Friday, September 29, 2017

The Christian Shame Culture

The shame culture in which we live has infiltrated the church, affecting our attitudes to those we call, "brothers and sisters."  Let me explain.  Traditionally, shame cultures were driven by society as a collective, governing how the group viewed each of its individuals by their adherence to, or rejection of that culture's ideals and principles.  if you followed the culture, you could become a person of honor.  If not, you were a person of shame.  Many Asian and Mid-Eastern cultures followed and still follow this.  The peoples of the Old Testament were usually part of honor-shame cultures.

In the past, America was more of an individualistic society.  The history of the Old West with its gun slingers and pioneer settlers demonstrates this.  We praised the independent thinkers, inventors, and entrepreneurs among us.  Today we are turning into a shame culture, and a distorted version of it.  The internet has helped create this distortion.  Speaking of recent college life, David Brooks wrote in 2016,

"Many people carefully guard their words, afraid they might transgress one of the norms that have come into existence. Those accused of incorrect thought face ruinous consequences. When a moral crusade spreads across campus, many students feel compelled to post in support of it on Facebook within minutes. If they do not post, they will be noticed and condemned." †

Shaming Different Ideas
As Christians we often shame others over differences such as doctrine, which Bible version to read, or the latest political issue.  We are so concerned with being right that we demonize anyone who disagrees with our tribe's belief system.  Sometimes we try to decide if someone is friend or foe, based on their view of free will versus predestination, for example.  Yes, "Whosoever will, let him come." And yes, "You did not choose me, but I chose you."  They're both in the Bible.  Seems like we could just obey the commandment to make disciples, whether it's their idea to follow Jesus, or His.

Another passage that has caused contention for years is 1Corinthians 12.  We argue whether these gifts are still in use today, whether this is a complete list, how we should, if we should seek these gifts.  The whole point of the passage was unity.  Look at the passage with the unity parts highlighted and see if you can decipher its meaning:
Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.1Corinthians 12:7-11

Paul is driving at the unity of the Spirit and then continues with the unity of the body of Christ.  His discourse culminates in one of the most famous chapters in the Bible, called the love chapter:  1 Corinthians 13.  Rather than trying to decide if someone is one of "us" or one of "them," we should be more concerned that each of us is one of His.  In Joshua 5:13-14, Joshua discovered that the angel of the Lord he encountered wasn't on his side, or his enemy's; he was on the Lord's side.

Shaming Those Who Fall 
Another type of shaming in which we've participated is shaming those among us who have sinned.  I'm not talking about those who make no profession of faith in Christ.  Sinners will sin.  That shouldn't surprise us.  The Word of God actually makes a case for shaming an unrepentant sinner, who calls themselves a brother or sister, but continues to openly commit sins (1Corinthians 5:11).  Jesus' teaching on the subject in Matthew 18 instructs us to go through a multi-step process of warning them of their fault.  If they continue in their sin we are to stop associating with them (2Thessalonians 3:14-15).

The purpose for not associating with someone who has continued to sin unrepentantly is not to kick them to the curb and wait for the garbage collector to take them from our sight.  It is to make them ashamed of what they have done, and open them up to the Holy Spirit's conviction, so that they might repent, trade in their agenda for the Lord's, and be restored as a fellow brother or sister.  Someone we bring through such a "prodigal son" experience will have an even greater appreciation for God's mercy and our desire for their best.

In his first letter to the Christians at Corinth, Paul instructed them not to associate with an immoral brother.  In his second letter, Paul told them that the punishment inflicted on this person was sufficient.  He then commanded the believers to:
  1. Forgive him
  2. Comfort him
  3. Reaffirm your love for him
We understand the first part of the process, because distancing and disassociating from others is natural.  Scripture requires a complete process, culminating in restoration of the repentant.  In the passage above, Paul pushes the envelope on restoration.  Comfort him?  Paul, you want us to comfort the man who did what he did?  of course we must possess love for him, in order to reaffirm it.  By the way, we are commanded to love one another (John 13:34).

