Tag Archives: God

The Smell Of Smoke

Have you ever sat by a campfire and found, that even hours later, the smell of smoke had permeated your clothes?  It lingers, it clings and others can smell it too.

Often, as I live in a world that reminds me of Sodom and Gomorrah, I’m aware that the smell of the culture has clung to me, that I’ve sat by their campfires too long.

I know, having experienced it, that by simply walking by a campfire the smoke of it easily and quickly permeates your clothing and the smell goes with you.  Some of that is unavoidable as we live in a world walking away from God, but it’s not the aroma I want others to smell in my life.

Paul writes of another aroma, another smell that permeates a Christian, that’s what I long to smell like,

 “But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing,  to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.” 2 Corinthians 2 

I live in a world that smells of smoke, the smoke of rebellion against God, but in the midst of that aroma God has given us a new fragrance, the smell of Christ, the aroma of life.

Lord, help me to live in the world, but not smell like it.  Let me smell like you, having walked by the fires of your Spirit burning in the lives of others, and may that aroma linger with me, the smell of Christ, and might it be a sweet aroma that draws men to you.

 

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

The Most High God

“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;

    wisdom and power are his.

He changes times and seasons;

    he deposes kings and raises up others.

He gives wisdom to the wise

    and knowledge to the discerning.

He reveals deep and hidden things;

    he knows what lies in darkness,

    and light dwells with him.”

Daniel 2

Believe it or not there is a King in heaven in charge of everything.  He rules the kingdoms of this earth.  He raises up one leader and removes another.  HE is in charge, he rules the Universe…every molecule of it.

HE is King.

Then why are we afraid?  Why are we fighting over this politician or that one?  None of them can help us.  None of them can fix our problems.  They are just men placed there by God.

Why are we so angry, so afraid?  Why all the frustration, the name calling?

Is there a God in heaven or not?

If there is a God who rules then trust him.

If there isn’t then you aren’t fearful enough!

I’m saddened by what I see in the Christian world as “Christians” verbalize their fears in the public forums as if a man will be our solution.  Why do we trust in man?  Even David wrote of the foolishness of trusting in the strength of men.

Like Daniel, I’m so glad there is a sovereign and he does not rule from Washington or any other city.  He rules from heaven!

One of the worst kings of all time said this about that God, words that came after God humbled him,

King Nebuchadnezzar,

To the nations and peoples of every language, who live in all the earth:

May you prosper greatly!

It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed for me.

How great are his signs,
how mighty his wonders!
His kingdom is an eternal kingdom;
his dominion endures from generation to generation.

“The Most High God”

There is a ruler over the affairs of man.

Oh that we would trust him and rest in his care.

He is in charge of everything, even who rules this little nation of ours.

 

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

Are You “Walking on Eggshells” in Your Marriage?

I remember the first time a friend took advantage of me. We were sitting in the theater, around age nine, and I had a box of Junior Mints. Because of the noise involved in opening and dumping the candy out, I had most of the box contents poured out onto my palm. As I sat there, I realized my friend might want one. She didn’t bring any money to the show, so I whispered, “Hey, do you want some?” I held my hand out, piled high with the little brown orbs of peppermint yumminess.

I thought she’d take a few and be thankful. She proceeded to scoop them off of my hand and into both of hers.

I was surprised. Shocked. Confused. Angry. I couldn’t believe she had done that. I wanted to say, “HEY. I meant a few of them! What’s wrong with you?” But I said nothing, because I was afraid I would upset her. And I didn’t have any experience with exercising my voice – I thought the only option I had was voicing my anger, which seemed mean, so I kept my mouth shut.

I didn’t realize at the time that I neither had a boundary of what she could take from me, nor had I communicated it to her. I was also missing a healthy way of dealing with her behavior.

I spent the rest of the movie feeling sad about my three leftover pieces in the box, and lied to myself that it was all fine. I knew something was wrong, but didn’t know what.

I know now what my negative feelings were that day – they were caused by a combination of being taken advantage of by another, and failing to speak the truth.

Feeling taken advantage of hurts because of two reasons:

  1. The person who is treating us poorly is failing to love well in that moment, and
  2. We betray ourselves by failing to communicate our injury

The residue of inaction damages our self-esteem. It’s important that we deal with these little situations as they occur – but do so in a way that doesn’t trample on the esteem of another person.

Many wives often feel as though they are taken advantage of by their husbands. They feel as though they are carrying the weight of the housework, the relationships, the kids’ activities, etc. They also may be working part-time or full-time and are physically exhausted. What’s interesting is that many men also feel the same way – burdened by providing for their families, responsible for the more strenuous and physical home care items, and then expected to participate in relationships at a level that often frustrates and confuses them. All too often, conflict ensues between husband and wife, voices raise, and unhealthy and even damaging behaviors start spilling out onto the family landscape as a result of stress and lack of self-control.

