Stingrays and Evangelism

stingrayLast month, while vacationing in Orange Beach, I saw more stingrays than I’ve ever seen. One evening, just before dark, my son had one swim right beside him. Aaron didn’t like being that close to one so he got out. The next evening when we went back to the beach, he had no desire to get back in the water.

“Come on Aaron, the chances of seeing another stingray is slim,” I told him as I waded out into the water.

It wasn’t five minutes later when another one came along and swam between us. This time I got out of the water before he could. I know for the most part that stingrays are not that dangerous, but I did not want to take a chance of accidently stepping on one half-buried in the sand. Many people have been hurt by doing just that. (And in some rare incidences, stingrays can cause an even worse fate such as in the case of Steve Irwin.)

There were not a lot of people out, but there was one little boy playing in the water next to us. His parents were on the beach watching him. I decided to tell them about the stingray so they could decide if they wanted him to stay in the water. It turned out that they didn’t.  That evening before going in, we counted nearly a dozen stingrays.

So what does that have to do with evangelism?  Glad you asked! Let me explain.

I knew there was a potential danger in the water. So, not only did my family get out, but when I looked around and saw another person around I gave a warning. It was just a few stingrays and not that big of a deal, but I still took the time to warn them. Of course, the parents could have chosen to ignore my warning, but they didn’t.  My warning was just a polite and caring thing to do. Wouldn’t you do the same?

A few days after we get home from our vacation I’m reading in 2 Corinthians about Paul’s explanation of why he labors for the Lord.

“Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

 Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men,” 2 Corinthians 5:9-11a.

Did you catch the reasons that Paul shares the gospel? There were three of them.

  • We want to be pleasing to the Father.
  • We will stand before God and answer for the things we have done.
  • We know about the coming judgment.

Let’s talk about the last one. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.” I found it very easy to warn a family about a potential danger in the gulf shore waters. I didn’t hesitate. I didn’t worry that they might be offended. And I probably wouldn’t have taken it personal if they had ignored me. I simply warned them. And it only involved a few swimming creatures. But even the thought of potential harm coming to someone was enough to motivate me.

Why then do I find it so hard to warn people about the coming judgment of the Lord? Why does fear threaten me every time I want to share the gospel? We are not talking about potential harm coming to someone, but eternal death.

“It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment,” Hebrews 9:27.

Every man, woman, and child will face death one day. All will stand before God. If they die in their sins, they will go to hell, a very real place. In fact, Jesus talked about hell more than He talked about heaven. And while most people live for the moment, the truth is that our lives are just a vapor.

The other day Ray Comfort, from the Way of the Master, posted on his Facebook page a sobering and truthful statement.

“I am both a coward and a hypocrite if I believe that the world is going to Hell, but fail to verbally warn them.”

Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.”

If I knew a young boy was playing in dangerous waters, would I warn him?

Only if I knew….and only if I cared……

If I knew a blind man was about to walk off a steep cliff, would I warn him?

Only if I knew….and only if I cared……

If I knew someone was about to drink mislabeled poison, would I warn him?

Only if I knew….and only if I cared……

If I knew a child was playing on a busy highway, would I warm him?

Only if I knew….and only if I cared……

If I knew that the world was dying in their sins and going to hell, would I warn them? If I knew that all would stand before the Lord who comes to judge the earth and the entire world with righteousness, would I warn them? If I knew the bad news, would I share the good news? Would I be motivated to share the truth…

Only if I knew….only if I cared…..only if I had a filial fear of the Lord…..only if I was not a coward or a hypocrite…..only if I truly loved others…..

Lord, my prayer is that I will always love others enough to warn them. Let me be one who cares enough about people to persuade them to come to You. Let me be moved with compassion toward lost souls enough to share the gospel. Help me to remember that love is not passive, nor is it in word alone, but in deed and in truth! For Your glory!

