Why The "Panicking Christian"?

Like most Christians, I occasionally find myself in a borderline, all out panic about something which I already knew, but seem to have forgotten or that I only knew in my head, as opposed to my heart. And mercifully, God decides to show me what is really going on or what it is that I needed to know, before I completely lose my mind.

So the writing within is just that. It is that which God has shown and taught me while I was typically in one of those times in my life. Since the way in which He has chosen to reveal things to me tend to be fairly easy to follow and understand, I am sharing them via this format. That said, I take no glory for any of this. It is God whom has given me the ability to write, and it is He who has given me the content to write as well and He who saved me by His glorious grace in the first place.

Friday, April 21, 2017

And Your Challenger...

Day 1

This challenge involves social media (Facebook, twitter, etc).

Today, you will start praying through your entire friends list.  Some of us have quite lengthy lists, so this may take more than a day to get through but I encourage you to continue at it until you have gotten through it at least once.

Pray for each person to be blessed - mention each one by name. Other things include (but not lmited to): that they come to know God, that He reveals Himself in new ways, that they feel His love for them, etc. Do not pray against anyone and try not to be overly specific with situations - leave God lots of play room/ don't try and limit Him.  If you come to someone whom you feel you have something in your heart against, pray to release them and forgive them.  Don't rush this - if you feel you are starting to rush along, stop and come back later.

This may seem kind of simple but you might be the only person who will be praying for <whomever> today, or ever, for that matter, so it is a bigger deal than you realize.  Also, You may think  that those in "vocational ministry" positions (pastors, etc) on your list have lots of people praying for them but that is not necessarily true either.

Day 2

One cannot underestimate just how much power there is in an unexpected encouraging word or kind action.   There have been lives changed, and even saved, due to the words or actions of someone unexpected or a stranger.  Today, you are going change lives.

As you go throughout your day, make an intentional effort to speak a word of encouragement or kindness to someone and I want you to do it for someone that you either do not know (at all, or well) or towards someone you feel does not deserve it.  Do not falsely flatter someone, just say something honestly nice.  You may also do something nice for someone. Something as simple as holding door open can sometimes make a huge difference. In addition to just "being nice", I want you to either add a "God bless you" or "God loves you" - because He does, and you are doing this as an extension of that as opposed to just feeling like being nice today (you are associating your words and actions with God's love as opposed to good manners, etc).  You do not, however, take it any further than that - there are no strings attached, after all.  God loves everyone - today, show people love; encourage them, say or do something that lifts them up and makes their day a bit brighter.

Some suggestions for people, if your stuck:  cashiers, sanitation/janitorial workers, transportation workers, and, in your church, elders/deacons - all people who tend to not get shown much appreciation for what they do.  And do not stress out about mentioning God - a simple God bless you will suffice - baby steps, after all.

PS:  I also want you to make a point of doing this for someone very close to you as well - sometimes we can take people in our lives for granted.

Day 3

Someone you know - immediate / close family or friend - has something wrong. It might be something small, like a headache or it could be something bigger. Should they mention this thing when you are together (physically) sometime over the next 24 hours, I want you to ask if you can pray for them. If they know you, they will likely say "sure" and expect you to maybe remember to pray at some point for them. But I am not asking you to do that. I am asking for you to ask them if you can pray right then for them and, should they agree, I want you to reach out, and pray for them, then and there.

Maybe you step out and do it and the headache (for example) stays. At least they know you actually prayed for them, since they were there for it. Then again, maybe it goes away ... that changes things a bit, for both of you.

The Final Challenge

Here is your final challenge:  keep doing these.

None of these things - praying for people both in private and in person, encouraging people and sharing God's love, forgiving people and seeking His leading - are odd or over the top - they are all normal, practical Christianity.  Unfortunately, we sometimes can find ourselves lulled in complacency and start believing that if we go to church now and then, or a Bible study or even post "inspirational" pics on social media that somehow we are living our faith.  That is not quite true.  Our God is active and alive, therefore, our faith should be as well.

