Tag Archives: Bible

What I Really Believe About God

My pastor recently introduced me to the S.O.A.P. Bible study method and, as I’m enjoying it quite a bit, I thought I’d share some of what the Lord’s been teaching me. Hope you enjoy!

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Scripture

Titus 1:16

“They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.”

Observe

It is possible to know God without following Him. You can believe in Him and still be ‘detestable’ and ‘worthless’ in serving Him. This was written to a group of people who lived in a world where professing Christ cost them something: comfort, security, social standing, persecution. In today’s first world society, it doesn’t cost us anything to say we’re Christians. It’s too easy to give God lip-service while doing and giving nothing else whatsoever.

What you do is what you believe, the rest is just talk.

Application

I need to act out what I believe. And what I believe is that God is God, that He is good, and that He is in control. That’s what I say I believe.

But the beliefs I live out suggest that God is only sort of sovereign over a couple things and even with those, only if He gets the voicemail I left Him. He is good to other people and even though He’s proven His goodness to me, that goodness can and probably will run out soon. Besides, it’s not always my idea of goodness so it doesn’t really count. And even though He probably did create all of time and space, it’s okay if I don’t read the Bible today; He understands that watching the new Gilmore Girls special is important too.

These are the beliefs my actions imply when I spend my time worrying, envying, pouting, ignoring Him, and blatantly sinning. If I really do believe that God is a good Father, my good Father, then my actions and attitude must reflect that.

Prayer

Dear Jesus, thank You so much for loving me, for giving me endless second chances. Please forgive me for taking You for granted, for using pretty language and talking until I’m blue in the face then turning around and acting in direct opposition to what I just said I should/could/would do. I’ve been so wrapped up in myself that I’ve been worthless for Your Kingdom. Please let that stop here. Please help me to put my money where my mouth is. Bring  my beliefs and actions together and please help me to live what I claim to believe. It’s in Your precious name that I pray, Amen.

So, based solely on your actions, what do you believe?

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Will the Real Victims Please Stand Up

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There’s a word that’s popping up a lot lately, especially in church. It often prompts controversial discussion, leaving most people feeling angry and/or scared.

That word? ‘Rights.’ Particularly ‘Christian,’ ‘religious,’ and ‘American’ rights.

It can’t be denied that the political climate of our country is changing and that freedoms we once enjoyed are being threatened. In reaction to this, the church has become a political force and Christians everywhere are being urged to stand up and defend their rights.

Trouble is, I honestly don’t see anything in the Scriptures about fighting for our rights. In fact, in 1 Peter 2:17, I found what seems to me to be the direct opposite:

‘Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.’

That doesn’t sound very much like the current Christian agenda. But, we are living in a different culture with different sins. Surly, if Peter were to see our president today, he wouldn’t tell us to honor a man who is so clearly against our Christian values. Right?

Only, Peter wrote this letter to the Roman provinces in Asia. And the king at that time? Nero.

And I looked into it, the word honor as used here in the Greek basically means honor. Does that mean we obey the laws of the land if that requires disobeying the laws of God? Of course not. Does that mean we stop gossiping and complaining about the government and pray for them instead…?

If honoring a king you don’t agree with is hard, how much more so people whom you interact with every day. ‘Honor all people.’ Well, it does say all. Does that mean that we defend actions that are clearly sinful according to God’s definition? Of course not. Does it mean we stop trying to save people in our own strength by manipulating them into repentance and simply share the Gospel with them instead…?

We’ve lost ourselves to a screaming match with culture.  Social media is lifting up sin as heroic and empowering while the church is condemning its practitioners to the pits of hell. Meanwhile, what we’re failing to realize is that we are fighting the wounded.

When did we get so caught up in ‘rights’ that we forgot to preach the Gospel? When did we forget that we laid down our rights to fair treatment at the foot of the cross?

Christ died to take our rights away from us, because our inalienable birthright is eternal punishment for our sins.

Do we really want to fight for our rights, for what we deserve?

But then, what about defending the Scriptures, and God’s laws? I read an article recently that said we have to defend the sanctity of marriage from the government because it’s a God-ordained institution. The implication here being that the Supreme Court’s decision supersedes God’s opinion, that if the Federal Government of America calls it a marriage, then God is forced to acknowledge it as such. That’s just silly.

We defend the Scriptures by living by them and by allowing God to exhibit His glory and love in our lives. We need to be wary of distractions; Jesus didn’t get mixed up in politics, nor did the apostles. Instead, the early church did what it was mandated to do: spread the Gospel.

By doing that, they turned the world upside down.

That’s all we have to do. Instead, we Christians are playing the persecution card, cloaking ourselves in victim-hood. But we are the ones with full access to God. We are the ones who have tasted of His love and forgiveness. We are the ones looking forward to eternity in paradise with Him.