What we don’t easily acknowledge is that far too often, the behaviors of either spouse can fall into the categories of verbal or emotional abuse – even if neither spouse intends to do the other harm. Repeats of these behaviors often cause the damage that occurs in abusive relationships – regardless of the intent of either spouse.

There’s a trend in our culture to label everything – and to espouse answers from positions of the extremes.  If you are in a marriage where you have some of the signs but know your spouse doesn’t intend to hurt or dominate you, some healthy changes and awareness can help a lot.  I’m going to suggest today that we fear GOD, instead of fearing our spouse. It is the beginning of wisdom, and it is Biblical. We know He hates divorce, so we should keep that in mind as we deal with these issues. Check the following “signs” below – if you have those in addition to fear, if there is a sense of “walking on eggshells” in your relationship, keep reading to learn how you can help your marriage heal.

Sign #1 –

If you have emotional control, you go to her and say something like, “I know you love me, and I know you didn’t mean to, but when you did ‘A’ it made me feel ‘B’ and I’m really struggling with what to do about that,” and she responds by discounting your feelings, arguing with you, defending what she did, minimizing or mocking you.  If she turns the discussion into how you’ve hurt her and suddenly you’re the one apologizing, and this is how it goes most of the time when you bring up an issue, then guess what? You have some REALLY unhealthy stuff going on – things that can damage a person’s soul, things that are labeled in the culture as “abusive.”

Sign #2 –

If you are excited about something good that happens to you, or you have an interest that feeds your soul and you are met with degrading, mocking, put downs, name-calling, or other remarks that make the clear point that there’s something wrong with you, what you like, or the success that you achieved – this is also unhealthy and harming to a person. Ideally, BOTH spouses should be enthusiastic and supportive of the other – regardless of how different or similar to the other they are.

Sign #3 –

When you are sad, sick, discouraged, etc., and you are demeaned or dismissed instead of being helped or treated kindly.  When your spouse behaves in an unkind way toward you regardless of how you are feeling – the absence of kindness (If anyone knows the good he should do and does not do it, sins.  James 4:17) or the presence of general unkindness is also damaging.

Much information exists in the realm of psychology about how these behaviors (and many more) damage the esteem of another. Tons of research and writing has been done on outcomes of abuse and what happens to victims. So we know what damage occurs, and we know how to help both the abuser and the victim – BUT – there’s a problem with the “labeling” of either.

 The culture we live in recognizes “abusers” as people of heinous motives. The signs above assume he or she is trying to control, trying to coerce, trying to manipulate.

I don’t believe the majority of Christian “abusers” are doing these things with the intention to harm their spouses.

This would never fly in a marriage, but how often have you seen men work out their issues with each other by physically going after each other in basketball, etc.? I don’t get it, but it’s a thing. They don’t naturally do conflict the way we do. I’m not excusing their behavior in marriage, nor am I intending to discount abuse victims (I’ve been one, just so you know. This post barely skims the surface of the bullying of my school years, nor does it cover the rape…) but I’m asking us to be wise enough, afraid of God enough, to see the whole picture, not just see what things look like from only our own perspectives. To not label, which is a form of judgment. I think this is also mature, healthy behavior.

Esteem IS destroyed – as is the case in the traditionally labeled “abuse” case – and the behavior may be classified as “abusive” BUT – the motives of the abuser aren’t evil, and too often, the “victim” (and I’m using quotes out of respect for those women (and men) who truly are victims, ones who are being beaten on a daily basis and those women who are raped in their homes, etc.) the “victim” in these other situations is actually contributing to the high levels of conflict and abusive behavior by responding in kind, AND by lacking healthy boundaries.

In other words, if we will learn how to stop responding abusively back and consider that “silence” and “lack of affection” – natural responses to being screamed at – are also listed as abusive behaviors, and set healthy boundaries for ourselves, not as a parental and punitive response to our spouses, if we’ll do those things, we can change our marriages. I know this to be true.

Want more proof?

I personally know women who have been in these situations, some which classify as legitimate abuse, including some with husbands whose motives were even questionable – and they’ve overcome these situations and God has healed them and their marriages!

The other thing we need to remember is that Shaunti Feldhahn’s research in The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages shows that “thinking the best” and “giving the benefit of the doubt” are MAJORLY important.

