jesus tells them that He was before Abraham. They struggled with that as well. But then Jesus laid something very heavy on them, that they really couldn't handle. He said, "Before Abraham was, I am." Now that sounds like a strange sentence unless you understand Jewish history.

    In the book of Exodus, God was raising Moses up to lead the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt. Moses asked God what he should call Him. God responded by saying that His name was "I am". So, one of God's special names was 'I am". When Jesus said that before Abraham was, I am, the people understood what He was saying. He was basically calling Himself God. Of course, this was too much for the Jewish people to handle and they were ready to stone Jesus, but He got away.

   After God created Adam and Eve, the devil came into the Garden and wanted them to sin against God. If he was successful, then, in a sense, they would be under the rulership of the devil. So, the devil came in and tempted Eve first. God has told them that they were to eat anything in the Garden except the fruit from one of the trees called, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The devil lied and told them that they really wouldn't die if they ate this fruit and they would become wise like God. Eve fell for the lie and then Adam comes along and she gives him some of the fruit. God came after them and provided them with a covering because they now were sinners and needed an atonement. But God made a special promise to them. Actually, the promise was made to the devil and God was going to send someone who would give the devil a death blow. This is promised in Genesis 3:15 and it came to pass when Jesus died on the Cross. When He died, death was defeated, and all the powers of darkness were disarmed. Of course, the greatest act in History was when Jesus arose from the dead. He came out of the grave and was seen by many people.

  In the Old Testament, in the book of Isaiah, God says that there is no one like Him. There is only one God and nothing matches Him, or even comes close. All the idols in the world do not even compare to the true and living God. Jesus lived on earth for about 33 years, and He lived a perfect life without ever giving into temptation to sin. No human being has ever done that and never will because sin has tainted all of us and it is impossible for us not to sin. The Bible says that Jesus was tempted like us, but without sin. That is the reason why He could die for our sins. If He sinned, He would never have been able to die for our sins. But He is without sin, and He will always be our Advocate because we are sinners and need Someone to plead for us before God's throne.

   In the Old Testament, we read about the first Passover. How it came about was when the Israelites were in the land of Egypt, they were made slaves and were treated harshly. God was giving direction to Moses on leaving the land. Every time they started to leave the land, the Pharaoh would pull them back. Then God would send a plague to punish the Egyptians. The last plague was one in which a Death Angel was going to pass over the land and kill every firstborn son in each household. The Israelites were instructed to take a lamb, take the blood and place it on the door posts of the house. It had to be a lamb without blemish. When the Death Angel passed over the houses, he would see the houses which had the blood on the door posts, and would pass over those houses. That is where the word 'Passover' comes from. Because the Israelites obeyed God, they were protected, but the Egyptians were not protected and each household had someone who died. The wailing of the Egyptians that night was loud.

  It doesn't take too much thinking to see the connection of this event to an event in the New Testament. First of all, in the Gospel of John, John the Baptist was talking about Jesus in the first chapter. John the Baptist and Jesus were actually cousins, yet, John the Baptist was so honored and humbled by Jesus presence that he made some good statements. One of them was, 'I am not worthy to tie His shoelaces". One other thing he said was, 'Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world". Now, Jesus is the Lamb of God. I wonder if John the Baptist knew that Jesus was going to die for our sins.

   Just before Jesus died on the Cross, He celebrated the Passover with His disciples. He took some bread and referred to it as His body. He took the wine also, which represented His blood that was going to be shed for the sins of many. Jesus became our Passover Lamb. His blood protects us from the Angel of Death. It protects us from the Judgment of God.

  Something to take note of while Jesus was dying for us: In the Old Testament, God gave instructions on building a Tabernacle, then later, a Temple for worship. There was a special room set aside for the priests to enter once a year. Inside this room was the Ark of the Covenant, Aaron's rod, and a jar of manna. The Ark of the Covenant was significant because God's Presence was on the Ark. No one could see God and live. If people touched the Ark of the Covenant, they would die. Even the priests who went into the Holy of Holies, which was the special room they went into once a year to offer the sacrifice, were at risk of dying while bringing the offering in, so a rope was attached to their legs, in case they had to be pulled out of this room, for no one could go in this room and live. But, while Jesus was dying on the Cross, the curtain that separated this room from everything else, was torn in half, from top to bottom. Jesus' death was powerful enough to end the separation between God and man because of sin. Now human beings could come into God's presence without being killed, if the person is covered in the blood of Christ. (A person who is covered in the blood of Christ is one who trusts in Jesus as his or her Savior from sin).