We aren’t the victims. The people we’re fighting are. That makes us the bullies.

We are so eager to save a dying world for God that we condemn the homosexual, conveniently forgetting that he’s the one who isn’t enjoying God’s best for his life. We shout hate at the pregnant teenager as if killing her unborn child won’t scar her for life. We gossip about and pray against politicians who’ve traded their morality for the perception of power.

That can’t be right. They are the ones who are truly suffering in their sins. They’re the ones who will be hurt by their choices. Why are we offended? Why are we hurt? Why are we fighting for our rights? And most importantly, why aren’t we loving these people instead?

Let’s bring the focus away from political agendas and back to Jesus and His saving power, instead of trying to save people our way. Instead of defending our rights, let’s defend the Gospel with our lives by displaying it in our lives and show a dying world what the Savior can do.


Strong Language

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(Originally published 8/13)

This is going to be the absolute greatest post I’ve ever made! Did I get your attention? Do you believe me? Probably not. You might even be thinking that was an egotistical boast. It would have been if I were serious, but I wasn’t. I was exaggerating, something I’m prone to do.

A lot of us are. By this I don’t mean that we all go fishing and bring home stories of wale hunts. What I mean is we use strong language to get our points across. If someone asks us how we’re doing we reply that we’re ‘great.’ Someone shows us their new car and we tell them it’s ‘awesome.’ We use words like ‘never’ and ‘always’ ‘all’ the time. It’s so ingrained in our social language that we don’t even notice we’re doing it.

This isn’t really a problem because most of us only use this type of language either in person where whoever we’re speaking with can see our facial expressions and thus determine our true meaning, or with people who know us well enough to tell when we are exaggerating. So we continue to use big words for regular things and it doesn’t cause many misunderstandings.

There is, however, a danger that comes with all this strong language; big words are becoming common, overused, and unbelievable. We are using all our strong language for everyday little things and we are weakening them. So when we go to church and sing ‘How Great is our God’ it’s not coming through to us in the same way. Sure, God is great, but so was our meeting with the boss last week. God is awesome, as was Monday night’s game. God is perfect, just like our delicious burger. See the problem? It’s harder to get across big things when we’ve trivialized the words.

Even worse, now the words don’t mean as much when we read them in the promises of God. Look at 2 Peter 1:3:

‘His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life.’

Look at the use of the word ‘everything’ there. That’s huge! We have everything we need for a godly life. But we also have everything we need to make lasagna so we don’t get as excited by the word as we should. Look almost anywhere in Psalms and you’ll read of God’s greatness. Ps. 96:4 says;

‘For the Lord is great and greatly to be praised.’

We read that and then spill our coffee and exclaim, ‘Great! That’s just great!’ A big one is the word love. The Greek had four different words for love but we have just the one so we love God but we also love that new T.V. show. Therefore, verses like John 15: 9, in which Jesus says,

“As the Father has loved Me, so I have loved you,”

doesn’t hit home as hard as it’s intended to.

Finding new words is fun and there are a lot out there that few people know exist. But there aren’t enough to replace all the words in the Bible and I don’t think people are going to rush out and invent a bunch of new words so we can rewrite the Bible with more flamboyant language. Neither can we expect our culture to abandon their wordy ways and use words like ‘great’ and ‘awesome’ and ‘perfect’ only when pertaining to God. We have one word for love and it will probably continue to be used to name favorite sport teams.

We need to rewire our brains to realize what these words mean and remember to keep things in context. When we read through the Bible, we need to stop on those common, big words that we usually take for granted and really think about them. If you can, google the verse you’re reading and try to find the original Greek words and their meanings, especially for love verses. There is a lot of strong language in the Bible and God makes a lot of ‘big word’ promises. Read slowly so you don’t miss them. And when you do find them, take a moment to really think on them and enjoy the powerful language and love of God.   


Our Own Plank

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(Originally published 8/12-13/13)

We’ve probably all been told at some point to worry about the plank in our own eye. And we don’t have to look far for it, do we? God can be pretty blunt when it comes to showing us changes He wants to make in our hearts.

Regardless of whether He uses blessings or (sadly more likely) trials to wake us up, it’s our choice whether or not to listen. Choosing to repent and turn that area over to God can be a long, hard process.

Thankfully, the Word promises that when we seek God with all our heart and mind, we will find Him (Due.4:29, Jer. 29.13). What does seeking Him look like? It’s a little different for everyone, but two things that are required by everyone: reading the Bible and praying.

If you don’t read the Bible and fill yourself with God’s truths and promises, how are you going to know who God is, who you are, and what you are supposed to do?  Don’t take other peoples’ word for it, or settle for being spoon fed by a pastor once a week. Dig into it as often as you can! Fill yourself with Scripture.

