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Faith, Death, Time, No Time, Lost

My absence this week is a personal one but is wrapped with faith.

I’ve shared that I have health issues, of which one is fibromyalgia; for me, includes periods of physical exhaustion and something called fibro fog, where you just become unaware of what is happening in the real world and time just get lost. It’s a lonely place.

I have a very small circle of close friends, best friends if we were teens (lol). Her mother and father raised their kids with respect, courage and love. They saw their 62nd wedding anniversary! They are wonderful people who inspire people of every age, despite their age. Mom’s journey is done, she’s in heaven now. But my friend and her husband, no matter how prepared they were, no matter how many goodbyes they spoke, no matter how much time they had together, now have a journey to walk. I, and any other that call themselves friend, must walk that journey with them. Even so, It’s a lonely place.

If all this isn’t enough, another friend very unexpectedly died, leaving a surprised and shocked husband, daughter, family, and friends. There was no time for any of us to wrap our heads around the fact that we would lose our friend, we had no time to get the word out for the right prayers (at least we felt that way). Many of the friends here are friends of the mother who passed. But there was no time for our friend to say her goodbyes, to do the things she wanted to do in the near future with her husband of many years, no time to ______ . It’s a lonely place.

When one is in a lonely place, it doesn’t matter how many people are around, you don’t connect and you don’t feel them. You go through life feeling lost, out of place, sometimes feeling dead. Time becomes something that gets you through the day because you feel like you don’t know what to do next. This is a very dangerous place to be.

This lonely place for one without faith is where we find those who give in to the addictions, bad choices, vices, whatever Satan calls them to and they don’t know or care. Usually they don’t realize the weight of this lost time until the hit bottom, which is a type of death, not all death is physical, and can come back depending on many things. It is still a lonely place. Where they feel they are unworthy, are lost, have no time; faith has no meaning to them.

Lonely comes to the faithful too. When they get tired. They carry too much weight thinking they can’t share, they need to do it all themselves. They see too much, first responders, emergency room personnel, hospital chaplains, social workers, terminal illness workers — how much can they see before it’s one death too many? Before they wonder if they are wasting their time? Before they feel that their help is lost on the people they care about so they stop trying? Before they feel like it’s pointless to believe. It’s a lonely place.

There was a Friday just over 2,000 years ago where a man, a carpenter, who had been unlawfully imprisoned, whipped, and tortured was forced to walk with his crucifix to where he would be hung. Talk about a lonely place. Good Friday. A day prophesied and fulfilled.

A lonely place for this 33 year old man hanging by ligaments on a tree, because he had the faith that his Father was taking him home.

A lonely place for the man next to him, rightfully being punished for crimes committed, knowing he was about to die and go nowhere, until he saw the man next to him. Because of the faith he declared to Jesus, the man dying next to him, he was no longer lonely because he knew he was going home too.

If your lonely right now, tell God, he wants you too, it is never to late.

Be blessed.

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Posted in Christ, Commandment, Disciple, Faith, God, Hymn, Prayer, Psalm, Satan

Faith, An Acapella Thing

I know from previous writings, most of you don’t visit me for knowledge, for facts that is, but it is part of the gig. As students of Christ, we’re instructed to never stop learning. As disciples of Christ, we’re instructed to demonstrate Him in our behaviors and words; behaviors and words which teach others.  I promise, just a few “facts” before I ramble.

In the Old Testament (using the NIV today) the word faith is only mentioned 16 times the Old Testament; in the New Testament 254! What a shift of priority! My thought, God walked with His people in the Old Testament. They saw Him, in the Garden, the flaming bush, angels, splitting river, manna and many other ways. Physically, He was real to them. Even in the quiet times, when people could not see or hear Him, He was always walking with the faithful, like Enoch and Noah.

Enoch walked faithfully with God;   Gen 5:24

Noah was a righteous man, … he walked faithfully with God.    Gen 6:9

Jesus, while real baby, child and man for 33 years, after his crucifixion and resurrection, He was not real to the people (at large). He was a fulfillment, hope fulfilled. I hope we must proclaim!!

He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.  Psalm 40:3

What is your song? What song aches within you? What stirs you? Does it make you stop and remind you that you are not doing what you want to be doing?

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.     Romans 7:15

Does your song pull your heart into the feeling of a warm blanket where you feel safe and secure? Where it reminds you of the moment you were running to a neighbor, terrified of the mother’s boyfriend and they greeted you with open arms and a warm meal? Or the time you were terrified that your drunken parent was going to do it again so you ran away for awhile to hide, and the neighbor who knew you were there left lights off and didn’t tell? Or the time you cowered underneath a stairwell not knowing if another moment of breathing was worth it and suddenly a breath of fresh air comes over you and you meet God!  That is was It Is Well With My Soul does for me as well as Amazing Grace.

I pray that your faith, the well in your soul that fosters your foundation of strength, is deep and wide, that you know who keeps your thirst at bay and nourishes you. We’ll spend more time on faith. Tell us your faith story. I’ll be sharing more of mine.

