Monday, December 29, 2014

Becoming a New Creation in Christ in 2015

To become a new creation in Christ, we have to know the desires of our heart. I was just reading "Goal Setting" by Annette Capps. She writes that God is always there for us, 'do not fear, for I am with you Isa 41:10. She also writes that God wants us to have the desires of our hearts. Jesus taught the principle of planting seeds. We are told by Annette that in order to receive the desires of our hearts, we have to do some planting. We need to declare and write on paper what it is that we want = what we desire from God. She invites us to make a list of principle ideas rather than a 'wish/want' list.  By doing so, our list of our hearts desires become practical as we hear and see them in front of us as a plan for growth and development. "Roll your works upon the Lord [commit and trust them wholly to Him; He will cause your thoughts to become agreeable to His will and] so shall your plans be established and succeed." Proverbs 16:3 Amplified.
"Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart" Psalm 37:4
Part of this exercise, plan for becoming a new creation in Christ, is being a partner to faith. Charles Capps tells us that hope is necessary and that hope is a partner to faith. Because faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1  Hope is the goal setter. Faith is the substance of things hoped for... The substance of 'things' - what things? The things you hoped for. What do we hope for? We hope for the things that God has given us. We must know what God has given or we can't have faith in the promise, in the knowledge that God is for us. Some argue that people will only desire what they want. Some will. However, if you know that God is for you, why would you desire only what you want. You would/will not.  The Christmas Eve message in my church was titled "Dreaming of a White Christmas". It was very inspiring in context of what I am writing to you now. How/Why? The pastor asked us to dream of good things for ourselves but firstly good things for others. We must acknowledge our sins, and let Jesus Christ into our hearts to wash it away sin and make us clean as snow. In this way, we will get those 'gifts' the desires of our hearts as we also wish for others to have their sins made clean as snow. The greatest gift 'desire' we can have is to recognize our sins and embrace the gift of / desire for Jesus Christ. With that knowledge, you will become a new creation in Christ.

Reference ~ Hope: A Partner to Faith by Charles Capps.

*Read in James 4: 1-8
Drawing close to God
"What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don't they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don't have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can't get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. You, you don't have what you want because you don't ask God for it. And, even when you ask, you don't get it because your motives are all wrong... you want only what will give you pleasure.... Humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Come close to God and God will come close to you."

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

In Christ, We Are a New Creation ....The Old has Gone, the New has Come

2 Cor 5:17-21 "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not county men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. Gad made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."

Matthew 18: 15-19 "If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector. I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed on heaven. Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."

Monday, December 15, 2014

God's Cosmic Anvil - Shared

I just read a really good blog by L.A. Marzulli and wanted to share it.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. Galatians 5:5
We just don’t wake up on a Monday morning and suddenly find ourselves walking with and in these attributes.  This is where the anvil and forge come in to play.
In some ways we are literally pounded into shape on Gods “cosmic” anvil.  We are re-made, into the image and likeness of the risen savior, Jesus.  We never reach perfection and this process continues throughout our Christian walk, but we are certainly in the process of being perfected and as Paul tells us, one day we will know as we are known. 
In the meantime we are taught by the Spirit of the Living God.  Jesus tells us:
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. John 14: 26
How do we go from being self obsessed, selfish people into the image and likeness of our risen Savior?  The Spirit of the Living God gives us a glimpse of who we are, with our sin nature in tact.  This is when we are placed on the anvil.  Then He begins to reshape us.  Sometimes it can take years to mold a man or a women into what He wants us to be.  The process can be painful at times.  It can also leave us feeling defeated, hopeless and wondering if the reshaping will ever end.  The good news is, The Master Craftsman knows what He is doing.  He knows where to apply the hammer to shatter old concepts or old thinking patterns.  He knows when to turn up the heat in order to soften us so He can then reshape us.  He knows when to plunge us into a cold bath, to wake us up from the delusion of sin.
This process takes years and is not something that man or woman can create in him or herself.  It is done by the God’s Spirit, and the fruits of it are listed in the Galatians chapter above.
Don’t be afraid of the anvil in God’s Forge, for He is a Master craftsman and in the end He will produce an incredible work in us!
Shared from -

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Sin of Women is not Letting Jesus Lead - This Christmas Let Jesus Lead

