Archives

What does it mean to live like a Christian? Learn to tell the difference between what freedom is and what it is not…

By leaning upon God’s will, we are granted new and remarkable freedoms. The outside world sees us as chained. We go where they choose not, we see what they prefer to ignore, we dress in a manner they call severe. They hold up to us the so-called freedoms of this world and declare themselves happier for it. They live in blindness, both to the pains of others and the remorse and strife within their own souls.”

Quote by William Wilberforce, 1759-1833, A British politician and leader of the movement to abolish the slave trade

A venus flytrap (picture left)is like a spring-loaded trap that transforms into a ‘cage’ after responding to stimuli, such as when an unsuspecting insect contacts the surface.

Now you may be wondering what a carnivorous plant has to do with this post? Read on to discover the answer!

That fly was enticed by a sticky sweet juice emitted by the venus plant. This juice smells like a bouquet of fruit and plant flowers to the fly. Something quite familiar to the fly. Not realizing the danger it was in, it decided to check into what looked familiar to it. Thus it got mired down into the sticky substance and the teeth of the venus snapped shut and became a cage. Eventually the venus consumes the fly.

Christians who are not familiar with how the Bible defines truth are much like this fly. Their confusion about what is freedom and what is bondage leads to their entrapment.

A Christian whose search for freedom lies outside the boundaries of biblical truth, are venturing into a wilderness of deception. A wilderness where lies are disguised as truth and truth is disguised as lies. The side effects of living in this wilderness is blindness. A blindness that prevents them from seeing that the freedom and happiness they think they are experiencing is nothing more than license. And that happiness is nothing more than the thrill of getting their own way and getting pats on the back for it from others who wander about in the same wilderness.

But for a Christian, this fake freedom will eventually deteriorate. The Bible puts it rather succinctly.

 There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death. Proverbs 14:12 NIV

Christians who adopt the freedoms that run contrary to God’s word are entrapped just like the fly in a venus plant. Yet, unlike the fly there is a way to break free from such bondage before being consumed. By returning to God’s word, we will grow in wisdom and understanding as to the difference between true freedom and bondage. God’s light will illuminate the path of their escape. As the disciplining love of God turns them around and brings them to their senses, they will be restored to the fresh and cleansing winds of true freedom.

What does it mean To Live as a Christian? Be a map reader!

If we are traveling to an unfamiliar area, a GPS, or a map are excellent sources to turn to. Just think of the wrong turns that would be made, if we had little or no understanding of the direction we should take? Imagine the pitfalls we would avoid if we just read the map?

I think therein lies the problem for many Christians today.

For example, perhaps we attend church regularly, or even irregularly. But have we asked ourselves why we go to church? Is it because in our circles it’s the expected thing to do? Is it no more than a social event for us? I recall a question posed to me years ago that clarifies this question. “Would you go to church if no one saw you were there?” That’s a question that needs to be pondered, right?

Believe me, the enemy has no problem with our attending church! He can deceive us just as easily while we are sitting in a pew. How, we might ask? It’s quite simple actually. By averting our attention away from the counsel of God as to why we need to go to church.

Here’s what the Bible says about attending church,

25 Let us not neglect our church meetings, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near. Hebrews 10:25, TLB

Now that’s a motivation that will send us to church whether anybody sees or knows we are attending or not!

What’s the urgency here?

Satan, KNOWS that within the pages of our Bible, we possess all the guidance we need to live the Christian life successfully. He also KNOWS that if we delve into the Bible too much, we will discover not only who God is, we will also discover who Satan is. Satan’s schemes and game plans for our destruction will be exposed. Do we ever stop to think that a lack of interest in reading our Bible is a manipulative tactic of our enemy?

The Bible is our true North for direction. Depending on anything else for spiritual direction, to the exclusion of digging into God’s word and spending time with Him in prayer, will only lead us to a dead end, literally!

A Christian unfamiliar with the life map of God’s word, can easily lose their way. Without God’s unchangeable Truths laid out for us in Scripture, we have no true guidance.

Feel like you are loosing your way? I suggest reading the Map! There’s no other way, Christians!

Light and light substitutes

Our Past

Christians are struggling here in the United States. We knowingly choose lifestyles that run contrary to the Light of God’s word. We knowingly make choices the innocent are forced to pay for. As Christians, we possess the antidote for what ails our world. Yet, we suffer the same problems and grasp at the same solutions. So what happened?