Then, when you face temptation, you can do what Jesus did and fight the devil with the Word of God (Matt 4: 1-11, Eph. 6:17b). When worries rear their ugly heads, you can remember all the times the Bible teaches of God’s love and faithfulness. When idolatry infiltrates your heart, the Word will remind you to have an eternal perspective and build up treasures in heaven.

And the more you read, the more you’ll want to know. It doesn’t matter if you’ve read a passage one time or ten, God can still use it to being you fresh revelation. So dig deep, ask questions, commit passages to memory, write things down and hang them around your house. Surround yourself with the Word of God.

As you read your Bible, talk to God about it. Talk to Him about everything. The Bible tells us to pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17) but God is so often the last person we go to. We celebrate victories with friends, we share fears with those closest to us, we fret to ourselves in traffic and share our thoughts, rather loudly, with the other drivers. But we sometimes forget to share these things with God.

We even have a popular expression in times of trouble; ‘all we can do is pray.’ Excuse me? ‘All’ we can do is pray? The MOST we can do is pray! We are taking the problem before the Almighty Creator of the Universe, who loves us more than we will ever be able to fathom, and we’re telling Him that regardless of the outcome, we trust Him to have His way and that His way is the best. Think about that for a minute. Think about presenting your case to the Author and Creator of all things and tell me that’s the least you can do.

Our first reactions in good times as well as bad should be to pray. And more than that, to praise, simply because He is worthy.  As I read once, “We have to thank God for the seemingly good as well as the seemingly bad because really, we don’t know the difference.”

When we are trusting God completely with our lives and fixing our eyes on Him, we will be able to rejoice in all circumstances, knowing and believing that God is good, forever just and forever faithful, fully worthy of all adoration.

The closer we grow to God through prayer and reading the Bible, the better we get to know Him and the deeper our love grows for Him, as does our knowledge and understanding of His love for us.

We can all stand to make some self-improvements, but don’t stop at that humble realization; follow it up with action. Grab a Bible and bend a knee.


In Light of the King

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I think King David is such a kooky character. By that I mean he’ll do something so admirable one minute, and something I totally disagree with the next. Case in point:

In 2 Sam.9 we read about how David takes Jonathan’s son, Mephibosheth, and basically adopts him. David gives him everything that belonged to Saul as well as a permanent spot at his dinner table along with his other sons.

Fast forward a few years and David is on the run from his son Absalom. While he’s leaving his kingdom, Mephibosheth’s servant, Ziba, tells David that Mephibosheth has joined Absalom. In light of this act of betrayal, David gives Ziba all of Mephibosheth’s possessions.

The Bible keeps us in suspense until Absalom and his army are defeated and David returns. He is met by Mephibosheth, who tells him that Ziba lied. In fact, Mephibosheth hasn’t shaved or washed since David left and is beyond overjoyed to have the king home again.

So here’s the kooky bit: David’s response to this news is to say, “You and Ziba divide the land.”

This would have flat out ticked me off. “Sorry, your Majesty, perhaps you didn’t understand me. Ziba betrayed me, lied about me, and stole all I own. I think what you meant to say was ‘To the dungeon with him!’ not ‘Reward his betrayal by giving him half your stuff.’ I mean, what’s up with that?!”

I don’t know why David did this. Some speculate that he was testing Mephibosheth’s heart. I’m sure he had his reasons. But what I really is love Mephibosheth’s response:

‘Then Mephibosheth said to the king, “Rather, let him take it all, inasmuch as my lord the king has come back in peace to his own house.”’

2 Sam.19:30

There are two things that hit me about this.

First, when someone wrongs us, our first inclination is typically to seek justice. Some of us have kept quarrels alive for years, trying to get a little of our own back. Right is right, we’ll say as we try to justify our actions and prove that we were wronged.

But that’s not what happens here. Here, the focus isn’t on settling the score, the focus is on the king. Rather than pursuing a quarrel, Mephibosheth readily forgives Ziba, testifying to the fact that the king’s return is the only thing that matters to him.

This one hits me right between the eyes. I’ve always had trouble letting go if grudges. I want my vindication and I want it right away. But how much does getting even really matter in the presence of the King?

Second, Mephibosheth also makes it abundantly clear that he is loyal to David because he loves him as his king and adopted father, not because David gave him Saul’s land. He loves the giver, not the gift.

I tend to turn my gifts into idols. In fact, there are some gifts God’s given me that, should He take them back, I would miss enough to be angry with Him. Actually, this happens to me all the time.

When things don’t go according to plan, or when unexpected expenses arise, basically, when my comfortable world is rocked at all, I grumble and complain. I’m more attached to my gifts than I am to the Giver. And I spend far too much of my free time trying to protect what I have or amass more.