   You might be asking yourself, 'If Jesus is God, then why didn't He know when the end of the world was?'. There is a section in Philippians which tells of Jesus humbling Himself and laying His power as God, down. He was still God, but in order to serve us by living on earth and dying for us, He had to lay His glory aside. He would have it back again, but for that time period, He laid His glory down. He operated as a man like us, but lived in the power of the Holy Spirit.

  Jesus healed people and raised them up from the dead. He healed deaf people. He healed lepers. He changed water into wine and cast out demons. Most of all, He became the Ultimate Sacrifice we needed to have in order to take our sins away and to set us free from sin, and from sin's hold on our lives.

    There are many prophecies in the Old Testament about Jesus coming, which He fulfilled. Isaiah 53 gives a vivid description of what He was going to be going through. It also tells us that He was going to take the burden of our sin upon Himself. One other verse says that it pleased God to crush Him.

   The One who created us also died for us. And He also rose from the dead, something that had never happened before, nor has it happened since. This kind of resurrection is different than the ones where Jesus prayed over someone who was dead and they came back to life. Those people did not receive new bodies yet, and eventually they died. But Jesus has a new body, and one day, people will too.

   Why is the deity of Christ important, you might be asking?  If Jesus is truly God in the flesh, then other religious belief systems are invalid. If Jesus is God in the flesh, then Allah is not God at all. Jesus did not have a Father called Allah. Allah never sent His Son to earth to die for people's sins. There is only one true God. It is either the God of the Bible, or it is not. If Jesus is God, then Mohammed is not God's prophet. Nor is Joseph Smith. If Jesus is truly God in the flesh, then Mormonism and Jehovah's Witnesses are wrong. They do not believe in the deity of Christ and they have a works mentality of salvation. If Jesus is truly God in the flesh, then there is no work we can do to be saved or to add to our salvation.

   Either the Bible is entirely correct, or it isn't. The Bible is actually one continuous story, of a God who created human beings who fell into the slavery of sin, and how the God who created them worked a plan throughout the whole Bible to redeem mankind from sin.

  You have to understand that sin is not something we are entitled to. We live in a generation where we feel like we are entitled to have whatever we want or think we need. When it comes to selfishness and the pleasures of sin, we feel entitled to those as well. Instead of seeing the danger of sin, and sin as our enemy that we need to be freed from, we see it as an asset, although we know it will keep us out of heaven. We devise ways to think that somehow Jesus died to take the penalty for our sins, but that we can still hold onto our precious sins. Nothing could be further than the truth.

   All religions have a form or method that is held by them, that they believe will get people into heaven or will get people right with God. Every one of them has some kind of work involved. Mormons believe that a person needs to believe in Jesus, but after that it is his or her responsibility to do good works. The belief in Jesus opens the door for salvation, but the person is responsible for continuing to do good works. In Islam, there are 5 pillars to follow. Even then, no one knows if Allah will allow them into heaven. Jehovah's Witnesses believe in good works as well. They will quote verses like, 'Faith without works is dead' to mean that we also must work to have faith. Even many 'Christian' groups, although possibly unaware, believe in good works adding or providing salvation. But the Bible is very clear that it is not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saves us. Not by works, but by faith alone are we saved. Yes, works will accompany our new life in Christ, but they are not what saves us. Only One lived a perfect life, and we get in on His score, not ours.

  One last thing to cover on this is that, according to the Bible, Jesus is the only way to heaven. There is no other name given to men, whereby we must be saved. Jesus said He is the only way to the Father, and in another place it says that there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5). If the Bible is a book that makes perfect sense from beginning to the end, and if it is truly God's love letter to us, then we need to look into it and know what it says to us. The Bible is not a bunch of hit or miss quotes or stories. It is a continuous story of God reaching fallen human beings and providing redemption for them. No one has to work to try to reach God any more. God has reached out to us by sending His Son to us. God sent His Son, not just to set an example for us to live by, but to provide the sacrifice we needed to have to cover over our sins, and to provide a death that would give a final blow to the Enemy of our souls. None of that is provided for in the Q'ran or the book of Mormon. There is no God reaching down to His people in those books.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Things I Am Irritated At

  O.K., I shouldn't be irritated should I? I should be grateful, and I am grateful for all that I have and all that God have entrusted to me. I can count my blessings and be in tears because of what I have and how I have been so richly blessed. Then why I am irritated and what makes me irritated? What should I do about this problem?