So yes, keep doing these things as often as you can - even if you do have to stick to doing them on day 1, day 2, etc, the important thing is that you start, and continue, to do these things.

May God bless each and every one of you and give you wisdom, insight and boldness as you do each (or any) of these challenges that have been set before you this day.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Matter of Life and Death

Faith in Christ does not make you sinless or "sin-free". The Bible tells us that anyone who thinks they are without sin is not only fooling themselves but is making God out to be liar (1 John 1:1-10) - strong words.  It is not sin we are free from but rather the power of sin, which is death, that we are freed (not will "eventually" be free) from (Romans 8:2).  But we still all die right?  Physically, yes, we do all die regardless of what we believe, but that is not the death we speak of.

Let us contrast this "death" with the eternal life we have through Christ.

What is eternal life?  It is not that we will live forever, for all of us - believers or not - are, in a very real sense, immortal.  That part which makes us "us" - our soul - does not die when our physical forms fade away and decay; this  part of our being lives on. So eternal life cannot refer to immortality.  Jesus Himself defined this in John 17:3: "Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent."  So eternal life actually refers to knowing - and being known by - God.  Something we have in the here and now through Christ, for "the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus" (Romans 6:23).

Romans 5 tells us that sin brought death into the world and the prophet Isaiah says that sin has cut us off - separated us - from God (Isaiah 59:2).  So we see that  the power of sin is in stark contrast to eternal life, for sin has the power to keep us apart from God.  But this is not in the sins we commit, for it is not the act of sinning which makes us sinners, it is the fact that we are all born as sinners which makes us sin.  If the reverse were true, then every stray thought or bit of frustration would plunge us back into darkness, but this is not what happens for God is faithful to us even when are less than faithful to Him (2 Tim.2:13) which, if you are anything like me, is really good news.

So, if you are a believer - that is, you have made the conscious decision to follow Jesus - know this:  you are free.  Sin no longer has the power to keep you and God apart, for God Himself took that power away from it on the cross and nothing - not angels or demons or anything else - can separate us from God (Romans 8:38-39).

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

*DING* You Have Mail

From:  God@eternalthrone.div
RE:      your life

Heya,

Now that you're into a new year, I had a few things on my mind that I wanted you to know so I thought I would try out this digital communication thing so many of you down there are using lately and drop you a quick note.  So, here goes.

Don't be concerned about yourself.

There is no sense in you worrying about anything because it doesn't do you any good.   And don't go complaining about what you don't have either.  I'll take care of everything.  Things you need and even a fair few of your wants I will gladly provide in due time every time. I don't mean you should run out and tell your boss off in the morning but stop getting all panicky about stuff, especially things well out of your own control.  I got this, k.

Stop trying to be good enough.

I gave you my own righteousness, how in blazes do you figure you're gonna improve on that exactly?  What, you figure by you forcing yourself via your own will power to not check out that girl that just walked by somehow means you're earned what I have given you? Really?  Everything you have - everything - I have given you. You not only have not earned it but you can't earn it - that is kind of the point of it being a gift from me to you.  Although, that is not quite the same as when I ask you to do something small to get you ready for something bigger. You still didn't earn it initially but seeing it through does prepare you for the next item I send your way - so don't get those things confused.

Actually try loving each other.

I showed you mercy, grace and compassion - all of which you did not deserve nor, do you actually deserve it now.  So perhaps you could tell me why you feel you do not have to show that to other people, especially other siblings of yours in the Body?  You know, I am certain I did not put conditions on that whole "love one another" thing like you only have to love people from churches you like or who dress a certain way or who only work in jobs you personally approve of.  So maybe you should stop picking and choosing who you are going to show love to and just show it every chance you get.  And no, judging people is not loving.  Like, do you really want me to judge you?  Trust me when I say this:  the answer is no.  I know you wayyy better than you know yourself after all, including all those little things you think no one else knows about.  And don't just stop with loving other Christians either - love everyone.  I do.  I made every single one of them in my own image, trust me, I love them all.  So stop acting like judge, jury and executioner and start showing some real mercy and compassion.

