How Can I Help Make Things Better?

EFIG Ad IncompleteThere are lots of changes we would make to improve our situations in life – spiritually, physically, and emotionally…if we just knew how.  Here’s how I intend to help you:

My blog, “Encouraging Words” has been the tool I’ve used for the past couple of years.  I now intend to upgrade it to remain encouraging, but add a fresh focus.

From this date forward, this blog will be a written supplement for “Everyday Faith Internet Gathering” (or iGathering).  The encouragement you read here will be tracking with the topics being discussed on the FREE YouTube video series by the same name.

The online “experience” will be what is know as a Magazine Format.  It will include faith building testimonials, Q&A (via email contact), prayer, and a lesson series.

The Premiere Lesson Series:  “Confidence with Skeptics.”

There are many forms of skepticism in the world, today.  They are normally wrapped in a box called “Atheism or Agnosticism.”  The more aggressive “Skeptics” want Christians to believe they are taking over.  You may have actually seen billboards like this one:

billboard_sacramentocor_2450x273Freedom of speech is fine.  An atheist can advertise anything they want.  Although, it’s rather humorous that they criticize Christians for proselytizing (evangelizing) when the sudden surge indicates that they are also, now, becoming “evangelists.”

For me, the concern is that too many Christians are intimidated.  Not by thinking that maybe the atheist ideology is actually true.  But, that they believe they don’t have any good answers but…”Yeh…well…I believe because I have faith.”

However the Scriptures clearly say, “Be ready to give an answer for the hope that is within you…(I Peter 3:15)…and it adds to do it “with gentleness.”  Aggressive responses are usually based on a lack of personal confidence in an answer.  It doesn’t have to be that way.  The greatest commandment also instructs us to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and MIND…”

Here’s the good news:  We can have an intelligent response.

Even if you never venture into an actual discussion with a Skeptic, you can develop your own base of confidence that includes your MIND, and that without all of the “Christianese.”

I have personally discovered there are great logical foundations that your faith can be rooted in.  And that, without having to learn a ton of mental gymnastics that overcomes their “blabber gab.”

The truth is:  The more I have exercised practical mental as well as spiritual truth on thoughts that include creation, evolution, attacks on the bible, etc., the stronger my everyday faith has become.

In the weeks and months ahead, “Everday Faith Internet Gathering” (and Blog) will delve into many spiritual development classes, from how to get more out of the bible to how to increase the clarity of God’s voice within your own heart.  If it has to to with practical spiritual life that “re-presents” Jesus, we’ll be covering it.

At the present time, the first class will go on line via YouTube on January 6, 2015.  Each new session will be uploaded every two weeks.  Blog entries will be much more frequent.

The Advantages of This Kind of Class Gathering:

  1. Go at your own pace.
  2. In the convenience of your own home
  3. On you best availability
  4. Re-watch sections for better learning.
  5. It’s FREE :)

Each video gathering will be 30 to 45 minutes in length.

If you’d like to be reminded of new Everyday Faith iGathering Videos, please send an email with your name and email address to garyellis1244@gmail.com

YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS WILL NOT BE USED FOR ANY OTHER PURPOSE THAN “EVERYDAY FAITH INTERNET GATHERING” INFORMATION.

Hope to have you join us!

Pastor Gary Ellis

 

 

 

 

 

Pierced Ears: A God Thing

ear-piercingI will be the first to say that the piercings in this picture are nothing more than contemporary fashion statements.

Pierced ears, eye brows, tongues, belly buttons, and the like that you see today aren’t spiritual declarations negative or positive.

 

A Voluntary Choice

During “biblical days” after a time of service to his owner, a servant could go free.  At that time he had an option to make another choice.  He could become his Master’s servant for life.  In other words, he was giving up all of his rights of independence…of personal freedom.  This was totally voluntary.  He was not under compulsion, whatsoever.

A Choice of Love

Why would a person that has been given their freedom choose to stay “bound” to servant hood, a bond servant?

