Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Stubborn Child!

So, when you first read the title of this post, to which child did you think I was referring? Well, no matter which child you picked, you'd be wrong. The stubborn child is none other than me. Yes, me.

Two nights ago, something got said and, although it held some truth - a truth I've known and wanted to work on for a while, too - it still hurt. I felt misunderstood and unappreciated. That night, I tried to get control of my thoughts and turn to God with them. I prayed and asked Him to help me find a solution, but at the time, my mind seemed to be working overtime on the hurt side, feeling more and more hurt and unappreciated.

I decided to take an "I'll show them" kind of approach - which never works! It always ends up making it harder on myself than anyone else, and often they don't even notice! I was determined to do whatever I could to show my significance, to be appreciated, to not fit the mold into which I felt pressed. So, you know what happened?

It was an extremely rough day yesterday. My mind was all mixed up with sour thoughts and feelings. It affected the way I spoke to people. It affected the way I cared for myself (avoiding meals, work too hard without a break, take unnecessary and unsafe risks, etc.). My children noticed and responded differently to me, even though I think I managed to keep things nice enough and they still had a really good day. (They had baby praying mantises hatch that they got to watch, got school done quickly, and played in water outside).

So, back to me being the stubborn child. I've been in that place before, when my mind is attacked with lies, and the longer I allow them to be there, the larger and more destructive they become. I know how to combat them, but I rebelled. I refused. I stewed in my anger, hurt, and frustration. My prayers were affected. My praise was affected. My hearing my Father was affected. I actively refused to go when He called. Stubborn child!

Last night, when my mind had finally calmed and settled, I was able to look back and think about it more. Again, I could pinpoint and tell you times when God had actively sought me throughout the day, to instill His truth in my mind and redeem my thoughts, and I had turned away. It reminded me of a time two weeks ago when I saw a boy get angry. When a mother figure/teacher moved toward him to talk to him about it and draw him back into a right relationship with others, he said, "Leave me alone!" and did his best to move away. At times, he stomped his foot and balled his fist. His voice was tight and forceful. He actively refused the help. Last night it hit me that I was the stubborn child, resisting the help of my heavenly Father.

I've been in a Bible study about the armor of God, described in Ephesians 6. This week, we were studying the helmet of salvation, and how it is there to protect our minds. Not only can our salvation thwart attacks on our mind, but it can also work to redeem the negative thoughts and habits, making them new and in alignment with God. I knew that helmet was there for me to pick up and put on (which, by the way, is important about the helmet - you have to actively pick it up and put it on!), but I wouldn't.

I am in a better place now. I began to soften and accept God's help. I confessed my wrongdoings to the Lord last night. I apologized for turning away from Him and refusing Him. I asked for forgiveness. I know who I am in Christ. I am hopeful that I will be quicker to grab onto truth next time and refuse to allow the lies to take ahold like they did this time. Satan got a temporary foothold yesterday, but he has been kicked out and, with the Spirit's help, I will win the next battle!

I started writing down some verses to post to help me with the battle. Here are the ones I've found so far. As I wrote them for myself, I added my name or "I" as appropriate, to make it more personal for me.

[I] demolish arguments and every pretense that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and [I] take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.     2 Corinthians 10:5

[I will] not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but [will] be transformed by the renewing of [my] mind. Then [I] will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will.     Romans 12:2

Finally, [Christa], whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - thing about such things.     Philippians 4:8

[Christa], be made new in the attitude of your mind; and put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore [I] must put off falsehood and speak truthfully..."In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.     Ephesians 4:23-27

I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him."     Lamentations 3:19-24

The LORD is good to [me when my] hope is in him, to [me when I seek] him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.     Lamentations 3:25-26     (Oh, how I need to quiet my mind so I can hear him and receive my sanctifying salvation and blessing!)


If you know other helpful verses, please share! I'd love to have those as part of my battle plan.

 When Satan attacks your mind with lies, fight back immediately! Don't allow him to get a foothold in your life. Hold to truth and reject the lies. Don't be a stubborn child; run to the Father.


