Not Ashamed

Are you sometimes ashamed to mention you are a Christian? Do you have friends or co-workers who do not know you are a believer? Or are you simply afraid to say anything? In our world today, there is a hostility toward people of faith, in particular, Christians. Does that keep you silent?

In recent years, believers have been banned from talking about their faith in many workplaces. Owners who play Christian music as background in their businesses are sued demanding they stop. Even Christian based organizations are forced to hire people who do not share the faith and would be a detriment to the over all good of the company. Schools no longer allow Christian songs at Christmas and many professors mock anyone who claims to believe in God.

As hard as this might be, western believers have never suffered much persecution. Even today, we are harassed for our faith, but are not beaten and killed like Christians in other parts of the world. It may be uncomfortable to endure the ridicule of unbelievers, but our lives are not in danger…at least not yet.

We live in difficult times and we believe they will get much worse, but none of that matters. What counts is sharing the gospel with a lost and dying world. We must stand firm in our faith and never be ashamed to call ourselves servants of the Lord Jesus Christ. He told us, the world hated him first, and they will hate us as his followers. The world persecuted Jesus and they will persecute us. It can’t get any clearer than that.

We must prepare our hearts and minds for increased contempt. Those who have successfully removed God from our schools, government, and much of society, will not stop there. They serve Satan, who is out to kill, steal, and destroy all things of God in our world. Nothing would please them more than to totally silence all people of faith, destroy our places of worship, and remove all items and writings of faith.

We encourage you to write the words of faith, hope, and love upon your heart. Imprint the Bible in your mind. And walk your faith as the light of the world. We still have time to bring people to Jesus. But remember, the best way to win people to our Lord is through our actions, not our words.

Romans 1:16-17 (AMP)
16 For I am not ashamed of the Gospel (good news) of Christ, for it is God’s power working unto salvation [for deliverance from eternal death] to everyone who believes with a personal trust and a confident surrender and firm reliance, to the Jew first and also to the Greek,
17 For in the Gospel a righteousness which God ascribes is revealed, both springing from faith and leading to faith [disclosed through the way of faith that arouses to more faith]. As it is written, The man who through faith is just and upright shall live and shall live by faith.

God’s Greatest Creation

All around us, we see God’s hand. In the rising and setting of the sun or moon, the majestic mountains and rivers, and the towering trees and sun kissed flowers. He cares for creation from the whales in the ocean to the smallest insect crawling the earth. God made them all and provides to each. Though God loves all of his creation, human beings are the closest to his heart, made in his image, God’s greatest creation. He knits each of individual in our mother’s womb, each with his or her own special personality, talents and gifts. The greatest gift is free will. Each person is given the ability to forge their path. God does not and will not take away our ability to choose…good or evil, right or wrong…God’s way or the world’s.

As we age, we take baby steps growing and walking. We learn from those around us, our parents, family, and the world around us. Those who have instruction in things of faith, learn about a loving Heavenly Father. Others have little or no examples of Jesus to emulate. Yet, God makes himself known to each person and they choose whether to believe or not.

When a person decides to devote their life to Jesus as Lord and Savior, you begin God’s amazing journey tailored just for you. No two journeys are alike because no two people are alike. This in itself is amazing, but to think there are millions of people on the earth, it makes it even more marvelous.

With the assistance of the Holy Spirit, who enters our heart when we accept Jesus as Savior, we walk the path of faith, love, and hope. The road can be bumpy, filled with high mountains and deep valleys. God never promised an easy life, just that he would walk it with us. But to look back and see God’s help and guidance encourages us.

We don’t know what tomorrow will bring. However, we do know evil times are ahead, but when we do not know. Yet, no matter what’s ahead, we are assured Father God will be forever with us and that alone brings me great comfort.

Pollution

In a recent post, we talked about the need for spiritual detox. I suppose we put the cart before the horse…we should have talked about spiritual pollution first.

What is Spiritual pollution? Anything we see, hear, or read that is contrary to God’s Word. As stated before, we are bombarded with worldly ideology and philosophies everyday. We hear things on the TV, radio, at work or school, and from family and friends that violates God’s Word or is questionable. We need to be aware of this bombardment of our spirit so we can discard it before it seeps into our heart.

It never surprises me when I hear unbelievers attack the Bible, it is to be expected. But what does baffle and anger me is when a minister, pastor, or priest takes a verse or text out of context in order to twist the Word to support their opinion or belief. It is done every Sunday in one church or another and is dangerous to those who hear it. If you don’t know the scriptures or don’t go back and read the text, you could be influenced to accept a distorted truth. That’s why it’s important you read and understand the scriptures yourself. An added bonus to Bible reading…it dissipates the pollution the world gives us.

