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At work I am often put in situations where the expectation is for me to lie. No one ever says point blank, "Kasia lie." But I can get directions to, "Just say …" When I was put in yet another one of these politically sticky situations I really had to fight to tell the truth and not be deceptive, or coy, or even play on words to give a sense of falsehood. It is possible to be honest and tell the truth and not be manipulative and still reap beneficial results. After all God is so much bigger then the situation and I must trust that he will bring about a victory if I strive to obey his commands. This also means that I need to really be diligent in my work so that when I do make a mistake or "drop the ball" (as I am human and will do) I can take responsibility for it knowing that I have many more success then mistakes behind me. Most importantly that I have God with me.
Being honest and a woman of integrity was difficult during a project I working on a short while ago. Yet, with a little extra effort, I was able to use discernment and be diplomatic, build someone up, and challenge them without resorting to lying or "playing dirty." The first few times I was placed in these types of situations, I failed. I gave into fear and did not stand up for integrity. This led me to study out wisdom and Lordship.
Every day I am faced with decisions and have to ask 'Who am I going to make Lord of my life?' If I lie, I am making my boss Lord. If I tell the truth I am making Jesus Lord and taking up my cross.
In order to apply this Lordship I need wisdom. These situations are not always so cut and dry and I must be able to respect my superiors and those around me as well as hold to my convictions. This requires much wisdom.
The most important words I can speak are ones that explain my faith to anyone who asks or will listen. Stormie Omartian put it best when she wrote, "When a wise woman speaks she gives a reason for the hope that is within her."
If the love of God and the testimony of His goodness are not in my heart, then they will not come out of my mouth. And what I say will not draw people to God. It may in fact do the exact opposite.
A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything-- or destry it!
If I am not acting as a woman of integrity and principle, am deceitful in any way, or even let others come to their own conclusions, I am nullifying God in my heart. In my grumbling or complaining also in my conduct at work in some of these difficult situations, its not being shrewd if I'm being ungodly.
I can be more on guard with people I don't know but with people I'm comfortable with I can totally let loose. In situations where I have more "power" or "freedom" so to speak then the other person- its like I make excuses for my sinful thoughts. I act as if my thoughts are ok because "I'm just venting" or I make excuses because, "they didn't do what they were supposed to." It shows my lack of trust in God in the moment, that God will take care of me and work the situation out. After all, the largest way I share my faith is through my example and life. I can give an answer, be gentle, and have a clear conscious it just takes me being more in tune and equipped through God's word and trusting Him.
If I want to make Jesus Lord of my life at work I know I need to be a woman of wisdom and tell the truth, not talk to much, and my words should be filled with grace remembering always that when I speak I should be giving a reason for the hope that is within me. Ultimately, my words do count and not only for me as
In order for me to truly be grateful for something I have always needed to earn it or lose it and gain in back in some form. As a result I believe that for most people to truly appreciate something they must at some point feel its absents. Whether it is family and people or electricity and running water. During the Holidays I heard a lot of complaining about what a pain it is to shop for gifts, cook, host or travel to family. All of these are normal holiday gripes and for most they melt away at the Christmas table when the odd ball uncle starts making corny jokes or the crazy family member does something that has everyone trying to suppress the laughter and remain polite, even the fighting (fill in your quirky family moment here). My heart goes out to those who may not be with loved ones during the holiday season this year, but I hope, if anything, they are comforted by God and can look forward to the next time they are with them- I know they will truly cherish the moments. All in all I am incredibly grateful for the few weeks that mark Christmas not only because of the celebration of Jesus coming into the world but more so for what He has done since His arrival. It was not always this way.
I didn't always spend Christmas with family and used to dread the holidays. There were many years where I would be the guest at some other families home for the holidays. I remember praying for a sense of family and always thought that God would answer that prayer either when I got married and had a family of my own or by providing me with a family in Christ that would take me in. As the years passed God indeed provided me with many loving families in my life, but then He did what He always does and absolutely blew my mind! He reunited me with my own family. I was given the opportunity to rebuild family ties with uncles, aunts and cousins I had not been in touch with in the past. He even threw in a sister I never knew I had. So for the past couple of years I have spent Christmas with my extended family as well as spent time with my sister, who is my peer. Once again God reminded me that He answers my prayers but not necessarily how I would think or imagine, instead He does so much more.
