December 12 2016

Keep Christ In Christianity

Today as I drove by the little church in my neighborhood, I just had to read their sign and laugh. They change it up often, usually to something humorous and thought provoking. Today the sign read “Keep Christ in Christianity”. I thought it was going to read something like “Keep Christ in Christmas”, so I was surprised by the statement. Why would a church have to tell Christians to keep Christ in them?

I have thought for a very long time about what the definition of Christian is. Many people call themselves Christian, and each one has a different set of standards why which they determine there are Christian. Some people simply call themselves Christian because they believe in God. Some because they go to church regularly. Some people say they are Christian because they believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and have accepted His free gift of salvation.

If we look at the definition of Christian here is what see according to dictionary.com:

1. of, relating to, or derived from Jesus Christ or His teachings:
2. of, pertaining to, believing in, or belonging to the religion based on the teachings of Jesus Christ :
3. exhibiting a spirit proper to a follower of Jesus Christ; Christlike:
4. decent; respectable:
5. human; not brutal; humane:

So as we can see, Christian is a term that is quite broad in it’s definition. It can refer to following Jesus Christ, or it can refer to being a decent and respectable human being. In the eyes of the world, this is how it is seen. There are other religions such as Mormons, Jehovah’s Witness, Christian Science and so on that claim to base their religion on some of the teachings of Jesus Christ. There are also other religions, such as Muslim, that include Jesus Christ as an authority figure in them. So technically by these definitions, we can call these religions Christian as well.

So what exactly does it mean to follow Christ? Does it simply mean you go to church and try to be a good person? That you read the Bible and conform to a certain standard that Christians certainly must adhere too? It seems to mean different things for different people. Even amongst Christians there is a battle over who is a true Christian and really saved. Some would say that if you live a life with certain sins, then you aren’t really a Christian. Others would say that all you need to do is love Jesus and you are Christian.

The problem with being called a Christian is you fall into many religious traps. Being Christian may well mean you believe in Jesus Christ, but it also means that you are putting yourself into a box, one that is there to define you and allow the world to make it’s judgement upon you. As the world sees it, Christians are good people who have good moral standards and help people, but are also very judgmental and condemning to anyone who isn’t Christian or Christian enough in their eyes. It is a double edged sword.

Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise.

1 Corinthians 3:18

I have seen Christians fight with each other on any topic that can possibly be debated upon. However, the Bible makes it clear we are not fighting against flesh and blood, but against the powers of this world; aka Satan. Satan has been using the words of God to turn us against God since the Garden of Eden. He tempted mankind into sin so easily, and even used scripture to try to turn Jesus Christ Himself. Satan absolutely loves religion, and loves to use it against God’s people.

The early church was very simple. It was people who loved Jesus and wanted to spread the Gospel to everyone they could. They gathered together to pray and study God’s word daily. They helped each other and took care of each other. No one was in need or want. They were doing life together in order to create unity and further the Gospel message. Yet as the movement grew, people brought in many ideas and practices from the world around them. The church began to adopt many customs from many religions and as the church grew, Christianity evolved.

Christianity is really a hybrid religion. It’s a mesh of Judiasm, paganism, and the teachings of Christ. People have added many things in because our human rituals and traditions are comforting to us. We have adopted and adapted Christianity to fit our needs as the centuries have gone on. It has become a religion and not a relationship. The root of Christianity is a movement of people who wanted desperately to follow Jesus Christ and experience the Living God. And that is what they did. They lived all their days out with a passionate zeal for Christ.

Somewhere along the line we have gotten religion and Jesus mixed up in one big bag together. We have started to believe that God is Christianity, church and the Bible, and therefore began replacing a personal and intimate relationship with Jesus with these beliefs. We began to believe that in order to be good, to know Jesus, to do the right thing, we had to go to church, read the Bible and do all the “Christian things”. We had to do service work and be involved in church and be on committees and in groups. We had to look to Christian leaders and pastors to help us and teach us. We have gotten very lost.

I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.  You are still worldly.

1 Corinthians 3:2-3

Jesus Christ is not a religion, nor is He only to be found in the Bible or church. Jesus Christ is everywhere and in everything. We were created through Him and for Him. We have His Holy Spirit living inside of us. We were created in heaven for His purpose. No matter what we do, what religion we affiliate with, or what church we go to, Jesus is with us. Always, even until the end of the age. Jesus does not care if we are Christian or not. He cares if we have a relationship with Him. A deep and intimate relationship. Outside of that, nothing else matters.

