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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Saved From Sin


“Saved from sin” is a biblical term that is used in Romans 6 and Matthew 1:21 and is often misunderstood.  Sin is the enemy of God.  The idea of the term “transgression” is to rebel, “turn the back” to God.  Sin involves the element of rejection of God’s control and God’s will for our lives in a willful act of defiance.  God says left and we say right.  This is the nature of sin.  When I say that I am saved from sin, I mean that I am delivered, from the heart, from that power that would turn me away from God and his will.  Sin has no more power over me to force me into its submission. 

 My Jesus is not a weak Savior.  When He delivers, he not only delivers from the penalty of sin and forgives, he delivers from the power of sin and saves.  Romans 6:14 tells us that sin "shall not have dominion over you".  Unbelief will keep us from accepting that the blood of Christ can have this power to keep a person free from committing willful sin.   God foretold in Ezekiel 36:26 that he would give us a new heart, a changed heart.   I cannot live free from sin without this new heart.  That is like trying to drive a car with no motor.  Impossible.   I believe many professed Christians simply grow up with religion and have never stopped to check their engine.  So they come to the conclusion that it just cannot be done because they have been so unsuccessful.   They begin to believe that no one can truly live right all the time, 24/7.  But this is what Jesus truly died for.  Read Romans 8:1, I John 3:8-10.

 What sin is it that I am forced to commit?  Is there one that I just have to do?  If so, how can God hold me accountable for any of it?  If I am saved or delivered, what am I delivered from?

               If there is anything that separates man from God, it’s sin.  Today, in our feel good world, the emphasis in life is do whatever feels right to you.  In other words, the only Law we have to worry about is our own personal laws of right and wrong.  However, God’s law is the standard for morality.  Mankind, who came from God’s design, contains within his soul the seed of moral law  but that moral understanding was corrupted  and blinded by sin.  The bible tells us what sin will do to any human.  It will blind them.  It will bind them.  It will separate them from peace with God.  It will make them feel comfortable and right when their relationship with God can be going very wrong.  The very nature of sin is deception.

Sin will keep your soul, mind and heart blinded to the truth until it has taken you for all you are worth. Sin will rob you of relationships, time, money, opportunities, strength of conviction, reputation, character,   and peace of mind.   This is why one iota of sin should not be tolerated in our lives.  It is as dangerous as gas and sparks.  It will quickly do its work and we will have little power over it.  “when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin, and sin when it is finished brings forth death”.   It  will convince us that we are doing the right thing when we know that we are floundering in a sea of wrongdoings.  Sin will get us to ignore all of the stop signs, warning signals and flares, and feel as if everything will turn out ok.   The only problem is that the end result  of  a sinful life is eternal separation from God.
              Although all men may not admit it, but our soul, when we die desires to have peace with God. However,  sin will bind me to stay just as I am, with no change or move toward the solution of the Blood of Christ.  What does it take for God to get us to move or change?  We are often so involved in life or the imitation of it, that God has to get our attention and cause us to look up somehow.  Sometimes this is done through adversity.  Troubles can be  good for us, because they cause us to look for solutions outside of ourselves.  This is often the hand of God.  Anything that causes me to seek God is a blessing, even when it might seem like a curse.  Ultimately God wants my soul to be saved from the power of sin.  He wants to release me from the bondage that sin carries with it. 

               If a con artist wants your money, he is not going to get it by making you feel suspicious of what he is doing.  He will try to make you feel as comfortable about your decision you as you could possibly feel.  He will tell you anything that will make you release your money to him, or let down your guard.  He will give you any assurance necessary.  Whatever you are worried about, he has an answer for it.  Whatever your concerns, they are unfounded because of any number of “on the spot” , “off the cuff” reasons he can think of.  This is the nature of the con.  Think about it.  How did Bernie Madoff get so many intelligent people to hand him their life savings and feel great doing it. He convinced them they were doing, not only the right thing, but the best thing. He convinced them that they were smarter or luckier than the other guy out there who did not know about this opportunity, and that life had bestowed a seed of knowledge upon them. They were smarter than their peers were.  They were special.

