Monthly Archives: May 2012

The truth about lies – Part 4

Admonishing others – that’s unheard of in our culture today, unless you’re lucky enough to be the boss (parent or employer) of others.

But seriously. What comes to mind when you hear that word?
Judge? Condemn? Rebuke?

Webster’s says it means: to express warning or disapproval to especially in a gentle, earnest, or solicitous manner.

It doesn’t mean any of those descriptors that I gave, yet when Christians speak the truth to those that they love, they are quickly told they are being “judgmental” or “condemning.”

I should probably clarify something before going any further. Churches (people) who picket funerals of servicemen with signs that say “God Kills Gays” ARE being judgmental. They are radicals and don’t represent most believers.

Last night, the subject of admonishing others came up in a discussion among other believers. One person in the group said she has a friend who claims to be a Christian 20+ years, but doesn’t live like she is one. The person in the group said she dials back from confrontations about it with her friend, because she doesn’t want to lose the friendship. Another person mentioned that the reason they don’t want to confront others about their sin is because they in turn, don’t want to be judged for something they are doing.

Colossians 3: 1-17 and 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15 speak pretty directly about Christian living and our accountability to one another.

In fact, in 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15 the NIV makes it very clear.
14 Take special note of anyone who does not obey our instruction in this letter. Do not associate with them, in order that they may feel ashamed. 15 Yet do not regard them as an enemy, but warn them as you would a fellow believer.

When we don’t share the truth with people (admonish them) even when it’s at times painful, it is the same as lying to them. I don’t want to lie to someone just to protect their feelings. And I don’t like being lied to either. Lying doesn’t build trust. It offers false hope built on deceit.

According to the scriptures, it is biblical to speak the truth to people, and we need people (friends/family) who will speak the truth to us. That is the loving thing to do.

How did we get so far off base from what the bible instructs us to do?

Some people say it’s because of the passage of Matthew 7: 1-7 where in verse 1, it speaks about being careful to judge others lest you be judged, and then verse 7 says “…helping get the splinter out of someone’s eye when you have a plank in your own.”

Yet, if we look back up to the top of this blog entry, the definition of admonish has nothing to do with “judging” people and if we are admonishing others while we are ignoring or denying our own sin, we DO need to be admonished in return.

For many years, I was careful about admonishing anyone other than the people I raised because I was unwilling to overhaul my sinful life and didn’t want them pointing the finger back at me, but worse, I wasn’t reading God’s truth everyday as a reminder on how I should live. I wanted to live my life, my way.

There was no place for God in that equation, but He’s been impressing upon me, His rightful place in my life. Over the last several years, and especially the last few months, He’s convicted me, put me squarely in front of His word and He’s transforming me from the inside out.

I may lose friends and even family by taking a very unpopular stand, but I am the only one who can answer for my life when I face the judgment seat of Christ.

So if you’re my friend or my family member and I speak to you in truth, it’s because I love you.


The Psalms

The Psalms are some of the most comforting chapters of the bible because I can relate to David. He’s human to me.
He is transparent in his brokenness and in his walk of faith.

This morning, my heart was so heavy. I am in angst over a situation for which I have NO control. I say that I trust the Lord, but then I complain; bitterly at times. Kind of like David.

Lord, why are MY prayers unanswered? Why won’t you intervene? Why don’t you answer MY prayer MY way in MY time?

Then, I am disgusted with myself for thinking this way and talking this way to God, my father. He who knows all things. And He reminds me who the “real” enemy is.

Psalm 13 (KJV) – The deserted soul
How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord?
For ever? how long wilt though hide thy face from me?
How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily?
How long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and hear me, O Lord my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death;
Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him;
and those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved.
But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation.
I will sing unto the Lord, because he hath dealt bountifully with me.

I CAN relate. Or rather, God understands my pain.

Thank you, Lord.

Psalm 143 (KJV) – The prayer of a soul in distress

Particularly verses. 8-12 –
…cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning;
For in thee I do trust; cause me to know the way wherein I should walk;
For I lift up my soul unto thee.
Deliver me, O Lord, from mine enemies; I flee unto thee to hide me.
Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good;
Lead me into the land of uprightness.
Quicken me, O Lord, for thy name’s sake:
For thy righteousness sake bring my soul out of trouble.
And of thy mercy cut off mine enemies, and destroy all them that afflict my soul: for I am thy servant.

No matter what form evil takes, whether it be in the flesh of a family member or friend, I must remember that evil is the enemy, NOT the person.
And God is my fortress and my defender against such a force, but that through the power of His Holy Spirit, the enemy can have no hold over me.

I am so thankful that God left us with His word, His truth and His promises.
I’m clinging to those today.


The simplicity of salvation

Becoming a Christian is simple. The bible says so.

So why is it that so many religions complicate faith and salvation by the practice of rituals and traditions, and reciting pre-written prayers?
If you’re practicing any of those things are you doing it because you think it’s what God wants you to do, or that somehow, performing those things will save you?