Being married today is not easy for couples and especially including Christian couples. There is much difficulty for couples of all ages regarding finances, child rearing, adultery, divorce, and so on. I want to reach out to those couples and tell them that God wants them to be happily married; in fact, he designed marriage and He has given us the rules for households. 1 Timothy 3:12 "A deacon must be the husband of but one wife and must manage his children and his household well."  We realize that every Christian man is a deacon. Ephesians 5:22-23  "Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church." I was reminded of this just the other day on Moody Radio... that the husband is the Christ of the house, he leads his wife and children.This is not an easy job for any man. They discussed that what makes it hard for men to do/be what they have been called to do is when their wife does not let them lead. I have to agree as one guilty of that. Wives have been called to submit. A lot of us don't like hearing that given all the articles and news media programs that tell us women must be empowered! We have been empowered by God and in that we have also been asked to submit to our husband who also has been empowered. The number one defense is "well what about when a husband abuses his wife". Yes, of course there are legitimate incident of abuse. I am not dismissing that. However, we cannot assume that all instances in a married life will lead to abuse if a woman submits. First, you have to realize and accept that 'submit' as a word in the Bible (God's word) means to come under authority and to respect that... such respect is for God's glory, for His social hierarchy. Still, in this day and age, I have been guilty of rejecting that and that is a sin.
There are rules for Christian households- see Colossians 3:18. I try to follow God's word for living as a submissive wife, it is not easy for me and I have made it difficult for my husband, not everyday but in small instances. I have put demands on him that he is not able to meet.  This morning, I was reading Amos today, like many times when I read scripture, I try to understand how it can apply to my life as a wife, as a Christian.  As a sinner, one can be caught by God's words and feel shame and even anger that our sin has been revealed to us. As I just mentioned, I read Amos this morning and it happened to me. "Listen to me, you fat cows living in Samaria, you women who oppress the poor and crush the needy, and who are always calling to your husbands, "Bring us another drink!"  The Sovereign Lord has sworn this by his holiness: The time will come when you will be led away with hooks in your noses. Every last one of you will be dragged away like a fish on a hook! You will be led out through the ruins of the wall; you will be thrown from your fortresses, says the Lord." Amos 4: 1-4  I didn't think that was me and probably you will say the same. When I read that, I thought this woman's 'wife's' behavior sounds like that of a lazy couch potato making demands. Though her punishment seems pretty harsh, I had to agree that she is going against God's social hierarchy. Now, some of you like me have thought it is old testament when people lived under the law and I am now beyond such judgement and condemnation. Or, regarding the Old Testament, we have heard some Christians say that those stories are metaphors for wider society, even a nation. And, that was in the past. Yet, when I read it, I feel something more personal about God's word. We must remember that God's word is for us and we must consider His way of giving His Word to us even when we think that such scripture has nothing to do with us. As Christians, I think that we must consider the Old Testament always in relation to the New and try understand that though our sins have been covered by the Blood of the Lamb, we are still asked to live under God's hierarchy - His social 'family' order. We can read about His social 'family' order in many New Testament scriptures; which I have pointed in many past posts. Ephesians 5:22-23  "Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church." Colossians 3:18 "Wives, submit to your husbands as is fitting in the Lord." God's word is to see that in His word, we can trust Him in His word and rest in Him that all will be ok.
Let the head of your household lead you this Christmas, let your husband have his God given role! Because, this is letting Jesus lead!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Remembering Your Favorite Christmas Songs

We forget in this commercial consumer age what Christmas is meat to be about and or how it should be - used to be celebrated... with song. "O Come o come Immanuel" ... or "God and sinners reconciled". Which Christmas song titles are these phrases from? Do you know? I was just listening to Chris Fabry on Moody Radio and they were discussing Christmas songs, their historical background and everlasting impact on humanity.

There are so many Christmas songs that touch you, that can actually put you in touch you Jesus Christ. 
Away in the Manger
O Come All Ye Faithful
O Little Town of Bethlem
Hard the Herald Angels Sing
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen...  one of my favorites

God rest ye merry, gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
Remember, Christ, our Savior
Was born on Christmas day
To save us all from Satan's power
When we were gone astray
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

In Bethlehem, in Israel,
This blessed Babe was born
And laid within a manger
Upon this blessed morn
The which His Mother Mary
Did nothing take in scorn
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

From God our Heavenly Father
A blessed Angel came;
And unto certain Shepherds
Brought tidings of the same:
How that in Bethlehem was born
The Son of God by Name.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

"Fear not then," said the Angel,
"Let nothing you affright,
This day is born a Saviour
Of a pure Virgin bright,
To free all those who trust in Him
From Satan's power and might."
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

The shepherds at those tidings
Rejoiced much in mind,
And left their flocks a-feeding
In tempest, storm and wind:
And went to Bethlehem straightway
The Son of God to find.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

And when they came to Bethlehem
Where our dear Savior lay,
They found Him in a manger,
Where oxen feed on hay;
His Mother Mary kneeling down,
Unto the Lord did pray.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

Now to the Lord sing praises,
All you within this place,
And with true love and brotherhood
Each other now embrace;
This holy tide of Christmas
All other doth deface.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

... remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas Day, to save us all from Satan's power when we have gone astray

Monday, December 8, 2014

A Tribute to My Mother by Pastor Erwin Lutzer

This is an incredible story that I had to share with my blog readers. Given that today's marriages don't last, I thought that it would be nice to know that it is possible to give your life to another, to live as one.