A Christian’s Response to the Upcoming Election

My last post talked about consequences and I am afraid that this next election will hold grave consequences.  So what should a Christian’s response be to the upcoming election?   It appears that our options for voting are between current President Obama and Mitt Romney.  I’m not even going to address the President’s policies these last 3 ½ years.  Let his actions speak for himself.  I’m also not going to address that fact that Mitt Romney is not a career politician (which I believe is a great asset) or his apparent values.  Laying all political, financial, and moral views aside, I want to address something different.  Should a Christian vote for a candidate who is not a Christian?

Regardless of how the media likes to spin the issue, the truth from God’s Word is that, “by their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:20).  Evaluate for yourself the “fruits” produced by our current President who strongly supports the murder of innocent babies and homosexual marriage.

So I ask the next question.  Is Mitt Romney, a faithful member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a Christian?  While I cannot know his heart, I can look at the Mormon religion as a whole.

The Institute for Religious Research has a page on the Mormon religion (http://mit.irr.org/mormonism-christian-2) that explains the basic beliefs of Mormons.  Below are a few, but not all, of Mormon beliefs.

  • Many gods made the world (Abraham 4:1-31)
  • God the Father was once a man (LDS Church teaches that Jesus Christ, humans, angels, and fallen spirits including Satan are all eternal beings that were never created and that are all spirit brothers and sisters. In particular, Christ and Lucifer (Satan) were two spirit brothers; Christ supported Heavenly Father’s plan while Lucifer did not.)
  • Adam’s sin was “a necessary step in the plan of life and a great blessing to all of us” (Book of Mormon—2 Nephi 2:14-26; Book of Moses 5:10-12)
  • Mormonism teaches that a person must become worthy in order to obtain forgiveness of sins and eternal life in the presence of God the Father through obedience to all the commands of the LDS Church (Book of Mormon—2 Nephi 25:23;
  • LDS Church teaches that the Bible has been corrupted, is missing many “plain and precious parts,” and does not contain the fullness of the gospel (1 Nephi 13:26-29)
  •  LDS Church teaches that faithful Mormons who fulfill all of their spiritual, moral, and ritual obligations can eventually attain the status of gods, beings of the same essential nature as God the Father ruling over their own worlds. “As man now is, God once was: As God now is, man may be” (Lorenzo Snow, in Presidents of the Church: Student Manual [2004], 88, 90; Gospel Fundamentals [2001], 201; Gospel Principles [2009], 275-79; Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith [2011], 71).

The Mormonism Research Ministry has compiled this list. (http://www.mrm.org/god-of-mormonism)

  •  The god of Mormonism is one of many gods.
  • The god of Mormonism is not self-existent.
  • The god of Mormonism is not transcendent.
  • The god of Mormonism is not immutable.
  • The god of Mormonism is not eternally God.
  • The god of Mormonism is not incorporeal.
  • The god of Mormonism is not omnipresent.
  • The god of Mormonism cannot dwell in the believer.
  • The god of Mormonism is not omnipotent.
  • The god of Mormonism does not forgive completely.

In his famous “King Follett Discourse” Joseph Smith (prophet, teacher, and leader of the saints) taught,

“God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens. That is the great secret… [Y]ou have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you…”

According to www.mormon.org in addition to the Bible, Latter-day Saints accept the following books as scripture:

  • The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, a record of God’s dealings with the inhabitants of ancient America (2000  BC – 400 AD).
  • The Doctrine and Covenants, a collection of revelations and inspired declarations given for the establishment and regulation of the Church of Jesus Christ in the last days (1830 AD – 1978 AD).
  • The Pearl of Great Price, a selection of revelations, translations, and writings of Joseph Smith.

This information does not even touch on all the false beliefs of the Mormons.  Check it out for yourself.

http://www.biblebelievers.com/jmelton/Mormons.html

http://bible-truth.org/arelds.htm

http://cnview.com/on_line_resources/are_mormons_christian.htm

So, it is clear that the god the Mormons worship is not the True God of the Bible.  It is also clear that they do not worship the true Christ who says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). Nor do they uphold the true Word of God.