We started out on a grand journey. Following the Light and listening to the Voice. These two forces were all we needed to live life successfully. However, after we had traveled on our grand journey for awhile, distractions invaded our peace. Without our noticing, the Light grew dim and the Voice faded.

Our Present Consequences

As the Light fades, our hearing is negatively affected. So much so, that we begin having trouble understanding who and where we are and how to move around. We know we need more light, but instead of seeking the original light, we chase after substitutes.

These are false lights. They seem like they will work. So we give them a try. But eventually they fade. These false lights lead us into all sorts of confusion. We aren’t able to see things as they really are. Things like love, hope, joy, wisdom slip out of our reach. Things like apathy, confusion, hopelessness, blindness, and doubt slowly replace them.

Eventually, we grow accustomed to the false light. Consequently, we loose sight of the true Light.

But deep within we can still hear the faint Voice calling to us from the original Light. We remember how strong that Voice use to be. In our despair, we yearn to hear that voice once more.

We desire to call out to the Voice within that Light. But the misguided quest for false light interferes with our reception. Nevertheless, the Light is still there. Now and then we are confident we hear that familiar Voice calling us back to the Light.

Finally, we grasp the key. If we desire more Light, then we must focus on the Voice. Consistent and deliberate focusing produces more Light and the Voice increases in volume.

What Could be Our Future!

Finally, our bondage designed by the false light and all that is ugly in our lives is exposed! As the Light sweeps away the darkness, we see stretching out before us, rich colors of hope, joy, love, and wisdom. In the real Light, we reconnect to the Voice.

Have we lost our way? Are the problems of life draining us? Perhaps we are following the wrong light and listening to the wrong voice.

God’s Way vs Man’s Way

In light of the trauma cast throughout our country in recent days, we grasp at words wherever we can find them to help us find sanity in this insane crises. And it seems to me it comes down to finding Truth. For without Truth, we will search in vain for words to bring peace in the midst of our chaos.

But how can our country expect to find Truth, when we reject the one true source of Truth? Nevertheless, we continue plunging forward under the false impression that we are doing so in the name of personal freedom. We have thrown off the restraints that have restricted what we became convinced would make us happy.

Here is a brief sampling of the restraints we have discarded:

Wisdom to discern what is good and what is not.

“Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.” Proverbs 28:26 ESV

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!”Psalm 111:10 ESV

Peace in the midst of life’s storms.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

Soundness of mind/freedom from fear.

I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Psalm 34:4

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7 ESV

So, when we throw off the ability to recognize what is good and what is not, where does that lead?

So, when we reject God’s peace, what’s the outcome when the storms of life face plant us to the ground?

So, when we cast off God’s offer of soundness of mind and to be free of fear, how will we know what to do when we are threatened?

With or Without?

Without the Holy Spirit we don’t have a check on our attitudes, actions, choices. What influences our lives is determined by the predominate philosophy of our culture, and that is always changing. Without the Holy Spirit we won’t be able to understand and/or apply the truths of Scripture. We won’t even be interested in God and His Word. Therefore, we will be ignorant of the manipulation and deception of the enemy. Finally, the main thing we will be without is the promise of Heaven.

Psalm 32:8, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go. I will counsel you with my eye upon you.”

With the Holy Spirit we have a check on our attitudes, actions, and choices. What will influence our lives is determined by the never changing truths of God’s word, the Bible. We will have a desire to dig into God’s word so we will grow spiritually strong and be equipped to handle the trials of life. We will learn from God’s word about the enemy and how to resist his manipulation and deception. Finally, with the Holy Spirit we will be assured of the promise of Heaven. 

Moving forward though trials persist

   

IMG_4555

Trials and Temptations

     2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

    Once we grasp the truth that God has a plan for our lives, (and that hopefully happens early on) we begin to move forward in that plan. As we exercise our faith muscles, our faith increases in strength. The more mature our faith grows, the wiser we become.  The expectation is that we would move forward consistently as our faith develops. 

     Our new nature, given to us at our spiritual birth, desires to please God. Yet, we will always struggle with our old nature always wanting its way.  Trials come and trials go, but with every one our character is improved upon. 

     But what about those trials that refuse to ‘go away’? They perhaps contain the strongest of life lessons.  You know, those every day trials that prevent us from living life victoriously. 