Be Blessed

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Hymns get a bad rap!

Hymns get a bad rap! I remember when I realized I needed to find a place to get to know God better (than just talking to Him on walks and reading the Bible on my own) I resisted like hell! Seriously. Me! In a church? With all those judgey people and antique music???

Oh yeah, some of their songs were ‘pretty’, but nothing I wanted to spend any serious time with. Yes, I sang them in school in all the choirs I was in and they were beautiful, some even touched me, but the chorale directors made the music fun! Not like a dirge. Like a funeral march.

X number of years later, okay, XX number of years later, I’ve matured in my Christian walk and I get God better and I get hymns! There are still some that I cringe when we sing them, I still think they sound like a dirge, but now I understand them (better). In 2005 the music group Out of Eden released the album Hymns. Changed my view! Even the antique music of our great, great, great, great, great, great, grand whatevers can be beautiful!

There is a long history to hymns, to the length I doubt you want to go to here, so suffice it to say hymns evolved as a way for the common people to better learn and understand elements of the liturgy and scripture previously only performed by the monks (Music for Church Choirs) to what we have today.

In November of 2012, Thom S. Rainer published a blog listing the Top 25 Hymns sung in churches over the previous four years. I’ve added links to these songs, from various artists, so you can experience them. Some of these I enjoy, some well, you may enjoy.

  1. How Great Thou Art
  2. Great Is Thy Faithfulness
  3. Blessed Assurance, Jesus Is Mine
  4. All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name
  5. Holy, Holy, Holy
  6. Jesus Paid It All
  7. Christ the Lord Is Risen Today
  8. Crown Him with Many Crowns
  9. It Is Well with My Soul
  10. To God Be the Glory
  11. The Solid Rock
  12. Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing
  13. I Stand Amazed in the Presence
  14. Victory in Jesus
  15. Nothing but the Blood
  16. Amazing Grace! How Sweet the Sound
  17. Praise to the Lord, the Almighty
  18. At the Cross
  19. Revive Us Again
  20. Be Thou My Vision
  21. Because He Lives
  22. Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee
  23. A Mighty Fortress is Our God
  24. For A Thousand Tongues To Sing
  25. America, the Beautiful

A hymn for peace I do enjoy though, Breathe on Me, Breath of God, Play it and listen with your eyes closed and no other noise if possible. You’ll be surprised at what it does for you. Randy Travis, Country Music star, has several faith based albums so I’ll leave you with two of his that wake my faith, warm my soul and cause me to raise up again. I hope you enjoy them also. I’ll Fly Away and Deeper Than The Holler.

Be blessed.

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Posted in Christ, God, Promise, Psalm, Seek Christ

Psalms

The Book of Psalms, or as is most commonly called, Psalms. A book of poems, stories, prayers and songs, it was known as a psalter.

There are 150 psalms in the Christian Bible. The is one psalm in the Apocrypha, Psalm 151, which is extremely short and a concise summary of David’s childhood. There is nothing in it that is not in many other places through the Old Testament, a reason it may have been excluded but not of point here.

There are a million things we could talk about when discussing Psalms; don’t worry, we’re not, at least not today. Let’s talk about why God gave us them.

Let me remind you, I am not an educated, degreed theologian. What I write here is what I hear in the Gospel and what I’m guided to write, praying I’m not misleading you.

In these very early days, the average, let alone less than average person, did not read or own books. Heritage, history, and memories were passed down by word of mouth, song, dance, and symbols. People memorized what was important, and that memory work began at a very early age; something we have lost in this day and age.

Also, in those days with various types of war and enslavement, individuals were frequently physically mistreated, harshly, for their beliefs. To prevent this, they would keep their beliefs on the inside, only sharing in word with known like believers. What better way to help so many people, so many disenfranchised, uneducated, unsettled people learn the history and promises of God than with poems and songs (Psalms).

Probably the most important thing to see in Psalms is Jesus! Wait! Hold the presses! Psalms is OT, Jesus ain’t born yet!!!!!! You are absolutely correct, but the promise of the Messiah has been made. Here’s some examples of where the Old and New Testaments line up perfectly. (All use NIV)

I will proclaim the Lord’s decree: He said to me, “You are my son; today I have become your father.    Ps 2:7
And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”  Mt 3:17

because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay.  Ps 16:10
Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay. Acts 2:31
So it is also stated elsewhere: “‘You will not let your holy one see decay.’ Acts 13:35

And there are many others. The faithful of the time and today understand that in the good times, the Psalms give you peace in troubled times and guidance in time of darkness. It helps us see that a shepherd boy, the 99-lb weakling for a visual image when compared to his brothers, yet the favored of his father, perhaps because he was the last, can grow up to be a King. It shows us that God gets that His chosen ones make mistakes (David lied, committed murdered and adultery), suffered at times with depression (my words) and lust, and yet was forgiven, unconditionally by the one who had called him.

