Thursday, September 29, 2011
Last night I was browsing around on a website where people provide services for a certain fee. I was looking to see if the site would be something I could use in my writing business, both to provide services and find services. It was an interesting site with some of the normal ads like "I will edit your term paper for $5" and "I will write articles for you." There were also some very strange ads and some that were rather embarrassing.
Exploring my niche, I typed the word "Christian" in the search field. Pages of results showed up. I was excited to see that so many people were providing and/or requiring Christian services. However, as I began to read, I became very dismayed. The majority of the ads were things like "I will pray for you for 30 minutes for $5" and "I will read the Bible to you for $5" and "I will explain salvation to you for $5." I had to pick my jaw up off the floor. People were charging others to pray for them or to share the gospel with them. What in the world?
My first question was "Are these people Christians or just people looking to make easy money?" My second question was "If these people are Christians, what in the world are they thinking?" As Christians, part of our responsibility is to evangelize the lost and edify the saints. That means it is expected of us to pray for others, to tell others about Christ, to do anything we can to spread the love of God. Not only that, but as Christians, we should want to do those things. It should be a desire that runs through our being and directs our actions. As Romans 12:1 puts it, it's our reasonable service.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Consider this. You are given a free pass to a theme park. This pass allows you unlimited access to the park during its off-season months. You can come and go as often as you like. The park is there for your enjoyment, and the free pass doesn't cost you a thing. You need only accept it. Keep in mind, however, that during the off-season months, all the rides and shops are closed. The merchandise is stored away. The staff is unavailable. But, enjoy that free pass!
Isn't that what people are doing when they look at salvation as nothing more than "fire insurance"? They're accepting the free pass but missing out on all the benefits that actually come with that free pass. Don't they realize that God is standing before them with His arms loaded down with blessings for them? But no, I fear too many are content to wander around the empty park day after day.
Salvation is a priceless gift. It cost Jesus His life. It cost God His Son. It does ensure us a place in Heaven and freedom from hell. But it does so much more. It allows us to grow close to God. It allows us to know Him in a way the lost never will. It enables us with strength that is indescribable. It fills us with power that cannot be obtained through any other means. It gives us grace to live and to grow. It makes us new and gives us a second chance in life. It brings joy and comfort.
Oh, my friend, I pray that salvation means this and so much more to you. If not, you may want to check up. Have you accepted Christ as Savior? Have you given your life over to Him? Have you surrendered your will, your desires, and your dreams to the Lord? Have you asked Him to forgive you of your sins and to make you a new creation?
If so, that's wonderful, but you may want to find out why you've settled for so little when God has so much more to offer. If you can't answer "yes" to the questions above, then you're missing out on everything. Give your heart to Christ. If you're not sure what to do or how to pray, contact a friend, a pastor, or myself. But whatever you do, don't wait. Time is growing short. Today is the day of salvation.
Friday, September 23, 2011
This book was not at all what I expected. I imagined it to be a book filled with encouragement and reminders of God's promises that we are more than conquerors through Him. I expected a book to lighten my load, strengthen my resolve and increase my spiritual growth. I was sadly disappointed. Admittedly, there were a few portions of the book that were helpful and a few statements that were profound. Beyond that, the book had several issues.
Red flags went up within the first few chapters when I felt Bevere was dancing around certain issues that are of utmost doctrinal importance. Somehow he managed to discuss these points while making it unclear as to where he stood on the points. But since the book is set up to where each chapter builds on the next, the truth was finally revealed.
After reading the book, this is the impression I was left with on what Bevere believes: First of all, he believes in a health-and-wealth gospel that states that God wants all of his children to be healthy and wealthy. He also believes that if a Christian is not healthy and wealthy, it is because of a lack of faith on the part of the Christian. He also concludes that with proper faith, we can accomplish anything that Jesus accomplished while on this earth. We can heal the sick, cast out demons, and make earth just like heaven. To this statement, I would love to ask why he doesn't have a full-time ministry visiting hospitals, nursing homes and asylums, but I digress. He even went so far as to say that man can and does limit God in what He can do here on earth. His proof was that God couldn't calm the storm on the sea of Galilee; He needed Jesus (in bodily form) to do that. What? Another statement that truly bothered me was when Bevere was discussing the woman with the issue of blood. He stated that Jesus had no idea what was going on until He felt His power leave Him when the woman touched the hem of His robe. That's insane. Jesus knows everything! Jesus knew that woman would come to Him before she was ever born.