     Trials of this nature usually involve learning how to get along with others.  Nothing we say or do brings improvement in them or the relationship. Instead of growing wiser and resolving the situation, despair sets in. Satan manipulates and deceives our flesh, our old nature. Lying to us about what is wrong and setting our focus on ourselves. 

     We are primed to become distracted by human reasoning and false assumptions. Without realizing it, we have become influenced by Satan to do his will.   We get mired down in these kinds of trials with every lie cast upon us by the enemy. We take on the attitude that nothing is going to change and spiritual growth and/or pleasing God fades into the mist. Blindness rules on both sides of the equation.

     Perhaps accepting things the way they are in these situations may be the best way to move forward through them. By moving on we leave it up to God to make changes in His timing and will. Forgiving and accepting permits us to throw off the shackles of judgement and condemnation. The liberty to breathe free is ours to claim by the power of God’s word. This sort of example, is a lifeline for those  searching for comfort in their own stubborn trials .

     So, when trials persist without bringing the desired solution, there is still a way to move forward. Moving forward is possible but it takes a mindset that requires a high level of trust in God. A trust that even though the desired solution has not been realized, our confidence that God is in control and is working out His plan remains steadfast.

 Remember: God’s ways are not our ways, His thoughts are higher than ours.

He ALWAYS knows what is best.

Teens and Fiery Darts

FullSizeRender-5

     Recently, I was invited to speak to a group of teenage girls on the subject of Fiery Darts. A subject we ALL are affected by, no matter our age. I was thrilled to be able to offer these precious young ladies advice that would prepare them to follow the path God has chosen for them. 

     They learned that every attitude or behavior (acceptable or unacceptable) begins with a thought. Unacceptable thoughts can originate from their own 1)sinful nature, 2)the World, and 3)Satan.  Satan uses all three to deceive and manipulate the formation of our thoughts to suit his purpose in ruining our witness.

     We compared God’s plan (Jeremiah 29:11), Satan’s plan to steal, kill, and destroy (fr John 10:10a) , and God’s plan to equip them to defeat the enemy (Ephesians 6:16) From 1 Peter 5:8 they were warned to take seriously the enemy’s attacks.

img_6468.jpeg

     They were informed that without God’s filter of what is true;  lyrics, books, movies, websites, and even social media that is contrary to God’s truths, will begin to shape how they view sin. 

     It was impressed upon them that if they ignore God by spending little time with Him in prayer and His word, then the lies of fiery darts will infiltrate their minds and will begin to rule their thinking.  Eventually, they will see wrong as right and right as wrong.  

Isaiah 5:20 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness…

 

fullsizeoutput_4e2d

They were reminded that

God has plans to prosper you, not to harm you, to give you a future and a hope.     

         Satan’s plans are to destroy you and your future. He will lead you to your destruction one fiery dart at a time

.img_6470.jpeg

         The following steps were given to counter Satan’s attacks

  1. Recognize the fiery darts of the enemy (absorb God’s word where you will become wise in recognizing the difference between thoughts that come from God and thoughts that do not) 

  2. Reject such thoughts immediately. (the longer you think about them the more their lies will take root)

  3. Replace fiery darts with God’s Truth Thoughts. (every time that thought enters your mind, quote a God Truth. 

By applying these lessons regarding fiery darts, the benefits of the following verse will be theirs to claim.

Do not be conformed to this world, but continuously be transformed by the renewing of your minds (as you spend time with God in prayer and His word) so that you may be able to determine what God’s will is—what is proper, pleasing, and perfect.  (and not be so easily manipulated and deceived by the enemy)  Romans 12:2 ISV

 

 

Avoiding Regrets

IMG_9172

     My greatest regret in life is not spending time with God daily in prayer and reading my Bible. I think about the unnecessary trauma I have gone through over the years simply because I  wasn’t listening to God (you know, spending time with Him by reading and meditating on His word)!  

     Now that I am retired and spending that time daily with God, I am realizing the HUGE EFFECT it is making in my thoughts, attitudes, and actions. I think about all those years I failed in allowing God to show me the path I should have taken. I could have avoided so much pain, so many mistakes, pitfalls, detours, etc., if I had been familiarizing myself daily with what God had to say about what I was going through. 

     I could have you know. But I allowed myself to be manipulated and deceived into allowing busyness to keep me out of God’s word. Sure my life was busy when I was raising four children, working full time, and being deeply involved with my church. But I paid the price for putting all of that before my personal time with God. Not only did I pay the price but those I loved paid the price as well.

