Tag Archives: judgment

Grace and Mercy

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graceGod’s grace is likely one of the most esteemed and fundamental principles of the Christian faith.  As Christians, we have all been saved by the grace of God through salvation.  He promises us in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Grace is an unmerited gift from the Holy Spirit; it frees us from our sins.  There is no other way to please God than by accepting His mercy and grace, and living and walking daily in His presence.

However, grace doesn’t stop here.  Grace and mercy go hand in hand and both are something Christians need to be practicing and extending to others on a daily basis.  Grace began in the manifestation of God.  The greatest appearance of grace was the birth of Jesus, the Son of God, born to the unwed Virgin Mary.  We believe in Jesus Christ and believe that He died on the cross to bear our sins.  He lived a sinless and blameless life yet was scorned and shamed.  He was whipped and pierced for our transgressions.  He was labeled a criminal and hung on a cross.  He died a cruel and painful death because of our sins.  Jesus hung from the cross, gasping for air and spoke, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”  This is the saving grace of God.  Even as sinners, as people who mocked and rejected Him, He never abandoned His place on earth.  He went as far as to ask the Father to forgive us for the pain we caused Him as He hung and died on that cross.

We aren’t deserving of God’s grace and mercy yet we receive them and treasure them.  We put our faith in the heart of the Gospel that defines the true meaning of love.  And while we are never outside of God’s grace and mercy, as sinners we acknowledge the need for His merciful grace on a daily basis.

While we accept God’s grace and mercy, how well do we extend the same blessings to other people? Sin is sin in the eyes of God; our sin is no less than other peoples.  Are our family members, neighbors, and enemies beyond OUR grace and mercy?  Are their sins more grievous, is their lifestyle more sinful, is their life more in shambles than our own?  We all at one time or another reveled in our sins, and if some of us were to be honest, we may still be delighting in our sins behind closed doors.  We are all disobedient and we follow our sinful thoughts and desires.  We have all turned our backs on the Creator; we deserve our punishment for our wrongdoings.  But because God loved us unconditionally, because God is rich in His mercy and grace, we have been made alive in Christ Jesus.  It is by grace that we have been saved.  And yet so many Christians do not truly understand the meaning of grace and mercy.

What is your response when you see a person hurting?  What is your response when you see a person out of jail and looking for a job?  What about that homeless man asking for food or spare change?  What is your reaction to the LGBT community, persons from another faith, or people with a different skin color than you?  Do you offer up that same grace and mercy that Christ so freely gave to you?

The issue of extending grace has been heavy on my heart for years.  To be honest, it was not an easy lesson and one that I had to truly be mindful about.  It was too easy for me to look the other way, to ignore those who were different than me, or to simply shrug my shoulders at someone who was suffering the consequences for their own choices and actions.  What I learned through my lessons of grace was that I too could be suffering greatly from my own choices in life.  The difference was, that I accepted God’s grace for my life.  In the same way, we ought to be like Christ extending grace to others.  1 Peter 2:21 says this, “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.”

This is our test of faith.  How well do we truly accept and appreciate God’s grace?  Do we offer grace to others for their choices, even if their choices hurt or wronged us?  Do we love our neighbors as we love Christ?  Do we love our enemies well and ask God to bless them? Do you show mercy and compassion for those who are hurting or struggling in life?

Grace is a gift to us from God.  Let us not dismiss the example of Jesus Christ lest we become like the Pharisees who knew their bible and yet missed the heart of Christ.  Let us begin to extend grace and mercy to everyone we encounter.

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What Does the Bible Say About Tattoos?

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031Tattoos, at one time, were thought to be a mark of rebellion, a sign of adulthood and the freedom to make your own choices with your own body and no parent could stop you. As the years have progressed, Christians have continued with this trend of new-found independence and started putting Christian tattoos on their body to represent their faith and belief in the Bible and Jesus Christ. Others believe that all tattoos, regardless of their significance or symbol of your religion, are a mark of the beast and should be strictly forbidden. These theories confuse both Christians and non-Christians causing judgment to easily swell. The question remains – What is tattooing? And what does God say about tattoos? Are there really such things as Christian tattoos or is this an oxymoron?

The Bible speaks of tattoos (some translations use the word “marks”) as early as the beginning of time. In Leviticus 19, the Lord is speaking to Moses, giving the command that he must go and share with the Israelites; “‘Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD.’” This command seems simple enough! The origin of the tattoo was rooted and practiced in the demonic and pagan realm. The tattoos were given during religious ceremonies and were intended to put the bodily soul in accordance with supernatural forces. Many times dancing and chanting were also done during these tattoo ceremonies to exorcise demons. Regardless if your Bible uses the word tattoos or marks, the context of the word heeds a warning to the Israelites from joining occult practices and entering false religions. Be assured, this is STILL a warning for us today!!