Sunday, October 18, 2015

God Answers

I had an experience today that I want to share with you. I know there are those who don't believe that God can talk to you, or maybe just that you haven't heard Him yourself. I want you to know that God can talk to you through many different ways, and you can hear Him - if you are listening.

I'm remembering something that our pastor said last Sunday. He said, "As Christians, we're called to live out a private practice [our faith] publicly in front of the world." I believe God has laid it on my heart this afternoon to share this with you - a glimpse into my private faith given publicly here for others in the world.

So, a little background...our three-year-old nephew, Knox, got really sick last week. They found that he had a brain tumor. The doctors were able to successfully operate on him and remove the tumor, but he is still facing some difficulties as he recovers. All this and he is far away from family right now. They haven't been able to return since everything happened and cannot safely travel for a while now.

This afternoon, we learned that he had some seizures and a stroke the night before last.

That news hit hard.

A verse that I read yesterday came to me at that moment, though: The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. (James 5:16b).

Later this evening, as I was driving somewhere, alone, God and I had a talk. I cried and told Him how I felt about the situation, how I hurt for Knox, Kristen, Chad, Carol and Joy (grandmothers) and so many others. I prayed for healing, for no lasting neurological damage or other complications, for Kristen and Chad to turn to God and not away from Him and more. I told Him I trusted Him and knew that He would work through this situation, even if we didn't understand what He was doing. I prayed for Him to receive the glory no matter the outcome. I prayed for Him to tell me something.

Before I go on, I should tell you briefly that God sometimes uses the songs on the radio to speak to me. As I was praying (well, first, He made sure that a carpool opportunity wouldn't work out so that I would be completely open to hearing from Him), a song by Third Day came on the radio called I Need a Miracle. Here's the chorus:

Well no matter who you are
And no matter what you've done
There will come a time
When you can't make it on your own
And in your hour of desperation
Know you're not the only one
Prayin' "Lord above, I need a miracle."

It sounded somewhat like my prayer. Of course I believe He has and is working miracles already in this, and I know there are more to come. I trust in Him for that. I also thought of Chad and Kristen, of how they must be feeling like this and praying for that miracle, too. I could hear this being something Kristen would be praying.

The next song on the radio was Just Be Held by Casting Crowns. I think God was saying it somewhat to me, but then again, I felt as if it was something Kristen and Chad need to hear God saying to them, too. The lyrics of the whole song are so fitting that I'm just going to include a link to them, but the simple message is "stop holding on and just be held." They are trying so hard to be strong through all this, but it is okay to be broken and realize that this is beyond them. I am so thankful, as I know they are as well, for all the prayer warriors that have come together to pray for Knox and their family. Here are the lyrics: http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/castingcrowns/justbeheld.html.

As I heard these songs, I was in tears, from the pain in my heart for my family and from praise to the One who answered my cries, reassuring me that He does hear me, He is listening, and He's got this one under control.


God does love you and wants you to come to Him. He sent His son Jesus to make it possible for you - for all who believe that Jesus came to pay the death sentence for your sins that keep you separate from God. He wants to hear from you and He wants to speak to you. Will you open your heart to Him? Be willing to be broken before Him. Admit that you cannot do this life on your own and you no longer want to. Ask Him to send the Holy Spirit to be your guide, your peace, your joy. Listen for His quiet whisperings to your soul. You'll know it's Him.

I want to give a praise shout for First Baptist Church of Marble Falls (TX), who had a special prayer during the services for Knox and his family this morning, and are sending the children's pastor and Knox's granny by plane to go see him tomorrow, and then back home. What an amazing gift!

Thank you to everyone praying for Knox.


Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. - James 5:16

For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them. - Matthew 18:20


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Am I Missing Out? Are You?

Do you ever get the feeling that you are missing out on something? I know I do!

For example, my body doesn't handle the food I put in it the way it used to. There are stories that my family will tell (and some friends, too, I suppose) of how I ate a baker's dozen doughnuts by myself one morning when I was a teenager, or how I kept eating cobbler after cobbler at the Salt Lick bbq restaurant around the time I got married in my mid-20s, and other such stories. But I can't eat like that anymore. Not if I want to take care of myself and have energy, concentration, and motivation.