We must remember, we are foreigners in a strange land, earth is simply our temporary residence. Our home is in heaven with Jesus. However, while we are here on this planet, it’s important to remain steadfast to our Lord. We must live in the world, but we don’t have to allow it to plot our path.

You and you alone can assess whether you have conformed to the world and allowed worldly ideology to color your thinking or you are living a godly life plodding down God’s path. It’s not easy to reverse worldly mentality once it takes root, but walking with God and accepting his ways brings happiness and contentment the world cannot give. If you struggle in this area, pray and allow the Holy Spirit to guide you. He will open your eyes and ears to all truth.

HISTORY

The Civil War in the United States between the northern and southern states is a dark blot on our history. Friend against friend, brother against brother, many fought and died. But it wasn’t just war that created a blight on our history. The elderly, wives, and children left to work the land and keep the home fires burning were plagued by marauders. These bands of evil people raped, pillaged, and murdered many across the country.

It is my fear this will happen again. We are dependent upon grocery stores, produce markets, and malls for our food, clothing, and day-to-day needs. When stocks in stores are depleted the unscrupulous will once again resort to theft and murder. History will repeat itself.

We are a nation who has not suffered war on our own shores for over 150 years. We do not truly understand the evil of war. We only need to look at natural disasters in recent history to see people do not prepare ahead for difficult times…even when warned. We and many others have been encouraging others for years…get ready…dark days are coming.

During the Civil War, those who saw the signs and heeded the warnings survived better than those who did not. Country residents did better than city folk. But there are things you can do no matter where you live.

First, begin gathering necessary supplies. Food, clothing, flashlights, batteries, medical supplies, seeds, gardening tools, guns and ammo. Anything that will help in your survival.

Second, do not store all your goods in one place. Stash supplies around your home. If possible, dig a cellar away from the house, it can provide a place to hide and store necessary items. In the Civil War, many farmers had a root cellar stocked with provisions. Families practiced slipping out of the house and hiding in these hidden locations. When marauders came they were well rehearsed in what to do.

Third, everyone needs a working knowledge of firearms. Again, during the Civil War even young children knew how to load and fire a gun or rifle. In this politically correct world of ours, many don’t believe anyone should have a gun. But our founders knew an armed population would not ever suffer under an evil government for long. They understood freedom was worth fighting for.

Fourth, practice hiding or leaving and meeting in a secure location. Make sure everyone in your family or group knows where to meet. Have a backpack ready, you will not have time to put one together last-minute.

These are just a few preparation suggestions.

It is our hope it will not come to this. But since God is warning his people, we encourage you to do what you can. It is better to prepare and never need your provisions than do nothing and suffer the consequences.

Different Understanding

Have you ever wondered why unbelievers have a different understanding of situations, world events, moral and social issues, and life in general than believers in Jesus? Why is it believers can explain our viewpoint until we’re blue in the face and unbelievers don’t get it. To them we speak in riddles they can’t understand. Of course, the Bible tells us this will happen so we shouldn’t be surprised.

On the flip side, when unbelievers try to explain their philosophy or understanding, many times it is polar opposite, totally wrong, or just plain loony tunes to us. We must seem the same to them. They see things very differently than we do. The sad reality is many unbelievers think we are stupid, brainless, unintelligent, unenlightened, bigoted, condemning idiots who cling to an old dead religion.

The reason for this different understanding is unbelievers do not have the Holy Spirit working in their lives. Their minds and hearts have not been renewed to God through rebirth in Jesus. I doubt many believers realize how dramatic this death of our old spirit and rebirth really works in our lives. God removes our old stoney spiritual heart and replaces it with a heart alive and open to receive the things of God. That is huge in the spiritual realm and opens us to God’s truth.

After the rebirth, God begins to renew our minds to his truths, many of which are contrary to man’s philosophies…those ideas society, schools, and government push at us from birth. After our new birth, the closer we move toward God and away from the world, the more we have a new and different understanding of life.

