God does not want us to be happy

Recently,during a conversation about the sanctity of marriage, it was suggested that if one partner were not happy that it would be ok with God for them to pack up and leave, because God wants them to be happy. This caused me to think about it. If God loves us, would He wants us to do something that is clearly against His word, simply because “it makes us happy”. of Our mere happiness I dare say, is not God’s main objective toward us. I believe we are called to first be holy and that God will provide an abundance of joy that overflows from living first for Him.

Didn’t Jesus say that if your eyes causes you to sin to pluck it out, because it is better to enter heaven disabled than to succumb to sin? I think this applies to all of things in this world that are not holy, but we do them because they make us happy. Happiness is fleeting. Only the joy of the Lord can last. The joy of the Lord is my strength when times are hard and happiness evades me.

Focus first on loving God with all of your heart, soul, and strength and then all these things will be added until you. Thank you, Lord that you are my joy and that this joy is sustainable even through the storms of life.

Grace

Today is my twenty-first wedding anniversary. Days like this cause me to look back at where we have come from. I am ever thankful to my God that I am not who I was, although, admittedly being no where near where I would like to be. God has been gracious to help me grow, He has been good to me in never letting go even when I fall and I often do. Don’t we all?

As I ponder the great grace of our God, I find myself saddened by the lack of grace in His people and unfortunately, I must include myself in this. I admit that I have fallen into the trap of following the rules and telling others to “come be good like me”, feeling proud that I had followed so many of God’s rules; however, God is not a God of rules and regulations. He is a God of relationship. Please do not take this to mean that we owe God anything less than our best, anything less than to strive to be holy as He is holy. What I do mean, is that we are all in different places and we need to give others a little bit of grace in our imperfections (not our blatant sin), and a lot of space to learn and grow as we come along side in love and pray for each other.

I hear a lot about doctrinal purity and getting it right, but what frightens me is that we will be overly focused on knowing about God and not on knowing Him. A day will come when many will hear “depart, I never knew you”. Get into the word, acknowledge where are in life, and take the hand of God and walk with Him. He will guide you into a pure and holy life one step at a time.

We must also exhort our brothers to do the same and lovingly understand that my walk is not your walk. Pray for one another and spend as much time as you can sitting at the feet of our Savior.

There are moments when I look at the insurmountable task it would require to see any real change in this world and I feel so small, so insignificant. Watching the news can be depressing. Our government is out of control, our people love iniquity and hate life, what is good is being called bad and bad is being called good, the whole world seems upside down. In these moments, I consider that I am but one person and wonder “what can I do?”. Then I remember who I am and who God is.

Ecclesiastes 5:2 – 2 [a] Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few.

Romans 12:3 – 3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.

2 Corinthians 4:1-6 – Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. 2 Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”[a] made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 — 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; …

I am not enough. I can not do the job. We together probably can’t but, we are not fighting against men, we are fighting a spiritual battle and the great God of all is on our side. He is bigger than our enemies, this is a battle of spiritual warfare, not a physical one. I know that my God is able and I am so thankful that he gives me the strength to do my part and I can rely on him to do the rest. As Lecrae says in his song background, “I throw the dice to trust you, you cause the dice to land”

When the task ahead of us seems insurmountable, we need only do our part, as God has commanded us and then remember the rest is up to God. Most of the battles the life brings us to will be won as we spend time on our knees before God.

Christian Politics

There are few topics that stir hot emotions like the topic of politics. This is probably why it is a topic where we need to find our common ground and be sure that our conversations are respectful, the world is watching. As Christians, I think that many of us agree on the basic ideas, where we differ is in how to accomplish our goals.

For example, all of us would agree that Christ would want us to do our part to make sure that the poor, the fatherless, the widowed etc. do not go with out a roof and food. Where some of us part ways is how this gets accomplished. I am personally of the opinion that charity is not the place of our government. There should be fewer government programs and more private ones. Many of the ones the currently exist are run by religious organizations, but I do not in any way think that charity should be limited to religion.