As the New Year approaches it is a time to look back as well as look forward and set new goals, dream new dreams. I have been reading and meditating over just how truly special, unique and chosen by Him I am.
My New Years resolution prayer? As I embark on a new adventure in the New Year I pray to first and for most remain grateful and faithful to God and continue to draw closer to Him. And secondly, to sincerely continue to trade in my vision of how things should be, my ways and my dreams for His.
Ever have a bad day? Golfers occasionally have bad days. Let me describe a bad day for a golfer. Better yet, let me share some bad days with you for some pretty well known golfers and some you may never have heard about. Like Alvin Liau of Singapore. Liau was playing in the then prestigious World Cup tournament in 1971 at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. The 13th hole was very unlucky for Liau as he shanked six straight shots into a water hazard and finished the hole with an 18.
In the 1980 Masters Tom Weiskopf hit five straight shots into the pond at the 12th hole. His wife, Jeannie, was following Tom in the gallery and was in tears watching her husband struggle. A friend tried to console her by saying, "Don't worry, Jeannie, Tom's not using new golf balls." Frank Sinatra once played a round of golf with Arnold Palmer in which he continually played from the rough. Following the round he asked Palmer, "What do you think of my game?" Unblinking, Palmer replied, "Not bad, but I still prefer golf."
Speaking of Arnold Palmer. The General was leading his army around the Rancho Park Golf Course for the first round of the 1961Los Angeles Open playing sterling golf until he got to the 508 yard par five 9th hole. The wheels came off at the hole as Arnold hit five successive drives out of bounds to take an uncharacteristic 12 on the hole. The most strokes on a hole at a major belongs to one Ray Ainsley who carded an unthinkable 19 in the 1938 U. S. Open at Cherry Hills outside Denver, Colorado. Ainsley put a shot into a stream fronting the green on the par four 16th hole and, instead of taking a penalty stroke and laying out, waded into the stream and proceeded to take 11 strokes to get his ball out of the stream.
When futility hits, golfers struggle to keep their cool. During the 1961Canadian Open (the only national championship Jack Nicklaus ever played in that he did not win) Jim Ferree was cursing his poor putting, a nagging backache, lousy weather and simple fatigue when he stopped in the middle of a small bridge and tossed his bag and clubs over the rail. When told he could be fined as much as $1,650, Ferree had his caddy retrieve his gear and he continued with the tournament. But that's golf. What about life?
One of our elders at Minorsville, T. Wright, has been through some bad days having lost his wife a number of years ago. One day, while we were talking about his struggles, I asked him how he got through those bad days. His response was simple. "I remember
The truth is that for most moms the labor is 18 years and counting! We never stop worrying, encouraging, feeling guilty, and loving. And stay-at-home moms can honestly tell people they have the best job in the world.
Having been on both sides of the time clock, I know it is satisfying to be home with that toddler learning to talk - and frustrating to go an entire day without speaking any word over two syllables! Let's face facts: Raising children is joyful, depressing, hilarious, rewarding and exhausting -- and that's just before lunch!
Some days it's hard to remember the feel of a bubble bath or the taste of a lunch that doesn't include peanut butter or hot dogs. Those are the times we really need that ten minutes of peace (and locking ourselves in the bathroom doesn't count)! The Lord has many encouragements for mothers, especially on the importance of our "job". Take that ten minutes and splash around in Psalm or have a refreshing taste of Proverbs and I promise you will be uplifted!
All moms are full-time moms, but some are blessed not to have to put on any other hats. Regardless, we know that the "Mom" hat with its sticky fingerprints and smudges of who-knows-what is the most important one we will ever wear. At least we need to know it, and to acknowledge and encourage it among each other, because the world won't.
How's that for a challenging job?
