Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Social Problems Galore ... When it Comes to Loving Your Neighbor

Social Problems Galore
What does it mean to love thy neighbor as yourself if you can't even talk to your neighbor in English, or about the same things/ideas/traditions? As a sociologist and social psychologist I can tell you that is not likely...Why? Because, people naturally gravitate to those things/people/places that they were taught to 'like' or appreciate or believe in. Does this mean that Christians cannot love non Christians? No, it means that you can love them for who they are which is loving them for being different. That is all. It does not mean you have to share your life with them; unless you choose to. We don't have to take the relationship any further than that unless we want to. It is easier to love other Christians and as Christians we absolutely should do that. As for others, we should just witness to them, so that they will turn to Christ.
I was at church on Sunday and there were people of all races/ethnicities and socio-economic backgrounds as revealed by their obvious physical differences. Yet, on the inside... I knew that they were Christians and when we smiled at each other or shook hands, I was shaking the hand or smiling at another Christian. The color of skin was gone, we could have been blue or green or pink it would not matter. This is the point. Differences disappear when people are on the same page mentally-spiritually! Social problems too disappear basing on the same reasoning. Even economic differences disappear when we know we are and or have been made the same through Jesus Christ. Those having more will give more to those Christians having less. They give it freely as they should to their Christian brother/sister. Can Christians give to others outside of Christianity, yes and they should if they feel the need to do that but in doing so, impress on those non Christians recipients that their gift is coming from God our Lord and true Savior Jesus Christ. Loving your neighbor is not a burden. It should not be and does not have to be... God wants you to rest in Him. If your neighbor is different from you, pray for his/her to be delivered, to be saved through the recognition and acceptance of Jesus Christ. Then and only then we will be able to love our neighbors as ourselves. There is no greater glory for/to God than bringing someone to Christ. The number one important reason for loving your neighbor as yourself is to glorify God. The reason is to understand yourself as a social entity and social problem solver... however, the way forward to understanding yourself and being a social problem solver is to first be in a relationship with the Creator... and then the way forward is much easier individually and socially and social problems that do appear are less conflictual and less detrimental individually and socially. Your neighbor appears as a brother/sister and not your enemy. Romans 15:5 "May God who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. The all of you can join together with one voice giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."

Monday, July 28, 2014

Concerning Israel through the letters of Paul

Romans 9:27-33 and concerning Israel, Issiah the prophet cried out, "Though the people of Israel are as numerous as the sand of the seashore, only a remnant will be saved. For the Lord will carry out his sentence upon the earth quickly and with finality." ...What does all this mean? Even though the Gentiles were not trying to follow God's standards, they were made right with God. And it was by faith that this took place. But the people of Israel who tried so hard to get right with God by keeping the laws never succeeded. Why not? Because they were trying to get right with God by keeping the law instead of by trusting in Him. They stumbled over the great rock in their path. God warned them of this in the Scriptures when he said, I am placing a stone in Jerusalem that makes people stumble, a rock that makes them fall, But anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced."
Romans 10 1-4 "Dear brothers and sisters, the longing of my heart and my prayer to God is for the people of Israel to be saved. I know what enthusiasm they have for God but it is misdirected zeal. For they don't understand God's way of making people right with himself. Refusing to accept God's way they cling to their own way of getting right with God by trying to keep the law. For Christ has already accomplished the purpose for which the law was given. As a s result all who believe in him are made right with God."

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Role of Being a Mother... and Honor thy Mother

Erin Davis, author of Beyond Bathtime, tells us that our children are an unreached people group. They come to earth without an understanding of God. They don't automatically know Him as their Savior. Someone has to teach them. Someone has to train them. They are your mission field. They're a little flock of people who doesn't know about Jesus unless you tell them. So how can that be a small thing?
Firstly, to be a good mother, you need to understand your role and that is not easy to do alone. If your mother, your grandmother did their job- educating you on motherhood,  it will be easier but not without diligence. is all about training as Erin points out; and as I point out, you can't be a good trainer if you did not have good training. So, what to do if you want to be a mom or already are and you feel that you are training your children the way they should be because you know that your upbringing was less than positive as in having received training to be a Christian and a Christian mother.
You have only to turn to your Bible and read God's word and read God's word to your children and most of all, what you read must be applied so that your children will see that the Bible is a book of instruction which works now in their life and will continue to do so. This advice is good for you 'mom' now and in the future as you will begin to rest in the Lord and your stress level comes down knowing that He is watching over you as you watch over your children. A child left to him/herself disgraces his/her mother. Proverbs 29:15 A wise mother imparts wisdom, she watches over the affairs of her household and her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her. Proverbs 31:27-29
A mother comforts her child Isaiah 66; by imparting information to her child. What kind of information? The serious kind- strong identity and strong faith. How can that be a small thing?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Dee Brestin, Idol Lies