  I am irritated whenever I see or hear slander. This never really bothered me until I found myself in the middle of situations where people were being unfairly publicized. It's not only with people though. Did you know that the soy farm industry slandered the coconut industry in the 1970s and caused the coconut industry to loss money. It was all because of false reports and set up 'tests' to prove that coconuts were not as nourishing as people were discovering them to be. I have had relatives slandered as well as people I know in the church, as well as people who are well known in other churches. Even if the slandered person is at fault, there is no need to go public with the issues. If a person is considered 'dangerous' it still does not have to go public. If God is not big enough to allow the criminalized person to be caught and dealt with, and if we have to go outside of the Bible's parameters to make sure everyone knows how bad a person really is, then we need to do something else besides church.

   I am not a Bible scholar, although I have spent a lot of time in the word. But I get irritated when people diminish the power of God to try to fit a belief system that will protect them from getting too emotional. I am not going to name anyone here, but I have heard Godly people put down anything that has to do with emotions or worshiping God using our emotions. A person once made fun of a couple of songs that were out. I can't for the life of me figure out what it wrong with these songs. One of them is sung by Big Daddy Weave and the words that this person found disturbing are 'every I breathe You seem  a little bit closer, I never want to leave, I want to stay in Your warm embrace, Oh basking in the glory shining from Your face...". I can't imagine what is supposed to be wrong with this song. Here's another one sung by Phillips, Craig, and Dean: "I am a friend of God. I am a friend of God. I am a friend of God He calls me friend." I think I would be honored to be called God's friend. I am puzzled and don't get it. I guess personally, if you don't like those songs, it is o.k., but to think they are heretical or wrong, I am really puzzled. By the way, I have heard that PCD made a statement saying that they do not believe in modalism. So, either they changed their belief system, or they realized that everyone and their brother believes that they are modalists and want to set the record straight.

   The third thing that irritates me ties in with what I just wrote. I am tired of people throwing away the baby with the bath water. Practically speaking, I am tired of people developing teachings that limit God's power and give the few examples of people who operate in the spiritual gifts in a wrong way, making them the standard for spiritual gifts usage. We live in a fallen world and wherever there is truth, there will be counterfeits. There will be people from cults using the 'spiritual gifts' (although they really aren't using the spiritual gifts from God). There will be professing Christians using the spiritual gifts, but in a wrong way. Why would we be surprised? Then there will be Christians who are immature in their spiritual growth using the spiritual gifts much like the Corinthian church did. They do need correction and they do need someone to disciple them. I think that is where the church is lacking today. We are very unteachable, and when we come to Christ, we don't let go of that independence and wanting to do things our own way. It is hard for us to understand what discipleship looks like and how we are to respond to it (based on the Scriptures). I also know the 'discipleship' itself has been abused and many have been hurt by it because it was not done Biblically. But both discipleship and the power of God can be seen in the Scriptures and both can be embraced today, if used humbly, by those who are called by God to the church.

   There is no need to have conferences which divide people in the body of Christ on this matter. We need to stop arguing with each other and do what God says. All of this is to be on the foundation of love, and the greatest love that has ever been manifest was on that day when God's holy, perfect Son died in our place to pay the penalty for our sins. Can't we at least look at that and be grateful to God, and as a result of our receiving this love, can't we give this to others in the body of Christ? Are we so hung up on being politically spiritually correct that we miss the love and grace of God? When we hate others in the body of Christ, we are dividing and we are not loving. God tells us that others will know we our Christians (that we belong to God) by our love for one another. That includes being patient with others, not knocking other believers over because of their struggles with sin, or, their use of, or disuse of the spiritual gifts.

