Some people think God doesn’t answer prayers, and yet He’s answered so many things even when they weren’t exactly prayers. I’ve often just thought or wondered things and then God has provided answers or responses. Once I was wondering why people lift their hands during worship. I got answers in the Sunday sermon, in a Christian song about it (“Lift My Hands” by Chuck Girard), and most directly in the Bible passage I happened to be on next in my personal Bible reading. It’s crazy that I happened to be on it just as I’d been wondering about it and that answers were given so quickly there and elsewhere. God’s an amazing orchestrator. It was about how when Moses had his hands raised, they were winning the battle, but when he got tired and lowered them they started losing. Therefore, Aaron and someone else helped raise Moses’ arms. There does seem to be an important connection with our physical body and the spiritual realm. I noticed and pointed it out as well when it comes to the laying on of hands. The woman who was bleeding was even healed after simply touching Jesus’ garment. Ananias came and laid hands on Paul and God healed his blindness through that. We can always pray without doing so, but there are many examples in the Bible of people getting healed after prayer and the “laying on of hands” over them. It seems to be more effective for healing and deliverance prayers for example and is probably why they did it in the Bible when people were sick. However, it also says to be careful who lays hands on you. False “spirits” also get transferred through hands, so be careful. Anyway, I digress…
Back to the topic at hand, another time I was having a conversation with someone about something completely different when they said something about the Holy Spirit that was new to me. Ephesians 1:13 about being sealed with the Spirit is the one that came up as well as verse 14 about the Spirit being the guarantee of our inheritance. God used them to help me come to a new understanding as I also researched and read about it elsewhere. And here’s where the “coincidence” part comes in. I had just added a person on social media that day and even though I had never clicked on anyone’s “story,” that day I clicked on theirs to see what it was. It was a Bible verse (2 Corinthians 5:5 about God putting the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee) that was exactly what God had been highlighting for me elsewhere. Let me explain a little. Some Bible translations use words like “pledge, earnest, down payment, or first installment,” so that was something my brain sort of glossed over and didn’t really understand. This version of the verses said “guarantee.” I then spent some time thinking about it and this concept of being “sealed” with the Holy Spirit. If I didn’t believe in God I’d think it was a crazy coincidence, but I know God works all things for the good of them that love Him and that in His sovereignty He is working in everything. I hadn’t been sure before, but it had been made clear that a born-again believer would not lose the Holy Spirit they were sealed with. However, they could still quench it and stop it from working in their life and the lives of others. We can walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16), pray in the Spirit (Ephesians 6:18), be filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4)… Therefore, the opposite can be true. That we are not walking in, praying in, or being filled with the Holy Spirit.
Finally, there are a few things that come to mind that I included in my miracles/supernatural tab. Some of those are clearer and perhaps harder to believe, but that’s why they’re under the miracles tab. Call me crazy if you like, but God does answer if you honestly seek Him. If you don’t believe, I think most people would fall into 3 categories. You don’t know because you never had knowledge or experiences to know (nobody ever taught you and you never looked). You grew up with it but didn’t really believe it, especially with the things you learned at school that made you more certain it was false. Or you used to believe it but then for various reasons stopped believing or think that if it is true, something else is wrong or you disagree with something. For the first type, I recommend you do your own research and find out who Jesus is before it’s too late. We all have an expiration date and nobody knows when our last day will be. The virus going through just one household, husband had it first, their son last, but only my aunt died and we don’t know why. She was the closest to God and went in peace, but how many have died without knowing Jesus? If school knowledge made you cast away your faith, don’t throw it away without truly verifying what the truth is. Have you stopped to consider the opposing viewpoint? Or just blindly accepted what you were told because someone in authority told you it was fact? There are so many assumptions behind those supposed facts. For the third type, I don’t know what made you change your mind or heart. Did something happen? Often pain and suffering will drive people away. I’m sorry for whatever you may have gone through, but don’t blame God. It’s not His fault. Satan is the temporary ruler of this world and it is full of sin and broken. God will restore it all one day with no more pain, tears, or suffering. He loves you and is waiting for you, but won’t force Himself on you if you don’t want Him. Don’t miss out. To all three, seek Him. As a song by Scott Wesley Brown says, I could wish you anything but I wish you Jesus. Take care all.
It’s funny that the last blog entry I have is about love since the question has come up yet again, but from a different perspective. In my church’s small group (I can’t remember if I mentioned it or not yet but I joined one), we are currently reading Timothy Keller’s book called Prayer: Experiencing Awe an Intimacy with God. On page 16, the author states that theologian John Murray “is assuming that Christians will have a palpable love relationship with him and do have a potential for personal knowledge and experience of God….” So we were asked if that was our experience with God. I think that’s a complex question and hard to answer, but my initial answer was simple. That it wasn’t my experience before, but now yes it is even though I don’t always feel it. I still know and love what I can’t yet see. After hearing other answers however, it made me think about the question more deeply. And so, I didn’t end up sharing my answer which seemed too simple. I felt like I had more to ponder. This is the result.
If asked do you love God, I wonder what most believers would say? Would they automatically say yes? Would some say they don’t know? Or would they admit it if not? My answer before would’ve been “I don’t know” because I had never really thought about that before. God was God and who am I? Nobody. Loving something you can’t see, how? And yet after my initial experience of His love, I wanted to know more. I felt a taste and the more I learned the more I loved the God who loved me. When they did the stations of the cross during Easter time I was emotionally moved in ways I’d never been before. Because I realized what Jesus went through for a sinful world. For me. When none of us deserved it. It was no longer just head knowledge, but had moved to my heart. And yet, it’s not just feelings. It’s feelings moved by the knowledge of what God has done for us. It seems the chicken and egg “dilemma” will never go away. It’s not either/or, but both knowledge and emotion influencing each other and working together into a unified state of gratitude and love.
If you have only emotions, you risk creating God into the image you have in your head because that’s what feels good to you. Yet the Bible says, “the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). And yet if you have only intellectual doctrine you risk doing things dryly out of obligation. The Bible also says, “if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:1). You should have love of God as the foundation for your actions, but also need to know God as He is in order to truly be able to love Him. How can you truly love something if you don’t know it? You can’t say you love a show if you’ve never watched it. What if you watch it and you actually don’t like it? I think that’s what happens with some who say they love God, but then after reading the Bible they disagree with it and either fall away or re-shape their idea of God into something more to their liking. However, then you’re not worshipping in truth who God really is, but rather who you want Him to be. The head and heart must be intertwined.
So, what is love? One dictionary definition is “an intense feeling of deep affection.” The Bible describes it in more detail, “love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails…” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). There are many Bible passages that mention love or give us examples, the primary of which is in and through Jesus. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). He died for us while we were still sinners, with people mocking and torturing him as he bore the weight of our sins for us. “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13). And at such a high price he bought us so that we may live for Him. Loving God and our neighbor as the last entry says, doing the works for which we were created that God prepared beforehand. Jesus told the disciples, “if you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).
Now, think about the relationships people have in the world. How many marriages end in divorce and what do you think their definitions of love are? There’s a song by Steve Camp that’s called “Love’s Not a Feeling.” He sings that love’s not a feeling we can lose or throw away, based on emotions, but should be a commitment that never ends. That with the Lord we should live it every day instead of washing our hands and giving up, resulting in many broken hearts. That the love Jesus showed is what our hearts need and God won’t walk out on us, so when will we learn? If more people went by this understanding of love, what it is and what it’s not, there’d be fewer divorces.
One of my favorite songs is “I Love You Lord” by David Meece. He sings that all the love and joy he’s felt since he met the Lord is like nothing mere words can explain. He turned night into day, rain into sun, cleansed every wrong, gave him symphony and song. That the skies still wouldn’t be gray just as long as he stays with the Lord. How he wishes all the people could see He’s the best thing they could ever receive, and if they’d only believe He’d set them all free to sing, “I love You, love You, love You Lord…” Beautiful lyrics for our God who’s done beautiful things. I too wish everyone could see and sing with us.
My favorite song, actually the one from which the title of my site comes from, is “God Found Me” by the Altar Boys. Mike Stand sings he was dying from the inside out and came to find out God loved him and he was not alone. The rebuilding of his broken heart, a clean and brand new start, the more he seeks the more he finds God. How can we ever repay God? Don’t get trapped into the things of this world or you’ll find they just won’t fill your life. You want life, real life? There is no other way, so let Jesus find you like He found us. This song is probably the most meaningful to me and is still probably going to forever remain my favorite for years if not forever. I love when other people put into words what I’m feeling and the music, while perhaps not to everyone’s taste, is awesome. There’s another song by the Altar Boys called “You Are Loved” which basically cries out to all the hearts that have been broken, that God cares about you more than you think. You’re not alone, there’s someone you can hold onto.
There are many songs about loving God, God loving us, loving your neighbor, etcetera. I love listening to “old” Christian music, singing things I feel that others put into words. Worshiping God through song. The music adds to the feeling behind the words. On page 29 of Tim Keller’s Prayer book, he says, “Prayer also is ‘a kind of tune.’ Prayer tunes your heart to God. Singing engages the whole being – the heart through the music as well as the mind through the words. Prayer is also a tune others can hear besides you. When your heart has been tuned to God, your joy has an effect on those around you.” I have a sign in our bathroom that says, “Rejoice in the Lord always” and it makes me think of Keith Green’s song medley that includes that. Joy is contagious. In our group we were talking about prayer as being important but not necessarily ultimate, for example above faith or service. Faith without works is dead after all. Someone also mentioned that while we may not be praying for six hours a day, they often find it more meaningful to play a worship song on the guitar and sing a psalm. So what does prayer have to do with love? Well, what is your motivation for prayer? Do you pray out of obligation? Or because you love God and seek to spend time with Him? Are you just asking for things or also thanking Him and praising Him?
I’ve heard that there are 4 types of prayer which include adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and petition. Whether there are more categories or they are named differently I’m not sure, but it’s a general list I’ve seen. Prayer is so important that Jesus would go off by himself to pray before and after teaching the crowds. We ought to refuel and do the same or risk running on empty. However, it’s not just about asking for things. The adoration and thanksgiving mean we are also taking the time to praise God and spend time with Him. He is our Creator, Lord of all, and should be our everything. Yet, if we don’t pray, we don’t acknowledge Him or give Him time when He gives us all, including our life. If we don’t pray, we are living life as if He’s not there. It shows what you value, God or yourself. If we believers lack a prayer life or don’t read God’s Word, how can we say we love God without spending time with Him? Not what we imagine Him to be like, but God as He truly is?
Someone outside the group once asked if prayer can be written, like in a journal. Many said yes, and I too have written prayers. Some of my poems are or include prayers, and my journal includes some as well. If we can write our prayers, and they can be poems like the Psalms in the Bible, then isn’t music also a form of prayer? Worship is not necessarily confined to just singing just as prayer is not necessarily confined to just saying words. We can sing prayers and worship God with our lives. Paul said to make our life a living sacrifice. Keith Green sings, “make my life a prayer to you.” Why are humans always trying to categorize things and put boundaries up as if nothing can cross over into other spheres? So many things are intertwined. It’s not either/or, but both and all! Categories may help us organize and define things. They’re very useful, but shouldn’t be all-encompassing. Think outside the box and explore all the possibilities.
Each of us will express our love in different ways. Some will sing, some will paint, some will write, some will dance, some will serve, some will pray. Ideally we should be doing them all, but not everyone does everything equally. If one feels called by God to serve missions in Africa, that’s great. Some are called to serve where they live. While one person may have a talent that God gave them to share, that doesn’t mean someone else can’t serve doing the same thing. We are each called to serve to the best of our abilities and with all our heart. Now, I won’t be joining the choir any time soon as I wouldn’t want to subject anyone but my family to such torture. But I can sing with the church when we worship together as my voice gets lost in the crowd and I’m singing for God and not man. He doesn’t care if you do it well, as long as you are worshiping from your heart. Or even in spite of your heart sometimes as love’s “not a feeling” but should be more of a commitment. Even when you feel distant from God, it’s usually because of our own sin. I’m glad we’re dependent on the grace of Jesus and not standing on our own, or else we couldn’t approach God. Jesus opened the way for us. We are all expected to pray and spend time in the Word, or how can we say we know and love God?
To conclude, I know I love God and that He loves me. I don’t always feel it, but have a few times. I could improve in my prayer life and Bible reading as I’m not always consistent, but also don’t necessarily see myself setting apart specific time slots to fill. Some days my prayers or reading is longer or shorter. I don’t limit it if I go past my “normal” time nor try to extend it with “many words” if my heart/head aren’t in it. God knows where we are so we can’t fool Him. We are to love Him with all our heart, soul, and mind. Praying and reading ought to bring us comfort and joy, not be a chore. If we love God as we claim, we ought to love spending time with Him. So if I claim to love Him, do I treat God as if I do? Unfortunately, not always.
That doesn’t sound very promising does it? Thankfully we’re not standing on our own merits. Believers are standing on Christ. He is our rock, fortress, mediator, and Savior. He died for us and now intercedes for us with the Father. Though we all fail, and I know I fail Him in multiple ways, I trust that He is still working on me and that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are both interceding for me. Sometimes in spite of myself. God, help us all to grow and experience a love relationship with You, and may that those that don’t yet know You seek and find You. If we already have or claim to have one, help us to grow and develop that relationship deeper. Not for ourselves, but to be more Spirit-filled and be able to show Your love to the world. Amen.
Jesus was once asked what the greatest, most important, commandment in God’s law was. He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:34-40). When referring to both of these commandments, Jesus says “There is no commandment greater than these” (see Mark 12:28-31). So when Jesus was asked about one commandment, the greatest and most important, he answered with two. Jesus never spoke anything without great wisdom and importance. By answering with two commandments, summarizing the law of the prophets, he already knew our hearts and was saying both are important. Some people seemingly want to follow one without the other, but you can’t do that if you truly follow Jesus. He stated both for a reason.
Let’s start with the first. Exodus 20 in the Bible gives us the famous Ten Commandments. The first ones in more detail talk about having no other gods, no idols, those that love God keeping his commandments, not taking the Lord’s name in vain, and resting on the 7th day because God rested after creating everything and made that day holy. There are other commands in the law, but Jesus quotes from the Old Testament which says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5 – Mark mentions “strength” as well). You can summarize the first commands with that as well as other parts of the law because God keeps repeating that those that love him keep his commands. Jesus says this in the New Testament as well. The commandments are not a set of legalistic rules to follow. It’s not a checklist for getting saved. You believe and are justified by faith and any works are the fruit of our faith. If you love God, you want to do what He says and please Him. It’s out of love and gratitude for God loving and saving us that we want to please God and keep His commands, not because we have to do these things.
So besides not having other gods and loving Him, how else do you please God? He gave us commandments for not only our own benefit but for that of our fellow human beings. Jesus said loving your neighbor summarizes the law. The other commandments in Exodus 20 include honoring your parents, not killing, not committing adultery, not stealing, not bearing false witness against your neighbor, and not coveting your neighbor’s things nor wife. All of those things involve loving your neighbor. If you steal, kill, dishonor, slander or lie against them, commit adultery, or desire to have your neighbor’s things or wife you are sinning by thought or deed against your neighbor. If you do any of those things against your neighbor, you are not loving them. Your actions show either your complete lack of consideration for them or your contempt and utter disdain for them.
Jesus, again, was not just speaking empty words and inventing a new commandment apart from those, but instead summarizing and emphasizing something God had already stated since the Old Testament times. “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord” (Leviticus 19:18). A key phrase to notice about the summarized second commandment is that Jesus said you shall love your neighbor “as yourself.” As in, Jesus was implying we already love ourselves. Man tends to be selfish. When the disciples were arguing about who was going to be the greatest of them, Jesus said the first shall be last and the last shall be first. People are often worried about getting the best parking spot, the largest piece of the pie, getting to the front of the line first before the crowd and so on. Nobody has to tell us to look out for ourselves. Jesus was telling us to look out for our neighbor and treat them as if they were us. Would you want those things in the commandments done against you? Someone to steal your property, lie about you, sleep with your wife and so on? No. So why would you do it to somebody else? Anybody who does those things either does not consider them, or if they do they don’t care enough to not do those things.