So, I try to cut back on sweets - candies, cookies, cakes, ice cream, and the like. I cut back on carbohydrates - bread, tortillas, cookies, cakes... I cut back on comfort foods that are delicious but rich and heavy, and on large portion sizes. I haven't been a soda drinker for 16 1/2 years.

To go off-course slightly for a moment, have you thought about some of the foods eaten in Biblical times? When the Israelites were in the desert, God fed them with meat and bread (quail and manna). John the Baptist ate locusts and honey. When Jesus fed multitudes of people, he fed them fish and bread. Now, I'm all about eating fruits and vegetables, but do you see any of those listed above? Well, we can't forget about Adam and Eve in the garden, because I feel fairly confident that they ate fruits and vegetables. Okay, time to get back on track again.

I have to admit that I don't keep up with eating better for me all the time. I love sweets and have to really pull together a lot of will-power to avoid them, and eating is such a joy...sometimes I feel like I am missing out. I feel deprived, like other people are getting something that I am not getting.

I started thinking about another area in which some people feel like they are missing out on things. If someone is considering living as a Christian, they might feel like they will be missing out on all the "fun" that non-believers are having - the parties, and just getting to say and do whatever they want without worrying about what other people and God might think about it. So, I thought about what I'm missing out on by my choice to live as a follower of Christ.

1. Wild Parties - I miss out on getting drunk or drugged and some of the effects of these - hangovers, acting foolishly, making foolish mistakes, harmful addictions.

2. Getting to say whatever I want - I miss out on yelling/shouting when mad, using foul language, gossiping, and talking unkindly or negatively.

3. Getting to watch, listen to, or read whatever media I want - I miss out on filling my mind and heart with crude, violent, or horror images and thoughts. I miss out on internalized messages that can be harmful to others and myself.

4. Getting to make choices based only on what I want - I miss out on decisions that are hurtful to others and myself in the short-term and long-term.

Wow, I don't think I'm sad about what I'm missing! In fact, I gain so much more by avoiding these things. I can maintain my dignity and reputation by living purely and authentically in all situations. I can build up people and relationships with kind, considerate, beneficial, controlled speech. I can protect my mind from the lies of Satan and enemies of God, and maintain focus on God's plan and purposes. I can hear His voice and see where He is working more clearly. I can see and hear how God works in my life and others when I consider every action and decision carefully, allowing God to lead me.

So, just a few more notes and verses to share with you:

1. If you never had it, you won't miss it. That's not to say that if you know about it and see other people with it/doing it that you won't wistfully want it, but you won't miss it. I think about the people who work on cacao farms and have never tasted chocolate. Oh boy, they are missing out on an addiction, aren't they? I think of friends with children who have food allergies. They don't know what they are missing - and that's okay. They are happy with what they have. I think of poor people in other countries, who have never known anything other than scraps of food for their one meal of the day, one room in a small tent for their entire family, no air conditioner or heater, no nice cushy beds, no kitchens full of pots and pans, no leftovers in the fridge (no fridge), etc. Imagine their shock if they saw our abundance. (By the way, does that make your heart hurt like mine? How spoiled we are!)
2. Withdrawal is not easy. If you see that you need to make changes, it's not easy. Any former addict will tell you that - whether it be drugs, alcohol, caffiene, sugar, or any one of the many other forms of addiction. Withdrawal from harmful substances and situations, however, is well worth it! Don't give up just because something is hard. Hard doesn't make it wrong.
3. Once it is removed, you might find you have a distaste for it. I have recently heard from a couple individuals how they used to love sodas, but once they stopped drinking them for a while, if they decided to have one again, they couldn't stand it. They either didn't like the taste anymore, or they would physically become ill. I've heard similar things from friends who are now gluten-free. The cost of having something with a little gluten is not worth the consequences that come with it, so they no longer want those things.
4. Replace it with something better. I have heard that when you remove something, you need to be intentional about replacing it with an acceptable alternative. Otherwise, you face the possibility of falling into another bad pattern, another accidental addiction that might be even harder to break. So, when you remove wild and crazy parties, replace it with meaningful gatherings of friends and family, sharing healthy experiences and great stories. Replace gossip and harmful talk with uplifting and beneficial speech. Use positive words instead of negative words. Go ahead and plan some out. It'll help you be more successful. When you get rid of harmful media, replace it with something more in line with what you want filling your head and heart. Before you make a decision, build in some time to pray, seek guidance if needed, and sincerely consider your choices and the effects it could have on others and yourself.
5. Get accountability. Find a trusted person who can support you, who will give you gentle yet firm nudges in the right direction. It is always easier when you are not trying to do it on your own.
6. Pray. Call on the strength and power of One who has infinitely more than you alone, or any group of humans combined. Ask Him to fill you with wisdom and strength, to give you the motivation to persevere, to walk with you all the way.