               Sadly, those investors found out that they had been bamboozled. This is exactly what sin will do for you.   Disobedience to God’s law is no joke.  The negative effect on our souls is devastating.  We should never treat sin lightly.  Any saved person that treats sin casually, has lost their vision.  God is so adamant about staying free from sin and its influences that he tells us in Ephesians to not partake of other men’s sins, keep ourselves pure.  He encourages us to reprove sin and not go along with wrongdoing in other people.   This is the mark of spiritual heat and a Spirit filled life.  The Holy Spirit will not let us go along with wrongdoing in ourselves or anyone else.  He will keep us free and clear from all sin and it is only his grace and power that does this miracle.


Sunday, September 4, 2011

Reverse Your Thinking

I love this video because it is my testimony.  God reversed my thinking and renewed my mind toward him.  I was not brought up with religion or the bible but I sought God for myself and found out how real He is...Hallelujah!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Street Interview at the Night of Hope

Osteen’s Night of Hope--An Interview Outside US Cellular Field.

For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, peace, peace when there is no peace. (Jer.8:11).

 

A bright spot of the evening was my interview with a man who introduced himself as Preacher James...Thank God for saints that go and  get the message out..... face to face… listen to his comments about his experience with this crowd.

Joel and Victoria Osteen's Night of Hope: Chicago, IL August 6th

I‘ve had two days to ponder what I witnessed Saturday August 6th at US Cellular field in Chicago.  Joel and Victoria Osteen:  A Night of Hope rocked the crowd, bringing them to their feet throughout the evening in cheers, praise and tears.   Even though some sections of the Cell were empty, that did not dampen the spirits of the over 30,000 that attended.  It was a beautiful, summer evening and people were dressed casually as you would expect, and most of the crowd came supportive of Joel and his HOPE message The security was casual as well — no bags were checked at the gate as people filed in to receive a program and a souvenir pen emblazoned with the title of the event..

 Let’s face it.  The man is a great motivational speaker.  If you just wanted to feel good about your life that was the place to be. No negativity allowed.  Some had brought their children and several I saw were in wheelchairs.  He certainly encouraged people to have hope.

 After having seen what all the hoopla was about, I must admit my opinion of him has not changed.  I am under-whelmed.  Joel is a good business man.  He knows what people want to hear and he gives it to them.

 If someone had come looking to change their life through Christ, they would have received no instruction or encouragement to do so.  The idea was that “You have the power to change yourself and live your dreams”.  Through hard work, through Christ, through transcendental meditation…the how was not all that clear.

As I looked around, I wondered if all of these people came on their own as his fans or did the Osteens ensure a large crowd through the seven local Pastors they presented to give brief spiritual declarations (each Pastor seemed to bring his own cheering section)—each having huge church memberships.  In my opinion, there was a little of both.  The crowd in my section seemed to come from one of the many large churches in the area that I soon realized had been bused in from around the Chicago and Indiana area.  I went out to make a phone call and saw bus after bus after bus in the parking lot.   Then I looked on the program and I realized the Joel and Victoria have a national network of Pastors in various cities whom they appear to rely on to help fill these venues.    Anyway, each pastor made a declaration for 2011 for Chicago (isn’t 2011 almost over?).  Throughout the night Joel encouraged the crowd that 2011 was their year to change or do whatever new dream they wanted to accomplish in their life.

 I was glad I attended for a few reasons.  First, if you are going to criticize someone as I have done on this blog, you ought to hear them out for myself.  Until now, I have only heard snippets of conversations that I have expressed disappointment over.  Now, I can say that I have heard the great evangelist for myself. Second, I got to see how he creates this network of support throughout the country for these events and I got chance to observe the types of people that follow his message.  Some of whom do not go to church on Sunday and have walked away from standard religion.

  To be fair, he puts on quite a show.  The music was first class; he called the musicians “his own rock band”.  No sloppiness here.  The singers were first rate and musical numbers were well done.  A member of his congregation Cindy Cruse Ratcliff gave a beautiful rendition of “Great is Thy Faithfulness” while pictures of her family flashed on the jumbotron.  God had helped her family through infertility issues and they had been led to adopt.

 Joel’s mom had come out before this and had given her testimony as a cancer survivor.  The doctors gave her weeks to live and she is still here 20 years later.  Thank God!  Who’s not going to cheer for that?  Even I had to clap on that one. 