So know this: if you label your spouse as an “abuser” and yourself as the “victim” you are adding an element of toxicity to your marriage that will infect it like a plague. Seriously. There are a number of ministries and authors who work to help women (and men) who recognize that their spouse is treating them in abusive ways – here’s the problem – I’ve talked to many of these authors and some of the ministry folks… and their success rate for restoring the marriages is very low. Less than 5% of the marriages are healed. Most end in divorce.

What we are suggesting instead, is an approach that combines Biblical truth of not accepting abusive behavior, protecting yourself and your kids, but also heals your marriage. It is not easy, but neither is the path walked by ascribing intent to your spouse and labeling him an abuser, which often results in divorce.

The choices become fairly clear when we look at things this way.  We can:

  1. Judge our spouse’s intentions and label him/her an “abuser” and ourselves as a “victim” – which most of the time leads toward divorce
  2. Choose to label both of us as “sinners” then do the hard work of establishing healthy boundaries, while still loving and respecting our spouse
  3. Actively pursue healing for ourselves if we have been on the receiving end of unhealthy and damaging behaviors

I’m suggesting #’s 2 and 3.

Most of the men I talk to who have hurt their wives have done so unintentionally, however, if your spouse DOES intend to hurt you, control you, destroy you, then you are dealing with something completely different and you require the help of a licensed psychologist, preferably a Christian. Even with that, some of the second and especially the third options above will still help a lot.

What I’m saying is there’s actually something we can DO about unhealthy behaviors – including the ones from others that result in a destruction of our esteem.

Interactions with our spouse may leave you feeling worthless, suicidal, damaged – BUT he or she may or may not be intentionally “abusing you.” If your spouse claims to be a Christian, Matthew 18 is there to help – although most people will not do the hard work of walking through it, or do so with someone who is ill-equipped to help.

What solves these problems in marriage is both spouses establishing healthy boundaries, while treating themselves and their husband or wife with love and respect. When both of you get on the same side of the fence to protect the marriage, you can work in the same direction. Labeling your spouse an “abuser,” even if his or her behaviors fit in that category, do not help the marriage. Dealing with your own mental health to heal from these behaviors by joining Al-Anon, Celebrate Recovery, or our Strength & Dignity eCourse (for women) will help you find healing.

I started our free Strength & Dignity eCourse to deal with these issues in a meaningful and life-changing way.  I see too many families being destroyed by good people who mean well who are missing some healthy alternatives to interaction AND are being coached in all the defensive ways to deal with being “abused” or “get control” of their families.  These tactics “work” by getting the women to safety, BUT – the marriage is destroyed. I want better options than that for us all.

May we all love and respect better today.

Nina Roesner is the author of The Respect Dare: 40 Days to a deeper connection with God & your husband (Thomas Nelson, 2012), and leads the free Strength & Dignity eCourse for wives who are suffering in verbally and emotionally difficult marriages. You can read more of her work at www.NinaRoesner.com .

The Key To Everything

Christ is the key that unlocks the mystery of history.

Poetic, isn’t it? The quote above, in part, is from a German theologian.  After writing more than 17,000 pages on the Bible and Christ these are his concluding thoughts.

The key to everything is Jesus Christ.  If you leave him out the box remains locked, the mystery still a mystery, the reason for our existence still uncertain.

Jesus himself told the religious leaders, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me;” That’s either the most arrogant thing ever said or the most profound truth ever revealed.

Your response to Christ is the most important decision you will ever make.

Years ago I spent some time with the great Major Ian Thomas.  He was a wonderful man of God, crusty to be sure, but he loved the Lord.  Once, before he spoke, I made the mistake of asking him, “What are you going to talk about tonight?”

He replied, with a bit of irritation, “I’m going to talk about Jesus, what else is there to talk about?”

And he’s right.

In the last book of the bible these words begin the text, “The revelation of Jesus Christ.”  In five words we get a hint to the theme of this last book, to the entire bible, and in this book revelations about Jesus are in nearly every chapter.  It’s about him.  He’s the key to everything!

Without Christ, without knowing him, life remains a mystery. Without him we have no purpose, no meaning, no reason for being.

Jesus Christ is the key to everything. Do you know him?

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

What Will We Do?

Panic.

You’ve felt it, haven’t you?

That sudden sense that everything is out of control…

…that the world and the problems you face are overwhelming, too big, too much!

You may have actually said it at one time, “What will I do?!”

It was a question one man asked one morning when he realized what had happened in the night.  Here is the short story from 2 Kings 6,

15 When the servant of the man of God got up early the next morning and went outside, there were troops, horses, and chariots everywhere. “Oh, sir, what will we do now?” the young man cried to Elisha.