Dee Brestin speaks about Idol Lies. Today on the Moody Radio, Dee as a special guest spoke about idol lies. She tells us that God wants a relationship with us on an individual level as we can image as a 'marriage'. He wants this from all of us - men and women. He wants us to turn to him first and foremost when we have trouble in our life, sadness, strife and loneliness.  Dee asked if there is one thing we can't live without... if there is, likely it is replacing God and it is an idol, worse it is adultery. This is the adultery that is related to us in the Bible. Because, when we neglect and or reject God, and loving someone or something else before Him, we are adulterers, and idol worshipers. 
Read the work of or listen to Dee Brestin speak and find out that though it is difficult to admit to our loves/lovers, once we do open up about those things/persons that replace God in our life, we become free to love Him. Free indeed!
 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, "if you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free." Thy answered him, "We are Abraham's descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?" Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is s slave to sin. Now a slave 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." John 8 31-35.

Anyone who is a slave to sin (idolatry/adultery) will not be free. Many of us think have in our mind a hierarchy of sins... murder usually being first among Christians. However, if you check the Ten Commandments, you will see that the number one sin is idolatry. “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me."
Adultery is number 7 and most think that it means to be loyal to your spouse. No, it means to not put others before God. He is a jealous God and we should remember this. Adultery is a form of idolatry. Adultery,as I understood Dee Brestin and which I agree with, is actually best understood as turning away from the one true love - God. It is similar to idolatry but different in that we may not be worshiping another God/image but we simply do not turn to God for anything. We turn to other things/persons to save us to ease our pain to love us. God is our everything!
Again, the number one commandment is that we should not worship other Gods/images and number seven is adultery which reminds us to not turn from the one true love. Because, He love us and in Him we are free indeed!

We have all we need in Christ Jesus!

With the looming cloud of the future over us with its global agenda and money markets that prop up only the ruling elites, one can panic. Remember that we have all we need in Christ Jesus! Our happiness lies in our faith in God not what money can do for us. Remember, money can be an idol... it is for many people today. Many of them I suppose did not intentionally make money their idol but it happens when we want to provide for our family, give them everything that we think they need and deserve. We take away from God what he can do for us and wants to do for us; thus we replace Him with our own works. If you think that God does not want your life to be full of love and happiness, you are wrong. Yet, many ask how can you survive in this world of money? Remember that "God's grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them". Acts 4:33-34

Monday, July 14, 2014

Same Sex Marriage - The Case for One Man/Woman

Same-Sex Marriage: A Thoughtful Approach to God's Design for Marriage

By: Sean McDowell and John Stonestreet
Today, on the Janet Parshal Moody Radio Program, we heard an excellent apologetic named Dr. Sean McDowell give a clear case against same-sex marriage. It appears that it is here to stay, given popular culture in America.  How do those who follow Christ faithfully answer the standard talking points for same-sex marriage? And how can they best articulate the case for one-man, one-woman marriage in everyday conversation?

Reading Dr. Sean McDowell's (PhD, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) biography we learn that he is a gifted communicator with a passion for reaching the younger generation with the gospel message. A professor at Biola University in the apologetics program, Sean is the author or coauthor of fifteen books, including The Apologetics Study Bible for Students. He travels widely, speaking at camps, churches, universities, and conferences.
The co author, John Stonestreet, also is a speaker and fellow of the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview, as well as the co-host with Eric Metaxas of Breakpoint, the Christian worldview radio program founded by Chuck Colson. John is a sought-after speaker at conferences, colleges, and churches on the subjects of theology, apologetics, and faith and culture. He holds degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and Bryan College and is the coauthor of Making Sense of Your World.
Both of these Christian men/authors believe in a thoughtful approach to God's design for marriage. They argue in their book that the key is not a contentious attitude towards those who believe in same-sex marriage, but a winsome perspective that is faithful to Christ, committed to truth, and shaped by a love for God and others. At the same time, Christians are still called to engage culture even if they are viewed as wrong, illegal and intolerant in discussion about same sex marriage as Biblically immoral in God's design.
The best line of argument, which I agree with as a sociologist, is that a man and a woman bring to the family and especially child, the necessary diversity to raise a socially viable member of society.  We go on in this country about diversity and yet we argue for sameness as being good and even in some instances, better.

