John 6:20

John 6:20 but he called out to them "Don't be afraid. I am here!"

Friday, April 27, 2012

Where's Your Place?

When I was young, it was mandatory for us kids to respect our elders.  My parents had a kids should be seen; not heard rule.  We were not allowed to ask for anything or say no to any request and if grandma had started to clean-up I had better jump in to take over. And, in my home sentences ended with sir or ma'am.  When we decided to ignore these rules, my parents also believed in a more "capital" approach to discipline.  So, needless to say, overall me, my sister and two brothers were pretty good kids.  Now, that's not to say we weren't a little mean to each other; of course we were.  And, I think we all would be lying a little if we said we didn't take some enjoyment when one of the others got in trouble at least once.  But, that was okay, we were equals.  We knew we could be disrespectful to each other as long as there was no disrespect aimed at any adult. I guess what I'm trying to say is: We knew our place; with each other and with everyone else.

Of all that I was taught as a child, that lesson still resonates in me today.  I've always tried to teach my own children to have respect.  I've always told them that I don't want to just raise them to be good kids but to be good people.  To be a good person they needed to have respect for others and to always know their place.  I wanted them to understand that whether they are four or forty, they will always have place that they need to stay in the boundaries of.  A place with God, with their elders, with authority, even with their peers.   Of course, at times, it has been an up hill battle considering I feel that this is a Godless generation and respect is turning into a 4 letter word.  The problem is not just with children not knowing their place; we as parents need to know ours.  It is not our job to be their friends(at first).  First, we need to be their teachers and disciplinarians.  Love them and guide them and make sure we equip them with the tools to be productive, respectful adults.  Then, once we're done raising them, we can look at our children as friend.

I have a different place for each role God has blessed me with.  Some of them I need to be a leader and some I have a more submissive part.  No matter what the role, I try to fulfill it to the best of my ability because I know it all is to be a better steward for Christ.  For us to truly learn and to submit to God's will, we need to accept His authority and know our place. I will be honest, being submissive was a very hard concept for me to grasp considering that I have a domineering  personality.  It wasn't until I started reading The Word that I realized that submission doesn't mean weakness nor is it a measure of worth.  Jesus, himself, submitted to God's will and washed the feet of His disciples before they betrayed Him and He was crucified on the cross.  If the Son of God can know His place; I can know mine as well.

Now, consider this: What if we all were equally submissive?  I absolutely understand my place with my husband.  He is the provider in my home and he works many very hard, very long hours to take care of our family and still comes home and makes time for me.  Because of this, I'm proud to say he is the head of my house.  In turn, he understands his place with me.  He acknowledges that with or without a paycheck I work long hours too and I still find time for him.  He doesn't downgrade my worth or importance of the role I have in this marriage  So, we have equally submitted to one another.  I am NOT the woman behind the man.  I am the woman at my man's side; each in our place and each submitting equally.  Because of this, we are a team with the utmost respect for one another.

When we forget our place whether it be with our parents, our children, our spouse, ones in authority, and especially with God we lose the ability to have respect for one another and for Him.

Ephesians 5:21 And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Creating our own hell

One of my favorite things to do is to sit on my front porch with a good cup of coffee and a book (more often now my e-reader).  Sometimes, I get distracted by the people walking by and it saddens me.  I'm honestly not trying to listen to their conversations but we all know we can't always control what our ears take in.  Just like in most places, my hometown is a victim of a lot of struggling families.  Drug and alcohol abuse is common.  Jobs are here but the pay is low and everyone does drug testing these days.  I don't think you can even flip a burger without peeing in a cup first.  So, I hear the things they say as they walk by; people worrying about money.  The rent is late, the electric is due, the baby needs diapers, and... you get the point.  Some asking me for a cigarette (praise God I haven't smoked a cigarette for almost 7 1/2 months!!!)  Of course some just wanting to party. Even others rolling their eyes at the ones that have it so hard right now.  It saddens me because as a lot of us are complaining on how hard times are, we don't even realize we are part of the problem.

There, I said it.  We create our own hell.  I hear people use the term "hell on earth" and it confuses me.  If that is where you think you are; truth is, it is of your own doing.  In Genesis 1:1 it says God created the heavens and the earth.  If you continue to read on you will see that He saw all His creations as good. That means earth as well.  Our sins create the hell we live in.  But, instead of turning away from our sins and choosing to be a part of the solution; we chose to stay a part of the problem.  We don't turn to God seeking answers; we turn to each other seeking someone to blame.  I see the down-and-out blaming their lack of jobs or money on the ones that seem to have jobs and money.  On the other hand, I hear the ones with jobs blaming the taxes they pay on the down-and-out.