A Tribute to my Mother by Pastor (Dr.) Erwin Lutzer
After having served her generation by the will of God, my dear mother got her wish and went home to heaven on January 1, 2012, a month after her 103rd birthday. By any measure, mother was a remarkable woman. She was a hard worker who gladly sacrificed for her family; she had a focused love for God and intolerance for sin. She was a woman of prayer, a woman who understood better than anyone else I know, both the eventual terrors that await the unsaved and the glories of heaven reserved for those who belong to the King of Kings. She loved Christ passionately and has waited with a longing patience for her entrance into the heavenly kingdom. And what an entrance she will have!
Mother was born to German parents in the Ukraine in 1908 and after World War I began in 1914, the Russian government, fearing that the Germans within its borders might mutiny, forced them to become refugees to places like Afghanistan or Siberia. Incredibly, her father (my grandfather) had actually come to the United States to make preparations to bring his entire family here to Chicago. But when the war started, he immediately made plans to hurry back to be with his family. Providentially, he was able to catch the last passenger ship back to Europe; after that the ships were used only for war material. If he had been stranded here in the US, my mother’s family would have had to manage the hardships of Siberia on their own. How thankful they were that he was able to return in time to be with them on this long and painful journey.
Meanwhile, the trip to Siberia took weeks (the large family had only one horse and wagon) and when they arrived at the Volga river they were loaded onto barges and from there herded into freight cars for the long train trip to the northland. The entire family (with about six or seven children at the time) lived in one room; later they moved into a basement. Life was not only very hard but also dangerous. Remember, not only was World War I in progress, but so was the Bolshevik Revolution. Often there was fighting outside of their small quarters and the family had to stay indoors.
Mother recounts the deep grief she experienced when her younger sister died, and because of the fighting, her small wooden coffin had to lie on a back porch for a week (my mother was about 8, her sister was 6). Finally, when there was a lull in the fighting, my grandfather buried her in a grave along with another body. But my grandmother was grieved that her little daughter was not buried in her own grave, so to please her, my grandfather dug up the coffin to bury the little girl in her own shallow grave. Mother was very close to her younger sister and wept for days in her grief.
When the war ended in 1918, the families were able to return to their homestead. Then the decision was made that my mother and her older sister would go to Canada to seek a better life. Just imagine: my mother was 20, her sister was 22. When they said goodbye to their mother and father, they knew they would probably never meet again. Later they learned that my grandmother lay in bed for three days, mourning the loss of her precious daughters whom she expected to never see again (about 32 years later they were briefly reunited when my parents visited Europe).
I will not detail all the hardships that mother and her sister experienced in Canada. Soon after they arrived, they were separated, working for various farmers. Mother loved to hoe the garden, she said, so she could pour out her soul in lonely weeping where no one would see her.
As God would have it, the sisters then ended up working on farms that were close to a small town with an evangelical church. My mother and her sister had a strong desire to be “born again.” They had been baptized Lutherans but knew that their baptism could not save them. When evangelistic meetings were held, my mother was gloriously converted. “It was as if I was in the holy of holies” she recounted later.
My father was attending the same church. He also had been born in the Ukraine back in 1902, and his story was similar except that his family had to migrate to Afghanistan. There his mother and older brother died. As a boy of 14, he threw himself across the bed and thought he’d never stop crying. But when his family returned to their homestead, he bravely came to Canada alone to work for a farmer who was willing to sponsor him.
My father had become a Christian while in the Ukraine. Now as he attended church, he couldn’t help but notice the two young German women who had just arrived in the area. He knew of my mother’s conversion and she had heard him pray, so she knew he was a firm believer.
One Sunday he asked my mother if he could walk her home and along the way he asked if she would marry him! My mother said she’d have to think about it, but within 3 weeks they were married at a farm on July 25, 1931. The marriage lasted for 77 years, until my father’s death 3 years ago at the age of 106! (A word to the singles reading this: don’t use my parents as an example of how long you should know each other before you marry!)
In our home the Bible was read every morning and prayers were offered, rain or shine, followed by a song sung by the family; my mother’s favorite was “Take the name of Jesus with you”. I was the youngest of 5 children, and as my sister put it, “I got away with blue murder.” My parents were desirous to protect us from sin (out on the farm there were few opportunities to get into trouble, but boys will be boys!). My Dad was a very hard worker but often sick in those early years, telling us that he was dying (evidently he was having panic attacks which he obviously outgrew!), so mother helped by milking cows, she grew a garden, washed our clothes and cooked for the family. In the fall she helped with the harvest, canned food for the hard winter and made sure that we had warm clothes. I simply don’t know how she did it. When hail took our crop away she and my father and we as children got on our knees to thank God for his goodness. “We still have food to eat” my father said. And that was enough.
At Mom and Dad’s 70th anniversary I asked my mother if she knew the names of all of her great grandchildren (I think the number was about 25 at the time). She waived her hand and said, “Sure, I have a prayer list and I bring them before my Heavenly Father every day!”
My mother and father were plain people who taught themselves to read (they had at best a grade 3 education back in the Ukraine), and to speak English. They were free of all hypocrisy or pretense; what you saw is what you got. They were fastidious in their honesty and although they were frugal when spending money on themselves, they were very generous with others. Even in retirement they gave virtually all of their money to Christian ministries. They showed hospitality to those who were in need. The legacy they left us is not in worldly goods but in their example of faith, hard work and Christian virtues. I’m prejudiced, but they just don’t make them that way anymore!
Thanks, mother. I owe you more than I could ever say. For the times just the two of us were at home in the farmhouse while the older children were in school, when you watched me play on the floor, you read to me, loved me, prayed for me. And when I needed a lap to sit on, you were there. Only heaven will reveal who you were and all that you did and the prayers you offered on my behalf. Whatever I’ve been able to accomplish in my life, I owe it all to you…I’m your last born, your “der kleine” (“the little one”) as you affectionately called me in German.
And yes, mother, we shall meet again.”
Erwin Lutzer