McDowell and Stonestreet are careful not to condem homosexual parents as being bad parents just that as a couple, opposite sexed parents are better for a socially well prepared child.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Husbands and Wives and Expectations/Idols and Restoration

Husbands and Wives
I have written 'blogged' often about relationships between husbands and wives. Encouraging you to find guidance in scripture and that God's social imagination for our marriage is the best. The hierarchy that God designed is the best practice for our marriage - God, man/husband/wife. However, even in having that knowledge, we find ourselves from time to time caught up in this fallen world challenging that hierarchy and creating and putting up with expectations so high we need a extension ladder to reach them.
Now, I like expectations, reasonable ones because they work well for society and husbands and wives and family. But unreasonable ones don't. Why? Because unreasonable expectations are not from God. God does not give us or want for us unreasonable expectations. He wants us to be happy. So, who puts these unreachable expectations out there... we do when we don't listen for God's word. His word for our lives tells us what to expect and why and let us know that there is a right time for everything in our life. Sometimes, husbands and wives especially set the bar too high and in fact it becomes a form of idolatry.
Today on Midday Connections (Moody Radio with Anita Lustrea) guest speaker Dee Brestin told us about idols. She told us that deep down, every woman longs to feel loved and secure. We may think we look to God for these things, but in reality we often run to food, Facebook or friendships. Dee wants to help us identify the idolatry that is destroying our intimacy with God and stealing our joy. Dee related the story of Rebecca who was overeating and getting depressed because of what Dee calls a 'heart idol'. What was her heart idol? Firstly, there are three main heart idols are: Comfort/Security; Affirmation/Approval; and Control
Power. Think of the sins you tend to repeat. What do you think is at the root?
Idols lie to us. For example, Rebecca thought that eating at night would solve her problem was stress: three boys two on the autistic spectrum and a husband working 80 hrs a week. She had a need and yet she did not turn to God (her Father in heaven) but to pie and television thus expecting such things would allow her to deal with her stress. Which became the thing (s) that she had to have -  idols. How have your idols lied to you – telling you they would help you when in fact they turned on you?
Idols cannot be removed but only replaced. When Rebecca faced up to her comfort idol, she felt afraid, for she thought, “If I don’t run to my political shows and my pie each night, will God just let me sit in my pain?”  God wants us to reach out to Him, and he wants to be sure that it is Him we want and not pie or facebook or TV or clothes, or food etc. Once she reached out to her Father in heaven, and understood his social hierarchy (man under God, and women under man-husbands) she found rest and comfort. The stress went away knowing that her husband was part of that order, in fact, her husband was first in that order so that he got directly from the Lord what he needed so that he could give to his wife and she could rest assured. That was Rebecca's restoration. We can now suppose that her husband Sam faced a similar situation- too much stress and not enough time out with God in his life... after all, God's hierarchy calls for it. Sam was working all the time because he thought Rebecca's expectations of him were too high and he could not live up to them. He saw his wife suffering and did not know how to reach out to her and he also felt alone and unloved.
Both needed each other and moreover, they needed God. Not together, but individually. That is the beauty of a Christian God's love- individual communion/relationship/intimacy with the Creator.
God's love is so great for us! Amen. He adores us and wants to be adored back. Thus, we are able to adore others. Which is not 'idolizing' as we think of - putting someone else before God...that is not good. Idolizing our spouse or anything is not good if it takes the place of God. However, I when I think of idolizing my spouse, I think of adoring love because that is what we get from God. When we accept the love the Lord has and offers us and when we feel that adoring love from the Lord, we want to and should give that kind of adoring love to our spouses. Husbands should be their wife's 'idol' adored and visa versa. We need our husbands to be a sign of God's order for us and by his adoring love we are assured of God's 'adoring love' ... this follows God's hierarchy. Then it is possible for us to give our husbands what they need, and we can be assured in that this comes from God, it is thanking Him  for His order. It is His Love for us that lets us adore others and feel assured of that and be at rest in it. The healthy way, the Christian way is to put God first. He is our first adored love our 'idol', the one we worship and glorify and because of His wonderful works and unconditional love for us. He continually wants to love and bless us. Having that knowledge, that love is an assurance that allows us to give to others, we understand that relationship with Him 'adoring him' and understand our relationship with our spouse and are able to adore our spouse as we feel and know we are adored.