 The message of the night was clear, FEEL GOOD ABOUT YOURSELF.  Yeah!  (the crowd cheers).  GET RID OF ALL THE NEGATIVISM.  GOD IS NOT ANGRY WITH YOU. (Although Psalms 7:11 says He is angry with the wicked every day)… but  Yeah!  FIGHT FOR YOUR DREAMS.  GOD IS FOR YOU, AND IF GOD IS FOR YOU WHO CAN BE AGAINST YOU!   Yeah!  WHY CAN’T GOD USE YOU?   Yeah!...LOOK AT ALL THE MESSED UP PEOPLE IN SCRIPTURE GOD USED, HE CAN USE YOU TOO?....Huh?  GOD USED LIARS, PROSTITUTES, MURDERERS, and GOSSIPS….  Yeah!  This last point was met with rousing cheers.  I also noticed that very few people brought their bibles with them.   


Now back to biblical reality.  This is like the false prophets of old crying peace, peace when there is no peace.  Although it is great to get people verbally praising God in a stadium, if they leave thinking that God is ok with the sinful life they are living, have you really accomplished anything by making them feel good?  Even worse haven’t you lied to them and deceived them, by sending them off into the night smiling at how much God is going to use them, even though they haven’t even bothered to repent of their sins.  OOPS!  There’s that word…

 Throughout the night (at least while I was there as I had to leave early so I could get up and preach the gospel).  The words “sin”, “repent” “salvation” were strangely missing.  I can’t say whether this was consciously done, but neither Joel nor Victoria used these very biblical words the whole time I was there. No distinction was ever made between saved or unsaved, saint or sinner, nor was an attempt made to rightly divide the word of God and apply scriptures to the proper audience.  Victoria, in her second sermonette of the night mentioned “mistakes” several times and used a story about the unconditional love her natural father when she broke a window as a teenager to drive home her point.  Yes, she was hard-headed and wrong in her actions but her father forgave her and didn’t rub her face in her wrong.  Your Heavenly father will do the same for you. 

 Well if salvation was based on mistakes only and not sins that little analogy would be true, but the very nature of sin the is turning of the back to God, it more than merely missing a mark.   C.S. Lewis noted that sin is man’s way of saying to God, “go away and leave me alone”.   Sin is stepping over the Law of Christ.  If it were not important, Jesus would not have died for our sins.  Sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2).  The word was not mentioned.  He mentioned that he was not into “beating people down”.   Neither was Christ but  he also told people the truth.






Monday, July 18, 2011

The Reality of Hell - The Story of the Rich Man

THE REALITY OF HELL – 10 THINGS TO REMEMBER FROM LUKE, Chapter 16

Part of the old path is telling the whole gospel, even if it is not popular.  In Luke 16, Jesus spent some time in this chapter chastising the Pharisees about their love for money.  He continues, by telling them about a rich man who went to Hell.

1.       He never says it’s a parable.

2.       The rich man did not go tell hell because he had money, but because he was selfish and loved his money more than God.

3.       God allowed Lazarus to lie at his gate every day as a reminder of what he should be doing. The rich man had every opportunity to do the right thing.  So do we.

4.       Lazarus did not ask for much, only crumbs, and the rich man would not even give him that.

5.       The rich man was very conscious in hell; he remembered his life, and his actions and those things tormented him.

6.       The atmosphere was flames, torment, and suffering.  The rich man did not want his family to come.

7.       It was ironic that in Hell the rich man was now begging.

8.       When the rich man asked that someone return from the dead to warn his brothers (who no doubt were living a similarly selfish life), Abraham refused.  Shocking people only goes so far.

 God is not interested in scaring people into salvation.  He wants us to listen to what he has already left us…THE BIBLE. 

9.       There was a “great gulf fixed” between heaven and hell,  and God’s decision about his life was final and would not be changed.   Once we pass over, there is no other chance for change.

10.   Any one that causes you to believe that Hell is a myth and not to worry about it— is deceiving you.

The Reality of Hell






This is part 8 and 9 of  "To Hell and Back".  The whole hour long video can be seen on youtube.  This particular section has an interesting testimony of a russian scientist who became a Christian after experiencing a vision of hell. 