David had, even through his darkest times, faith. He knew God was present. He never doubted God would hear his cries. He understood he did not know God’s timetable. He recognized that we may not be able to see the Messiah, but that He was coming and we would all have eternal faith. He never asked for proof. He never said, “if you do this” or “because you did that”, he just sang and talked because he had the faith of a child and sought for his father.

Let’s close today with the beginning of Psalm 62 (HCSB), verses 1 & 2.

I am at rest in God alone;
my salvation comes from Him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my stronghold; I will never be shaken.

Be blessed! 💕

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That One Teacher!

Everyone has that one teacher in their life that they look back on with a grimace, and maybe even a feeling they think is hatred, and celebrate their paths never crossing again. For me it is a history teacher whose name I’ll leave out.

Then there are those teachers they look back on with a smile and warm heart, someone who changed their lives. For me, it was a tie, my 4th grade teacher Mrs. Larsen and my high school choral director Mr. Sheehan. I probably would not have lived through elementary school if Ms. Mary, the Speech Therapist, had not invested in me.

These people, for good or bad, influenced who we became, what decisions we’ve made through life, how we have treated and reacted to others. Their traits ingrained themselves on us to the point where when we cross paths with others of similar traits, we develop impressions of them based on those memories, unaware we are doing so.

What does this have to do with faith or psalms or hymns? Everything! How can we begin to embrace or understand something if we don’t understand, and accept, where it came from? I suspect I am going to bring out some facts over the next few days about songs you cherish that you may not like. For example, William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army (an organization that forbids alcohol) used bar tunes as the base of the hymns he wrote. Logic was solid, the people already knew the tune, he just needed to teach them new words and distract them from Satan in doing so. (Apologetix.com) (Wordwise-Bible-Studies) So first, we begin with a dirty word, history (brief). We’ll drill down into each later.

Psalms

Psalms are conversations with God. They teach us how to talk with Him. They provide the example for the basic structure of a prayer, ACTS.

Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication. Adoration tells God we recognize Him for who He is. Confession, we’re all sinners, He just wants us to be honest with Him. Thanksgiving, He wants to know that we recognize that all good and perfect things in our lives, including our life, are from Him. Supplication, He wants to know how we feel, what we want and need (or think we want and need), what is hurting us, and who we are concerned for. (JustPray.org)

Additionally, Psalms has played a prominent role in the development of church development, worship, assembly, liturgy, and reformation. Though written during Old Testament times, Jesus frequently referenced them, the disciples used them for teaching, as I said the church format developed from them and we (the Church at large) use the heavily today!

Hymns

I’m cheating here and giving you the information from gotquestions.com. (Excellent source).

Question: “What are hymns? What is the value of hymns in worship?”

Answer: A hymn is a song of praise. In ancient Greek culture, a hymnos was musical praise directed to the gods or heroes of the day. In Christianity, hymns are directed to the one true God, of course.

God’s people have sung hymns in honor of the Almighty since the time of Moses and before (Exodus 15:1). David sang the “new song” God gave him and taught others to sing “a hymn of praise to our God” (Psalm 40:3). Jesus and His disciples sang a hymn together at the Last Supper (Mark 14:26). The early church sang hymns as part of their regular gatherings (1 Corinthians 14:26). Paul and Silas, with their feet in stocks in a Philippian jail, were “praying and singing hymns to God” (Acts 16:25).

Technically, a hymn is a stanzaic, metrical poem meant to be sung. A traditional meter for hymns in English is 8.6.8.6., called common meter, which corresponds with ballad stanza. The subject matter of a hymn is what distinguishes it from the “psalms” and “spiritual songs” mentioned in Ephesians 5:19 (ESV); a psalm can be thought of as Scripture set to music—usually from the book of Psalms—and a spiritual song can be any song with a spiritual theme, including songs of testimony and admonition. A hymn addresses and celebrates God and has the purpose of praise and adoration.

Faith

So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ. Romans 10:17 (HCSB)

My thought, if you hear God in the Psalms, if you hear God in the hymns or any of His music, you are hearing the message of Christ (God). Praise be!

Be Blessed

 

 

Continue reading “That One Teacher!”

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Psalms to Hymns to Rock Bands …

While writing today’s blog, which should be posted soon, I stumbled on the website twoagespilgrims.com. The title intrigued me and thinking I would find a great article to reference, I was shocked at the closed mind. I am sharing this because it fits with our current topic and because I would like to hear your feedback about this as well.

I posted my response to the article From Psalms to Hymns to Rock Bands To … there, but I would prefer you put your responses here.

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Posted in Abba, Christ, Faith, God, Hymn, Psalm, Seek Christ

Faithful Rejoicing

Our last post I asked you all to tell me what you would like for us to talk about. I asked to find out what you are hungry for, or as a seeker you don’t know, or as an unbeliever you want to disprove, or you just want to talk about. I was surprised the only answers I got were the Book of Psalm and the topic of Hymns; two things that go very well together since Psalms are poems and hymns of their time. They are also a source of many hymns over the last two thousand plus years, and music is a good gift from God!