Looking out for their own selfish interests or needs (real or perceived), they would throw others under the bus, stab them in the back, and do whatever it takes to “make it to the top.” Sad, but unfortunately people like that do exist. Pray for them, even for those that persecute you (see Matthew 5:44). That is truly loving your neighbor. How many people would want “payback” or “karma” against a person that has done them wrong? That has cheated them, stolen their things, lied about them, and so on. Yet Jesus said if somebody slaps you to turn and let them hit your other cheek and that if somebody steals your coat, to go ahead and give them your cloak also (see Matthew 5:38-40). Jesus said, “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you” (Luke 6:27). Hard things to do in practice, but, “if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” (Matthew 5:46). Even the Old Testament looks out for others. “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles” (Proverbs 24:17). Jesus was not speaking new commands into existence, but stating the most important and that if you follow those 2, you are basically set up to not break the rest. However, we all fall short of the glory of God and only Jesus was without sin, so we do end up breaking them. That’s why we need Jesus.
Have you ever gotten mad at someone? Held a grudge? Found it hard to forgive a person? And yet God tells us to always forgive others, including those that hate us. When we pray, “forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses” (Mark 11:25). None of us is perfect, and yet how many things does God forgive us for and we can’t forgive somebody else? God is merciful with us and He will have mercy on whom He wills, that is not for us to decide. God chose Paul who was killing Christians to become one of his greatest instruments in the faith. We don’t know if the person that did you wrong today will change by God’s grace tomorrow. If justice is due to the person, God already spoke on that too. “Do not say, ‘I will repay evil,’ wait for the Lord, and he will deliver you” (Proverbs 20:22) and “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord’” (Romans 12:19). So put away anger and malice, forgive others, pray for mercy, and ultimately put everything in God’s hands. The commandments, again, are not just a list of rules to follow, but guidelines for life. If everybody in the world actually followed them, we wouldn’t have things like rape, murder, theft, or even war.
A lot of people today seem to think things are black and white, either or, and argue about many things. You have polemics on two sides debating, when often there is some sort of compromise possible. Sometimes it’s not either/or but both. We can learn from Jesus when he answered that these two (plural) are the greatest commandment (singular). It’s not one or the other that matters in all cases and circumstances, religiously without any exceptions, but instead both working together. They’re not mutually exclusive. You can’t truly separate one from the other; otherwise Jesus wouldn’t have referred to both as one command. How can you fully have one without the other? You can’t negate one and claim to have the other. How you wonder? Allow me to explain, if you will.
Of the two greatest commands, let’s start with the first one. We are to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Love God above everything and everyone. Seek His kingdom first and all these things shall follow. I’ve heard people say we ought to make sure our vertical relationship with God is right as well as our horizontal relationship with our neighbor. Some even say the vertical comes before the horizontal. In a way, that is so. How do you serve others if your relationship with God isn’t right or serve others if you’ve got a terrible home situation? We should take care of that first. It’s like putting on your oxygen mask in a plane emergency first so you can help others before you pass out and can’t help anyone.
That is what the world and modern culture would say anyway. However, psychological thought experiment. What if there’s a malfunction and only one mask drops? “Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor” (1 Corinthians 10:24). Then maybe God would want us to lose our life to save the person next to us? Though would that include a “terrible” person and how would we know if even Paul was saved? God’s our judge, not us. Maybe they would change. Our last words should then be something like, “Jesus wants you to take the mask!” And maybe they will be so shocked they’ll look into it and get saved, in an ideal world. They’d probably just shrug, think we’re nuts, and be like, “thanks dude, your loss.” Yet, we would still be doing the will of our Father, walking in love for Him and our neighbor, and it’d be in God’s hands if our life was miraculously spared anyway or if we’d be home with Him that day.
Let’s return to loving our neighbor then. Our neighbor includes our families, spouses, and kids and these are often the people closest to us that we spend the most time with. How can we go out and serve strangers if something is wrong in our home life? If we neglect or physically, emotionally, or verbally abuse our spouse or children? That is not what true followers of Christ do. The Bible says for husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the church (and vice versa) and for deacons to be married to one wife and manage their children and households well. If there are problems in your relationship at home, work to fix them. Otherwise, how can you try to take the speck out of somebody else’s eye when you’ve got a big log in your own (see Matthew 7:1-5)? And how can we truly love others if we don’t love God first? Then wouldn’t we be like the world and love only those who love us instead of loving those who hate us as well? There seems to be an ideal hierarchy. Love God, then spouse and kids, then neighbor. However, I don’t think that needs to be religiously followed at all times in that order because everything is intertwined. Life isn’t always as clear-cut. In some circumstances, our priorities will change for that moment or period of time, and that is okay. It’s even Biblical.
Yes, we are to love God with our whole mind, heart, and soul. Sometimes, however, by loving your neighbor you are showing you love God. What? Yes, they are interrelated. “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates his brother, he is a liar. Anyone who does not love their brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1 John 4:20). The Pharisees would pay tithes to the Jewish temple to be seen and praised by people, but would neglect to honor and pay their parents. They would claim to love God and be descendants of Abraham, yet they hated Jesus and anyone that was not “perfect” like them. Jesus talked about feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting those in prison, welcoming strangers, etcetera and said, “as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” and if we didn’t do it to them we didn’t do it to Jesus (see Matthew 25:31-46). They asked Jesus, “when did we not feed or minister to you?” Jesus said when they did not do it for the least of the brothers. So how we treat our neighbor, whether we do good or bad to them, whatever we do we are doing to Jesus. To God. It is either for God’s glory or to our detriment as one day we will be judged for our every action when Jesus separates his blessed sheep from the punished goats.
Sometimes, God even has us put our neighbor before Him. Not above Him, as we still love God above everything and everyone. However, we cannot claim to love God if we are sinning against our neighbor. Scripture says that if we are about to leave a gift on the altar, but remember that our brother has something against us, to go and resolve that first before bringing our offering to God (see Matthew 5:21-26). Other times, God again reminds us that claim to love Him that we have to love our neighbor if we claim to love God. Otherwise we would be hypocrites like the Pharisees. Once, somebody trying to justify themselves asked Jesus to clarify who our neighbor is. Jesus then told the parable of the good Samaritan. A man is beaten and robbed, but the priest and Levite who are supposed to be serving and loving God pass by. The Samaritan who is supposed to be from a people that the Jews called enemies sees the injured man and has compassion on him, treating his wounds and paying a room at an inn for him. The neighbor was the one that showed the man mercy and Jesus said to go and do likewise (see Luke 10:25-37). This is yet another case where in loving our neighbor we do the will of our Father who says to love Him and our neighbor. One goes hand-in-hand with the other.
There is a reason that Jesus named the two as the greatest single commandment, and yet he still has the hierarchy. Loving God comes first and loving your neighbor second. However we cannot claim the first if we neglect the second, and if we try the second without the first we are essentially trying to do it ourselves without God. We neglect prayer or reading our Bible and then wonder why we feel like we’re running on empty. Because we are not getting Spirit filled and led. Instead of “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13), no wonder we sometimes get wiped out. God said not to worry about what we are to say because the Holy Spirit will call all things to our remembrance, but how can we remember what we don’t read and study? Faith comes by hearing. We need to put on the armor of God to be fully equipped to minister, preach, teach, serve, etcetera. We can only say we love God and call Him Father through the Holy Spirit and once we do, then we can truly love our neighbor. The fruit of the Spirit includes love, joy, kindness, patience, self-control… All things involved in truly loving our neighbor and as Jesus said, that includes those that hate and persecute us.
The Bible provides us a set of guidelines for life, but God knows things depend on the individual people and circumstances. God says to honor the Sabbath, but also that the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath. Jesus healed on the Sabbath. Whoever keeps or doesn’t keep a Sabbath or festival, we are to do all for the glory of God. He said to honor your parents, but the guy that wanted to bury his dad and follow Jesus was told to let the dead bury the dead. Martha was worried about many things like cleaning and preparing food etcetera, but Mary chose the most important thing. Does that mean cleaning or cooking are not important? No. As Ecclesiastes would say, there is a time and place for everything. But in that moment, Mary had chosen the correct priority.
So it’s not necessarily a one-size-fits-all approach as there will be exceptions sometimes. David, for example, once fed his people with God’s sacred bread offerings which were not meant for laypeople. God’s laws are like modern laws, written for ideal situations. If you are driving in a 45 miles per hour street, but suddenly a pedestrian decides to cross the road, you slow down or hit the break even though that is not the “correct” speed anymore. Why? Because otherwise you would kill them and their life trumps the speed law. A cop cannot give you a ticket for breaking the speed limit by going too slow or stopping when it was a necessary exception. It depends, but when in doubt as to which way you should act in a particular situation or scenario, pray for wisdom and discernment in your decisions.
To conclude, let’s consider Scripture’s metaphor of the church as a spiritual body with Christ as the head. The hand and foot perform different functions, each just as important, and neither part can say to the other “I have no need of you.” Everything works together. Yet, isn’t the most important part our head? Without our brain transmitting the neural signals, we wouldn’t even be able to move our hand or foot! Jesus is still hierarchically first, but at the same time no servant is greater than the master and if he humbled himself we also must do the same. Nobody is more important than another. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ. God comes first, but God is also the one that sends us to love our neighbor, and by loving them we love Him. We can’t hypocritically say we love God without loving our neighbor. God said to love and pray for our “enemies” and those that persecute us. Everybody can love people that love them back, but who loves those that hate them? Yet God made us a new creation and gave us a new heart, so His commandments are not burdensome. We love because God first loved us.
So my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, as Jesus said, love God with all your might and love your neighbor. It is more valuable than sacrifices, and if you do so, then you are not far from the kingdom of God (see Mark 12:32-34). Don’t argue about who loves more, better, or more correctly. Paul said some remain single and some marry and neither is “better.” We all serve God by serving our neighbor and we do it with our varying gifts. Don’t think that one way applies to everybody at all times. Love God and your neighbor to the glory of God. And if your neighbor does so a bit differently, remember that some are hands and some are feet, but we are all part of the same body. May God bless you and continue to work in and through us as we work to be salt and lights in the world. And if you do not yet know Jesus, I lovingly ask you to please seek him out. God is waiting, but we don’t have forever. I wish you well, but even more so, I wish you Jesus.
When I was little, I remember an aunt of mine telling us yoga was bad and not to do it. I didn’t even know what yoga was back then, but I remember asking, “Why? How do you know it’s bad?” She said a priest had shared that it was demonic and I wondered what was demonic about it and whether it was true. How did she or the priest know? Wasn’t it just stretching? She believed it because the priest said it. I, again having a bit of that doubting Thomas in me, questioned it. Initially it’s an understandable thing to question as on the surface yoga seems like a harmless practice. It was only later past my college years that I learned more about the practice, its religious origins, and its ties with the New Age movement and the occult. Things most people don’t take the time to research or learn, but the information and experiences are there.
Today, meditation and yoga have entered schools with the new “mindfulness” education being spread. Schools even hesitate to use the terms so as to not cause controversy, but a rose by any other name is still a rose. Perhaps a thorn in this case. Before some of you start lighting your torches and grabbing your pitchforks, please hear me out and read to the end. Yoga is unfortunately something that is very common and normalized today, but actually is not something we should participate in for various reasons. It may seem like a side issue, but many Christians practice yoga and I’ve heard of churches offering yoga classes as well. It’s not trivial but an issue that should be taken seriously.
We’re called to test all things, so by all means do your own research and compare it to the Bible. Look up the definition, history, and beliefs behind yoga. Yoga and meditation are ultimately Hindu practices. Look at what they themselves say in their own words, publications, and literature. Some Hindu leaders have even started “take back yoga” campaigns. There are many who are offended that Americans and others have tried to take the Hindu roots and beliefs out of yoga. It’s like if they tried to “baptize” or take “communion” without believing in Jesus. You can’t truly separate the practice from the beliefs they’re rooted in. A nonbeliever could technically come into any church and without believing eat and drink the bread and cup because they’re hungry or thirsty. However, they’re usually asked not to participate unless they are a believer. At the very least it would not be respectful to do so, but at most God wouldn’t like it either. The Bible says not to eat or drink the body or blood unworthily or you eat and drink judgment on yourself (see 1 Corinthians 11:27). The same would apply to saying you are only “stretching” when those stretches are ones that worship other gods in that religion and culture.
So if a non-Christian cannot take communion, then why can a non-Hindu participate in a Hindu practice like yoga? “Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of devils… Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy?” (See 1 Corinthians 10:20-22). Some Christians have even labeled what they do as “Christian yoga,” but that is an oxymoron. It’s either one or the other because the two are mutually exclusive. Can you have a secular baptism? You need faith in Christ or that’s just the equivalent of a bath. Many will argue that they just stretch, but the Hindus do not see it as just a stretch. Even if you are not “worshiping” God with yoga and treat it as a mere physical exercise, why join in a practice that Hindus use to worship their many gods? You would be using poses that honor those gods when our Bible many times says our God is a jealous god, do not bow or worship other gods, and to be separate from the world. “Do not learn the way of the Gentiles” (Jeremiah 10:2). King Solomon went from being highly blessed to falling from grace because his wives led him into pagan practices, away from the true worship of God.
“… do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods? I will also do likewise.’ You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way; for every abomination to the Lord which He hates they have done to their gods… Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it” (see Deuteronomy 12:29-32).
There are tons of ways to exercise your body and stretch that do not involve yoga or meditation which are Eastern religious practices whether the person participating believes so or not. Reality doesn’t change based on opinions just as believing or not believing in God doesn’t change the fact that He exists. We’re not to be “unequally yoked with unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 6:14) and if we participate in their customs then by doing so we do get lumped up with them and therefore are liable to be judged and punished as well. “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death” (Proverbs 14:12).
Occultist leader Aleister Crowley promoted yoga and has a book called “Eight Lectures on Yoga.” Being yoked/joined with the “universe” or the New Age “Christ consciousness” through yoga and meditation is promoted and accepted, but the true Jesus and God of the Bible are not. It’s Adam and Eve in the garden believing the serpent again with his same lie about knowledge and becoming like god. When is man going to stop falling for the lie? There’s only one God and we’re part of his creation, not gods. We’ll never reach his level of knowledge and power, but that’s okay. He’s infinite and we’ll always be finite. Trying to go against God and reach for more is also like the tower of Babel story. History repeats itself.
So many souls are lost to New Age and occult beliefs and they often started with yoga and meditation. There are testimonies of various people who have come out of New Age practices that they now label a deception. Often, they were tricked into thinking that they were “becoming one with” or coming into contact with “beings of light,” or like Buddha were becoming “enlightened” or “spiritually awakened.” The positive feelings they initially experienced caused them to become further involved. This led to more than they bargained for and seeking the truth, and for some even deliverance from demonic oppression or possession. Yes, not just in the times of Jesus. Demons still act in the world today.
If you look up “kundalini warning,” “kundalini spirits,” or “the dark side of kundalini” you get some interesting results. There are testimonies that to a Christian automatically should bring up red flags for possession, but they’re told their experiences are normal and are of “past lives” or things that they have to get “used to” as their brain “adapts” to their “third eye” being opened and such. But they themselves have called it “dangerous” and admit to experiencing bouts of rage, depression, anxiety, loss of self-control, loss of consciousness, psychosis, uncontrolled body movements, etcetera. And it’s not even when they’re practicing it, but randomly throughout their day which has even caused some of them to lose their job. If yoga and meditation are meant to be peaceful spiritual practices, why have so many people experienced such negative effects? Effects that often did not exist in their lives until they started these practices. Satan, the father of lies, “disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). It may sound outlandish, but the world is deceived.
So you may now be asking yourself, why then do so many people not experience these things? I think it’s through the Holy Spirit and by the grace and mercy of God. “We know that we belong to God, and the whole world is under the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). God says not to do certain things, but many in ignorance do them. God said for example, “There shall not be found among you… one who interprets omens… or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord,” (See Deuteronomy 18:10-13). Though I grew up going to church, I didn’t know that until I was in college! Participating in Eastern religious practices is like playing Russian roulette with Ouija boards. Some people have bad experiences and some don’t. When my dad was young, his friend got thrown across the room playing it. Yet I had a teacher who didn’t see anything supernatural happen the time she used it.
Anyway, I think if you play with fire you’re liable to get burnt. Not everybody does, but it’s definitely more of a possibility and NOT recommended. The more often you do it, the more likely you’ll get burnt, but some people get burnt the first time. Why take a chance when you have so many other options? God told the Israelites not to adopt the customs of other nations in serving Him and the same would apply today. He said “And ye shall not walk in the manners of the nation, which I cast out before you: for they committed all these things, and therefore I abhorred them” (Leviticus 20:23).