Monday, June 13, 2011

The Reality of Hell

The Greek word Gehenna is one of the words used in the New Testament to describe Hell.  This is defined as a place “originally in the valley of Hinnom, south of Jerusalem, where the filth and dead animals of the city were cast out and burned; a fit symbol of the wicked and their future destruction.[1]  What are we to make of this?  Often, the original Greek and its representation of a garbage dump are misused to soften the concept of punishment and the stark reality of the place Jesus called hell. Of the 23 times the word “hell” is used in the New Testament. 12 times it is used in relation to fire or hell-fire.  In studying Christ total message on this subject it becomes clear that this was not just a reference to a city garbage dump but a depiction of what this place of punishment would really be like.  This depiction was an appropriate one to give those Jerusalem dwellers an everyday picture they could relate to and understand.  It was done with purpose.  Consider: it was a place where items that were no longer of use were destroyed; there was constant burning, heat and smoke rising up.  It was a practical description designed to convey the concept of a reality.  We know Jesus often used analogies to teach.  Here, he does the same.

Rob Bell a rising star on the evangelical stage is interviewed below and has been rightly criticized for watering down the Gospel. 



 
No Rob, Hell is not a place to be laughed at and shooed away as a myth.  Jesus taught the reality of the place of punishment and separation from God.  Whenever doctrine is taught, scripture cannot be taken out of its context.  It is not only misleading to confine the significance of Hell to a city garbage dump, it is a perversion of Christ’s teaching.   

What are we to do when Jesus said in Matthew 23:33 ”...how shall ye escape the damnation of hell”.  Here the word Gehenna is used, but in combination with the word “damnation”.  “Damnation of a garbage dump” doesn’t quite fit, does it?  The Amplified bible translates damnation (kriĆ°siov, transliterated as Kresis) as “penalty”.   This Greek word means a sentence of condemnation, a judgment. Here we see not only the concept, but an actual word describing hell as the ultimate punishment for mankind’s sins.  When we take in the totality of Jesus’ teaching on Hell, Luke 16 teaches that hell includes consciousness, feelings of pain, memory, torment, heat, regret, having the ability to see those in a better place.  Jesus taught of servants being placed in outer darkness for their wickedness.  2 Peter uses a word for Hell that describes a deep abyss. All this points to a place not to be taken lightly.  Teaching the old path, which is Christ’s way, includes teaching and warning about the punishment of Hell.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Working Hard Can Never Replace Obedience

Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil?  Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?  He hath showed thee O man, what is good; and what doeth the Lord require of thee but to do justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with thy God? Micah 6: 7-8.
      Often people talk about how hard they work FOR the Lord.  The full impact of this scripture will be seen in our lives when we understand what God is try to tell us here.  This was written by Micah, who a contemporary of the more well known prophet Isaiah.  Simultaneously these men from two completely different walks of life (Isaiah was an aristocrat and Micah a peasant farmer), proclaimed God’s judgments against the leaders of backslidden Judah.   Although these men may not have met, God put the same burden on their heart, for the same people, in the same time period.  There is always someone else who has not bowed their knee to Baal. We should never allow ourselves to feel alone.

      Micah is trying to tell us that sacrificing money and time with church attendance, involvement in spiritual functions, choir singing and the like, do not move God.  Until these actions are preceded by an obedient life and motivated by his will and unction, they do not excite God one bit.  Immense sacrifice and proclamations of devotion do not excite the Almighty.   God is pleased with obedience to his voice.  Elder Willie Gordon, a holiness preacher, once said that too many people are working FOR God and not working WITH God.  Dr. Jerry Pipes, speaker and writer on evangelism and families,  echoed this sentiment when he said we should “Find out what God is doing and join Him”.[1]  God moves and we should move with Him.  This takes prayer and waiting to see God’s direction.  Too many religious activities today are self –centered, self- proclaimed and oriented toward personal accomplishments.  We make our legacy in this world by finding out what direction God is going and moving in the same direction.  Then, no one can take credit and certainly, no one can point blame. God will be all, in all.
Passing on the Torch


[1] Jerry Pipes and Victor Lee. Family to Family: Leaving a Lasting Legacy. USA: North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1999, p.71.

Monday, May 2, 2011

This is the Good News


If you cannot view this. go to:  www.simplysharejesus.com 



Let's Live Holy-
 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

God's Help Wanted Ad

Isaiah 6: 8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord saying Whom shall I send and who will go for us?  then said I, Here am I; send me.