16 “Don’t be afraid!” Elisha told him. “For there are more on our side than on theirs!” 17 Then Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes and let him see!” The Lord opened the young man’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire.

When all we see is what we know we miss what God is doing around us.

This servant was in a complete panic because of what he saw, but

Elisha was sipping his coffee quite calmly.

He saw something completely different.

He saw what God was doing.

When panic comes, when fears rise, when the situations you see are overwhelming don’t forget that what you see is not all there is.

Unseen is a sovereign God guiding, protecting, watching.

And around us are heavens armies watching over his people.

As God said to the prophet Isaiah he says to us,

“Do not be afraid, for I am with you.”

 

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

And Others….

Faith is an essential part of the Christian life.  We came to God by faith, we live by faith, all we have is the result of faith.

Faith in God is at the very heart of the Christian experience.

There is a chapter in the bible that speaks exclusively of men and women who lived by faith, trusted God, made choices, built boats…all by faith.  They believed God, acted and saw the results of their faith in their lives.

But others (and this is where we struggle with the passage) lived by faith and died, lost everything, struggled, were tortured and seemed to fail.

We have a problem with that because we have adopted the belief that if we have faith good things will happen, prosperity will come, prayers will be answered, mountains will move.

But not for everyone, not all the time.

Some will live by faith and have nothing,

be hungry,

struggle to live at all

and others will lose their lives.

All these things will happen in the lives of people of faith!

How can this be?

Doesn’t faith do things?

Doesn’t it have good results?

Here are the words from this chapter on faith that we try to ignore,

“There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment.  They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated—  the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground. These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised,”

These were men and women of faith and it appears their faith “didn’t work!”  But faith is not a gum ball machine…put in your coin and get your prize…it’s trust in God with no idea of what will happen next.

It’s living with eyes on God regardless of the outcome.

Faith is trust in God.  It’s not a magic lamp I can use for my desires, but it’s a decision to trust in the God who loves me no matter what happens!

So what if I’m one of the “others”, those who don’t see their faith “work?”  What if I trust God and lose everything?  I still win!  I’m trusting God, even if I have nothing at all, even if I’m tortured, even if I lose my life…I still win and my faith in God will take me into eternity!

 

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

The Terrible Sin

We are becoming a world with its fist in the air to God.

The anger, resentment, rebellion of our world is growing.  We see it in the wars, the riots of our cities, the parade to demonstrate this or that.

All around us our world is coming apart at the seams.  At the core of it all is one terrible sin.  It’s the #1 sin, the worst sin.  Although all sin (a word we rarely use anymore) has the same outcome there is one that is the cause of all others.  The one sin that is #1 on the list and is the cause of most of what we see in the world is pride.

Pride was the cause of satan’s rebellion.  It was at the heart of Adam’s sin.  It’s the driving force for much of what gets me in trouble.

It’s my #1 problem!  Pride makes me jealous of someone else’s success, envious of what another has, resentful of what another does. At the heart of it all is pride.

Pride’s symbol is “I”.  I am the master of my fate, I make my own decisions, it’s my right to do this, go there, believe that.  Pride is me trying to be god.

But it doesn’t work….because all around me are other proud little creatures trying to be god as well…and so we fight, squabble, kill, steal and a hundred other things to validate what pride has made me believe about myself.

The number #1 sin?  Pride.  It’s the first sin and my biggest enemy.

 

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

Forgive Myself?

“You just have to forgive yourself”, my friend told me. I grievously sinned against God and another believer. My heart broke and no matter how much I asked God to forgive me I did not feel forgiven. But forgiving myself? Somehow that did not sit right in my spirit. However, I would repeat the phase to others when they felt the lack of forgiveness.

– “You just have to forgive yourself”

– “What does this mean? Is it biblical?”

Through prayer and study the Lord revealed to me why my spirit was unsettled about the statement,

– “You must forgive yourself”

As a believer I know that sin is inevitable.   Even the Apostle Paul confessed his struggle.

“For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing” Romans 7:19

What did the apostle Paul do when he encountered his own sin?

What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Romans 7:24-25

– He acknowledged his sin.

– He acknowledged the need to be rescued from it.

– He thanked God for Jesus’ deliverance.

– He did not forgive himself.

As I continued to study I heard these questions echo in my head.

– “Did you hang on the cross?”

– “Was the sin of the world put on you?”

– “Did you endure excruciating pain?”

– “Are you God?”

Tears filled my eyes as I exclaimed

– “NO! NO! NO! NO!”

– “You did it Lord, You were the one.”

I remembered the following verse.