A few might be inclined to think of the meat sacrificed to idols passages (see 1 Corinthians 8 & 10). While all things may be permissible and their gods are nothing, Paul said that if it causes another to stumble then it would be good to never eat meat again for their sake. If you are already informed of the Hindu roots and practices and feel completely at ease that you are doing nothing wrong in the eyes of God, then what of the weaker believers that see you participating in that? The ones that would then go deeper and further and may end up trying to “open their third eye” or feel the “kundalini serpent” down their backs and become “illuminated”? Can you in good conscience wash your hands like Pontius Pilate and say you had no influence over the spread of such practices?
Some of you might hate or dislike me after reading all of this, but I shared this in love and concern. In the end, every person will do what they wish. However, sometimes we sin unknowingly and it seems many people view yoga and meditation as quite harmless. We (who think yoga is not a good practice) are not here to judge our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, but to warn and exhort in love like the Bible says. “Have no fellowship with unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them” (Ephesians 5:11). God is our judge and in the end we will all individually stand before Him. We should worship Him in ways that please Him. What possible justification could satisfy God for a person to willingly participate in a custom that people use to worship other gods? “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30).
So take the above as nonsense if you like, but practice at your own risk. Don’t harden your hearts like the Israelites. “This people’s heart goes astray; they do not know my ways,” (Psalm 95:10). I hope there are no hard feelings and that at least some of you would consider what I’ve shared. If not, then maybe down the line you’ll hear more about it in the future. All any believer can do is plant seeds, but we don’t control on what ground they fall and it’s God that makes them grow. If you are not ready to hear these things, then all that’s left to do is pray. God knows how to reach everyone that truly seeks Him. Ultimately, we are to do everything for the glory of God, so let each be convinced in their own mind and simply agree to disagree. If you are not a believer in Christ, then also recognize that all that glitters is not gold. Eastern religious practices may seem attractive and fulfilling at first, but they can have disastrous consequences in this life and the next. Seek the one true and only God of the Bible and He will lead you to the truth.
I’ve been thinking about encouragement and discouragement and how it seems to cycle around for people. We all get discouraged in life at certain times, and we all benefit from encouragement when it comes. Encouragement can take many forms, be it from a song, movie, poem, or even a kind word from a friend. For the Christian we have prayer and God’s Word that can speak against lies with truth. God also told us to build each other up and encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11). It is especially important to do at times when many people might start to despair or give into fear. Don’t forget your faith. We do have a hope.
I recently watched Pollyanna with my family and think I appreciate it even more now than when I was a child. This was a girl who had lost her parents and still had reason to smile. She endeared a whole town to her just through her positive outlook on life. When she wanted a doll but a pair of crutches came, she was sad. However, her dad helped her see by playing “the glad game” that there’s always something you can be glad about. She was thankful that she didn’t have to use the crutches. I won’t spoil the end of the movie, but discouragement and encouragement are definitely running themes in the movie. I wish I were a bit more like Pollyanna, but that is not an easy feat.
Perhaps some people think I am too much like her and too positive, especially if you read the last post. However, just because someone is a confident swimmer does not mean they are a confident diver. Maybe they are scared of heights? We all have our areas of confidence and our areas of weakness, worries, or fears. Mine are different and I too am not always so positive... Germs may not be my personal cause for alarm, but I sympathize with those for whom it is. There are more “at-risk” people than myself and except for essentials like groceries, it is for that reason I am also following the stay-at-home guidelines. We are to care for our brothers and sisters in Christ as well as for our neighbors, aka the rest of the world. Do what you can when the opportunity arises, but at your discretion. Like if you are 90 years old, you might not be doing the same things for your neighbors as your 30-year old neighbor is and that’s okay. Each person does what they can with the talents and abilities God has given us. Sometimes all you can do at the moment is pray.
I can think of some times when I needed some encouragement. The greatest encouragement comes from God. However, God can also use people and things around us to encourage others and that is what is precisely on my mind right now. How can I be better about encouraging others? Sometimes it is in admitting that I myself sometimes need encouragement as well. If we don’t open up, how do we expect others to open up? Relationships are give and take. Some people wear their heart on their sleeves, but others keep it safely locked away. Why is it so hard to be vulnerable? Whereas traditionally I tend to keep my struggles to myself, I will try to be more open when opportunities arise to share. It helps to know you’re not alone. Perhaps that’s why music is so powerful, because it puts into words what we’ve been feeling. Somebody out there gets it and we want to sing it out with them. It also helps to have an outlet as well. Some people paint, or scream apparently, though I don’t find that particularly therapeutic. I write. Poems help express my feelings and I hope they touch a bit on the experiences of others as well. And this blog in effect is a bit like a journal, only that I hope it may help someone to feel less alone and perhaps answer some questions about God or life. Not that I have or know all the answers because I don’t, but I hope to point you to the One that does.
My greatest question is that of suffering. I don’t think I’ll ever have a satisfactory answer and we won’t know all the answers. Only God knows everything. However, I know God is real and that He works all things for the good of them that love Him (Romans 8:28). I know that He has plans for our welfare and not for woe (Jeremiah 29:11). I know that we must take up our cross and follow Him (Matthew 16:24). I know these things for myself, but what makes me sad is that other people don’t. It is so easy to fall away when trials hit. I can understand why people lose their faith. However, God is what’s gotten me through my trials and I know He’ll get me through the trials to come. This is a broken world full of pain and suffering, but He has promised us that in the world to come there will be no more death, pain, or tears. That’s not in this life, but in the one to come.
There are a lot of terrible injustices in this world and it can be depressing and overwhelming to think about just how many needs there exist that are not getting met. We can succumb to despair, or we can try to make a difference to at least one out there. Like that story about the child throwing sea stars back into the ocean. He couldn’t save them all, but he could make a difference to one. God makes all the difference. I’d love to be able to share that, but sadly I know that many are not ready or willing to listen. I can only pray for those that don’t. As for myself, as long as I get to be with God, I know I’ll have everything I need. If you don’t know the God of the Bible, feel free to email and ask me something and I’ll try my best to respond. I don’t know everything and keep learning new things, but I hope I can be of some help to you. We might discover some new things together. If you do know Him, then feel free to email me something as well. I could always use a little encouragement that somebody out there took the time to read something and maybe found it useful in their faith journey. Believer or not, let’s all encourage one another. It is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). If you’re a believer, though not always easy, choose to be a light in a dark world.
*Edit: Some of the following may already be “outdated” and therefore not advisable, but like the Bible says, “Test all things; hold fast to that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21).
Anthrax, West Nile, Bird Flu, Swine Flu, E. coli, Ebola, ISIS, Zika, and now the Coronavirus. The news is always sensationalizing something. Sneeze into your elbow, wash your hands, sleep, eat healthy, and exercise. Despite doing all of that, if you get sick, you get sick and in a few days you’ll feel better. Pray for those that do, but most people will not get the Coronavirus. We can take some precautions, but many people are unknowingly carriers of germs without getting sick themselves and can still spread them. We can control some things, but illness only to a certain extent. I can understand the secular world going into a panic. They don’t have God. But what’s going on with some of my brothers and sisters in Christ? Where is your faith? Trust in God who is working all things out for good (Romans 8:28). Will worry add an hour or anything to your life (see Matthew 6:27)? God cares for the sparrows, He cares for you, and He cares for your loved ones (see Matthew 6:26-34). When the disciples feared during the storm, Jesus woke up and calmed the waves (see Matthew 8:23-27 and Mark 4:38-40). Remember that God is sovereign over everything and He does care.
God has not given us a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7). David went up against Goliath with a rock. Moses went against the Pharaoh and Egypt with just his staff. Daniel was not afraid to go into the Lion’s den. All of them knew God was on their side. When Ananias went to heal Paul’s eyes at Damascus, God told him that He’d show Paul, his “chosen instrument,” just how much he had to suffer for Him (see Acts 9). Even though he was beaten, jailed, and persecuted to the end, Paul was ready. “It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.” (Philippians 1:20). He was serving God without fear, boldly proclaiming the truth, and knew that the ultimate risk was death and even then all he wanted to do was honor Christ. “For me to live is Christ, to die is gain (Philippians 1:21). Paul remained for “fruitful labor,” for the “progress and joy in the faith” of the other believers (Philippians 1:22, 25). He would rather be in heaven with God, but he knew he had work to do and he did it with joy. Even if he died, it would all be for God and his glory. “For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in heaven” (2 Corinthians 5:1). If we live, glory to God and if we die, then still glory to God because we get to go home.
Jesus went to heal the sick. Mother Theresa was around the sick and dying and they called her a saint even while she was alive. The disciples were scared until the Holy Spirit empowered them to go forth and share the gospel. It doesn’t seem right to become hermits and hide from the watching secular world. Instead of joining in the panic, wouldn’t it stand out more if you showed how calm you were? Wouldn’t they wonder and ask how you can be so calm? That would be an excellent opportunity to share about the hope we have in Jesus. If you are still scared, then perhaps it is time to stop watching the sensationalist news, read your Bible, and pray for the Holy Spirit to give you peace and help you trust that whatever happens is in God’s plans. Sometimes our plans are different, but His are the ones that will happen in the end. If He is calling someone to Himself, remember that He knew them since before they were born. God made them and knows the smallest of details like how many hairs are on their head. You only knew them after they grew up. How much more do you think He loves them? It’s out of our hands, so trust it’s for the best. “For I know the plans I have for you. Plans for your welfare, not for woe. Plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11). We who believe have eternal life and one day there will be no more pain, suffering, or tears (see Revelation 21:4).
So stop running away from people and fantasizing about spraying them with a can of Lysol... We ought to go to the sick in love and care for them. Bring them some soup or a box of Kleenex. I’m sure you’d appreciate the same if it was you that was sick. This is especially important if they are not a believer. “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time” (Colossians 4:5). Just before that, Paul was saying to pray “that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ” (Colossians 4:3). How can we do that if we are avoiding people instead of serving them in love? Unless you’re a doctor, I don’t mean you have to go out in search of them, but if you come across someone or know a friend, family member, or neighbor that’s sick then there might be something you can do besides run the other direction. Like if you’re going to the store, call and see if your elderly neighbor needs something. Work in childcare? Aid a toddler that may need some help wiping their nose. Only one man, the good Samaritan, aided the wounded man (see Luke 10:25-37). Would you be one of the ones to just walk by? Whatever you do to the least of these you do to Jesus (see Matthew 25:40). Jesus was God, but think then what would Paul do? Honor Christ whether by life or death. We obey Ceasar to an extent, but God and His plans always come first. Jesus said give unto Ceasar what is Ceasar’s, but also to go and do likewise showing mercy like the good Samaritan. As Paul said, make the most of every opportunity (Colossians 4:5).
Again, God knows what each of us can do and to those than are given much he expects much. If you were given less, then you do what you can with that (see the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30). I’m not trying to tell you what to do or how to do it, just to consider the ways that God has blessed you and how you can use that for His glory. I am also not saying that if you’re scared that’s wrong. We all have different fears and strengths and we’ve got to encourage one another. I have written about some of my fears and sometimes I need reminders myself. We are all different parts of the body with different functions. If you don’t cook, maybe send them a message or a card to encourage them. Cover somebody with a blanket or give them one if they don’t have one. If “one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?” (James 2:16). I also don’t mean for people that are already “at-risk” like with compromised immune systems, the elderly, people that can’t afford to get sick because they’re living paycheck to paycheck, etcetera to do something that could hurt their families. Take everybody and everything into consideration. If the least you can do at this point is to pray for the sick, then start there. If you know you can do more, then take advantage of the opportunity to be God’s hands and light in the world. Whether in sickness or in health, may God’s peace be with you now and always.
I don’t know how others feel, but I have no problem seeing myself as the sinner I am. I know I have good points, but I also have flaws. Those we happen to have the opportunity to help are like us in many ways, often more than they know or than we let on. I sometimes actually have trouble in applying this thinking to other believers because I feel like they are further along in their spiritual journey, until I get to know them and see that they too are serving while imperfect. The fact that they share things that reveal some of their flaws encourages me to start to open up about mine.
I often feel like I have no one to turn to but God. I know I have many flaws, but in front of others I feel like I’m supposed to hold up this ideal image and if I display anything that’s not godly I have failed as a Christian. I don’t want to be a stumbling block to anybody. I don’t want to bring anyone down that was doing well or disappoint those that are further along than I am. And while I’m not proud of myself as I know any spiritual progress I have made so far is only due to the mercy and grace of God, I fear the shame that may come from those that seem like “Super-Christians.” They intimidate me a bit as darkness hides from the light and I don’t want to show that I’m not the “Super-Christian” I may appear to be.
Satan is a great accuser and Christians aren’t immune from the sin of pride, but they don’t need to voice what I’m likely already thinking. I don’t need help in pointing out my flaws. Someone shared that sometimes people can see in you what you can’t see in yourself. I think that’s why we have to build each other up. If someone is ignorant of their sin, they won’t repent so by all means we should share the Word and help correct them. However, sometimes we also need people to point out the good and help us build on that. Focus on the good so we can increase that. Light can overtake any and all darkness, but sometimes that takes time and patience as we walk alongside others that may not share our knowledge or views. God’s definitely been patient with me, and I’m patient with others, so why do I end up thinking others won’t understand if we’re all basically in the same place? Sinners in need of a Savior.
In the “Helping Without Hurting” portion of the core trainings I’m going to, one of the main themes was that anyone in ministry is going alongside brothers. Nobody is perfect and we’re not coming down to people as if we have it all together because we don’t. We’re all lacking in some ways, need Jesus, and ought to be building each other up. We are working together, loving and serving one another, and ministry is a partnership. It goes two ways, between those ministering and those being ministered to. While we help others, they in turn help us. And that’s how it should be. Encourage one another. Even those in ministry need help and encouragement, not just the ones they are serving. We get to minister to one another. So confess your sins to one another (James 5:16), bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), and encourage and build each other up (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
This idea was on my mind last week, as I found myself being ministered to. God knows the timing of His lessons for us. The exact words I needed were shared on the exact day I most needed them. I had to hold back my tears more than once, and others in the room were ministered to as well just by us going through the book and others simply sharing their experiences or thoughts. I was struggling against negative thoughts and fear that day, but we started by going over some Scriptures and one of them I especially needed reminding of in that moment. “Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Philippians 4:8). Someone else said, “Why kill yourself for a job that will replace you 1 week after you’re dead?” These brought to mind the Scripture verses that say “everything works together for the good of them that love God” (Romans 8:28) and to “do all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). The Holy Spirit definitely does bring things to our remembrance, and God speaks through His word and His people. You never know who might benefit from your words. Even if we know them and remind others of them, sometimes we need a reminder of the very same words! “Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, as indeed you do” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). Remember that there is one body with many parts, and no part is insignificant (1 Corinthians 12:12-26).
This week, someone shared how they are afraid to make mistakes and another how they used to be afraid to open their mouth and share. I often feel the same way, but it was encouraging to hear that from other believers who seem to “have it together” or be more “mature” in their walk. Sometimes I also want to write and plan everything out, but God says “do not worry about what you will say for you will be given the words” (Matthew 10:19) and the Holy Spirit “will bring all things to your remembrance” (John 14:26). Another shared that when she didn’t feel like going to church or reading Scripture, she would pray for help from the Holy Spirit. I sometimes haven’t always felt like going to church, but those times that I wasn’t feeling it and went anyway, I didn’t regret it and what was shared was often what I needed at the time. Someone else shared that our spiritual life is more like a roller coaster than a straight upward progression. I completely agree. I’d like to think though that it’s a roller coaster that also gets higher over time rather than staying stagnant. We should be growing as Christians so that even if we fall, it’s not as far down as it would have been in the past and with God’s help we can keep going up.
People in the group have shared some personal things, and I thank them. If you don’t have a small group of believers you can share with, I’m definitely beginning to see the benefit of it. I might struggle to share and be vulnerable sometimes. Sometimes it’s just hard because maybe I don’t want to cry and so I avoid saying anything. It can be because I feel like I should be setting an example, like with new Christians or with the world that can be quick to point a finger and would just use it as another excuse to stay away. It can also be especially hard to share with those that seem to “have it all together,” but often it’s just that we don’t know the person well enough yet. I certainly don’t think I’m better than others. I understand we’re all at different parts of our walk with Christ and God’s ultimately the one that keeps drawing us closer to Him. So why do I sometimes think of others as being in a “better” place spiritually than I am? It may or may not be the case, but we should all be humble about where we are and know that anyone can minister to anyone. Even people with flaws can minister, and we all have them. We can help each other recognize them, grow, and do God’s work in spite of them or sometimes even through them. My dad recently commented that back when one of my aunts was dying of cancer, he’d thought he was going to encourage and minister to her and in the end found that she ministered to him with her strength and faith.