I woke up this morning and thought about all of the people that I come across everyday.  I had gathered a lot of prayer requests throughout the week.  But I wanted to go deeper.  I wanted to take things a step further in winning others to Christ. I realize that when I seek to reach out more, God will require more from my heart.  I had been wondering why God was tugging on my heart so much about digging deeper and put more of my personal needs on the altar of sacrifice.  I have a goal.   I want to lead more people to Christ this year than I have in the past.  I am realizing more and more that personal evangelism does not take a dynamic personality.  You do not have to be particularly outgoing or charismatic.  Winning people to the Lord takes being obedient in my personal walk. It takes being faithful to the call to witness.  It takes showing love to your family and not stopping there; showing care to people you don't know. Show the love of Christ to people outside of  my usual circle of friends, and above all-- listen.  Listening to people goes a long way.   Do I ever ask the guy who is selling the newspaper if he wants me to pray for anything?  Do I tune in to the lady at the hair salon when she tells me about her spiritual views without constantly trying to interject mine?  Sometimes we have to be ready to listen, sow a little seed and come back and water it later. Right now there is a woman I know who works real hard at her job with almost no breaks.  I am going to do something nice for her and see how the Lord works.

Wise words  from Solomon:  Ecclesiastes 11:6  In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that or whether they both shall be alike good. 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Spiritual Deception - 21st Century Style

Of all the deceptions that can happen, religious deception has to be the worst. I won’t spend too much time on this subject, but this is the first in a series on Spiritual Deception.  There are many ways for people to become deceived under the cloak of religion. The bible warns that in the last days men would have a form of godliness but deny the power of God (2 Timothy 3:5).  I have been a minister since the 1990’s and alongside my husband, we have seen our share of toxic religious behavior up close, on various occasions and various brands of deception from both the pulpit and pew.  Why God has allowed this to be a constant in our lives we are not sure, maybe to witness to how these things can happen, or maybe to protect us from falling into the same traps.  It is a dark subject and one that does not give me great pleasure to write about.  However, it is a necessity and something that even Jesus warned about during in His ministry. Deception can be extremely subtle and move from a small thought which sounds great and spiritual,  to a coursing,  rushing tide that is will ultimately pull you away from the realness of God altogether and the simplicity of Christ.
As we move into an age of more non-denominational, stand alone churches or independent church entities, spiritual deception is something all people should be highly aware of, especially in situations where there are no checks and balances or where control is in the hands of one person or personality. America has become a land of religious celebrities, Eddie Long, Juanita Bynum, T.D. Jakes, Joyce Meyer, Benny Hinn, and Joel Osteen just to name a few.  The names are often larger than any message they are preaching about Christ.  Rick Warren is so big that I often forget the name of his church. OK. Test. — What is it?  That’s right.  Took a minute didn’t it[1]  because the preacher is the center of attraction.  We see many independent mega-business-religious organizations today that are the brainchild of one personality. This can sometimes result in toxic religion. Nowadays, some ministers that have gotten caught up with the current trends of this religious world and are not satisfied with having strong spiritual saints that will be a blessing to their local community; they want thousands every Sunday in the pews, book deals and their own TV show.  They want “seekers” filling the pews. Of course, on the surface, what could be wrong with that, except that more times than not, to keep them coming back, they water down the gospel a bit—just enough to not offend them with “too much of the truth at one time”.   They now call watering down the truth being “wise master builders”. 
 I certainly have a wonderful Pastor and attend an independent church myself and believe that if we follow the bible, the Lord is very capable of being the head of a local body of sold out, saved people who can be a blessing to our community. But no matter how close our fellowship is, we should always stay alert to wrong influences.
Speaking at a woman’s retreat a couple of years ago, I distributed coffee beans to the women because I was discussing dysfunctional/toxic relationships that are unhealthy to women and especially Christian women.  The beans were a symbol to me and to them to “stay alert” about our lives.  At the time, I was reading The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse by David Johnson and Jeff Van Vonderen.  After reading this book, I felt like passing out a load of coffee beans to anyone who would take them. (This book can be purchased from books I recommend).  It is a truth that we need to stay awake about our spiritual lives.  We only get one life to live.  We should make sure its the life God intended.
Often what happens is because we feel comfortable in a church and have so many friends there, we subconsciously ignore the obvious or rather choose to ignore things we see going wrong.  I did this for a while when I first came to the Lord and was in an unhealthy church. I was looking at how well the church was run, the social clubs, the choir, and the dynamic preacher and thought I must be in the right place.  But I was choosing to ignore the spiritual famine my soul was in, the sins of the spiritual leader and I was fearful of hopping around to a lot of churches and getting confused. So I stayed longer than I should have.
God has given everyone the proper spiritual radar when things are wrong under the surface. Here are some of the signs of a problem:
1.  If there is constant bickering and arguing and factions among the church members, then the Prince of Peace is not in control. People will have disagreements, but when they are not handled in a biblical manner, they will keep coming up and poison the atmosphere, witness and power of the local congregation.
2. If those that have done wrong are lightly reproved either because they are a friend of the Pastor, or give a lot of money, or have certain positions you need to take a second look at your surroundings.  Paul had a problem with Corinth because people that were called “brother” and not saved were allowed to take communion with the saved.  There was no distinction between those that served God and those that did not.

