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Archive for the ‘faith’ Category

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt,

their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.

– Psalm 14:1 (NIV)

Some recent Hollywood cinema attractions have been aimed
at the Christian audience.  God Is Not Dead and Noah are two box office blockbusters that have been gaining a lot of ground in Christian circles.  One is anything but a biblical based account of one of the most well known biblical characters of the Old Testament next to David, Moses and Abraham, while the other is definitely geared towards Christians and seekers alike.

We have been here before.

The Passion of Christ swept us all up into a frenzy a few years back.  It went so far as to even go authentic with language and use English subtitles in order to maintain the integrity of the New Testament’s usage of the Greek language.  It caused a media frenzy.  It caused an uproar among atheists.  It caused much discussion on the depth of sacrifice that Jesus endured for our salvation.  It hit right at the core of the soul’s dichotomy between humanity and holiness, total assurance  and total depravity.  It hit us all with shock value and made us look once again at the life and times of Jesus as well as His sacrificial work on the cross on Calvary.

We saw a similar stir to a lesser degree with Kirk Cameron in Fireproof  (2008) and Courageous (2011).  Unlike Noah and The Passion, these were made by Christians and presented in a manner that was not offensive but undoubtedly had Christian values and principles oozing out of scene after scene.  Outreach Magazine hosted movie discussions in theaters and churches all across the country with its church and para-church partners.  Other faith-based groups hosted viewing nights as well.  We got caught up in these movies and they offered us an opportunity to share the Good News in an environment where people could talk about Christianity without someone jumping on the defense on either side.

Noah is nothing short of artistic license at best.  It makes Noah into a totally different man than the one that many of us came to know through Sunday School lessons.  Sadly, it has been publicly shared that the intent of the movie was not to portray the biblical account of Noah but a very secular interpretation of him. (SMH in the name of Jesus and everything holy!)

God is Not Dead on the other hand, is the type of movie that allows us to walk along with those who dwell in logic and philosophy with our Bibles and history books open at the same time.  It offers us an opportunity to have an open dialogue about what can be done and how much we can explore beyond what we have heard from the pulpit or in Sunday School to truly defend the Gospel.

We are under attack as Christians.  If you did not know that, just go to your local movie theater.  It’s right there on the big screen before your eyes.

 

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. . . For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light – Luke 16:8

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light – Ephesians 5:8

We have to make an immediate decision.

I know that you were just expecting to some read some inspirational post on how to live as a Christian, skim a few pep-you-up verses or passages, then go on and live your life without any other bumps in the road.

That ain’t happening here.

You need to make a decision>  That’s right.   Just like all of the rest of us who profess the name of Jesus Christ as Lord and claim to have His Spirit alive and dwelling within them, you need to decide what you will do for today and from now on.

Will you live as a faithful child of God?

Or, will you live as one of “the sons of this world?”

You need to make a decision.

Are you going to live like the example in the Word or the example of the world?

Are you ready to live like the one who sacrificed everything to have a relationship with you, even while you were still a sinner?

Are you able to  walk as a child of light? If so, then come out of the darkness.  You do not even have to open your mouth.  Just take a step, and then another one and so on.  The rest will begin to come as you adjust to living among the “children of light.”

So what is it going to be?

You have to make a decision.

How will you live. . .?

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When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.– 1 Corinthians 13:11, NKJV

I started to realize that I had not changed much.

No, I had aged somewhat.

Years had been added to my span of life.

But I had not changed much.

Childish things that Paul wrote about in Corinthians were still present in my life.  Childish ways still were part of my very nature and being.  Childish words escaped from my lips as if I had to filter and the Holy Spirit had never come upon me, or even dwelled within me.

I had not left the old man behind.

I had come to realization that I had simply dragged him along, bringing him with me to the foot of the cross and walking away from the cross with him still attached as apart of me.

I needed to live in the newness of of Christ.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. – 2 Corinthians 5:17, NKJV

If I simply learned to live in Christ, I had a chance to live as a new creation in Paul’s words.  I could begin to leave that old man behind and live as something new, different and changed in Christ.

I have begun to make those changes.  I have already started on my way.

Pray for soul’s struggles.

Pray for my victory over trials, tests and temptations.

Pray that God be glorified, even in my down times, and that praise for Him continually be in my mouth.

God is making a new me out of me, out of all the wretchedness of the filthy rag that I brought to Him when I accepted Him.

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We see it in numerous examples in the Bible.  Lives projecting God-given drive and strength, tenacity and perseverance, are scattered throughout the Scriptures.

Men in the Bible who lived without regrets had to include Stephen as he was stoned to death as a faithful believer.  Paul must be on that list somewhere.  Men who may have made mistakes but like Job they faced adversity with faith.

There have to be some women on that list, too.  Mary carrying and birthing the Lord.  Martha giving birth to John after years of being barren.   Look at Gideon and Isaac’s mothers, even the mother of Samuel.  How about Esther and Rahab? They, too, had to be listed among the faithful who forged ahead in faith despite all that they had to face.

I want to live such a faithful and enduring life without any regrets.  I want to say that I laid aside every weight of the things that throw us off and get us down but ran my race with endurance.  I simply wish for such a life led by the lord that I live without regrets.

Take some time and read Hebrews 11, then read chapter 12:1-2.  See if your faith isn’t raised a bit.   See if you do not find yourself inspired to go a little further with your faith.

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But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus – Ephesians 4:20-21 NKJV

Are you growing in Christ?

