Tag Archives: Christianity

On the Surface

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1 Samuel 16:7
English Standard Version (ESV)
7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

I love that God finds my beauty on the inside and not on the surface. Sometimes it’s not a pleasant experience to look in the mirror because time is not forgiving and gravity takes it’s toll. Some people are blessed to have a good genes and they retain their figure and youthful look but for most of us, it’s a daily struggle to be one of ‘the beautiful people’.

Often, a thought builds in my mind and I feel led to share what ends up becoming a full article. Sometimes, I am fueled by outrage at a current event and have to address it immediately. There are times though, where a subtle conversation or comment shared in passing is repeated over the course of time. When this happens, I know I have received a prompting from God to share what He is revealing to me.

I spend some time, not by choice, at the dermatologist several times a year reversing sun damage in the hopes to prevent skin cancer from surfacing. As a teen, I spent hours soaking in the sun as I tried to obtain a golden tan. Unsuccessful in most attempts, I would end up suffering from burns and the resulting peels that revealed only freckles and no tan. Unfortunately, I never learned and repeated this process so much over the years that now I have to reverse the damage that took years to build. Frequently, the damage to cells in your body take place years before the evidence of the resulting skin cancer can be seen. I’ve been told that typically, the length of time from initial damage to visible results can span ten years. I think there’s a lesson to learn here….(besides the obvious of avoiding sun damage). How long does it take for damage to reach the surface?

In casual conversation, I mentioned to a friend that she has flawless skin and she looked really great. After thanking me for the comment, which was genuine admiration, she clouded for a second before she said that my compliment made up for years of feeling ugly because she couldn’t tan. She was always more pale than her friends and didn’t feel like one of the “beautiful people.” I can relate because I’m so pale that I can literally blind people from the sun’s reflection off my skin. I felt immediately humbled to receive a glimpse into what had been years of suffering that my friend had experienced. In her case, she has emerged as the recipient of flawless and youthful skin because she avoided the sun. The feeling of beauty is only skin deep though because the feeling of inadequacy runs deeper than the surface.

Later, the same week, I was talking to another friend and somehow the conversation turned to her years of feeling invisible. In her youth, she had been heavier and always felt as if she was completely invisible to the world. As she matured, she lost weight and became more comfortable with herself so that people started noticing her. The attention she received could have easily gone to her head but she knew that regardless of what she looked like, the real person could only be known from the inside out. She said it was eye opening to see that people want to associate with those they perceive to be beautiful, so much so, that sometimes it’s hard to know who your real friends might be.

How many other people feel like this? How many neighbors, co-workers or relatives are suffering from what lies below the surface? If it takes ten years for some skin cancers to surface, how long does it take for emotional scars or feelings of inadequacy to become apparent? How many people do you know who are suffering in silence? Are you someone who has a hidden hurt? It’s such a comfort to know that there is One who looks past the surface and not only knows the real you but who can also hold and heal those secret scars. God knows you and He loves you! Psalm 139:13 New International Version (NIV) says, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” How awesome is that! Not only does God see you and know you, He is the one who created the inner most you. He formed your soul and knows your secret thoughts and painful past. Turn those hurts that you have held on to for years over to Him and let Him free you from long held feelings of inadequacy.

“For man looks on the outside but God looks on the heart!”

Jesus Freaks

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Jesus freak
Sometimes it feels good to be labeled. Top company producer, Olympic gold medalist and mom are all some of the labels that bring instant pride and satisfaction. Every now and again everyone likes to be recognized and appreciated. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with rewarding good work or efforts. We like those kind of labels. Some labels, however, cause instant irritation or anger such as fat girl, freckle face, shorty….This is because we associate our identity with labels either self-imposed or bestowed by others. Other labels that identify race or color are not welcome in conversation because they are symbols of hatred and isolation. What about being called a Jesus Freak though? Would it embarrass you or make you feel politically incorrect? What actions would it take to make you a Jesus Freak? Would you be considered for one if you are just a nice person or maybe someone who doesn’t hang out with the partiers of the crowd? Do you have to go to church for someone to think you are a Jesus Freak? What if, are you ready for this, you read your Bible in public? Certainly that qualifies you for that title. Is this a label you would wear in secret or would you wear it proudly?