So, let's be honest: to the ones that are jobless; it's not the employed that's to blame for your lack of a paycheck.  Maybe it's because you didn't further your education or you can't pass a drug screening or maybe you run from the jobs that have been offered to you because you realized that you actually had to WORK to get paid.  Now, to the ones blessed with a job; it's not the unemployed that's to blame for the taxes you pay.  Sure, some of those funds go to help those who need it but, face it; your paying taxes no matter what the unemployment rate is.  It is also not up to you to judge them on why they are unemployed.  Maybe, they were laid off because of the current economic hardship we are under right now or the field they did go to school for is not in high demand at the moment or maybe they have been stricken with illness that has rendered them incapable of performing the only trade they've ever known.  Regardless, we can't know everyone's circumstances so, we should stop blaming each other for what we think is the truth.

Now, I am not naive.  I know there are plenty of dishonest people out there.  There is no short supply of liars and thieves.  They will be held accountable for their deeds the same as everyone else but not by me or by any of you.  You don't have to be a believer to be judged by God; no one will escape Him on judgement day.  So, I say let God do His job.  He does not need our help to do it.  

Don't think I'm being judgmental.  I have been through all walks of life first-hand.  I've been homeless and hungry all the way to homeowner and well fed.  I used to be the undefeated champion of the blame game from both sides.  God has truly convicted me of creating my own hell.  I now know that if we stop blaming each other for all the wrongs here on earth and just strive to help one another; hell will stay where it belongs and that is not here on earth.

So, instead of ending with scripture I feel He is calling me to end with this prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank You for all Your blessings today.  I pray that it was Your will that led me to write this today and not my own.  I ask that it finds it's way into the hearts of all that need it and that all Your children can begin to come together, to help and love each other; all to glorify Your holy name.  In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Who's Judging?

I never realized how non believers viewed christians until I became one.  It seemed that as soon as people found out I had faith there was an ambush of accountability for the actions of every christian they had ever come across that I was suppose to take responsibility for.  I heard countless stories about one christian or another who condemned them for their way of life.  How they were told constantly that every choice they've made in their life was wrong and that according to the Bible if they don't change they will go to hell. So, consequently, since I am now one of those "Bible-thumping hypocrites" I must think the same way and should explain why we think we are better than everyone else.  At first, I tried to defend my faith.  I tried to tell them that I wasn't a "Bible-thumping hypocrite" and that my faith does not give me the authority to condemn anyone to hell. I tried to show them that I didn't view the Bible as a do what I say or burn forever book but instead as loving instructions from the Heavenly Father to all His children. That approach didn't work very well. So, I prayed for them.  I prayed that they would open their hearts to God's love; to feel His presence and come to know the joy that only He can provide.  Then, God showed me that they were not the only ones who needed prayer.

We as christians need prayer, too.  Our responsibility is to show people God's love. To make them aware of His most amazing gift; His one and only son Jesus Christ.  Jesus taught us numerous times that our thoughts, words and deeds should have love as the motive; love for God, love for our neighbor.  Instead, as a whole body we have given the impression that it is love for ourselves that drives us.  No matter what non-believer I have come across their experiences with believers are very similar and have one theme.  They felt looked down upon by a representative of Christ.  Being called to the Lord does NOT remove our capability to sin nor does it change the fact that we are still sinners.  Being saved gives us the privilege to be forgiven as long as we sincerely strive to stop serving this world and serve only Him in everything we do.  So, if being saved doesn't make us perfect, why would we judge the sins of others when we still have plenty of our own?

Of course, just like any other parent, our Heavenly Father does have rules for us to follow.  They are in the Bible for us to learn and follow.  Like the rules we make for our own children; they are for our own good.  He loves us and wants to keep us safe.  Safe from the enemy and safe from ourselves.  His intent was not for us to take His commandments and become the judge and jury of other people's transgressions.  We should build one another up, not tear each other down.  Let us love and support each other in Christ and show others that in God they will find that Amazing Grace that we are always singing about.  Show them that we are not perfect; just forgiven.

John 8:7 They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, "All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!"

