Followers

Monday, March 16, 2020

Fear Or A Sound Mind?

Painting by Sara Hancock (used with permission)

COVID-19 and the state of emergencies have caused widespread distress.


Fear and anxiety are rampant, and bordering on panic.


Rapidly dwindling stock in stores has amplified fear.


I must admit, when I saw Dollar General’s empty shelves, it unnerved me. In fact, I teared up as I realized just how much our lives have changed in only a few days. When we should be focusing on our upcoming Resurrection Day celebrations, we are smacked in the face with a pandemic and FEAR.

In response, some believers have shouted the first part of II Timothy 1:7, saying, “The Lord has not given us a spirit of fear...” While this is true, these believe we should not cancel church, etc. because we can trust God to keep us healthy. God is able to keep us healthy just as he was able to keep the three Hebrews safe in the fiery furnace.[1] But, the world sees this as being irresponsible.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

If God Is Love



     Have you ever had someone ask the question, “If God is love, why does he allow suffering in the world?” Of course, you have because this is the classic question non-Christians pose to the true believer.

     When this happened to me recently, I thought I had a good answer with something I heard on Moody Radio, “God doesn’t cause suffering. People make people suffer.” The statement made sense on the radio program, but that day it sounded weak. Thankfully, the person seemed satisfied, and the conversation ended. Later, I thought of the many things I could have said.

     About a month later, a close family member shared an article on Facebook; The American Life is Killing You by Erik Rittenberry.[1] Because I love the sharer, I read the article. It was gloomy, and in the reading, I could feel despair, hopelessness, and suffering.

     The writer began with a quote from new-agey-type author, Graham Hancock, and then spoke about consumerism, how we strive all our lives pursuing the American Dream. We live paycheck to paycheck, over-stressed and rushed, unrewarding job, mortgaged to the hilt with gadgets, toys, and maybe a few prescription drugs to take the edge off, mellow us, and keep us occupied through the insanity. To prove his point, he quoted some “great minds” such as Sigmund Freud and ended with his solution.

     My heart broke. What I desired for the person who shared the article, stating it encapsulated everything he’s felt and thought about our culture, was the same thing I wanted to say to the person who posed the question at the beginning of this newsletter, but didn’t.

     The sin-cursed world we live in is, at the moment, run by Satan, a vile spiritual prince[2] who has blinded the eyes of many.[3] If you do not understand this TRUTH, you cannot see life in this world correctly.

     Sin has corrupted everything. And because of sin, people are just naturally selfish and self-absorbed. We’ll do anything to make a buck, not caring who we hurt in the process, in our constant striving to please self.

     The prince of this world is trying to keep us from learning this TRUTH:  The One True and Living God exists. And according to His pre-creation plan, He has provided salvation and freedom—a way for us to escape the clutches of the evil ruler.[4]

     However, the Bible, God’s Holy Word, is our source of information. Satan, on the other hand, is doing everything within his power to discredit it and stop seekers from believing.

     To thwart the enemy, God has given us the witness of the heavens and creation. They declare the glory of God. In them, His invisible attributes are clearly seen, even His eternal power and Godhead, leaving unbelievers without excuse.[5]

     But the evil ruler has spewed his lies.[6] He’s clouded human minds touting science and evolutionary theories as the answer to our human existence. Many then conclude suffering, in all its forms, is evidence God does not exist, or, if He does live, He doesn’t really care.

But I tell you, the LOVE of God knows no bounds.
God IS love.[7] He died that you might live.[8]

     Do you want to be free of constant striving in life? The solution isn’t what Rittenberry says, “Simplify, simplify, simplify, and become one with yourself.”