I have often wondered, especially when I see recent headlines, if I had been born in Communist China or one of the countries controlled by Islam, would it be easier for me to be a Christian? Sometimes it’s easier to choose a side when the line is clearly drawn and the choices are black and white. I am so thankful to be an American. There is so much opportunity and freedom here that we could never experience anywhere else in the world. I am proud of my citizenship and the men who gave me the right to go where I want, live how I please and worship freely, but sometimes I think that maybe I might be a stronger Christian if I had to follow Christ under the chance of persecution. The ability to read our Bibles and sing songs of praise to our Creator is so easy, maybe too easy, that we take it for granted. Are we wasting our opportunity to learn about Jesus and know Him in a way that so many across the world would love to have? How many Christians in America have to meet in secret for Bible study so that they are not arrested or tortured? How many Christians here have to smuggle pieces of the Bible across town so that little by little they can build a Bible. Have you heard about anyone in America lately being gunned down for their beliefs? No? Neither have I but I bet you have heard of Saeed Abedini, the 33 year old Idaho pastor who is being held in an Iranian jail for his Christian faith. http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/05/22/prayers-from-prison-american-pastor-held-in-iran-releases-letter/
Countries around the world from Pakistan to China to India to Russia make it a capital offense to worship Christ yet those Christians are on fire for Him. We have it so easy and we hide in the country. What’s wrong with that picture?

If you have a chance, pick up the book Jesus Freaks http://www.amazon.com/Jesus-Freaks-Stories-Those-Ultimate/dp/1577780728 It is the compilation of stories of a new generation of Christians who live what they believe, stories of persecution – past and present. Read this book and then decide. Decide Who you will serve because by not taking sides, you have decided. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile,” Romans 1:16.

 

Redemption for Good Deeds?

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ImageHmmm, let me think about that….um… NO!  That suggestion is the oldest and most used lie of the devil.  It sounds like it should be true though, right?  I mean, the foundation of our lives are based upon the proven truth that hard work and right living produce a good life and rewards.  We all learn this concept almost from birth.  If we obey our parents, we earn candy or praise.  When we start school, we learn that if we do what the teacher says then we receive good grades and good report cards and then that leads to more candy or praise.  The older we get and the harder we work, the greater the reward becomes.  If we do the opposite and don’t work hard, we create a life of limited possibilities and little to show for our actions.  If we don’t obey the law, we earn a ticket or even a trip to jail.  We live in a society where our actions dictate the outcome of our lives.  This is the standard that people across the universe expect.

http://www.examiner.com/article/pope-francis-promises-redemption-for-good-atheists?cid=rss

IF you believe this article and listen to the pope, then you continue past this earthly life and into eternity following the same standard for which you have patterned the actions of your life.  Doesn’t that sound great?  Live good, die better.  Sadly, there will be many, many people who find this belief to be the polar opposite of reality.  This is a concept that is almost impossible to explain because it goes against everything that we have been conditioned to believe.  Take a moment though and review your life – not the little details, just the large ones.  Can you remember the good things you have done?  Those shining events of greatness where you were really one of the good guys.  But, are all of our lives made up of these great shining moments?  No, so we actually do have to focus on the little details.  Those times when no one saw our actions and we were very happy to see that no one was watching.  Maybe there was time when we were mean to a co-worker.  We’ve all told little white lies to get out of doing something we really didn’t want to do.  Have you ever daydreamed about someone who wasn’t your spouse?  You should also remember those times when you had the opportunity to do something good but turned a blind eye to someone in need.  But, hey, our good actions offset our bad actions, right?  During your 70-80 years on earth, that answer is, generally, yes.  The very second that we draw our last breath, however, that dynamic changes.  2 Cor. 5:8 says , “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.”  In other words, when we pass from this life in an instant we will be present with God in heaven. What will He say at that moment?  Will He welcome you with open arms or will He say, “my child, I never knew you?”  This is the perfect time to think about this because you are still alive and have a choice.  It would be a terrible waste of your life to move to eternity and never  have taken the time to make a decision about your eternal destination.  You see, on earth our rewards are a result of our actions, in eternity our reward is a result of our choice.  The reward of eternity with Jesus Christ is only given to us if we choose to accept that we cannot be good enough to enter into the presence of a perfect God.  By definition atheists do not believe in God, so how can they be redeemed to be with God?  It is futile for anyone to think they can be good enough to enter heaven, let alone someone who doesn’t believe in a Higher being.  Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “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.”