Verses:
2 Cor. 5:17 - Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: the old has gone, the new has come! 
Eph. 4:29 - Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 
Phil. 4:8 - Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things. 
Luke 14:28, 31 - Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?...Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 
Luke 6:45 - The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heard, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.
1 Cor. 15:33 - Do not be misled: "Bad company corrupts good character."
Ecc. 4:9-12 - Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work; If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
Phil. 4:6 - Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
1 Thess. 5:16-18 - Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thess. 5:21-22 - Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.
Romans 6:21 - What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death!
Romans 8:37 - No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
Romans 12:2 - Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:9 - Love must be sincere. hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
Romans 12:21 - Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
1 Cor 10:13 - No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. 
1 Cor. 10:23-24, 31 - "Everything is permissible" - but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible" - but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others...So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
1 Cor. 11:31 - But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment.
James 4:4 - You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.
Deut. 7:26 - Do not bring a detestable thing into your house or you, like it, will be set apart for destruction. Utterly abhor and detest it, for it is set apart for destruction.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Answered Prayer!

The Lord is so good!

I am praying about a certain situation and wanted to trust God to reveal something to me through Bible or song today. I have to admit my doubts that He would use the specific part of the Bible that I'm currently in.

In full disclosure, I haven't even gotten to that part of my Bible yet this morning (although I probably will by the end of this post), but He has chosen to draw me near and answer me through the Bible reading with my children's devotion this morning and a friend's post on Facebook.

He has not told me the solution to the issue I'm praying about, but the messages I clearly heard this morning are:

* Love must be sincere. 
* Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
* Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.
* Honor one another above yourselves.
* Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
* Be joyful in hope
* Be patient in affliction
* Be faithful in prayer
* Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
* Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
* Live in harmony with one another.
* Do not be proud...Do not be conceited.
* Do not repay anyone evil for evil.
* Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.
* If it is possible, as far as it depends on me, live at peace with everyone.
* Do not take revenge...but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord.
*  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:9-21

* You are my servant. I have chosen you and have not rejected you.
* So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
* I will strengthen you and help you;
* I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
* All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced
* those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish.
* I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.

Isaiah 41:9-13


And finally, as I hoped to do, I opened my Bible up to Luke 12, where I had last stopped reading. I never should have doubted God! Here is what He had for me today:

* Be on your guard against...hypocrisy.
* There is nothing concealed taht will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.
* What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.
* do not be afraid
* Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
* do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.

So, again, I did not receive a clear solution or answer to the issue in my prayers, but He has called me to trust Him and not be afraid. He has told me some about the situation - that all will be made clear - and how I should conduct myself.

Oh God, that I may keep all this in mind and please you with my actions today! Thank you so much for your faithfulness, even when I was in doubt! I should have known better. I do know better! To you be all the glory in this issue. May You shine through it.

Thank you for answered prayers.

Update:
Wouldn't you know, after I first posted this, God provided another verse through another friend's post? Here it is:

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ - to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:9-11)

Oh Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder...how great Thou art!

Update:
And even more updates today! The song It is Well with My Soul came into my head this morning and I sang the chorus out loud as the kids and I were going somewhere in the truck. My son has been singing the chorus randomly throughout the rest of the day. Then, the friend who posted Philippians 1:9-10 earlier also posted another verse and tagged me on it. The verse is Isaiah 26:3 - You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. 

So, just now, Son was singing the chorus of It is Well with My Soul. I started singing along with him. Then, I found it in a hymnal and played it on the piano. Does anyone want to guess what was on the page right next to it? It was none other than Thou Wilt Keep Him in Perfect Peace based on the verse of Isaiah 26:3!