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Keeping it Simple

I remember the first time I became saved, I did a life makeover.  I just started changing everything, my taste in music, movies, home decor, clothes; I even changed my personality.  I had this image of what a "good christian woman" was to look like and I tried hard to mold myself to fit that image.  For example, dress pants not jeans, hymns not rock, long hair not short... and so on. I got so caught up in looking like a christian that I forgot to BE a christian.
You see, instead of trusting God to change me, I tried to change myself.  Needless to say, the changes didn't stick.  It was to hard being something I wasn't.  Being someone besides me was exhausting!  So,when the real me kept surfacing, I viewed it as me failing to be good enough for God's grace and eventually turned from Him all together.  I never stopped believing; I just stopped showing it.
Ten years go by and no matter how much I tried to ignore it; I always felt Him  tugging on my heart to return.  Of course, God's will is always going to prevail no matter how much we try to resist.  I did turn back to God; I recommitted my life to Christ and opened my heart so He could live there again.  But, this time I did something different; I let God do the talking and I listened.  He doesn't need my help.  He will change, transform and enlighten my life when He wants to, not when I want Him to.  The first time I was too busy implementing my will that I forgot to listen to His.  This time I was saying, "Lord, do with me what You will."
Now, I'm not saying I haven't undergone major changes; I have.  I just can't take the credit for it.  I didn't change me, God did.  He showed me the sounds of the music I like was never the problem, it was the message it delivered.  So, He introduced me to christian rock.  He never cared if I wore jeans but, He showed me it was okay to dress up sometimes.  He showed me long hair or short, He just wants me to take care of the body He gave me while I have it.  My personality is exactly what He made it to be, He just wants me to use it to glorify Him and not myself.  Looking like a christian is looking in the world's mirror; being a christian is looking through God's.  His mirror isn't made up of glass or any other reflective material.  It's made with words.  The Bible shows us exactly how we should be.
So, what does a "good christian woman" look like? As long as I'm reading, applying, sharing and loving what The Word teaches, she looks like me.

Ephesians 2: 8-10 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can't take credit for this; it was a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

learning to represent

From night and day all the way to man, God created it all.  You can read that in the book of Genesis chapter one starting with verse one.  I'm not speaking for anyone else but when i first picked up the Bible and read that, I realized His power overwhelms me.  First it was with fear, then with an overabundance of love; His love.  I started to see Him in everything.  The trees, the clouds, the ground.  i even felt His presence in the wind as it hit my face.  I began to realize His love and power is in everything and it is everywhere.  So, even when i was at the lowest points of my life and felt absolutely alone; i was never alone. Not even for a second.  He has been waiting for me. 
When I was crying that no one loved or cared about me, He was there with His arms open saying "Pick me. I love you. I care for you. I will never leave you alone."    I wondered  Why didn't  i see all this before?  Why couldn't I hear Him?  Why would I ever want to be without that kind of unconditional love again? The answers are simple I didn't want to see or hear or except that He has all the answers.  I decided I didn't want to be blind or deaf or closed off to the wisdom of God.  So, of course, on my knees, with my eyes filled with tears and with a damaged,  broken soul being repaired and then filled with the Holy Spirit I asked God to forgive my sins and bring His Son, my Saviour, into my heart. He heard my prayer and has been with me ever since; even when I didn't deserve it. 
 He wasn't the only one who heard my plea.  The enemy heard and must of been seething with anger, cause he's been sending his reinforcements after me ever since.  That, oddly enough, i was expecting.  I was told in the beginning of my christian walk that if the devil isn't messing with you that means your not messing with him.  So, with every enemy attack, I deal with it and then smile and say, "What a threat I must be to you.  Guess I'm on the right path then."
 There was another attack that I didn't see coming....other Christians.  I also wasn't aware that I could be held accountable for their deeds (or lack there of if the case may be).  I thought i was only accountable for my own and in God's eyes I believe that's true. But, let's face it He is not the only one watching.  Non believers are looking at us and studying us whether we know it or not.  I'm not looking for a worldly acceptance but I should be representing God in such a way that makes others want to know Christ.  All Christians should represent the way God wants us to not the way we have twisted religion to want us to. 
So, I want to start this blog and continue posts, in the hopes that all of us Christians can learn from each other and help one another.  Because, regardless, of all of our religious differences; we ARE one family under our faith in Jesus Christ and should be representing Him in only one The Messiah.
To be continued.........