3. If you find that your life has not really changed and the leadership is not overly concerned — they tell you to do your best and just keep coming to church.  This creates a false feeling of security.  Religion can often furnish an excuse for our lack of obedience to God’s Word. ‘Well I’m church now, so I feel better”, “God will forgive me” and we do things that we know we should not but continue on with a religious profession.  Be honest with God about how you are living, even if those around you think you are OK.

4.  By all means, if you know sin is going on behind closed doors and not dealt with—run—because after a while, you will not see how wrong that is, either.  You do have to make a fight or flight decision.  If you see that things are going sour and the people and system refuse to change, you may have to move on.  Sadly, there is very little hope of changing a whole system and it is best for your soul’s sake to go before God in prayer and ask him to show you people that are living right and are in a healthy church.* Preacher © 2010

Next...The Problem with Influence


[1] Rick Warren’s church is Saddleback Church of southern California.
*  I know of one-- go to www.jolietchurchofgod.org  

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Old Things are Passed Away

           
          I am thanking God today for 28 years of victory over the devil.  I have a new life, a new heart; I am a new creation in Christ Jesus.  I was born into the family of God in August of 1982.  I spent my first 19 years not knowing God at all.  I was person that was hostile to Christ.  Of late, God has brought back to my mind my old life, how bad off I used to be and it only makes me rejoice about the change in my life today.  My old life is passed away—gone.  The scripture talks of walking in the “newness of life”.  When you go to the store and they say something is new, you expect that it has not been used by anyone else; it is fresh from the factory.  If you found out you’d bought a used product that you thought was new,  you would take it back.  I would.  New means new.
       A new life is not something that can be manufactured or imitated it has to be given through Jesus Christ.


     As I said, I was hostile to Christ.  If someone were passing out bible tracts, I would purposely go the other way, not because I was ashamed of what I was doing, but because I thought they were silly and beneath me, I did not want to talk with anyone about God or hear any of their testimonies—waste of time to me—embarrassing fanatics. There was a young girl I went to high school with who was saved in the next block.  One day I was riding my bike on a Sunday morning.  She yelled out to me, “You should be in church, Renee.”  She was right, but “how dare she” was my attitude, “It’s none of her business what I do with my time”.  I did not want to talk about God, period.  My sister gotten saved before me, and she used to try and talk to me about the bible and quoted scriptures.  I hated being around her.  When she started talking about God, I would get angry and go to my usual hide out—my room.  One day I was so angry, about something she said, I was in tears.  God said to me, “why do you hate me?, why do you hate your sister?”  I couldn’t answer the question as I lay there in my bed, with tears in my eyes.  Why did I hate her and not want to be around her?  She had not really done anything wrong?  I did not realize it at the time but the Word of God she was using was shining the light on my sins, sins I was not willing to repent of.
     I told God that night that I had things I wanted to do.  I was 16 and didn’t want to stop doing anything wrong and sinful because well that would be embarrassing to be a “holy roller”, as they used to call them back in the day. I turned God down that day, and rolled over in my bed crying.   However, in the next three years my life went downhill, got worse and not better.  I did things I said I would never do and went places in my heart and in my life, I said I would never go.  The devil took away my resolve and any integrity that I thought I had.  I was embarrassed about some of the people I was hanging around in college, drug dealers and users, some medical students started their pharmacy classes early if you know what I mean.   I was educated but full of sin.
      Sometimes, you think you will be embarrassed by being so dedicated to God, but I realized the devil was the one really embarrassing me.  The more I followed my own ways and did what I wanted to do, the more stupid mistakes I was making, bad moves in my personal life and definitely not getting closer to God at all. Often people think that just because they have made some good decisions and done some good things, that everything is alright spiritually, that is not always the case.  We need to look into the Bible and see how God feels about how we are living, not our own assessment.