As this change occurs, the Holy Spirit opens us to truth, honesty, and righteousness in ways we’ve never experienced as unbelievers. The time will come when you just know that you know something is good or evil…right or wrong. You will know God does or does not want you to take a certain path, or a certain direction in day-to-day decisions. Sometimes this knowledge only comes after prayer, fasting or both. Other times it is automatic. If you haven’t experienced this yet, no worries. God works in each of us in his own time. He deals with us as individuals…one on one. What he does for you he doesn’t always do for me and vice versa. Just as parents give different gifts to their children, God gives us different gifts, understanding and reason also. But what every believer experiences in the rebirth is the same. God becomes our Father…we are adopted into his family.

All of this is nonsense to unbelievers. They scoff at the idea of the rebirth of believers, much less that he actively helps us in our daily lives. They see us as strange or peculiar, but not in a good way. For us, our life begins and ends in Jesus.

I believe this difference is becoming more pronounced. In years past, nearly everyone in the United States believed in God and Jesus even if they didn’t follow him. Now more and more are turning from the faith in our Lord, have rejected him, or have grown up in non-believing homes. For this reason, the divide grows greater with each passing year.

Believers must acknowledge as darkness spreads in the world our faith is foolishness to unbelievers. We won’t win them over with fancy words. What we can do is be a light of love in the darkness. Our actions will make the difference. We will not win everyone to the Lord, that is fact. But walking with Jesus and allowing the Holy Spirit to work in our lives will bring a different understanding to those who are looking for him.

God’s Instruction

Have you ever heard something that caused you to pause and taken notice? Only to hear it again several days later? Maybe even a third time? Have you ever thought, ‘maybe God is trying to tell me something?’ Is this God’s instruction?

Has something happened later to you or someone you know and suddenly you remember God told you about that a while back?

These may seem to be random situations, but if you look closely, I think you will find God was instructing, giving insight, or warning you. It is important for us, as a believers to develop this discernment in our lives. It will be especially necessary in the dark days ahead.

From there, what do you do the information? If it is for you individually, it is easy to listen and obey, to implement God’s instruction into our life. But what if it turns out to be for someone else? Do you have the courage to approach them and share what you believe God is telling you?

What if you are on the receiving end? What if a sister or brother in Christ comes to you with insight or a direction they believe you should take? Will you receive it or ignore it?

We are the body of Christ. We are not individuals…alone in this life. In our travels, we have met believers from all over the country. It is interesting that God seems to speak similar things to many people at the same time. You are usually not alone in what you are hearing. That’s why confirmation works so well for the believer. If you hear something that doesn’t seem right, just wait for God to confirm it. If it never comes, you can ignore it. If someone else confirms the same instruction…you can bet God is leading you in that direction and you will find peace in your spirit to move ahead. If you don’t have peace…hold until you do. Sometimes you’re supposed to move ahead, just not right then.

I know we say this a lot, but we will all need God’s instruction in the days ahead. It will be vital for believers to work together, share ideas, and wait upon the Lord. If we do all this, he will direct our path.

If you’ve had this experience, please share it in a comments.

Detox

Detox is a buzz word today. We are told to detox our bodies with this pill or that diet to clean out the build-up of toxins in our system. But what about our hearts and minds? Christians need a spiritual detox on a regular basis. With the New Year close at hand, this would be a great time to begin.

Why detox? Because we’re bombarded with the world’s ideas and philosophies on a daily basis. If we allow them to build up in our hearts and minds, they can pull us down and cause unbelief or doubt to creep in.

This is especially true for students. Professors and teachers press their ideology everyday. It is not enough for them to give instruct on a subject, their prejudice and worldview influence what they teach their pupils. Some even go so far as to demand students set aside their own thoughts and beliefs and adopt the educator’s point of view…on everything. There is no longer the ability to form one’s own opinion. The reality is, educational institutions used to be a place where creative thought and open-mindedness were encouraged. This is no longer true in most places of higher learning.

These viewpoints follow us into our careers and employers enter the equation. These bosses write their ethics codes with their beliefs in mind. Unfortunately, most workplaces do not have Jesus as their foundation and the world’s views are in direct conflict with those of a Holy God.

Unfortunately, sometimes even churches teach things in direct violation of the Word of God. Traditions, doctrine, incomplete/incorrect understanding, or manipulation of scripture can pull believers from the truth.

For these reasons, disciples of Jesus must detox their hearts and minds on a regular basis. We must get back to our foundation…our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The Bible is our instruction book. It and it alone must be our teacher. We can listen to and learn from pastors, ministers, and teachers, but what they say must line up with God’s Word. We must remove the toxins of misinformation, bad instruction, lack of faith, unbelief, world views and philosophies, false religions, and anything else that can pull us from the love of God.