Elisha responded, “As the Lord of Hosts lives, I stand before Him. If I did not have respect for King Jehoshaphat of Judah, I would not look at you; I wouldn’t take notice of you.  Now, bring me a musician.” While the musician played, the Lord’s hand came on Elisha.  2 Kings 3:14-15

Then David told the leaders of the Levites to appoint their relatives as singers and to have them raise their voices with joy accompanied by musical instruments—harps, lyres, and cymbals.   1 Chronicals 15:16

Over the last few days I have been thinking, listening to music, and praying about what is next for us. A recent sermon Agape for Sinners got the wheels turning. Within a couple of days I began an online bible study with an soldier overseas on the topic of Revelation. I’m including the links in case you’re curious and want to experience the same thing.

Back to Agape, the love of God, or more correctly defined as the “is a Greco-Christian term referring to love, “the highest form of love, charity” and “the love of God for man and of man for God”. If you are a believer, try to explain your love of God to another, not your faith, but your love! The first time I seperated the two, it was an overwhelming AHA moment about how we were to place Him in our lives. It’s also when I stopped looking at Him as God and Father, things in my life that really had no meaning, and saw Him as ABBA, Daddy. Though I didn’t know what daddy was, when I met Daddy, I got it. If you don’t know Him yet, perhaps the next few days will help that.

Long story, sorry, just want to make sure you don’t get lost on the journey. When you experience agape and you meet Abba, you find out what faith and faithfulness means and you rejoice, as David taught us, in poetry and music, about the God you gave you life, love, promises fulfilled, and eternal life. David put the psalms down, God set the example for us to follow.

May the Lord be praised, for He has wonderfully shown His faithful love to me in a city under siege.  Psalm 31:21 (HCSB)

But I am like a flourishing olive tree in the house of God; I trust in God’s faithful love forever and ever.  Psalm 52:8 (HCSB)

For Yahweh is good, and His love is eternal; His faithfulness endures through all generations.  Psalm 100:5 (HCSB)

He is my faithful love and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer. He is my shield, and I take refuge in Him; He subdues my people under me.  Psalm 144:2 (HCSB)

All of us experience a point in our belief life where we doubt God. We ask Him why. Some, like me, have had long, argumentativee, in your face talks with Him about why was he doing “THIS TO ME”, “WHAT HAD I DONE” and let’s not forget the “WHAT DID I DO TO DESERVE THIS”, or the normal teenage response to parent, “I HATE YOU”.  Very few will confess they ever said this last one. I remember be 10, 11 & 12-years old and more than once saying it when issues when my mother came up. Talk about guilt later, but I’m forgiven.

As I grew up, in age and in Christ; and as you will if you’ve not done so already, I learned the following lesson.

You rejoice in this, though now for a short time you have had to struggle in various trials so that the genuineness of your faith—more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. You love Him, though you have not seen Him. And though not seeing Him now, you believe in Him and rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy, …      1 Peter 1:6-8 (HCSB)

Our struggles make us strong, strong in character, faith and in our determination to sing praises, to share hymns, and to pass out psalms. I don’t know how this topic will go on, but faith, hymns and psalms are wonderfully, interlaced, hilly journies. Feel free to share your journies too.

Be blessed!

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Survey – Please Reply

What topics would you like to hear about?

Is there a particular Book of the Bible you might want us to review?

While I lift the blog up to God each day before I start to type, I also feel that we can reach out to others by expanding some. I want your thoughts about where you want to see this go so you can share this with others to bless them?

Blessings to each of you.

Deb

 

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G-Spot

G-Spot … It’s not what you think! But I’m glad you visited here anyway if you’re here by mistake!

For decades, especially since a lot of studies in the 1950’s and 60’s about what healthy sex was, the g-spot became relegated to the bedroom. Long before that though, and in a much larger presence since, anthropologists, sociologists, psychologists and religious experts research and teach about the Godspot, a place which has given birth to a science called Neurotheology (new one for me!).

From the National Institute of Health, Neurotheology is “also known as “spiritual neuroscience”1, is an emerging field of study that seeks to understand the relationship between the brain science and religion.2 Scholars in this field, strive up front to explain the neurological ground for spiritual experiences such as “the perception that time, fear or self-consciousness have dissolved; spiritual awe; oneness with the universe.”

Isn’t fascinating that the entire world is seeking a spot where they find what they are looking for?

The music group Anointed released the song Godspot ion their album Anointed in 1999.