     So, I struck a deal with God, which you really can’t do on equal terms, but to make myself feel better, I played a game with God.  “Ok.  I’ll start going to church.  I may even get baptized again”, which I promptly did.  There was church down the street from my house.  I walked in and told them I wanted to get baptized again, because I thought that would solve this problem between me and God.  You see, I grew up in house full of lies and was taught to lie from an early age, so it was really nothing for me to lie to myself.  So now that I was baptized, I’m a Christian right?  Wrong!  Now that I am a member of a fine upstanding church and joined a few clubs, I’m ok now.  Wrong again.  God was so merciful to me, because he was patient.  I did not have Christ, and He did not allow the devil to take my life in this unsaved, deceived state I was in, thinking I had done a great job by joining church.  God just gently started to deal with me over the next 2 years that there was more to salvation than this.  I started to look around me one Sunday and the choir was rockin’ and the church was beautiful and preacher fiery but I was not saved.  God began to bring to my mind one question that kept bugging me “how do you live holy?”  I would ask people who were long standing members at church and they would say “I don’t know what you’re looking for, no one is perfect”.  So I started to figure there was not much more, but I could not really believe that this is all there was to serving God because on the inside, I was not satisfied with my life.  Oh yeah, the sin thing.  I was still sinning away from church, I didn’t smoke the drugs but I was still doing a WHOLE LOT of other things.  I had just become a religious sinner.

     I asked God was there anyone living right and God answered by prayer and I met a girl in college who was truly saved, she led me to Christ.  I was in my room at home, by myself, I told God that I was tired of being shackled by my sins.  As I sat on the bed, god told me “I’ll keep you free from sin”.  Then the Lord showed me two scriptures I did not know were in the bible. I John 3:8-9 and I John 1:7.  I yielded to God at that moment, repented of my past life and sins and God forgave me and gave me this new life and I have been living for Christ. Not once did I ever have to go back to my old life, old sins, old friends,  God cleansed me and gave me power to live right and say no to wrong.  He took away from me the spirit of lying that I had so much trouble with, and He will do the same for whatever sins you are dealing with.    If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature, the old things are passed away, and behold all things are become new. Praise the Lord!
 