So here is the dilemma.  If we have two unbelievers running for president what do we do?  How do we vote?  Let me answer that question with this one.   Are there only two choices?  As a Christian I believe that I should not only vote in each election, but that I should pray and seek out God’s will.  So, would God give His children the choice between two unbelievers?  Would God want us voting for an unbeliever?  Would God not give His children a way to make the right decision?  We might be tempted to cast a vote for an unbeliever because it is the “lesser of two evils.”  We might be tempted to lay aside the candidates faith or our faith and focus on the politics. But as a Christian I cannot separate my faith from my vote.  My faith is not what I do; it is who I am.  My conscience tells me that I would be wrong to vote for an unbeliever, regardless of the circumstances.  You see, God always gives His children the ability to do what is right.  There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1Co 10:13)

 It was John Quincy Adams that said, “Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.”  So it looks like that over the next few months I am going to be doing some research on other 3rd party candidates, trusting that the God of the Bible is sovereign and knowing my conscience is clear.

My Unbelief

I had to call a friend a few days ago.  This particular friend is one I call when I need to hear the truth.  You know the type.  She doesn’t tell me what I want to hear; she tells me what I need to hear.  Perhaps you have a friend like this and can relate.   I am very thankful for our friendship.  It is one that could be summed up by Proverbs 27:5-6, “Open rebuke is better than secret love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend…”  I wanted to have a pity party.  She told me to get my eyes off self.  I wanted to whine.  She told me to rejoice.  I wanted to focus on the negative.  She told me to look at the positive.  I wanted to sit.   She told me to get up and serve.  We’ve had this conversation many times over the years.  Sometimes, like last week, I’m the one who needs the exhortation and sometimes she is.  Either way we have an understanding.  Regardless of our feelings or emotions, the best thing we can do is point each other to the Lord and His Word.

The circumstances are always different, but the outcome is always the same.  It usually goes something like this.  One of us has a problem or small trial in our life.  This should be no surprise.  Jesus said in this world we would have tribulations (John 16:33).  But we still act “as though some strange thing happened…” During the trial we prove that we’re human by worrying and fretting.  After a day or two of self pity one of us will finally get around to calling the other – already knowing exactly what we’re going to hear.

“Why are you worried?”

“It’s just that I don’t see how this could possibly work out.”

“So, this just gives God a chance to prove Himself strong.”

“I know….but there is no human solution.”

“Hasn’t God always provided for you?”

“Yes, but…”

“Hasn’t He always been faithful?”

“Yes, but this time….”

“Has He ever let you down?”

“No, never.”

“Then don’t you know what the Scriptures say?”

“I do.  Just yesterday I was sharing God’s Word with a lady who was having trials of her own.”

“Then it boils down to whether or not you’re going to believe.  The bottom line is this.  Are you going to have confidence in the trustworthiness of God?”

And so, this was just what I needed to hear.  I knew the truth.  I still do.  I have never had a reason to doubt God’s Word.  It says that God will provide for His children (Matthew 6:33).  We are told that He will meet all of our needs (Philippians 4:19).  It says that He will direct our paths (Proverbs 3:6).  And we are promised peace if we will trust in God (Isaiah 26:3).  Not only are these things so, but time and time again – without fail – God has proven it true.

I do believe…..

But Lord, help my unbelief…….

Sometimes I feel like the father in Mark Chapter 9.  Do you know the story?  This man had a demon possessed son.  If you want to talk about trials and troubles, this man had them.  Look at how the father describes his son with this evil spirit, “And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away… ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us,” Mark 9:18a, 22.   The mother in me wants to weep for this man.  I cannot image the pain from seeing his child like this.  So in desperation, the father takes his son to Jesus’ disciples for help.  Yet, they cannot help him.

How many times do I go to everyone but the One who can and will help me?

When Jesus arrives He offers perhaps the first glimpse of hope this poor father has ever had. He says, “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth,” Mark 9:23.

How many times has the Lord whispered these same words to me?  “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed…nothing shall be impossible unto you,” Matthew 17:20.  “For with God nothing shall be impossible,” Luke 1:37.  “And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God,” Luke 18:27.