Remember:

The more we pray and the more we study, the more of Christ is revealed to us. Our faith is strengthened and our access to the power of God is increased. Our ability to recognize fiery darts becomes keener, and we do not succumb to their influences so readily. We will recognize the battle going on between our flesh and our spirit and we will choose to cooperate with God’s plan instead. p 80 FD’s 3rd ed 

     So please, please heed my warning. You are not doomed to repeating my mistake. Know that the enemy is whispering the same lies into your thoughts as he did to mine. Be aware only the power of God’s word can successfully expose Satan’s lies.

     So go get your Bible. Open it up and start reading it everyday. (I recommend a read your Bible through in a year plan.) I can’t tell you how many times God will highlight a verse for me in my daily readings that speaks directly to something I’m dealing with. I add that verse to my prayer notebook (oh yeah, keeping up with verses like that helps keep them in your focus).

Start NOW letting God’s Truth’s rule your thinking and not Satan’s lies.

You will never regret it!

 

Who do we believe?

autumn trees

Why do we so easily believe the lies of fiery darts? But struggle to believe Truths from God’s Word?

   If the darkness of the world, Satan, and our flesh influences our thinking more than God’s Word, then our thoughts, attitudes, and actions will reflect that darkness.  Thus our focus will be on the darkness, blinding us to the light of God’s truth that lies beyond it. 

  Yet, if we desire to believe God over the lies of the enemy, we must do the following:  

We must seek God.

When God speaks we need to listen.

When God speaks we need to believe.

When God speaks we need to act on His words.

Take to heart the following:

…when you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you. Is 43:2 ESV

The LORD is the One who goes before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you. Do not be afraid or discourages. Deut. 31:8

Don’t be afraid anymore, only believe. Mark 5:36 NASV

Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16

   Yet sometimes the problems we face threaten to overwhelm us. We believe God,. We believe His Word. We go to it daily.  We talk to God about it a lot, but the hoped for solution evades us! What do we do in situations like that?

We wait!

   As we wait, we continue to pray and search the Scriptures. We focus on verses like the ones above. We become alert to the encouragement God sends us as we go about our day. Through those encouragements and God’s word, we grow in our faith and perspective of the problem.

   We learn to recognize the fiery darts and how to reject them. We learn to replace them with the Truth thoughts from Scripture that God directs us to.

   We may not feel so good about the way things are going, but we must remember that if God says He will never leave us, that He will not fail us, then in spite of how things look, we must take Him at His word. 

Our well being depends on who we believe!

 

Which Way Will We Choose?

my-way-gods-way

For the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, has said:” You will be delivered by returning and resting; your strength will lie in quiet confidence. But you are not willing.” Isaiah 30:15 HCSB

Choosing Our Way

   The last sentence of this verse is shocking! We all desire to be delivered from our trials. Quiet, confident strength sounds heavenly, doesn’t it! But like the people of Judah, we are often unwilling to listen to God’s way. 

   The temptation to seek our own resolutions is strong. Our flesh is naturally bent to go its own way. Perhaps it’s a control issue. 

  But if we listen to the fiery darts, and reject God’s way, who is doing the controlling? The truth is our choices have led to our bondage.  In actuality, we have allowed ourselves to be manipulated. And we are only fooling ourselves to think we are in control. 

   We seek deliverance, rest, and strength. But the whispering voice of the enemy purposes to convince us to reject God, His Word, His Way. Knowing deliverance, rest, and strength will continue to allude us!

  Our enemy’s fiery darts are powerful. We should never underestimate that. What we all desire can never, and I repeat never, be obtained by listening to Satan’s lies. No matter how cleverly they may be concealed. 

Choosing God’s Way

 

Therefore the LORD is waiting to show you mercy, and is rising up to show you compassion, for the LORD is a just God. All who wait patiently for Him are happy. Isaiah 30:18 HCSB

   Sadly, many of us will have to come to the end of our rope before we are willing to choose God’s way. And when that point in time happens and our sight is restored, we will see God standing there, waiting!

And what is He waiting to show us? Mercy and compassion. 

  Please don’t be fooled into thinking you don’t need God when making choices in this life. We don’t have to come to the end of our rope before we choose God’s ways. We only have to choose to believe His Word.