Spiritual Warfare Prep

Spiritual Warfare Prep
We Are In The Lord's Army

Sunday, June 22, 2014

A Short Testimony

   I want to give a brief testimony on this blog. I already have a page on this blog with part of my testimony, but I want to make a brief one here. I was challenged when a friend asked a group of us if there were anyone who would share their testimony in 2 minutes, to which I automatically know that I can't do in that time period. But I will try to hit a few key points in this one.
  I came from a morally good family, where mom took us to various churches most of our lives. In these churches, I never heard the Gospel message though, and was wondering what it was that God wanted us to know.
  When I was 14, God began to make Himself real to me. I was proud, arrogant, and making a name for myself (and being successful at it). This thought of God was continually in my mind, 24/7. After a while, I wondered what it was that God wanted me to know.
  Yet, I was running away from God as much as I possibly could. At this stage in my life, I didn't want God. I wanted to run my own life and do what I thought would make me happy.
  Some of the things I was getting myself into could have been dangerous. I almost got raped. I met people taking hard drugs and even had a boyfriend who was on these drugs. Some of the guys I met, weren't good at all for me, and I ended up brokenhearted (could have ended up a lot worse).
  This inner knowing that God was trying to reach my heart continued. I told the Voice in my heart, one night, that I would rather go to hell with my friends than turn to Him. But the Voice and inner knowing that God wanted me to know something continued anyway.
  My mom prayed that I would meet a nice boy that I could date (the ones I was bringing home were unacceptable). I have to go back to the week before in order for you to appreciate this story. I was seeing a guy who played in a band (wasn't allowed to date him though), and he introduced me to another guy while we were at  the Youth Center one night. I wasn't paying attention though, because I had an ex boyfriend who was just a couple of feet away, that I was trying to make jealous so he would like me again. The following week, was the week my mom prayed for a nice boy for me to date. I remet this guy I was introduced to the week before. At this point in my life, God was far away from me, but I knew there was Something telling me to meet this boy again (actually, I didn't remember that it was the same guy that my boyfriend in the band introduced me to, the week before). So we met, or rather, met again. And we started dating.
  The first date was to a place which he wouldn't tell me. He just said, 'you will like it. It has music there'. All I could think of was that I was going to be trapped at some religious meeting where I would come face to face with the fact that God was trying to get my attention. I dreaded the thought of where this new boyfriend was going to take me.
   The night came for our first date. It was at a church building and it was called, 'Young Life'. I saw some of my friends/enemies there. Some of them were smoking. I almost pulled out a cigarette, but didn't. I reluctantly listened to the speaker and didn't understand what he was saying. I was afraid I was going to hear some message telling me that I was going to go to hell.
  I avoided anything that had to do with 'religion' because of my fear of going to hell. Actually, I was afraid that I would find out that I was doomed and that there was no hope. So, anything that had to do with God that came my way, I closed my ears to. In fact, I remember being in the car with my parents, and there was a religious program on the radio, which I thought was strange. I made my ears clogged so I couldn't hear what the guy was saying.
  My new boyfriend was a Christian. He asked me if I were a Christian, to which I said that I was. He talked to me about being baptized. We even went out and talked to his pastor about being baptized. I had no clue what this pastor was talking about. The pastor gave me a little booklet called, 'The 4 Spiritual Laws' which I took home and read over and over again.
  We moved to a new house when I was almost 16. I was still dating my Christian boyfriend, yet, I didn't understand the Gospel yet. I still loved myself and still had cigarettes with me (I could actually buy them from a convenience store, but I could get them from rolling up cigarettes for my mom with her cigarette rolling machine. I would just make some for myself as well). My boyfriend actually told me that if I smoked, he wouldn't be dating me.
   The devil told me that Christians looked dowdy and if I were to become one, I would have to wear my hair in a bun, use no make-up, wear saddle shoes and black shirts with white blouses. I couldn't imagine a 'Christian' girl wearing normal everyday clothing, so in my mind, I met a bet with God. I would become a Christian if I could see Christian girls wearing blue jeans and make up, if they needed it. Sure enough, God heard my bet.
  In homeroom, we sat by alphabetical order of our last names. There was a bubbly girl who sat behind me in our row. She seemed to have a lot of people around her all the time, and she talked about the Lord as if He were right there with her. I thought this was strange, but I was intrigued. She asked me if I were a Christian, and, of course, I told her I was. Actually, I thought maybe I was by this time, because I had voluntarily prayed the prayer in the back of the 4 Spiritual Laws booklet. But I am not sure that I understood what the Gospel really was then.
  I had a lot of questions for this girl, who sat behind me in homeroom. I remember her asking, 'Don't you love Him?' I never heard about having a relationship with God. But she was a living example of what that was like.
  I knew I was a sinner, but I didn't see my sin as offensive to God. My sins were minor, so I thought. But deep down in my heart, I knew that I was in rebellion to my parents, (and to all authority) and I was running my whole life the way I wanted to. I understood that one day, for a question came into my mind. It was a question of 'which way are you going to go?'
  By this time, my boyfriend and I loved each other and were planning on getting married, probably in the future. But he didn't know the other side of me, even at this point in our relationship. I felt like I was two different people. Do I want to continue on the road to fame, and continue whatever it was I was doing to become popular, or, would I be willing to let go of all that in order to gain eternal life? Eventually, I would have to tell my boyfriend, and we would have to break up because he was dating someone he didn't know, but would find out one day. But, I could give all this up, and live for the Lord, and still have my boyfriend, if this was God's will for us. I was in the family room when this question was before me. I decided at that moment, to give up all the things that were so successful (or that I thought were successful, but were really lies from the devil) and to follow the God that I was running away from the year before that.
  It was amazing how God led me to meet all these different people He used to position me to come to Him. My life was radically transformed. God began working in my heart and the Bible was alive to me. I now understood what sin was, and why Jesus had to die on the Cross. It all made sense now.
  God gave me a new heart, and helped me to be able to say 'no' to sin. He gave me a brand new life with the power to live this kind of life. It was a new adventure for me, and the best one I could ever have had. It is better than anything I could ever imagine.
  My boyfriend and I were married two years later. On another blog sometime, I will write about that adventure, and how God led us to the church we are in, and the relationships with people we have in the body of Christ today. (Clue: the church we are in today, has a lot to do with the girl who sat behind me in homeroom).
If you have any questions about this, that you would like to ask me personally, send an email to: RUgood@mail.com
If you would like to learn more about the Gospel, please go to http://thegospelconversation.blogspot.com