I have been on both ends of restoration.  I understand the tendency to hold an offense against someone I'm supposed to reconcile.  I've also felt the sting of public avoidance by someone who used to call me their brother in the Lord.  Thank God for the Pastors and other believers who have demonstrated to me love-based restoration.  We all need to do better in this area! 

Paul pushed the Corinthians to go beyond their natural tendencies based on the God of forgiveness (Psalm 86:5), comfort (2Corinthians 1:3-4), and restoration (1Peter 5:10.  Those who only know how to disassociate, but can't follow through with reconciliation cause division.   Scripture considers division a sin, like any other, with the command to warn a divisive person, and then stop associating with them.  Shame the shammers, who can't also reconcile (Titus 3:10-11).

Paul and Barnabas argued about whether to restore John Mark to missionary work after he had deserted them during a previous mission trip.  They had such a strong disagreement that they parted ways (Acts 15:39).  In this case, Paul, who preached restoration, failed to follow his own teaching.  Barnabas, his name means, "son of encouragement," took John Mark with him, restoring him to ministry.  Eventually, John Mark's writings about the life of Jesus became the Gospel According to Mark.

Our View of God
Our view of reconciliation stems from our view of God.  Do we project onto God our own desire to see those who do wrong crash and burn?  If we aren't renewing our minds, we tend to want others to suffer the consequences, or reap what they sow, in the biblical language with which we're so familiar.  I do believe everything the Bible says about the God of justice and truth.  Psalm 96:13 says the Lord will judge the world with righteousness and the peoples with his truth (Book of Common Prayer, 1979).  That should make us tremble and strive to live our lives for the Lord, as we continue to trust Jesus and his sacrifice on the cross that makes us holy in God's eyes.

However, we are called to to, "Follow God's example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God (Ephesians 5:1-2).  This means we are to emulate God in our view of each other.
  • God is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love (Psalm 103:8)
  • God wants the wicked to turn from their ways and live (Ezekiel 18:23)
  • God sent his Son to save, not condemn (John 3:17)
  • God does not want anyone to perish (2Peter 3:9)
  • God wants all people to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth (1Timothy 2:4)
Is this the standard by which we view each other?  Or, do we relish the pain someone's sin or stupidity has lead them to?  Do we judge the poor and sick as somehow responsible for their own lot in life?  I know that behaviors have consequences, but you can't correlate each person's misfortune with their personal sins.  Hugh Hefner not only lived lavishly, but 5 years longer than Mother Teresa.  The author of the great hymn, Rock of Ages was 38 when he died.  David Brainerd, missionary to several Native American tribes, died at only 29.

The sun shines and the rain falls on both the righteous and the unrighteous.  Sometimes the good die young and the evil linger.  Life's not fair; at least this one isn't.  For those who don't understand grace, God can seem unfair as well.  The Master who, in Matthew 20, paid wages to those who worked all day long, and then paid the same wages to those who showed up an hour before "quittin' time" doesn't sit well with a shame culture.  The hard workers even tried to shame the late-comers.  "Those who were hired last worked only one hour" (Matthew 20:12).

Those who get a revelation of God's character, will understand why the late-comers were paid as much as the full-timers.  They will rejoice that Jesus responded to everyone who appealed to his mercy, including the thief on the cross.  Jesus promised this condemned man paradise simply for acknowledging that which opens the way for all of us:  Jesus, you are Lord, and I'm not."  We're all offered the same hope, with the same requirement.  When we walk through that door, we all become part of the same family.

Warning and Hope
 Jesus says if we don't forgive others God will not forgive us (Matthew 6:15).  One of the characters in a Luke 19 Parable has a distorted view of the master, thinking him a harsh man.  When the master returns from a trip he says to this servant, "I will judge you by your own words" (Luke 19:22).  He then deals harshly with this servant.  Many in the church are harsh judges because that's how they view God.  I wonder if God will judge, by their own view of him, those who never tried to forgive, comfort, reaffirm their love for, and restore the fallen.  He might say, "You didn't think I was a God of second chances, neither will I give you one."  Restoration must become a greater part of the church!