It’s impossible to be perfect.  If you think you are perfect, or even a really good, person then you are lying to yourself.  Even on our very best day, our very best deed cannot even come close to God’s perfection.  We would have to be perfect every second of every day and that is not even a remote possibility for anyone.  God says that even the best things that we do are like filthy rags in his sight.  But, for argument’s sake, even if we could be perfect it still would not be enough to allow us access to God’s perfect heaven and presence.  As the Bible states above in Ephesians 2:8-9, faith is what saves us because it is a gift.  God paid the price for our imperfection and tells us it is free IF only we will believe that He died for us so that we would not have a chance to boast.  How much nonsense would it be for us to boast about our good deeds compared to what Christ did for us?

For the pope to stand in public and proclaim that if we are only good and try to be good then we will be redeemed is the worst disservice that anyone could do to another.  That is a deceitful action crafter by the master deceiver.  Not only if a person is good will he be redeemed, but according to pope, an atheist as the same opportunity.  This statement boggles my mind but even more than that, it infuriates me.  I have not met an atheist yet who is not vocal to the point of rudeness in their defense of how the notion that there is a God is false and that heaven is a fairy tale.  Atheists are, in my opinion, reprehensible for they mock the One who loves me more than anyone else.  They defame the One who created me and knew me in my mother’s womb.  They defile the One who suffered and died, not for His own actions but for mine.  They despise the One who rose from the grave because He is Almighty God.

Not only will atheists never be redeemed unless they repent of their false beliefs, good people who don’t put their trust and faith in Jesus Christ will not be redeemed either.  “Choose you this day Whom you will serve,” Joshua 24:15.  Make you choice, but choose wisely.  Eternity is just a breath away.

 

Atheism Rooted in Search for Father?

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There is an interesting study that has been released and can be found in detail in a new book that can be found on Amazon called Faith of the Fatherless by Dr. Paul Vitz. Certainly each person has a responsibility for their own actions and choices and the spiritual war that takes place behind the scenes for lost souls is not accounted for in this scenario, but from a Biblical view, this study may have merit, in my opinion. God refers to himself on many occasions as Abba Father, which roughly translates to “daddy” in our modern language. This is the role He wants His children to see Him in as He works in our lives and we approach Him.
Romans 8:14-16 New International Version (NIV)
14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba,Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.

This is an interesting relationship that God moves us into as His children, compared to the Old Testament God who could only be approached by the High Priest. If your relationship with your earthly father is how God intended it to be whereas you have open access, receive love and nurture, and have structured quality time spent with him then your view of God will be what it should be. You will be able to approach God and understand His love for you. Conversely, if you have an absentee father, lack of affection (hugs), and a broken relationship the chances are favorable that your view of God will fall in line with this disjointed view of your earthly father. God uses many events, roles and objects to help us understand Him. The relationships of family members to each other are integral in understanding God and how we relate to Him. It is easy to see how someone may translate their understanding of their interaction (or lack thereof) with their earthly father to the belief that there is no God. How could someone who has not experienced a true dad understand a heavenly Dad? It’s much like someone who lives in the desert trying to understand snow. Does snow exist? Is snow real? Of course it exists and is real, but having only experienced weather in the desert, a person from this region cannot comprehend the possibility of snow and may very easily determine that there is no snow. In this example, the lack of experience translates to disbelief much the same way that an individual who missed the daddy interaction may determine there is no God. The mind is designed to adapt to nature, nurture and surroundings. I’m not sure that science will ever be able to fully comprehend how the core processing unit of our brain works but a case can be made that the love or lack thereof from a father has a direct impact on a person’s view of God.

See the release on Faith of the Fatherless below:

What psychological factors could lead someone to become an atheist?