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Dilemma of the Gay Community and Christianity

  I feel like I have to write this as I am reading so many things posted on the internet or published in a newspaper or magazine that indicate the ignorance of so many of us on this issue.
  So, what really is the issue, and what is the real problem? And even more importantly, what is the answer to this dilemma?
  There are so many facets to this problem, I honestly don't know where to begin. Which weed do I pull first? Should I go with my gut reaction, or should I be more factual? Maybe both? Compassionate or tough? Maybe both.
  I have written other blogs on this subject and don't wish to repeat everything I have already written. But let's just keep a couple things in mind first.
 1. Gay people are human beings, and like every human being, are to be respected as such. All people are created in God's image, and no matter how much we hate what a person does, they still have dignity because they are created in God's image.
 2. Homosexuality is a sin condemned in the Bible, but it is not the only sin condemned in God's word. If we wanted to list all the sins that God recognizes and will punish, the list would be very long, and on that list would be sin categories all of us fit into, whether we are Gay or straight.
 3. Many professing Christians today do not really believe the authority of God's word, and as such, will put God's word in a category as 'outdated' or 'passe'. They believe culture has more authority than God's word does, and when these professing Christians give counsel or even make claims, they will say things like, 'in the Old Testament days, science discoveries were not available like they are today, and therefore the Old Testament laws were only for those people that God was addressing at the time. Now we know better.'
 4. Many professing Christians who counsel base their beliefs on the principles of the Therapeutic Movement, which basically exalts man and demotes God. Many teach that God wants us happy and that anything negative or hard is harmful for us.