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness;” 1 Peter 2:24

“For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people.” 1 Timothy 2:5-6

“Why do I still feel bad after knowing that I am forgiven? I know that I stand righteous before God because I am in Christ, so why am I hurting?” Fifteen years later I got my answer during a sermon from Reverend Ken Lawrence of First Baptist Church in Hampton Falls.   I am ashamed to say I do not remember the sermon topic but I remember him saying, “Sin leaves a wound and that wound needs to heal.”

“That’s it! I have a spiritual wound that needs time to heal.”

I sat in the pew carefully writing down exactly what the pastor said. I continued jotting down verses that came to mind.

Hebrews 4:12

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

The Word is a sword that goes deep; cutting out the sin that so easily entangles; leaving a Spiritual wound. The pain from the divine surgery lingers and we think that we are not forgiven.

We must allow our sin wound to heal. This takes time.

As the Word convicts and cuts, it also heals.

“I will cleanse them from all the guilt of their sin against me, and I will forgive all the guilt of their sin and rebellion against me.” Jeremiah 33:8

“My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.” Psalm 119:28

Why do people say, “You must forgive yourself?”   In my case it was ignorance.   Ignorance of what truly takes place in a person who has sinned against a most Holy God. I did not realize the pain I felt was the healing of a wound surgically removed by the word of God through conviction and repentance.   I have forgiveness. I stand righteous before God in Christ. Nothing can take that Truth away.

“For He chose us in Him (Christ) before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love, In Him (Christ) we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace” Ephesians 1:4,7

How will you react when someone says, “You just need to forgive yourself”?  Be gentle. Remember we are all at different places in our walk with Jesus.

Maybe you are the one making this statement to others. God knows your motives. My motive was to help and encourage. Also, I was repeating what I heard.   Now I know the Truth.

So what do you say to someone who has sinned, asked for forgiveness and still feels guilty?

Have you been forgiven through Christ? Live in that forgiveness and embrace the Truth.   Please do not judge yourself more harshly than your Heavenly Father.

Give them the Word.

“Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.” Hebrews 10:22

Be like Isaiah. He stood before the Holiness of God, he heard the angels. The glory of God surrounded him. He was pierced to the heart with conviction and he felt ruined.

“Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” Isaiah 6:6-8

Isaiah did not remain in the pain; He desired to serve the Lord.

The best way to heal from a Spiritual wound is serving your God.

The power to forgive comes only from God.

I promise the pain will decrease as you bask in God’s love and forgiveness.

Cherrilynn Bisbano
Speaker/Teacher/Writer
godsfruit@juno.com

Visit Cherrilynn at Pelican Promise

Mundane Faithfulness

 Lately I’ve been following the last journals of Kara Tippetts and her husband, Jason, at Mundane Faithfulness.  It’s a blessing, a grief, a joy, a sorrow….even though I don’t know them personally they have opened their hearts and lives as she has neared her own death from cancer.
The reality of death and its heavy hand on each of us makes us focus on what is really important.  Kara and Jason are doing that.  There is nothing that sobers and focuses our lives like the end of it.  I know thousands have been encouraged by Kara and Jason’s words and faith.Her life and death models what a walk with God should look like….trusting him even in the hard days.  If you haven’t followed her story I encourage you to do so.  It will help you in your own walk with God.  You can find her story here.

Visit Mike at Finishing Well for more.

Insulting Muhammad

I’m a Christian.

I believe that Jesus is God in flesh, the only savior, the only provision of God for man’s sin.

Islam would tell me I have committed shirk.  It’s the unpardonable sin of associating anyone with God.

I get that.  But I truly believe the bible teaches that Jesus is God, the second person of the Trinity.

On many theological issues I disagree with Islam dramatically.  I know the issues.  I have taught courses on Islam.  I have read much of the Quran and studied it to know what Islam teaches.

I really love the Muslim people.  They are, for the most part, sincere passionate people of faith.  To the best of their ability they are living for and obeying the God they know.

So why would I, a Christian, insult Muhammad?  Why would I say something negative about a man my Muslim friend considers a prophet of God?  How would those statements help me relate to another person I believe God really loves?

I wouldn’t!  I couldn’t insult their prophet.  It serves no helpful purpose except to inflame and divide even more.  I truly believe that God loves the Muslim people and many millions are finding Christ as savior each year.  God is working with these sincere God seekers…he’s drawing them to him.

For me, a Christian, to insult a man they revere would only grieve the God I serve.  Instead, can I tell you more about my wonderful savior, Jesus Christ?

He is so amazing, so wonderful, he loves you and cares more for you than you will ever know.  And, as the Quran says, one day he is coming back to judge the world.