We don't have to continue to follow the flow of our surrounding culture.  We can renew our minds with the Word of God, and put it into practice, showing the world an example by taking our own people from shame to restoration.  James 5:19-20 says if we turn a brother or sister from the error of their way we save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.

God has called us to hold one another accountable and rebuke those in sin.  He has also called us to a ministry of reconciliation, to bring hope to those who have repented as we gently restore them to their place in the kingdom and family of God.  We must push against our distorted shame culture and follow the Lord's commandment to love one another.

† Brooks, David. “The Shame Culture.” The New York Times, 15 Mar. 2016, www.nytimes.com/2016/03/15/opinion/the-shame-culture.html.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The False Promise of Freedom

John Writes:
The news that Hugh Hefner died yesterday, September 27, did not give me cause to celebrate the life of a humanitarian, philanthropist, and an advocate for free speech.  Rather, it brought me right back to my childhood moment I took my own innocence by nosing about under my brother's bed, finding a few magazines and looking at my first explicit image.  My brother, Mike, reconnected with the Lord, long before his death a few years ago.

Although I don't intend to, I can still see the first image in my mind.  It and it's successors would haunt me, on and off, for years.  Although the magazine in my case wasn't Playboy, Hugh Hefner played a major role in opening the dam for filth and perversion to flow into public consciousness.  Speaking of the internet, he said himself in a 1999 interview, "Everything, including sexual imagery, is out there now.  And it's kind of like Pandora's box - you can't close it anymore.

Before Hefner came along, pornography was a seedy, back alley kind of industry that was mostly hidden from the public eye.  The first year he published the magazine, Perry Como was about as racy as things got.  Hefner pushed pornography into full view, under the guise of free speech.  He promised freedom from what he called the puritan morality of America, while actually introducing slavery to increasing depravity.

The Family Research Council has listed some of the effects of pornography on its users.  "Users tend to become desensitized to the type of pornography they use, becoming bored with it, and then seek more perverse forms of pornography.  Men who view pornography regularly have a higher tolerance for abnormal sexuality, including rape, sexual aggression, and sexual promiscuity."  You could say that what he brought into mainstream was the gateway drug of this addictive lifestyle.

His whole world view depended on women being second class citizens, or even objects, always ready to provide satisfaction for a man.  In spite of this, people are looking at the good he did.  He donated a lot of money to charity.  He upheld civil rights causes.  I can't help wonder what a judge would say if a rapist philanthropist appeared before the bench appealing to his good deeds.  All the good a man does for society doesn't change or negate the bad.  Yes, he participated in the rape of the American conscience.

Pastors and other Christians also have fallen victim to this attack.  The Barna Group released a survey last year that said 57% of pastors admitted to a current or past struggle.  We need to realize who's at fault:  The flesh, the world and the devil.  The enemy tempts us, the flesh draws us, but we still make that choice and are therefore responsible for our actions.  We need to balance that attitude with an environment where people feel free to confess their sins and receive forgiveness, prayer, restoration and edification (Galatians 6:1).

Another thought I've had today, is what about me?  I can ridicule this man for influencing so many people in such bad ways.  But what have I done to influence those in my small circle for good?  Have I encouraged people to follow the Lord?  Have I lifted up the downtrodden?  Have I helped and prayed for those in need?  As one who has been set free from the law of sin and death, am I sharing the way to that freedom with others?  I have made two resolutions in all of this.

First, I have resolved and reaffirmed with Job 31:1, "I made a covenant with my eyes, not to look lustfully at a young woman."  That also applies to any aged woman.  I know from experience that pornography can be just as addictive as a drug.  I also know Jesus sets free!  Second, I resolve to share the Gospel with more people, to share what God has done with me, and encourage others to take hold of every promise in Christ Jesus.