  Although people struggle with same sex attractions, I do not see that as the problem at hand. The whole problem of the Gay community (LGBT) is similar to the problem of Islam. It is a group of people who are gaining control and getting involved in government making laws that are unnecessary and harmful to others.
  On the one hand, I can empathize with the Gay people. Many struggled with same-sex attraction and wanted help from the church, but the church rejected them and would not offer help. They only offered condemnation on top of their struggles. People in the church mocked Gay people and shunned them. But notice something here; these Christians may not truly be Christians in the sense of being new creatures in Christ. Every generation has had these arrogant church going people who have been a stumbling block to others. If someone was part of their church who was involved in the porn industry, they would probably have ignored the person. In the 19th century, there were middle and upper class people who claimed that people who were sick were being punished by God. No wonder people formed their own psychiatric groups instead of using the church for help! What arrogant people were in the church. God does not allow His people to be arrogant. God will oppose the arrogant person or group of people.
  A Gay person struggles with his sexual life. We, as the church, need to help those who are struggling and want to repent. The Gay person ends up not wanting to repent because he knows nothing with happen with his desire for a sexual relationship with a person of the same sex.
  Whether you are Gay or not, if you have lived long enough, you know that there are things you struggle with that you can't seem to get rid of or overcome. We really can't get rid of our addictions and desires, but we can ask God for help. He will help us with our struggles. It won't be easy though, and we need others to walk with us while we seek help and deliverance.
  The dilemma though, is really with the concept of the Gay community, not with Gay people themselves. In certain countries, and probably soon in America, pastors will not be allowed to preach from the pulpit homosexuality as sin. If laws get passed to stop this, what other laws will come about? I saw a new one today. People are trying to make it difficult for evangelists to teach that Jesus is the only way to heaven. You might think this is ridiculous, but these people are forcing their way into the government, while we just sit back and say, 'How disgusting!'.
  A few years ago, we would have not believed this was happening, but, laws were passed which required teachers, (mainly science teachers) to teach Evolution as fact. A group of Christians went to prison because they were near a Muslim event in Dearborn, Michigan, a couple of years ago. They were just passing out tracts and talking with people who were interested. But they were arrested anyway. Years ago, a man went out sharing the Gospel with people, in a public place, and got arrested and went to prison. His trial was the next day, and fortunately, the judge dismissed him in a heartbeat.
   Yes, these people were not breaking the law. But they did get arrested and some went to prison. They got out because there was no law broken. But, we don't know what is cooking in the government today, unless we see things happening, like people going to prison for no reason except the preference of the cop.
  God loves Gay people. God loves pedophiles. God loves prostitutes. That doesn't mean God loves their sin. In fact, their sin is what nailed Jesus to the Cross. God loved us while we were still sinners. Jesus died to rescue us from our sins. Jesus is a great Deliverer too.
  God doesn't want people to stay in their sin though. Pedophiles need to be punished. Rapists need to be punished. Those involved in the porn industry or sex trafficking should be punished.
  There is a way out, and Jesus died to rescue us all from such sins and addictions. He can wipe our slate clean and give us power to change.
  There have been people who struggled with homosexuality, and have repented and come to Christ. God gave them the grace to turn from this sin. This sin is not good for anyone. There is no new religion or new science discovery that says homosexuality is genetic or can't be helped. Many homosexuals have had unfortunate sexual experiences done with them when they were children. This sets a trap for them to become Gay when they get older, or at least to struggle with sexual issues.
   I can be friends with a Gay person or Lesbian. I can love and accept them as human beings. What I can't do is to support a group of people who are marching their way, laying the foundation for a community of people who are opposed to God and what He says. I can have Muslim friends, yet I am not going to support in any way, Sharia Law.
  To the Gay person, I ask you to consider searching God with all you have. God promises to meet people when they honestly seek Him with their whole hearts. To those who are truly born again, I would ask that you humble yourselves and realize that you also have sinful struggles that you have to work through. Be patient with those who are Gay, and support them as they try to seek God. Empathize with them, realizing that you could fall into sin as well. (See Galatians 6). And to anyone else who is struggling with addictions, and sins, ask God for help, and keep asking. Find those you can trust in the church to help. Don't give up. God is more than glad to help you to become free.
For more help in understanding the Gospel, please go to http://thegospelconversation.blogspot.com or http://test4gp.wordpress.com 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Does Calvinism Promote 'Easy Believism'?