There is a lot of condemnation when it comes to Christianity. Christians are pitted against other Christians over trivial matters and the world hates us because of this hypocrisy. The world doesn’t hate the light, it loves it. The problem is, while we have been so busy filling ourselves up with religious practices and self righteousness, the devil and swooped in and deceived the whole world with his light. Lucifer is beautiful and bright and hides all of his destruction and death underneath it, so that all the world can see looks good and right. And he has crept in with his disguise and made Christianity look like the real evil of the world.

Christianity has become symbols, rituals, ideals and actions. It’s time to let go of all of it if we truly want to chase after Christ with the same desperate passion of our forefathers, the disciples. Jesus wants a relationship with you right now, exactly where you are. God speaks to you and you do not need an interpreter. The Living God, the one who created the heavens and the earth, is inside of you right now. God has done everything He can to make our part easier. If you are struggling with feeling condemned or hearing the voice of God, that’s OK. God can help you with that. Just keep seeking Him and trusting Him to lead the way.

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

John 16:13

christianityIf we want to see the message of the Gospel progress in this world, we need to each one do our own individual parts. That means starting first with Christ as we let everything else in our lives fall away. Every person needs to come before the throne of God and seek His glorious presence and know Him personally. We were created for this. It is only through this relationship we are going to find freedom from oppression, healing, who God created us to be, and the call He has placed over our lives. There is no thing that can do that for us.

No matter what happens with the church or religion, God will always stand strong and prevail. If we want to focus on God, then we need to reevaluate our priorities and beliefs and bring them all before the throne room of God. Then we need to be willing to allow Him to come into our hearts and lives and show us where we have succumbed to idolatry and pageantry so that we can find His freedom. Jesus died for our freedom to be with Him all of the time. Let’s not waste our time looking for Him and realize He has been inside of us all along.

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you.

Romans 8:9

February 1 2016

What Is Normal Christianity?

ChristianityAs a pagan I had many preconceived notions about what Christianity was or what it meant to be a Christian. I didn’t believe in Jesus Christ, and honestly He was never a thought in my mind. Jesus Christ was a swear word to me. Outside of that He was either a mythical figure or a historical figure. The guy with the long hair and white robes. I had nothing but disdain for Christians for as long as I can remember. Unfortunately part of that I was taught at the Mormon Church as a child. They do not hold the same beliefs as Christians, and I was taught away from the Truth of the Gospel message. I didn’t realize this though, being just a child, so I never questioned why I hated Christians.

As far as I was always concerned, Christians were a bunch of perfect people with no problems. At the same time I also thought Christianity was filled with hypocrites who thought they were better than everyone else and looked down on everyone from the pedestals they stood on. Admittedly there are people like that, but not all of them are Christians. As a pagan, I didn’t see it that way. I just hated Christianity and everything it stood for. Funny thing is, I didn’t actually know what Christianity was all about. I assumed it was about following rules and a God that was far away and judgmental, waiting to send you to hell. Another belief instilled by the Mormon Church. It wasn’t until I read the Bible for myself and encountered Jesus Christ, that I realize how very wrong I was all my life.

There is nothing perfect about Christianity. There is not perfect formula for getting saved and living a perfect life, free of problems. The only thing perfect in Christianity is Jesus Christ, perfect and sinless because He is God. Outside of that, we are all broken people, living in a very broken world. We are all hurting and lost in some way or another. We are all searching for the Truth and ultimately for perfect love, that only comes from God. There is not one certain way to be or act. We are all doing the best we can with what we know.

For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

Hebrews 10:14

I have pondered the question many times, what does it really mean to be a Christian? Do any Christians really follow Jesus? Is the life of a true Christian, as modeled by the Bible even possible? It seems to me even now, in the midst of Christianity, that no one is even doing this walk right. No one is following Jesus with full surrender and abandon. Christianity is filled with paganism in every facet, and other Christians tear each other from limb to limb, using the very scripture we hold so dear. We sin, yet judge others for their sin. We go to church like it’s a social club. We do life like everyone else in the world, just going to work and taking care of our families. There is nothing special or out of the ordinary about us.