If so, you’re on the wrong path. Scripture is very clear about the simplicity of salvation.

Ephesians 2:8 (KJV) -For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

1 Timothy 2:5 (KJV) – For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

John 14:6 (KJV) – Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

God doesn’t have a checklist of “to-do’s” for salvation that He keeps on all of us. Rather He has a book. It either has our name in it or it doesn’t, period.

Revelation 20:15 (KJV) says: And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

That’s pretty self-explanatory too. Scary, but pretty dang easy to understand. So why are there so many books and blogs written by men and women that talk about ways to really know God, worship God, love God?

People find it easy to read these types of things and often use them instead of the bible when they are going through difficult, uncertain times. There are probably some verses that are referenced in these books, but it is man’s interpretation of the verse(s) and their ideas about how you should live, but if they don’t direct you back to the scriptures, they are misleading you into a false sense of salvation.

In doing this, “man” has complicated faith and is profiting from sharing “his own understanding” of scripture. I don’t think all religious books written by men or women are bad, but they must be aligned with scripture. It is the litmus test for truth.

I used to have a really hard time understanding the bible, but the more that I die to myself, my desires, my self-centeredness, the more clear the bible is to me. I don’t know if it’s that way for other people, but that’s the way it’s been for me. For the last several years, I could understand most of the NIV bible, but now I can read the KJV and understand almost everything thing that is written.

I believe that once you let the Holy Spirit into your life (every part of your life), God will reveal Himself to you through scripture. You don’t need any of man’s ideas about the interpretation or application of scripture for your personal walk of faith.

I believe the word of God. It is my guide for daily living and I won’t be swayed or convinced by any man or woman on earth that I need to be doing anything more than what the bible says.

I implore my friends and family to get into the word — God’s word. It is the primary way He communicates with us. The more you read it, the more you’ll understand it.

1 Timothy 4:1 (KJV) – Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

2 Corinthians11: 1-4 (KJV)
1 Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me.
2 For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
4 For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.


The one I serve


Matt 6:24 (KJV) says “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”

My life as a Christian should be dependent upon God. That means that He should be giving me direction in all the areas of my life (operating system logic), only, I keep forgetting that I’m just a bit player in a much larger story — God’s story.

I keep forgetting because the culture tells me that I’m an important person, that I can “have it MY way,” that I can “just do it!” and, “I can be ANYTHING I want to be.” The culture also tells me that to follow God is “old-fashioned, out of date, and believing in a fairy tale.”

It is so easy to fall into that trap, but Satan is the ruler of the earth, the culture, and every corrupt idea, belief, and action. He is the ultimate deceiver who uses the lies of “self-satisfaction,” “self-indulgence” and “immediate self-gratification” to turn me from the truth of my creator.

When I seek my desires over God’s will for my life, I become enslaved to those desires. But again, the culture and even my friends tell me it’s okay to indulge. Heck, I’ve told people the same thing, but now I am re-thinking that. Rather than justify what I’m doing, I think I should question my real motivations behind what I’m wanting to do.

Like, why do I need to buy a new pair of shoes? Sometimes, it really is a need. A few weeks ago, my flats aboslutely lost all shape and my feet wouldn’t stay in them. But, I can tell you, I’ve been looking for flats for almost two years now and everytime I go into a shoe store, there are so many choices and so many that I seriously want that it clouds my judgment of what I really need.

But, I make other purchases for things that I don’t need and that I just think I’d look good in or that I justify by saying that since I’m working and pulling my weight, I should have the freedom to spend my money the way I want. There are even some times that I make silly purchases just because I’m bored or needing a distraction.

That’s so self-centered, self-indulgent of me and it leaves no room for God.

I’m not saying that God doesn’t want us to have things, but it goes back to me in the shoe store. I can honestly need a new pair of shoes yet leave the store with several pairs that I didn’t need.

I think I have freedom to buy “at will” because I make enough to do that, but is that really freedom?
To buy three pairs of shoes when I only needed one and then justifying the purchase of other two pairs? It seems I’m a slave to my desire when I do that.

I don’t want to be a slave to things that fall apart, go out of style, or that come in 3 different colors.
I’d rather be a slave to the one who created me, the one that created me to live in His bigger story.

Romans 6:18 (KJV) – Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.


The operating system

Photo by Teach-ICT

Believers are hard-wired a bit differently than other people.
Some believers might be called “weird,” others might be called believers “holy-rollers,” and back in the day, Christians were called “Jesus freaks.”

But, the thing that separates true believers from all other people is their operating system.

You might be thinking about what I mean by that.

I’ll try to explain this in the easiest analogy I can. It’s similar to one I heard in a sermon a few months ago, but it fits very well with our culture.

When we accept Christ as our personal savior, the Holy Spirit becomes our operating system. It will never go bad, crash or get a virus.