   This is a good question and one to consider. Does Calvinism even believe in 'easy believism'? Some have attributed Calvinism to having this belief, but is it true?
  The Bible talks about after people are converted, they are not to continue in sin (see Romans 6). According to the Bible, people are known by their fruits. But how do we understand the complexity of a redeemed person who still lives in a human body in a fallen world?
  To make this article short and to the point, yes, some who have been converted can still sin and bring much dishonor to God (see the Corinthian church, as well as Galatians). When we are truly born again, we receive a new nature, which is intended to rule us. We have a new heart with new desires which should rule our lives and govern everything we do. At the same time, we still have an old nature and the devil who continually is before us tempting us to sin, especially in areas where we won't see our sin. That's why so many Christians, especially those in leadership positions, fall.
  The Bible is very clear that we are not to continue in sin. With the power of God dwelling in us, we don't have to sin anymore. But, we do have to be vigilant and be aware of the devil's tactics, because he will always be there to tempt us with sin.
 Sin is not just the obvious things we do like lying, stealing, murder, talking back to our parents, but those are all indicators of deeper roots of sin in our hearts. If we deal with our hearts, we will be dealing with pride, arrogance, hatred, anger, idolatry, selfishness, putting our desires (even good ones) before God, manipulation, dishonesty, slander, etc. When those things are in our hearts (which they, by default, usually are) we will break the 10 Commandments on a regular basis. Most of us do not even know those inner flaws are in our hearts, and if someone confronted us with them, we would be blind to them. That's why we need to be asking God to reveal our hearts to us, so we can deal with inward sin roots. But sometimes, we can still obey the commandments, even though our hearts are filled with selfishness and pride. We can only obey them outwardly and in a limited way. We can be deceived into thinking we are doing pretty good, when on the inside, we really aren't (Pharisees are a good example; the outside of the cup was clean, but inside were dead bones and crud).(
  Those who attack Calvinism would claim that Calvinists believe the phrase 'Once saved. Always saved.' This is a true claim, yet, we have to understand the meaning of this phrase from the Bible. Does it mean that once a person comes to Christ, he can turn around and do whatever he or she wants? Of course it doesn't mean that. First of all, if a person has repented of their sins, and puts his or her trust in Jesus Christ as Savior, He or she will not want to go back into sin. That would be like being pulled out of a pit, only to go back into it. Why would anyone want to do that?
  I have talked to people on the streets and have come in contact with those who do believe this doctrine and believe they are saved, yet they either have never repented or they think they did, but can do whatever they want now. Did these people truly come to Christ? I doubt that anyone who would go back into sin (or who wants to stay in sin) would have truly been born again in the first place. We can't skip over the repentance part of this. Furthermore, we can't trick God into thinking we have repented when we haven't. God is bigger than that and knows everything. If you are playing games with God, He will never be fooled by you. You can't ever trick Him into believing that you repented when you really didn't. God knows everything from beginning to end, well, actually He knows everything throughout eternity past, present, and future.
  I think this is where the crux of the problem is. It goes back to this idol of an all-loving, all-forgiving God who people say they believe in. No wonder there will be many surprised people on That Day.
  Yes, the Bible does teach that once a person is saved, he or she will not lose his/her salvation. The issue is not really one of being able to sin after you come to Christ. The issue has primarily to do with whether the person really has come to Christ and whether salvation has actually taken place in his or her own heart.
  Many people trust in an action as their salvation. Many will say, after being asked if they have come to know the Lord, that they were baptized at such and such a time, or, they asked Jesus in their hearts at such and such a time. Some will even say they joined at church at such and such a time. I hope my readers know that going down an aisle, raising your hand, saying a prayer, being baptized, joining a church, or any other activity like those, as good as they might be, do not constitute salvation. Going down an aisle does not forgive your sins. But, if you are down in the front, praying for God to show mercy to you, and repenting of your sin, and turning to God, God will meet you where you are at. This whole thing has to do with your relationship to God, not something you did to mark your day of salvation.
   We don't 'pray' to get saved, but we respond to God, which involves prayer. God does the saving. God can save us because we deserve to be punished eternally for our sins, but God sent His Son to take our punishment by dying on a horrible Cross (crucifixion) in our place. Just knowing this information doesn't save us. We have to respond to God by repentance and faith. And when we do this, God promises He will never leave us or forsake us, and He will completely remove all our sins. We will be washed in the blood of the Lamb of God (Jesus) and will receive robes of righteousness.
   Easy believism is simply believing the Jesus died for our sins, yet, it doesn't require anything out of us. Calvinism does not believe in easy believism. The Bible doesn't teach that people can believe this way and still go to heaven after they die. Any truly born again person will see sin in a different light and it will be ugly now. The temptations to sin will still be before us and will be many, but we must learn how to say 'no' to sin, and 'yes' to righteousness. Through the process of sanctification, we grow spiritually and become more like Christ. As long as we are on earth, we will struggle against sin, yet, those who are born again will be able to resist sin and desire righteousness.
  The promise of God to those who know Him, is the forgiveness of sins. He promises us that when we do sin, we have an Advocate, who is Jesus Christ, His Son. Also, if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (see 1 John 1). That does not mean that it is ok for us to sin. We will sin though, because of our fallen nature and the deceitfulness of sin. God will pull us out, pick us up, brush us off, and give us the power to get back on track with Him.  And that is what makes grace amazing.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Should Good People Go To Hell?

  Should good people go to a place of everlasting punishment? Would that seem fair to you? Why would a good person end up in hell, or do they?
  I remember when I was 15, God was dealing with my heart. I knew there was something He wanted me to know, but I didn't know what it was. My mind was continually trying to figure out the 'fairness' of why good people would go to hell.
  I remember looking at a girl who was my age. She was quiet and didn't bother anybody. She did her work and she seemed like a decent person. I remember thinking to myself, 'Why would someone like that end up in hell? It just doesn't make any sense.'
 Think about the man who loves his family. He's super responsible and his wife takes care of the home and mothers her children well. They take family vacations together and rarely argue. They look like a model family to the world around them. Why in the world would they go to an everlasting punishment, or would they? What does God think about them?
  We are familiar with the 10 Commandments and most of us would give ourselves a grade of about 6 to 8 on a scale of 10 in keeping the Commandments. But in reality, we really are missing something. What is it?
   When God created mankind, His intention was for man to have a relationship with Him. God created every human being to be a worshiper of Him. One of the great Commandments, which underlies the 10 Commandments, is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and strength. Another command is to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. If we obeyed those commandments, we would easily obey the 10 Commandments.
  The first Commandment of the 10 Commandments tells us that we should have no gods before God. Most of us assume that Commandment is a no brainer. We think we already love God and that He is in first place in our hearts. But is He really?
  The other day, we were at a table talking with a few young people who had very interesting and strange understandings of God's judgments. A question was asked, 'Do you believe that Jesus is the only way to heaven?' and the person's answer was 'Yes.' 'Do you believe in Him?' was the next question to which the person replied, 'Yes'. But here was an interesting twist; the next question was this, 'You believe Jesus is the only way to heaven and you are trusting in Him for your salvation. Let's say you have a Muslim friend who is faithful to his wife and children. He works hard at taking care of his family. He does the 5 Pillars of his faith, faithfully. He dies and is before God. Do you believe God will let him into heaven?'. The person didn't hesitate, but said, 'Yes. God would let him into heaven.' 'But you just said that Jesus is the only way to heaven' was the next question for the person. The person responded by saying that God would look at the Muslim's heart and see that he really was good. Interesting. (By the way, you can insert any man made religion in place of the word, 'Muslim').
   Now, my question is this; Is this Muslim man 'good'? Is the man I described on the top of the page 'good'? How about the girl in my class? What is our definition of 'good'?
   All people can do some good things. Men can be responsible and love their families. Women can love and even die for their children. There are organizations everywhere which start orphanages. People donate tons of money to children's hospitals. There is nothing wrong with doing these things. We do these things because we have compassion and we do them as a result of being created in the image of God, but these activities do not make us good people.
  So, what is missing? Here's what is missing; a relationship with God. A relationship of being reconciled with God. We can do all the good works we want to, but only the ones that are done out of a relationship with God, are the ones that will count.
   No human being is capable of obeying the Great Commandments which are; love God with all your heart, mind, and strength, and, love your neighbor as yourself. No one has God at the center of his or her life, nor do people have God as their greatest affection in their lives. We love other things. We love things more than we do God. We love vacations, nice homes, cars, clothing, families, food, careers, education, entertainment, status, friendships, etc. We spend all our energy on these things. We were created to spend our energy in worshiping and loving God. All of these things are good, and we should be thankful for them as we have them, but they are only substitutes for God in our lives. God promises to take care of us when we trust in Him, but these are the things we live for.
  So, the good person dies and is before God. He does everything good, at least on the outward appearance. But, the one thing He is missing is a relationship with God. So, how can God declare this man innocent, when he has broken the first Commandment all his life?
  Are we really good people if we don't have God? We can have all our ducks in a row, but miss the boat if our relationship with God is broken. That's why Jesus came to earth. He died to pay for our sins, but He also died so we could be reconciled to a holy God. When we turn away from sin and selfishness, and trust in Him, He gives us a new heart that can love Him. Now we can have the power to love God and the strength to live for Him and His glory instead of for our own.