So what exactly is normal Christianity? Is it someone who strives to be as Christ like as possible, loving everyone completely, feeding the poor and devoting their time to ministry? Is Christianity about striving for a sinless life and being on a constant spiritual high? No. This is not what normal Christianity is. This is what we imagine we should be as Christians. This is what the world thinks Christianity should look like. This is not anywhere near the norm, for any of us.

I believed for a while that when I became Christian I was going to be perfect. I kept waiting for it to happen, and it didn’t. The Holy Spirit continued to convict me of things about myself and in my life that needed to be changed. I kept feeling better about myself as I made those changes, and I kept looking down on the other Christians around me. Why was I getting more Christ like while everyone around me had plateaued back in high school? No one was moving closer to Jesus, but instead staying where it was comfortable. Meanwhile I saw examples of other Christians who were out there healing the sick and casting out demons and praying the fire of God down on people so they could encounter the presence of the Holy Spirit. They were walking in selfless love and what I saw closely resembled the disciples and apostles in the Bible, rather than your average Joe.

So Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

Hebrews 9:28

What I didn’t understand is I was not seeing the whole picture of any one individual. The Christians who were stagnant were not wrong for staying where it was comfortable and the Christians who were out praying for the sick were not right because they were doing something extra ordinary. There is no right and wrong when it comes to Christianity. There is no set of rules on what Christianity needs to look like or feel like. God is much bigger than all the ideas that we could ever come up with, to limit Him and Christianity to a set of rules or behaviors or standards. Yet that is what I thoroughly believed in my walk into Christianity.

When we start to view Christianity through this strict confines, we are turning it into a religion instead of a relationship. Christianity started out very simply – a group of men and women who knew Jesus and spent their days with Him. They talked to Him, they told them their hopes and fears, they shared lives together. They broke bread together, traveled together, and they learned to trust Jesus with all their hearts. They learned to see that Jesus loved them unconditionally and that through them they could experience life with a new freedom they never knew was possible. Because of that they were willing to abandon what they had known and live unconventionally. Yet they never became perfect.

They argued, vied for the affections of Jesus, were competitive with each other for prominence, denied Jesus as God and even ran away when things got hard. That is just a small list of the mistakes the disciples made. They were only human – broken in a very broken world that has been ruled by the evil one, the devil. Jesus did not come here to start a religion or have us follow rules or standards. That was what the Pharisees were doing. No. Jesus came to love us, to heal our brokenness, to free us from the captivity that the devil has ensnared us in, and to show us that to Him, we are very worthy. God loves us so very much, enough that He would sacrifice everything for us. He did not give us the Bible as a set of rules to follow, but as a living testimony of His love!!

Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

Matthew 16:22-23

The devil would love for us to turn Christianity into a religion. We have done a very good job with his help. We take up all the shame and fear and need for approval and turn our relationship with our Creator into great works to get us into heaven. That is one thing that is supposed to separate Christianity from all other religions. Every other religion ever is based on working your way into heaven, without any real relationship with the god figure. Only Christianity offers redemption through a relationship with a perfect and holy God. How can you beat that kind of gift? You don’t have to do anything, other than believe and have a relationship with Jesus? Amazing and simple! So why do we make it so complicated?

Are people just inherently complicated? I don’t believe so. I think that the world would have us believe that things are much more complicated than they are. And the world is owned by the devil. This is his domain, in which he is the prince of. The Bible makes that clear. The devil only has a few goals for us – steal us away from God, kill our souls so we go to hell, and destroy all of our hope. If he can do that, he has found success. Yes he wants us to die, but what better than to send us to hell to rot with him for all eternity? True hell is the absence of God. I should know, because I was there for most of my life.

So again, what is normal Christianity? Normal Christianity is someone who loves Jesus with all their heart. They are not perfect, but completely broken. They may be in denial that they are broken, or they may be in full surrender to God in their brokenness. Normal Christians are walking through life trying to do the best they can with what they have. They try the best they can to give their lives to God, but fail more often than not. They have good intentions and try to love others and give selflessly. Yet they fail often and feel disappointed or ashamed. They may grow spiritually in leaps or bounds, or may not grow at all preferring to stay where they think they are safe. There is always two things that are underlying our motives in life and how we behave and relate. 1) Our relationship with our Creator God, and 2) The pain and brokenness we have experienced through our lives. This is what shapes a normal Christian. This is what shapes every human being.

Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”

Galatians 4:6

jesus loveIf you have been beating yourself up because you don’t think you are a good Christian, or maybe not even a real Christian; or maybe you think God is angry at you; then I am telling you right now to stop. You are listening to the lies of the devil. He wants you to feel bad about yourself and to believe God is disappointed in you. He is not. He loves you, right here, right now, no matter what. You are good enough for God, imperfection and all. Whether or not you are stuck in sin, or feel far away from God, you are doing the best you can with what you know. It is OK. You just have to keep going, one step at a time, to move closer to God and closer to finding the healing He has for you. We are never going to have a perfect, sinless life, or be just like Jesus. We were not meant to be. We are meant to be His children and to be loved by God, and love Him back. Everything outside of that is just part of the details and circumstances of your life.

You are the Jewish man who was beaten and left to die by robbers. Jesus is the Good Samaritan. He is the one who you least expected to come rescue you, and saw the value in you. Jesus is the one who saw you broken and bandaged your wounds. Jesus is the one who cared enough to stop everything He was doing, and take you in so you could live.

It is time for you to come out of the darkness, brothers and sisters. It is time to stop hiding behind the lies that you need to be OK all the time, or that everyone needs to live up to some godly standards that are impossible. Let down your guard as you hide behind walls of fear and pain and move closer to the God who loves you with a never ending love. Let Jesus renew and strengthen you as you just sit quietly with Him. Believe He is right there, even if you can’t feel it. He is. Forever. You are His. He will never let you go. That is what normal Christianity is. It’s time to embrace it.

For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:6-8

September 7 2015

Your Testimony – The Pearl of Great Price

If you have ever read my testimony, you know that I was once a practicing witch, a drug addict, sexually promiscuous, and completely rebelled against God. As a matter of fact, I used Jesus name as a swear word. I have been told I have an amazing testimony, and have been thanked many times for sharing it. I really love to share my testimony, because it glorifies God and magnifies His wonderful love and commitment to us. I have also been told by other Christians, that they wished they had a “better testimony”. That their testimony was very boring and uninteresting. Well let me tell you right now, that is a lie straight from the devil.

And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 1 John 5:11

Every believer in Jesus Christ has a testimony, and every testimony is valuable and important for the Kingdom of God. It does not matter whether or not you grew up in church, or came to Christ as an adult. It does not matter if you went to church and fell completely away and came back again, or if you have always had a faithful and steady relationship with Jesus. It doesn’t matter if you have been faithful, but completely caught up in sin and been imprisoned and miserable because of it, or if you have had somewhat of a perfect and blessed life. This is your testimony, your story, and it is by this testimony that you have the most wonderful gift you can ever give. Your testimony is the pearl of great price.

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it. Matthew 13:44-46

Your testimony did not end the day that you accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior. No, my dear, that was only the beginning of the wonderful work that God began to do in your life! It was that pivotal moment that was to be the launching point for many other amazing works that God has and will do through and for you! And it is those stories, that testimony, that you must dare to uncover for the world to hear. Do not leave this treasure to remain hidden in the field! Leave it open for all to see, because through it you do not know who will find great value in it. Value enough to sell everything and give themselves over to the King who first gave this gift to you.

“Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him. 2 Timothy 1:18

We are here on this earth to usher in the Kingdom of God. Within us lies a storehouse of treasures to be shared and freely given to the world. Love, joy, hope, peace, and our testimony. Do you freely share your testimony of what God has done for you? Do you let your life be an open book, to show the good works of our Heavenly Father? Or are you ashamed of your life? Afraid of what people will know of you? Of what they may think? Jesus hung on the cross two thousand years ago open and exposed before the world, humiliated and laughed at, and He did it for you. He let go of His own will, His own shame and pain, there on that cross, and He did it because He knew ultimately it would glorify our Father. Do not let the enemy continue to lie to you and fill your head and heart with shame and guilt. There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus! Guilt is not from God, but from the enemy. He has come to steal, kill, and destroy you! Do not let him steal the glory of God’s mighty work in your life.

And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. Revelation 12:1

So I ask you this, dear brothers and sisters, what has God done for you? Has He freed you from a particular sin? Or blessed you with a wonderful family? Or bestowed you with great gifts such as a job, a house, a car? Has He worked miracles in your life, saving you when you were desperate? There is so much to sing praises about for our wonderful God! We must rejoice in all He has done for us, because there in our praises lies power! Power to move forward into the work Jesus has for us in His Kingdom!