     Seriously? “Self” got us into this predicament in the first place. It was Eve’s, then Adam’s lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and pride of life.[9] Sin, then, spread to all mankind.[10]

     Turning inward to self is never the answer. The eyes of man are never satisfied, just as hell and destruction are never full.[11]

     The solution? See life through God’s eyes and the lens of Scripture. Yielding to our Holy God will allow the Son to set us free.[12] His Holy Spirit, in turn, helps us to understand life, and why man acts the way he does. At once, our LORD severs the snare and delivers us.[13]

     Remember, God knows the way that we take. When He has tested us, we shall come forth as gold.[14]



[2] John 16:11; Ephesians 2:2
[3] John 12:40; II Corinthians 4:3-4
[4] II Timothy 2:26; Hebrews 2:3
[5] Psalm 19:1-3; Romans 1:20-21
[6] John 8:44
[7] I John 4:8
[8] I Peter 2:24
[9] Genesis 3:6; I John 2:15-17
[10] Romans 5:12
[11] Proverbs 27:20
[12] John 8:36
[13] Psalm 91:3; II Timothy 2:26
[14] Job 23:10

Friday, January 10, 2020

Exercising God's Charge for 2020



Every December, I say to myself, “After the holidays, I’m going to lose weight and exercise more.” My goal is that by Valentine’s Day I’ll look the way I’ve always dreamed. I start with a hope and a weak prayer that somehow accomplishing this will make me beautiful. So far, God hasn’t answered that prayer. (Lol)

But, when the New Year rolls around, I have trouble, especially if New Year’s Day is in the middle of the week. (I prefer to start a transformation on a Monday.) So, a few days go by, I recall my resolution, and for a second time, determine to make these changes. However, as the cliché goes, life happens. I begin, but then have a hard time remembering to insert them into my daily routine (probably because I really didn’t want to do them in the first place). Soon I find myself wondering why I thought they were so important.

Still, weight loss and a more physically fit body are important to me. I know I should not dismiss them. So, once again, I’ll make the effort.

Did you realize Scripture addresses exercise? The apostle, Paul, in writing to young Timothy regarding exercise, compares it to our life in Christ. God, through Paul, says bodily exercise profits our physical health, but godliness profits all things.[1]

Because I want to profit all things, in this New Year, I have questions I must answer. Am I making spiritually healthy choices? Am I exercising not only my body but my spiritual knowledge and godliness? Am I losing carnal ways and gaining spiritual fruit? Am I walking in the Spirit,[2] running the race with endurance, and dealing with the weight of sin that so easily besets me?[3] Am I testing every spirit to see if it is from our one true and living God?[4] Am I seeing everything with clear, unclouded vision,[5] holding to sound doctrine, and rejecting the deceiving spirits that have slithered into the church? And most of all, do I realize I am living in the latter times of which Paul wrote, where some I know will heed those deceiving spirits, believe doctrines of demons, and depart from the faith?[6]

What if my spiritual body is fit, and I can answer yes to all? What then? Do I just sit back and rest on my laurels? Of course not! The Christian race calls for endurance. We never stop until Jesus takes us to heaven.

So how do we pace ourselves in this physical and spiritual life, and still make a difference?

First, fear God and remember, if we think we stand, the enemy of our soul is working hard to make us fall.[7] Second, study God’s word to show ourselves approved.[8] Third, we must be strong (that’s why we exercise) in the power of His might, and stand, dressed in the full armor of God,[9] walking carefully, in God’s wisdom, making the most of any opportunity that comes because the days are evil.[10]

And lastly, we must heed God’s charge not only for 2020 but for every day of our life. “I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom:  Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.[11]make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them…teaching them to observe all…that I have commanded you[12]be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry…and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen.”[13]

Have a great year!



[1] I Timothy 4:8
[2] Romans 8:1-11
[3] Hebrews 12:1
[4] I John 4:1
[5] Matthew 6:22; Luke 11:34
[6] I Timothy 4:1
[7] Romans 11:20; 1 Corinthians 10:12; 2 Peter 3:17
[8] II Timothy 2:15; Acts 17:11
[9] Ephesians 6:10-18
[10] Ephesians 5:15; Colossians 4:5
[11] II Timothy 4:1-2
[12] Matthew 28:19-20a
[13] II Timothy 4:5, Matthew 28:20b

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

A PERFECT CHRISTMAS



Tinsel, glittering trees, sparkling lights, wreaths, and decorations in their place. Nativity displayed. Cards addressed and mailed. Candles lit. Table set. Ham glazed. Cookies baked, candies molded, nut bowls filled. Cocoa simmering, presents wrapped, ribboned, and bowed, and a family dressed to the nines. What a perfect Christmas!