Here is my reasoning for this line of thinking – the government needs to have funds to handle the things that the government is specifically supposed to be in charge of. Things like roads, military, police, and education. These should be the primary focus of government. right now, so much money is being spent on public welfare that the primary concerns of government are being neglected.

The second reason for this line of thinking is that if we become overly indebted to our government for our basic necessities how will we dissent we our government is too big? We will become a society afraid to bite the hand that feeds. Look around, this is happening. There is no free lunch. Everything has it’s price and the price is too high, because the price will be our freedom.

Third, as Christians we know that we are blessed by God for our generosity. Is it possible that individuals miss out on the blessing of God because we are allowing the government to do our job? I do believe that God blesses our generosity and that we can be generous even out of a little, but if the average citizen kept more of their income they would be better able to be charitable, I think they would be too.

The problem is that while I believe that we were a nation that was founded on Christian principles, we are not a Christian nation. We are democratic-republic. This means that all of the people have a say, Christians and atheists alike ( and all the others too) have the right to equal protection under the law. Charity shouldn’t be legislated, but morality can’t be either. I can’t say enough that we can not hold people who do not claim to be Christians to our standard. This is where the issues can be easy convoluted. Biblical standards are true. They are correct. I believe this with every fiber of my being, but I also believe in the right to believe as you choose.

Not all truth claims are created equally, but this does not mean that people don’t have the right to believe false truth claims.There are many who feel that we need to legislate morality. This includes laws like DOMA, as one example, I understand where that line of thinking is coming from, because I agree that the disintegration of the American family has a lot to do with the collapse of our culture. It is our job as Christians to be the light and the salt. It is our job to pray for those around us, to pray for our government – at every level, and to pray for our pastors, leaders, and churches. It is our job to make a difference within our circle of influence. True change, lasting change, only comes from within. We can’t legislate that. We can pray for it.

Train them up

Psalm 127:3-5 Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

One of the greatest blessings that we can have is the gift of children. When it comes to the idea of reflecting Him, one of the greatest ways we can do that is to leave a legacy of believing children. With great privilege comes great responsibility. This phrase, first voiced by Voltaire has a lot of truth to it. Each of my children is an amazing gift from God, but each of them also needs to be raised up in the ways of the Lord. This is something I must take active participation in, the television and society around us is certainly not going to do it.

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

While I do believe that this verse refers to teaching our children about the Lord their God, I think that it also means that God has given them gifts and it is my job to help them discover those gifts and use them to glorify the Lord. Doing this means knowing your children, being available to them, and often it means prayerful anguish. We must pray for wisdom and guidance from God, because while we are raising them, He is raising us.

Deuteronomy 6:6-9 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

We are all called to teach our children to love the Lord with all our hearts, to make his word part of our everyday lives. Simply having them at church on Sunday isn’t enough. If you haven’t been doing this that is ok, we can’t change the past, but every minute offers us the opportunity to start over. We can ask forgiveness for our failures and begin to do as the Lord commanded. We are all fallible people who make mistakes, sometimes, mistakes that are huge. It is so wonderful to know that we are not just fallen, but also redeemed and although, in some cases we may have made a mess, God says he can take it and redeem it.

If you are not a parent, that doesn’t mean that you can’t be a part of shaping the next generation. There are so many hurting children in this world, I would bet that you know one right within your circle of influence. Reflect His light with every opportunity and most of all pray. Pray for our children, they face so many hardships, pray the children in your extended family, pray for the children in your church.

Life

I was listening the other day to Dr. Ravi Zacharias and he asked the question “do we have the right to be human?” and to be honest I never thought that the right to be human was something that we needed to endow to one another. To think about the right to be human forces us to think about what it means to be human. 

Genesis 1:26 – 28 — 26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”.

One of the first things that the Bible tells about creation is that human beings were created in the image of God. Reading through the creation account, God only says that man is created in His image. This differentiates man from animals. The first question to cross my mind was, does anyone debate our right to be human? To me, this is elemental; however, after putting some thought into it, I realized that there are people who would argue against our right to be human. I know personally many who feel that man is just another animal, that there is no real difference; however, this is not what the Bible says. Man alone is created in God’s image and we were to have dominion over the earth.