Began a new life
Found a love of your own
Got someone by your side
Now you don’t have to be alone
But you find yourself in need
Of more than what they can give
And it’s taking all your strength within
To get them to understand

Well there’s a place within the soul
There’s a place where nobody knows
It’s a place, some they come and go
But no one can fulfill the Godspot
A place (yeah) that’s in demand
Need a lot of love someone to understand
It’s a place where only He can
Cause no one can fulfill the Godspot
(oh, no, no)
Always surrounded
By so many many friends
They were like family, (yeah)
Promised to be there ’till the end
But then you realized you gave
Too much of your heart away
You put all your trust in them
You thought
When everyone has let you down
Remember God, He’ll always be around
And when life seems impossible
Trust in Him, and you will find He’s able
Yes, He’s able, yeah
Yes He is.
I’m trying to say that things and people
Will never satisfy
Cause there is nothing or anyone
Who can take the place of God
No one can fulfill it,
It’s a Godspot, yes it is
No one can take the place of God

(Repeat to fade)

Songwriters: Christopher Dwight Harris / Denise Yvonne Walls

Godspot lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, Fun Attic Music, LLC

When we were in the garden, we did not know loneliness; we did not seek God. He though, spoke the words “it is not good for man to live alone” (Gen 2:18). After we are exiled from the garden though, we find out what it means to miss Him, to discover we need Him.  There is no place in the world where man does not seek a higher power; it is only in the home of the Triune God that we find the peace of knowing the hole can be and is filled.

I know the Lord is always with me.
    I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.

No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice.
    My body rests in safety.
For you will not leave my soul among the dead
    or allow your holy one to rot in the grave.
You will show me the way of life,
    granting me the joy of your presence
    and the pleasures of living with you forever.      Psalm 16:8-11 (NLT)

You have shown me the way of life,
    and you will fill me with the joy of your presence.    Acts 2:28 (NLT)
The G-Spot is not some momentary sexual thing for a person to seek over and over again. Once it’s found, it’s lost until next time and between is loneliness. The Godspot though is permanent. Once accepted into your heart, you no longer have to search because you have been found. Rejoice!
Be Blessed.
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Posted in Faith, God, Prayer, Thankfulness

Prayer

This morning my conversation is with the Holy Spirit (yes I believe there is a two way conversation that happens and no, there’s not necessarily a voice so I don’t need therapy (see Joy Behar)). The reality is, we’ve wandered away from one of the key topics of this blog, prayer. After all, the title does state our two desires, seek and pray. We do a lot of seeking, let’s spend a few days talking about prayer.

First, let’s talk about what prayer is. The Greek word we get it from is παράκληση (prosefchi) meaning request, solicitation, prayer, entreaty, invocation, or rogation. Thank you Google Translate for this information.

It is my view that we can see an evolution of prayer in the Old Testament until we get to Jesus’ teachings. In the beginning, Adam and Eve had a one-on-one face-to-face relationship with their Creator. They had no need to ask for anything, He had already provided. They just walked and talked. Enjoyed the amazing beauty of His work. How cool would that be!!!! Then we manage, as humans do, to screw it up, and bite the wrong thing and run away and hide. We stop talking, stop telling the truth. Until it comes out, either on it’s own or because it’s uncovered some other way; and with discovery comes consequence. We know longer get to talk to God, our friend, Creator, Abba as we had. How now?

Using BibleGateway.com, I discovered the word prayer does not appear in any version of the Bible until Genesis 20:7. While I found this interesting, the behavior of prayer throughout the Old Testament (OT) was the people would take their concerns, requests, and praises to a prophet or priest and with a sacrifice to God he would present it. Conversation was not two way always. Life was legalistic. People were told do this and you will make God happy and He will keep you. Blessedly, David, even before becoming a King, showed us a better way (he’s not the only one, but a prominent one). He sang! He played instruments! He danced! He rejoiced! He wrote poems! He talked with God, seeking answers, expecting to hear Him, faithfully (usually) waiting. The Book of Psalms shares all this with as.

Wait a minute! Sing? Dance? Play music? Rejoice? Isn’t all of the just shameful? Even David’s wife Mical challenges this (2 Samuel 6:20)! David basically tells her to get over herself. The love of God and the thanksgiving of His gifts are something to be celebrated, not hidden. We should be loud about our love of God, not silenced.

I’ll finish today with my two favorite thoughts on prayer. First, there are some awesome music groups out there with great music about prayer. Some of my favorites are Renew Me and The Creed by Avalon, Listen to the Sound by Building 429, and Jesus Take the Wheel by Carrie Underwood. Those are but a few that come to mind quickly. Eden’s Bridge, for KING AND COUNTRY, Mandisa, Mercy Me, and Out of Eden are other groups that have fantastic music for praying!

Psalm 16:1 says, “Protect me, God, for I take refuge in You”. what a declaration! If we can make this statement, then we need to also be able to follow 2 Chronicles 7:14 :

if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (NIV)

Heavenly Father, hear our cry, we reach out to you now. Let us, as we walk together, learn to talk with you consistently, learn to listen to you, learn to humbly but boldly follow you. Be with us and our loved ones, protecting us from the evils of this world, comforting us in the knowledge that you are carrying us through whatever our journey is. Thank you Father. Amen.