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Bitter Root of Resentment

The Bitter Root of Resentment

Each of us have been through experiences in life that have made us feel resentment toward someone. Whether or not that person knows the effect caused is not the issue. The real issue is how we feel about that experience and if we are able to forgive and move forward.  Worse is when we are angry toward God for not delivering us from that experience, taking us out of it when we had no idea what was happening or if we did, why didn't he stop us before it was too late. We can not only resent the person or persons but also God. When that resentment takes hold in us, it becomes a bitter-root and that root can go very deep. Such a root that has a take hold over us will not let us easily and it grows deeper as through interaction with other people as they feel and see it wrapping itself around us; they turn from us in fear it will get them. Thus, we who need people the most to over come this resentment have no one to turn to, or at least we think that is the case. In our anger toward God, we feel even more abandoned. This is exactly what the enemy wants us to feel. You see it is his bitter root that has hold of us.  Forgiveness is the way forward. Forgive other people, forgive yourself for not forgiving and for not trusting in the Lord. And, at the same time, embrace His love for you and that root will start to fall away or you will be able to pull it out. Swing it around and throw it away praising the Lord.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Living in the Spirit, not in the flesh

What does living in the flesh mean? It means living in the world, everything in the world that has to do with engaging our fleshy senses. We should live according to the spirit in the flesh. In every man/woman's life there comes the situation as C.S. Lewis points in which he/she finds themselves having to make a choice and he/she knows in a moment - right from wrong and they know the 'right' option to choose. A man is not an animal; because, an animal would simply respond to what suits him/her needs in the moment and move on. Animal choices work like that because they are simple programs. There is no right or wrong choice for them in their natural state. If they are hungry, they get food by whatever means. Man is able to discern advantages in the flesh and know what he/she ought and ought not to do.  But, because of sin, he/she is caught up in a corrupt 'sinful' world. Yet, because God is with us "do not fear for I am with you" Isa 41:10, man is able to desire/see and to choose advantages which are unseen. Advantages such as joy in giving of him/herself, this is an unseen advantage. C.S. Lewis writes in 'Mere Christianity' that there is a 'third thing' which tells you what you ought to do. This means that in man there is the feeling in fact a 'knowing' what he/she ought to do. Lewis also says that inside man this third thing helps man/woman to also know when and when not to take up the first thing 'desire' for self gratification and when to run 'the second thing' and when not to. What is that governs these options/things? Lewis called it - the third thing - his God given spirit. It is this third thing, because it is inside and yet something outside as in obviously greater than man and greater than the first aspects of man, made known to him/her as it is in him/her. What is also known to man is the corruption of this world, in that no man/woman can be good given the existence of sin in this world. What every man/woman wants essentially is to be set free from sin and eternally saved. The inner struggle with those first two things reveal our sinful nature and recognizing that in oneself can become the root cause of what keeps one from what you truly desire which is not to run away and to choose over and over selfish desires... knowing in one's self that the greater good for the individual comes from sharing not the material things that one has (as that is living in the flesh) but the realization or revelation of this 'third thing - knowing what one 'ought to do'. Knowing that and acting on that, choosing what one ought to do over the other two impulses is what truly sets us free from sin.  In John 8:34, we can read "Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a salve has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So, if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed."  It was Jesus who came to show us how we ought to behave, ought to do/ choose.
"We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters."  1 John 3:17 So, "Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. God showed how much he loved us b sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other." 1 John 4:7-10

Monday, November 24, 2014

You are Not Just Yourself! not fear, for I am with you" Isa 41:10
You are not just 'you' yourself, ...what does that mean? You are a social composite; thus, something much bigger than just you 'the self'; in fact, we cannot even know what that means outside social context.. This makes you an incredible creation because you are more than that.... 'you' as a social composite are unexplainable. It follows then that something much bigger and unexplainable created everything and everyone. The Creator of heaven and earth and all things in it knows you the social self. Because, he is an unexplainable social entity, yet understood by His creation because of that. It is understood that He understands relationship more than anyone or anything; how?... God made man/woman in His image - an example of His social self. Our purpose is to be in relationship with each other and to be in relationship with our are not just yourself! Dr. E.F. Gallion

Friday, November 21, 2014

Rest in the Lord!

Rest in the Lord means to trust in Him completely. Whether or not you hear His voice or feel His hand in yours does not matter as much as knowing in your heart and mind that He is with you. Resting in the Lord means you don't have to worry about anything; after all, He is the Creator, He made the heaven and earth and everything and everyone in His creation. He made you and your family, your parents, spouse and children. The Lord God wants you to be at rest, knowing that He is with you every step of the way. "do not fear for I am with you" Isa 41:10. We spend too much time either trying to please ourselves and or trying to please God by doing what we think pleases Him. What pleases Him is letting Him be in control when you cannot and should not. This Thanksgiving season, gives thanks and praise to the Lord God Jesus Christ and rest in Him.
My favorite Psalm is Psalm 103
"Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits - who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's."

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Faith and Deeds

In James 2: 19-23, we read about faith and deeds. What does that mean, what does God want/need of us?
"You can say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror, how foolish! Can't you see that faith without good deeds is useless? Don't you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. And, so it happened just as the Scriptures say: "Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith."
We no longer have to labor for our salvation! Many Christians, run around looking to be the next boy scout, the next good Samaritan, the next Rahab. You don't have to run around looking for opportunity to do good; that is just being an opportunist. You don't have to be counting your deeds either and marking them down somewhere so that you can point to them if/when the time comes. This does not mean that if you see a need, you should not at least try to fill that need. If someone comes to your door and asks for something, give it freely. Point being, if you have not already got it, is that deeds come from the heart, as in a reaction not as a calculation. Abraham did not calculate what he should do, he reacted with his heart for God.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Christ Delivered Us from the Sin of Death