Oh, how I wish this were me. I did better with Christmas when I was younger, probably because I started in September. Lately, though, the perfect Christmas seems elusive, and I’d rather escape into Christmas poems, books, and movies. In them, I rarely see the behind the scenes work or the chaos that ensues with my not-so-perfect Christmases. Neither is there the stress, depression, or frustration building during the holidays. Sometimes we’re missing loved ones, sometimes we’re lonely, sometimes it’s disturbing news or a serious diagnosis, and sometimes we’re simply dreading the work of putting up decorations, just to take them down a few weeks later. Add to that a dwindling bank account, and possibly having to wait until a later payday to purchase Christmas presents, leaving very little time for wrapping.

When I think about the “perfect” Christmas and how very short I fall, I want to wallow in self-pity and berate myself because, once again, I missed the mark. But it’s in those moments, God’s still small voice speaks:

“My child,” He says. “The perfect Christmas is something from your youth when you were oblivious to reality. Through the years, this notion gained strength from those poems, books, and movies you love. But it has very little to do with Me or what actually took place on that first and most perfect Christmas ever.
“Remember what My Holy Spirit taught you when you received Jesus as your Savior. Out of our great love and foreknowledge, We designed our plan. It started before time began, and before We laid the foundation of this world.[1]
“Knowing sin would enter and corrupt our perfect creation[2], We planned for the second person of My Triune Godhead to become flesh—quite a feat since God is Spirit and cannot die.[3]
      “We chose Mary, a young virgin from Nazareth, to provide for Him a human body.[4] My Holy Spirit and power came upon her, overshadowed her, and she miraculously conceived. Then, in the course of human gestation—on that perfect Christmas night—Mary gave birth to her Baby boy—Jesus—God in flesh.
“We did this to dwell among you for a time, to identify with your pain, to teach you Truth, and bring light and life into the darkness sin had caused.[5] But our main reason for Jesus, God the Son, becoming flesh was to rescue humanity from sin’s penalty—death.[6]
Jesus, the pure and sinless[7] Baby, born in Bethlehem, grew up, and as planned, died in your place.[8] Like a Lamb led to slaughter, Jesus shed His blood and bore the penalty for your sin on the cross.
“But death could not hold Him. After three days in the grave, Jesus arose from the dead.[9] His disciples saw Him alive, as did many others. Then, forty days after His resurrection, also as planned, He returned bodily to His glory in heaven.[10]
“My child, this is what you celebrate. An infinite God coming down to mankind to save them from death and hell. This perfect Christmas happened when time was at its fullness.[11] It was bold but humble, poverty-stricken but priceless, private, yet for the whole world. Even today, Our plan remains foolishness to those who choose to reject Jesus,[12] but boundless wisdom to those heeding My call.
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”[13]

I’m humbled, Lord. I did, for a moment, lose sight of your great love and amazing Gift. Thank you for being in control of my life, for changing my attitude, for setting my heart and focus back on Jesus, for driving out depression, anxiety, and self-pity. This truly is a perfect Christmas!

Be blessed, my friends this Christmas, and have a Happy New Year,
Anita




[1] I Peter 1:20
[2] Romans 5:12-14
[3] Colossians 1:15-17; Colossians 2:8-9; John 4:24
[4] Isaiah 7:14, Luke 1:26-38
[5] John 1:1-4, 14; Hebrews 4:14-15
[6] John 3:16; Romans 5:8
[7] II Corinthians 5:21
[8] Isaiah 53; John 1:29
[9] Psalm 16:10; Acts 2:27, 31, Matthew 28:1-6
[10] Acts 1:4; 9-11
[11] Galatians 4:4-5
[12] I Corinthians 1:23-25
[13] Revelation 3:20

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

For What Are You Thankful?



Among the myriad of things for which I’m thankful, at this moment, it’s the two movie reviews I just read on Crosswalk.com. Freelancer, Michael Foust, writes about Frozen II[1] and A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.[2] Both should be wildly popular at the box office, but for different reasons, and with different messages. Frozen II, while appealing to our “baby” generation, promotes the elements of witchcraft, fire, water, wind, and earth. And, using animism, gives each a soul and a spirit body.

