Sunday, November 1, 2015

Can We Change Our Status?

So, this morning during Bible Study, we were working through a Bible Study Series put out by the folks over at BasicGospel. The book is called, The New Covenant Journey, and can be purchased over at their online store, if you're interested. The guys get together and work through it themselves on Friday, and invite you to join them. 

My friends and I, we're still trying to catch up, but that's okay. Each at his own pace. We're in chapter 2 that talks of the 4 promises of the New Covenant. We only made it through the first 2. But one of the questions that totally just filled my heart with joy, was the one that asked: Can you change your status in any way once you have entered into the New Covenant? A resounding NO! is our answer.

I know, I know.. many people would gawk at that, and get all indignant like. You know the ones--backslide into hell, God not being able to look on sin, we have free will to change our minds... etc, etc.

However, the verses that were brought out was found in Hebrews. One of the guys in the study said that Hebrews is basically just the Reader's Digest version of the New Covenant. I Corinthians was also mentioned.

Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5

Again, the answer to "can we change our status" is a resounding no! Why? The Old has gone, the New is here. Once we're "new", we no longer have access to that old person. Sure, the same fleshly body, but it's a body that in indwelt with the Holy Spirit. Will that ever change? No. I can never go back to that old self. It's gone. It's not here for me to go back to.

Another assurance we have that our status will never change, is the fact that God made a promise with Himself. Nobody else was able to enter into that promise He made. If God promises something, you can bet it's so. Hebrews 8 quotes some prophecies that were told to Jeremiah, concerning Christ, and what that means to us...

 For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. But God found fault with the people and said[b]:“The days are coming, declares the Lord,    when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel    and with the people of Judah.It will not be like the covenant    I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand    to lead them out of Egypt,because they did not remain faithful to my covenant,    and I turned away from them,declares the Lord.10 This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel    after that time, declares the Lord.I will put my laws in their minds    and write them on their hearts.
I will be their God,    and they will be my people.11 No longer will they teach their neighbor,    or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’because they will all know me,    from the least of them to the greatest.12 For I will forgive their wickedness    and will remember their sins no more.[c]13 By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.

Guess what? The New Covenant has come. His laws--believe in the name of His son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another (I John 3:23) are written on the heart of every believer. Guess what? The New Covenant has come. He has forgiven ALL our sins and remembers them no more (2 Corinthians 5 talks about that--the same passage that talks about the new has come and old has gone)
Can our status change? No. Those who belong to God will always belong to God. Those who have the Holy Spirit living inside of us will always have the Holy Spirit living inside of us. 
I recall being introduced to the New Covenant many years ago. After months of talking back and forth, the book, Classic Christianity by Bob George was introduced to me, and upon reading it, I knew there was a decision to be made. A few minutes before making the conscious decision to embrace Jesus and all that He is, all He has to offer, the thought came to me that, if I did indeed decide that Jesus is the gospel that saves, I would be turning my back on a lot of my religious upbringing. I would be turning my back on the theology of the local church I had attended, and most likely, would be ostracized by family and friends. I felt as if I were betraying the time and love my Granny had spent on me; my Granny, as far as I was concerned, walked on water, herself. Was this gospel really worth all of the betrayal? Was it worth the ostracizing? Was it worth the potential loneliness? 
Yes. Of course, when one has Jesus, one is never lonesome. He really does supply our every need. If He feels we need someone with skin on, then He'll make it happen. But that's another story. 
The point is, once we've determined in our heart that we are indeed in the New Covenant, then that status will never change. 
It is so worth it. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

It's a Small World After all!

 This tune repeated itself madly through my head when, as a young teenager, I had the opportunity to ride this amusement park ride at Disney World. Over and over again, the children's voices rang out this truth: It's a small, small world! This morning, we talked about that a bit--here we are, nearly 40 years after that first initial ride, and the song still rings true. The world and its inhabitants grow closer and closer together, yet the heart remains farther and farther away.

 This past weekend, I had the opportunity to visit a living museum park in our community. Within its gates, visitors could read about the "good old days" of moonshiners, revenuers and religion. Most folks stayed within a 100 mile radius of their birthplace. Running shine was a very large part of the economy, and other than the government, whom the locals felt had too much meddlin' in family life, no one, not even preachers, seemed to mind.

 Someone had the common sense to interview several survivors of the Great Depression and share the interview with the town. One such survivor admitted that he'd never heard of "Santa Claus" until he was well into his 30's, and the birth of Christ was foreign to him, as well. Sure, he read the Bible, but it was just one of many hundreds of verses in that book. Lots of stories in there, but none were celebrated. He had little contact with the outside world, and the local news didn't go much farther than a couple of states either. How different life was back then!

How different it is today! Just this morning, I was able to open up the laptop and have a video chat with friends from all across the state. We've also video chatted with friends from other countries, as if it were no big deal! We laugh, share culture stories, but most of all, we share Jesus. I still know some old-timers who want nothing to do with "that blamed contraption" (referring to the Internet) yet think nothing of picking up the phone and dialing out. I imagine there were old timers back in THEIR day, who wanted nothing to do with the "modern contraptions" back then, (ie. cordless phones) that current day old-timers rolled their eyes at.

 Yet, for all the instant communication and instant information, mankind just can't seem to get it together when it comes to "world peace". Not only do people have quicker means of contacting more of humanity, we also have quicker access to share our faith--regardless of the faith, with other people. Sadly, people are people. Pandora's Box just grows bigger and bigger, or man's weakness, sinful nature, whatever you want to call it. Wars and rumors of wars still haven't ceased, even with all the instant gratification we have.

You and I don't have to be a part of the war, or the rumors of wars. Why not be part of the Thanksgiving group instead? King David said he had never seen the righteous forsaken, or His seed begging bread. This world needs hope--and someone needs to remind them that our hope is in nothing less than Jesus Christ. Yes, the smaller we become, the more hateful we're apt to become (Because he isn't like me), out of fear of just how the other person IS. Maybe they're out to get us?

Yet, what does love do? Love is patient. God is love, so therefore, God is patient. (Thankfully!) Am I? Love is kind, God is kind, so therefore, God is kind. Am I? Love doesn't boast, it's not envious. God is love, therefore God doesn't boast, He's not envious (Envious of what, for crying out loud?!?!) Am I? Love isn't proud. God is love, therefore God isn't proud. Am I? (Ha! Which day of the week??) Love is not self-seeking, is not easily angered. God is love, so therefore God isn't self-seeking, nor is He easily angered. Am I? (Man--this is getting rather painful!) I'm going to stop here--but you can read the rest of the "love is" description in I Corinthians 13. The bottom line is, as we come into contact with more and more people, we have a greater risk of being hurt, but we also have a greater opportunity to love as God loves. Without the Holy Spirit living inside of us, that's not going to happen. Just something to think about....

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Confident in God's love

Nothing says confidence in God's love than pitching a blue living fit at God, and knowing you're still okay in His book.

Our family has been going through some serious issues of a health kind. Well--a financial time as well. Not to mention coming up on Empty Nest Syndrome. Of course, being a Christian family, we took it all in stride, and showed elegance, patience and kindness through the entire ordeal.

Okay--this is where you're supposed to start laughing.

Personally, I did none of that. I tried to put on a good show during the first part of the trial. Really? In view of what other people are going through, this trial isn't anything. But it wasn't just anyone's trials. It was ours.

We honestly tried to do everything right. Called the right people, filled out the right forms, graciously understood when we were met with, "Sorry, we can't do that because....." after all, this is how Christians act, right? We're not the only ones going through trials. We're not the only ones having doors slammed in our faces every time we try to move forward. But it's our job to make sure we handle everything with grace.

One such night, not too long ago, I experienced the proverbial straw on the camel's back. I was fed up. I had had it up to my ears and higher. Calling the pharmacy for refills, I was prepared to push all the right buttons for the animated operator. This has been done a million times before, not a big deal. Of course, that night, when at the end of the rope, fate decided to not play nice. I kept typing in the wrong information. It wasn't MY fault the numbers were rubbed beyond recognition. After several unsuccessful attempts, I gave up.