This blog is called His Promise, and that's how I want to leave you.  Jesus said, everyone who sins is a slave to sin, but he also promises that he can set you free.

He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.  1 Peter 2:24.


...Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  
John 8:31-32

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
2Corinthians 3:17

You can be free from any sin and addiction.

If you are struggling with pornography and want to be free, here are some resources to check out.
I pray they help you on the journey!

Covenant Eyes

Pure Intimacy (From Focus on the Family)

Breaking Free From The Trap

Freedom From Lust and Sexual Impurity (Robert Morris YouTube message)

XXXChurch - Helping People Break Free From Pornography

A Pastor's Struggle

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Forecast Cone For Hurricane Irma: Update

Image from NOAA - Click to Enlarge
This image is from NOAA and will be updated periodically on this site. Visit http://www.nhc.noaa.gov for more info. Please pray for Florida!

Below you'll find great reading material to get through any storm!

Kindle version is only $4.99!

Historical Novel based on a true story.

Yates Warren Kidd is a wicked Klansman during the roaring twenties until one day, driving his truck on a busy road in Tampa, Florida, he encounters God Almighty. His life makes a U turn; the Klan sends a hit man . . .  Read the exciting story of great redemption and a life transformed through love!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

God's Promise

Mary's Facebook Note Published September 20, 2011

Praise the Lord!  This is a word the Lord gave Mary for the Body of Christ back in 2011!  May this encourage you to pursue God's promises for your life!  Believe it!  Shalom!

Saturday, August 26, 2017

The Great Storm

Painting By Willem van de Velde the Younger
And when it was determined that we should sail into Italy, they delivered Paul and certain other prisoners unto one named Julius, a centurion of Augustus’ band. 
Acts 27:1 

But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon. And when the ship was caught, and could not bear up into the wind, we let her drive. 
Acts 27:14-15

Each storm of life often comes without warning to us, but God knew about it long before that first gentle breeze started to blow. The steps of the righteous are ordered by the Lord and that includes steps that don't seem to be part of his original plan. Amazingly, God can make even a path the enemy has pushed us on lead to the right destination. We can see from the storm that Paul and his companions went through, many principles of our faith walk.

The first verse says it was determined that we should sail to Italy.  On the surface, Paul played a part in this trip (Acts 26:32), Festus played a part in this trip (Acts 25:12), the owner of the ship even played a part (Acts 27:11).  But God was allowing these things to happen to get Paul where he had already told him he would go.  God sent Paul to Rome to witness to Caesar.

Paul, was close to the Lord, and he knew a storm was coming.  He even tried to warn the other crew members (Acts 27:10).  He didn't know how bad the storm would get.  What seemed to be a small wind, was the beginning of a hurricane.  The biggest life-storm can start with the smallest breeze.

"And when the ship was caught, and could not bear up into the wind, we let her drive" (Acts 27:15).  When you're in the storm you go the direction the storm takes you.  You remember that you are not in control.  The sailors also started throwing things overboard to lighten the ship (Acts 27:18-19).  The storm will shake things loose from your life.  You might lose family, friends, finances, pride, anger and other things.  It may feel like you're loosing the good with the bad, but God is loosing you from these things, purifying you, and making you more like him.

This storm was rough, dark and long (Acts 27:20, Acts 27:33).  Life-storms will cause everything to spin out of control and you'll be in total darkness.  A sea storm of hurricane force, blocking the sun for at least 14 days is enough to make the bravest sailor lose hope.  They did lose hope, but the Apostle Paul was able to endure the storm because he was a man of faith and prayer.  While they despaired of their lives, he was in the presence of the Lord.  Even with everything rocking and reeling around you, you can still get in the presence of the Lord and hear from him.