Love.  The servant had developed love for his Master.  He had come to the decision that greater freedom was to be found being bound to the Will of his Master, than demanding his own rights.  He had discovered that his Master had a greater love for him, than he had for himself.
The servant realized that his Master was fair and just and that he would enjoy many freedoms the the Master’s love for him would bestow.  And, the servant’s primary motivation was to faithfully volunteer to serve at the will of his Master whenever called upon to do so.

The servant’s heart cry each day was, “My Master, whatever is important to you today is what is important to me.  Direct me as you will.”

A Choice of New Family

The Bond Servant also had another advantage.  He was now considered to be on the level of a member of the Master’s family.  He was embraced in life in a new way with new dignity.

The Pierced Ear of Dedication

In biblical days, the Master would publicly pierce the ear of the new bond servant with an awl on a doorpost.  (ouch!)  It is not conclusive whether or not there was any form of further adornment as part of the piercing.  Any suggestion one way or the other would be mere speculation.

For today, the pierced ear is a spiritual metaphor pointing to an attitude of heart.  It is also interesting to note here Psalm 40:6, “Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required. 7 Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, 8 I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.”

The phrase, “mine ear has thou opened” is an allusion to the piercing of the bond servant’s ear.
Instead of it being the idea of being able to “hear” God speak, it is referring to the fact that God and received the Psalmist as a bond-servant.  The rest of what he says in that verse further establishes that meaning.

The Lord is declaring that His desire is not for the outward observances, but for the commitment of heart.

Pierced Ears:  A God Thing

In the New Testament the opened ear takes on the meaning of purposely, intentionally placing ones self under the loving and wise rule of our Heavenly Father.  It’s a conscious, daily choice of desired motivation.  It is the most freeing place a person could ever want to live.

What About the Prohibition on Bodily Piercing

Bond servants were not the only ones that were pierced as a sign of submission.  It was also true that there were body markings and piercings that took place with non Hebrews.  In some heathen cultures, young boys were marked as life-long slaves to foreign gods by ear piercings.  There were also adults that dedicated themselves to idols by piercings and cutting of their bodies.

The prohibition from God was against His people joining themselves with foreign gods and idols.  It cannot be accurately interpreted to be a blanket statement applied, in general, to anyone.

As I began this article, piercings (and tattoos) today are primarily “fashion statements.”  And, in my opinion, there is no reason to suggest that a person  who “inks” or “pierces” themselves in our contemporary culture is in rebellion against the Word of God.

Instead, I would like to suggest that we, as His people, become more intentionally dedicated to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  I suggest that we more consciously submit ourselves as His bond servants in our daily actions and attitudes.

Gary

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christian To Atheist

christian_atheistIn my conversations with atheists, agnostics, or those who prefer to be called skeptics, I’ve discovered an alarming trend.  At least it’s alarming to me.  It’s this:  A great many that made the “conversion” to the non-christian category, were Christian.

Before anyone responds, “Well, they never were true Christians to begin with,” please hold your breath.  That simply isn’t true.  And, IMHO, it’s a cheap, lazy way to defend authentic faith.

The follow-up irritated response might be, “A person can believe in God and still not be a true Believer.”  To that I simply say, “Although that could well be true, please read my original statement in red letters above.

Cause #1 For Conversion Away From Christianity

None of what I am stating here is meant as “beating up on” my true brothers and sisters in Christ.  I’ve been there in the stresses of life.  But for me, it was a reality check.  Hopefully, it will strike you the same way.

The fact is, as Christians (to use the popular term) we are commissioned to represent (re-present) the life of Christ in the earth.  Unfortunately, too often we have claimed the doctrines of the Christian faith, but responded to life with the mentality of an atheist.  One who doesn’t rely upon God as his/her partner in the dilemmas and decisions of real life on planet earth.

Talking like a Christian and acting like an Atheist/Agnostic/Skeptic under the pressures of normal existence doesn’t display a hope filled example to anyone regardless of their religious or not religious beliefs about life.