I don’t know how I appear to others, but maybe I should try to open up more. When people ask “how are you,” my go-to response is usually “good” even if that’s not always the case. I tend not to let people in on my struggles. However, if I don’t open up, how can I expect others to feel comfortable opening up to me? I’m only starting to feel a bit more comfortable in this new group of people because they are taking the first steps in sharing about themselves. I had started the training back in the summer but couldn’t finish it till now. The class is only once a week, but it took about 6 or 7 weeks for me to feel comfortable enough to start raising my hand! This is about the third week this time and I hope I can start sharing without feeling so nervous or self-conscious. If they’re sharing things that have helped me, the least I can do is share things that might help them. After all, Jesus said “where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20).
This experience is showing me that we all in a sense may appear to be one way, but really all have our own struggles. Last week’s topic hit too close to home for me and I could not share as I was in the middle of what we were discussing. This week I’ve (mostly) come out on the other side and can reflect back, but I still don’t know what’s to come exactly. Though inclined to fear, I trust God more than ever and I’m thankful for everything. Good and bad. So in the end, ministry really goes multiple ways. People minister to others, who in turn minister to them. They also minister to each other and God also ministers to us through them and others. It’s like a never-ending circle of ministering. So never hesitate to give any words of encouragement, no matter how small they may seem. God’s working in all our lives and no role, deed, or words are too small.
The title does not refer to “discipline” in the sense of punishment or rewarding good behavior. I mean trait-wise, do you consider yourself to be a disciplined or undisciplined person? As a ministry partner at my church, they give a core training that’s several weeks long and it’s broken up into different parts. Right now we just started the part about spiritual disciplines. I will confess to you that I am not disciplined, at least not in regards to many things. Even writing. They say that to be a writer, you should write at least 20 minutes every day. Well, growing up I tried to start a diary so many times, but I could never get past the initial 2 or 3 entries before I stopped. A couple of years ago, I started journaling and I’ve actually kept it up, but only during those times where I feel like I have something I want to write. When I have thoughts I want to sort out, feelings to express, something I learned or experienced, or I’m just so excited about something I want to share and remember it. If I write when I feel like it, or sometimes even if I don’t but I want to sort things out, then it helps and it works. I can’t just force it. Well I could, but then I wouldn’t enjoy it.
Jordan Taylor of the Blimey Cow YouTube channel was talking about this in one of his videos one day. He was saying how before he had tried to plan out videos, but it was so stressful and became more of a chore so it’s just not how he operates. He tends to get interested in things before he moves on and he never knows what’s coming next. Yet, he and his brother Josh are doing what works for them. They are disciplined in the sense that they put out at least one video every week, but undisciplined in the sense that they never know what their next topic, video, or interest will be. Everyone in the body of Christ has their own functions and God knows why he made us all. We’re each doing our part as we can. The function of the hand or the foot is not the same, but both are important.
Today we were talking about how it’s not that we HAVE to do things like read the Bible or pray, but that we GET to do them. This is true. I grew up praying and talking to God, so I never thought of it as a chore. Reading the Bible on the other hand was something I only did on Sundays at church. I wasn’t interested in reading it outside that. Yet, God is always drawing us toward Him in subtle ways and we may not even realize it at the time. Even the smallest things can leave an impression on you. I still remember when I was a freshman in college and I bumped into someone from school after church. He asked if I had enjoyed the mass (I was Catholic at the time) and I was surprised by his question. I don’t even remember exactly what I answered, but I felt like he was there being all joyful and I was like am I missing something here? I thought it was nice, but ENJOY it? Didn’t we just go to learn and get some instruction in how we should live?
Though some go on just Christmas and Easter, as a Catholic you also have to attend every Sunday or it’s a sin. So to me, it was a bit of a “have to” thing rather than a “get to” thing. Though that was a small thing, I never forgot it. I even referred to that in one of my poems, “Time Wasted.” Now, things are different. Now, I enjoy it. Now I know I GET to go, get to worship, get to read... Am I disciplined and where I want to be in my spiritual walk? No. But the Holy Spirit’s the one that has brought me this far and I’m grateful. If you’re not disciplined and where you would like to be either, don’t give up or think it’s impossible. Open up the Bible and ask God for the Holy Spirit to help you understand, remember, and apply what you read.
While we are to confess to one another our sins, it is to repent and move on. Leave that stuff behind. Be a new creation. It is not to host a pity party or reminisce about your list of past or recent sins. The idea that you are what you eat continues to apply here. If you’re preoccupied with sin, then you’re dwelling in darkness. You’re thinking about sin, feeling guilty over it, and are maybe even still being tempted to do it again. What you focus on, you get more of. Don’t let that be a negative thing. This week our pastor said, “If you’re preoccupied with following the Spirit, you won’t have time to follow the desires of the flesh.” Are you thinking about your recent failures or next “fix,” or are you thinking how to best serve your neighbor? You can only expel sin/darkness by adding holiness/light. Spend the bulk of your time praying and delighting in the gospel instead of the sinful nature. The Spirit is continually at war with the flesh, so don’t give in but instead crucify the desires of your flesh. Those who walk in the flesh cannot please God, so set your mind on things of the Spirit. It’s the Holy Spirit that enables us to obey, not ourselves. So pray and read the Word, grow in faith, and the Holy Spirit can and will help change your desires. We can’t do it on our own. We might sin occasionally, but we don’t camp in it. Sin cannot reign where Christ reigns, so make him Lord of all. Let everything you do be for the glory of God, for His purposes. Pursing Christ is how the Spirit grows us. If we remain in Christ, we will bear much fruit. So let God work through us, because we can’t do it apart from Him. Occupy yourself with the things of the Spirit, and everything else will follow.
Ever hear the expression you are what you eat? If you become what you consume, then what are you consuming? What kinds of things are you setting before your eyes and taking in through your ears? Would you watch, read, or listen to the same things if you had your mom next to you? What if Jesus was literally sitting next to you? God does know everything we do after all. These are all questions we should ask ourselves. Paul was right when he said to examine yourself and be careful lest you fall. None of us is immune or oblivious to the modern-day culture around us. If we don’t watch ourselves, and let darkness enter in, how can we possibly let any of our light shine? Didn’t Jesus say it’s better to cut out our eyes and enter maimed into heaven than to enter whole into Gehenna? Don’t start looking around for a knife, just recognize the significance of such a statement. Jesus didn’t hyperbolize for nothing. If he exaggerated, it was always to make a point. Sin is serious and we need to be careful.
Oh foolish Galatians, you were running well. What hindered you? What is hindering us? Why and how could we even stray off the path? Don’t use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, get choked by the cares of the world, and then cry out to God because you feel abandoned. It’s not that He doesn’t care, it’s that we’ve strayed. A little leaven does leaven the whole lump. While we are free in Christ, that freedom was purchased at a price. Jesus didn’t die for us to go out and sin, but for us to go out into the world and love as we have been loved. Through love, serve one another. But we can’t love others as we truly ought to unless we’re set free by Christ first. Loving your friends and family is easy. Loving those who are indifferent or hate you is a whole other ball game and we need the aid of the Holy Spirit.
So what do we do? Our pastor on Sunday said, “We must keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. If our eyes ever come off of him, we will be hindered.” Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith. The Scriptures are our armor and double-edge sword. It’s not always easy, but resist the devil and he will flee from you. If you’re wondering what’s wrong or asking yourself why, stop. Think deeply. Reflect on what you’ve been consuming recently, and repent. Those things do have an influence over us, even if we don’t immediately recognize it. Whatever is true, good, worthy, think of those things. If it’s none of the above, then what are you doing and why are you letting yourself succumb to unhealthy things? How can you expect your spiritual and relational life to flourish and abound in love for your neighbor if you’re focused on your own selfish desires? And this is not just for whoever may happen to read this, but a good refresher for myself as well with thoughts and notes from a great Sunday message. Don’t get stuck in guilt if it hits close to home. Remember, love covers a multitude of sins. Do turn away from your sin and turn to God who knows you, faults and all, resuming your walk on the narrow road. Many will look for it, but few find it. We may occasionally lose sight of it and what’s important, but may God keep extending us the mercy we don’t deserve. Only then can we truly demonstrate our love for God by serving others. We don’t do it to earn God’s love or to be saved, but because He demonstrated His love to us on that cross and even now in spite of ourselves. We can’t help but want to reciprocate and extend that love out of our overflowing gratitude and joy. So don’t lose sight of what truly matters, discard those hindrances, and go serve with love.
Apparently many atheists think Christians are all nuts enough to imagine ourselves a friend. Man, if that were possible, I wouldn’t have gone through my whole life-struggle that I talk about in my testimony (see the about me tab). And let me tell you, don’t think I didn’t try! I only had my brother growing up and we moved a lot. I remember watching things about imaginary friends on television, like how DW had Nadine in Arthur. So I remember one day thinking I would try it. I played with my toys and imagined someone playing with me, but I couldn’t see anyone and it was no fun. No name, figure, face, nothing. It was the same as playing by myself. I knew nobody was there, and I quickly gave up on the idea that same day!
If you pray to a toaster, a statue, or Pikachu, that will have the same effect. No answer. If you pray to God and do it sincerely, He’s the only One who can and will answer. God is loving, but He’s also just. He’s holy and will not allow sin to enter His kingdom (hence the need for Jesus). He created us and His two greatest commandments are to love Him and love our neighbor. Just because He loves us and we love Him does not make Him weak or a pansy. He is an all-powerful mighty God and we’re just like ants. Do you sit there and cry because you accidentally stepped on an ant? God doesn’t have to care about our tiny selves, but He does. Our minds can’t possibly comprehend everything about Him because we’re finite and He’s infinite. Do you know why he flooded the world? Because except for Noah and his family, EVERY human heart was nothing but wicked. The end times will have people and things be “as in the days of Noah,” and modern times only seem to give more credence to the Bible prophecies.
It is MAN’S fault that all this sin exists in the world, that’s not the way God created it to be. One day believers will experience a world with no more pain, suffering, tears, death, etcetera. For now, the mess we are in is not God’s fault because He didn’t make everybody make all those bad choices. We have free will and some people do bad things. The slavery in the Bible is actually more like indentured servants, people that worked to pay off a debt. The world would probably have less people that are homeless if people were still allowed to work off their debts in this way. If you’re referring to African American slavery, yes that is terrible but again not God’s fault. If you read the Bible, God says MULTIPLE times to look after the foreigners because the Israelites were once foreigners themselves in the land of Egypt and not to mistreat slaves (for example if one ran away from a bad master, they were to let him escape).
Have you ever heard of William Wilberforce? He was a Christian man who spent more than 46 years making speeches year after year until he FINALLY convinced the parliament to abolish slavery and by the time he did that he couldn’t even attend because he was so sick and on his deathbed. That is persistence and God is never absent though some things take time. He felt God told him to do it, though he didn’t see results right away, and in the end succeeded. Moses and the Israelites wandered 40 years in the desert till they finally reached the Promised Land. And do you know why? Because they were still disobedient toward God, otherwise they would have reached the land sooner. Read the Bible to know what it actually says rather than what people say it says. The holocaust is another issue I won’t really get into other than to say that in comparison, the communist governments are responsible for more deaths. Compare the claimed 6 million to more than 180 million and then ask yourself why there’s not more publicity for the latter? Why the focus on this one after all this time? I and others think it actually has a lot to do with Bible prophecy, but if you don’t trust the Bible, I can’t help you much there (yet).
God is not imaginary, nor cruel. Why do human beings think they’re so entitled and have the right to demand things from the God that created them? Who are you to tell God what to do and how He should do it? If an ant or spider crawls in your house, do you hesitate to kill it? I try to take spiders or cockroaches outside when I can, but just like many wouldn’t hesitate to spray or step on a “pest,” what makes people think that God would hesitate to “smite” anyone? A human being inherently has more value, but to God we’re still a creature. He made us. You’re like an ant to Him. And yet, he knows each one of us and cries with and for us. Jesus wept for Jerusalem and Lazarus, even when he knew he would resurrect Lazarus moments later. God doesn’t rejoice when a man dies, but wishes everyone to be saved. It’s our choice. Your mom wouldn’t let you come in the house all muddy. You’d have to get hosed off first. Well, God will not let anything unclean enter heaven. Jesus has to cleanse you of all sin first. If you try to wash yourselves, you’ll always “miss a spot.” God was merciful enough to do it for us. Accept the gift. Did you take the time to read over my post on evidence against evolution and for Creation? Or did you completely skip over that? If this is the first you hear about any of these things, then please do go back and read about why Creationism is actually scientific and rational while evolution is not as scientific as you might think and there is actually mounting evidence against the theory. Thanks for reading!
So a few years ago when I first discovered some of these things, I made a long “manifesto” of sorts with a lot of evidence for Creation and against evolution. I thought it would be convincing, but maybe it was overwhelming and too much for most people? Sadly, I later found my roommates watching an evolution documentary that would only reinforce their pre-existing worldviews instead of challenging what they thought and looking at an opposing viewpoint. If they didn’t believe me or think I was a credible source, that’s fine. I’m no scientist, but at least go and research what scientists with an alternative viewpoint say before you completely dismiss the idea. But maybe God will lead them all individually to the truth one day? All I can do is keep planting seeds. Here is another, albeit shorter, attempt to summarize a few of the points I’ve come across in my own research, but again, do your own.
Evolution is the fairy tale, God is real. Believers know and feel the Holy Spirit and we have prayers answered by a real and living God, but even before that creation speaks for itself. Thankfully many atheists have already come to Christ through REAL science that actually follows the scientific method instead of the preconceptions and biases of supposed scientists that won’t consider God as a possibility. I go where the real evidence leads. Do your own research and seek God before it’s too late.
So many people ignore actual modern-day evidence just to hold onto and promote the false, non-scientific idea of evolution because they don’t want to believe there’s a God. Richard Dawkins is in that category, as he’s even stated he’s open to the idea of aliens over God. Sad, though I still hope he and others that are like him come to knowledge of the truth one day. We can pray. Forgive me if anything came across badly as that was not my intention. I’m not mad or anything, just passionate. I can see why most people would be ignorant of these things that are NOT taught in school. I would love to see more people go do their own research instead of blindly parroting what “everybody says,” mocking other people that may themselves not be equipped to answer such a question. Again, seek God before it’s too late.
I remember one time when I was in first grade and I was having trouble with an addition or subtraction problem that had maybe 3-digit numbers (can’t remember for sure), so I raised my hand for help. An older student came over and tried to help me solve it, but I felt she was doing it wrong. I knew that I was doing it wrong, but she was too. Don’t ask me exactly how I knew this or if my perception was even correct or not, but I was like no that’s not the answer. Maybe I knew how to check my answer, but not how to actually get the correct answer? I don’t know. So I raise my hand for help from the teacher, and this boy sitting in front of me turned to me and he was like she’s smart, she doesn’t need help. I was like yes I do, and I started to cry.
What does that have to do with a post on the rapture? I was reminded of it because in my mind I knew I and the other girl were doing it wrong. I feel a little like this about the Rapture because in my mind, I think I see what Scripture says and am left wondering how come other people aren’t seeing this? Is it just me? Let me start off by saying that I haven’t heard of anyone having this perspective, so if anyone else does I don’t know of them and have not met them. This is something that I’ve drawn from reading the Scriptures, and I could be wrong. I don’t think this is a salvation issue, so simply agree to disagree if you like. If you see it differently and have your own Scriptures to back up your point, feel free to give your own input. We are to correct each other after all. “Teach me and I will hold my tongue; cause me to understand where I have erred” (Job 6:24). We are also not to twist Scriptures, which should be taken seriously as that leads to the destruction of many. I don’t think this perspective does that though. If you’re interested in an alternative perspective, backed by Scripture, but probably different from most people’s, keep reading.