In Romans 6, we read that we are dead to sin and alive in Christ. Remember that Christ delivered us from the sin of death. "For if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once and for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus." Romans 6:  8-11
Yet, even with that knowledge we feel that death is the end of us, the end of relationships. The death of a loved one is an experience that no one is ever prepared for. Especially, a parent, a spouse, a sibling, a child... no matter what age. There is a physical disconnection that is worse than the emotional; it feels like a part of you has been cut off and you have the feeling that that person will never be seen or touched again. It is not easy to get over that kind of physical pain; and yet time does heal the pain but never fills the void of that loss.  If you are ever faced with that or faced with consoling someone as they go through this kind of experience, you will likely be at a loss for words to express you pain and at a loss to console some one's pain. Many Christians first reaction is "He/she is in a better place". While, that is true, it is not the words loved ones remaining here want to hear in light of 'fresh loss' event. What we as Christians must try to understand is that we are God's children (everyone of us) and the children we have on this earth belong to Him too. What we must rest in and take comfort in is that everything that happens is always for His glory, though we may not like the way in which He allows for that to happen and what He means by good. Does that mean the God is 'mean', that he can do with our lives as he wishes to get glory for himself. No. Firstly, we always need to remind ourselves that we live in a fallen world. Bad things happen in a fallen world and since we are in it, we will experience bad things... "If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world." John 15:19. We are of something else, something greater. And, thus whenever anyone leaves us, leaves this fallen world, if they have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior, they will be with Him and we will all eventually be together in the New Jerusalem. A loving and merciful God is not mean, but He is just. In this fallen world, we are in it and we were and are subjected to the bad things in it. Being in it, we make bad decisions, we sin and those sins can bring us misery and cause us to make bad choices, to make mistakes. Yet in our misery and out of our mistakes, out of our being led astray by Satan, God can and does make things right in His time and always for His glory. In this, we should rejoice because it means that though we are sinners and bad things happen, God can and does make it all things for good, by doing so, His glory is greater and when His glory is greater, His creations are made gloriously greater. The best Biblical example is the story of Lazarus. Jesus could have come while he was sick or even near death but that would not have been as glorious.

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Potter is Soverign

The potter is sovereign; he is at the wheel and he shapes you. Of course, you can act against His will, you have free will 'choice'. And, yet the potter's love is so great and so against waste that He continue to bring to you back to the shape he has for you, the one he always had for you... if you just let him. Why/How do we as 'clay' resist the potter? We don't like the shape we are given/have, we don't like the color we are, we don't like the kind of clay we are, or the consistency, we don't want to be just a pot, we want to be a large vessel for other things, we want to have the main stage in the foyer of things/life. We fail to realize and embrace that even a tiny basic pot has purpose; in fact, a great and wonderful purpose in God's eyes = in the potter's hands.
How is that we don't sit right where we are put, we don't attract other things to us that we want that we think should satisfy the form/shape we are? Let us know forget that this is a corrupt world/realm that we occupy and sin is in us- flaws that the pottery tries to bring out and burn out in His kiln. Some of that 'sin/corruption' is deep and resists coming to the surface. Some of that 'sin/corruption' attempts to control the shape in the potter's hands. What we as that sinful corrupt clay must in order to become the creation that the potter wants us to be is to resist sin/corruption. How? Simply by resting in the potter's hands, trusting in the potter's hands, knowing that in this way He is able to save us and make us into a wonderful eternal creation. Ultimately, we have to make the choice to rest and let the potter work.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Old Testament, what it means for us today

The Old Testament is about God in relationship with Israel - with His people. As a sociologist, I like to imagine that God used this group to show the dynamics of His relationship with His Creation which once near to Him were now banned to a corrupt and fallen world; banned through their own doing. All things in this fallen world are not good, not the kind of good that God is. Man may think he is good and beautiful but he has forgotten what good he was/had.  Throughout the Old Testament, we are reminded of that and we are encouraged to persevere in faith, follow our heart in a relation with God as did David. We are nothing and we can do no good in this fallen world that will please God. “All our righteous acts are like filthy rags” Isa 64:6. Before Jesus Christ came to save us from our sin, there were sacrifices made – atonement for sin and soon that was not enough to please God.  Yet, God did not abandon us and once we are brought to our humble knees by this realization which is that through His Son we have been healed! In this revelation, God becomes everything to us again, as He once was and we are no longer self centered, self driven and self determined. We must know and embrace the word of God as it is written for He sent His word to heal us – ultimately to save us from death and grant eternal life.
God has to let this fallen world run its course – program until all evil and death have been destroyed or vaulted up in the abyss. Until then, we will suffer in this fallen world but Praise and Thanks be to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who died for us so that we may live eternally.  In 2 Peter, we read to add goodness to our faith; which reminds us that we do have an understanding of ‘goodness’ but the realization is that we can never do enough ‘good’ to give God the ‘goodness’ He deserves; so in trying to do good in our understanding of ‘goodness’ will not please God.  What does? Knowing that Jesus Christ came once and for all to save us from the sin of death.  With this knowledge, we can move forward in faith (kindness and brotherly love) as we share this knowledge, “... knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ will keep us from being ineffective and unproductive in faith” 2 Peter: 8. “Therefore, my brothers be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” 2 Peter: 10.
The Old Testament has meaning for Christians today as related above. We are His people, grafted in through our accepting Jesus Christ as the Messiah. In that acceptance, we are in this knowledge as explained above. With that knowledge, should we forget to read and or not care to read the Old Testament. No, we should read it more often to better understand how in this fallen world, God = Jesus Christ, saves!