The phone is hurled across the room and shatters into a hundred tiny pieces, but I didn't care.   This has been the month where NOTHING has gone right, and I couldn't take much more of it.

Honestly? I blamed God.

Granted, He didn't CAUSE our trials, but by golly, neither did we! God didn't cause them, but He sure didn't seem to be in any hurry to fix things, or at least change things. I had held it in long enough. That night, glaring at the shattered phone, it all came out.

Is God even AROUND anymore? Does He even care?!?! We have done everything by the rules that the corporation has given us,  we have been patient, we have been courteous. God, we have TRIED to trust You, trust that You knew best, trust that You would have our backs, but now that our backs are against the wall, where ARE you, God??

During my whole rant--and mind you, this was not a soft spoken, "Our Father, Who art in heaven...."type prayer. This was a fall on your knees, I-have-had-it kinda prayer. During the entire rant, I never worried about God zapping me. I never worried about Him turning His back on me while I pitched a hissy.

Why? Simple. He's my Heavenly Father.

There was a time that fear kept me from being totally honest about my true feelings at any given time concerning God. If He didn't like something I said, or worse, thought--He'd disown me, or at the very least, take out one of the stars in my crown--or so I thought. Yessiree, that was a time of constant ulcers and anxiety attacks.

Not so, anymore. God has opened His heart to me, and allowed me to see that He loves me based on who He is, not based on what I did. Sure, I'd given lip service to all that before, but it was never a reality in my life until I started understanding the New Covenant. God used these guys to set me on that journey, and for that, I will be forever grateful.

According to this verse:

Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

I needed help, and I was confident that God still loved me.

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
God already knew our sins, and He took care of them. He didn't wait to be asked to take care of them (back in the Old Covenant days), but rather, at the right time, He sent Jesus. Motivation? Love for us. That was a universal love--He loves everyone. I needed an intimate love from God. He loves me when I'm behaving, or misbehaving. Not because of me, but because of Himself. He loves you, too. Even in your misbehaving ways, you are still wholly loved by God. You and I can't sin enough to make Him hate us. Ever.

After my rant with God, I calmed down a bit. The prayer softened some:

God? Remember that time You helped me find my text book? Remember the countless times you gave me nuggets right on time? Remember when You had the azalea bush of Granny's just burst forth with blossoms to calm my broken heart? Well, I really need you now--if You are REALLY part of this whole ordeal, if You honestly do a plan for all of this, and us, please let me know You're really involved in our lives. I need a sign. Let this laptop connect already!

Immediately the laptop connected to the wifi. Another proverbial straw was a new laptop that wouldn't connect. Why should it? Nothing else had gone right. Numb with frustration, I was all set to box it back up and return it. Call me crazy, call it a coincidence, but God truly did something intimate just for me, to show me that He's still involved in my life, and that yes, there's a plan going on that I'm not privy to. It's time to trust the Creator of the Universe that loves me perfectly, to know what's best--even if it drives me up the wall. 

God hadn't left me. In the midst of my rant, and raging temper, God was still there. He promised never to leave me nor forsake me, and by golly, He keeps His promises. 

What about you? Does it seem like nothing has gone right in your life, with no sign of letting up? Cry out to God. No, seriously, cry out. Scream. Yell. Accuse. He can take it. Don't be scared to let Him REALLY know how you feel--as if He didn't already know? When you get done with your temper tantrum, He'll still be there. He may calm the storm, He may calm you. Either way, you'll settle down and be able to go just a while longer. 

Friday, May 2, 2014

God Honestly Never Fails

Deep within my heart, beats the sound of gratefulness. Once again, God has shown me just how intimate and serious He is about our relationship.

Let me back up a little bit. Way back to the beginning of this school year. We all knew that this would be our most challenging year ever, due to changes in....well....everything. This year separated me from all I held dear: family, ministry, friends and relaxation. After months of crushing pressure, I finally snapped.