Responding to the terrors of our day, whether it be ISIS or Ebola, like our next door neighbor, business cubicle mate, or church pew friend, doesn’t engender the kind of hope that God intends for His people.

Add to that, too often Christians don’t look like Jesus in the way we respond (or don’t respond) to issues of justice in our world.  Don’t flip out now, my fundamentalist friend, but I’m going to quote Ghandi in a statement made to Christians, “If you looked like Jesus of the bible, I might be interested in your Christianity.  But, you don’t.  Therefore, I’m not.”

Cause #2 For Conversion Away From Christianity

Spoiler Alert:  If you don’t want your fur rubbed the wrong way…as if it hasn’t been already…then don’t continue reading.

I am convinced that there’s been a great departure from the faith of our fathers because of the fundamentalist/evangelical inflexible attitudes toward what’s “Scriptural,” or “Biblical.”

Second Spoiler Alert:  What I’m going to state next would surely get me booted from the pulpit of many fundamental evangelical pulpits.  In fact, who knows, when some of my own parishioners read this, they may stop coming to my church, or many of my 50,000+ “podrishoners” per month may unsubscribe.

Here goes:  I think we’ve made too big a deal out of a literal reading of Genesis 1 as God creating the universe in 6 – 24 hour days.  Here’s my reasoning:

  1. The Hebrew word YOM translated into English as DAY is not consistent as meaning 24 hours in the rest of Hebrew Scripture.  It does mean 24 hours, but it also is used to indicate a variety of time periods.  For further study of “YOM” click on this link: YOM’s Meanings.
  2. 2 Peter 3:8 says, (NIV) “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 
  3. The literal, rather than allegorical reading of Genesis 1 – 3, has only been around since the 1700’s.  I realize, by itself, that’s not necessarily a strong argument.  Justification by faith hasn’t been part of the church doctrinal scene until the Reformation, either.  But, when you add it to other arguments, it begins to give more weight to the argument.

In light of compelling evidence, I am always ready to reconsider that position, but in the long run view of things, what real difference does it actually make.

In one conversation I recently had with an Atheist, he threw data evidence at me about the Big Bang Theory…or expanded universe theory.  My response was that if I were a fundamentalist, that would mean something to me.  However, I started thinking and praying for myself.  I came to the same position that many other true brothers and sisters of the faith hold.  The Big Bang theory doesn’t nullify the possibility that the creative acts of God were set in motion and maintained by what science has discovered and labeled, “The Big Bang.”   I said to him, “You consider the phrase, “The Big Bang” as a metaphor for Atheism.  But, respectfully…you guys don’t own it.”

So what’s my point here?

Young impressionable minds grew up in a fundamentalist setting.  They were told what to believe and what was scriptural if one is a “true Bible Believer.”  They then graduated high school and entered college.  In their first biology course, the atheistic professor presented apparent flaws in the 6 Day Creation belief.  Whether or not his/her course presentation was truth or not, the seed of doubt was planted.  Then other atheistic professors and friends began their process of “pastoring” the young impressionable minds.

The new students were in an atmosphere where they were encouraged to think for themselves.  That was a new phenomenon.  They grew up hearing sermons where they were told what the “scriptural” way to think was.

Now, their childhood faith was logically beginning to unravel.  And, IMHO, this “sharp knife” could have been dulled by…

  1. Training them to be good Bereans.  Teaching them to, as Paul said, “Study the scriptures to see if what I am saying is true.”
  2. Training them “how” to think for themselves, which includes what is actually important to the overall impact of belief in God and faith.
  3. Not insisting that the only legitimate Christians are those who believe that the Universe was literally created in 6 – 24 hour days.

There still may have been some casualties of the intellectual war, but the above 3 points would have had the ability to dramatically reduce, and swallow up the impact of skepticism.