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Posted in Call, Christ, Disciple, Faith, God, Passion, Prayer, Seek Christ, Serve, Triune God, worship

Where is Church?

Why this question?

In looking around the blog world the other day, I stumbled on a blog by Michelle Lesley. It is well written and thought out but definitely not in line with how I interpret  the teachings within Timothy’s. No problem, 1 John 4:1 tells us to “not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to determine if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”.  I’m not saying Michelle is a false prophet. I am saying that I (we) are to test what we read and hear against God’s word. Not to challenge it or argue against it, but to ensure we are believing, following, sharing, teaching and preaching the right message.

Christ himself gave us an example of how we are to have this conversation in Acts 19:8 when he entered the Lecture Hall of Tyrannus: “Then he entered the synagogue and spoke boldly over a period of three months, engaging in discussion and trying to persuade them about the things of the kingdom of God.”

In a nutshell she was discussing the role of women in the church, which is not what we’ll talk about today. In a brief exchange between us, I asked “If you believe 100% what you have written here, then you believe 100% what you have taught, proselytized, preached (different people will apply different words to what we bloggers do) here. How does your work here not go against what you have said the Bible does? ” Her response took me back, “The instruction is that women are not to preach to, teach Scripture to, or exercise authority over men in the church. A blog is not the church.”

What is Church?

I have written about this before (Where We Gather and Here & Now – Worship) as this question as well as what is worship are ones far too many of us do not understand or experience.

A quick survey of a variety of versions of the Bible show that the word church shows up a little over 100 times in the New Testament. When God talks about the church with us, He is not talking about the man made denominations we’ve created, He’s talking about His people. In the Old Testament, church did equal the Temple and people were expected to gather there for sacrifices and teachings (the men anyway). But in the New Testament, Christ changes this format. The Bible does give references to congregations, but those are congregations of cities or communities, not a physical institution. So, what is church?

For the purist among you, the word church comes from the Greek word ekklesia meaning ‘assembly’ or ‘called out ones’.

First of all, we need to understand that the church is Christ:

“He is also the head of the body, the church;”.   Col 1:24 (HCSB)

Then we need to understand that church is a place of gathering, but it is a place where two or more gather.

For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there among them.” Matt 18:20 (HCSB)

Some would argue that the Holy Spirit being present can be counted as one since He is a participant in prayer; I don’t think this supported biblically but can understand the argument when Christ gives us examples like the Garden of Gethsemane.

Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and He told the disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” Matt 26:36 (HCSB) also Mk 14:32

And when we’re instructed to privately talk with Abba, one-on-one; two are present.

But when you pray, go into your private room, shut your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret.  Matt 6:5-6 (HCSB)

Christ first mentions the work of building a church in Matthew, but He is not talking about the confining walls of a building, but The Church (of Jesus Christ) full of people.

And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the forces of Hades will not overpower it.  Matt 16:18 (HCSB)

To truly understand what the church is, we must go to the Book of Acts and recognize some major shifts in societal and physical behaviors. One of the largest is the clarity of the message that no one is excluded.

The Disciples were baptized by The Holy Spirit and received His power (Acts 1:8).
Women were included in acts and in gifts. (Acts 1:14, 2:17,18)
Pentecost brought the time of speaking in tongues so the Word of God would be heard by so many more. (Acts 2:4)
One expectation was laid out for followers, REPENT.  (Acts 2-38-40)
A picture of church is presented, people who devote themselves to learning, gathering, breaking of bread (eating) with a joyful and humble attitude, and praising. (Acts 2:42,46)

With all of this, we can now go to the question, are we on this blog, a church? Are we discussing, teaching, preaching, sharing, learning and supporting each other in the name of Christ? Are we asking questions to ensure what we learn is true? Does this technology allow us to find God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit? I believe so and I believe I am responsible for each person who reads or shares this.

What I do not believe is that this makes me the head of a church or places me over any man who may be reading this. Just as women were including in the act of praying in the upper room, teaching in homes throughout Acts and receiving calls directly to guide others, they were not the head of their churches; they were answering God’s call to teach, proselytize, praise, whatever their gift was.

After Michelle and I chatted, I searched out many more blogs and websites hosted by women Christians and I was astonished at how many did not accept responsibility, most saying (in various ways), ‘I can not control who reads what I write’ and ‘if a man chooses to read my writings that is on him’. Really? How is ones accountability for what one shares with one gender any different than the other?

I stand in my conclusion that, I am a Disciple and it is my humble prayer that God uses me, through the Holy Spirit, to reach out to anyone who knows or does not know Him who saves us all, and provides either encouragement or hunger for their own walk with the Triune God. I know I am challenged when I sit down and do this blog for fear of false teachings [2 Peter 2:1]. I humbly pray if any of you ever feel I am guilty, you hold a conversation here with me so we all may grow.