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Way We Treat Gender/Each Other - God's Logic

The way we treat gender (sexualization) should be based on God's Logic. I have been on the podium about this many times; yet it remains a strong topic for me and for Christians and even non-Christians. In past posts, I have directed readers to the numerous chapters in the Bible whereby we find God's word and his 'logic' concerning gender, gender roles and expectations.  For example, Col 3:18 on "Rules for Christian Households", Ephesians 5:22  "Wives and Husbands", Romans 7, "An Illustration From Marriage /Struggling with Sin, "1 Cor 6:12  "Sexual Immorality", 1 Cor 7 "Marriage" and Titus 2 "What Must Be Taught to Various Groups". What can we gain from scripture? We gain in accepting the social order that God designed; a social order that begged one to leave behind the flesh and seek the greater relationship with the Creator by going into the world, into the social world to be with God's creation. There is a 'best practice' for doing that as we can read in some of the excerpts above and throughout scripture. We gain nothing from living for the flesh. We live for God. 1 Peter 4 "therefore, once Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. For you have spend enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do- living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry.... therefore, be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins."

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Sexualization of America, What Can Christians do about it?

The sexualization of America is not new as a topic of discussion or observed social phenomenon. Firstly, what does that mean? It used to mean how we observed differences in expected behavior of males/females in terms of using their sexual identity to improve upon their social situation. That is why, it can be argued that over the hundreds of years history has provided many such events 'sexualization' of both men and women. As we often hear, the current discussion is more about women than men these days, at least that is my opinion, given the pursuit of gender equality. So, in view of historical events, we can better understand the sexualization of women in America since they first set foot here with their husbands. They also joined in the march Westward, either pioneering along their husbands or prostituting in the saloons which popped up in boom towns that appeared out on the vast open landscape... offering little security and raw life in daily doses. It could be argued that the greater catalyst of sexualization of America women happened during the Women's Suffragette Movement. Liberation brings new social dynamics between men and women and then again during WWII more so than WWI. As for me, being a live witness, I like to reflect on what I consider to be the most sexualizing social movements of the 60s. Feminism was radically discussed, bras burned, pleasure pursued. Since, we have more divorce, more single moms and more feminization of men, or the female sexualization of men. From a cosmic distance, it seems we have been and remain victim's of our own flesh and confused about its Godly purpose. And, because of that, we try to overcome. The church was good about guiding us in that purpose with the aim of keeping us in line with our identity and purity through abstinence and or marriage; again which was thought to be a good thing, even a 'best practice'. But nowadays, abstaining is not the popular option. It is now thought wiser to overcome and thus grow identity by giving into the flesh; after all, its natural, part of nature and abstaining from what is natural seems ridiculous and maybe even more harmful in terms of really knowing and loving yourself (liberal/progressive jargon), at least I am thinking that is the logic. Perhaps, that is why we see on campuses across the nation events like - Sex Week. Just recently, U of Wis at Madison hosted a "Sex Week". The mission of such an event was to educate of course; to get people to dialogue, to open themselves to experience, to be tolerant and to be engaged in their inner self. The later has been the greater topic of discussion among Christians.
Today, on Janet Parshal Moody Radio Program, Dr. Linda Mintle, Christian psychologist and counselor,spoke out on such events on America's campuses.  She said "It’s no secret that sex and violence 'sell' in the media and this spills out into everyday life. What price are we paying for this constant assault on our hearts?" I agree absolutely with Dr. Mintle and know that the price is high. On the program, the question = how to stand firm in being a 'frontline' for your kids and how to guide them if they are in college, away from home?  Difficult to answer and manage when faced with powerful external progressive institutions.
Yes, you can keep your kids home, you can even homeschool their college years if you are well read and ambitious and have time. You can send them to Christian schools, but I can tell you that I taught at a Christian school and the liberal/progressive agenda had seeped in to the point that Christian values could not be discussed since others in class may not have the same values. This made it very hard to discuss sociological topics such as the traditional family, marriage as an institution and necessary gender in expectations we put on male/female roles.
Sexualization of the person has been around, as I wrote earlier on; in that, we have observed differences in role expectations in different historical periods. But, today's sexualization is not about that. It is about coming out of the closet in terms of one's sexual preferences introduced as a liberating experience. There is no discussion about whether or not this is good for a person or society in respect for gender roles that play a vital role in sustaining society in numbers and in identity. There is no discussion about the harm that comes with promiscuous sexual activity no matter what age / no matter with who/what. And, moreover, when there is no respect for the relationship between distinct physical body features and the mind that cause male/female identity and role stability, society will deteriorate into social obscurity. I am sure that universities such as U of Wis thinks that their aim is simply to educate. Yes and No. I have yet to hear a positive discussion about what I related here - stable gender identity and abstinence til marriage. The modern discussion is simply about sex, the act, the experiences that one can enjoy with any partner without social expectations as it is all about uninhibited physical pleasure. There is no discussion of social consequences. Many of today's young people are sadly led into identity obscurity and into sexual bondage by corrupt information much of which came out of the 60s and including, the 70s and 80s as more and more sex and violence got into mass media.
What can Christians parents do? What can we do as Christians/American citizens? Firstly, male/female gender identity and role expectation must be modeled for children and sexual sin has to be talked about. God is a loving God and He did send His Son to redeem and it is this knowledge that we have to embrace and share as it alone allows us to move forward away from sin.  We can still sin though we struggle not to. This does not mean we should preach that sin does not exist. It does and recognizing it is out there is the way forward in this fallen world. We have to be consistent, we have to let our children know that God created male and female and that He his intentions for us matter most.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