So this father, as honest and transparent as he can be, with tears in his eyes cries out, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief,” Mark 9:24.

I think I understand what he was saying because I have been there many times.  In fact, I’m still there.  I have faith.  I believe.  But I know that my faith is not as strong as it should be.  My faith is weak.  It is imperfect.  It is flawed in its exercise.  So, like this father who does believe, I too add a prayer for grace, mercy, and strength.  Lord, Please help the weakness of my faith.   Help me to confidently rely upon You.  Show Yourself strong on my behalf and be glorified through my weak flesh and failures.  I believe Lord, just help me in my unbelief.

Happy are the Holy

I am sitting here this morning in sweet reflection.  The closing paragraph, last sentence, and final words to my 4th book were written last week.  It is off to the editor and in the hands of the man writing the forward.  The thought of it all brings great happiness.

The Epistles of John have been an incredible study for me personally.  The theme of the books is love.  It covers God’s love to us and our love to others.  But what I did not expect was the amount of love shown by the Apostle to his readers.  What makes his love so revealing is its under-girding of absolute truth.  John writes these letters so that believers might “know that they know” with confidence and assurance that they are in the faith.

Living Out the Word: Love has been perhaps the deepest and most heart revealing ladies Bible study that I have written.  John’s epistles gives a person a series of tests they can take to see if their faith is real.  Have you ever questioned your salvation?  Did you know that it is okay to do so?  In fact, we are commanded in Scripture to do just this.  “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves,” 2 Corinthians 13:5a.

One of the tests that Johns gives is purity.  I John 3:3 says, “And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.”  The “hope” this verse is referring to is the hope of Christ’s return (I John 3:2).  We often use “hope” as a synonymic word for “wish”. But do not mistake it here in this verse.  It does not mean wish, want, or desire.  The word conveys a stronger meaning.  The Greek word is elpis and it means having confidence in, earnest expectation, or anticipation.  Hope makes a difference in the life of those who believe.  The person who has the hope (confidence) of one day seeing Christ will purify himself.   Notice also that there are no exceptions to the principle here.   The verse says that every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself.”  A few weeks ago my husband started an expository study through 1st John.  Yesterday’s afternoon study was on this verse.

As it turned out, my husband is also preaching verse by verse through the book of Matthew during our morning worship service.  Yesterday’s sermon was on Matthew 5:8 taken from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.  “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.”  To be blessed is to be happy.  To be pure in heart is to be holy.  I was amazed at how the two sermons tied so perfectly together.  Happy are those that are pure in heart (holy) and only those that have the confidence that Christ will return will purify themselves.   So, just what is purity?  My husband explained three types of purity for the believer.  There is positional purity, practical purity, and perfect purity.

Positional Purity is how the believer stands before God. “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God,” Colossians 3:3. When God looks at us He sees the precious blood of His Son.  “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin,” 1 John 1:7.  The believer is positionally pure.

Practical Purity is how we live out our faith.  “Every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself.” 

  •  “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God,” 2 Corinthians 7:1.
  •  “As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy,” 1 Peter 1:14-16.
  •  “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service,” Romans 12:1.

Perfect Purity is that day that all believers long for.  “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is,” 1 John 3:2.  It has not happened yet, but we know that one day we will be like Christ.   Spiritually we are pure but we still live in this sinful flesh.  However, our bodies will one day be glorified (Romans 8:30) and we will be perfectly pure.  What a day that will be!

It is the realization that we are positionally pure and the expectation of one day being perfectly pure that gives us the desire to live out our lives in practical purity.  “Blessed are the pure in heart.”   Happy are the holy, “for they shall see God.”