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;  that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.  Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 ESV."

Monday, June 9, 2014

Hiding From Santa

   When I was 5 years old, my mom took my brother and me to Korvettes to see Santa. We waiting in a long line, similar to waiting for a Disney ride. Finally, our turn came to sit on Santa' lap. Everything was fine for about 10 seconds. Then I freaked out. After all, this was Santa, not just anybody. I got off his lap and ran toward my mom.

  When I was 11, I was in Sears with my friend. It was around Christmas time, and we were in the Christmas section of the store. On the end of the aisle, there sat Santa. He saw me, and beckoned me to come and sit on his lap. He gestured to me to come. I ran and hid. Of course, I was older and it became more of a game. Santa spied me again, and held up a big peppermint stick and beckoned me to come. Again though, I hid.
   In Genesis 3, Adam and Eve hid too. Only this time, they were hiding from God. God came after them and asked them what they had done. They knew they were in big trouble because they had eaten the fruit from the forbidden tree, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. They outright disobeyed God and they knew that there were going to be consequences.
  When I was 5, I was in awe of Santa. I thought there was only one Santa and I would receive presents depending upon if I were good in his eyes. I couldn't believe I was sitting on the lap of the man who lived in the North Pole and who could see me when I was sleeping and knew what I was doing when I was awake. I just could not believe that I was this close to Santa, this one of a kind person. Basically, I was worshiping him and treating him as if he were like God.
   Could you imagine though, really sitting on God's lap? The Creator of the universe beckoning for you to come to Him, not with a peppermint stick but with the Cross of His Son, who died for us? That would truly be awesome!

  But we are like Adam and Eve. We hide from God because we are sinners. The problem is, we love our sin and do not want to part with it. We know that if we get close to God, we will be letting go of those objects of our affections, whether they be relationships, food, pornography, black market shopping, manipulation, arrogance, promiscuity, bullying, family, friends, status, money, career, hobbies, hatred, vengeance, drugs, anger, reckless living, you name it. We have both good and bad things we love and are not willing to part with.
  God wants to be the object of our primary affection. He wants us to love Him more than anything else we have, or anything else that we want. That is why He made us.
  The Royal Law, or Great Commandment is to love the Lord your God, with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. This is the key to obeying all the other commandments.
  God does go after us and He beckons us to come to Him. Our natural reaction is to run away, because of our sin. He will not force us to respond to Him, but His desire is that we would turn to Him and trust in Him, not only for His blessings and provision, but also as the provider of the ultimate sacrifice for our sins.
   Santa is just a fictional character, based upon a true figure in History. Santa really doesn't have power to see everyone when they are sleeping. He doesn't know what you are doing when you are awake. He doesn't really know if you have been good or bad either. But God knows everything. God knows the bad things that all of us do. In fact, they are recorded in a book, and on Judgment Day, they will be brought out and dealt with, unless our records have been wiped clean.