In addition to the doctrinal differences, Bevere uses several versions of the Bible and often paraphrases to make the verses say what he wants them to say. I feel this is very misleading and can cause great confusion to the reader. Not only that, but Bevere has a knack for picking and choosing the verses that seem to support his point while leaving out others that would clarify the verse and give its true meaning. For example, in his chapter on faith, he used the verse in James that says, "Ye have not because ye ask not." He goes on to say how we can have anything we want if we only ask and believe. However, if he would read the very next verse in James, he would see, "Ye ask and receive not because ye ask amiss." We must compare Scripture with Scripture. We cannot pick one verse or one part of a verse and use it out of context to meet our needs.
As an author myself, I dislike writing poor reviews. I know how it feels to receive negative feedback. However, as a Christian, it is my duty to point out false teachings, and this book is full of them. If you're looking for a health-and-wealth, supremacy of man resource, this is it. However, if you're looking for the truth, I strongly suggest you look elsewhere. As I mentioned earlier, there were some really good points made in the book; however, there wasn't enough to warrant reading the book.
I received Extraordinary as part of the Blogging for Books program from Waterbrook Mulnomah. The opinions expressed herein are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Monday, September 19, 2011
"Run the race." Now there's a phrase I understand, not that I'm a very good runner. Being flat-footed, I look a bit like an uncoordinated duck when I attempt to run, but still, I understand the concept. But "run with patience"? That's where I need some help. In the words of Mia from The Princess Diaries, "The concept is grasped. The execution is a little elusive."
I get the meaning. Run with patience. Go, but wait. Be fast, yet be still. Am I the only one who has trouble executing this principle of running with patience? I have the running part down; it's the patience part that leaves me scratching my head. Here, I'll give you an example.
At the beginning of last week, I came down with a nasty little bug. I don't know if it was a cold or allergies from the change in weather, but whatever it was, it had me feeling pretty yucky both Monday and Tuesday. By Wednesday morning, I felt a good bit better, so what did I do? I started running. I did my exercises, cleaned the house, completed some writing, washed and folded laundry, and so on. By mid-afternoon, I realized the error of my ways. In fact, one of the first things that popped into my mind was "the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." Yep, my spirit was ready to go and tackle all the things that had piled up from the days before. My body, however, was not quite ready for that much vigorous activity. By Wednesday evening, I was back in the bed with a terrible headache and a great sense of frustration.
I tend to be that way about everything. When I see something that needs to be done, I want to get it done. That's just the way I am. The problem is that I don't approach the race with patience. I approach it like the hare from the old fable in the sense that I just want to get it done. Unfortunately, my body refuses to cooperate, and I find myself snoozing under an oak tree while all the tortoises of this world pass me by.
You know the worst part, the part that makes me cringe every time I think about it? By running the race without patience, I'm constantly starting the race, but never finishing it. Think about it. Every time I have to stop to rest, I have to get up and start again. Granted, I don't have to start back at the starting line, but I'm still just starting. I have to work up my speed again. I have to warm up my muscles again. I have to get my focus and direction again. For each time I stop, I have to start again. If, however, I were like the tortoise, I would be consistently plodding along. And while the speed may not be much, at least I'd be moving in the right direction.
Patience. My dogs think it's a dirty word. To be honest, I often agree. But the longer I live and the more I run this race, the more I realize that I would do well to learn more about patience. It may mean the difference between finishing the race or spending my days in bed because I pushed myself too hard in the beginning. Running shoes or bedroom slippers? The choice is yours!
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Wouldn't it be great if we could jump from one season to the next with no side effects? It's summer, and then it's fall. The temperature gradually cools, and no one is adversely affected by the change in weather. Yea, that would be great, but you know what would be even more great? Spiritual growth without the painful process.
You see, transitioning from an immature Christian to a mature Christian is a lot like the transition between seasons. There are certain requirements that, while necessary, can be quite painful. For instance, we want to learn to be more patient, but isn't patience a result of tribulation? Who wants that? We want a stronger faith, but isn't faith a result of trials? We want the maturity, but frankly, we don't want the process required to attain that maturity.
Unfortunately, it just doesn't work that way. Growth, in any sense, is a process that requires both the good and the bad, the pleasant and the unpleasant. It's all part of the process, and unless we want to stop growing, we must learn to accept it for what it is and move on.
I long for fall enough that I'm willing to go through the transition time of sniffles and sneezes. As I look at my spiritual life, I have to decide if I long for growth enough to accept the trials and tribulations that will help me get to where I need to be. It's a tough decision, but the alternative is simply unacceptable.