Preaching has come to take on so many various forms that it is confusing to know what makes good preaching anymore. Is it that a person is entertaining, easy to listen to, can quote from various human authors, has great multimedia integration, or what? The only way to know what defines God-honoring preaching is to look at the Scripture. Here are 20 elements from the Scripture as to what defines preaching that we should desire to practice and/or listen to:
1. Biblical preaching encourages the listeners to have open Bibles, to turn to Scripture passages, to make notes in their margins, and to take notes as needed. (
2. The preacher takes the Word of God and the call of preaching seriously and with reverence. The tone conveyed needs to be one that is reverent and trembling before a holy God who takes His Word more seriously than we ever could. (
3. Preaching is to be passionate, urgent, and confident in tone and delivery. Preaching by definition is not supposed to be boring and dry. There is a sense that what is being said is of the utmost importance so that we don't have to be ashamed at judgment day. (
4. Biblical preaching trusts in the sufficiency and power of the Word of God. The Biblical preacher is not concerned about keeping the attention of the listeners by entertaining antics and gimmicks. He is mostly concerned that he communicated faithfully the message of the text as the Lord had led Him. The Word is the underpinning of each and every exhortation and rebuke. Stories, experience, scientific studies, and analogies are not what the Biblical preacher makes his case upon. They may be used to support the Scriptures, but the Scriptures are the ultimate authority. (
5. Biblical preaching gets no pleasure out of scolding, insulting, or tearing someone down. Some preachers get some kind of adrenaline rush by yelling, sweating, and pounding their fist on the pulpit. They enjoy the power trip and the ability to scare their congregation. The Biblical preacher is not interested in beating people up but in building them up. (
6. The purpose of Biblical preaching is for the building up of the saints for the work of service and unto maturity in Christ. Thus, messages must be saturated with the Scriptures and theology and doctrine. (
7. Biblical preaching has evidence of thorough study and preparation. It is not 'talking from the hip,' but it is well-organized and thought through from every angle. (
8. Biblical preaching values a literal, historical, and grammatical approach to textual interpretation. Each and every word matters, and the original languages are used to ascertain the exact, intended meaning of a text. (
9. Biblical preaching is not merely a man standing up front lecturing from behind a pulpit. Biblical preaching requires that the preacher is filled with the Holy Spirit, having sought the will of God and having no unconfessed sin. (
10. Biblical preaching is practical in that it connects truth to practice. Applications are obvious and evident because of how the truth is connected to issues of faith and life. (see any of Paul's letters which are very specific in instructions and applications to the churches to whom he writes)
11. Biblical preaching is genuine. The preacher does not try to entertain or perform. Neither is preaching merely a religious exercise. The preacher doesn't change who he is to preach, and he lets the reality of his own walk with Christ flow into his preaching. (
12. Biblical preaching is bold and authoritative. The preacher cannot be afraid to take stands on issues. He must call for a conformity to the truth. (
13. Biblical preaching is humble, not speaking in a manner that is condescending or inferring that the preacher doesn't struggle or has everything figured out. (
14. Biblical preaching is credible based upon the fact that the preacher's life is in line with Scriptural truth. He lives out faithfully what he talks about on Sunday. (
15. Biblical preaching trains the listener in the art of listening, reflecting, and applying. The preacher helps the congregation to know how to listen, take notes, and draw applications. (
16. Biblical preaching doesn't draw attention to the preacher. The preacher is merely a messenger. The message is what matters because of Who is behind it. (Hebrews 4:12,
17. Biblical preaching ultimately always exalts God and makes Christ the centerpiece. (
18. Biblical preaching always in some way makes allusion to the gospel in every message. After all, the gospel is central to life in Christ, and we wouldn't want to miss out on sharing it with a visitor, professing Christian, or unbeliever. (
19. Biblical preaching may be both topical or expositional, as long as texts of Scripture are used as the building blocks of the message rather than the preacher's own ideas. (
20. Biblical preaching may be short or long, but it is not merely a devotional or a sermonette. There must be adequate time to give the context, to read the text, to explain the text, to make exhortations, to draw conclusions, and to cross reference in the process. (see
Debt has been an increasingly relevant issue on the world stage, particularly in this country. With foreclosures rising out of control and major banks nearly shutting down, there is a great need to heed the Biblical commands surrounding debt. Now it is not straightforward from the Scripture to automatically conclude that all debt is bad. Debt was a normal part of life and business in the Old Testament (. However, it was not appropriate to charge one another interest, and debts would be wiped clean after seven years (. Today, debt typically comes with significant interest and with no hope of it being wiped away. We must be mindful of this when we consider taking on debt. But the issue remains that there will likely be times when we will find ourselves having to take on some degree of debt, whether we like it or not. For example, in order to start a business or to get a home, sometimes (often, in fact), we will need to get a loan. In order to go to college, we might need a loan. Sometimes emergency situations will arise, where even the most responsible persons will need to ask for financial help from family or friends. The real world reality is that most of us will have to confront the reality of debt at one point in our lives or another. It is how we think about debt and how we handle it that will make all the difference.