 I tell you, God can speak to us through many outlets. We just have to be ready and listening.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Wisdom of Children: Earthquakes and Noah

Matthew 18:1-3  At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Ah, the wisdom of a child who is open to faith! It is pure and simple, untainted by the worries of adults, doesn't feel the need to conform, and is accompanied by a desire to learn more - because they know there is more to learn. I love opportunities to hear what my children are discovering! Last week, these two gold pieces came from my daughter.

1. Earthquakes. The topic of earthquakes came up. Daughter said that earthquakes are not just earthly, that everyone has earthquakes - personal ones. Well, that intrigued me and I had to ask her to tell me more. She said, "We are all under the burden of sin and our lives are shaken because of it and the consequences that we have." Wow!

The only thing I added was a different perspective: Our lives are under a burden of sin, and sometimes we don't even realize it until God shakes our lives up with a personal earthquake. It is then that we wake up to the reality and are ready to make changes. Just like with earthly earthquakes. Sometimes we don't even think about places such as Nepal, until there is an earthquake. Then Nepal is on everyone's mind and there is a great outpouring of goodwill towards the people of the area.

2. Noah again! Three times this week, the story of Noah was discussed for my daughter. She talked about it at church, in an evening Bible story, and in a morning devotional. I asked her why she thought God had brought it up three times for her and what He might want her to get from it. She answered that God wants us to be like Noah. When I prompted for how He wants us to be like Noah, she said, "Even when other people aren't doing the right thing, we should."

Friday, May 29, 2015

Spoiled Rich

So, as my son was trying to pick which cup he wanted to use for dinner tonight, I have to admit I was a slightly perturbed with how long it took - because I realized how many choices were available to him.

It hit me how this is not a problem that everyone in the world has. Some families have one cup per person. Some families have one cup per family. Some families may not even have that.

All the things we think are so important to our lives - filling our cabinets and pantries, our bookshelves and movie collections, our schedules and contact lists.

We are spoiled rich. Spoiled. Rich. And we don't even realize it a majority of the time.

Before the tornado threats on Monday, I was sitting and planning some coursework for the Fall. I thought about the possibility of a tornado coming while we were sheltering and taking all our books, papers, etc. What if we lost our computer, important documents, pictures, things that hold memories? It would be difficult and maybe even impossible to recover everything. It would hurt to lose things, but we'd be okay. People do it all the time. So many people lost so much just this last week with floods and tornadoes. They are having to start over.

Here are a couple videos that I've seen this week that remind me of the extreme poverty of many people in the world - such that we can't even comprehend. So many times I feel poor, but I am stinking filthy rich compared to so many in the world. May I never forget that - and more, may I always find ways to share what I have with others.


 http://www.onenewsnow.com/ap/world/indians-crowd-rivers-shady-trees-as-heat-toll-passes-1400#.VWfQ8Ebwu1g

https://youtu.be/zEN4hcZutO0 (Cocoa Farmers Get First Taste of Chocolate)


James 1:27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Isaiah 1:17 Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.

Acts 2:44-45 All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.

Deuteronomy 15:11 There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.

Proverbs 14:31 He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.

2 Corinthians 8:13-15 Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality, as it is written: "He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little."

Matthew 25:37-40 "Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of min, you did for me.'"

Monday, May 25, 2015

Speak Up or Keep Quiet

Speak up and stand out, or keep quiet?

This is a question that has been on my mind and heart often over the last year (which is actually how long it has taken me to finish writing this post). There is a lot going on that is anti-Christian these days. Values and beliefs that we hold are labeled archaic, ignorant, and intolerant. It is hard to consider speaking up about anything because if we do, we risk attacks against not only our beliefs and values, but also our own selves and character, even if the person knows us only by one comment we make - not by name, face, location, or anything else. With that said, I know it can be said that it goes the other way too, as far as the attacks on beliefs, values, character, etc. - that there are people who profess to be Christians who also initiate this kind of attack. This might be against someone outside the Christian faith as well as against others within the faith.