Anyway, if you haven’t read any other post or anything, then you should know 2 things. One is that I used to be Catholic (most of my life) and therefore I didn’t really grow up with the rapture idea protestants seem to be more familiar with. I don’t know exactly when I came across the idea, but I didn’t buy into it. I’ve never seen the “Left Behind” series or anything. Once I started studying Scripture though, even before I ended up becoming Christian, I later did wonder whether this idea was backed up by Scripture so it was one of the topics I investigated. What I found though, to me, did not sound like a good thing. It’s actually kind of creepy and ominous, so I don’t know how people don’t see this. Is it really just me?
Okay, let’s dive in. First of all, in the end times there is supposed to be a time of tribulation. Now, apparently there are at least 4 major eschatological views that theologians have. Don’t ask me what they are or mean. I know it includes pre-millenial, omnilennial, post-millential, post-trib, pre-trib, and so on and if you know the terms then go give yourself a sticker. I’ve only been briefly introduced to them and I don’t think I fit into any of those categories. For all we know, they could all be wrong. Let God be true and every man a liar right? Even me here, but let’s continue. Tribulation. Turn to Matthew chapter 24 and you’ll find the following quotes. “… the love of many will grow cold. But the one who perseveres to the end will be saved” (verse 12-13). “… at that time there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will be. And if those days had not been shortened, no one would be saved; but for the sake of the elect they will be shortened” (v. 21-22). Nowhere does Jesus mention people being “raptured” away. He says that the days of the tribulation will be shortened for the sake of the elect, the people that will be saved in other words to go live with God forever. God’s people that happen to be alive at that point in time will not be spared and will have to endure to the end.
So where does my sudden judgment idea come from? Let’s look a little deeper. Luke chapter 17 confirms the above points and adds to them. “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be in the days of the Son of Man; they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage up to the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all” (v. 26-27). “Similarly, as it was in the days of Lot: they were eating, drinking, buying selling, planting, building; on the day when Lot left Sodom, fire and brimstone rained from the sky to destroy them all. So it will be on the day the Son of Man is revealed” (v. 28-30). So far, we’ve established that when Jesus returns, it will be like in the days of Noah and Lot. People were going about their business as usual, and then they were destroyed. That is a sudden judgment. God is very patient with us, not wanting anyone to perish but everyone to be saved, but just like in those times, one day our time will run out. Flood, fire and brimstone, bad things, and now people think we’ll be “raptured” like it’s a good thing? Logically, that’d be like saying okay in this bag of MnM’s maybe I’ll pull out a Skittle this time? No, that’s a bag of MnM’s and this is what God is saying, a sudden judgment. At least it seems that way to me. Not convinced? Let’s keep going.
Going back to Matthew 24, Jesus is talking about Judea having to flee to the mountains after the “desolating abomination” is standing in the “holy place” when he says, “a person on the housetop must not go down to get things out of his house, a person in the field must not return to get his cloak” (v. 17-18). This mean’s God’s people are still on earth and fleeing. If we turn to Luke 17, we are told the same thing. Basically, the person “must not return to what was left behind” (v. 31). Verse 32 tells us to “remember the wife of Lot.” When Sodom and Gomorra were judged, God told Lot not to look back. His wife disobeyed and was turned into a pillar of salt. Yet another sudden judgment. Remember Ananias and his wife? When they tried to steal from the early church lied about it instead of repenting and confessing, they suddenly died. Or remember when somebody who was not consecrated or ordained to touch the ark of the covenant touched it as they were transporting it and they suddenly died, scaring even David for a while so that he didn’t take it into the city with him for a few months. God sometimes judges people suddenly, that’s not a new idea though the “prosperity gospel” preachers that think “God is love” only seem to have forgotten these things. Where is people’s fear of the Almighty Lord? Luke then records that “on that night there will be two people in one bed, one will be taken, the other left” (v. 34) and the same applies to the women grinding. I think this is one of the Scriptures that the Bible talks about people twisting to their own destruction, but again, keep reading to the end.
Anyway, if one is taken and the other left, then why tell the one left behind not to look back? The disciples ask where the person is taken. Why would they ask “where?” in reference to the person that stayed behind? They stayed where they were, either on the housetop, in the field, in bed, grinding, wherever they happened to be. The disciples had no need to ask where the person left behind was. That’d be like me saying I went to the library with my brother, and then I left him there. Why would you ask where I left him if I just told you I left him at the library? You’d more likely want to know where I went after (or why I would leave him, maybe he needed to study and I’d pick him up later but that’s irrelevant). The curious disciples asked about where the people were taken. And what did Jesus say? Did he say they’d be in heaven with His Father, receiving their well-earned reward? No. He said, “Where the body is, there also the vultures will gather” (Luke 17:37). Another tough saying from Jesus. No, I don’t think they are enjoying cotton candy in the clouds. I think those “taken” were judged suddenly like those people in Noah’s flood story and the Sodom and Gomorrah folks in the Lot story. This more logically follows the tone and theme of the rest of the passages, and if you’re still not convinced, it’s even a reference to passages in the Old Testament!
Briefly going back to Matthew, it says “Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather” (Matthew 24:28). What does that mean? Let’s look at the Old Testament. 1 Kings 14 talks about Jeroboam whom God exalted as king, but who did not keep the commandments and instead worshipped other “gods.” God says that “when one of Jeroboam’s line dies in the city, dogs will devour him; when one of them dies in the field, he will be devoured by the birds of the sky” (v. 11). A little further, it says that king Baasha also “did evil in the Lord’s sight, imitating the conduct of Jeroboam” (1 Kings 15:34). So this king gets the same consequence with the dogs or “if he dies in the field, he shall be devoured by the birds of the sky” (1 Kings 16:4). Being devoured by birds is a bad thing. The left behind person wouldn’t be devoured if they are supposed to be fleeing without looking back. The “taken” person must be the one devoured, and if they are being devoured, then their body is not being treated as a temple of the Holy Spirit but as a carcass of meat. As if these two examples aren’t enough, if we go further back to the book of Deuteronomy chapter 28, we see that God has consequences for those who forget him and don’t “harken to the voice of the Lord” (v. 15). “The Lord will put a curse on you… for the evil you have done in forsaking me” (v. 20). The cursed “will become a terrifying example to all the kingdoms of the earth” (v. 25). Remind you of *ahem* Noah or Lot and their contemporaries? Anyone? And, surprise, “your carcasses will become food for all the birds of the air and for the beasts of the field, with no one to frighten them off” (v. 26). How would you like to be eaten by birds and beasts? *Gulp* Anyone weird enough to think that might be some sort of “honorable” death also has to take into account that God calls these flesh-eating birds “loathsome” and they are not to be eaten (see Leviticus 11:13-18), at least in the OT though I don’t think we eat them even today. Anyway, if the bodies that become food are part of the plan to set an example to the rest of the nations, then again I see a parallel here to the end time bodies of the “taken” being used for the ones “left behind,” aka the church that will suffer during the tribulation, to not forget God even then.
Again, I don’t see how these things can fit into the popular idea of the church being raptured. Jesus doesn’t just randomly quote stuff, there is always a deeper meaning behind his words. And while initially the words may sound dismissive, random, or just downright confusing, Jesus is most definitely pointedly answering the disciples in a way that, as usual, is left to the hearer/reader to understand. It implies we must be familiar with the Scriptures. If not, then get familiar. Seek, study, and see whether these things are so. I’ve also heard the idea that only some people will be left to endure the tribulation while others are “raptured” away if they’re good enough, but doesn’t that sound like a works-based salvation idea? How good do you have to be to earn being raptured away? I’ll come back to this point in my conclusion and why I think Satan loves this idea. And again, what about the birds Jesus mentions eating the carcasses? Who is being eaten and why? Explain it to me if you see it differently, but I don’t see it. Then there’s people that will bring up the being caught up in the clouds verse. I think when Paul says this, it is referring to when Jesus returns. This would be after the tribulation, not before. When he returns, every eye will see and it will be sudden like lightning. And if we’re literally “caught up” or not (if it’s figurative?), I don’t know but I don’t see it mentioned or hinted at in these other passages. There’s exegesis, which is where you take what the text says and interpret it based on what it says about itself. This is what we should all be doing and what I’ve tried to do here. Let Scripture interpret itself. Jesus quoted the Old Testament? Then let’s go see what it has to say, right? Then there’s eisegesis, where people interpret a text based on their own preconceived ideas and try to make it say something it doesn’t. Like growing up with a “church rapture” idea but again, I don’t see this actually backed in Scripture.
What do you think Satan would get more use out of? People thinking they’re “safe” and “always saved,” living a “comfortable” or “happy” life and one day they’ll be “raptured” away from all life’s troubles? Or that we actually have to examine ourselves lest we fall, sometimes we will suffer in this life, and there will be tribulations we must endure until we are with God? The latter is actually Biblical. In the first case, I think people would get lazy and rely on false comfort. They would think being a Christian means you’ll never suffer and one day God will take them away from the tribulation meant for everybody else but them because they are a “good person” and God “loves everyone.” In reality, we know Scripture says the road to salvation is narrow, but the way to destruction is wide. And imagine if people were raptured, all the people “left behind” that would get depressed or angry and lose their faith or hope in God because it didn’t happen the way they thought. The world isn’t full of Job’s that say God gives and takes, let’s praise Him “in the storm” anyway. Especially not now in the “high self-esteem,” proud millennial generation that more often than not calls to mind the word “spoiled”…. It may not be a popular idea, but I think this “Left Behind” idea serves Satan’s agenda, not God’s. Use Scripture to convince me otherwise. But I think it’s yet another of Satan’s lies, so let’s stand with God’s truth and then nobody will be shocked when the church isn’t raptured away from their troubles. Like Paul and Silas singing in the jail cell, may we keep singing praises to God no matter what persecutions, trials, or tribulations we face. Even the great tribulation, if we live through it. Unlike those that say “come Lord Jesus,” which I sometimes feel when I see all the corruption, innocent deaths, and countless evils in the world… I pray, Lord have mercy and patience with the world and with us as we lead more souls to You before Your return.
God’s ways often aren’t our ways or the way we would think of doing things. In the book of Judges, chapter 17, there is a story about a man named Micah. He stole money from his mother, made idols, and consecrated priests himself, even though he had no Godly authority to do that and only Aaron’s descendants were supposed to be priests. The book repeats elsewhere as this chapter says, “in those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what he thought best” (v. 6). This calls to mind the verse that “there is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12). This still applies to today, especially now in the age of “moral relativism” of “what’s true or right for me may not be true or right for you.” I can see why the world might think that, but Christians shouldn’t be influenced by that idea when the Bible says the complete opposite of that. You can’t pick and choose and just ignore the verses that you think “aren’t a good fit” for your own man-made philosophies and imaginings.
Yet, what do we learn from history? People are stubborn and set in their ways. Jewish leaders didn’t recognize their Messiah. The “stiff-necked” Israelites kept turning away from God throughout the book of Exodus and the book of Kings. Even after the golden calf incident, the Israelites made Moses’ bronze serpent staff into an idol and burned incense to it (2 Kings 18:4). They took the good thing (an an image of a serpent for the Israelites to look at and be healed from snake bites in the desert – that’s another story) and turned it into an idol, which God was happy Hezekiah destroyed. In the book of Jeremiah, we see that people are worshiping the queen of heaven making her cakes (chapter 7), but after being warned by the prophet they still don’t listen and say “we will continue doing what we had proposed; we will burn incense to the queen of heaven and pour out libations to her, as we and our fathers, our kings, and princes have done” (Jeremiah 45:17). Words that ironically are still used today when people say they’ll keep doing something because they’ve always done it that way. It can be compared to the Marian apparitions who have also claimed the title “queen of heaven” and the Catholics that don’t question it or even consider these passages. I was personally ignorant of them. I don’t know how many are, but I don’t think these things are a coincidence. Look into it and compare what the apparitions say to what the Bible says.
The Bible says that even Satan can appear disguised as an angel of light. If you still believe in the Marian apparitions, not the man-made ones but the ones that seem to have authentic miracles associated with them, think about this. Could God allow a fake apparition and if so, why would He? Because He is testing us and He tells us this. Time and again, God and His word remain the same. If you believe God doesn’t change, why think that He changed His mind about the following? He is a jealous God, does not want us to have idols, wants us to love him with all our hearts, soul and mind... All of these things are stated within Scripture more than once, so why would He need to add to his plan of salvation when Jesus said “it is finished?” Don’t add to God’s commandments. “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Colossians 2:8).
But the miracles must be from God, right? No. Deuteronomy chapter 13 says that “If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer who promises you a sign or wonder, urging you to follow other gods, whom you have not known, and to serve them: even though the sign or wonder he has foretold you comes to pass, pay no attention to the words of that prophet or dreamer, for the Lord, your God, is testing you to learn whether you really love him with all your heart and with all your soul. The Lord, your God, shall you follow and him shall you fear; his commandment shall you observe, and his voice shall you heed, serving him and holding fast to him alone” (v. 2-5). Don’t do what you want or feel is right; it could lead to death. Paul said “though we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed (Galatians 1:8). Do what God says is right, which is to hold fast to him alone and love Him. Pray to God, come to the Father, who has never sent us to anyone but Himself. God says, “I will not give my glory to another” (Isaiah 42:8). Why would He share credit with a created being like Mary? Pope John Paul II credited Mary for saving his life, not God. Our intercessor is the Holy Spirit and Jesus also intercedes with the Father for us. “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all” (1 Timothy 2:5-6). If Mary is interceding for us, it’s because she’s up there praying in general but not because she’s listening to individual prayer requests. She’s not a goddess, so don’t give the blessed mother of Jesus god-like qualities.
Even when she was alive, the one time a woman said “blessed is the womb that carried you,” Jesus said, “rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it” (Luke 11:27-28). Even if you claim not to worship Mary, great, but how many other people break God’s commandments and “bow down” (Exodus 20:5) or kiss statues that can’t see or hear? If you think these things don’t sound that bad, they’re terrible sins in God’s eyes and should therefore be taken seriously by us. In one instance when God is punishing idolatry (yet again, will we never learn?), He says He’ll leave alive “all those who have not knelt to Baal or kissed him” (1 Kings 19:18). So anyone who didn’t kneel, bow, or kiss the false idol Baal. A physical representation of a “god” that doesn’t exist. A STATUE. Again, I didn’t know of passages like this. How many Catholics are in the same boat? Do you know? I’m trying to tell/warn you, not accuse you nor trying to win an argument. I had to investigate these things for myself and I hope you will one day do the same before it’s too late. And don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. The answer isn’t no religion, but being true followers of Christ. Look past all the different denominations and know that the true Christian body is one in Christ. And no, that is not an endorsement of ecumenism. The Bible says to come out of her my people, lest you be partakers of her sins (Revelation 18:4). So no, we can’t join you, but we’ll pray for you to come out of the false man-made system (eventually in the end times a one-world-antichrist religion) and into God’s waiting, loving arms. If you got to the end of this without wanting to shoot the messenger, then, like the true Mary, I hope you’ll put these things away in your heart even if you don’t currently understand. Only God can make things clear to you through his Spirit and Word.
God has been testing us this whole time, since the fall, to see whether we really love him. Look at what He asked Abraham to do, to kill his one and only son, and Abraham had such faith in God that he didn’t even hesitate! Thankfully for all of us, it was just a test. God gave us commands to follow, not to ignore and do as we please. I didn’t know about many of these passages, and others I just never thought of connecting because I didn’t really read my Bible outside of church before. After I started to read and study it, the Holy Spirit can’t help but bring things to your mind and helps you connect the dots. God opens our eyes with His word. Start reading and maybe one day you too shall see. For now, this is not an attack but a letter in love to all my Catholic family and friends. I used to be where you are. It was only when I got interested in apologetics and knowing my faith that I found the Bible stands in opposition to many of the practices taught by Rome. Mary isn’t the only issue I studied, and I’m not saying I’m an expert or anything, but let’s leave it at that for now. Please look into it and don’t be like the people in Jeremiah. God is patiently waiting. He IS enough.
Someone said that what we need to be identified as a Christian is love, not a t-shirt. "By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). According to another verse, "besides all these things, clothe yourselves with love, that is, the bond of perfection" (Colossians 3:14). I agree, I don't think you need a t-shirt to be identified as a Christian. Sometimes they might help start a spiritual conversation with someone though! Whether they're believers or not, we're to do all for the glory of God. If a believer is not showing the love of Jesus, then they probably should not be wearing a shirt that claims anything to do with Christianity lest the world see this and take it as a chance to critique the body of Christ. I'm thinking of bumper stickers here and people showing road rage when their bumper sticker has a fish symbol, cross, a Bible verse or something along those lines. However, nobody's perfect, and yes this includes Christians. We all have good and bad days, and like the Bible says, there is none that is good. Not one.