Monday, July 7, 2014

What is Faith?

What is Faith?
There is no better account than in Hebrews 11.
Before I remind myself/us of what wonderful words that Scripture has to offer, I firstly want to reflect on sin and forgiveness. I heard over the weekend an amazing story about a man (Burl Cain)who started his life as an agribusiness agent in the American Farm Bureau. From there, his career moved ahead subsequently this man became the assistant secretary of agribusiness for the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections. In 1981, he became the warden of the Dixon Correctional Institute. After fourteen years there, he was elevated to warden of the state penitentiary. The Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola was once called "the bloodiest prison in America."  The Louisiana State Penitentiary is now known as a place of hope for its more than five thousand inmates. The credit for this unprecedented transformation is given to its one of a kind warden, Burl Cain. His steadfast rejection of a "lock 'em up and throw away the key" mentality can be seen in the progressive, compassionate programs and sound correctional procedures he has implemented. But the hallmark of Cain's remarkable administration is his relentless efforts to help each inmate discover the value and purpose in his life, to experience true freedom of the soul. This excerpt is a summary of Cain's approach documented in the 2005 book 'Cain's Redemption...' by Dennis Shere.
The inmates built a church there with their own hands from the ground up. At Angola, they were encouraged and allowed to find faith and forgiveness for their sin(s). I found the interview with warden Cain to be so touching, so real, so overflowing with supernatural humanity that it could only be truly called Amazing Grace, I wept. It was for Cain's faith that I wept. That his love for his fellow human came from his own faith and because of that he forgave their sins and grace could come into such a place.
You see, faith in God, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ does that... if we let Him. He can work miracles in us and in those we cast off as unsavable, not viable for society. "Without faith, it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek him." Heb 11: 6
Inasmuch as we think/feel it is right to condemn those that have done us harm even the worst kind, it is 'sin' that they have committed and all sins can be forgiven through faith, for faith saves all those who believe. "Have faith in God", Jesus answered. "I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea', and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore, I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins." Mark 11:22-26

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Relational and other Forms of Idolatry

Today on Midday Connection, Anita Lustrea, a graduate of Moody Bible Institute and affiliated with  Moody Radio since 1984, talked with Dee Brestin about idolatry. Dee is the author of a Bible study series that includes titles such as A Woman of Love, A Woman of Faith, A Woman of Purpose and The God of All Comfort.  She is a popular speaker at women’s conferences across the country. 
We heard from Dee that God, through friends and His Word, revealed her own hidden idol of control, and then a dramatic transformation followed for Dee. On Midday Connection  the series,  Idol Lies  with Dee, has shown me powerful truths about what can happen when the idols take over, they take us away from our one true love Jesus Christ. 
We don't realize or recognize idols in our lives. For instance, an idol can be a person, a friend or husband, partner or parent, or even child that we lift up to a place of high importance, higher than our Creator and Savior Jesus Christ. Having idols is not just molded images painted gold. We can idolize many things 'concepts/ideas/youth and persons and places can become idols which we become slaves to. Ultimately, God wants us to idolize Him and Him alone. "Thou shall not have false images before me, false Gods/Idols".... By idolizing God = earnestly seeking Him, we become His slave (who better to be a slave to... ), in doing so,  we rest in Him which is opposite to what we think of as slavery and by resting in Him we die to ourselves in this world which is enslaved flesh and for that we are rewarded with eternal life allowing for the fulfillment of our true destiny = God given gift.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Forgiveness is not Demanding

Forgiveness is not Demanding
I have been listening to Leslie Vernick's own painful story about life with her mother. She described the situation of abuse both verbal and physical that she endured throughout her growing up years. What was amazing to me is that Leslie as an adult Christian never demanded from her mother an apology. Leslie forgave her mother and did not expect/demand any special attention for that, or gift, or recognition. Leslie did not even say I forgive you to her mother... she showed it through her behavior, her act of forgiveness was apparent and Leslie saw in her mother's eyes the grace of her forgiveness.  So many Christians think that by forgiving people we can expect some special attention paid to us in return for forgiving those that have hurt us. The reward that we get should is the grace we see / recognize accepted by and in those who hurt us. This is what we really want; because we know that people who hurt us is because they too were/ have been hurt by someone. By forgiving them for what they have done to us, they are able to forgive themselves and the one who hurt them. It is a snowball of grace. In fact, it begets a whole new life of relationships; in a way... a new world is created. This is the work of Christ Jesus in our life; it is why He came and what He came to do for us.  Amen!