I’m Going to the Gym

We are all aware that regular exercise is vital and essential for a healthy lifestyle.  Exercise supports physical and mental well being.  In addition to having better health, working out increases your energy level and reduces stress.  It’s important.  But let’s be honest…Who has the time?  Are we not busy enough?  On an average day my to-do-list is a mile long and I’m sure you are no different.  But there comes a time when you realize the benefits far outweigh the inconvenience and decide to make it a priority.  Dana and I came to that conclusion.  We signed up for a gym membership and have been faithfully (for the most part) going together each morning at 5 a.m.  My first goal was to make it a habit by going for 21 days.  Now that I have met this goal I am working on increasing my stamina.  I am walking on the treadmill for three miles and, in addition, every other day I use the machines to tone various muscles.

While exercise has value there is a truth to it.  I Timothy 4:8 states that “bodily exercise profiteth little.”  Exercise does profit, but only for a short duration.  If I stop going to the gym tomorrow, all the work that I have done up until now will be lost.  And even if I continue to exercise my entire life, the advantage I gain from it is for this life only.  There is no eternal compensation for physical exercise.  However, for the Christian there is an exercise that is profitable in all ways. 

“…exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come,” 1 Timothy 4:7-8.  Training ourselves in godliness will be beneficial in this world and the one to come.  Therefore, it seems to me that while I should continue to go to the gym each day, this spiritual exercise should be more of a priority in my life.

What does exercising unto godliness look like?  First, I Timothy 2:10 tells me how I should adorn myself as a Christian woman. “But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.”  Therefore, doing good works is a part of godliness.  This takes practice (training, exercise).  It takes a consistent effort (workout).  And it takes a child of God, with knowledge of God, to have the power to live with godliness.  “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue,” 2 Peter 1:3.  We also are told that it is a process.  Just as becoming strong takes physical exercise, godliness takes diligent work step by step.  “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness,” 2 Peter 1:5-6. 

I use to believe that going to the gym was just for those who were already fit and trim.  However, this is not the case.  While several of the people at the gym are in excellent shape, there are those there who are in terrible shape.  But they are striving nonetheless.  There is also a misconception that it is impossible to live godly in today’s world.   In truth, it is for the unbeliever, but for a child of God this is not true.  “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ,” Titus 2:11-13.  We will not attain perfectly but we should be striving.  Why?  Because when we exercise unto godliness it is profitable for this life and in the one to come.

Lord, You know my heart’s desire to strive in my daily walk, to reach forth and press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling. Lord, help me to remember these truths, meditate upon them, and work them out in my life.  Help me to profess godliness and adorn myself with good works every day of my life.

Thanks-living

 To write it down for the world to see, To speak of Your wondrous love,

How can I thank you for blessing me? For sending a Saviour from above?

Thank you God for having a plan, A sacrifice, a cross, a grave.

Thank you Lord for redeeming man, Without Christ who can be saved?

But because He rose victorious, abundant life I now will live.

Grace and love abounds glorious, which daily Lord you freely give.

To give thanks only one day a year, seems contrary to say the least,

For You my God are very near, not just during Thanksgiving feast.

Instead I’ll live a life of thanks-living, all year acknowledging how you bless.

And just one day set aside, for complaints and unthankfulness.

Theo

Faith, obedience, forgiveness…these are all qualities that we want to instill in our children.  The earlier we teach these things the better chance we will have that they take hold.  Cartoons can be a wonderful tool for teaching, which is why I am excited to share with you a new animated series called Theo: God’s Love.   Theo, an animated student of Godʼs Word, lives in a cozy corner of a quaint English village, in the heart of the Cotswolds, and entertains two mice, Belfry and Luther.  After 33 years in the making, the first DVD in the series Saving Faith releases on DVD September 13, 2011.

I sat down yesterday and watched the first episode.  In a way it reminded me of a shorter version of Adventures in Odyssey.  The episode is only 9 minutes long.  I thought it was an unusual length of time.  However, after watching it I could see the benefits of the shorter time.  Episode One taught about Saving Faith in a simple and entertaining way.  It was long enough to teach but short enough to keep little ones attention, making it perfect for Sunday school teachers who have just a few minutes at the end of class or who want to kick off a lesson on faith.  It is also a great resource for parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts who want to introduce a child to the great things of God.