Anyhow, back to the original question. The world is evolving. There are many people who think this is inevitably good and any archaic beliefs held will get in the way of this evolution. It makes me think of a passage from the Bible that we read yesterday morning at church. Acts 17:21 says (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.) Many people seem concerned about the newest and latest ideas, research, and thoughts about different topics. They are ready to throw off the old and try something new. There is no conviction about anything anymore, unless it is the newest and latest thing, whatever the "experts" are saying.

But even as the world changes, not everything should change. God doesn't change (see Psalm 55:19 and James 1:17). His character, His promises, His laws and statutes - they remain the same. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). In Ecclesiastes 1:9-10, Solomon tells us that there is nothing new - everything that happens has happened before. I can see it, can you? If you look at ancient civilizations such as Sodom and Gomorrah, Ninevah, and Babylon, they got into similar sin situations as we see in modern culture.

Here are some of my thoughts about this question, as it relates to my own experiences. I hope that they can be applied for you as well.

1. It should not surprise people that I'm a Christian. My words and actions should reflect my identity as a child of God, brethren with his son, Jesus. I should be set apart and different in such a way that people know that I live for Christ. As such, I am very cautious about the words that leave my mouth and the tone of voice I use. Do I mess up and fail at times? Oh my, yes, I do, especially with tone of voice. But I apologize and ask for forgiveness, acknowledge why I shouldn't speak that way, and strive to do better. Same concept with actions. I actively choose not to seek after selfish goals, choosing instead to consider others and how my actions could affect them and not just myself. I am intentional about the music, movies, and t.v. shows I allow to enter my eyes, ears and mind because I don't want certain things on auto-replay in me. I want what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy to occupy my mind (Philippians 4:8).

2. Don't deny Christ. Sin is sin and should be called what it is - sin. Sometimes we re-word it and try to find "good points" to it to make it sound better or justify it. Nothing said or done will change the fact that it is sin. Nothing our government or society says or does will change it in God's eyes. It is still wrong and it will still reap punishment some day, whether that be acknowledged in this life or at the time of judgment. I admit that this can be a hard one for me because I don't like conflict. I don't want to "stir the waters." I don't want to seem disagreeable or judgmental, but I pray that I will have more confidence to stand for the truth, no matter what worldly comforts it may cost. There are Christians losing their jobs, reputations, and more because they are standing for Christ. Don't deny the truth. If we deny Christ, he will deny us in front of his Father. (Matthew 10:32-33 also typed below).

3. Don't sit on the fence. Unlike the way many view circumstances here, there is no gray area when it comes to obeying God. Not that I believe there should be for obedience with people either, but it seems we have worked gray into our decisions. With God, it's either yes or no, in or out, with Him or without Him. In Revelation 3:16 Jesus says "So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth." I don't want to be "spit out" or "vomited" (other versions) by Jesus, removed forever from His presence! Do you? In Luke 11:23, Jesus says, "Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters." Let me say it again - there is no gray. It is either one way or the other. Both can't be right and you must choose.

4. Pray! It is necessary to pray about situations when they arise. In fact, it would be helpful to pray before situations arise! Our actions may vary depending on the situation. There are times when God may want us to stand up and say something, and there are times when He may want us to stay quiet. There were even times when Jesus did not give a response to those questioning Him. We must ask God and listen to what He tells us to know how we are to respond. The answer may be in our best interest, but most importantly, it could be in the best interest of the other person(s). Maybe their heart isn't ready and telling them the truth won't penetrate them. Maybe it is something they need to seek on their own. I remember reading not long ago that some of the strongest lessons we learn about God are the ones we discover on our own - not ones we are told. This has been important in my mind as I teach my children, to pray about what I tell them and when, and what I leave open for them to discover on their own as they learn to read and study the Bible. I wait patiently to be amazed as they are amazed by His word.

In these days, I pray that I will be given the strength and confidence to be bold for Christ. I pray that if a situation arises, that I will speak as the Holy Spirit gives it to me to speak and not of myself. I pray that no matter what those of this world threaten to take from me, that I will not deny Christ. I will pray this for you as well.

A few more verses:
1 Peter 3:15-17 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. It is better, if it is God's will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.

Luke 9:24-25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?

Luke 9:26 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.


Matthew 10:32-33 "Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven."