Friday, November 27, 2009

Standing Firm

Ephesians 6:13-18 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything to stand firm. Stand firm, therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which your will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one, and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God , with all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit; and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petitions for all the saints.


There comes a place in all our walks with God that we reach a spiritual impasse with people. We all realize that we are called to a difficult path, narrow and hard—but with the clear goal ahead of us—the heavenly Kingdom. But we travel a hard road; it is as I often say “a tough row to hoe.” Taking up our crosses daily to follow Jesus is difficult and demanding. In our country rarely are we as Christians the victims of persecution of any kind. But there are a few of us that do experience it. This becomes the challenge; to “love your neighbor” with out being a victim. When you have been the victim of mockery for your faith, put down for being “narrow minded” and publicly belittled, what do you do? When you truly have done all to stand, what do you do?

First: you truly forgive—as an act of your will—with this in mind; the person attacking you is not in control of themselves, they are run by the enemy. In 2 Corinthians 4:4 is written “…the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving…” So what you are being attacked by is the enemy running the person. Remember what Jesus said “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do”, these pitiful persons truly do not know what they are doing.

Second: Don’t take matters into your own hands! Trust God. Just be firm and offer a service if you can to your enemy as written in Romans 12:14 “Bless those who persecute you; bless and curse not.” Try to understand what their point of view is, and in that way you might be able to win them to your side, or at least, reach some common ground.

Finally, when attacked for your beliefs—you stand. You learn your apologetics, and you proclaim the truth of the Gospel. But understand before this you “…pray at all times…” and be ready! At this point you have to remember that “greater is he that is in me than he that is in the world.” When you have done everything and you stand firm in your faith using the Word of God, proclaiming the gospel, you leave the results up to God.

Now in my life; God has up to now brought me successfully through points one and two—He has given me victory in situations without my actually having to “proclaim the gospel” part. Just my actions were enough. All that is going to change soon; I don’t know when, but in God’s timing. I will prepare—fast and pray—but I have reached the point where I MUST stand firm and proclaim the Word of God, for it is the most loving, obedient, and merciful thing for me to do. But in doing this my heart must be true to God, not to wash my hands of the situation in a “well, that’s over with, I gave it my best shot” and feel justified; but humbly seek God’s will in this—to truly love this person as God does—and wants them to receive the truth, and repent. This dose not involve “warm fuzzy” feelings—quite the opposite—this is serving God.

“And pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel.” [Amen] Ephesians 6:19

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Simplicity

“Tis a gift to be simple, tis a gift to be free…”


At my break last night I had another co-worker come to me and say, “Lisa, my hands hurt, could you give me a massage?” As I worked the knots out of her hand, another woman said “Lisa, do my hand too”…so after work, I sat in the cafeteria and massaged her arms and wrists and hands. I asked her if she could cut down on the overtime to lessen her pain. She told me her husband is not able to work right now, so she had to work the over time to make the house payments. I asked, “Is it a big house?” Her response was “Oh yes!” I said “well then, get a smaller house.” She looked at me with confusion, that I would even suggest that.

I work with a lot of immigrants, and I see how quickly they internalize the idea of the “American Dream”. As our fore-fathers longed for and created a great land of freedom with the vision that one could escape the oppression of kings and serfdom to have a life of freedom and a little land, worship God and live simply; with thankfulness to God for all he provides. But look how this has changed in America today. The definition of the “American Dream” means to make millions anyway you can, have an enviable house, drive a Lexus, have your kids wearing FUBU and Nike (or what ever the brand) and to not have those kids work…just let them receive what you give them. We are taught the greatness of having a super credit rating, that being in debt is a blessing, and we should work harder to have the best toys on the block.

I am surrounded by people who want the finer things in life…at the cost of their own health. They have made themselves slaves. If I ask any of my co-workers, “do you suffer from pain?” the answer will uniformly be “Yes”.

