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