Would you say that you have deepened your relationship with Him as you increased your knowledge and understanding of Him?

Paul shares with believers that we can find the truth in Jesus.  He affirms that we can grow by learning through hearing and being taught “by Him.”

If we want to grow in Him, brothers and sisters, we need to learn from Him.  Our task is not simple as followers of Christ.  We are pressed, pressured and persecuted for our beliefs.  In order to withstand the devilish and wicked schemes of our day, let us continue growing our faith by following the lead of the teachings and sayings of the Master, the Rabbi and the Holy One of God- Jesus Christ.

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed: “Their sound has gone out to all the earth, And their words to the ends of the world.”
-Romans 10:17-18 NKJV

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Rest in Him

God offers us peace if we will simply rest in Him.

Ever felt like it was a bad day getting worse?

Rest in Him.

Ever felt stress mounting up like a volcano ready to erupt?

Just rest in Him.

Trust God’s Word.

There remains therefore a rest for the people of God.
Hebrews 4:9

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Believe him to be the Son of God,
and you will find him wonder upon
wonder, counsel upon counsel.
-Dietrich Bonhoeffer

A few years ago, I was introduced to Dietrich Bonhoeffer through a play that depicted an interaction between Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  Ever since that introduction, I have read something by Bonhoeffer at least once a year.

Recently, I continued reading Life Together by Bonhoeffer.  Undoubtedly, it reminds me of the kindred spirit that Bonhoeffer offers me through his discourse on the concept of community to people of faith.  In all fairness, Bonhoeffer shares some inspirational words that should cause us all to pause for a moment and realize the true value of our Christian community despite the shortcomings and mistakes of our humanity.
I also started reading I Want to Live These Days with You, a daily devotional by Bonhoeffer.  I had read through it previously back in 2006 and 2009.  As I prepared for 2013, I decided to return to the devotional once again.  I had done the same with My Utmost for His Highest by Chambers and Morning and Evening by Spurgeon.

I suggest that most believers could glean something from Bonhoeffer’s writings.  He provides the reader with both inspiration and insight.

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Morning by morning new mercies I see. . .– “Great is Thy Faithfulness”

Every single day is a blessing.  Yes, I know that it can be considered a given, but today I have good reason to say so.  After tossing and turning all night with a head cold, I could hardly sleep.  I awoke in a stuper this morning and in no condition to even try to go to church, possibly infecting everyone near me.  I awoke and celebrated the goodness of God.

Great is Thy Faithfulness!

I celebrate the fact that God is in charge.  He can slow us down when we will run ourselves down to the bone and keep on until there’s nothing to wear out left.  God has stopping power.  He can stop the planets in the middle of their orbit.  He can command the birds of the air to feed a runaway prophet and the fish of the sea to leap into the nets of a small boat for Simon Peter.  God has power.

He gives us new mercies daily.  He doesn’t try to pass off yesterday’s mercies as just as good or in working condition.  He gives us the best that He has to offer.

Lord,
I just say thank you for not leaving me in yesterday’s condition and
allowing me to awake today in a new condition.
Yes, Lord, You are powerful!
Amen.

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Winning at All Costs

“Winning isn’t everything,
but wanting to win is!”
Vince Lombardi
Head Coach
Green Bay Packers

Look back at Lombardi.  He bred and led champions.  the NFL has named its coveted championship trophy after him and in his honor.  He was a pioneer in the sport’s history-making era.  He stood out as a man who could lead men, a man’s man and a player’s coach.  If there ever was an example of gridiron guts and gallantry to behold, Lombardi was the prime example for all to lay there eyes upon.

Today’s NFL is nothing like Lombardi’s heyday.  Hard work and determination have been replaced with performance enhancing drugs and off-field antics that border between publicity stunts and public disgraces.  Bountygate has taken prisoners among both players and coaches, revealing true character as it has unraveled before our own eyes.  The NFL currently suffers more black eyes than Pacquiao after his last bout.

The sad truth is that Lombardi’s words speak to our character once we get set on winning.  We become consumed with winning at all costs.  We will cut corners to get an edge on our competition.  We will kick an opponent while he’s down and out, leaving him with no recourse except to wave the white flag of defeat.  That’s what becomes of us when we let a “winning” spirit take over and consume us.

That doesn’t have to be the case, though.

He that loves silver shall not be satisfied with silver
nor he that loves abundance with increase: 
this is also vanity.
 – Ecclesiastes 5:10

Putting our focus on the prize can detour us from the right pathway.  There are no shortcuts to righteousness.  Purity and holiness do not have a cheat code available to a select few.  No, the Lord shows us that a wise choice is to take the moral high road rather than to stoop to the level of cheater just to get ahead.

Our desire to win should remain in check as win people over on our way towards achieving the prize.

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But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father…Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.
Matthew 24:36, 42 (NIV)

You don’t typically see folks in such a frenzy like you do today since Hurricane Sandy has struck the eastern seaboard of the United States.  From the Carolinas to New York and parts of New England, we saw the devastation and destruction left from a natural disaster like Hurricane Sandy.

Then take a look at what the Lord says for us to do.  He wants us to keep watch.  He wants us ready with both anticipation and expectancy, holding onto the hope that only He can offer us.  Don’t get swept of in the storm of the present confitions of today.  Keep your eyes open with your everlasting hope resting in what heaven can provide us.

Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
– Colossians 3:2 (KJV)

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