So, am I saying that many of the reverse conversions from Christianity to Atheism/Agnosticism/Skepticism rightfully lays at the feet of many fundamentalist church attitudes?!

Yep!

If you’d care to comment, please do.  Nobody is truly hurt by honest discussion.

Gary

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Happens When You Make Room For It

miraclesFrankly, I’d gotten weary of hearing about healings and miracles in other countries, as well as only experiencing them, myself, when I was on mine or someone else’s  missions trips.  I’d also grown weary of hearing other Believers commiserate, “When will it happen in the United States?” 

Then I heard the Lord speak to my heart.  He said, “Talking about the stuff, agreeing with doctrines about the stuff, and wishing for the stuff will not bring the stuff.  You have to  intentionally make room for it.”

Making Room Is Risky

What if nothing happens?  It will further discourage people.  Interesting.  What that really is all about is fear of loosing personal reputation.  C’mon.  Let’s be honest.  There’s a reputation risk involved.  But, do nothing and that is exactly what you’ll get.  Nada.  Zilch.  But…your reputation will be in tact, right?  Anyway…let me encourage you with what began happening as we looked to God and ventured out:

The Stuff Started Happening (Right Here In America) :)

Debra was rushed to the emergency room recently suffering from severe pain in her abdomen.  The E.R. sonogram showed a disturbing large black mass.  She was immediately taken to Iowa City.  Further examination revealed a great many fibroid tumors with a large black mass in the center that they were sure was cancer.  We prayed for Debra at church on two separate occasions. The last time, someone had a vision of Debra passing through the doors to the operating room and cancer was forbidden to enter with her.  When Debra was admitted for surgery, her roommate turned out to have exactly the same situation.  Following both of their surgeries, the surgeon had bad news for Debra’s roommate.  It was as they were sure.  She had aggressive cancer.  However, with a surprised expression, he told Debra that they removed her fibroid tumors, but that there was absolutely no cancer present.

Marie was also recently diagnosed with a family inherited breast cancer that had taken the lives of several of her female relatives.  Marie was told that, at minimum, she was facing a double mastectomy.  Prayer was also given several times for Marie…against the cancer, and her fear.  To make a long wonderful story short, she recently underwent her exploratory surgery.  All her lymph nodes were clean, and there was a small irregular patch that they removed.

Christine testified and demonstrated, last Sunday, the hand of God at work on her behalf.  Healing prayers have been prayed for Christine several times over the past few months.  She is in a wheel chair, but she said, “watch this.”  She proceeded to cross her legs.  She said, “I haven’t been able to do this for 25 years!”  She also said that a couple of weeks ago at her doctor’s appointment that he told her that she no longer needed her inhaler because her lungs were suddenly doing very well.

Larry had a two words of knowledge during last week’s teaching.  In one, he saw a vision of a knee with a spear like rod going through it.  The second second word of knowledge he heard the words depression and suicide together.  His mother took Larry and his niece and her friend, who had come to The Sanctuary for the first time, to lunch afterward.  As they were talking during lunch, Larry told them about the Words of Knowledge that he had had.  He knew nothing of the two girls emotional lives or physical conditions.  They both responded that they had severe knee problems that needed surgery.  When Larry prayed with them (right there at Applebees) her friend’s knee pain – on a scale of 1 to 10 – decreased to a 4.  Larry prayed again.  She said the second time it felt like something in her knee when hard and then soft and then there was absolutely no pain left.  His niece told Larry that she had been very depressed and had serious thoughts of suicide.  He prayed with her an commanded the spirit causing the thoughts to leave.  She was amazed and, in tears, she said she felt a heavy weight lift off of her.

Always Successful?

Nope, it doesn’t appear so at the time.  I don’t know why.  I don’t trying to spend a lot of time figuring out why.  I am always open to the Holy Spirit to show me a deficiency on our part, but gazing at the lint in my own belly button doesn’t appeal to me.  Also spading up my mind with the “why shovel” has never proven especially helpful.