No more.

I am a child of God. That is one identity that will never change. It took long enough, but God finally convinced me that yes, His grace is sufficient for my needs. Every need, every day.

Enjoying a few weeks of newfound bliss, in the midst of a trying year was short lived. We are in the homestretch now, and blue skies ahead.

So I thought. An injury at work put me out of comission for about a week. Some dental issues had my husband out for a week. Neither of us were much good to the other. Adding to that, two sons with injuries of their own.

Helpless. Not an emotion I'm familiar with. Resentment threatened to overwhelm me. Since I was out of work, couldn't I at least get some computer work done? No. Too much pain. Too much effort to do the most trivial things.  Resentment threatened to be to overtaken with guilt. Where was the "I'm in God's hands, nothing can hinder this" mindset I had only a week or so ago?

Just as things were starting to settle down from really being bad to sort of almost being on the mend, I receive a phone call that my Mama is rushed to ER. Really?? REALLY LORD?? HOW MUCH MORE?!?! I knew I was being a whiny butt. In every thing that happened, a voice was telling me it could be worse.

God never left me. God never forsook me. Through all the pain, all the guilt and resentment, He sprinkled little bits of encouragement. Throughout my whole attitude, I knew I was still in God's hands, riding out the storm. The storm, however, was getting tiresome. Calm waters would have been so welcomed at this point.

Then, the Grande Finale of God's encouragement through this trial. An aunt that I only talk to on occasions called to see how Mama was doing. During our conversation, she reminded me just how much God loves us, how He is our provider, and in Him, we place our dependencies. What a breath of fresh air! I knew this of course, but it was just so refreshing to hear someone else confess that truth as well! We have a close knit family--as in we can not speak for a year, then pick up right where we left off. Scattered throughout the country as we are, it's hard for us to get together, so this phone call was extra special.

This is what God was reminding me of: it is HE that encourages us and it is up to HIM to decide what/whom to use. So many times we may come to depend on our families, our church families, our work family, and almost "expect" for them to step up to the plate in our time of need. If we do that, we're letting ourselves up for disappointments big time. Not saying God couldn't use the above mentioned families, but if God wants to use someone new, will we miss it, because we're being so disappointed that people didn't help the way we expected them to? I would have never guessed in a million years that Aunt Judy would call me. What a wonderful encouragement she was!

God has this. No matter what happens, I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that God has this.

What about your trials? Does God have your back? Can we trust that even when things don't go the way we want them to, that He's still working things out?

His grace is indeed sufficient for us!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

God works in interruptions.

Watching this video really warmed my heart.  This morning in Jammie Church, several of us were thinking of the various interruptions we have in our lives. One brother is seeking employment, and has been for some time now. Another brother is in chronic pain due to health issues, with no solution in sight, a sister is stressing over the "maybe" you have cancer visits from her doctor, as well as wondering if her doctor has her best interest at heart, or do they simply see dollar signs? Myself, I'm simply battling the yearly spring fever. Pollen is so thick in the air it wrecks havoc on my breathing. I'm sure that issue is a dime a dozen in this world. Another brother had his nephew undergo an emergency surgery this week that would change the lifestyle of the nephew. Our brother is a favorite uncle, and it was easy to see his concern.

One huge interruption we spoke about was the "white elephant in the room". We had a situation in the past concerning some of our other brothers that we were kept in the dark about. There was no way of knowing what was going on, and we were quite simply told that we wouldn't be told what was going on. In spite of that, we reaped the aftermath of the situation, something we had no choice in, couldn't understand, so we simply tried to sweep it under the rug and carry on.

Until this morning. This morning we shared our hearts concerning this white elephant, and for one, I was crying inside because of what had taken place. Although it was in the past, there were still bummed out feelings years later.

God knew what I was feeling. He knew what my other brothers and sisters were feeling.

I honestly believe He pushed my desire to do a search on this, and landed on Mark Lowery's video.