The question posed above is an interesting one since it is the opposite of what many atheists, such as Sigmund Freud and Ludwig Feuerbach, have asked about theists. Freud argued that theists believe in God out of a desire for an idealized father figure. Paul Vitz, Professor Emeritus of Psychology at New York University, turns this explanation on its head. Vitz, who was an atheist until his late 30s, presents his psychological analysis of atheists in “Faith of the Fatherless”. The Amazon “Book Description” summarizes his work as follows.
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Professor Vitz argues that psychoanalysis actually provides a more satisfying explanation for atheism. Disappointment in one’s earthly father, whether through death, absence, or mistreatment, frequently leads to a rejection of God. A biographical survey of influential atheists of the past four centuries shows that this “defective father hypothesis” provides a consistent explanation of the “intense atheism” of these thinkers. A survey of the leading intellectual defenders of Christianity over the same period confirms the hypothesis, finding few defective fathers. Professor Vitz concludes with an intriguing comparison of male and female atheists and a consideration of other psychological factors that can contribute to atheism.

Professor Vitz does not argue that atheism is psychologically determined. Each man, whatever his experiences, ultimately chooses to accept God or reject him. Yet the cavalier attribution of religious faith to irrational, psychological needs is so prevalent that an exposition of the psychological factors predisposing one to atheism is necessary.
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As noted above, Vitz’s analysis does not disprove atheism but it does provide an interesting response to those who summarily dismiss theism through psychological explanations; and especially for those who appeal to Freudian-type explanations.

http://www.amazon.com/Faith-Fatherless-Psychology-Paul-Vitz/dp/1890626252/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1366113917&sr=1-1

The Muslim War on Christianity

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http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2013/05/the-muslim-war-on-christianity.php

I shared earlier from my blog that Christians are disappearing from countries where once Christianity was prevalent. Israel, Iran, Syria, Egypt…. Still think Muslims are peaceful people? The core message of Islam is to eradicate all other beliefs and especially belief in the One true God. There is nothing peaceful, normal or decent about this false religion.

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Biometric Database of All Americans

Born in the 1960’s, the Cold War and Nazi Germany was still a strong focus of history.  Unlike today, where many people would rather deny or forget that this type of atrocity took place in the world, my generation was aware in detail of how one sick and deranged man targeted a race and the effects of that action.  I remember class discussions in which we debated how the marking of individuals could come to pass.  How could anyone sit by and watch their neighbors, friends, employers and fellow countrymen be forced to wear a yellow star and then quietly disappear in the night, never to be heard from again?  What kind of human lets that happen?  Subsequently, how could a country let the secret police take over and dictate what you could believe or where you could go?  Surely, this craziness would never be allowed again.  After all, we all heard President Reagan say, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”  We watched as the division of Communist Germany and the free West Germany dissolved.  We saw the segregated Russian countries embrace the culture of the free Western world.  

So, how did we as a free American society get from that place in time, knowing everything that we know and having seen what men can do when given the power to control others, to today when we are ok with providing the government details about ourselves, facial recognition capabilities of ourselves, medical details about ourselves and even, as seen in the Florida headlines this past week, reporting on the political activities of our neighbors and friends?  THIS is happening today – here – now!  Do you not see how one man’s self-allowed autonomy in America is streamlining the take down of the greatest country on earth?  Edmund Burke is quoted with perhaps the most eloquent statement of all time, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”  Are you doing nothing, like the majority of Americans?  Are you sitting idly by and watching the beginning of the end?  Don’t be naive enough to think that you will not be affected by the gathering of information.  Don’t be gullible enough to think that the only reason the government wants to know everything about you is to identify illegal aliens or terrorists.  Obama’s administration, now largely comprised of socialist empathizers, Islamic and Muslim followers (and let’s be honest, the central tenant of that belief system is the radical removal of all non-Muslims – if you don’t KNOW this, you have your head in the proverbial sand), and proven idiots, has made it known through their actions that they will move this country to socialism.

Martin Niemöller (1892-1984) was a prominent Protestant pastor who emerged as an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler and spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps.

Niemöller is perhaps best remembered for the quotation:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out– 
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out– 
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me.

History has always repeated itself.  Even if you only have a high school education, you know this to be fact.  The question is are we going to allow history to repeat itself today or are we going to say “No!  Not on my watch.  Not in my backyard.  Not in my Country!”  Stand up fellow Americans.  Do not be silent my Christian friends.