Verse 29 says they wished for the day.  Some of life's storms make night seem worse.  Depression creeps in with the darkness of night.  Keep meditating on the Word during this time.  Paul told them to eat, while the day was coming on.  After the storm you're going to need to replenish with the Word of God even more.  Don't leave the Word just because things are calming down.  Stay in the Word!

"And when it was day, they knew not the land" (Acts 27:39).  This is why you need to stay in the Word.  When the storm is over and the sun is coming back up, you'll often look around and wonder what beach you've landed on.  You're surroundings will be different after the storm.  Things and people that were once part of your life are no longer there.  Situations have changed.  Life after the storm is a new world, on a new day, with new possibilities.  You're going to need God's direction to navigate through this new terrain.

"For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve" (Acts 27:23).  Confidence in knowing you belong to the God of heaven and earth is the first step to having confidence in the storm.  If you're his child, what can hurt you?  But is there fruit to this confidence?  Paul acknowledged not only that he belonged to God, but that he was serving God.  For it was God who allowed the storm, took him through the storm, and brought him out of the storm, stronger in his faith.  Would he have been able to stand before Caesar if his faith had not been tried in this powerful storm?

Heavenly Father, help me to remember that even in the storms of life I belong to you.  Help me to turn to you first.  When everyone else is panicking be my comfort and strength.  Guide my steps through the storm and lead me in the way everlasting.  Amen.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Five Steps Toward Right Thinking

That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;  But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:  Ephesians 4:14-15
From John:
A few years ago, I was at the beach with my children.  My son, who was elementary school age, was hanging on to a boogie board near the shore.  His urgent cry startled my summer revery.  His feet couldn't reach bottom.  I swam to him and started to walk him back to shore.  My feet couldn't feel bottom.  With both of us holding on to the board, I started paddling toward the sandy beach.  Each time I stopped paddling the waves pushed us farther out.

I recalled someone's advice from years ago, "swim parallel to the shore."  Obeying this memory, with a slight angle toward the shore, we started making progress until I could touch bottom.  This "survival" was a big deal because Whittingtons are not swimmers.  Whittingtons are sinkers.

Have your thoughts or emotions ever felt tossed about as though by violent winds and waves?  Have you reached around you in life for something solid you could hold on to, to help you get your bearings and navigate through the confusing ideas and feelings of life?

There are two places in the New Testament that compare instability with being tossed around by waves and wind in the sea.  Ephesians 4 and James 1.  Ephesians deals with instability in the mind, as we are carried about with "every wind of doctrine."  James examines the instability of our feelings, specifically wavering between faith and doubt.  Faith is a confident knowing.  Doubt, however, is a pesky feeling that makes us, "like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed."

Both of these passages mention a common factor.  Whether fighting the instability of belief (Ephesians), or feelings (James), we must come to terms with our own maturity, or immaturity if we are going to see victory in mind and heart.  Ephesians gives a process that brings what some versions call perfection, or maturity, and leaves the instability of infancy behind.  James talks about a process that leads to perfection, or maturity, and then contrasts this with the double-minded man who is unstable in all his ways (James 1:8).  To sum up so far:

Ephesians:  Process -> Maturity -> Right Thinking

James:  Process -> Maturity -> Right Feeling

Today, I want to focus on the passage in Ephesians:  Five steps to right thinking.  Our thinking affects every aspect of our lives.  If we believe, for example, that suffering is pointless, we will be subject to bitterness, helplessness and even hopelessness when facing difficulties.  If our belief system is based on God's Word and says, "suffering produces perseverance; perseverance character; and character hope," (Romans 5:3-5) facing difficulties will actually increase our hope and build our faith rather than destroy it.  

The first thing we have to clear up is that this 5-step process is not all us.  It's not our strength, effort, or even wishful thinking.  Most 5-step processes put the responsibility completely on us, but this is a God thing.  This Process starts and finishes with the Lord Jesus Christ.  How appropriate this is for the Author and Finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:22).