We Learn Obedience From the Things We Suffer

Life is supposed to be difficult.
Hebrews 5:8 "Even though Jesus was God's Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered. In this way, God qualified him as a perfect High Priest and he became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him." We learn obedience from things we suffer. There will be suffering and God gives strength to endure, he gives strength to all those who believe Php 4:13.  ... as we look forward to the future. "Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb" Rev. 19:9

We suffer from our sins and in that we learn obedience; at least we should rather than backslide. But, even in that case, the Lord is always there for us if only we reach out to Him.
I am a sinner. I am arrogant and boastful. I am shamed by that and suffer the pain of it being pointed out.
Paul said it best when in his letter to Timothy. I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful...and that I am diligent in my faith, in my belief that Christ Jesus died for my sin. I must persevere in that knowledge. "For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ." Hebrews 3:14

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Sin is not Godly; It is Unacceptable to God!

Sin is not Godly; Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit, God- the creator of heaven and earth is only able to forgive because He sent His son, so that by His stripes we are healed-saved. Without the blood of Jesus Christ being shed for us, there would be no salvation. We could not ever be or regain being in the presence of the Lord our God.
Man is not good. No goodness exists in us in this fallen world because of sin.
Sin is unacceptable to God. In the Old Testament, animal sacrifice was required- a blood sacrifice. Why blood? It was to represent the requirement that sin is so unacceptable to God that the only way that the penalty for sin was through blood- it represented the death of the sinner. Animal sacrifice was supposed to be horrible and we were to be repelled by it because God was too repelled by sin, because that is how God sees sin. A penalty had to be paid for God’s forgiveness. Forgiveness does not happen without a cost. Thus, in the times before Christ when man lived under the law, a blood sacrifice had to be given for the atonement of sin.
In the New Testament, God paid the cost Himself for our contemptible sin.  Though we live now under grace and not under the law Romans 6:14, we cannot consider that sin is just naughty behavior and not worthy of the extermination for every human alive. God had and has every right to sterilize the earth as it was the case after the fall of Adam and Eve. Sin is still unacceptable to God and because God wanted to show his love and mercy. He had a plan to deal with this horrible problem ‘corruption’ that doomed His creation ‘mankind and even the angels’. The plan was the death of Himself as a man in our place. To understand how merciful and loving God is, we have to understand how horrible sin is.
In our modern popular liberal-progressive ‘youth’ culture, relativist thinking leads people to say “They sin but I don’t, I am not a bad guy/girl.  I am good but other people make me out to be bad.” Christians in this culture think that being nice and doing good works, sharing etc can remove our sin. That is not true. No good works by man can remove sin. Again, to reiterate, Sin is not naughty behavior. It is absolutely the most serious thing we can imagine. We live in sin daily (in this fallen world) and because we live in this fallen world, cannot see ourselves engaged in sin daily but we are.  There is no hierarchy of sin. Harsh words, negligence, laziness, sexual immorality, envy, lust, greed, pride are all sins; even putting ourselves first, our children before other children, our needs before others... all sinful.
Bad things happen because we live in a world of sin. Sin is corruption; there is no good thing in it. As an illustration, imagine someone living in the poorest neighborhood and never knew anything else; they would think that is normal. Unless, they had something to compare it to, they would never know they live in squalor. When God gave Moses the law it showed us what we have to live up to. It was given to show that we are poor, naked and pathetic compared to God. Once we realize where we are (in this fallen sinful world), we know that we cannot do anything that will change that. Only God can change things, if you accept His sacrifice His mercy and love. He said He would forgive our sin and that the Father will no longer see you as sinful.  He redeems our body, He makes it free of sin and in the New Jerusalem we will be unable to sin, we will be like God and that is the only way to get eternal life.
Hell is a place to dump sin into, a disposal for sin. It is not a place to torture people. It is a deposit place for sin. If people do not take God free gift (Salvation) this price He paid for sin which is was His blood, they will be deposited into Hell. It is the second death. Sin does not belong nor can it co exist with God; good works cannot atone for sin. God’s righteousness is beyond any good works that man can do. The only way to the Father is through Jesus Christ. John 14:6

Monday, October 27, 2014

Dead to Sin Alive in Christ....Nothing but the Blood

Romans 6 Dead to Sin and Alive in Christ.
I asked my husband about the significance of blood in context of sin. Firstly, the Bible is clear that every person is alienated and separated from God because of our sin (Colossians 1:21). We are not good, not born good in this fallen world but born sinners. That means even the best of us are actually unable to approach God to offer worship or prayer. Because of our sins, we remain at a distance from Him.
But the Bible tells Christians to come boldly into God’s presence, “We have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus” (Hebrews 10:19). “Now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been made near by the blood of Christ(Ephesians 2:13).
It is because of the blood of Jesus Christ that we have the great privilege of pouring our hearts out to God (Psalm 62:8) casting our cares on Him (1 Peter 5:7) and praying any time and any place in the power of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:18).  In addition to being able to enter into God’s presence through the blood of Christ, we are also forgiven of our sins.  Ephesians 1:7 says that, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.”  Because of Christ’s shed blood, God is able to forgive us for our sins and give the punishment that we deserved to Christ. You see, there had to be a great price paid for sin. Jesus Christ paid that price.
Does that mean we can go on sinning? No, it means that we will likely sin again and again though we may not want to, we will. In Christ, sin will no longer be our master, we died to that; and, now we are able to come boldly into God's presence. Read all of Romans 6; especially, note Romans 6:14 "For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace." Because His blood, we are free to be in relationship with God. Sin is not our master, though we may still fall back we can choose not to sin and free of sin as we choose to be free in Christ.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Wife of Noble Character