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.- Romans 5:1-5
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Monday, September 12, 2011
Friday, September 9, 2011
What about you? Do you talk to yourself? If you do, you're in good company. Did you know that some of the most noteworthy characters in the Bible talked to themselves? It's true, and I'm not just talking about Jesus talking to God. We're not even going to go there because I don't have enough Tylenol to deal with that topic. No, I'm talking about just plain old everyday people. Take a look:
Then I consulted with myself, and I rebuked the nobles, and the rulers, and said unto them, Ye exact usury, every one of his brother. And I set a great assembly against them. - Nehemiah 5:7
Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God. - Psalm 42:11; Psalm 43:5
And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! - Luke 15:17
I'm sure there are others, but those were just a few that came to my mind right off. To be honest, it makes me feel a little better to know that I'm not alone in my insanity, and that I'm not the only one who talks to herself.
But what really thrills my soul is the fact that even when I think I'm alone, I have Someone to talk to. Even when I can't get along with myself, I have a Friend. Even when I feel alone and forsaken, I'm not. Jesus is there. I can talk out my problems with Him. I can share my burdens with Him. I can lay out my joy before Him. Whatever the situation, He is there. What a joy to know that I'm never alone! And what an even greater joy to know that I have Someone other than myself to talk to!
Thursday, September 8, 2011
Please understand that I'm not saying that all best-selling authors or speakers are that way. But there are several well-known celebrities that are leading people astray and getting paid millions to do it. Meanwhile, simple authors (like myself) who are striving to get the truth out are struggling to make sales and book meetings. I guess the truth is harder to swallow and, therefore, not very popular. Still, as I flip through the latest Christian book magazine, longing to see one of my books on its many pages, I can't help but turn my face toward Heaven and ask, "Why, God? Why will you allow this filth to be published? Why do you allow these lies to spread like wildfire? I'm teaching the truth. Why can't I be more successful? Not for my own glory, but for Yours. You know my heart. You know my true desire. I don't want fame for myself. I want Your truth to be known. I want to see sinners saved and saints encouraged. Why can't I succeed?"
God's answer can be found in Psalm 37:1-11.
Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the LORD: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday. Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil. For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth. For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be. But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.
Through this passage, God reminds us that success is not about being popular or wealthy. To be successful, we need only do what God has asked us to do. He called me to write, so I'll write and leave the results up to Him. He called me to speak, so I'll speak and leave the results up to Him. If you, too, long to be successful in your life, do whatever it is that God has called you to do. That's all He asks of us, and He promises us that it will all work out in the end.
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Hope: (1) to wish for something with expectation of its fulfillment; (2) to have confidence; (3) to look forward to with confidence; (4) in Christianity, a theological virtue defined as the desire for a future good, difficult but not impossible to attain with God's help.
Isn't that wonderful? Isn't it empowering to know that a hope is more than a mere wish but rather looking forward to something and expecting it to happen? Wouldn't we live life differently if we accepted that definition of hope rather than the one we so often tout? Wouldn't there be a spring in your step and a smile on your face?
Why don't we ask the couple on the Emmaus Road? If anyone could tell us about hope lost and reborn, it is they.
And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs. And they talked together of all these things which had happened. And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. But their eyes were holden that they should not know him. And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad? And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days? And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done. Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre; And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive. And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not. Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further. But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them. And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.- Luke 24:13-31
We can visualize the discouragement of these two weary travelers. Everything they believed in, everything they had hoped for was gone. They were distraught beyond words. They struggled to put one foot in front of the other. The seven-and-a-half-mile walk home must have been miserable. But suddenly, they realized that they were no longer walking alone. As Jesus spoke with them, he uncovered the reason for their despair. And then, he renewed their hope. He opened their eyes so that they became aware that the hope they thought they had lost was sitting before them. And then he was gone again. Their response?
And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures? And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem - Luke 24: 32-33a
From the wording of the Scriptures, I think it's safe to infer that they ran the seven and half miles back to Jerusalem. Two travelers who, only moments before, had been too discouraged and weary to go another step now couldn't wait to spread their renewed hope and joy. You see, the best hope is hope that is shared with others.
As Christians, we have a hope. We have much to look forward to. We have much to be confident about. So who are we telling? We need to spread the word that no matter how dark the night may seem or how difficult the trial may be, as long as Jesus lives, there is hope.
Jesus will live forever, so there will always be hope. Hold fast to God's promises today and share the light of His love.