   Our records can be wiped clean. That is the good news. We do not have to be judged for our sins. God sent His Son to us 2,000 years ago, to take the punishment for our sins. He never sinned or did anything wrong. The Bible says, 'The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all unrighteousness'. If you want your sins cleansed, and you want a clean slate, turn to God, and repent of your sin. Trust in Jesus Christ, Who died to pay for your sins. God will not only forgive your sins, but He will give you a new heart with new desires. He will give you power to live a Godly life and to overcome sin. His Holy
Spirit will dwell in you. He will give you eyes to see Him with and you will begin to understand what the Bible says to you. He will give you ears to hear His voice, the only voice of truth. He will give you eternal life, a life with God in heaven that will never end. You will have a relationship with the true and living God, the Creator of the universe and the sustainer of life, and you will not have to hide anymore.
For by Him all things were created in heaven and on earth,
visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or
rulers or authorities-He created all things.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in." Matthew 11:28 ESV
"All that the Father gives me shall come to me; and him who comes to me I will in no wise cast out." John 6:37

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Why Do Some Professing Christians Get Offended When Offered A Gospel Tract?

  I am always intrigued and perplexed when I am giving out tracts to people, and they inform me that they are already a Christian, and become offended because I offered them the tract.
  What could the reasons be for their offense? I am going to give some slack here first. One reason possibly, is that the offended 'Christian' doesn't trust the person who is giving the tracts out. This is understandable in our culture. We have many people who are untrustworthy who offer many things to people, only to trick them or manipulate them into something. I have talked to these professing Christians and once I engage them in a conversation, they are entirely different. They enjoyed talking about the things of God.
  What other reasons could there be though, for their offense? I think, many times, people really don't have a handle on the Gospel message. It is hard for me to imagine, but it is true, that some people I talk to don't get the Gospel. For a while, we seem to be on the same page, yet, in a later part of the conversation, I can tell that they don't understand the Gospel, yet they would try to make one believe that they are truly converted. They claim to be good, or not bad enough to go to hell.
  Many think that the person giving a tract out, is judging them. And they are sure that they think they won't measure up. But that is what the Gospel is for. Jesus came to save those who are lost. We mistakenly think that if we deliberately try to be good, then somehow we will earn God's favor on us, but it isn't true. Nothing we can do will make us love God any more than He does already. Those who give out tracts need to be humble and compassionate.
  The message of the Gospel is like medicine for the soul. We have a spiritual disease called 'Sin'. The only cure is the blood of Jesus Christ. All people need cleansing from their sins. No one is exempt from the grasp of sin. The person who is giving the tract out is a sinner by nature, but who is also cleansed by the blood of Christ. If the person giving the tract out thinks he is above sinning, then he is most deceived. We all need the medicine of the Gospel. It is the only cure for our sin.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

God is God. We Are Not.