I will shout from the rooftops and proclaim the good favor that Jesus has given me, all the days of my life! Maybe your testimony does not seem as radical or life altering as mine – or maybe it is. Whatever it may be, I urge you, no I plead with you, share it! When we share the testimony that God has given us it is a mighty weapon against the enemy! He cannot stand for us to glorify God, and it takes away the power of the enemy and releases the Kingdom of God, right here on earth. What a wonderful joy that is!

testimonyYou may be asking, how do I share my testimony? Just be open and willing, and let the Holy Spirit guide you. You do not need to do anything special to share your testimony, other than to ask God to help you do so. He will bring the right people into your life at the perfect time. He will help guide you in the perfect words to say for each individual situation He places you in. Your testimony may sound a little different every time you tell it. I have told my testimony many times and I felt like a horrible failure! I just knew I sounded awful or ridiculous, but that was another lie! God works amazing things through our testimony, and I promise you that you will greatly bless others by sharing it.

My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, of your deeds of salvation all the day, for their number is past my knowledge. With the mighty deeds of the Lord God I will come; I will remind them of your righteousness, yours alone. O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come. Psalm 71:15-18

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January 24 2015

Comfy Cozy Christian

I have been told many times that I have a great passion for Jesus that is very inspiring. I have also been told it is because I am a new Christian. Many of the Christians I know that have been Christian for a long time seemed to have lost that passion for Christ. I can see how being new into a relationship with Jesus can make a person feel very excited and giddy even. It can make you want to run out and share the Good News with everyone! Like any honeymoon, it does end. No one is going to have that lasting good feeling going forever. Just like a marriage, it takes work, commitment, and effort on our part, to keep things alive. To keep the passion fires burning inside of us.

christianIt is the same for a Christian and their relationship with Jesus. We have that initial honeymoon period where we feel so in love with Him, and we are ready to shout it out to the roof tops. Then somewhere along the road that feeling starts to slowly fade and before we know it, we have completely lost it. We are walking around just like every other person who has let the world shape them, not God. And it is up to us to pursue Jesus with the same intensity that He pursues us. We cannot just hope and pray for that passion to return, but we need to actively take part in growing it.

Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. Revelation 2:4-5

How easy it is to fall away from our relationship with Christ. We forget to pray, we are too busy to read the Bible, we fill our heads up with worldy lies from TV and media. We find ourselves going to church because it is a great social time with our  friends, and it at least meets the minimum requirement to fulfill our Christianity. Before you know it our hearts are becoming hardened to His Word. The Holy Spirit’s convictions are going ignored, and the things we once removed from our lives because of His conviction we are slowly adding back in. It is so much easier to be like everyone else. Why be set apart or different? Why speak out for God and His Word?

A comfy Christian life seems to be the pursuit of so many Christians now. It is a routine, and lifestyle, a habit. It is not something that penetrates us to the core of who we are. We would not go out of our way to ask a brother or sister if they need prayer. Or to go up to the homeless person and pray for them as well as give them some change. Or to smile at everyone we meet, letting the light of Christ through. Or worse yet, we store up bitterness and resent among our own church family, letting petty things chip away at us. What does the world see when it looks at you? Does it see a person who is a full of love and light, hope and faith? Or another selfish person beat down by the world.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2

It can happen to the best of us. We are all susceptible to the dangers of falling away from our relationship with our Savior. Even I, the new Christian, have experienced it. More than once. It is a scary thing to realize I haven’t even prayed in months. Or that when I pick up the Bible and try to read it, not one word makes sense to me. Or that all the negative influences I have fought to remove from my life have started creeping back in. We must always be on guard. Satan wants nothing more than to find is in our comfy cozy place, where we are just going through the motions, just trying to get through each day. Because then we are vulnerable to his attacks to bring us further away from God. It is his only mission here in this world.

We must work in partnership with God to grow a strong relationship with Him. Putting Him first, above all else. Everything else, even family, friends, work. Everything. We must trust Him and put total faith in Jesus, that He is taking care of us, working all things for the  good of those who love Him. We must set aside time to read the Bible daily, making it a priority. Even five minutes, is better than nothing. Even one verse memorized, is better than a chapter read and not understood. Make a prayer list and devote yourself to pray over it. I have a list on my smart phone and when a prayer is answered I check it off. I pray for things important to me, things I need, and people I know that need prayer. It is unbelievable how great it can feel to pray for others. And even better when you pray for those people who you can’t get off your mind because they have made you angry or upset somehow. Maybe God has placed those people in your life exactly because they need your prayer. adam

No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. 1 John 4:12

As Christians we need to stand up and be examples of Godliness in a godless world. We need to let Christ work through us and in us in every circumstance we are in. Even the mundane. You can show love and kindness to others in so many ways. While driving, while running errands, at work, at home. During your drive time, or while you are during household chores, you can listen to the Bible. You can post scripture on sticky notes around your house or work. You can set aside your time in the shower to pray for others. Where there is a will, there is a way. We do not have to sit down and let life have victory over us, when Jesus sacrificed everything to give us victory over the world.