As a Christian, we are expected to live to higher standards because God’s ways are higher than ours. It is much easier to be grouchy, lazy, or otherwise unoccupied than to actually be making an effort to live out the gospel in our lives, get off our butts, and DO something. Be the change you want to see in the world; it’s not just a “Gandhi” thing. “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained” (James 1:27). Be in the world, but not of it. Yet, we’re in it and are often influenced by it. If we fail, the world sees that as hypocrisy when in reality it’s just another testament to our sinfulness and our need for a Savior. That’s exactly why no one can get to God without Jesus! I can’t do it and neither can you. Nobody earns their salvation. It’s a gift and I’m definitely grateful or I’d flunk the “test” along with everybody else.
The Bible says that faith without works is dead, but there is no salvation by works. Works are the fruit of our faith, not the means by which we’ll be saved. Jesus saves us, and there isn’t anything we can add to his finished work on the cross. In the book, “No Compromise: The Life Story of Keith Green,” his wife Melody Green quotes Keith about this. “God chose Abraham because Abraham had a godly heart, and then God gave him the grace to do godly works to prove his godliness… An apple tree becomes an apple tree as a gift of God, but proves it’s an apple try by making apples” (p. 251). So the question becomes, what are you doing for God? If works are the fruit of our faith, what fruit are we bearing? If we don’t bear any fruit, we don’t want to be like those that buried their talents and the cut-off branches. Can a good tree bear bad fruit? How can we better serve God and our neighbor?
God was never looking for slaves or robots, but for us to love Him above everything like He loves us. He made us and deserves our love and obedience, but for Him to love us little specks of dust when we don’t even deserve it? Inconceivable, to quote the Princess Bride. Yes, I just quoted the Bible, Gandhi, and the Princess Bride (both a book and movie that I’ve read and seen) all in the same post. Anyway, the above verse identifies true religion as taking care of widows and orphans… In other words a relationship and not the false religion of the Pharisees in which they only sought to appear “religious” and “beautiful” in the eyes of the world, but inwardly were like whitewashed tombs. It’s calling out the hypocrisy in our time like the hypocrisy in Jesus’ time. While Christianity is technically a religion, it was never about following man-made tradition, but about following Jesus/God. The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. Do all for the glory of God and as if you’re working for God and not man. Don’t be like the Pharisees keeping a list of other people’s sins, or even of your own and which laws you’ve broken today. God knows our hearts. If you know you’ve sinned, repent, confess, and live with the hope and grace we have in Jesus.
So why do I feel the need to talk about perfection yet again? Because, not surprisingly, I’m not perfect! We even have a model in the psalms of David, where he writes feeling hopeless to feeling elated, but all the while believing in God and that He will get him through. David was not perfect and was human just like us, with fear, joy, anxiety, sadness, happiness, worries, and so on. Lately, I’ve had to reflect on things that are not exactly right in my heart and it’s been both unpleasant and eye-opening. Some things have been surprising, some uncomfortable, and some have left me confused. I wish I could see the whole picture and skip to the grand finale, but that’s not how it all works. Having myself put under a microscope and seeing things kept locked away is not easy. It’s easier to tuck things away and forget about them, but we don’t really forget do we? Things somehow always manage to resurface and come back to bite us in the rear…
So what does God want us to do? Whatever you do to the least of these, you do to Him. We are to love and serve one another, but we can’t do it alone. Even if you think you’re serving the Lord, you can’t do it without His help. We have God in prayer and Scripture, and the body to build each other up. We must turn to Him and then go be a light that points others to Him, for His glory. Somebody said you can’t expect a clean house just by owning a vacuum, you have to use it. It’s the same with our Bibles and prayer life. If we neglect Him, leaving the living water, our thirst will return and Satan will take advantage by condemning, attacking, tempting, or whatever means he can think of. Don’t give him the satisfaction, but pray and let the Holy Spirit bring to remembrance the verses you need to answer him with Scripture. “Though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again” (Proverbs 24:16). Not today Satan, not today.
“Wait! It’s not ready yet! You can’t look!” How many times have we heard or used these words? Waiting until something is “ready” or “done” before you share or show it is one thing, doing this with ourselves is another. I don’t know about you, but I struggle a little with perfection. Don’t think that refers to Martha Stewart organization or anything, far from it. I’m thinking more along the lines of personality and tasks. Like sometimes I’m afraid of taking on a new task that seems too overwhelming for fear of doing it wrong. I know perfection doesn’t exist. Nobody is perfect, and I don’t expect perfection in others. It’s myself I seem to hold to a higher standard. Often if I don’t live up to that ideal, I feel like I’ve failed somehow. Then the feelings of shame make me want to hide away. Other times I recognize that I’m not even close, but I enjoy the journey regardless. I might dip my feet in before I find myself fully submerged in the water, so to speak. You learn more in the water than trying to avoid it. Unfortunately, I’ve found the same thing applies to my personal relationships.
Humans are complicated and sometimes we don’t even understand our own behavior let alone that of others. I’m generally pretty self aware, but this perfection issue came to mind recently and I just had to take a minute to reflect on it. Maybe others deal with the same thing? I am not perfect, have many flaws, and am afraid to let others see those flaws. Ironically then, perhaps I project an image that makes it seem like I’ve got it all together when I don’t. Or like I don’t care when I do. Or that I’m okay when I’m not. Why burden others with my struggles when they’ve got their own? If I’ve learned anything it’s that things go better when you ask for help. I shouldn’t let fear stop me from doing that. Fear of failure, shaming, belittlement, pity, judgment, ridicule, whatever. I don’t always know what I’m doing, despite what I may outwardly be trying to project.
Which brings me back to the relationships thing. Maybe it’s just me and I over-complicate things, or maybe other people can relate. I was a psychology major, so I know this is bad, but I can’t help but compare myself to others. Not in the sense that oh I wish I looked like so and so or had what they do etcetera. No, I mean in terms of just being. I’m around myself 24/7, so I know everything about me. The good, the bad, and the ugly. I think only God and my immediate family know the ugly and I’m sorry to admit that it’s not pretty. I can’t believe myself sometimes! Lord, forgive me. I’m still a work in progress! God give us the patience to deal with each other, character flaws and all, and help us to change for the better each and every day.
Here’s where the perfection thing comes into play. I have friends that seem to be truly righteous. They are living for the Lord, disciplined, and are generally wonderful human beings. Even their flaws, if any come to light, seem minor. With them, they make me strive to be better. As we are called, we build each other up. But I don’t feel like I can truly share each part of myself because they seem further in their walk with God than me. I can’t drag them down with me. I admire them, but I don’t feel I’m “there” yet. Would they understand? Then there’s the opposite side of the spectrum. I have friends that, because they are not believers, obviously don’t always make choices that would be pleasing to God. Some of these choices I wouldn’t make, though I can understand why they would. It’s a different worldview. Other choices I might make or have in the past, and it’s awkward to admit or talk about when I’m not supposed to be of the world. Sometimes I can identify more with this “outside” group than not. That’s good, but shouldn’t I also be setting an example?
So I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place. The world may see a “goody two-shoes” in me, but I see that in others. I don’t measure up there, and I don’t always want to. I like being unique. Individuality, nonconformity, creativity, all these things are admirable. Who wants another clone? We should be able to think for ourselves. However, I’m also no anarchist rebel. I believe in rules and order, they’re necessary to live in peace and avoid chaos. They might not be necessary if everyone truly loved each other, then nobody would seek to harm anyone else. However, the world is full of selfish people that don’t care if they toss others under a bus to get what they want. A result of the fall and man’s free will. For those that are not believers, I don’t think I’m better than anyone. In fact, sometimes I’m more comfortable in those crowds of people being “real” than in the seemingly “perfect” ones. Though I notice and know many are far from it. I’m certainly not perfect. I could list some of my more recent sins, but they’re not things I’m proud of.
So what’s the deal with perfection in front of others? If we’re not perfect, the atheist takes that as ammo to criticize the church. We know only God is perfect, so why do we fear what is a fact? It’s true, we’re not perfect. We make mistakes. Christians can get mad, mess up, or fail. There are hypocrites both inside and out of church because we’re all human, not because religion had any influence. I don’t want to be a hypocrite, though I recognize I sometimes am. My brother can tell you that! Sorry bro! Then if we’re not perfect, we may cause a new Christian to stumble or a potential one to turn away. Pressure much? That person’s salvation rests in your hands, don’t mess it up! That’s not exactly true, though it may feel like it. God is always drawing people towards himself and we can only do so much. Our job is to plant seeds and for God to grow them. He’s in control, not us. Let Him use us as He may, and I’ll try not to mess things up when it’s my turn to say or do something.
Think you’re not good enough to try? Think again! We’ll be dead before we’re holy saints, so we might as well join Peter and make some mistakes. He denied Jesus three times, told him he mustn’t die to which Jesus replied “get behind me Satan,” and Paul rebuked him for being a hypocrite and not eating with the gentiles as soon as the Jews showed up. And remember how Paul persecuted and killed many Christians before Damascus? Yet look at how many souls they brought to Christ, and how much Jesus loved them, flaws and all. Moses said he was not eloquent, but God told him to go. He failed to glorify God and as a result did not get to enter the Promised Land. David sinned with Bathsheba and her husband, at the cost of his son, but was forgiven. Again, both David and Moses did great things for God and His kingdom despite their flaws. We have their stories now to serve as examples, with both the good and the bad. God used imperfect disciples and leaders then, and He uses us now.
When we start to get to know each other, flaws and all, believers or not, only then can we truly learn to understand one another and help each other grow. If you’re truly my friend, you won’t seek to harm me and won’t kick me when I’m down. You may not agree with me on everything, but if you did that would be boring. I’m not looking for a clone either. I love hearing different perspectives and opinions. They’re interesting and what make you who you are. I hope you can respect who I am and know that I’m still growing and learning too. I can’t be perfect if that’s what you’re seeking, look to God for that. But I can walk alongside you as we both journey through life. I can only hope that if you don’t believe, one day God finds you like He found me. It’s never too late. And if you do believe, know that I don’t expect you to be perfect either. We can grow together.
People look for happiness in wealth, relationships, material possessions, careers… Or in feelings that come from daredevil stunts, drugs, sex, alcohol, you name it… But everything is temporary and nothing lasts. If it all comes and goes, does your happiness depend on whether you have or don’t have those things? What would it take for you to feel truly happy no matter what happened? Whether you have any of those things or not? Today, somebody asked me a tough question. I know the answer, but it’s hard to explain and summarize in a satisfactory way. He asked, “Why are you so happy?” I said, “Because of God.” He said, “Why?” and I said “Because he gives me everything I need.” “Why?” “Because He’s God and He made everything.” “Are you sure about that?” He asked if I had any doubts, and I said no. It’s true, I don’t. However, that wasn’t always the case.
In the past I did have some doubts, but God cleared them away. He can do that for you too. If you seek Him with all your heart, you will find Him. Each person’s journey is different, but God will answer a sincere heart. Anyway, I was left pondering and wondering if he believes and if so whether he has any doubts himself? Perhaps he’s an atheist? I don’t know, but I wish I could share what I have with people without seeming to be trite or superficial. It’s not like when somebody asks why and you don’t know and all you can come up with is “because I say so!” No. I have no doubt because I know God’s love. I can smile and laugh because He filled the void I didn’t know I’d had. People can let you down, but God is there through the thick and thin. Doesn’t that sound like something you could stick on a greeting card? A bit saccharine, but it’s true. God actually loves us and I myself was surprised to discover that.
I won’t go into my whole testimony here (you can go to the “About Me” tab for that), but let’s just say that before I was “looking for love in all the wrong places” and “searching” without truly knowing that I would never find it there. I made the mistake billions make, and yet each of us has to discover it for themselves. If you have children, don’t you wish they could avoid some of the mistakes that you made in your youth? But somehow each generation doesn’t seem to listen to the older and wiser and goes right ahead into the same traps we warned them to watch out for. We all think we’re unique, and yet there is really nothing new under the sun.
I am forever and eternally grateful to God for showing me His love. I just don’t know how I can convey that to people. I think of the song that says, “if you could only see the way she loves me, then maybe you would understand…” But you don’t see God’s love, just the effect. We weren’t there when Jesus died on the cross for us. To many, those are just hollow words without meaning. Stick a stranger’s name on there and that’s where concepts like the “flying spaghetti monster” come from, which is understandable enough. Before, I had the head knowledge but the words just didn’t hit my heart like they do now. I did not know until I experienced it for myself, but the Holy Spirit still acts. Believers can feel God’s love through his Holy Spirit and we can show it through our behavior, but you won’t see literal love like you can’t see the wind. If anything, the wind blows things around like the love of God compels us and pushes us to do what we ourselves could not do alone.
People probably think I’m just a happy-go-lucky and naïve girl to be smiling so much, but you never know when your smile might be the one to help bring some sunshine into a person’s life. So many people are suffering, lonely, or exhausted with life. I was and I can’t just sit by and ignore the pain of others. I don’t pity these people, I empathize. I was there and really, in the grand scheme of things, it was nothing compared to the life stories and struggles of other people. Don’t be so quick to judge others. Even the ones that seem happy on the outside may be dying on the inside. You don’t know what people have been through. Life in this broken world can literally be “hell on earth” for some people and that’s not even close to the real “lake of fire” hell. Why go around adding to the darkness when you can be a light to draw some people out of that pit? A little compassion and kindness can go a long way. Ask what you can do for people and be there for them in their time of need. It’s not always easy, especially when all you get are scoffs, scowls, or even pure hatred… But Jesus said to take up your cross and follow Him.
Sometimes we’ll laugh, sometimes we’ll cry, but there truly is a peace that only Jesus can bring. Through any trial or storm, even through tears, I’ll still have reason to smile and thank the Lord. I love Him and He’s the reason I’m happy. Maybe you think that’s weak, and if so, I’m not ashamed to admit it. It’s true that God is close to the brokenhearted. I was weak, but God works miracles and now He is most definitely my joy and my strength. My rock, my redeemer, my savior, my everything. From the mouth pours forth the abundance of the heart. Are you spewing forth darkness? Or are you sharing love and hope with people?
The Bible’s not a bunch of optimistic fairy tales, but a factual reality. It takes real faith to think that everything evolved with so much increasing evidence against Darwin’s theory and to believe that life came from nothing but a random explosion of particles in the Big Bang. Abiogenesis just doesn’t happen (maggots don’t come from the air but from fly eggs) and no species ever changes or has changed into another. Felines don’t produce canines, just variations of traits that result in different breeds due to both natural (in the wild) and artificial (human domesticated) selection. Are you sure about what you believe? I don’t have all the answers, and some things I don’t think we’ll know in this life, but God’s already given us many answers to our questions if we look without bias or prejudice. I had faith before, but now my faith is backed by more experience, knowledge, and evidence than ever before and is much stronger because I wasn’t afraid to seek out the answers. Question what you think you know and be humble enough to acknowledge that you may not currently have all the answers. God will meet you where you’re at. Just knock, seek, and ask. The truth will set you free and only then can you find true happiness that won’t come and go with the tides of life. Peace in the midst of trials.
God loves even the worst sinner, and we all sin and fall short. In spite of yourself, through nothing you’ve done, regardless of how far away from God you think you are, He loves you. He never said there’d be no trials, but that one day there would be no more pain and no more tears for them that abide in Him. Through rising tides and storms, He is our hope and joy. Everything that is good comes from God. Please consider seeking Him that made you. Another song comes to mind, this time not a secular one, but one that basically says I could wish you anything in the world, “but I wish you Jesus.” With much love, while you can, please seek Jesus <3
I may not fear or be anxious about much, but I do struggle with these. The main area these 2 things pop up in is in public speaking. A bit ironic for my chosen profession, but that’s different as so many others I’ve met have agreed. In general, I hate being the center of attention. Unless I'm among friends or family, if I’m in the middle of a big group I just clam right up. If I can scoot by without being noticed, I’m a happy camper. All eyes turn to me and gulp, I’ll try to ignore that. If I needed to ask a question in class, it always worked out best if I sat closer to the teacher. Then it’s almost like a one-on-one conversation, and I’m good with those. If I sat in the back though, if I even thought of raising my hand, my heart would start pounding and I’d get so nervous that by the time I ALMOST got up the courage to raise my hand, the teacher had already moved on and I was left sitting there with the leftover adrenaline and cortisol in my system. If I actually had to present something, my voice and hands trembled. I’m just glad I’m not the type to get nauseous or faint.