It has no backup either.
It doesn’t need one because when we ask for forgiveness for our shortcomings, our failures and our failings, it wipes the system and the disks clean, every time, so it’s just like it was the day it was first installed.

I first became a Christian when I was in 4th grade, but I didn’t understand about the holy spirit being the operating system. In fact, there was no such thing as an operating system because computers were still just NASA equipment that we only got to hear about.

After many, many years of trials, heartaches and failures (all under my own doing), I found out that rather than just accept Jesus as my savior, I needed to let him be in charge of me. As much as I had hosed up my life though, I just couldn’t see myself giving EVERYTHING over to God, so I instead picked and chose those things I wanted him to handle.

In computer lingo, that would be like installing an application or program on your computer. You can access it easily but it’s compartmentalized to an icon on the desktop where you click it to access it.

The problem with that approach is that after you’ve tried program after program, app after app, and have been dissatisfied with the results, you are likely to uninstall them or exchange them for some other program that promises good results.

The only way to let the holy spirit work in you and transform your life is to get a new operating system.

Since I upgraded to my operating system, it’s amazing how much better I run. All the things I do in a day, a week, a month, a year, are run automatically by the operating system so all I have to do is turn the computer on and let it go.

2 Corinthians 5:17 (KJV) – 17 17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.


The act of charity

Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. – 1 Peter 4:8, NLT

This verse came in my email today. I like to see how other bible translations write verses because sometimes, the meaning gets a bit skewed and other times, it changes the meaning completely, so I looked this verse up in the NASB, NIV, ESV and KJV.

NASB, NIV, ESV all use the word “love,” but KJV uses the word “charity” instead of love.

(KJV) – And above all things, have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.

I found that interesting, so I looked up the word “charity” in the dictionary.

Charity – The voluntary giving of help to those in need.

Next, I looked up the word “charity” in the thesaurus to see what other words mean the same thing as charity. Love did not make the list of synonyms.

Charity is definitely an “action” word.

I’m not a bible scholar so I can’t really argue theologically with someone on this point, rather, it just made me think about this verse and what idea it is trying to convey.

I’m thinking the verse with the word “love” might be misused and over-used.

It doesn’t cost us anything to say “I love that,” “I love this,” or even “I love you.” Well, maybe some embarrassment if the feeling isn’t reciprocated, but generally, it requires no action of us to make those statements.

Love is an emotion, a feeling, a sensation, a reaction or a mood.

Don’t get me wrong. When we love someone, we are generous of our time and resources, but not always.

If the bible is our instruction manual, this verse says we’re to be charitable — offer aid or give to the needy.

Charity is the action of being generous, compassionate, and giving aid to those who are needy.

It’s also a much bigger commitment than to simply say “I love you.”
Charity means I’m willing to give of my time and resources to those who need it.

The adage, “actions speak louder than words,” would exemplify the KJV translation of this verse.

Hmmm.

Am I being charitable? Do I use the word “love” without backing it up with the work of “charity?”
This is a lot for me to think about as I head into the weekend.


The branch and the vine

John 15:4 (KJV) — Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.

Branches that have been grafted into a vine, only bear fruit because they’ve been grafted into a live vine. So, the branch has become part of the true vine. Without the vine, the branches can’t bear fruit and will wither away.

Just like the bible says, my Christian faith is like a branch. I was grafted into the true vine many years ago, but did not start bearing fruit right away. In fact, it was quite a long time.

I was thinking about that this morning and thinking about how grapevines produce fruit. There is a correlation, for sure but it has taken me a loooooong time to relate it to my life.

Grapevines need to be pollinated and depending on the variety, they may flower but not produce fruit until a few years have past. Sometimes, they need fertilizer and pesticides for protection. The branches also must be pruned to make more fruit come on. All of that requires a gardener.

I understand now why I didn’t bear fruit for so long. I wasn’t being pollinated. I had little fertilizer and little protection from insects and disease and I didn’t allow the process of pruning to result in fruition.

God tells us exactly how to cultivate our faith. John 15
Good stuff, but that’s a story I didn’t fully understand but now I can correlate it in human terms.

Pollination means to me that I was not reading the bible and praying consistently. I also did not spend time much time cultivating Christian relationships (fertilizer), and for many, many years, I never thought twice about the type of books, movies and TV I consumed (protection/insecticide). Pruning I think, is the act of my surrendering more of myself and my problems/pain (emotional, physical, or spiritual) and letting the Holy Spirit do the redemptive work in my life.

All of this must be handled by someone who knows how to make stuff grow. There’s no better being to do that, than God.

It’s painful to make this admission, but last night, I felt the nick of the pruning knife again and know that I have more to surrender in the days that follow. I’d like to say I’m done growing — translation: I’m tired of pain, surrender and uncertainty, but I risk the branch dying if I don’t let myself be pruned by the gardener.