There are times – that at the time – it would seem like nothing happens.  And most of the time it requires more than a quick formula “a little dab’ll do ya” prayer.  One thing I do know, when the prayer is proceeded by a God-given gift of a Word of Knowledge, the results seem to appear more quickly.

I could give you an opinion on why, but I would just be cluttering the water with more nutty “this is why” teachings that we really don’t need any more of.  Remember, opinions are like belly buttons.  Everybody has one.

So….let’s bring the good stuff to our shores by making room for the stuff!  Yay, God!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

What If…

What IfYou probably don’t need any more people telling you their version of life’s truths.  The real truth is the fact that asking yourself great questions has the power to unlock great wisdom that is already within you. 

Keep reading to discover 14 key questions:

If you prefer, you can skip to the end and listen/watch the 6:28 video…

To all of the questions, how would that effect your decisions, attitudes and actions?

Question #1:

What if there’s more to life than I’ve lived so far?

Question #2:

What if that life is accessible to me, now?

Question #3:

What if God does love me as much as the preacher says He does?

Question #4

What if I am my own worst enemy?

Question #5

What if I could change that to becoming my own best friend?

Question #6

What if the worship songs we sing are actually true and not just nice words to pretty melodies?

Question #7

What if Jesus is actually Who He’s described to be in the Bible?  And how might that actually affect me, my life, and the lives of those around me?

[Okay, that’s a second question, but I already said there were 14.  Don’t be hatin’ :) ]

Question #8

What if Jesus is YOUR Jehovah-Jireh (Your Wisdom of Provision), and you aren’t left on your own to figure it out for yourself.   And what if He isn’t stingy with that wisdom if you ask Him?

Question #9

What if Jesus actually is YOUR Jehovah-Rophe (Physician)?  That would mean you don’t have to be dependent on a failing health care system, doesn’t it?

[Okay…just know…there is more than even 15 great questions] :)

Question #10

What if Jesus is YOUR “Water for Cleansing” ? <I can’t pronounce or spell the Hebrew word>

Question #11

What if…like the old song says, “Something good is about to happen?”  How would that affect your attitude as you face each day?

I, personally, believe in Messiah Law (Something Good Is Always About To Happen) instead of Murphey’s Law (Something Bad Will Happen To Me At The Most Inconvenient Time)

Question #12

What if Jesus is actual reality, and every other thing you call “real” in your life is a poor imitation?

Question #13

What if you are carrying Reality around with you when ever you leave your church, house, or apartment and face your own daily journey through life.

Question #14

What if grace opens the doors to YOUR own Christmas everyday?

Supplemental Questions:

1.  What if God is actually bigger than the thing that has become SO BIG in your life?
2.  What if I actually believe that worship is more than a song and is a life lived about Him?

3.  When the music (and life’s multiplied distractions) stop and we are alone in the dark with our thoughts, what are they?  Do they support hope, or hopelessness?

The Scriptures very clearly reveal that anything that does not glisten with hope shows us where we are believing a lie about something.

These are questions that I ponder regularly.  And I come up with lots of “aha” wisdoms.  I suggest you give it a try.

Gary

Here’s the video:

 

 

More Powerful Than The Bible

open-bible2There is something more powerful than answering people’s questions than with the phrase, “Because the Bible says so.”  Or, it’s first cousin… quoting scripture verses.

Before you cast me off as a heretic…before you think I’m minimizing the authority of Scripture, please read further…

I Believe In The Bible As Authority In Our Lives!!

Make no mistake about it.  I believe in the reality, power, and authority of the Scriptures.  I believe that Paul told Timothy the truth when he said…

“All Scripture is inspired of God and is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and for instruction in righteousness.”  2 Timothy 3:16

[Side note:  I also believe that it doesn’t say ONLY Scripture, but instead ALL Scripture is profitable…”]

What Is More Powerful Than The Bible?