 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

R-E-S-P-E-C-T! The Things To Respect in Life

 Over two weeks ago, the 7-9 Seattle Seahawks, the first team in NFL history to win its division with a losing record, beat the New Orleans Saints.  Big shocker.   A stunner.  Besides the fact that I’m really more of basketball fan, this is the one time of the year, I pay attention to football.  The rivalries are historic matches.  My son, who defies the rest of the family and the entire Chicago Bears-loving population by living in Chicago and rooting for the Packers (You heard me. There is something seriously wrong there) is geared up for this Saturday.   The Packers will have to get around the man— Devin Hester—who my husband insists has to be a cousin of mine because our families both come from Ohio.
The reason for all this football talk is a spiritual one, since this is a spiritual blog.  When I looked at how the Seattle “Tweetybirds” roared past the Saints, I said “you gotta respect your opposition”.  This is what New Orleans did NOT do.  What happened to the New Orleans Saints is what often happens to people in life. They get overconfident. They think because they exist, they can handle life.   They don’t respect their situations, the people they’re involved with that are leading them the wrong way, they don’t even respect the warning signs along the way of life or even the pitfalls that other people have experienced.  We as mankind tend to feel “we got it”.  All we need is good ol’ American know-how etc.  Unfortunately,  If we underestimate, we could end up losing.
Sometimes people think because of their longevity in church or their ability to quote scriptures, or maybe they have done something before and think “piece of cake”, that they have some leg up on their deadliest opponent (THE DEVIL).  Newsflash!  No one does.  That is why we have to pray, fast and be fanatic about obeying the Word of God and its principles.  (By the way, in church, our opponents should never be each other, unless we are planning on spending eternity somewhere other than Heaven—yeah, it’s that serious). 
When the bible talks of “fear”, it’s not speaking of a Friday the 13th, shriek-fest but “respect” or “honor” “awe”.   Proverbs says that fearing God is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10).  How does a person start doing what is right, and stop doing wrong?—START RESPECTING GOD! The bible even says that it will prolong your days (Proverbs ).  I suppose because on average we will avoid a lot of foolishness doing what’s right and we will be of better value to this world doing the right things. (Think Jesus pleading for the Fig tree not to be destroyed—just a thought).    
We should respect God because He created all things, including us.
We should respect God because He controls all things.
We should respect God and His Word because it is all powerful and should be followed to the letter.
We should respect the Word because it is the road map to Heaven (I certainly want to go).
We should respect authority (parents, teachers, pastors, ministers, government officials, and police) because it is created by God.
We should respect our spiritual and natural gifts given to us by God, by using them.
We must respect things based on their nature, like:
We have to respect time.  It waits for no man.
We have to respect our age
We have to respect the climate. (Try to go outside in subzero weather, know what I mean).  That cold will make you give major respect.
We have to respect the times we are living in, changes around us. (Try and find a decent phone booth).
And even though we don’t like to mention Him, we are not going to be so ignorant as to ignore our major opponent like the Saints did.    We have to respect the Devil too (I didn’t say be polite to him)…he is the next supernatural power besides God.  He has had thousands of years of experience dealing with church people, saints, and sinners and can easily deceive all of us.

My next article…involves spiritual deception…stay tuned.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Platitudes Without Beatitudes.





Is this the Old Path?  Are preachers comprising the truth to keep their popularity? After a sermon that was so hard to understand and seemingly hard to live out,  Jesus asked the twelve disciples  “Will ye also go away?”  (John 6:67)  Jesus spent little time worrying about popularity or offending people with His message, because His message came from the Father. He asked the disciples to declare  where they stood on the Truth.  After Christ's  sermon, some followers decided not to walk with Jesus again.  They left him.  The disciples declared " To whom shall we go?  Thou hast the words of eternal life."  One of the reasons many are not hearing the gospel today is that too many “Osteen-like” preachers are afraid of alienating people (or potential book customers),  and while, yes,  they have the world’s attention with television shows and beautiful edifices, the spiritual food they provide is nothing more than general self-help, positive thinking  platitudes that anyone can teach.  Really, Joel? You can't  discuss Atheists either?  
Here are some Joel Osteen quotes…
--To me, we're marketing hope. (…or building a false hope?)
--You can be happy where you are. (But Joel what if “where you are” is sinful and sends you to hell?)
--It's the same message that people were preaching hundreds and hundreds of years ago, we're just repackaging it. (Or watering it down to make everyone comfortable…)
--I'm very careful about saying who would and wouldn't go to heaven. I don't know. (Can you at least tell us what Jesus said on the subject?)
--I'd like to think that I can help everyday people who don't necessarily go to church.
(Maybe you can, but the best help according to scripture,  is repenting of sin and being reconciled with God.)
All quotes from Joel Osteen are from   http://www.icelebz.com/quotes/joel_osteen  
We really are living in dangerous spiritual times.  This watering down of the gospel comes from a particular type of theological thinking called religious syncretism- which is a melding of contrasting religious beliefs.  This was practiced under the ancient Roman Empire, for political reasons.  For reasons of political unity throughout the empire, they did not try to change the various religions and beliefs of the lands they had conquered . [1]  Gonzalez notes that “Syncretism was the fashion of the time.  In that atmosphere, Jews and Christians were seen as unbending fanatics who insisted on the sole worship of their One God”.  Get the picture?  This is what we are faced with today. Those that preach against false religion or preach the idea that there is only one way to heaven are seen as unloving fanatics.  Satisfying this trend in religion will only lead to changing the gospel.

The result of trying to keep up with the current religious trend? Nominal Christians who in the end, believe in nothing, and standing for even less. 
There is only one gospel of Jesus Christ…


[1] Gonzalez, Justo L. The Story of Christianity, Volume 1, The Early Church to the Dawn of the Reformation. New York : HarperCollins , 1984, p 14-15.