Anyway, being more on the introverted side and generally loving my privacy, I don’t tend to share much except with a select few friends and family. Some things only my journal knows. The most private things only God knows because He knows everything and we’re cool like that. No, but seriously. I’m not the type to rush into anything. Let’s think about this, plan, and prepare. Make a list! However, they say that God doesn’t call the qualified, but that He qualifies the called. That’s tough. That requires taking a leap of faith and trusting Him, when everything else (the world, your parents, your fear) is telling you to hold on a minute. The Bible says not to fear men, but to fear God. It tells us to love God above everything and to love our neighbor. I haven’t always trusted God, but He knows what He’s doing.
That brings me to my point. Little old me isn’t scared to write, most people probably won’t take the time to actually read it. Any of this. They’d much rather be watching television, Netflix, or YouTube. And that’s comforting to me. That means I don’t have to worry about what people will think or say, because they won’t have read it! Phew! But that’s not what God wants. I think He always gives us baby steps and doesn’t overwhelm us with everything all at once, but now that I’ve actually got the site up I have to put myself out there in order for people to have access to it. That does NOT sound fun. That’s scary. And when I look at the problems other people have faced, I’m like wow mine are NOTHING. And yet, so many have had similar struggles. I know I’m always edified when I see other people going through or speaking on things that I may have just been experiencing or thinking myself. It’s so encouraging. I want to encourage others like that. Besides myself, I’ve also seen how others have been transformed through Jesus, and I want to share that. We have been called to love others as Christ has loved us. So what do I do when I start to fear? Pray and read the living Word. And hope I don’t remain a chicken forever :)
“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna” (Matthew 10:28). “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10). So what can we learn from God and His word? A lot. Take for example Moses. God chose the foolish and weak to shame the wise and strong, so no human can boast except to boast in the Lord (1 Corinthians 1:26-31). If you’re familiar with the story, you know about the parting of the Red Sea, the 10 plagues, turning water into blood and so on. Moses was just an ordinary man though, just like Jesus called regular fishermen and tax collectors to follow him. God works extraordinary things through ordinary means. Through a burning bush, God tells Moses to go rescue the Israelites, but Moses raises an objection each time. Who am I that I should be the one to go? What if they don’t believe or listen to me? God tells Moses He’ll be with him and some miraculous signs He’ll perform. Then Moses says he’s not eloquent. After God says He’ll help and teach him what to say, Moses still asks God to please send someone else! Man, these are all questions and concerns I have and probably most anyone that chooses to share their faith with others. You can read all the details in Exodus 3-4, but man. Moses, I feel you dude. I feel you. God, please be as patient with us as you were with Moses. Like myself, I hope you are convicted, inspired, and encouraged through the following verses from Scripture:
“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great” (Luke 6:46-49).
“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:37-39).
“For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels” (Luke 9:26).
“Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:7-9)
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:1-2).
“This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Of these I am the foremost. But for that reason I was mercifully treated, so that in me, as the foremost, Christ Jesus might display all his patience as an example for those who would come to believe in him for everlasting life” (1 Timothy 1:15-16).
“Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began” (2 Timothy 1:8-9).
“We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).
It’s easy to write. I LOVE to write. My original plan had never been to start a website or blog. I had wanted to be a catechist and was interested in apologetics, only to be convinced of the opposite Protestant side. I started making my own notes about various topics. The truth should never fear being examined and should be able to stand. Jesus said to test whether things are so and to always be ready with an answer, so I dove right in and found the real truth which when examined any which way stands stronger than anything else I’ve ever encountered or seen. And I’ve looked into the opposite side and can also see why many people do not believe and it’s honestly one of the most disheartening and heartbreaking things. Especially when I consider how far up at the top corruption reaches and only goes to show how Satan really is the ruler of this world and the father of lies. He’s deceived most of the world and they remain clueless.
So what motivates me? God says to not grow weary in doing good. A big motivator is people. I was a psychology major in college. I’ve met all sorts of people. What motivates them, what they think, all our quirks and different personality traits… Everybody has an interesting story. Do they believe in God? Why or why not? What makes them so sure either way? How do they know what is actually true? Do they ever question or doubt anything? Have they ever researched things for themselves (including in alternative sources) rather than believe it just because it’s the “expert” or “popular” opinion? This last one is hard to find, but I digress. And then the reverse of that. Alone, you might not question something that someone with an outside perspective notices. It’s like how you get acclimated to the weather or a smell that only hits you after being away from it. People ask so many good questions and it’s awesome. I don’t feel threatened. I’m like that’s a great question, I don’t know. Research time!
Besides all that, God really gave me a heart for the lost because I was once lost. Whether my blog actually helps anyone, I don’t know. At the very least I can say that it helps me when I go back and re-read my own things. Keeping myself on track, simply contemplating or appreciating God and his handiwork, or tracking my progress if I’ve grown at all since then. At most, I hope that it plants some seeds in non-believers and edifies believers. I myself can always be corrected if I make a mistake anywhere. Nobody’s perfect but God. I’m a bit of a perfectionist but I can’t wait to be “perfect” because nobody is. I don’t know everything, but why wait any longer to share what I do know? I’ve already learned and experienced enough that I can’t justify keeping it all to myself. God wants me to share, so I’ll try and step out of my comfort zone and respond to His call. Feel free to ask me about stuff that I post or other things and I’ll try to answer as best as I can. Some questions we might not know the answers to till we die, but if I don’t know and it’s answerable, then we’ll find out together. Thanks for reading.
What or how should I pray? There are many passages concerning prayer in the Bible and there is a time and a place for everything. The Bible says that we ought to shut the door and pray in secret, not do it like the Pharisees so people can admire how holy we are. They got their reward, but the Father who sees in secret rewards those that don’t do it for show. There are passages that say that where 2 or 3 are gathered in my name, there I will be and God will listen. The disciples also asked to be taught how to pray and sometimes we need models so if anyone would like, below are some words the Holy Spirit led me to pray and you can join me in prayer if you like. If you’re not a believer, then just read and consider them nice wishes though I do hope you’ll eventually come to the Lord one day. God is real.
While I normally keep prayers to myself (in my head or journal), a prayer sort of took shape as I was working on the forgiveness blog post that you may or may not be interested in reading or praying. I never liked being the center of attention, am more of an introvert, and definitely am not holy or worthy, so I am VERY happy to pray in privacy. However, not everyone is comfortable praying, especially relatively new believers. Many don’t feel like they know what to say or what to pray for, which is like me a lot of the time. So don’t expect this to be a frequent occurrence, but if you are a Christian and agree with the words, please feel free to join me in praying:
Father, let us never forget to keep You at the forefront of everything we say and do. You who reveal all will judge our every word and action. Let us glorify You through our weaknesses so that the world sees Your strength. Who are we that You call us imperfect people to serve You? We’re nobody, full of flaws, and yet You see past all of that. Especially in our fallen world full of deceivers, let us not be stumbling blocks for the watching world, but instead help us shine Your light. Don’t let us quench or grieve the Holy Spirit, but help us to be the living temples You deserve. God, forgive all our blunders, mistakes, and ungodly behavior when You want us to love and be holy as You are. Help us to be real with each other and hold one another accountable, lovingly correcting each other with your Word. Please keep slowly molding myself and others to be better followers of You, continually reminding us of Your Word and higher ways. Keep pushing us even when we cross our arms and resist Your guidance. Please keep being patient with us until we truly GET it. If anyone reading this struggles with bitterness or unforgiveness in their own lives, please help them humbly bring their burdens to You and watch as You help them forgive the people and things that life throws at them. You know the challenges each of us face. Help us be Your hands and feet and be there for each other when the world tries to distract us with its worries or enticements. Please inspire more people to truly live for You and please give us the courage to complete Your will through us when we choose to follow You. All this I pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Sometimes I feel like God lets things play out in my life to really teach me and drive things home. If we could all learn from each other’s experiences, that would be great. However, we stubborn humans often like to do things the hard way. We can read something in a book, apply it to everybody else, and then conveniently forget that knowledge when things come up in our own lives. In those moments, we would do well to recall and listen to those pearls of wisdom. Often, we do know what God says, but we remain stubborn anyway. Or we act impulsively based on our feelings instead of our heads. If you only knew what X person did, then you would do the same thing.
So what brings all of this up? The personal details don’t matter. Let’s just say what a difference Christ, the word “sorry,” and forgiveness make. It is such a blessing to be able to say you’re sorry. No hard feelings, weights lifted off, joy restored. I literally just thanked God because despite my own stubbornness, He just gave me the opportunity to do what my heart was calling me to. Because of sinful pride, I might not have even said it because we often want the other person to say sorry first. It’s great when it happens. You wait, they make the first move, and then it’s off to happy tears and hugs and relationship restored. However, we don’t always get that happy ending and the person doesn’t always even acknowledge that they did anything wrong. In fact, they might even blame you. How can we forgive someone like that? They say it takes two to tango. Often both parties do things that they should each apologize for, but each side is too stubborn to admit it or give in even the teensiest bit. And then what happens? Pointless fights, divorce, hurt feelings, grudges…
In the past, I did hold grudges that really were only harming myself. The person could be oblivious and have moved on and I was still holding onto things that would come out the next time there was an issue. They all just piled up on top of each other. I was once surprised with a déjà vu experience where God revealed to me I’d been holding a grudge I didn’t even consciously know I had. A person I had avoided for a few years, enough time having passed to forget why I had avoided them in the first place, only to be reminded of why years later because God wanted me to forgive them. God brought me to my knees in repentance and I prayed for the person who had unwittingly hurt me. God showed me that they were longsuffering and needed prayer, not more condemnation.
Often times though, the people closest to us are the ones that end up hurting us the most. The person I most needed to forgive was the hardest to forgive. I prayed for help because I had tried, they had tried, and it just wasn’t working. God DOES listen to prayer. God can soften hardened hearts, mend broken hearts, and truly restore relationships that we otherwise could destroy if left on our own. I don’t think Jesus put the “forgive others” part in the Our Father prayer because God’s a cold dictator who just made a bunch of random rules to obey. God knows that we only harm ourselves when we don’t forgive and he illustrated how ludicrous it is for us not to forgive someone and still expect to be forgiven by Him. The wicked servant was forgiven his huge debt and he couldn’t forgive the man that owed him a smaller debt? Jesus died on a cross for you and you’re mad at so and so about what?
We have ALL fallen short, but that’s where Jesus comes in. That’s also good to keep in mind when you consider that not everyone has Jesus. Hurt people hurt others. Instead of adding to the darkness in the world, be the refreshing light. If you fall, repent and make things right. The one who has the most things to be forgiven is logically the one that is the most grateful. I THANK God that he extends His love and mercy to us because really, we are SO unworthy and yet he still somehow cares instead of regarding us with total disdain or disgust. Our sin is like cigarettes and blackened lungs, but he still loves us in spite of our terrible flaws. Thank God when He disciplines you, or be worried if He doesn’t. A lot of people think they’re pretty good people and, like the Pharisee praying in the temple, brag that they’re not like those other people doing “insert horrible thing here.” However, they’re forgetting that to God, all sin is just that, a sin, and the wages of sin is death. If you can’t do it, ask God to help you forgive. God won’t force you, but He’d like you to choose life because He made you, loves you, and wants you to be with Him in eternity.
Why do I do what I don’t want to do? The heart is willing, but the flesh is weak. Nobody is perfect, not even us Christians. We’re warned to be careful lest we fall. None of that “once saved always saved” nonsense. However, if we do sin we have an advocate with the Father, Christ Jesus. And we have an advocate with us, the Holy Spirit, who reminds us of all things and is always interceding for us even when we don’t know what to pray. If we repent, Jesus’ eternal sacrifice can be applied to us and our transgressions are blotted out. He has paid it all. There is nothing we can do to justify ourselves. That’d be like going up to a judge and saying, “Look, I gave money to charities and did all these good deeds these past 9 years, so can you overlook my crime? I only murdered once.” That’s ridiculous. Each crime has its sentence and no amount of “good deeds” or “donations” would spare you having to pay the due penalty. There’s only one way and if Jesus pays your fine, you get out of jail free. That’s a miracle. God did that, for us.
So why do we feel so guilty? Besides Satan the accuser always being at the ready, because we have a conscience and sin has consequences. Though God told David He was forgiven, David still had to lose his son after he committed adultery and murder. Whether big or small, sin has consequences. I know I should have done this, but instead I did that. We’ve got to live with that decision and the shame that comes with it. That decision affected people and things in ways we may not have intended. Or if we thought about them before, in that moment we did not. If by chance something other than ourselves crossed our mind, then our own concerns, worries, or ideas overshadowed them. Because of our fallen human nature we acted selfishly and did not give glory to God like He deserves. Our sin affected God, our witness, and what He wanted to accomplish through us. When we sin, we not only let down others and ourselves, but we let down God. We are to be transformed by the renewing of our mind, not act like the world does. Be ye separate.
I used to be blind to a lot of sin. The Word of God is truly able to convict and correct us. God Himself can also do that though. I know that before I started reading my Bible, I prayed that God would give me more discernment and take away my desire for things that did not please Him. Prayer is powerful. Some things I automatically lost taste for, surprising even myself! I genuinely had stopped liking and was repulsed, disgusted, or uncomfortable with things I previously hadn’t minded in the least and I know that was God’s doing. The others were or have been a process, so forgive and be patient with me as God’s not done refining me yet. I was severely tempted at points, but it was more of a test to see what I loved more. That thing, or God. There are still a few things I’ve left “on the shelf,” so to speak, for a later time. God knows when we’re ready and sometimes we humans are resistant or reluctant to change. Instead of indulging in anything questionable, try setting it aside. Often, I’ve found that I no longer think about or “need” that thing I’ve set aside after all. It’s easier to let go of. Who we used to be is not who we are anymore. We can’t look back once we’ve set our hand to the plow. The old us has died and we’ve renewed our minds, to think about whatever is good.
Does that mean I always triumph over sin? No. Unfortunately, I recently fell into that trap (even knowing what I do now) because I could so easily justify it by the world’s standards. It’s not a big deal, other people do it, who would know? Lies! Does the Bible not say that if you break one little law, you are responsible for ALL of it? We’re no longer under the law, but does that give us a license to sin? No! One kind of sin is the same as another by God’s standards. He says to be holy because He is holy. So it IS a big deal. Who cares if other people do it? Uh, the old “would you jump off a bridge if everyone was doing it?” question comes to mind here. Are you truly on the narrow path? Or did you wander onto the wide path? And lastly, I know. God knows. And my conscience won’t leave me alone. Hence, now all of you know. If we confess our sins, God is able to forgive us. Sometimes it’s hard to believe He’d be so merciful with us because we really don’t deserve it.
So why did I choose to share all of this? Because while Satan rejoices when we fall into sin, we are to do everything to the glory of God. Rather than hiding in shame, I will choose to boast in my weaknesses because God can use them for His glory, not mine. Get me off that pedestal. I’m a sinner just like you. Yes, I’m not perfect. Yes, I’m not good. God’s standards are higher than ours and He’s the one that propels me to do good when I’d rather remain comfortable or keep to myself. He’s the one that tells me to forgive, help, or love when it’s hard to do. It’s easy to love your family and friends, but what about those “difficult” people in our lives? And who among us goes up to strangers and shares our hope with them? If you choose to walk by, that person may commit suicide because everybody else walked by too. Our inaction can also have devastating consequences. Who among us cares for the poor, the widows, and the orphans by giving up our time and resources for them? The Bible says not to just say bless you, keep warm and then not give them the coat to be able to do that. Our faith requires action, otherwise it’s dead. No, we don’t need works to be saved. However, they are evidence and fruit of our repentance and faith. And we are glad to do them.