   I wonder what God thinks of the church today? I would imagine that He would be sad, especially when we know better. But I have to look at my own heart and my struggles with people. Sure, I pray that God will have mercy on the slanderers. I pray for unity in the body of Christ. I pray for healing and the love of Christ in the church (His Body). But I also know that I am susceptible to sinning by being angry and irritated. I have lost my focus on the Cross because I am too busy watching people stab each other and call names and make fun of other believers because of what they believe in and are living out. So, my confession is just that. I would like to turn my gaze back toward God, and off all the trouble. I am the one who needs to be prayed for. I am the one who needs to bask in God's presence and draw close to God. Thanks for allowing me to vent. I will pray once again the prayer I saw in the back of a Power magazine years ago dealing with marriage problems. "Lord please change my marriage, and begin with me." But it will have a couple of different words. "Lord, please change my world, but begin with me first." If I continue to dwell on the bad things, I will be the one to become bitter and angry. That can snowball and I could end up in the 'gall of bitterness' as Peter described one person as being in. I will be the loser. So, I will choose to worship God again, and let go of the things that irritate me today.

Friday, September 5, 2014

My First Date With My Husband And What God Was Doing in My Heart

  I formally met my husband at the Winter Park Youth Center on October 23, 1971. I did not know the Lord yet, but God was definitely working in my heart.

  During this evening, after I had cancelled a babysitting job, I was walking around and there were some big round wooden tables. A guy was at one of them, and I passed him a couple of times. Of course, my method of meeting guys during this time was to *smile* at them. It didn't take long for them to notice me usually, and respond.

   Even though I was not a Christian yet, I had an impression to meet this guy, so I did. I didn't know that there were rules to follow so I gave this guy my phone number. He called the next day and set up a date to go to a homecoming dance, to which I automatically responded in that I would go. I also invited him over to the house because I knew my parents were not going to let me date anyone they did not yet meet.

   My parents liked this boy, and I would be allowed to date him. But he asked me out for a strange kind of date. He would not tell me what it was, but he told me that I would like it because it has music. I was puzzled and unsure of whether I wanted to go on this date or not, and I have to give some background information as to why I was apprehensive about this date that would occur on a Monday night coming up.

   About six months before this all happened, God began to deal with my heart. There was something He wanted me to know. This all happened when I was 14, at the time when my grandmother passed away. I was continually experiencing an awareness that God wanted me to know something. Never could figure out what it was though. At this point, my heart was hardened to the Gospel. I did fear God up to a point, but now it was my turn in life to call the shots, so I thought.

   For my early school years, I didn't really know how to talk, so kids would pick on me and take advantage of that. Kids would bully me around and get me into trouble for things I should not have done, and by the time I was 13, I got really tired of this. I decided to turn the tables around and use my looks as a weapon against people bullying me around. I started bullying people around. I even beat people up now and started fights with people. But now, God was working in my heart, and I wasn't willing to respond, for if I did respond, I wouldn't be able to have power over people anymore.

   During the summer right after my grandmother died, we went up north to visit. I was thinking that this would be good for me, because this impression concerning God would probably go away while I was on vacation. But it didn't. In fact, it continued. I was constantly wondering what it was God was trying to communicate with me, but at the same time, I wanted to be ignorant of this awareness, because I wasn't willing to give up my desire for control.

   One time we were in the car, and a religious program came on (which was very rare). I plugged my ears because I wanted to play like I was ignorant of whatever God wanted me to know. I developed a phobia of being in a place where I would happen to hear about God and whatever it was He wanted me to know. I was learning to protect myself from this ever happening when all of the sudden my new boyfriend wants to take me to a place that he won't tell me what it is, except that I will like it because there will be music there. What if this place has to do with God? What will I do? Should I bring earplugs just in case?

   Monday night came, and my new date arrived to pick me up to bring me to this mysterious place that would have music. Oh no, we arrived at a church building! What is this? He explained to me that it was called, 'Young Life'.

   I sat at my very first ever 'Young Life' meeting as scared as could be. But I did sit and listen. I saw a lot of people there that I knew were not Christians. Some of them were smoking right there. Should I get out my cigarettes and light one up too? It was very strange indeed, and I did not understand the message that was given, but, I did stay there through the whole thing.

   We had gone to a couple more 'Young Life' meetings during that year, and it got easier for me to go to them. Whatever it was that God wanted me to know still eluded me, but the awareness was still there. My husband to be would ask me questions like 'Are you a Christian?' to which I would respond back 'yes'. He was really troubled by my baptism experience, and I was troubled by his continually bringing this up. I called the reverend at our church and asked him about baptism. Eventually, my boyfriend took me to talk with his pastor, at his church building about baptism. The pastor was very kind and realized that I didn't have a clue of what he was talking about. So, the pastor read a little booklet to me called, 'The Four Spiritual Laws' and asked me at the end, if I had ever prayed a prayer like the one written on the back. At that moment, it became clear to me that I didn't have a relationship with God. I was now beginning to see something about this awareness of God, and what God was trying to communicate to me.