As we all know, that is not exactly how it turned out, man fell, but that doesn’t change that we were created in the image of God and that we are indeed not just another animal. This belief is the foundation of my beliefs about man. This is why I view human life as being inherently valuable. All human life is God breathed, but sometimes, because we are fallen, because we are broken we don’t always get what we expect from man nor do we always have what God intended.

One way that this is true was poignantly shown to me through an article that I read. A woman was pregnant with twins that she wanted, but discovered that her son was likely to be born very unhealthy. She made the decision to “kill our son “in a warm and loving place inside of me.” A mothers womb, should be safe and warm, not a place of death. Yes, it would have been hard if he had been born only to die, I do understand that. I also understand that a special needs child can be difficult, but since I grew up with one in our family I know that it is also, in a strange way, a blessing. My brother has many special needs, but his life is a good life. He knows no other life and our lives are richly blessed through him.

As I read this, I felt dark and sad. I am deeply troubled about a society that feels that only a life that is “normal” is a good life. That those who are “imperfect” are not valuable and valued. Maybe when you foundation of belief about man is that we are just another animal, you feel that it is ok to kill the less than perfect ones. If we are terminating pregnancies of imperfect babies now, how long until we just kill off the elderly and those with special needs? How long until we label them, “useless eaters”?

Maybe this is why so many people,both children and adults, feel that it is ok to bully people who are different from them. It isn’t. In order to view each other properly, we must first look at how God views us. We are his image bearers. All of us. Even those who do not meet some unrealistic standard, none of us are perfect. We all fail, we all fall. Let’s be honest, we all have our quirks that make us weird to some, but those are the things that make us uniquely and wonderfully us.

Reflect His light today and embrace someone who is less than perfect. Love them as God does.

Here is the link to the article http://dsr.gd/11Hjc4h

When God Remembers

For most of us the word remember brings to mind the idea of first forgetting. In the Bible, there are several instances of God remembering. God remembered Abraham, Noah, Rachael, Hannah… and every time I would see that phrase I had to sit and wonder what it means for God to remember. Clearly, our all knowing, all powerful, ever present God who is not confined by space or time does not forget. Right?

Sometimes, we feel forgotten. I am sure that Abraham and Sarah did. The promise of an heir was made fourteen years prior to the fruition of that promise. When we read the word, we are done with those sentences in a few minutes at the most. So, take a minute and really let it sink in how LONG fourteen years is. Sarah had probably long given up on baring a child for the man that she loved. OH!The longing that this promise must have awakened in her.

In those days, a woman who did not give her spouse an heir would have felt as though she failed him. She had no legal rights, she was not equal in the eyes of society. This is her chance to be released from the stigma of being barren. To do the one thing for her husband that she was raised was her duty. The promise was made and so much time had gone by, the longing in her soul for her husband to have an heir is overwhelming, and she decides that God must need help to make this happen. How often are you and I guilty of the same thing? She gives up on her God, deciding she is too broken, too old, too much for God to use. She devises a plan, but this does not make her feel better, only worse. Isn’t that how is usually works out for us as well?

Then, in the proper time, God remembers and Sarah has Isaac. Had God forgotten his promise? or is there more to this? The word used in each of the old testament uses is the same. None of them are associated with the term, to recollect. They are all associated with the idea of incense. Incense was used ceremonially. This is a ceremonial remembering. Think memorial service for a lost loved one. Clearly, forgetting was never involved.

The words that God has spoken are true! Some things have not yet come to fruition, but they will. God does not forget. If you have a vision from Him, it will come to fruition, in the proper time. Our growth is in the waiting, but in these microwave times of instant everything, waiting is something we are not very good at. Wait on Him, He knows all and will never lead us astray. Cling to Him, grow in the knowledge of His word and He will remember you when the time is right as only He can know it is. In the meantime, reflect Him the best way you know how.