For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 1 John 5:4

Never take for granted the wonderful freedom you have been granted as a child of God. Never forget that you were once dead in your sin, and an enemy of God – even those of you who became a Christian as a child. You have a precious gift – you have been hand-picked by God to a life of purpose. You do not have to live still enslaved to sin. So many others are living far away from Jesus and have no idea who He is. They have no hope, nothing to put their faith into, just despair and suffering all their lives. They don’t even know the life they are missing. But if they could just see it in us. If they could get a glimpse of God’s love through us, to see what a life lived for Jesus can do, think how their lives could be changed.

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Galations 5:1

God isn’t asking for perfection from us. He is not telling us to follow a certain set of rules, or be a certain way. But what He is asking is for all of us. Jesus came to earth as a helpless baby and gave His life to pay your debt. He has given you all of His love and poured out blessings on your life. He has saved you from darkness and death. And He deserves all of you. All of our love, all of our devotion, all of our life. Are you willing to step out and be bold and courageous and live your life for Jesus?

December 15 2014

Faith in the Fire

Coming into Christianity, there is so much to learn! You have to learn about salvation and Jesus, of course. That is number one! But there is so much that goes along with all of that. Even if you took a crash course in Christianity I am pretty sure you would still have a long way to go to understanding the depth of the religion. Take the Holy Trinity for example. Is there really any Christian that truly understands that? Well maybe, but I have yet to understand the concept enough that I could explain it to someone else.

For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 2 Timothy 4:3

It is important to understand why you are Christian though, and be able to explain what it means and answer hard questions about your faith. There are going to be times when you will be questioned or when you will be faced with deceptive information and you will need to be able to weed the truth from lies. This happened to me a few times as I had a string of Mormons and Jehovah’s Witness come to my house. storm

My grandmother on my mom’s side of the family is Mormon. Often I could go with her to church when I was a child, and so I do know some about Mormonism. I can’t say I learned a lot about Mormon’s or what they believe though. I knew a few things such as: they can’t drink caffeine and they believe in the prophet Joseph Smith. I even went to Utah with my grandma and saw the Mormon Temple. I was interested in it enough that I had seriously thought about getting baptized into the faith when I was 13. For some reason I changed my mind though, and left Mormonism far behind after that.

When I started going to a Christian church, I had a lot of questions about other religions. Mormonism in particular because of its ties to my family. When one of the pastors at my church called it a cult, I was kind of shocked. OK, more than kind of; I was reeling in my seat. I had never thought Mormon was anything more than another religion, like Christianity. I may have even associated it as being Christian at one time in my life. My pastor made sure to let me know that Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses were not Christian at all.

That set me on a quest to learn more about these cult-religions. I always thought the only cult like that was Scientology. Although I didn’t know very much about that one either. A quick internet search led me to a lot of information about Mormons that I really didn’t know what to do with. It was just so far out there. And it led me to feel judgmental against them – the word crazy just kept popping up in my mind. But I knew that was wrong and not how god wants me to think. So I had to abandon the search on Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses for a time and leave that to God.

That is until they started coming to my door. Over a period of several months I had at least a half a dozen visits from different Mormon’s and Jehovah’s Witnesses. It was like we had a target on our house or something, because they just kept coming. In the past I would have not so politely told them to get lost because I wasn’t interested. Now I was concerned about being rude, because I wanted to learn to love everyone, as Jesus commands us to. I even invited some of them back, in hopes that maybe I could help them. Not that I knew what I was doing talking to people who could potentially turn a new Christian upside down in their faith.

These visits have tested my faith though. After one visit from a couple of Jehovah’s Witnesses I did another internet search on what they believed. They would always come to the door with a book that looked very much like a Bible. It was even called a Bible and they would read out of it. Passages that were from the same Bible I read myself. They came with a message that the church has been turned away from some of its original teachings and they wanted to restore that.