Although Frozen II teaches courage in the face of adversity, it also conveys an antichristian source for Elsa’s courage/power, and this puts me in a bit of a predicament. As a long-distance grandma, I promised my granddaughters. I would buy them tickets to see the movie. They saw the first Frozen, and yes, it does have a bit of animism—Olaf, the walking and talking snowman. But Foust says Frozen II is darker. I’m not surprised, and in my opinion, it’s deliberately darker, so they can slowly capture our children’s hearts and minds. I’m concerned this movie may push my granddaughters over the top. Their faith in God, who is the True power,[3] could be deactivated, defused like a stick of dynamite. This is Satan’s ultimate goal because the Gospel IS the power—the Greek word dunamis [dynamite]—of God.[4]

On the other hand, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, a story in the life of ordained Presbyterian Pastor, Fred Rogers, of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood fame, focuses on the fruits of the Spirit,[5] according to Foust. The one preview I saw showed Mr. Rogers kneeling by his bed in prayer. These are the things I want my grandchildren to see and remember. However, I guarantee my granddaughters won’t ask to attend this movie. Their ages are 4, 8, and 10.

Our son, their dad, thinks I’m crazy for being concerned with what Frozen II communicates, and maybe some of you are with him. Nevertheless, I know the creators of these types of movies have agendas fueled by the prince of this world. So what’s a grandma to do?

PRAY! I’m so thankful I’m a child of the Living God[6] that He allows me to come boldly to His throne.[7] And because of this, you might think I’m writing about prayer today, but you would be wrong. It’s the season of Thanksgiving. Let's talk about the word, thankful.

Did you know the majority of Bible words translated thank, thanks, thankful, or thanking are the Hebrew word yâdâh pronounced yaw-daw’?[8] It means literally to use (i.e. hold out) the hand…especially to revere or worship (with extended hands). There is a second word, tôwdâh, pronounced to-daw’, derived from yâdâh[9] and properly meaning, an extension of the hand…adoration, specifically a choir of worshippers, and translated as (sacrifice of) praise, thanks (-giving, offering).

I love these words! They remind me of author and speaker, Liz Curtis Higgs, stomping her foot, throwing her hands forward, and shouting, “Ta-da!!”[10]

I think King David expressed thankfulness with this same exuberance. When he finally brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, his joy was uncontainable. Earlier, David had written a psalm of thanksgiving to be sung as they traveled. It is documented in I Chronicles 16, but its influence is felt throughout Scripture.

“On that day David first delivered this psalm into the hand of Asaph and his brethren, to thank [yâdâh] the Lord:  Oh, give thanks to the Lord! Call upon His name; make known His deeds among the peoples! Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him; talk of all His wondrous works! Glory in His holy name; let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the Lord! …Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.”[11]

Scripture uses a few other “thank” words, yet each is associated with yâdâh. And all, in some way, bear the meaning of a lifted hand, a choir, a shout, an acclamation, or a sacrifice of praise. No wonder David also wrote, “Let my prayer be set before You as incense, the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.”[12]

Oh, that we would be so in love with our Savior, that like David, we’d lift our hands, shout and sing thanks—yâdâhtôwdâh—to God uninhibited. And then, teach our children and grandchildren to do the same.[13]

Have a thankful and blessed Thanksgiving!



[1] https://www.crosswalk.com/culture/features/things-parents-should-know-about-frozen-2.html
[2] https://www.crosswalk.com/culture/features/things-you-should-know-about-a-beautiful-day-in-the-neighborhood.html
[3] Ephesians 1:17-21
[4] Romans 1:16
[5] Galatians 2:22-23
[6] John 1:12
[7] Hebrews 4:14-16; Hebrews 10:19-22
[8] Strong’s #3034
[9] Strong’s #8426
[10] https://www.lizcurtishiggs.com/lets-all-say-ta-da/
[11] I Chronicles 16:7-10, 34
[12] Psalm 141:2
[13] Deuteronomy 11:19

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Fear Or A Sound Mind?

Painting by Sara Hancock (used with permission) COVID-19 and the state of emergencies have caused widespread distress. Fear and...