Can I tell you more about my wonderful Jesus?

 

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

On Being Nobody

I live in a time and place in history when fame and popularity are important.  In fact, if we can’t find fame from the media we create it through Facebook.  With enough friends reading all about us and our lives we have a sense of value, significance, a feeling that we are somebody.

Often I have fallen into this trap as well.  I have had the goals and desires for success, fame in my field, the desire to be “known”.  With the years of life I am realizing how fickle and worthless all of this really is.  Quickly people weary of any one person and move on to the next “celebrity” who will provoke their interest and attention.  Fame is fickle!


In my world of Christianity I have desired to “make a difference”, to be known, recognized, speak in front of large crowds, to “be somebody”!  But I am at a place where I’m honestly thrilled to be nobody.  If God does anything with who I am, where I am and what I do that’s up to him.  As for me, I’m finally content with anonymity.  What a great place to be.


Suddenly I find that I can engage people without an agenda, without watching my watch.  Time, status, position and fame don’t matter.  What matters is a walk with God….all the rest is God’s problem.  Aaaaaaahhhh……finally, I pull over to the slow lane and enjoy the scenery, really listen to those around me, think, experience the world God has made, “smell the roses”.  


Finally, for me to live is simply knowing Christ and when it’s over I get to be with him!  How great is that?  


All the rest is smoke and mirrors.  


Everything else is a waste of time.

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

Forgiveness

What should we do when people to whom we have given our trust betray that trust?

Should we be angry and refuse to trust those people again?

What if our car breaks down, causing us great frustration and inconvenience? Do we not take the proper steps to fix it so we can drive it again? If we can’t get it fixed…..do we never drive a car again because it might break down? Will our anger from that instance of failure  continue to cause us frustration by keeping us from wanting to have another car? Will that anger make us feel any better as we walk everywhere?

We may be justified in not trusting a car again, but does that really solve the issue at hand or just make us feel more justified in our anger?

Could it be possible that the person who let us down is really a good person, but made a mistake unintentionally? If so, wouldn’t we be hurting ourselves if we refused to trust that someone again? After all, we must have thought they were good people before they made a mistake, so isn’t there a chance that they are still a good person?

It would seem that the best way to solve an issue, would be to first let the anger and disappointment of that situation go….

We need to ask ourselves.……is the reason we are having a difficult time forgiving someone the result of not being able to come to terms with the issue at hand? It seems that if we are able to free ourselves of these negative emotions and first solve the situation, then it really wouldn’t be that hard to forgive the person or persons involved….

If we refuse to forgive and never trust a person again, are we possibly robbing ourselves of real growth? Could it be that the solution to solving a particular issue lies with the very person we refuse to forgive?

If you made a mistake, would you want your friends to give up on you?

Seems that is what forgiveness is all about….

God forgave you didn’t he?

 

Welcome To The World Of A ChristianRep

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. – Ephesians 1:17

Recent BlogsMusicGood Stuff
Check out some amazing insights provided by our guest bloggers…click for the  most recent blogs
Start here for entertainment on some of the best Christian music videos…without the ads or comments…

Start here for entertainment on some of the best Christian music videos…without the ads or comments…

The Good Stuff is a place to go to find information from the Romans Road to the Serenity Prayer…The Good Stuff!

 

Have You Achieved Enlightenment?

Not me!
But it’s not like I haven’t been looking for it……enligtenment
No, I am not a Buddhist (and I mean no disrespect towards Buddhists) but I have nonetheless been searching for “comprehension” most of my life.
I have spent this life running aimlessly from one thing to another searching for something that I could use to say to God, “I found it, can I come up now?”  I know now it’s been right in front of me all along….but I was so busy searching for it that I couldn’t see it!  Like when I can’t find a tool in the toolbox, totally convinced it is just not there….until my wife points to it. 
Here’s my main thought on enlightenment folks…..
I think about someone dying and appearing at the gates of heaven only to be told….
“Sorry, but you haven’t achieved the proper quota of humming exercises.” (again…no disrespect towards Buddhists intended!)
The world will tell you….  “If you would just work harder and be willing to put everything else aside, sacrificing everything, you might attain true happiness.….”
What kind of promise is that? Work hard for the future, do your best…and you might achieve the promise of happiness?  Be very careful, because if you do achieve happiness in this world...it can be taken away at any moment…..Some of you most likely have already learned that painful lesson…I know I have!
God has promised us paradise…and we have to do nothing for it except believe in him and accept the sacrifice he made of Jesus Christ to atone for our sins….that’s it…no catch, no fine print. And the awesome news is…..it cannot be taken away from us…!
Self-help gurus all have their own special formulas for attaining true happiness and self enlightenment – but if you listen closely….they don’t really promise anything! But of course, they can sell you lots of books……
God has already provided a book for us to follow…and it’s free!
Am I the only one who has figured out that although we are all created in God’s image, we all have very unique reasons we are here…united in the one great reason…which is that we have been sent into the world to glorify him? So what good would it do me to read a book by a celebrity about their life to find secrets about achieving enlightenment for my own?
That’s like a mechanic reading a truck manual to learn how to fix my car.
I think it’s good to read about other people’s journey in life….and they may very well have achieved what God wanted THEM to achieve…but that doesn’t necessarily mean that is what he wants me to achieve…..
I think the main reason we all struggle in this world…is that no matter how hard we try……we cannot enlighten ourselves!
Do you have a favorite plant in the house….? Do you think that it can water itself or maneuver itself to get the best light…? Can your plant fertilize itself?
“Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?”  
True enlightenment is already available to us….we just need to accept it!
“Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” John 8:12 

