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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  
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.