FYI: Those of you that have followed me for a while know I use a multitude of versions of the Bible. I do this for two reasons; one, some versions have wording that is easier to understand and two, to help show that although the words may be in a different order, the meaning is the same. Currently I’m using The Apologetics Study Bible (Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)).

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Dogs

What wonderful creatures dogs are! I have two; and, ironically enough, one is a guide and one is a herder. They are loads of love unless they think there’s a problem and then they are on high alert and ready to attack!  I have no doubt these two understand this is a home they are safe in, they’ll be fed in, and they’ll get the brushing and ear rubs they enjoy. I also have no doubt that if the walking dead was to happen today, these two would do all they could, include giving their lives, to keep me safe as we wander around.

What one word describes a dog? Faithful. In fact, there is an attitude within Christianity stating that dogs represent faithfulness. (Sherman, Josepha (August 2008). Storytelling: An Encyclopedia of Mythology and Folklore. Sharpe Reference. pp. 118–121. ISBN 978-0-7656-8047-1.)

Faithful. We are told repeatedly that God is faithful in His Words.

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.  Deut 7:9 (NIV)

God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.     1 Cor 1:9 (NIV)

We are also repeatedly called to faithfully follow God, faithful does not mean blindly but that’s another topic.

For if you carefully observe every one of these commands I am giving you to follow—to love the Lord your God, walk in all His ways, and remain faithful to Him—    Deut 11:22 (HCSB)

He follows My statutes and keeps My ordinances, acting faithfully. Such a person is righteous; he will certainly live.” This is the declaration of the Lord God.               Ezek 18:9 (HCSB)

But how do we do this? Life is hard! Temptation is everywhere! Morals and standards, reality and fantasy are confused! How do we remain faithful?

We CRY OUT. (Ps 34:17, 72:12, 119:147) (HCSB). This may be anything from a frustrating yell, a shaken fist in the air, a mourning sob, a gentle plea or a quiet prayer from your personal closet.

We LISTEN. “Anyone who has ears should listen!” (Mt 11:15, 13:9, Mk 4:9) (HCSB). We turn our emotional, biased, learned hearing off and listen to the purity of God’s words, through the Bible, prayer and faithful guidance from the Holy Spirit.

We DO. We worship God (Mt 2:8). We recognize Jesus Christ as His One and Only Son (Jn 1:14). We turn to the Holy Spirit to guide and goad us minute by minute, giving us courage when we decide to step away (Jn 14:26).

What does any of this have to do with dogs? When we CRY OUT, our faithful dog comes running, no matter the situation, just like the Holy Spirit. When we LISTEN and walk through the world around us, our faithful dog guides us (leads) or goads us (nudges from the back side to get our attention), so we avoid the ‘bad’ people, and find the ‘hurt and suffering’ ones. Then, we DO, and our faithful dog does with us; if he’s like mine sometimes it’s more licks than help but that’s help too.

As we struggle to understand God, His Word, and His Ways, it helps if we keep things simple and place things in terms people understand. I’m not calling the Holy Spirit a dog by any means, but my dogs do help me remember the Holy Spirit when I falter and don’t know where to lean.

 

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Posted in Faith, God

Spot

Every person has these – a spot. They may be a spot, see a spot, have a spot or get a spot. Life evolves with them; ooh, dirty word, evolution, but life does change and so do our spots.

When conceived we are smaller than the top of a pin head and we look like a spot.

As we grow, we look like a lot of spots hanging out together in a round thing that looks like a spot.

Perhaps one day that mother wakes up and finds a spot of blood she wasn’t expecting. Could be nothing. Could be the beginning of the end.

If not the end, those spots grow into shapes and the mother gains one large spot hanging out in front (temporarily at least); and then, in a moment of time (a spot) you are now outside the womb. Her spots are gone, yours have morphed into a person and your becoming your own person.

Bear with me, I do have a point with all this. You grow, play outside, find brown spots on your face and nose, freckles! They tell a story of your life! You love to play outside. They help you remember those fun times. Teachers have you read books like “Time for Bed Spot” and “Spot’s Tummy Time”, the spot a dog, but still a warm memory you will always look back on.

As you grow, you win or lose spots on teams or in organizations. Maybe with schools or places of employment. You win or lose in love, that spot or moment in time you that you had it. Obviously I can go on. But then, there are the other spots. The black spots. The spots that shouldn’t be there, at least as far as we people are concerned.

The spot in your life when you realized you couldn’t pay your mortgage and you lost your house and had to change your lifestyle.

The spot in your life when you found drugs, alcohol or pornography in you child’s room and knew you had to address it.

The spot on your spouses shirt you did not understand and knew you could not wash away until the explained the late night and where it came from.

Those spots you so loved when you were younger, well, the doctor just told you one or two have become cancerous and require surgery. The moment with the doctor changing some of your sweetest memories.

The spot found when returning for a wellness check after beating cancer, once or twice or even three times, and being told it needed to be checked into.

The spot in your life when you realized you were mortal and you would die one day and maybe, just maybe, you hadn’t gotten life just right.