In short:  LIVE.

Live this life I have called you to.  Don't let yourself become self centered - focus on me first then everyone else.  I'll take care of you.

Oh, one last thing:  Don't confuse the instruction above with me being mad at you - I certainly am not mad.  I love you.  I love every part of you and I always will.  I will always be in your corner, cheering you on and holding you tight when you get overwhelmed.  I will never, ever leave you - after all, your are my beautiful, wonderful, perfect child, how could I ever bear us being apart.

Love always,

Dad

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Simply Said...

Since we tend to make things more complicated than necessary...

1.  Love God.
2.  Love others.

"Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” ~ Matt. 22:37

"The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law." Rom. 13:9-10

No check list involved or required, for a "checklist" only serves to gives one a false sense of personal righteousness - making one smug, cocky or judgmental - for "..all our righteous acts are like filthy rags" ~ Isaiah 64:6

Thanks be to God it is not our righteousness we wear:  "not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith" ~ Phil 3:9 and "This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe" ~ Rom 3:22

Therefore there is no room for feeling superior or better than another "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast" ~ Eph 2:8-9

Any questions?

Good.  Now let's go live it shall we.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Eye of the Hurricane

Some of this post is from posts I put up on my social media (Facebook) page, some of it is not.
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Whether consciously or not, we all set something as our center in "our world" but if we set something in that place that is temporary - whether person or thing - then there is a chance that someday we find ourselves lost and adrift and without purpose for living at all should that center be gone.

If your reason for being is your significant other, what happens if that relationship ends? If the center of your world revolves around your children, what happens if things are not going well, or they leave or something much more tragic happens? If your career is the center of your universe, what happens if that is taken away from you or it just ends?

I am not saying these things cannot be very, very significant parts of your world but to make them the center of it, and your reason for existing, when any or all of them could leave your life without warning may be worth rethinking a bit.

For me, God is my center. He is eternal so no worries on Him coming to an untimely end. And, even in times when I was not exactly "faithful" in this relationship of ours, He was - He stayed with me even though I did not deserve it, so He is not about to go anywhere anytime soon.

I am not saying you have to have God as your center - that is something between you two - but, since we all need to have 'something' in there, in that place, then does it not make sense to have that be something greater - and far less finite - than ourselves.

Now then, as believers we know God is to be our center and reason for being and we may even say He is, but is He? Is He really everything to us or is something (or someone) else the center of our world and He is merely a part of it?  If that relationship ends or our children leave us or our career disappears or that ministry falls apart, are we left grieving, yet still standing, or do we find ourselves so devastated that, if He were not holding onto us, we would sink beneath the waves never to resurface again? 

Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength.

All your life, people have "made sure" you knew how worthless you were. Those closest to you have treated you like little more than trash and made sure you knew how much of a disappointment you were. They have done so, so often, and for so long you "know" this to be the truth about you.

God says you are worth more than all the gold in Fort Knox - that you are wonderful, beautiful and amazing - very, very much the opposite of what those people closest to your heart say.

To love Him - above and beyond all others- is to take His word over theirs. His opinion over their opinion, no matter how often they try and tell or show you differently, taking what He says to be the truth in spite them or even your own heart.

Does this hold true for others in your world or is it indeed only God's view which actually matters?  If your parents or spouse occasionally say or do things which make you feel worthless, do you take that in as truth or do you let it slide because you take God's word over theirs? If your children treat you poorly or say things which make you feel like a failure or of no value, do you take that in and make that a reality in your heart and mind or do you simply grieve the comments but rest in the reality of what God says you truly are?

These are things well worth pondering and being totally, truly honest about with yourself and with God - maybe for the first time ever.

Monday, May 30, 2016

How Sweet the Sound

Grace.  Amazing grace.  We hear the word so often but do we understand the scope of those 5 tiny letters?