or fritter away our talents in selfish living (, God desires that we take what He has entrusted us with and bring a return on His investment. He wants to see wise stewardship and an overflowing that leads to giving to others in the name of the Lord. Getting controlled and consumed by irresponsible debt will keep us from being able to invest in the kingdom of God.
, we don't have to become a lender's slave, though we should still seek to avoid debt as much as possible. But the thing to remember for irresponsible debtors is that someone is going to come after them to get their money back. There will be grave consequences for those who abuse debt and are careless. But worse than bankruptcy or financial ruin is an inability to save and give money to the Lord. This is spiritual ruin that uncontrolled, irresponsible debt can incur.
So I don't believe we can conclude from Scripture that debt is inherently wrong, but there is an clear truth presented that debt can enslave if it is not taken in a calculated, measured manner within the confines of a responsible, God-honoring budget. Too many people, even Christians, are becoming slaves to credit card companies, mortgage lenders, car dealerships, and on and on and on because of greed and taking on more debt than they can handle. Credit can be a dangerous trap if we are not responsible stewards who borrow only what we can pay back. It is the wicked who do not pay back debts, but it is the righteous who give graciously.
Taking debt with a lackadaisical attitude about paying it back is sin, but being wise stewards of the resources available to us is wisdom that enables us to give to others and thereby honor the Lord. Which side are we living on when it comes to our finances, the wicked or the righteous? May God convict us to live within our means, with wisdom and responsibility, so that we can store up treasures in heaven and not become slaves of something other than God.
This time of year many of us hear the Christmas story over and over, and often the highlights are the shepherds and the wise men. Now, I would not argue that most people would be more impressed with the wise men. They were important and wealthy, perhaps even famous in their homeland. They dedicated themselves to finding the Christ child, being familiar with prophecies that he would be born. They may have been astronomers, or minor kings who took their court astronomers along as guides. The bible says little about them. Tradition gives them names and backgrounds. We do know that they went seeking.
The shepherds on the other hand were most likely young men, even adolescent boys, if we looks at other descriptions of shepherds in the bible such as David when he was a young man. They were minding their own business, or the sheep's anyway, quietly going about their lives in a familiar field. They probably didn't smell too good and they may not have had much education beyond what the typical Jewish boy of the day would have been taught - enough Hebrew to read scripture. They may have been younger sons, stuck with dreaded sheep duty. We don't know much about them either. We do know they did not go looking for the Messiah. God chose them to spring His birth announcement on the world.
They reacted with fear until the angel reassured them. Then they acted on faith and went to check out this event of the millennia. After witnessing God's promise for themselves they looked at each other and said, 'Whoa, dude! Nobody's gonna believe this unless we tell them what we saw.' And that's exactly what they did - joyfully.
I have to admit I often feel more like a shepherd - just a smelly guy (or gal, in my case) trying to do what needs to be done until something better comes along in life. I also feel like an unlikely candidate to receive God's grace. I'm not intellectually gifted or on Forbes' list of the most wealthy. I can get around the mall but I certainly couldn't navigate by starlight across hundreds of miles. I'm just a regular sinner who responded joyfully when God announced, 'Hey! My Son died for you and I love you!' I don't always share that as joyfully as I should, but I'm working on it. After all, many years after the visit by the shepherds Jesus told his apostles, 'Feed my sheep.' I guess maybe that applies to me as well.