Monday, September 5, 2011
In my mind, that's REALLY bad advertising. I mean, seriously, if you're selling signs, one would think that you would want your sign to be the best sign anyone has ever seen. It's on your property. It's advertising your products. And with an advertisement like that, I find it hard to believe that the company is still in business.
Did you know that we are all in the advertising business? As Christians, it is our responsible and privilege to advertise Christ. We are walking billboards of His mercy and grace. So when people look at us, do they see a "product" worth having? If we look, act and talk no different than the world, probably not. However, if people look on us and see something that they don't see in others, they're going to wonder, 'What's different about him/her?' When they see joy in the midst of heartache and peace in midst of trials, they'll take a second look and realize that they want whatever it is that we have. And we receive an open door to witness to an eager soul.
What kind of advertising are you doing today? When people look at you, does anything stand out? We're all advertising something, so it's important to check up daily and make sure we're promoting the right thing.
Friday, September 2, 2011
The registers are at the front of the store, and slightly behind them are the various rodents for sale. Whoever set the store up was obviously thinking because as customers wait, they can be entertained by the furry critters. Jason certainly was. He told me of two mice who were both trying to use the wheel at the same time. The hilarious part was that they were going in opposite directions. One mouse was larger than the other, so he usually got the wheel going in his direction which caused the smaller one to hold tight as he was flung around and around in the direction opposite to the one he was trying to go. I couldn't help but laugh as Jason was telling me the story. I wish I could have seen it for myself, but he did a wonderful job describing it to me.
Do you ever feel like the little mouse striving for all your worth to get ahead but instead being flung about in the opposite direction? I know I sometimes do. I see the track before me, but sometimes it seems nearly impossible to get to the finish line. I realize that many times it's my own fault. I'm tired or distracted, and I allow these things to cause me to lose track of my goal. Other times, circumstances beyond my control cause my world to tip and spin. By the time I get back on track, I'm so dizzy I can barely stand, let alone walk.
In times like these, isn't it good to know that we aren't walking alone. When I can't stand, I can lean on my Savior. When I can't walk, He carries me in His strong arms. When I can't see the path before me, He leads me. And when my world seems to be spinning out of control, He gives me the grace and strength to begin again.
Sure, it's difficult to stay on the right path when so many things are pulling in the opposite direction. But I've found it much easier when I remember that I never walk alone.
Thursday, September 1, 2011
I'm happy to say that Mitch's foot is healing nicely. He's walking and even running some. The muscles are still stiff and tight, but the cut seems to be coming together very well. Our main concern at this point is that some of the stitches are still sticking out. We had thought that they should be dissolved by now, but Jason reasons that since they're on the outside, they have nothing to dissolve into or to aid them in dissolving. This makes sense to me.
Jason's solution to the problem was to allow Mitch to lick at the wound as long as he didn't go at it aggressively. So, we've been leaving the bandages and cone off and allowing him to lick at the area he's been wanting to get at for so long. Most of the time he does very well in being gentle. However, there have been a couple of times I've caught him with his entire foot in his mouth. At that point, I make him stop licking altogether (and, of course, he pouts).
I'm sure that area is itchy. I know he just wants to dig at it, but I also know that would not be good for him (or us). It's just hard to get him to understand the difference between licking and chewing. Licking is fine. Chewing is not. Since he doesn't understand, it is imperative for me to keep a close eye on him during his "lick sessions" to ensure he doesn't go overboard.
I'm reminded of the old saying, "If you give _________ an inch, they'll take a mile." Fill in the blank with whatever is appropriate at the time. For me, it is often "the devil" or "your flesh". Yes, if I give into the devil for just one little thing, I soon find myself far off track, and I don't even realize how I got there. Unfortunately, it's the same with my flesh. If I give in to one little fleshly desire, it undoubtedly leads to another and another and another. It's like the Pringles potato chip slogan: "Once you pop, you can't stop."
Satan says, "One little lie won't hurt," but what I don't realize is how many lies I'll have to tell to cover up the first one. My flesh says, "One more cookie won't hurt," but I fail to take into account how much extra exercise I'll have to do to work off that one cookie. Most of the time, it's easier to just say "NO" to begin with. If Mitch didn't start licking his paw, he wouldn't be prone to chew. If I didn't allow one sin or temptation to trip me up, I wouldn't be so prone to fall prey to the next one.
Are you facing temptation today? Just say, "NO!" Don't give in that inch, and you won't find yourself miles off track (or in Mitch's case, with your foot in your mouth).