You can visit the website and download the bonus episode called Good News for free.  Parents and those who work with children need to do this.  It is 5 minutes long and clearly presents the truth of the gospel.  You can also download each episode for only $4.99 on the website.  Saving Faith releases in September with Loving Obedience, Forgiveness, and Armor of God to follow.

If you are worker in a church you might be interested to know that Whitestone Media has partnered with Lifeway Christian resources in creating curriculum to compliment the Theo series.  Volume One – Foundations of Faith contains one DVD with 4 Theo episodes, teaching plans, worksheets, and parent pages to send home.  It also includes the bonus Good News episode and teaching plan on the gospel.  There is a link on the website where you can order it for $39.99.

Regardless of the way you teach your children about God, just make sure that you do.  There is nothing greater that you can give them in this life.  “From a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus, 2 Timothy 3:15.

***  I have two copies of Theo – Saving Faith to give away to my readers.  All you have to do is leave a comment and tell me who first taught you about God.  I will draw two numbers on Friday, September 16th and have the DVD’s shipped to them.  Blessings!

Disclaimer:  I received this DVD in exchange for an honest product review.   I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.

The Root of the Problem

 Have you ever let something go? You knew that it needed attention but due to lack of time and priorities it just got ignored. That’s what happened to the landscaping at our house. These past 5 weeks, since we’ve moved in, have been busy. And pulling weeds were at the bottom of the list of things to do. Frankly, even if it had taken precedence it has been just too hot outside to spend hours working in the yard.

But like everything else that gets ignored, eventually you have to deal with the problem. So yesterday morning Abigail and I decided to attack our overgrown garden. An hour into pulling weeds we were both covered in dirt. The looks of our garden was beginning to improve and opportunity sprung up for a spiritual lesson.

“Abigail” I said, “You have to pull the roots up with the weeds so that they will not grow back.”

I explained to my daughter that while it was easier to just pull the tops off the weeds, that if she did not dig down deep in a few days they would pop back up. I continued to explain that the same principle applied to our spiritual life.

“Take for example the problem of jealousy. A person can say in their heart that it is wrong to be jealous and that they will try to stop their behavior. However, unless the root of the problem is dealt with – SIN – jealousy will return in a few days.”

Like ugly weeds, a Christian will have to deal with many thorns during their life – anger, bitterness, selfishness, covetousness, deception – just to name a few. Our flesh desires to cover up the problem by removing the outward part that shows. After all, our prideful nature does not want others to see us as we really are. But hiden in our heart there is an underlying root at each problem that must be dealt with. And because this root is SIN only God can uproot it. Only God can cleanse us from these sins. Only God has the power to forgive and cast them as far as the East is from the West. Only God can give us the ability to overcome our sins and properly deal with them.

“For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness,” Romans 6:14-18.

I am thankful that my Lord is a better gardener than I am. If we allow Him, He will continually uproot the sins in our life that cause us to stumble. He will carefully plant into our hearts faith in that we can be rooted and grounded in love (Ephesians 3:17) and become a beautiful creation for His glory alone.

The Wrong Question

 Many times we go through life asking the wrong questions. I see this often in our culture. The liberals will get people to question whether a woman should have a right to choose an abortion (Pro-choice). That’s the wrong question. The correct question is whether our society should allow women to murder innocent babies (Pro-Death). People will ask if Christians should be allowed to pray in government ran schools. Again, that is the wrong question. The question is should we allow an ungodly government to train and educate our Christian children. When we begin to ask the right questions, all of a sudden we begin to get the right answers.

Have you ever heard anyone say, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” That is the wrong question. In Luke 18 a rich young ruler came to Jesus saying, “Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Do you remember Jesus’ response? “And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God,”(Luke 18:19). There is none good but God. So, when we ask, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” we are asking the wrong question. The correct question should be, “Why do good things happen at all?”

 Tuesday night our family attended a youth revival. The young man preaching is a friend of our family. He addressed the same thought of asking the wrong questions. The point he made was that many times Christians ask, “Is this a sin?” We will question…

Is it a sin to drink?