   I took the booklet home and read it over and over again. I still didn't get it, but it was beginning to make some sense to me. I did pray the prayer in the back of the book, but not sure how much of the Gospel I grasped at that time.

   God used the relationship I was developing with my boyfriend to position me to respond to the Gospel. The following year was a struggle, for this boy I was dating and I were growing close together. But there were things he didn't know about me that probably would have made him end the relationship. The way I wanted to run my life and control my relationships with others would have interfered with my relationship with him. So, one day, very clearly it came to me, that I could either continue on with this relationship with this young man, or, I could go the other direction (which I was going anyway, but not in front of my boyfriend). I couldn't have both at the same time. I really loved my boyfriend though. What will I choose?

   If I continued in my rebellion, I would not be able to respond to God. I could give all that up and turn to God, and keep my boyfriend, or, I could just continue to try to impress my friends/enemies and bully people around and manipulate with my looks. I had to think hard on this. Either choice, I would have to give up something precious to me. I would either have to give up my boyfriend and my opportunity to know God, or, I would have to give up my control and manipulation, which I seemed to be very successful at during that season.

   God arranged for me to meet other people who were Christians, and they encouraged me as I responded to God. By God's grace, I let go of my ego and the other world that I was in, that would have bitten me in the end, anyway. It wasn't easy, but it was for the best. Honestly, I don't know where I would be today if God hadn't intervened. I have a feeling that I might now even be alive today. I am so grateful that God was putting things in my awareness about Him, and for the friends who I met because He put them in my life.

   I would not trade my life for anyone else's or any other option, no matter how grand it could have been. Even though life has been difficult, God has always been there and provided grace and help during the seasons of difficulty. Now it is my turn to help others to learn to hear from God. God gives us the ministry of reconciliation, which reconciles people back to God.

   Everyone needs to be reconciled to God because of sin. Sin is like a disease which everyone has. The only cure for it is the Gospel message. We sin because we are sinners, and we enjoy our sin. God can give us new hearts that are greater than our love and hold on sin. The power of God is so great that we can be free from sin, and the desire to live in sin.

   The essence of sin is simply loving ourselves instead of God. We all do this in many ways. Some of us are openly evil and end up in prison. Others are quietly evil, just basically self-centered. But God can help us all because He sent His Son around 2,000 years ago to die for our sins. He committed no sin, so He could die in our place.

   During that time, God the Father put all our sin upon His Son, Jesus. For three hours, the sun didn't shine and darkness was upon the earth. Jesus uttered these word, 'It is finished', which meant that everything necessary for us to be free from sin and to be cleansed from sin was accomplished. Another amazing thing happened though; the curtain that separated the Holy of Holies was torn in half. You might ask, what does this mean?

   The Holy of Holies was a special room that only a sanctified priest could enter during certain times of the year, and with a specific type of required sacrifice that was directed by God. If anything were wrong with anything in this event, the priest would die. In fact, I believe that there was a rope attached to him so he could be pulled out if necessary. No one could just enter this room where God's presence was in, or they would die. But when Jesus died, the curtain that separated this room and kept it secluded was torn in half. This simply meant that God and man could now be reconciled again. Now people can go free! We don't have to be slaves of sin anymore.

    Jesus provided the Ultimate Sacrifice for our sins. Up to that point, people who wanted their sins covered would have to slaughter lambs and offer them to God. Now we don't have to do that because Jesus died as the Lamb of God. He only had to die one time. Another spectacular thing happened though; Jesus rose from the dead! This has never happened before. Jesus was the first to rise from the dead! He stayed for a while and continued to teach the disciples. Then He ascended back to heaven. One Day, He will return to earth and will take with Him those who trust in Him. Only those who turn from sin and trust in Him will go with Him back to heaven. The others will go to a place of torment that will last forever. My mom used to call it 'the devil's fire' but the Bible calls it 'hell'. It is also referred to as the Lake of Fire. The devil will be in this Lake of Fire along with all his angels (demons, demonic realm). But sadly, all of us will be there too, unless we repent and turn to God by trusting in Jesus as Lord/Savior.

  For more information on the Gospel, please go to http://thegospelconversation.blogspot.com
or http://test4gp.wordpress.com