God created humans male and female, not male and male or female and female. Thus, homosexuality is a perversion of the divine order.
. God describes the woman as a suitable helper for man (. God did not create two men, the second to be the companion for the first. Rather, He created a female from the man and for the man.
The natural way is for a man to lie with a female in the context of marriage. This honors God, and it is what He ordained from the beginning. because she was made for man. She is of flesh like he is of human flesh, being fashioned by God from Adam's rib to be his companion. God's design for marriage flows directly out of His creation of the man and the woman. Woman was made from the man and for the man as the only suitable companion for the man.
In , his heart is darkened (1:21) as he becomes a fool in his thinking (1:22). He worships the creation rather than the creator (1:23), and becoming increasingly perverted in his desires and thinking, he exchanges the natural function for that which is unnatural, living out "degrading passions." by going against the divine, natural order and doing that which is unnatural and indecent. Both receive the due penalty for their sins, which could mean any number of things, likely disease, dissatisfaction, and destruction. As one refuses to acknowledge God as God and submit to His commands, there is a slide into sin and darkness. Things can get so dark that even the foundational order from the beginning of time of male with female gets perverted. The reality is that man is so perfectly made for woman, and they so wonderfully fit together, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, that even this should be reason to acknowledge God and His goodness and creative genius. Solomon says in , which included homosexuality (. It got so bad that the men of the city, both young and old, tried to pound the door down of Lot's house to sleep with the angels, who appeared as men and who had visited him (. The homosexual lust of Sodom was running rampant and out of control, and God destroyed the city the next day. The message is clear that God views homosexuality as a grave offense against His holiness. In case there is any doubt of God's stance on the matter, .
God sent Christ to redeem all sinners.
Christians must be very careful to hate the sin but love the sinner. God sent Christ for those who are a part of this sinful lifestyle, and they, too, can be forgiven should they repent. But the key is that they must repent, and therefore one of the ways in which we love the sinner is by declaring that homosexuality is indeed a sin. In fact, considering the prospects of heaven versus hell, declaring the truth of the gospel is the most loving thing we could possibly do.
I remember when I was just a kid that a friend of mine saved his box tops and a couple of bucks to send away for a radio controlled car that was advertised on the back of a cereal box. He had shown me the ad and, I must admit, I recall that I was impressed and more than just a little jealous. The car looked like it was huge. One thing that we did notice on the ad was the fine print that said that the car was not shown actual size. Of course, my friend and I both thought that meant it was bigger. It wasn't.
Ah, the old truth in advertising problem. For those who watch the local TV programs and see an advertisement currently running on our area stations, I am sure that they must be drooling at what sounds like an incredible place to live that is right here in my town of Georgetown. The ad looks very impressive. It establishes the understanding that the subdivision, The Villages at Falls Creek, is not far from all the desired amenities. However, the phrase that caught my ear was, "A community rich with old fashioned appeal."
I drive right by The Villages at Falls Creek almost every day. Unless you live in Georgetown you would think that this was a thriving community with children playing in their back yards and moms kissing dads goodbye as they head off to work. I must admit, the entryways are very attractive. Made of stone; old fashioned stone I would venture to say. Here's the rub. Nobody lives there...yet. The Villages at Falls Creek is a subdivision that is just now being built. The first homes are going up.
So, is the statement, "A community rich with old fashioned appeal," a lie? I think that depends on your interpretation of "community" and "old fashioned appeal." Community usually implies people living in some semblance of harmony. Granted, "old fashioned appeal" could mean, "never before lived in." The guts of it is this; if you come to Georgetown to see this community, you won't. Some day you will, but just not now. Right now it's only a promise. If it goes like the subdivision I live in it will be more than ten years in completion.