  The title is stating the obvious. We are not God. We can try to pretend to be, but we are not God. But how do people pretend or act out when they think they are God.
  People think that they have the wisdom of God, first of all, when they don't. Compare God with people. God knows everything. We know very little. God knows every atom and molecule in the universe. No human being can do that. God created everything. People can't do that. People can deny that God exists, especially if they don't accept the fact that God made everything and knows everything.  That is the reason the theory of Evolution exists and is plausible in the minds of many.
  If a hurricane is on the radar and is coming toward my area, I can deny it all I want. I can tell everyone around that there is no hurricane coming. I could make signs saying, 'There is no hurricane coming here". But, the hurricane will come and go, and do whatever destruction it's going to do, and I could still deny that a hurricane came.
  People who do not like God, or the concept of a God that they will give account to, can corroborate any kind of story that sounds plausible, but, if something is true, no story will hold a candle to it.
  We can become angry with God and use the reasoning of thousands of children starving to death every day. Or, innocent people being taken over by tyrants. Whatever the story is, we seem to be stuck on it and we are using it to try to make true something that isn't true.
  The problem with us, and I said this above, is that we don't have the wisdom of God. We don't have the knowledge of God. We don't understand the 'bigness' of God. We don't understand the majesty of God. We don't understand the potency of God. But we stand in judgment of God. We put Him on the judgment seat and have judged Him to be a tyrant or something other than what He really is. We put ourselves in danger of His judgment against us. He is God. He is the judge. We aren't. We simply do not have all the facts. We do not have the bigger picture. We don't have enough information or power to place a right judgment on God.
  Many people struggle with what they don't understand about God. Some shape their ideas of who God is by their life experiences. For instance, if a woman has a baby and the baby dies, the woman questions God. She may take it personally and think God is punishing her. She may become angry at God and decide that she doesn't want to know Him if He is a God who allows babies to die. She will never learn to trust God if her information about God is formed from her experience.
  Where can we get information about what God is like, and who He is? God describes Himself in His word. But we still have to be careful here. We take things out of context and make complete doctrines out of one aspect of God. We add a lot of extra into what is written and we can end up with some way off conclusions. One example of this is the concept of God's love. The Bible says, 'God is love'. We take that to mean that God is ok with us in our sins. We actually come up with a phrase that says, 'God is all loving and all forgiving' but we have to test this against Scripture. Does 'God is love' mean the same thing as 'God is all loving and all forgiving'? Not at all. God is love. His love made a way for us to be forgiven of our sins and also provided the power for us to live a Godly life. God actually is all loving and all forgiving to those who repent and place their trust in Jesus Christ as their Savior from sin. But if we take that statement of God being all loving and all forgiving to mean that we can do whatever we want and still avoid God's judgment over us, we are badly mistaken. We don't understand the price that God paid for us to be saved. We must take this way, for this is the only way to have our sins forgiven and to be reconciled to a holy God.
   If I had a terrible disease and there was only one cure for it, if I wanted to get well, I would have to take that one cure. Nothing else will work. If that medicine were hard to find and very expensive, I would have to search for it and work hard for the money to pay for the medicine. The medicine would be precious to me. Just the knowledge of this wonderful medicine that can cure my illness is not enough to make me well. I must take this medicine to get well.
  We are sick with a spiritual disease called 'sin'. Every person is affected by it. God will judge all sin one day and those who die with this spiritual disease will go to hell forever. The only cure for this disease is the blood of God's only Son who died a horrible death to make the payment for our sins.
  To some, this medicine for the soul is sweet and precious. But to others, this medicine is bitter and indigestible. Those people who find God's cure for our souls as bitter, are the ones who claim God doesn't exist. They are the ones who shake their fists at God because God is interfering with their idols. They are the ones who challenge God to kill them if He really exists. They are the ones who laugh and mock because God didn't strike them down when they challenged Him to do so. One day, they will be surprised though, for they will be struck down with death and they will face a God they say doesn't exist. God is patient and merciful to them so they would have a chance to repent.
   We can laugh at God, make fun of God, call God names, etc., but guess what? God is God and we are not. Nothing will ever change that fact, no matter how hard we wish.
  One day, we will all be before God. Everything we have ever done or thought will be revealed. Everything secret we held will be made known.
  You might be thinking, I don't like a God like that. My God wouldn't do anything like that. You are right, because you have created a god of your own desires. You have created a god who will give you what you want, much like a genie in the bottle. The true and living God is not like a Genie in the bottle. He calls the shots and makes the rules. He puts the boundaries around us. Your god doesn't exist.
  If we turn to God, He promises to keep us, forgive us of our sins, live in us, give us power to live for Him, and He will take care of us. He will help us to be delivered from sin and sinful ways. He promises to bring us to heaven and is making a house for us there.
  If we don't turn to God, we will remain an enemy of God, and will be under His judgment. He promises those who reject Him as Lord and Savior, that they will depart from Him and be thrown in hell, where they will be tormented for all eternity.
  God's promises are not for the spiritual elite. They are for sinners who repent and turn to God and are willing to let go of their 'rights' to themselves. Those who are steeped in sin can repent and be welcomed into the kingdom of God. God can save the worst sinner who is alive today, if that person would turn to Him in repentance and faith.
   Please write to me if you have any questions or would like more information on this. Also, go to http://thegospelconversation.blogspot.com  or http://test4gp.wordpress.com for more info. Feel free to comment or send an email to RUgood@mail.com .

God is God. We are not. He makes the rules. He calls the shots.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Day The Devil Hijacked Planet Earth