Step One:  Christ Gave Five Gifts to the Church
Ephesians 4:11 says Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers were given to the church to kick off the journey to τέλειος (teleios).  Teleios is the same Greek word found in Ephesians, James and several other passages, translated, mature, perfect, or complete.  Teleios can be defined as, brought to its end, finished; lacking nothing necessary to completeness; fully grown, fully developed, fully realized; fully accomplished.  Wow!  This is the goal God has for us!  What a future!


These gifts are not the same as the gifts from the Spirit Paul lists in 1Corinthians 12:8-10.  The Greek pronoun in verse 11 is emphatically pointing to the Lord Jesus as the giver of these 5 gifts.  There are still other gifts for the body of Christ listed in Romans 12:6-8 and other passages.  Actually, each one of us in the body of Christ has been graced with gifts from the Lord (Ephesians 4:7).  That includes you!

Step Two:  These Five Gifts Equip God's People For Works of Service
Each of us has a ministry to do.  Ephesians 4:12 tells us that the purpose of those who occupy the 5 callings of the previous verse is "for the equipping" (Greek: πρὸς τὸν καταρτισμὸν) or the preparing the rest of the holy people of God (saints) for works of service to the body of Christ.  But the body is made up of the people, so does that mean that the people of God are going to serve the people of God?  Exactly!

All of us in the body are called to serve, or minister to one another.  The 5 kinds of servant-leaders God has given the church are called to complete our qualification for such service.  Some may be thinking, "But God does the equipping.  Like the old saying, 'God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called.'"  Yes, God does the qualifying by his Holy Spirit, but he also uses the Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers.  It's all God, but also working through his people.

We can never forget that a big part of being prepared for ministry is being repaired.  We all came to God broken.  He is the one who heals us, but he also uses people, their influence, their lives and their Bible-based teaching to bring us through the process of repair.  This quote from the Expositor's Bible Commentary says it best:
From Ephesians 4:12:  “To prepare” (pros ton katartismon) is “to put right.” In surgery katartismos is applied to the setting of a broken bone.  In the NT the verb katartizo is used for the mending of nets (Matthew 4:21) and the restoration of the lapsed (Galatians 6:1). 
Step Three:  Our Works of Service Help Build Up the Body of Christ
Verse 12 tells us that the five types of gifted callings equip the rest of us to do works of service which will edify, build up, or promote the growth of the body of Christ.  What kinds of works do we do?  Every kind of godly work from Matthew to Revelation!  Read the Book, and make note of what believers did for each other and were instructed to do for each other.  Feeding, clothing, visiting, teaching, preaching to, praying over, being kind toward, are just some of the basic works we are called to do for each other.

These complete works of service build up the body because they include words accompanied by actions.  For example, preaching the love of God, while collecting funds for a family who lost everything in a house fire, will build that family up, and give them the experience to back up what we teach them to believe about the Lord's love.  Again, this brings people closer to right thinking about God, Christians, and the church.

Step Four:  Biblical Body of Christ Building Produces Maturity (Teleios)
Actually, there are three results listed:

1. Unity in the Faith - That's when all of us together have right belief, right doctrine, right worldview.  This happens when our belief about God, Jesus, Salvation, Heaven, Hell, The Resurrection, all eclipse our differences on petty issues.  When all believers watch a tragic news story and all respond with the compassion of Jesus, that's unity in the Faith.  Notice that this whole process from Christ giving gifts has been to and for the church as a whole.  We're not supposed to be islands trying to survive on our own.  In the church we who are many form one body (Romans 12:5).  We're supposed to be growing and being built up together!  

2. Knowledge in the Son of God - That's when all of us together have right knowledge, right understanding of the Son of God.  Most wrong thinking comes from wrong beliefs and being wrong about what we think we know.  When we get this far in the process we'll be less likely to have ignorance, or misinformation about the Son of God.