The Bible also teaches us that our bodies are a holy temple for the Lord Jesus Christ in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” As believers, the Holy Spirit resides in our bodies as our conscience and voice of God and Truth. The scripture is very clear about this issue – our bodies are not our own. We must treat our bodies respectably and we must pray extremely hard before making any kind of permanent mark on the Lord’s dwelling.

And what is the stuff about the “mark of the beast”? 2 Timothy 3:1 warns us, “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.” Many believe we are living in the end times and that even today “cutting the flesh” allows satan and the demonic realm to easily enter your body. This blood-letting practice has origins in the cultic dominion (as stated above). We even read in the New Testament about Legion (Mark 5:1-9) who was possessed by demons and attempted to cut himself with stones to unleash the evil spirits locked inside his body. This serves as another illustration that mentions the cutting of the skin and its relationship with the occult and the demonic origins.

This command is not just an outdated Old Testament law. This is a moral law and was applicable then as much as it is now. It is just as important as many others given to Moses to share with the Israelites – do not make idols for yourselves (Lev 5:4), do not steal (Lev 5:11), and do not make your daughter a prostitute (Lev 5:29), among many others.

If you are a Christian with a tattoo, spend time in prayer asking God to cleanse your soul and use the mark on your body as a testament to his love and grace. Romans 8:28 reminds us, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Have faith and ask God to use you for His greater purpose. If you are struggling with the desire for a new tattoo, spend time in prayer. Then spend more time in prayer. Ask God what He wants marked on His dwelling place. Ask God what He wants His money spent on. Are you willing to take that chance to allow evil spirits to enter your soul through this practice of blood-letting?

As a reminder, do not judge those who have tattoos. We do not know where their heart was when they received their tattoos and we do not know if they had received the word of God about this very issue. We cannot testify for them about receiving the facts and origins of tattoos. We must simply pray for them and ask God to use them to bring others to Christ.

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4. Christians and Biblical Marriage
5. Biblical Judgment

Testimony – I am Redeemed. I am Loved.

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testimonyOn this very day last year I publicly shared my testimony and wanted to share it on this blog as well.  I woke up that morning and immediately my mind wandered, just like it does most of the time.  I knew that day was coming; I had thought about that day for years.  I hadn’t planned to blog about the significance of that date but there I found myself writing.  I started writing just to let go of the baggage I carried but also so that one day my boys could read about their momma’s testimony and know how much I wanted to be their mommy.  On that day, I decided to share with whoever was reading whether it was just one person or 3,000 people what that day means to me.

I prayed and pleaded with God about what He wanted for my life.  I finally let go and let God speak to me.  This is what I heard, “My love, you think you’re finished with your story, but you have no clue.  There is one thing that you and I both know you think about secretly in the dark that I want you to bring to light.  HELP my children.”  He told me to deal with this, speak the word, and finish my story.

Today, I’m wishing a Happy 16th Birthday to my UNBORN BABY… due date January 5, 1998.

Why am I telling something so personal?  Believe me, I NEVER wanted to.  God convicted my heart one day and it hasn’t stopped yearning for these unborn babies.  I want to help the people who have made this decision to forgive themselves and I want to hopefully convince someone who is contemplating abortion that you don’t just “do it” and it’s over.  You have to deal with this for the rest of your life.  I have eleven years of school pictures I’ve missed out on and I want them to understand that this decision will affect them for the rest of their lives.  Here’s my story:

Matthew 19:14 Jesus said, “Let the little children
come to me, and do not hinder them, for the
kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

I found out a few days before I graduated from high school that I was pregnant.  I didn’t believe in killing a baby and I didn’t want to kill this baby.  A baby made out of sin, yes, but it was my baby. My boyfriend didn’t want me to keep the baby and even told me I didn’t have a choice, that I was having an abortion.  I begged him to let me keep the baby and even told him child support wasn’t needed.  I was already showing and attached to my baby.  I was almost at the limit to have an abortion which made it that much more difficult.  I was over three months.  I had been reading up on pregnancy and trying to eat healthier so my baby could grow big and strong in my womb.  I was willing to do this as a single mother and never ask one thing of him, but he didn’t care.

I had always believed that a baby is a human from conception and you could never convince me otherwise.  Others told me it was just an embryo and to think of it like it was a fish.  But I knew its heart was beating and God knew that baby before it was in my womb.  Regardless, I allowed myself to be taken to the abortion clinic.  I cried as we were walking up.  As I lay on that cold table with my feet in stirrups, looking at the doctor that was going to take this life out of me, I wondered if he had kids.  I wondered what he thought about what I was doing.  I wondered if he knew I didn’t want to do it, that I had been threatened and convinced otherwise.  When he stuck that ultrasound tool on me to see where the baby was and how far along I was he didn’t move the monitor where I couldn’t see.  I looked at that perfect baby floating around and moving in my womb.  I saw life.  In less than one minute, that life would no longer be in my womb, it would stop growing instantly and there would be no more creation inside of me.  It was already a human being growing, forming, so it could look like me and every other human being that God had created.  Two years from that moment, it would have been giggling and jabbering and writing all over the walls.  I saw creation and life, even through my sin.