Naturally I was curious about what they had to say so when I searched the internet and found out that Jehovah’s Witness do not believe that Jesus is God I was completely thrown off. I had been praying to and worshiping Jesus on a regular basis. As a matter of fact my time in the presence of Jesus was some of the most life changing moments I had experienced. I knew I was in the very presence of God. But this new information made me question that. Was I wrong? Was Jesus not even really God??

I searched the internet for scripture that would show me that the Bible does in fact reveal that Jesus is God. And thankfully that was a very easy search! Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” John 20:28. That was my favorite verse that I found. Good old Doubting Thomas who couldn’t believe Jesus had been resurrected until he saw the wounds in His hands and side for himself. He touched them and proclaimed what all the other disciples already knew – that Jesus is God.

Jesus did not come out and proclaim “I am God.” He did come very close when He said I and the Father are one.” John 10:30 The Pharisees were ready to stone him for that statement because they considered it blasphemy. “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.” John 10:33 Jesus’ statement was huge, because to claim to be one with The Father was to claim to be God Himself. So if Jesus is not God, it would indeed be a blasphemous statement for Him to proclaim.

But when you tango with the beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses, you can get caught in a web of their deception. They take this same verse and twist it just so. It can leave you confused and doubting if you are not careful.

“This strong bond of unity, however, does not make God and his Son, Jesus, indistinguishable from each other. They are two individuals. Each one has his own distinct personality. Jesus has his own feelings, thoughts, experiences, and free will.” JW.org

housestormOur faith can be shaken, tested and tossed about in a sea of uncertainty. Does that mean what we believe isn’t true? No. We need to test our faith and answer the big questions that come up about it. We need to be able to face these questions and take them to the Bible and answer them with the Word of God. We need to be careful at the words of man and being led astray by their teachings. It is and important and necessary part of our growth in our walk of Christianity. How many Christians have been tested and fell short, letting themselves be shaken to the core and then completely lost their way? It can be easier to fall than you think.

The Mormons also do not believe that Jesus is God. They believe He is the son of God, but like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, they believe He is a separate person than God Himself. He had powers of a God while on earth, but was not God.

“We believe Jesus is the Son of God the Father and as such inherited powers of godhood and divinity from His Father, including immortality, the capacity to live forever. While He walked the dusty road of Palestine as a man, He possessed the powers of a God and ministered as one having authority, including power over the elements and even power over life and death.” mormonnewsroom.org

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1

There were so many Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons coming by that we started to wonder if it was a spiritual attack against us. Finally my husband answered the door and refused them and turned them away. We didn’t see any for months and I quite enjoyed the break from it. I felt weakened by all the questioning I had to do for my own faith. Faith that was still so new. I began to study the Bible more often and memorize scripture. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11 I became increasingly familiar with His word and grew more in my understanding of who God is and what His truths are.

I did this because I had a desire to do so. The more I studied and memorized, the more I grew a hunger and thirst for it. I longed for the truth and was able to bring to mind Bible verses easily for many circumstances in my life and for others. It was wonderful. Then just a week ago the doorbell rang. I thought it was another door to door salesman wanting to sign us up for a new roof or paint our house. When I opened the door I was surprised to see two nicely dressed women holding black books. Mormons. Oh Lord, I prayed, please help me! I did not want to go through the doubt and uncertainty as I did before. I did not know what to say to these people and their unyielding attempts to bring me into their faith.

God was faithful to me, and my study of His word gave me just the strength I needed. I was able to test God’s will and back it up with the scripture I had been learning. I have no idea if I said anything to these young women that made a difference to them in any way. I have no idea if God used me in this circumstance to touch them. All I do know is I am glad that I did have my faith tested, and that I challenged me to grow and learn.

faithI do not want to judge others, or say I know better than anyone else. I do know a few simple truths though. Jesus is god, the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, and if you can’t back something up with scripture, then it is not the Truth. I am thankful for these small bits of wisdom and I pray to gain more as I continue to study and learn. In this society truth is not absolute – that it changes for every person – I thank God that He is my rock that I can stand on in a sea of discord. I have built my house on sand and watched it sink time and time again. And I sat in misery as my world crumbled before my eyes each time. Now I can stand firm with faith and hope to know that God’s word never returns void and that I can rest safely in the shelter of the Most High.

“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

 

 

 

 

 

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