Do I have news for you!?! I know of this place where you can live. I mean really live. It's not a subdivision. It's not urban blight. It's prime quality. None better. Guaranteed by the builder. "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house there are many mansions; if it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself; that where I am, there you may be also."
Perhaps you know of people who have suffered so greatly or been brainwashed to such an extent that they do not even know for sure what to believe anymore. They might even question their salvation or even God's existence, let alone the gospel of grace in Jesus Christ. They might have been so turned off by hypocrisy in their family, their church, or by their friends. They might have compromised so severely that their consciences have been defiled such that they are desensitized to sin and the Holy Spirit (Titus 1:15,. Then again, perhaps they were never saved at all, never having really believed in the gospel. Or, perhaps they believed a false or partial gospel which has left them confused and empty. The reasons that lead to doubt can be vast and complex, but the solution to freedom lies very simply through truth. As Jesus said in . In the Old Testament, Scripture teaches over and over that God will be found by those who seek Him with all of their hearts (. Their Spirit-directed search for the truth must inevitably lead them to the words of Christ, that is, the Scripture. Only God's Word, because it defines and reveals truth, can set us free from the world's lies and deceptions. Those who really want to know God will find Him by believing in His Word. There is no other way to freedom, life, joy, and peace.
This does not mean that those in crisis have to immediately get beaten down with Bible verses. Of course, this assumes that their doubt is from a heart that is truly seeking and not just trying to make excuses for sin. In mercy and patience, a person can be pointed to evidence that God exists and that His Word is reliable and divine. If we ever find ourselves so lost and confused, we need to go back to the basics. First, we must determine whether or not God exists. That shouldn't be too complicated given that God has etched His signature over all of creation such that it testifies to His supernatural genius and design (. We need only think about a bird, a plant, a tree, or the human body, for example, to recognize that these things could not possibly be a product of chance, natural law, or human design. God has given us a conscience that is innately aware of right and wrong and of their eternal implications (. We need only contemplate why we feel a moral obligation or a sense of guilt pertaining to various matters to recognize that we are more than a cosmic mix of chemicals produced by a chaotic accident. The evidence is without bound when it comes to God's existence, for He purposefully made it that way. Once we are assured of God's existence, we need to ask if He has revealed more about Himself to us. In other words, if God does exist, can He be known? If so, how? The God of the Bible can only be known to the extent that He desires to be known and that we desire to know Him by reading and studying His Word. Otherwise, God becomes a product of man's imagination and sinful preference, being given attributes that are convenient for us in our selfish pride. Satan has made many counterfeit religions, all claiming to know the one, true God. But what sets the Bible and true Christianity apart from false teaching is, first and foremost, the first coming of Christ and His death and resurrection. Only Christianity holds that Jesus was more than just a man, more than just a teacher, and more than just a prophet. Only Christianity believes that His death provides the only hope of salvation; all other religions are works-based and man-centered. Our God is alive because our Savior conquered the grave. No other religion has such a Savior. Add to this that even a casual reading of other religious books shows how sin has infiltrated their pages, from how women are unfairly treated, to how unbelievers are viewed, to how God is supplanted and confused with His creation, etc. This is not to say that what has been done under the label of Christianity is superior to what has been done under the banners of other world religions. It is simply to say that those who know Jesus know that there is nothing that can compare. His truth cuts through the religious externals and false pretenses, and it leads those who seek Him into nothing short of heavenly bliss. There is no other way because Jesus is the only way. This is the truth, and those who truly want to know it will find it by finding Him.
A crisis of belief is not necessarily something to be ashamed about as long as it is met with a desire to seek and know the truth with all of our hearts. Then it can be used to deepen our faith, to give us reasons that support our beliefs, and to make us more unshakeable than before. If nothing else, it will make us honest before God and others as to where we really stand. We need more who profess to know Christ who will think deeply about what they believe and why, so when times of trial come, they can stand, being absolutely sure that their Jesus is with them, loving them, and enduring with them.
A crisis can either be met with collapse or confidence. By faith in Christ, we can emerge from crisis with increased confidence. As
the Week of Proper 12 / Ordinary 17