   You might not think of sin as a big deal. Maybe you even consider yourself a fairly good person. If you compared yourself with Hitler, you probably would come out the winner! Sin might seem harmless to one, that is until he or she is affected by someone else's sin.
   Why do people sin anyway? Certainly, we can chose to not pick up a gun and kill someone, right? Are you surprised at some of the things you have done? Do you feel guilty because of the bad things you have done?
   We don't think of ourselves as sinners, simply because we don't see our own sin. In Matthew 7, Jesus is talking to the disciples about not judging another person in a harsh way. We have to be careful because we can see someone else's sin, but we don't see our own. The issue is one of pride. We think we don't sin, but the person we are observing is sinning and we could think we are better than they are. That would be similar to bullying someone around, but in the spiritual sense. We are to deal with our own sins first, then we can deal with the sins of other people to help them to be free.
   How did we get here though? Why are we all sinners, and why can't we see our own sin? It goes back to something that happened around 6,000 years ago. God created a beautiful earth with perfect plants and a perfect living environment for people to live in. God also created human beings. He created Adam first, then Eve. He said that His creation was 'very good'. He was pleased in the way He made Adam and Eve. God communicated with Adam and Eve and they had a good relationship with God.
   Not only did God create a beautiful earth and human beings, but He also created a heavenly realm with angels. Angels are beautiful and more powerful than human beings, but human beings are created in the image of God.
  We are not told much about the heavenly realm or about the angels, but the Bible gives clues throughout. We are told that one of the angels got angry and rebelled against God. According to Jesus, this angel was cast out of heaven onto the earth. He probably took 1/3 of the angels with him. They may be the demons we deal with today. There is a lot of vagueness when it comes to the angelic realm, but we try to put information together as best as we can.
   Every day, God would come to Adam and have fellowship with him in the Garden. God instructed Adam concerning many things. One instruction He gave was to not eat of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. There was a lot of food choices for Adam and Eve, even compared to what we have today, yet, they were to not eat of this particular tree.
   One day, Eve was in the Garden, and a serpent came up to her and talked to her. Perhaps, animals talked to humans at this point. She didn't seem alarmed. The Serpent explained to her that if she took of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, she would become like God. It was the voice of the devil who was speaking and tricking Eve into eating the forbidden fruit. We are not told what the forbidden fruit was, but we do know that it wasn't an apple. Eve thought about it. After considering what the fruit could do for her, and against the knowledge that she was told not to eat it, she decided to eat the fruit anyway. What really caused the problem though, was Adam came along and she gave him some. This is the point in time where he should have stopped her, but he didn't. He also partook of the fruit. He knew better.
  The same wicked desire that was in the devil's heart in trying to be like God, was in the heart of Adam and Eve. They knew the fruit would make it possible for that to happen, or, at least that is what the devil told them.
  God was not surprised that they partook of the fruit. He knew they would do that. Later on that day, God came to find them, and they hid. Not only did they hide, but they tried to cover their sin by sewing fig leaves together and covering themselves. God found them and asked them some questions. When asked why they ate the fruit, basically, Eve blamed it on the devil. It was like she was saying, 'The devil made me do it.'. God pronounced a curse on the devil. He told the devil that there would be a battle between him and mankind, yet someone (a seed) would come and crush his head. God explained that Eve would suffer in childbearing and Adam would suffer by having to work very hard now, in a way that he didn't have to work before. Weeds and bad plants would come up instead of good fruit being produced.
   We have been experiencing difficulties ever since. Not only do men have to work hard to provide for their families, and women having excruciating pain in childbirth, but men and women have been at odds with each other ever since. Wars have come and gone. Natural disasters happen and cause much destruction. Sicknesses are everywhere and everyone dies. The world has become a very hard, sad place to live.
   We think we can go to an island and run away from the problems, but that doesn't work. The problem of sin is within each one of us. We were made to love God, and all the people around us, but instead, we love ourselves and hate those around us (unless they can benefit us in some way).
  All of us declared 'autonomy' from God. In other words, we all make a declaration of independence from God. And we live in a world filled with people who are all declaring independence from God. We are like the hamsters in the aquarium that we pick to buy and bring home. The hamster doesn't know that we want to love him, take care of him and play with him. As soon as the gloved hand comes into the aquarium to pick up the selected hamster, the hamster runs for his life. He sees the gloved hand as a threat to his life and tries hard, and will probably bite the gloved hand if he can. We are like that with God. We think that if we turn to God, He will take all our fun away and make us miserable (another lie of the devil). We are hostile toward God. We are really enemies of God.
  We are spiritually blind and cannot see God. We are spiritually dead and cannot know God. We are in spiritual darkness until we come to Christ in repentance and faith. When we do, God will take the veil off our faces and give us eyes to see Him with and ears to hear His voice with. We live in a spiritually dark world, where we can't see, hear, or know God.
  God gave a promise to the devil, that Someone would come to give him a death blow, and God kept His promise. 2,000 years ago, God sent His only Son, Jesus the Messiah, to be born as a baby, and live a life as a human being. Jesus lived for about 33 years, and He never did anything wrong. He never sinned. He came so that we could be reconciled to God, His Father. Because of our sins, which are so terrible before God, Jesus had to come to earth, to live a perfect life, and to die in our place. Either we have to pay for our sins by living eternally in hell, being tormented without an end, or, we have to turn to God, and trust in Jesus' death on the cross, to pay the penalty for our sins. There is no other alternative to being reconciled to God.
   Sin is what separates us from God, and keeps us from knowing God. One of the devil's tricks is to tempt us to sin, so we will be punished by God and kept separated from Him.
   Jesus dealt a death blow to the devil and the fallen angels. The blood that Jesus shed on the cross, defeated the power and works of the Enemy of our souls. He is now defeated and awaits judgment in the Lake of Fire. Jesus' death does not apply to angels. The fallen angels cannot repent and turn to God. They are doomed without a chance to repent. But human beings can repent and be restored to God.
  Jesus not only died for our sins, but arose from the dead on the third day after His crucifixion. He was on the earth for about 40 days, then He went back to heaven to be with His Father.
  When Jesus came back to life, He had a resurrected body. When He comes back to earth, to collect those who are His, they will receive a new body, one that will never have decay. All those who are resurrected will receive new bodies that will never die, nor will there be any sickness or pain in those bodies. God will bring about a new heaven and earth, like the one that was destroyed before the devil hijacked it. Everyone who has a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, will live on this new earth with their new body. The others will live in the Lake of Fire with the devil and his workers.
   So this is the story of how the devil hijacked planet Earth. Planet Earth was beautiful and perfect at one time. It was destroyed after the devil hijacked it. It will continue to be in this condition until Jesus comes back and brings the new heaven and earth to us. Then everything will be back to the way it was before the fall of man. And there will never be anyone who will hijack planet Earth anymore!
For more information on how you can be reconciled to God, go to http://thegospelconversation.blogspot.com