So the next time you are tempted to sin, think of who it affects besides yourself and think of God who you’d be letting down and offending with your choice. Don’t abuse God’s mercy. He may not give you time to repent. Is it worth it? Jesus suffered and died on the cross for YOU. Don’t take that lightly. Choose this day whom you will serve. If you’re not with God, you’re against Him. God is holy and nothing unclean will enter heaven. In chapter 7 of the book of Joshua, the Lord did not remain with Israelites because of Achan’s sin. That’s why they’d lost the battle. They only won after they made things right with God. In the infamous prodigal son story, even though he ran away and wasted his inheritance in sin, the father still welcomed him back with open arms. Despite our selfishness when we sin, God extends us grace we don’t deserve. Peter denied Jesus 3 times and was forgiven and healed of his guilt when Jesus asked him 3 times if he loved him. We need to come to God and repent. He has set before us life and death, blessing and curse. Choose rightly and go with God if you want to live. If you’re not a believer, then seek Him and ask God to show you. Read the Bible and research whether Creationism actually has merit (it does). And stop following men who are fallible. Follow God. Believer or not, wherever you are on the path, what matters most isn’t perfection but what direction you’re heading in. Find the narrow road because despite the popular idea that all roads lead to the same destination, they don’t and the only way to God is through Jesus.
Why is it so hard for some people to just agree to disagree? You don’t always have to be right and make everyone else think like you do. Recognize that our opinions differ and leave it at that without getting angry. Well, I’m sure none of us should be casting the first stone when we’ve all probably been guilty of being triggered by somebody’s offensive stance on something or other. And I don’t mean getting offended because some psychopathic guy killed someone without feeling any remorse. That’s just creepy and wrong and people would be justified in feeling angry, though we are still supposed to pray for these people. You never know if God will change their heart no matter how unlikely. Not that I’d have much hope for a cold-blooded killer, but it could happen. Once in a blue moon…
No, I mean arguing about controversial things. Everybody’s going to have a different opinion based on their knowledge and experiences. I have had such long and amazing conversations with such interesting people that hold the polar opposite views from what I hold and we didn’t get mad or argue. We fundamentally disagreed, but found each other’s opinions and discussion so interesting that it just kept going and going and going… I LOVE that! It’s funny because growing up, my dad always said something along the lines of “there’s certain controversial topics you should avoid talking about with people like money, religion, and politics” and I always was like but why? What if I want to talk about those things?
I don’t really like politics and the one topic on my dad’s list that I did avoid was how much money people make. I never cared about that. However, I was always interested in what religion people had. At a young age I didn’t ask for details or specifics or even know about all the different denominations even within Christianity. I didn’t know enough to ask anything more. But I knew my friends were “Christian,” “Hindu,” “nothing,” etcetera. I didn’t really ask or share much more other than go cool, I’m Catholic (before, not anymore). And we left it at that.
It was only when I was older that, if the person was open, I might ask whether they believed in God, practiced their faith, whether both of their parents believe in it, what their services or requirements are like in that particular denomination/faith, or if they didn’t believe then how do they think we came into existence and what do they think our purpose in life is and so on. That’s all interesting to me. I automatically feel closer to people that I can have these deeper conversations with than the everyday how are you? Fine. How are you? Good. Have a good day. You too. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s nice. I just mean that it’s small talk versus deep talk. But you can’t always talk on a deeper level with everyone, for various reasons. Wouldn’t it be nice though if everyone got along, was honest, and just able to share with each other even if they disagreed?
Side note, pointless arguments do not include doctrinal issues with other professing Christians. That would be a very purposeful “argument” for the person’s salvation if they held a heretical view that could jeopardize it. God will judge those outside. As for our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, we are to use the Word to correct and rebuke each other if any of us errs. It would be good to pursue this out of love for our each other. Anything non-doctrinal can be up for debate and hence all the different denominations that disagree about different aspects of the faith that are not essential for our salvation. That could be “pointless” to discuss if neither side is willing to consider the other. Agree to disagree. Outside of that, there is also a passage that says not to throw pearls before swine. We are to share the gospel with the world, but in a place we are not welcome we are to shake the sand off our sandals and leave. If someone will not hear you, do not bother wasting your words on them. God knows who will be ready at what point in their lives. Pray for that person and maybe one day they will hear you (or someone like you) out.
Huge controversial topic, but please try to hear me out before jumping to conclusions or taking out your pitchforks. Please read through to the end and if you still don’t agree or don’t care, then simply agree to disagree and I will just have to keep praying for you. I’m sure there are plenty of passionate people on both sides of the issue for various reasons, but I’m here to tell you now that some of you have been severely misinformed. Women, you can do with your body what you want. However, you are dehumanizing the baby inside you by claiming it’s not a baby just like Caucasians in the past claimed Black people were animals or the Nazis claimed that Jews were demons etcetera. You are not considering the fact that by the time most women consider getting an abortion, that baby is already fully developed. A woman often doesn’t know they are pregnant and by the time they miss their period, it is not just a “clump of cells.” There are undercover videos exposing these clinics that showed the clinic workers telling the undercover patients not to worry because it was not a baby, not developed, wouldn’t feel pain and so on. I think a lot of these ladies are well-meaning and seem very caring, but they themselves have been lied to and in turn unintentionally end up deceiving the patients because they themselves don’t know the truth.
If you haven’t seen the movie Unplanned, I recommend it. It shouldn’t be rated R because it is not a blood/gore movie. Two mild scenes in the movie overall should have earned it a PG-13 rating, but they don’t want people to see it (especially not pregnant teens!) so it makes sense they would give it an R rating and not show it in most theaters. Besides the fact that it generally wouldn’t do well in a liberal state, that should all tell you something. Anyway, while the clinic workers in general may not have all the details, the directors at the top certainly know what’s going on and have different agendas than helping women. They’re in it for the big bucks and their hearts have been hardened to the reality of what they are doing to get it. If you walk into Planned Parenthood, they don’t have your best interest at heart and don’t give you all the options. Their job is to push as many women into getting an abortion as they can because that’s where they make most of their money. The founder Margaret Sanger was a racist that wanted to put those clinics into predominately minority-populated areas because she wanted to control the “undesirable” population. Do you realize that if those clinics didn’t exist, the minority groups in the United States would already have surpassed the White population by now?
If you want to help women, that’s great and noble. However, this is not the way to do it. I don’t like politics and that is not what made me feel the need to say something. I care about people and that includes both mothers and babies. If you’ve had an abortion, know that God is merciful and can still forgive you if you repent and come to Him. I have not had an abortion and I hope that none of you ladies reading this has ever had one because I wouldn’t wish the pain of that on anyone. There are many women out there that regret having one and some even end up with PTSD or dream of the baby they would have had if they’d gone through with the pregnancy. If you haven’t gone through that, then perhaps you bought into the lie that it wasn’t a baby and felt no pain. Did you ever ask to see the ultrasound though? Most women that get an ultrasound before making their decision end up not having an abortion. If you’re even considering one right now, please go see a doctor before you go to these clinics and ask for an ultrasound. Look at what’s inside you before you make a decision and inform yourself on how the procedure actually works. Without going into full detail, some use suction, some tear out limbs with tongs, and others cause the pieces to come out with their death pills. None of the scenarios is pretty for the baby, and sometimes women end up dying due to complications, missing pieces, a perforated uterus, etcetera. They don’t like to tell you that, but look it up. It happens.
A couple of years ago, I posted something on Facebook that exposed Planned Parenthood, naively thinking that people would watch, be outraged and upset, and defund them. In reality, probably nobody watched and all I saw were people that posted “I still support Planned Parenthood.” I couldn’t believe my eyes. Have you ever watched a PETA video and wished you were a vegetarian? Well, this was WAY worse and cruel and I most definitely cried when I saw all these horrible things. Humanity at its worst. I had previously been on the fence before about “special cases” like where the mom’s life might be in danger or she was raped or something. These however are not the majority of the cases and even then, I’d now make a different decision. I can’t claim to know what is right for every individual, but I can now say that if it were me I wouldn’t make a move to actively kill a baby inside me just because I want to live or they’re inconvenient reminders of something they had nothing to do with. The baby is not at fault if their father committed a crime and perhaps you just killed off the next future genius that was going to cure cancer.
If I previously had head knowledge that Biblically speaking, abortion was wrong, now I had it put in my heart that it was wrong. If you’re “pro-choice,” then really take a look at what truly goes on behind the scenes and know that those aren’t isolated cases, but are actually common in the industry and institution. Planned Parenthood is an especially efficient corporate abortion machine. The footage was not edited to make them look bad, and those claiming it was can find the full un-cut videos online. The evidence literally speaks for itself and you will be SHOCKED if you haven’t already seen it. I dare you to go watch and not change your mind, even a little bit. Keep watching and you’ll soon be pro-life too because while I know people can act and believe things out of ignorance, I can’t believe that people would be so cold-hearted to the reality of it all once they actually take the time to look. My guess is you just didn’t want to because it’s another “inconvenient truth.” If it’s birth control you want, most women get that from their healthcare providers. Unless anything has changed after-the fact, Planned Parenthood lied about the mammograms (go look that up too).
If you really don’t want a baby or can’t have one right now, then there are many couples waiting to adopt. You might think the foster care system is messed up, and it is, but mostly because of the people that abuse the system to get money and the fact that everybody wants to adopt babies. There are long waiting lists of couples waiting to adopt babies, a high demand with not enough being “supplied.” That’s also why you see a lot of international adoptions. It’s sad that the older the child the less likely they are to be adopted, but if you think your baby won’t go to a good home I don’t think they’re likely to get lost in the foster care system because some loving family will snatch them right up. It’s the others I worry about, but that’s a whole other issue. I am not you and I’m not making a decision or judging anyone if they don’t, but it’s something I didn’t know about before and just want to say that if you are adopting… Even though they will have other issues that come with them that I won’t get into here, please do consider the possibility of adopting an older child as well and not just the babies. They need loving families too.
Wait, why did I just say it’s not my place to tell you what child to adopt but yet I want to tell you not to abort? Because those children will hopefully get adopted by somebody else that DOES want them, nobody is forcing anyone to do anything. All I said was to consider it. Abortion does not consider the rights of the baby. Sure, we all make decisions about what we do with our own bodies, what clothes we wear, how we cut our hair, whether we get a tattoo or an ear piercing, etcetera. That’s all fine and dandy, but since when did calling an entire group of people “not human” become okay? Oh, it’s just a fetus, not a baby. A fetus is a baby. I am speaking up for those that have no voice yet. Even if you are a male, you too can have an opinion and stand up against injustice. Jesus said let the little children come unto me and that it’d be better if a millstone were hung around a person’s neck and they be thrown into the sea if they harmed a little one. God even from the Old Testament said that parents having their children walk through the fire in sacrifice was an abomination. He never asked for that. People sacrificed their children to idols all on their own. We’re doing the same thing today. People came up with abortion and the reasons to justify it, but in the end it is the murder of innocents and a holocaust worse than any other in history. Will you stand and speak up for them?
People that know me know I’m generally pretty reserved except with certain friends or family members. In general, you could say I’m a goody-two-shoes poster girl to most people, which used to frustrate me in the past. Like I’d tell people to go ahead and cuss in front of me, I didn’t care, and yet they wouldn’t because I didn’t cuss or swear. Now I’m glad that they chose not to. Appearances can be deceiving and really, if you knew me then, I had a lot of my own sins I was blind to even if cussing wasn’t one of them. Though that’s not exactly true since in my teen years I did type a few choice words even if I never said them out loud (with at least one exception…). In general though, I’ve generally been a people-pleaser and go with the flow. Unless something clearly violated my beliefs, morals, or ethics, in which case I could remove myself from the situation or just not participate or whatever, I still never really stood up and shared why I didn’t do the same things. Now is not any different other than now I know what a lot of my past sins were because God’s word has shown and convicted me. I keep studying Scripture and there’s probably still things that I need correcting in. Nobody knows everything and we are ALL able to use Scripture to correct each other.
Nobody is good but God. I think that’s why this particular entry is a bit tough to write. Though I shouldn’t fear what man thinks, I can’t help but wonder if perhaps this will tarnish my image in other people’s eyes? Both in the eyes of fellow believers and in the eyes of the world. Isn’t a Christian supposed to be “good”? We are supposed to strive to be holy because God is holy, but until Jesus returns we still live in a broken, sinful world and are still imperfect. Just because we’re not committing the same sins as each other doesn’t mean each person isn’t sinning in their own ways. If you thought I was good, you were wrong. If you had me up on a pedestal, then knock that down because I’m not! By the world’s definition, in many ways I could be, but by God’s standards? Heck no. I’ve got a long way to go! We all do, but that’s why we can confess our sins to each other and strive to build each other up. Don’t put stumbling blocks in front of your brother. If you see something wrong, use the Word to correct him. Maybe he’s sinning in ignorance or maybe he’s plugging his ears and you can share the words God wants him to hear?
While it used to bother me a little that people would assume I was innocent, now it kind of bothers me that I know I’m not. I don’t want to burst anyone’s bubble so to speak if they have that image of me, but even Paul talked about the Spirit being willing but the flesh is weak. I think I can blame television among other things for corrupting my mind. Even if I wasn’t outwardly committing a lot of the sins the world does, God knows our hearts and minds as well and like I said, we all sin in our own ways. I’m not saying it’s the television’s fault, by no means! I’m saying that I made some poor choices and that the entertainment industry often shows you a different worldly perspective that calls good evil and calls evil good. While I thought at the time it had no such effect on me, I wasn’t reading my Bible enough to know that it actually did. I was surprised by things I read which, with fresh eyes, I was now seeing portrayed in the shows I used to love. So apparent that I can’t believe I never noticed. That is how powerful God’s Word can be. Read your Bible and ask yourself how many things are wrong with what you’re putting in front of your eyes when the Bible says to think about good and edifying things? If it’s not edifying you or the church, maybe it’s not something you should be looking at or watching?
Well, to confess to you one of my current fears… I guess while it doesn’t bother me now that the world would assume that I’m a “goody-two-shoes,” it bothers me that they would think this to such an extent that they would think well she said it and so we can trust her. No! Don’t trust me! That is waaay too much responsibility and I’m NOT who you should be putting your trust into. I fail God a lot, but I am trying. Trust in God, not in man. Not your teachers or your pastors, but in GOD. He is who we should be following. Good thing I don’t have a Twitter account, so you can’t follow me there! But I’m trying to point people to the One they should follow, and that’s God. I’m afraid I might mess up and say something that would cause someone else to stumble or fall, but that is a small fear compared to the excitement and joy I feel when I think that if this site helps even one person it will be worth it. That’s all I want. That’s why I started it. Because I want to share the love of God with a world that doesn’t know Him. You can know Him too if you seek Him with all your heart.
So messing up, making mistakes, that’s human and normal. But it’s better and less daunting if it only affects you versus tons of other lives. Sometimes I’m a bit of a perfectionist and want to get something “right” before I share it with anyone. However, God sometimes wants us to share the whole process. We can bring him glory despite our weaknesses. God should get the glory He deserves through the work He’s begun in me. That brings me to my next fear, the fear of man. Fear of bullying, discrimination, hate… God said the world will hate you because it hated me first. If it doesn’t, then maybe you’ve been a people-pleaser like I have. Never sharing the joy and peace you’ve found in the Lord because people would get offended and mad at you. I had a Pinterest account that I had been so excited about until people started making rude comments on it. It’s hard to respond with kindness when someone is hatefully insulting your intellect or character instead of responding to the points you made. Then why bother replying? I didn’t insult them back but it was emotionally draining when you keep putting out positive things for other people to just trash and mock. I ended up pretty much abandoning it, though I could still go back and revisit it as I never actually closed it.
Anyway, fear of failure, ridicule, judgment, leading people astray, discrimination from future employers, church members, co-workers, the government etcetera. All valid concerns, but we should fear God not man. If I wait until God has finished His work in me, I’ll be dead. I won’t be complete until I die. I’m still a work in progress and I’m not here to share my own progress or faults but how God has worked in my life so far and what He’s going to keep doing in my life until I die. I am here to share that God is alive, God is real, and God wants you to be a part of his family. If you’ve never been to church or have strayed, try to find a local one to go to. If you already go, then let’s keep building each other up. We can all agree to disagree on small issues that are not relevant to our salvation, but we are still all one body with different parts and different functions and we need to reach out to those outside the body. They are worth all the risks I named above and more. Am I waiting on a car accident or cancer to embolden me for Christ? By then it could be too late. If I die tomorrow, what was it all for? I was made by God and for God. To love God above everything and to love my neighbor, not the world. Not myself. I get anxious even thinking of sharing the gospel with people, but I know I need God to help me in that department. For me, this is like a baby step in that direction. How about you? Do you find it easy to share the gospel? Got any tips for an inexperienced newbie? What are you doing to reach out to your neighbor?
While I love open discussions, not all internet users are kind. I'd like to build people up, not have others cut people down. Therefore, no comments, but feel free to email me if there's something you'd like to share with me.