 

A New Nazarene…

Like the Nazarite of the Old Testament, young Mason Lott, grew his hair to honor the Lord and in service of those in need.

While growing his hair long since preschool, Mason, seven, always had in his mind to donate his golden locks to Children With Hair Loss. Though taunted by his peers, he always kept in mind the reason he was doing it and he remained resolute in his desire to see it through.

Watch this video interview of Mason and his parents featured on WAAF in Dallas.  May God continue to bless and guide him as he blesses others!

Sunrise or sunset?

Is it sunset or sunrise? Is the day beginning or ending? Is light coming or will it be darkness? What lies ahead?
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This was a topic of discussion in C.S. Lewis’ book, The Great Divorce. Both in heaven and in hell it was twilight. In both places the residents anticipated the dawn, but it’s clear from the story that in one place dawn is coming and in the other eternal darkness.
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For some the dusk between morning and night has them confused. The events of life have kept them in these dimly lit hours so long that they don’t know if it’s dawn on the way or dark. For some the approach of the dawn looks like the approach of darkness. It’s hard for them to anticipate daylight when they have been in the gloom of dusk for so long.
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This morning I met with one of our guys who is really discouraged. He’s anticipating the night when in fact the day is about to dawn, but he can’t see it. He only sees his sun setting when all around the birds are singing as the day arrives. When we go through difficult experiences of life it seems that darkness is what awaits us. We lose vision, lose hope, lose our bearing of what God is doing. The dusk, our problems, anticipate either night or dawn and we don’t know which awaits us, but there is this promise of the morning approaching as the author of scripture writes,
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2 Peter 1:19 And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.
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It’s not the dark ahead, but morning. When you are discouraged, depressed, anticipating your dusk to soon turn to dark realize that God has promised morning for us. Light is coming, not fading away. Hope is rising, not disappearing. Life isn’t over, it’s just beginning. The dawn is on the way. The morning star will soon be here and darkness will disappear forever.
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I did my best this morning to encourage my friend and give him hope for the day ahead. I fear his dusk lingers. He is awaiting the night and not hoping for day, but listen carefully…the birds are chirping. The Son of righteousness is soon to come. Morning nears.

God in the Furnace

It’s often hard to see God, to see his hand, his work in our lives. It’s often hard to sense his presence, but for the believer he’s ever present. In fact, he says he will never leave us, but most of the time we don’t sense his presence, we aren’t aware of his care.For me it’s the busy life I live that makes his voice hard to hear, his face hard to see. I don’t take the time to quiet my mind and heart to listen, to see him ever with me.The times when God is most visible, the times when we see him the most clearly are times of test, times of trial. It’s in those refining moments the ever present one is most clearly seen….with us even in the heat of the trial.As I read Daniel 3 this morning, the story of Daniel’s friends and their trial by fire, the ever present one is unseen until Daniel’s friends are in the midst of the flames. In those refining moments, in the furnaces of our lives, God’s presence is most clearly seen. It’s in those moments when we desperately need to see him. In the midst of the trial our questions abound, in the midst of the heat we need him most. Has he brought us to this trial to destroy us? Is he punishing us for our sins? Why is this happening to us?

And in the midst of the furnace God is with us. He never leaves us. Last night I was with a family in the furnace of a lifetime. It’s a trial by fire to be sure. This is when they most need God’s presence, his care, his love. It’s in their furnace that they will see him. He is always with us, always caring for us….even in the furnace of trials.

But why trials? Why use the furnace to make himself known and seen? It’s because in the furnace no one can help us but God. As the king said to Daniel’s friends, “Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?” The king has defined the test- Is there a God who can deliver from the furnace? Is there someone to help when the trials of life overwhelm? The answer from the furnace is “YES! I’m here with you. Don’t worry, I will take care of you.”