Newsflash – Everything is a spot:

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.        Ecc 3:1-8 (HCSB)

The time between spots for us may seem like an eternity; but God, our ABBA, has been here since before (mans) time existed and will continue after. It is not the spots in our lives that matter, but what you do with those spots.

Lord, do not withhold Your compassion from me;
     Your constant love and truth will always guard me.
For troubles without number have surrounded me;
     my sins have overtaken me; I am unable to see.
They are more than the hairs of my head,
     and my courage leaves me.
Lord, be pleased to deliver me;
     hurry to help me, Lord.     Psalm 40:11-13 (HCSB)

Sometimes, like now for me, your life becomes full of spots. Family members with spots that won’t go away or keep coming back. A Sister-in-Christ fighting those pesky freckle spots while other sisters are fighting other spots. It seems from my perch, every person has their own spot that is touched by so many other spots, a.k.a. Network, yet we don’t or won’t take the time or energy to reach to them, to call them be name. Take the time today to take a knee and call them out by name to God and lift them up. Don’t worry how long it will take. That spot of time will disappear in a flash.

However, if my people, who are called by my name,
    will humble themselves,
    pray, search for me, and turn from their evil ways,
        then I will hear their prayer from heaven, forgive their sins,
    and heal their country.
       My eyes will be open, and my ears
            will pay attention to those prayers at this place. 2 Chron 7:14-15 (GW)

Be blessed today, be filled with hope.

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Posted in Christ, God, Sacrifice, Seek Christ, Selflessness

BC AD-What Have You Got to Lose?

History is divided into two parts: B.C. (“Before Christ”) and A.D. (from the Latin Anno Domini, “in the year of our Lord”). As a Christian, you have a B.C. and A.D. life. There’s the person you were before you met Jesus and the person you now are after coming to know the Lord Jesus Christ. Just because you’ve declared yourself a Christian though, that does not mean life is easy.

Before and after really applies to all of life doesn’t it? Before you’re an adult you are a teenager; before a teenager, a child; and before a child, a baby. Each stage of life has its responsible points and its irresponsible points, there is not a single person who can deny that. Granted, some of us may make more irresponsible (bad) decisions than others. Some seem to not learn from what they make.

This last Sunday the Sermon message was “What Have I Got to Lose? by Reverend Jon Gruen at #BSLCMO. What an awesome question! I don’t care what the topic is, it’s a great question, because unless the answer doesn’t show the value you place on the topic, it requires you reevaluate your sincerity.

Let’s start simple – you want an apple. The vendor wants 50 cents. You are willing to pay (lose) 50 cents for an apple. Any form of payment equals loss.

Your friends want to go to the casino Friday night. You have saved $200 dollars towards furniture you need for your first apartment. You know if you go with them you could bring home more money for the much needed furniture. Are you willing to risk the $200 you have AND the time it will take to save it again when you lose it?

You meet THE ONE. Your eyes locked, the moment was magic, you date for months and you decide its time to propose. But wait, if you do that, that means not having a place to yourself, freedom to eat, sleep, keep the place the way you want. You won’t (shouldn’t) be able to date, or have sex with, anyone else! Am I willing to lose this? But if I don’t seize this moment, will I lose the gift of a lifetime with the one I love? Which after am I wanting?

So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed. That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus.
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:17-24 NIV
This before and after is not new, even the men hand picked by Jesus Christ suffered from it! In front of him no less!!!

But they were silent, because on the way they had been arguing with one another about who was the greatest. Sitting down, He called the Twelve and said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”  Mark 9:34-35 HCSB

Corruption and confusion of mans heart is constant. The disciples wanted to be seen and recognized by Jesus (the man) has good and right. They were arguing about something irrelevant, greatness; something that does not last, at least not the kind around status. Christ did not number the disciples, “okay Paul you’re #1, Peter you’re #2,” etc. Each was called for a reason. Each was asked to give up a (earthly) lot, which they did, and their after wasn’t always good; many died violent deaths. But their eternal after is with God, in Heaven!!!! Well worth any earthly loss.
Summoning the crowd along with His disciples, He said to them, “If anyone wants to be My follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me and the gospel will save it.   Mark 8:34-35 HCSB
So, back to us. We are called and when we decide answering His call is worth it, we have decisions to make. Whatever our battles, and we all have at least one of them, we need to face them; call them out for what they are (confess); ask for forgiveness; make a conscious effort to not stumble, knowing there probably will be times we will; and if and when we falter, begin again knowing He already knows and already has. The cost of giving up whatever you battle is nothing compared to the light on the other side. If you need help, reach out. There are support groups for almost everything! If you don’t know where to begin, reach out to a local church, even if you don’t belong, the pastor should help. If you’re not comfortable with that, message me; I will see if I can find a resource for you.
Sunday in service I declared to Christ I am willing to give up my all. Are you?
I pray so. Be bold! Stand up! Declare it!
Even if you’re afraid, you’re not alone.
Blessings.