No matter:

How many people I feed
How good I am (or think I am)
How many habits I give up
How often I go to  church
How many ministries I am involved in
How many times I talk about Him
How much I write about Him
How many people I love

I cannot earn one single drop of His love.
I cannot make Him love me more than He does right now.

No matter:

How many times I skip church
How many habits I refuse to let go of
How many excuses I make
How many opportunities I let slip away
How badly I screw it up - repeatedly

I cannot make Him hate me.
I cannot make Him throw me away like yesterday's trash.
I cannot make Him love me less than He does right now.

This is grace.

I come to Him with nothing and He gives me everything.
I do "great", He gives me everything.
I do 'far, far less than great", He gives me everything.
I deserve wrath and judgment.
He gives me mercy and life.

Grace.

He was not kidding when He told the Apostle, "My grace is enough for you" (2 Cor. 12:9)

If you turn to Him, no matter how good or how bad you think you are, grace is what you will get.
And His grace shall carry you always, for the rest of your days.

Amazing grace.

Monday, May 16, 2016

You put your left foot in, you take your left foot out...

"Come Holy Spirit"
"Holy Spirit, You are welcome here"
"We invite Your presence"
"Come Lord"

There is a good chance you have either heard, or said, those phrases during a church or worship service at some point.  You may even pray them on a regular basis.  Also, there is a good chance that in both situations, you repeat them over and over again repeatedly.

While this is the "face of the modern worship" service, there might be a some items worth the noting.

"And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words."  ~ Matthew 6:7

(We also see this verse "played out" in 1 Kings 18 with Elijah on Mount Carmel)

No where within the New Testament do we see this (sometimes bordering on extreme) repetition, other than being mentioned in the above as something to not do.  Granted, the Matthew verse references prayer and the priests in 1 Kings are "praying" but are not those phrases we began with more akin to prayers than to worship?

Do me a favor and put down the stones for a few minutes anyway, ok?

Why do we "do" worship like this?  Is it not because for someone - maybe you - God made His presence "known" (remember that word) during a service or prayer time that included those elements?  So, obviously, we assume that if it worked once it will work again.  Now stop for a moment and consider the absolute insanity of that line of thinking.  That we - people - have somehow discovered the "magical / mystical" pattern to "make" God show up.  My use of those terms for the pattern is no accident as doing so borders far closer to witchcraft spell casting than worship.  That might rile you a bit but take a look at the worship we see elsewhere in the Bible, say in Isaiah 6:3 or Revelation 4:8 for example.  Now compare that to the more "modern" repeating of set patterns in order to obtain the reaction that "we want" and you will see that the modern approach looks a bit more like what happened on Mt. Carmel than what we see being done in His presence in heaven.

There is another slight issue with our opening phrases.  Simply put, where is God?  Where "is" the Holy Spirit?  I mean, we sing / pray for Him to come or that He is welcome to show up or whatever so, obviously, He must not be there.  Which, again, is insanity at its' finest.  Last time I checked, God was omnipresent - that means He is already there, whether you "feel" Him or not.  And even if He were not, He hardly needs your permission to show up nor your personal invite.  And just because you extend your personal invitation, does not mean He has to do anything - He's God, He can do what He wants.

Now then, I realize that there is some pretty touchy stuff here but I want you to know I am not - by any means - bashing worship or worship services or how you pray, etc.  I do however, want you to consider the "why" of what you do.  For if you organize worship music, for example, in such a way as to try and make God show up and do stuff that you want Him to do, then you are - in essence - doing the exact same thing those priests of Ba'al did in 1 Kings.  You may try and justify that by saying you are talking to God not whoever they were looking for, but you are doing the same variety of action with the same variety of motive - to get something.

Just something you might want to ponder a bit.

*EDIT*

I have had things I have penned before taken out of context to support or condemn <whatever>.  While I do try and be thorough, obviously I cannot control what someone else uses this (or other posts) to say.  That said though, I want to reiterate that I am not condemning any modern worship service style or format any more than I would condemn a worshipper of my God.