The Scriptures are a “must foundation” for our lives.  However, when we are talking to others in our daily lives there is something more powerful than saying, “Because the Bible says so.”  There’s also a more powerful way of giving hope and encouragement to someone who needs it than simply quoting scriptures at them.

Your Personal Testimony

Your personal testimony will always have the most powerful impact on someone.  Listen carefully please.  I am not saying that you shouldn’t speak the words of Scripture.  I am saying, that the principles and promises found in The Book should be able to be confirmed by your tell-able story of God’s fresh love.

Encourage and answer people with your stories with God.  Then point to what the Bible says.  Or the other way round.  But please…

“Have your own fresh testimony of God’s grace that you can relate.  If you don’t have one….get one!  In fact get a lot of them.  Make it a point to have an actual “personal” relationship with Him.”

Sometimes People Sincerely Say…

“I’m just responsible to share the Word.  The Holy Spirit will take it from there.”  I understand that seems like a truthful, God honoring thing to say, but…

If you don’t mind me saying so (although you may)…that’s just plain lazy.

It’s too often thought that the Holy Spirit will “put a buzz on quoted scripture verses like a “magic act.”  I’m sorry if that sounds cynical.  And, I do know that He empowers Scripture.  He illuminates it to people’s understanding.  But, I deeply feel that we’ve leaned on that far too often.

Authentic Christianity (as apposed to the “religious variety”) is about a personal relationship.  To experience that…it needs to be experienced…on a personal daily level.  I don’t mean all hearts and flowers.  A personal relationship lived out in the real world can be both bliss and blisters.  But personalized, it must be.

What Is Sharing The Word With People?

It can refer to quoting and sharing verses and passages from the Bible.  Quoting Scriptures is a form of sharing the Word.

However, let me suggest that “sharing the Word” is at lease equally…putting a personal face on it.  Sharing your stories of how the Word has been working in your life.  That is sharing the Word.  The Living Word expressed in, through, and as you!

May we all increase in Authentic Christianity.  And may we have plenty of our own stories, based on the Scriptures.  May we not fall into the lazy trap of only responding with quoted Bible verses.

How do you respond to that?  I’d love to hear from you!

Gary

 

 

GMO and How to Respond

gmo-tomatoUntil a year ago, I was not aware of what GMO even stood for.

Now I know it means Genetically Modified Organism.  It also means a great deal of the food the average person consumes daily is no longer of God’s design.  It is actually very destructive to good health.

Through her FB posting, my youngest daughter has opened my eyes.

I’m very impressed by her intelligence, as well has heart for justice and dedication to it.

The thing is, what do we….what does the average person do with the knowledge except have the “crap” scared out of them.  Actually, after each meal, I wish that a good scare would be an effective tool to eliminate the GMO crap that I’ve possibly…(probably) consumed. :)

All kidding aside, the GMO in our “food like products” is far more pervasive through far more sources that had ever imagined.  I knew a couple of years ago, from a farmer friend, that purchasing seed corn for planting required a chemical license because corn is no longer classified as a vegetable. It’s considered a chemical.  As I said, I knew there was limited changes, so I stopped eating corn.  But the reality of it is….unless you want to stop eating….just about everything you can buy at the store now days contains GMO which is a determent to sound health.

The average person can’t easily find, nor afford safe food sources.  Nor, are they in the situation to grow their own.

My wife and I were discussing this today.  You can educate yourself, but what do you do, practically speaking (because we eat every day) with that education?

You can somehow get involved involved in educating others and protesting.  I would do that if you can.  Petitions can be very practical and influential.  We certainly shouldn’t hide our heads in the sand.  We can and should take action where ever we can.

But that doesn’t alleviate the practical need of the moment.  As my wife and I were saying, one thing we are also going to be doing is changing the “rote nature” of our prayers at meal time.  Instead of letting a cursory prayer of thanksgiving flip, nearly unconsciously but more as religious activity, off our lips, we are going to be more intentional.