God works through interruptions. We go on about our life, with all our plans of grandeur of what we're going to do, the effect it will have, and how we'll deal with the intake. Of course, I don't know about you, but for the most part of my life, things never go as planned.

But it's okay. God works in unemployment, health issues, insurance issues, and pollen issues. Those things don't bother or hinder God in the least. When we have an interruption in our lives, we'll do well to remember my sister Pam's favorite verse: Romans 8:28

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

But I'm called to stir!

An analogy was given this morning about not being able to break away from our tradition. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in what "we" think God ha called us, and in fact He very well may have, but that doesn't mean it's what we're going to be "do" for the rest of our Christian lives.

Take the instance of mother and daughter baking wonderful treats for the annual Christmas gathering:

"Daughter, please come stir this, while I tend to the other chores"

"Yes, Mother, I will. I love stirring cookie dough!" The daughter beams when Mother calls her to the kitchen.

Eventually, it's time to stop stirring, and add more ingredients to the wonderful cookie batter. 
"Thank you, Daughter. You did a fine job. Please bring the batter and add it to these dry ingredients" Mother gently directs. The daughter is stricken with shock. "What, Mother? Surely not! You called me to stir, and I'm doing a great job at it! I need to keep stirring!"

Sounds silly, in  a way, doesn't it? But stirring was just a small part of  the entire baking session. If the daughter continues stirring, then the next step of making delicious cookies would never come to fruition.  The mother knew what was ahead, (delicious cookies) . The daughter simply knew that she was helping her beloved Mother, and making her happy. Perhaps she thought that if she stopped stirring, the 'happiness' would be over? 

How true this is in my own life. If God called me to play an instrument, then I should continue! If God called me to teach, then I should teach! I have a hard time to break out of habits, but often times God has thrown a monkey wrench in my plans. Often times when we feel "led" to work in or with a specific ministry, we often think that we're "led" to do that until death do we part.

In scripture, God had a way of shaking things up a bit, and often would throw in that proverbial monkey wrench into His children's lives in order to remind them of their dependency on Him.

In Luke, we were comparing and contrasting Zechariah's response to the angel's announcement with Mary's response to the angel's announcement. The consequence of Zechariah's questioning seemed rather harsh, but the silence he went through for the 4 or 5 months reminded him on a daily basis, of God's plan coming through. The angel was the monkey wrench in Zechariah's life. He was a priest, doing his priestly stuff, and the people were waiting for him. There was a time frame that they expected the incense to start rising, a time frame for the priest to come out and start praying for the folks, and everything was just so.

Except on this day. By having a conversation with the angel, that threw their whole ceremonious tradition off, and they weren't sure what to make of it. I wonder: After John was born, did Zechariah go back to the same ole, same ole? Light the incense, pray for the people, then go home? That was really all the peek we were allowed to have in the life of Elizabeth and Zechariah. Once John was born, we don't hear from him again until he pops up a grown man, preaching and baptizing.  What of Elizabeth and Zechariah?

I must confess, it's hard for me to give up my routine. If I do laundry on Tuesday--every Tuesday, it's hard for me to even think of doing laundry on Monday or Wednesday in order to do something else.

What about you? Are you stuck in a habitual rut? Have you been in the past, but broken out of it? I would dearly love to hear how some of you escaped this madness called tradition.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Two Trees

Two trees.
I have to admit, when I saw the title of this sermon, I thought... yeah... okay. I mean, exactly what can be preached about the trees in the Garden of Eden? We all know the story, right? God told Adam and Eve they could eat from any tree, except the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. They ate, they died, they left.

However, something interesting was brought out in this particular teaching. Do you realize that God never told them they couldn't eat from the Tree of Life? There were two trees, indeed, as well as dozens of other trees and herb bearing plant. Vegetarian's delight, I'd imagine. The only tree they could not eat was the Knowledge of Good and Evil. So, can we safely presume that they ate of the Tree of Life? Might that explain why they lived to be 900+ years old? Each generation after them lived less and less, until by the time Samuel was conceived, his mom was just a regular aged lady.