How do we spiritually detox? Prayer, repentance, purging our heart from the world’s ideology, and seeking God removes the barriers between you and our Father in Heaven. If you encounter something especially difficult…you may need to fast and pray.

In the dark days ahead, our spiritual battle will grow in magnitude and we need to be free of all hindrances. The still small voice of the Holy Spirit will guide and direct us into all truth if we listen. We must learn to discern his voice from the other voices around us.

Take time each day in the New Year to meditate on Jesus. Ask him to help to identify any toxin that would poison you to his love and truth.

Celebrate Jesus

We celebrate Jesus at the manger, his birth being one of the most extraordinary events in history. God no longer remained high above the clouds. His son came to earth to live with his creation. Born to a carpenter and his wife, Jesus lived among regular folk, not nobility and the upper crust of society. He lived a simple life, like most people in the world. It’s a fantastic reality, but it doesn’t end there. Jesus lived an extraordinary life, one we who believe strive to emulate. He taught us the character of God: love, kindness, consideration, compassion, comfort, and most of all forgiving. Jesus made it clear…God is our friend…one who will never leave or forsake us. Jesus went on to die in our place, taking our punishment for all the sins of the people, past, present, and future. He went to hell where he broke the chains of sin and death. Then came back from death and finally rose again to heaven where he sits at God’s right hand. This is amazing. And it all started with Jesus’ birth. It’s why we celebrate his birth and kneel at the cross.
This Christmas take time to reflect on Jesus, his birth, life, death, rise from death, and ascension to heaven. Read the Christmas story and share your thoughts with your family, especially the little ones. Help them understand the joy Christmas should bring to everyone…Jesus came to break the chains of sin and death, bring peace between God and man, and restore our relationship with our Father in Heaven.

JOY to the World. The Lord has come. Let earth receive KING JESUS!

A song of Christmas Bob and I would like to share with you.

“http://faithtap.com/2153/a-christmas-hallelujah/

Bountiful Harvest or Crop Failure

God established seed, time and harvest…a cycle of life. This series of events is true for not only plants, but things that happen to people as well. Our thoughts, behaviors, attitudes, and actions sow seeds in our life and in the lives of others around us. A bountiful harvest can come from good seeds, where bad ones can bring a harvest of pain, hurt, or discomfort. When we realize we have sown seeds of discord or harm, we need to pray for crop failure.

When we speak hurtful things about another or listen to gossip, we plant a harmful seed. We all can have a temporary lapse of good judgment or allow our temper to reign planting seeds we wish had never been planted. Over time, the seed can grow into resentment and bitterness can come into our heart or another person’s. As a result, the harvest can be a huge blowup or a break in the relationship. As believers, forgiveness is of utmost importance and the minute we realize our error, asking for pardon should be immediate. If we don’t realize we’ve made a mistake, as soon as it comes to our attention, we need to apologize. If the bad seed has already sprouted, this action will help to keep it from growing and hopefully it will wither and die.

On the flip side, encouragement and upbeat attitudes bring hope and up lift others. These seeds need to be watered and fertilized because they will lead to stronger friendships and relationships. An added benefit is the world will see these seeds of love and Jesus living through his disciples. Hopefully, this will draw unbelievers to Jesus.

We will plant many seeds throughout our lives. It is our hope you will strive for a bountiful harvest brought about by love, kindness, consideration, encouragement, and hope. It will be more important than ever as the days grow dark and people lose hope.

Birthday?

What is your Birthday? Or rather what is your re-birthday?

Birthdays have always been special days of celebration. Young children love birthdays. Presents, parties, and special outings mark the annual passage of time. As we get older, birthdays don’t hold the delight they did when we were kids. In fact, many would like to forego them completely.

There is another birthday that is even more important…the day each child of God is born again and adopted into God’s family. Neither Bob nor I can remember this wonderful day. We were young children when we first acknowledged Jesus as Lord and Savior. But we both remember the day we were baptized. I was ten. My baptism was on Easter Sunday…customary for many when we were young. Bob’s doesn’t remember when his was.

Our new birth should be of greater celebration than our natural birthday. This is a very special to the heart of Father God and Jesus. The angels in heaven danced and rejoiced on that day…the day you made the decision to accept Jesus. If they have a great celebration noting this day, we should do the same. In addition, how can we see it as less than our Father in Heaven does?

It doesn’t matter whether you have been a believer for one day or sixty years. I challenge you to celebrate your rebirthday. If you can’t remember the day, then celebrate on the day of your baptism like we do. But do celebrate….it is a special day indeed.