Proverbs 31: 10-28
The wife of noble character. A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. she brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands, bringing her food from afar. She gets while its is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls and portions for her servant girls. She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. she sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers. She opens her arms to the poor and extends er hands to the needy. When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet. She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine lined and purple. Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes. She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also and he praises her.

I have written about this before and I struggle with its interpretation. I respect God's social hierarchy in that I am under the authority of my husband. Yet, in the above proverb, it seems that a wife is expected of much regarding her household and necessary decisions to run it. It seems that the husband gains as he steps out of her way, her jurisdiction. She has much responsibility and authority over herself, her children and her household. She builds it up, she works toward its constant improvement. She knows what she is expected to do everyday without being told. Where is her husband, he is with the elders at the gate. He is making political decisions and business deals as well as ordering organization of the city... he is the superintendent along with other men over the households as a wider group, a society.  While his and each household has its noble wife.

Living with an Exuberant Soul and Reining it In

Living with an exuberant soul, as in being too enthusiastic about what God's word says for us is true! When I was born again I became incredibly enthusiastic. That means I felt I had to run out and tell the world what was wrong with it and what could/can be done about it. I still feel that way. However, I realize under the very good guidance of my husband, that I should rein in my exuberance. Some people just are ready to believe that the world we live in is a fallen world and that just by believing in Jesus Christ, we can overcome it. It is almost too incredible to think that all we have to do is repent= rethink. What? How? Firstly, we worry too much about what will be and how to make things last, we worry about how we will manage to hang on to those things which we think are so important and even precious to us. What does living with an exuberant soul have to do with that? It has everything to do with our worrying. In my exuberance, I did not realize just how much people are caught up in this world; as this is a fallen world made corrupt by a popular youth and money culture as its apex. People thus look at me like I am crazy when I tell them, live with an exuberant soul which actually means living enthusiastically in God's word and trusting in that which thus allows us to rest in the Lord. They are thinking, "yeah, right and what does God care if we are going to lose our house while resting." For women, I think (being one myself) this is difficult. We are by God's will made to be nurturers, our values oriented toward family and community. When those two important values appear to be in jeopardy, we want to respond immediately. We fail to turn to our husbands which is God's social hierarchy. We take up the task of making things right, not consulting our husbands nor God. I too have failed in this. This is living with an exuberant soul. It is valuable to rein it in. I often wonder what the world would be less corrupt if women had a better relationship with the Lord God. The best story from the Bible to illustrate when reining in an exuberant soul should have been the practice of the woman who possessed it goes back a long way. I would firstly point to Abraham and Sarah, considering that Sarah went into panic mode and told Abraham to sleep with Hagar. I would also point to Isaac and Rebekah, a godly woman who played a cruel joke on her husband so that her favorite son would get the blessing. These two women were godly women with an exuberant soul. They did not ask God for direction and if they had and did not receive direction as they had wanted to hear, they should have turned to their husbands. Living with an exuberant soul comes with great responsibility, knowing when to rein it in and rest in the Lord. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Faith Gives Substance to Hope... Healing

Interesting sermon this Sunday by Dr Erwin Lutzer of Moody Bible in Chicago. His sermon was "Children of an Awesome God!"
Pastor Lutzer told the congregation that it is tough to be optimistic when trudging through life’s tough times. Some people try to grin and bear it; others crack under the pressure. But the Christian can have a perspective that makes enduring troubles possible, a perspective of a future glory that makes our present suffering infinitesimal in comparison. Many of us think of tough times as usually being about financial situations; and why not when money and greed is the greater plague today. Besides that, we also face illness which creates tough times. We are told by Paul (in his life situation, he was blind and then could see) and can read for ourselves the healing that Jesus did during his time on earth. Healing is ours as we are alive in Christ Jesus. Yet, many people want healing when they want it = NOW and if they are not healed immediately, they think that God does not exist or does not love them and many think that suffering would not exist if God truly existed. Suffering exists not because God wants us to suffer but He allows us to suffer to remind us that this world is not our true eternal home. God allows healing for the same reason... to encourage us so that we do not lose faith. The promise of healing is ours. In this fallen world, God decides in order to glorify Himself.  Does that mean God is judgmental of believers? It means that our faith in Him gives substance to hope and future glory. This is still a fallen world we occupy and must remember that it will be made new in God's time. The hope and promise that is ours is salvation through Jesus Christ! This alone is the ultimate healing as we 'believers' are children of an Awesome God! Healing in this world is not impossible but keep in mind that when healing happens for us it is Glorify God ... to show us and remind us we will be delivered from this fallen world as we have already been made new in Christ Jesus and we anticipate His Kingdom Come - our eternal home, our future glory!.