I have to admit, with these studies underway, I find myself intrigued about the Creation story. Can you imagine a garden with all the wonderful fruit trees? Absolutely no sand spurs? Imagine the floral fragrance. Imagine the bees buzzing around. Heavenly! I wonder what the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil looked like? According to Eve, it was pretty to look at, the fruit looked delicious (how'd she know it was good for food? She'd not eaten of it at this point??) and a tree to be desired to make one wise. Ahhhh.... there's the downfall. The other trees in the garden were just beautiful and delicious. This particular one had the power to make one wise (not really--it was the tree of knowledge, not the tree of wisdom). Hence the temptation.

Once Adam and Eve took that fatal bite, there was no going back. Have you ever done something, that the moment you did or said it, you wished with all your heart you could undo the damage? I'm betting that's what Eve felt. However, nothing she could do could erase the fact that she'd just killed her husband and herself, and consequently, all her children after her. Even though God banned them from the garden, as well as the Tree of Life, He still had mercy on them. Even though they now knew they were naked, and it was their own fault, God didn't leave them there in that condition. No, He made some clothes for them from animal skins. He could have done like so many of us have done, "Well, serves you right! You made the choice, live with it!" But God isn't like us, thankfully. He sees right through our pretentious life and sees our nakedness, our wretchedness. The animal skins covered their shame, but on this side of the Cross, in the New Covenant, our shame has been not covered, but taken away.
Why was this done?
Simple. God loves you.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Why the anger towards New Covenant?

I have to admit, I've been pondering this question for a few days. I heard a minister ponder this, as well. The New Covenant is God reaching down to man, and taking the burden of proof off of us. Because of love, God reconciled the whole world to Himself through Jesus' sacrifice. Love. The thing that motivates God to do everything He does. Why the anger when we read about God reconciling us to Himself, not counting our sins against us?

Could it be pride?

Is the reason we get our feathers ruffled, because we're thinking that "they" (they being the ones who sin 'more' than us) gets a free pass just like us? Do we get miffed, thinking we had to work for God's grace, but others didn't? How dare God love Hitler with the same intensity that He loves Billy Graham! Where's the justice?

What about Eternal security? Why does this get the charismatic community riled up? What is the reason to get mad when, out of love, God sends the Holy Spirit to live in us, when we come to Him by faith?

Could it be pride (again?)

There's a doctrine that states God forgives our past sins when we come to him for salvation, but then it's up to us to keep ourselves forgiven. I bought into that as a young child. After all, Christians are supposed to be 'good' people, right?

Ahhhh, therein lies my mistake. The Christian life is often taught as a good versus bad kind of thing. If this is our understanding of the Christian life, we've missed the boat. Sure we could live like the devil, but there's a clincher--if we are indeed God's, then the Holy Spirit lives in us. He's just not lying dormant in our souls, awaiting our arrival to heaven, but rather, He's working His will in us. Before the Holy Spirit came to live in us, we were dead to God. Christ came to give us life, and life more abundantly; compare this to "Christ came to help us behave better"  Anyone, with enough discipline, can learn to behave. There are a few people I know who are very moral, to the point of someone mentioning "What a fine Christian he is!" Only to find out that the person didn't believe in the existence of God. Yet, he was a moral, upstanding individual in his community.

When a person comes to accept Christ, something happens at that very point. The Holy Spirit resides within. He's not just visiting, but He's living. Because the Holy Spirit lives, we live. To not have the Spirit is to be dead. An empty body, at best. The body functions, walks and talks and eats, but no Life is within. It is this Life, the Holy Spirit, the Grace of God, that teaches us to say "no" to ungodliness. Yes, we'll find ourselves entangled in sins' snares at times, but we won't be left there. The Holy spirit urges us on to live peacefully with our neighbors, and to love others as God has loved us.

Have you noticed that no one time have the "Ten Commandments" been mentioned? We're motivated by love; and not by fear. Sometimes, however, due to erroneous teaching, sincere Christians get mixed up and feel that we need the Ten Commandments to be our guide. If we have to depend on the Ten Commandments to be our guide, then we're basically telling the Holy Spirit that He's doing a cruddy job, and is not able to carry out His work in us, unless the the Laws engraved on stone, are part of the deal.