Since we do believe that prayer has an affect, sometimes supernatural, we are going to be thanking God for His provision, but also making requests for effective change agents, wisdom, and blessing on the food, itself.

We will also watch labels (which lately is getting pretty discouraging) and be open to ways we can be an encouragement with practical, usable solutions…for our selves and those with whom we have influence.

I will also keep watching my daughters posts for information and practical advise.  Besides the fact that I also opening up this article and asking for helpful comments on the issue that all of my readers can benefit from.

Gary

 

 

 

What Does God Control?

God-is-in-Control-cover-photoI spoke on something yesterday that can be quite controversial among Christians.  In fact, to put forward what I suggested is similar to walking into a mine-field.  So, why did I venture into dangerous territory?

Taking Personal Responsibility

Let me say quite clearly and definitely that I am more than sure that I don’t understand or comprehend God’s Sovereignty (Theo speak for Control of Affairs of Men).

However, I am coming to an increasingly firm belief that many Christians (maybe you) have a different definition of the word “Sovereignty” as it relates to God’s relationship with His spiritual family that’s flawed.

Here’s How I Define God’s Sovereignty

I believe God has sovereignly chosen to give mankind free-will and to submit Himself to man’s choices….

Unless we invite Him into the events of our lives to exercise His wisdom and power to redeem and restore.  I know this raises some questions that rise beyond “my pay grade” but it has answered more questions for me than cause unanswerable questions.

God Does Not Violate His Gift and Privilege of Free Will

Here’s a common “spiritual” statement that sounds God honoring.  It sounds like “faith in God.”  In sounds so sincere and I’m sure it is.

“God has here who He wants to be here.”

The quizzical thing to me is that I never hear it said (or have never said it, previously myself) when the church, or the special meeting, conference, or concert is packed out.  It’s only said, when the numbers of people in attendance is low.

To say that means that you believe that God somehow manipulated circumstances in the lives of some people to be there and didn’t want anyone else to attend or else they would be there.

(Before you want to burn me at the stake because you think I’m making God less God-like….think about for a minute.  Honestly think about what your words are logically reflecting.)

So, why did I make it a topic of my last sermon, and why would I follow up by devoting a blog post to it?

Because, we need to learn to take more serious responsibility in our lives.  And we need to stop attributing the lacks in life to the work of God and His Sovereignty.  It’s giving God a bad rap, and it’s allowing us to not mature.

You Must Have Needed It

This statement is part of another common statement that I believe is deeply flawed.  More completely it is, “Don’t worry.  God is in control.  You must have needed for this to happen.”

Again, I don’t believe that actually nurtures trust.  It’s also interesting that that is a statement that is connected to a negative circumstance in life.   I know we are trying to be encouraging to someone else…or ourselves.  But we too often lay things at God’s doorstep that He did not have anything to do with.

Why do we say these things?  Because we think they sound God honoring.  Because we feel like we need to try to make sense of everything that goes on in our lives.  We need, instead, to invite God to walk with us through and out of the mess.  A negative result that, more than likely is the fruit of the flesh, a poor decision,  or the devil.

The sad thing is…a whole lot of weird, unscriptural teachings have resulted from man trying to explain the unexplainable.

I’d like to conclude this “hairy topic” by saying that God is not responsible for a positive outcome to your circumstances.  You are.  I am….by how we respond to the circumstance. 

Let me ask you a question to ponder for yourself:

What if you believed that you already have God-given control in your life.  How would it affect your life each day, week, or year?

Gary

 

 

 

When There’s Not Enough Money

one-dollar-bills-8875868Especially in the current world economy, for a high percentage of people, there doesn’t seem to be enough to go around.  Sometimes it’s the result of bad financial decisions.  Other times it’s a result of issues totally out of one’s control.

I don’t know about you, personally, but I deal with a short supply more often than I like.  The reasons are all of the above.  Previously poor credit decisions as well as things totally out of my control.

I’ve made an important discovery that is supporting my emotional welfare a great deal on the issues of “shortage.”