Is it a sin to watch this movie?

Is it a sin to say this?

Is it a sin to date this person?

Is it a sin to (fill in the blank)?

Again, this is the wrong question. Instead of asking if something is a sin what we should be asking is, “Is this holy?” You can ineffectively debate whether drinking is a sin but when you ask the correct question of “Is drinking holy?” you get a clearer answer. What about asking if this movie we are about to watch is holy? Is what I’m about to say holy? Is this relationship holy? Is what I am doing holy? And so on…

With the correct question, all of a sudden the perspective changes. It is easy to justify certain behavior when we approach it from a, “Is this really a sin?” attitude. However, if we approach our lifestyle, our conduct, our words, and our inner motives from the thought of, “Is this holy?” it becomes impossible to justify those questionable activities. Children of God are called to examine their life (2 Corinthians 13:5). We should ask the Lord to search our hearts (Psalm139:23). And we need to be seeking out wisdom by asking the right questions (James 1:5).

“Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy,” (1Peter 1:13-16).

Self-Esteem (Or is it Esteeming SELF)

The other day I was listening to the radio when the most beautiful rendition of Amazing Grace came on.  It was sung by a choir of children.  As their angelic voices rang, I paused from cleaning the kitchen.  I listened to them sing, “Amazing grace how sweet the sound, that saved a child like me…”  Being that I have heard this song sung my entire life, this stood out because the original version of the song says, “that saved a wretch like me.”  As I asked myself why they changed the words, I already knew the answer.  We cannot have children calling themselves wretches; it might hurt their self-esteem. 

In an effort to build up children, some people have stopped keeping score during sports activities.  The reasoning is that if one team loses they will develop poor self-esteem.  Giving every child a trophy at the end of a sport’s season is along the same line of thinking.  I have heard of teachers who do not give F’s anymore to students.  They instead give U’s for unsatisfactory or I’s for incomplete.  We don’t want a child to know they failed.  When we placate to an already self-centered nature that is ingrained in all children, we foster in them a deeper selfish attitude.

There is a lot of talk in even Christian circles about self-esteem.  For example, Christian’s are terrified to point out sin in a brother’s life.  Even though the Bible clearly says that we are to admonish one another.  The justification for this is that we might hurt their feelings.  We might make them feel bad.  We might crush their self image.  But consider for a moment exactly what we are saying when our only concern is “self-esteem”.  We are saying that we should esteem self.  We must build people up in that we don’t damage their ego.   However, when we build up ego, we essentially Edge God Out.  In all of our concern with self has anyone stopped to consider how God feels in it all?

Can I suggest that this is the problem with our society?  We are too concerned with “self”.  For the last few generations people have not been taught correctly from the Word of God about the condition they are in prior to God’s grace.  In an attempt to build up self we have become blind to the truths of Scripture about the state of mankind.  “Well, we’re all just sinners”, many will say placing themselves in the same category as the rest of the world.  But let me submit that it was not until I stopped looking at everyone else, focused upon my own life, and fully came to grasp with what a wretch I was, that I could I fully understand God’s amazing grace.  Until I saw myself as filthy and undone could I accept the righteousness of Christ.  Until I truly saw myself as lost and without hope could I become saved with complete assurance.  Until I could cry out like the publican, “God be merciful to me a (the only one) sinner” or until I could say like Paul that I am the chiefest of all sinners did I truly understand my position before God.  Until I repented and turned from my sins could I be made right.  Until I realized that I was sick in sin could I be healed.  “They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance,” Mark 2:17.

 My children are precious and as a parent I naturally want to build up their self-esteem.  But a building of self, while soothing to our sinful nature, is to their eternal detriment.  The best gift I can give them is to show them how they stand before a Holy and Just God.  It is when a child understands this and accepts God’s salvation then they have true worth, God’s grace is truly amazing, and their esteem is in Him alone!  “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man,” Psalm 118:8.