Are there people who joyfully embrace Grace as a license to sin?  Sadly, yes.  "It doesn't matter what we do, because we're under Grace, not Law". But I implore you, gentle reader, do not paint us all with the same brush. If people will stop jumping to conclusions, you'll find that some people are allowing Grace to work in their lives and are learning to say, 'No!" to ungodliness. You'll find that some people actually take it to heart where the Apostle Paul implores people to not use their freedom to gratify the flesh, but rather,  to serve one another humbly with love.

So, I ask you, now that you know a little more about living in God's grace, do you still find it offensive?

Monday, November 14, 2011

I used to_______but now I don't
Listening to a short podcast today, I had to reflect on what was being said. Too often, we as children of God, have good intentions of sharing our testimony, but really, what are we doing? Have you ever found yourself rattling on a list of 'stuff' God has helped you change?

"I used to smoke, but God helped me to quit"
"I used to drink, but God helped me to quit"
"I used to cuss like a sailor, but God helped me to quit"
" I used to_______, but God helped me to quit."

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

In fellowship, out of fellowship, in fellowship, out of fellowship...

... this was the popular calls this week, asking about being in fellowship with God. It seems that, as the minister was assuring a caller that our sin does not take out of fellowship with God, several other listeners were getting concerned at the possible error he was giving out. One of the concerned callers called and shared the story of how she accepted Christ at a young age, but as she grew older, she wandered off, doing things that she knew were not good things to do. Now, while she knew she had NOT lost her salvation, she felt that she had lost fellowship with God. She was doing bad things, and totally ignoring God. Couldn't that be out of fellowship? 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Trials and Tribulations

Wow. What a timely message this morning. I cringed when I first saw that the sermon was coming from the book of James. James has always been rather hard on my old ego. I wondered how it would look through the eyes of Grace this morning. There are several verses in there that the Pentecostal background I had would use to prove that one must 'gut it out for God", if they indeed wanted to spend an eternity in heaven. Would today be more of the same?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

During our Bible study last week, an interesting verse was revealed.  In I Peter, we're told to be ready to give an answer when someone ASKS us about the difference seen in us.  This was different than what I  was used to growing up.  I remember as a young child, I was encouraged to tell everyone I saw about Jesus. Somehow, and I don't quite recall how, I gathered that I was supposed to MAKE people listen to me when i would tell them about Jesus. Another preacher would laughingly refer to this as running them up the flagpole to get away from us.   Looking back, I suppose we were nothing more than one of those annoying people that we would go a mile out of our way to avoid. 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Don't forget the Cross

What an eye opener. This morning, I finally got a chance to trim up our dying wisteria bush in the front yard. It was bittersweet, really.   Every spring, whoever passed by could breathe in the fragrant blossoms that were just dripping all over this magnificent bush like clusters of bright purple grapes.  I never ceased to enjoy its beauty whenever I would walk by, and others have commented the same.

7th Day....of which calendar?

Man--listening to a favorite archive of mine, it seemed that the flavor of the show was the seventh day Sabbath. One guy mentioned that whenever someone keeps the Sabbath, people automatically think that person is a Seventh Day Adventist. I didn't know until tonight that there were Seventh Day Baptists. Not having heard of it, I decided to browse through the Internet for a few minutes and see what I could find.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Forgiveness for Others

Wow. What a relief. No, seriously, I mean a REAL relief. A fella called the ministry this afternoon, asking about forgiveness. The question was, if we don't forgive other people, then we'll lose our salvation. Was this true?

Before Bob answered the question, he felt he needed to bring to light the difference between the Old Covenant and New Covenant. In the Old Covenant, Jesus taught folks to pray "Forgive us, as we forgive others" Yikes! I have a list of names I'm still working on forgiveness for.  So, if I don't forgive them, God's not forgiven me?