I Am Fully Convinced

The thing is…I am fully convinced that God’s word, character, and reputation are absolutely true.  Philippians 4:19 says, “My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

I don’t need to beg Him to do what He’s already promised is “in the bank.”  In fact, my custom is not to ask Him to supply my needs.  I make a habit, instead, of thanking Him for what is already a done deal.

Why, then, do so many people that believe the same thing struggle with their emotions on this?

A Solution For The Emotional Struggle

In my case, I changed my prayer.  I’m suggesting that the same thing will work for you.  Instead of putting all my “faith eggs” in one basket (“He’ll supply all my needs, He’ll supply all my needs, He’ll supply all my needs…”) my prayer is a Daily Bread Wisdom request.  It goes something like this…

“Heavenly Father, it is my foregone conclusion that all my needs are being supplied by You.  For that I am deeply and faithfully grateful.  My request now, Lord, is that you give me today’s grace of wisdom to wisely manage what I have at the moment.”

What I Discovered

My emotional struggle wasn’t with trust in His “end game” for me.  The stress was struggling with daily wisdom. 

As I’ve made daily wisdom my focus, the emotional stress is greatly reduced.  With the daily wisdom I have a more peaceful appreciation of, “this is what I can do…this is what takes care of today.”

Frankly…especially in Prosperity Oriented Western Society…we have the added internal pressure that “things are not supposed to be like this.”  We feel like the goal is the good life that doesn’t have to be concerned with where money will come from.  After all…isn’t that the sign of God’s greatest blessing and pleasure on your life??   –  Wrong-o…Buck-o.

Any time our lives are resting on God Sufficiency rather than Self Sufficiency, we are ahead of the game in being what God has called us to be as His ambassadors.   That doesn’t mean that it’s wrong to have “boooko bucks” in our earthly bank account.  But, it does mean that God can call on a withdrawl on that fullness at any time. 

In the end, we have what we have.  We don’t own what we have.  Relatively speaking, we should all be God’s paymasters.  With deep reserves comes deep responsibility (or ability to respond).

Believe God for the long haul.  Ask for wisdom for the daily bread that you have.

Gary

 

There’s Not An App For That

TheresNOTAnAppForThatHeaderFirst, let me start by stating that I have many useful apps and they’ve been a big help.  But, “help” is the key word.  There are apps that have pointed me in a good direction to connect with God. 

But, I have to do the rest!

There’s Not An App For That

I might benefit from an app that keeps tract of the number of steps I take on my “power walk,” but I have to get off the couch, go somewhere, and put one foot in front of the other.  The app won’t do that for me.

I might have an app that would help me keep track of how many calories I’m consuming each day, but I have to be the one who has to stop with one reasonable portion and then push myself away from the table.  The app won’t do that for me.

I do have an app that enables me to have several translations of the bible on my smartphone, but….(you know the rest of the statement)

The Bible app YouVersion has given me the ability to have a whole host of Bibles in my pocket and that’s often been a blessing to me.  But…it won’t meditate those scriptures for me.  I have to take the time to do that.

New School Technology

New school technology potentially puts tools in our hands that can enhance our relationship with the Eternal One, but “old school” one-on-one with Him is the key to growth.  There isn’t an app that will “lean your heart into God.”

There isn’t an app that will stir your heart for the soul in front of you.

There isn’t an app that will heal oppressed minds and bodies for you.

There isn’t an app that magically causes you to re-present the attitudes and actions of Jesus in your community.

There Are Lots Of Helpful Apps

Technology has its place.  Apps have their place.  But they don’t replace human and divine interaction.  (Neither does Facebook, btw)

Use the apps that help you, but remember they aren’t made of flesh and blood, and they don’t connect you to the Living Eternal God.  Jesus does.

Btw…P.S.

I’ve discovered a translation of the Bible that I’m over the moon thrilled with it.  Check it out here: The Voice Bible Online 

Gary