The God of glory is always with us working for our good and his glory. In the midst of your furnace God is with you making himself known to you and seen by the world. In the midst of the furnace all other distractions are burned away and we see the ever present God who is always with us.

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

Do Not Fear

do not fearDo you know how many times in God tells us to ‘fear not’, ‘do not fear’ or ‘do not be afraid’? I don’t either.

It has been said that there are 365 ‘fear not’s in the Bible, one for everyday of the year. Others have searched and found only 100. Whatever, the number, it is a powerful promise from God…even if it appeared only once, it still stands as an AWESOME comfort for us.

Here are some of my favorite ‘do not fear’ and ‘do not be afraid’ verses from Genesis to Revelation:

After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward. ” – Genesis 15:1

And the LORD appeared to him the same night and said, “I am the God of your father Abraham; do not fear, for I am with you. I will bless you and multiply your descendants for My servant Abraham’s sake.” – Genesis 26:24

So He said, “I am God, the God of your father; do not fear to go down to Egypt, for I will make of you a great nation there. – Genesis 46:3

And Moses said to the people, “Do not fear; for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin.” – Exodus 20:20

Look, the LORD your God has set the land before you; go up and possess it, as the LORD God of your fathers has spoken to you; do not fear or be discouraged.’ – Deuteronomy 1:21

And the LORD, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.” – Deuteronomy 31:8

Joshua said to them, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Be strong and courageous. This is what the LORD will do to all the enemies you are going to fight.” – Joshua 10:25

Then the LORD said to him, “Peace be with you; do not fear, you shall not die.” – Judges 6:23

And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you request, for all the people of my town know that you are a virtuous woman. – Ruth 3:11

Then Samuel said to the people, “Do not fear. You have done all this wickedness; yet do not turn aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart. – 1 Samuel 12:20

So David said to him, “Do not fear, for I will surely show you kindness for Jonathan your father’s sake, and will restore to you all the land of Saul your grandfather; and you shall eat bread at my table continually.” – 2 Samuel 9:7

So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” – 2 Kings 6:16

And David said to his son Solomon, “Be strong and of good courage, and do it; do not fear nor be dismayed, for the LORD God—my God—will be with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you, until you have finished all the work for the service of the house of the LORD. – 1 Chronicles 28:20

In God (I will praise His word), In God I have put my trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do to me? – Psalm 56:4

The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? – Psalm 118:6

Say to those who are fearful-hearted, “Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, With the recompense of God; He will come and save you.” – Isaiah 35:4

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. – Isaiah 41:10

For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. – Isaiah 41:13

Do not fear, nor be afraid; Have I not told you from that time, and declared it? You are My witnesses. Is there a God besides Me? Indeed there is no other Rock; I know not one.’” – Isaiah 44:8

Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed; Neither be disgraced, for you will not be put to shame; For you will forget the shame of your youth, And will not remember the reproach of your widowhood anymore. – Isaiah 54:4

“But do not fear, O My servant Jacob, And do not be dismayed, O Israel! For behold, I will save you from afar, And your offspring from the land of their captivity; Jacob shall return, have rest and be at ease; No one shall make him afraid. – Jeremiah 46:27

Then he continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. – Daniel 10:12

Do not lose heart or be afraid when rumors are heard in the land; one rumor comes this year, another the next, rumors of violence in the land and of ruler against ruler. – Jeremiah 51:46

‘According to the word that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, so My Spirit remains among you; do not fear!’ – Haggai 2:5

So again in these days I am determined to do good To Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. Do not fear. – Zechariah 8:15

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. – Matthew 1:20

Therefore do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. – Matthew 10:26

Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. – Matthew 10:31

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. – Matthew 28:5

But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. – Luke 12:7

But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. – Luke 1:13

But the angel said to her, Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. – Luke 1:3

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. – Luke 2:10

“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. – Luke 12:4

Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. – Luke 12:32

Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.” – John 12:15

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. – John 14:27

But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear ; do not be frightened.” – 1 Peter 3:14

When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. – Revelation 1:17

Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. – Revelation 2:10

O Come All Ye Faithful -Celtic Women

O Come All Ye Faithful
Joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem.
Come and behold Him,
Born the King of Angels;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.
O Sing, choirs of angels,
Sing in exultation,
Sing all that hear in heaven God’s holy word.
Give to our Father glory in the Highest;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.
All Hail! Lord, we greet Thee,
Born this happy morning,
O Jesus! for evermore be Thy name adored.
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.