Now, understand that as I write this—even my arms are stiff, and the muscles are tight. But I know that by Monday my arms won’t hurt and I will be rested and ready for another week. I know that by the end of next week, my wrists will be sore…doing assembly line work is hard on the body; that simply is the nature of the job.

But when we make our lusts for “finer” things our goal in life, truly it will destroy us.

24"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. 25"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? 28"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. (Matthew 6:24-32)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Cheap Grace

Here is a link to an article from American Vision, by Eric Rauch. Read through it and I think you will get the point.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Shepherd or Farmer

John 10:11-15 “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. He who is a hireling, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, beholds the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them, and scatters them. He flees because he is a hireling, and is not concerned about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know My own, and My own know me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.”


Let’s talk about sheep for a minute. If you haven’t spent any time around farm animals let me explain a few things about sheep. Other than turkeys, sheep hands-down are one of the most stupid creatures in God’s creation. But one thing that they can be trained and habituated to do is to follow the voice of the shepherd.

A “old school” shepherd spends all his time with his charges—he names them, talks to them, and knows them as individuals; even tells them apart when anyone else would see no difference. And if anyone else tries to talk to or lead the sheep, the sheep will scatter in a panic. Only with the familiar voice of their shepherd will they calmly follow him in trust to the good places to graze. Sheep have a total trust and dependence on the shepherd. Those sheep know that safety and security, food and drink, comes through the protection and leading of their shepherd.

Sheep nowadays are put in fenced in pastures made of a wire fence called “box-wire”. But the farmers know that the fencing cannot have “squares” bigger than a sheep’s head—if a sheep can get his head through the squares in the fence, he will squeeze his whole body through and escape. Farmers are all about profit margins like everyone else; so they just number the animals—sheep are a commodity after all—and if a few are lost to predators you just write it off.


So my point here, if you see where I am going with this; ask yourself who is the “good shepherd”?


And who is the “farmer”?


Come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand. (Psalm 95:6-7)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Contentment

Today I spent some time thinking on the subject of contentment. In my own life, I seem to have come to a place in my walk with God where I find that I am in a place of great contentment. So I tried to figure out what has made such a difference. I am not saying I am some great example of the virtues, for I am not. I don’t hold some extraordinary powers of faith. Yes, God has brought me through some terrible trials, and I have seen the growth after the fact. In doing a “survey” of my life right now, I see so clearly that my needs are met…with out any doubt. I have a roof over my head, a very comfy bed, nice cloths, a full refrigerator, a paid for car, a good job, I’m doing well in school, I now have some really interesting friends…and no TV hookup! I am not enslaved by cable, and the hundreds of advertisements telling me of things I simply cannot live without—every 5 minutes. I am not bombarded with a miasma of commercials and sound bites subtly saying I simply cannot compete with the “Jones” with out the latest and greatest way to empty my wallet. I don’t worry about depression, I don’t worry about wearing the latest’s designer label clothes, or the right deodorant/perfume, nor worry that I can’t catch the “right” man; and no one is implying that there is anything wrong with curling up with a good book! (Yes, Amazon.com loves me!) My life is more fulfilling than I ever could have imagined—all without having Television.
Just so you know, I have now gone nearly two years cable free, and my personal library continues to grow, and I have never been more prolific as a painter. It is truly amazing how much you can accomplish with out extraneous “noise” in your life.

Why not join me?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

What's in a Name?

A question to think about is what’s in a name really? Human beings are famous for labeling one another. I mean just think how we classify one another everyday: over-achiever, under-achiever, blue-collar, white-collar, dreamer, type A personality, studious, go-getter…and I could go on...you get the idea.

But how does God label us?


Abraham’s offspring (Galatians 3:29)

A royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9)

Children of God (Romans 8:16)

Ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20)

All of these labels are magnificent and praise worthy. These should make us feel thankful to our Heavenly Father that he should love us so much that he would call us by these wonderful names.

Yet there is one label that we are not given but we must choose for ourselves:

Slave

“…You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them. But it is not so among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42-45)


So what name do you want?