3. Maturity, i.e. Teleios! - That's when our belief and knowledge and development is complete and full.  How could one not have right thinking at this point?


Step Five:  Christian Teleios is Attaining to the Whole Measure of the Fullness of Christ
We could write a book trying to search out the meaning of this phrase!  This is a lifelong goal of the church and its individuals.  As we began, so we end, in Christ.  Our goal, our teleos is the Lord Jesus Christ.  Ephesians 1 tells us that the church is already the fullness of Christ, but it's also something that we strive to appropriate through process, by faith, on a daily basis.  The closer we are to fullness in Christ, the better we will be at right thinking.

When we have right thinking we will be able to stand against the beliefs and so-called truths that the world, the flesh, and the enemy sends our way.

This is not an individual quest.  Remember, it starts with God, it moves by the Holy Spirit, through the Son, to the church, His body.  As we are prepared and begin to do the works he called us to, we will find that our belief, knowledge and eventually our thinking will line up with God's Word.  Right thinking, like all things, is possible through God!  Right thinking is a better way to think (Philippians 4:8).  Right belief and thinking will change our whole lives (Matthew 21:22, Romans 12:2).

Father in Heaven, help me to recognize the process that you started through your Son the Lord Jesus.  Help me to step into that process and allow it to banish lies of the enemy, self-deceptions and other wrong thinking, so that I can know the truth about you, your plan, and who I am in you.  I ask this in Jesus' name, Amen.

Next we will continue with Five Steps to Right Feeling.

Friday, August 18, 2017

God Alone Is All I Need

Poem By Mary!
But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.  1Timothy 6:9
Why do we go shopping and buy things we feel will bring us contentment?  This satisfaction only lasts a little while.  We are left with a lot of stuff, but feeling empty and often in debt.  The Word doesn't say money is evil, but it does say the love of money is the root of all evil (1Timothy 6:10).  When we keep wanting more and more stuff we fall into covetousness.  We've heard that covetousness is just wanting what belongs to your neighbor.  Wanting everything the mall has can also be covetousness.

Covetousness is a heart issue; it's a matter of the heart.  Jesus warned us to beware of covetousness (Luke 12:15).  That's because it sneaks up on us.  Most of us don't realize we have it.  He also warned that we can't serve both God and money, or Mammon (Matthew 6:24).  Mammon was a god of wealth.  Jesus was saying you can't make your money, or stuff a god, but still worship and serve the true God.

Making money your god is picking the loosing team.  The Word says riches will fly away from you (Proverbs 23:5).  This doesn't mean you should give up on being financially stable.  God wants to bless you.  But material wealth will eventually be gone.  Even if you live your entire life in wealth, when you die, you and your wealth will be separated.  If the Lord is your God, even death cannot separate you!

Things that people have produced can only make us happy temporarily.  What God created can bring much joy and contentment.  Looking at the beauty of nature, mountains, sunsets, oceans, the sky, can fill us with contentment and remind us of the One who made all these things.  We have to make up out mind to serve God and God alone, before we gain such appreciation for his creation.

I encourage you to try this.  Spend some time in nature, and in God's presence.  This may be an acquired taste.  Just like when we first try to eat healthy, and apple is not really a great substitute for a candy bar.  Eventually, after being away from processed sugar, that apple begins to take on a whole new sweetness to us.  When we make the decision to enjoy God's creation, eventually we get a sweet tooth for his artwork.

When we get to the place that we can enjoy all that God has made, we start to enjoy the presence of God, himself.  I'm not talking about worshiping nature, but the God of nature.  Only God can satisfy, and he can satisfy to the uttermost!

Father, thank you for everything you created for your children to enjoy.  Most of all thank you for your Son Jesus!  Help me to get my eyes off of material things, and back on you and enjoying what you made for me.  Amen.

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The shame culture in which we live has infiltrated the church, affecting our attitudes to those we call, "brothers and sisters."...