For Such A Time As This

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Esther 4:14

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”
I love the story of Esther.  If you are not familiar with this book of the Bible, it’s the 2nd Book in the Bible that is devoted to a female main character and is only 10 chapters in length.  There is so much action in this small Book, however that it rivals any modern soap opera.  The story is set in Persia during the reign of King Ahasuerus (you may know him as King Xerxes).  Esther was orphaned at a young age when both of her parents died, so she went to live with her cousin Mordecai who raised her.  As is evident during the unfolding of the story, Mordecai fostered a love of God, Country and family in Esther.  We are also told that Esther is beautiful beyond words and finds favor wherever she goes.
So, what happens is that basically the King got mad at the Queen because she would not perform for him at a banquet in front of his friends so he banished her.  This created a dilemma though, because everyone knows that a King needs a Queen.  His advisors,  johnny on the spot, came up with a brilliant way to solve this problem and they suggested that the King hold a contest of sorts amongst the fair maidens of the land.  So, the King has the most beautiful and talented young women of the land audition for the role of Queen.  (Picture a scene from Cinderella where the mom’s all dress their daughters up to take them to the ball to meet the Prince.)  Mordecai, having heard of the King’s request, knows that there is no one more suited for the role of Queen than Esther.  So he sends Esther to the palace and, as you might have guessed, Esther pleased the King and was named Queen.
Some time goes by and Mordecai happened to hear of a plot against all of the Jews who lived in Persia.  The King’s right hand man, Haaman, did not like Mordecai (not knowing he was related to Esther) and plotted to get rid of him by exterminating all the Jews in Persia, which was Mordecai’s heritage.  Mordecai promptly takes the plot to Esther and tells her she must let the King know.  Now there’s something you need to know.  During the reign of King Ahasuerus, the Queen could not enter the presence of the King except by invitation from him under penalty of death.  Well, that presents a dilemma.  Esther knows she cannot be silent but also knows she faces death if she approaches the King.  So what now?  Esther does the first thing that every Christian should do in every circumstance.  She tells Mordecai that they must pray.  Not only that, they must fast and pray.  Long story, short….Esther approaches the King after having spent much time in prayer.  The King loves Esther and allows her to visit.  Esther exposes Haaman’s plot and the King is outraged.  The Jewish people are saved while Haaman is put death.  Everyone lives happily and Esther, because of her obedience to God and her family, receives a place in Biblical history.  The Jews still celebrate the climax of the story where their race was saved by commemorating it annually with the Feast of Purim.  Image
You really have to read this Book.  It is a powerful story on so many levels!
I give this background to relate it to the opening verse and title of this piece…”For such a time as this”.  I firmly believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God.  It contains everything that God wants us to know about Him and His relationship with man at this point in time.  Every story and every word have a reason to be written and they have an application to our lives today.  Sometimes you have to read a passage of Scripture many times to understand the application, but it is always made evident at exactly the time you need it.  I think the application of what can be gleaned from the Book of Esther is obvious.  What if we are like Esther?  Our country is in rising turmoil and much like the plot against the entire Jewish race in the Persian kingdom at that time, Christians are facing the beginning of a similar plot today.  Christianity is almost extinct in some countries and has been replaced by Islam in many cases and in others the religion of “self” has taken over.  America no longer follows the faith of our fathers and we see daily how the government is trying to remove God from the courthouse, schools, television, internet, and even our currency.  Can you think of any better time to speak up in defense of your faith?  Can you hear God, much like Mordecai, telling you to not be silent?  I will continue to provide current events that show the continued moral decay of our country.  Take action as you see these stories and speak up to your Senators, Congressmen, co-workers, neighbors, family and friends.
Who knows, maybe you are here, at this point in history ….. for such a time as this.

Pray for Me

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Someone is praying for me.  Lifting me high up to Your Throne. Down on their knees, interceding for my needs.  There is somebody praying for me.

When my eyes can’t see, and my faith won’t believe, there is somebody praying for me.

There are times when I feel so alone, but I feel Your warmth beside me anyway.  That’s when it’s clear that I don’t need to fear.  There is somebody praying for me.

When my eyes can’t see, and my faith won’t believe, there is somebody praying for me.

Thank you, Jesus, there is somebody praying for me!

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