I love what the name Mephibosheth means: ‘exterminator of idols.’ How appropriate. The man who gave him everything takes it away and his response is to love him even more. His heart wasn’t in the things of this world, it was in serving the king.

I want to surrender the idols in my life, and I want to give up on petty disputes that mean nothing when compared to all that God has forgiven me.

In light of the King, nothing else matters. It’s all about Him.


How He Loves

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You don’t have to spend much time in church before you hear someone tell you that Jesus loves you. For Christians, this is a fundamental belief. Maybe even the fundamental belief.

But one aspect of His love that gets overlooked is how He loves us.

If you search the Bible for what category we fall into for God, you might find something funny:

“No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends,”

John 15:15

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God,”

John 1:12

“and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ,”

Rom. 8:17

“Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.”

Rev.21:9

“For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister…”

Matt. 12:50

You have ravished my heart,
My sistermy spouse;

Song of Sol. 4:9

Here we have the categories of friend, child, heir, co-heir, sibling, and bride. That’s a bit confusing. And to be honest, off-putting. I mean, ‘my sister, my spouse’? It sounds like a bad reality show.

But think about the love that goes along with each of those categories.

The love you feel for a friend is special because you chose that person. You have no legal or biological tie to them. You choose to spend time with them and love them because they matter to you.

I’ve never had children of my own but I’ve been called the ‘second mommy’ of three precious little boys and I’ve had a taste of a parent’s love through loving them. I know how powerful and overwhelming it is, how unconditional and permanent.

Because these children are not mine, I also caught a glimpse of God’s heart for adoption. To make someone who wasn’t born to you your heir means that you chose to take responsibility for them. You hand-picked them to carry your name.

I have six siblings so I know what that love feels like. It’s a special tie that that runs deep and means that no matter what, I’ve got their backs, and they’ve got mine. We’ve grown up together and get each other on a level that no one else could ever understand.

I’ve been very happily married for almost nine months now and I can honestly say that my love for my husband has only grown since the day I married him. I love him more than any other human being. I chose him and I get to revel in the knowledge that he chose me. We are committed to each other and I know that no matter what happens, he will love me through. I’m committed to loving him till the day I die.

Think about all the people you love and how you love them. God loves you in all those ways too.

He chose you

He is bound to you

His love for you is unconditional and permanent

He hand-picked you to be part of His family

He will never leave you

He delights in you

You make His heart sing

Nobody else is capable of loving you as completely as God does. No one else will ever, could ever, love you that fully, that deeply. No one can make that level of commitment to you. No one can ever be there for you like God can.

It is my prayer that you are drinking deeply of His love for you today and it is my dearest hope…

“that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

Eph.3:17-19


Knocking Some Cents into People

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Over the last few days, I’ve noticed a new trend sweeping the internet: money management. No doubt this is due to the New Year and the desire to not scribble on a clean sheet. But this is one trend I can really get behind.

My husband has just spent the better part of three months writing down all the financial knowledge he’s gained from a major in accounting, a CPA license, a tax preparation course, and five plus years of on the job experience.

The result is Lessons in Personal Finance.com, a free blog dedicated to teaching people how to manage their money.

As Christians, responsible financing doesn’t just make good sense, it’s a Biblical mandate. We are called to be wise stewards over our lives and possessions, and that means money too.

Just like everything else we have, our money is a gift from the Lord. And like all other gifts, we should be using money as a tool to further God’s Kingdom.

Trouble is, it’s too easy to justify extra purchases in our society. It’s all about cheap thrills and instant gratification and we often don’t realize the true price of things. For example, did you know that a new Playstaion actually costs over $4,000?

There are a lot of simple, little things we can do to cut costs and budget more wisely. We can eat in more often, skip a few extra Starbucks runs, visit the library more often, etc. But I believe being a wise steward goes even beyond that.

Aside from being content and generous with what we have, we can learn how to make the most with our money. In the Parable of the Talents, Matt. 25:14-30, we see a clear example of wise and faithful servants putting their master’s money to good use. Yes, the parable is metaphorical; yes, it’s not about real money; but shouldn’t it pertain to every area in our lives, including finances? In Luke 16:1-9, Jesus tells how a master commended his money manager for acting shrewdly.

I won’t get into vow of poverty stuff here or whether or not being rich is sinful. The point I’m trying to make is that we should know how money works because it can be used as a powerful tool. And the more we have, the more we can give away.

We would love for you to check out the site and tell us what you think. If you find it helpful, please spread the word. And if you have any tips and ideas on being wise with money, please feel free to share. We want to teach people how to be wise stewards. Please help us get the message out! 

 

Image curtsy of Colossal


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