I had an abortion that day, with a baby that was due in January of the following year, a baby that I think of everyday of my life and always will.  That baby was made out of sin, and so have a million more babies that have grown up to serve God in powerful ways.  I left that clinic that day, and I was no longer pregnant.  God cried that day and I cried with Him.  I was sick with myself.  We had just eliminated a problem that would have only been in the way of our future. This baby needed my womb to survive in a little while longer and it had been destroyed, without even knowing how to fight or cling to me for dear life.

That day I did something I would take back right now, only to see that child’s smile, only so I could have been a better person a lot sooner.  I look around my house, and sometimes my imagination runs wild enough to imagine that my now 16 yr old child would have been a Christian by now.  Maybe if it was a girl, we’d be getting pedicures together today or maybe if it was a boy, he’d be pitching the baseball to my husband.  Maybe this child of mine would have braces and be coming up to me right now to ask if their friend could spend the night.  Just maybe….  I wish this part of my life could be turned the other way around.  Maybe I would have considered abortion but in the end decided against it and had the baby.  Then I wouldn’t have to wonder who it was.  A boy or a girl?  My child would have a name and a personality and a LIFE.

There’s always reasons, they say, that life turns out the way it is.  What reason was there for this?   I had just killed my own child.  How could God ever love and forgive such a shameful act when I couldn’t even forgive myself?  My baby never had the chance to breathe one breath outside of my womb.  Babies fight for their lives every single day and parents grieve because their baby didn’t make it.  How could people be so selfish and how could I now be one of those people?  I never got to see what God could have made out of such a tragedy.

I was now going through the worst depression of my life.  The pain of holding my stomach and no longer eating for two and preparing for our future hit me hard every single day that my belly wasn’t growing.  I never felt those first kicks.  I never got that chance.  Being a mommy was all I wanted since I was 13.  I was 18 now and didn’t have a clue where my life was going.  I was so depressed that I just did not care about anything.  I tried so hard to move on.  I wasn’t happy and really never moved forward or tried to get my life back on the right path.  The depression kept me in the same cycle and I found myself pregnant again just 4 months after my first abortion.

Yes, I had gotten pregnant again.  I became angry all over again, total opposite of what I thought I would feel to have the chance to be a mommy again.  What I had imagined wasn’t what I was feeling at all.  This time I was mad that a new baby was in there when the other baby should have been in there.  I resented this pregnancy because I shouldn’t have been five weeks pregnant; I should have been seven or eight months pregnant.  I was so blurred and clouded with confusion, that I didn’t beg this time, I didn’t plead to keep this baby.  We’re supposed to learn from our mistakes.  I hadn’t learned from mine.  I lay on that same table with my legs up in stirrups, and I don’t mean to make light of this situation.  To me, I saw it for what it was.  There is no way I would have been pregnant if I had not had the first abortion.  I should be wobbling around with a huge belly and feeling the baby move and curl up inside me, feeling life.  Instead I felt nothing.  I didn’t deserve to be a mother.

By this time I truly felt that I didn’t deserve happiness or anyone to love.  Not after what I had done.  I deserved to be condemned to Hell, the place I wouldn’t want my worst enemy to be.

Through my abortions, I’ve learned that life can be redeemed, that I have been redeemed.  I’ve learned that God does forgive me and that He does still love me.  I’ve learned that I do deserve to be loved and I’ve learned that my friends still love me, despite my previous choices.  I’ve learned that abortion is not an easy answer and the problem isn’t gone within minutes.  I’ve learned that the effects of abortion are life-long.  I hurt every day and every year for the children I do not have in my arms.

I had always worried about judgment from others.  I no longer worry about that.  I’ve figured out that even the “perfect” people have baggage and they too have made mistakes.  But know this, I only share my testimony because I want people to know who I am, why I believe in a God I’ve never seen, and how I long to fulfill His purpose through me.  I know what abortion is and I know the effects they cause a woman.  Choose life for your child and don’t make the same mistakes I did.

-Shayna

A Jesus Lovers New Year’s Resolution

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newyear2It’s the end of another year and the majority of us are eagerly awaiting the chance for new beginnings and blessings.  We certainly never look at the new year as a time for added stress, pain, or sickness.  In our anticipation and hope of new things to come, we tend to make new year’s resolution – to lose weight, cut out caffeine, go to the gym, work less, sleep more, find a new job, etc.

The question I ask of you as we close out 2013…. What does Jesus want from you?  He very well may be calling you to cut calories, lose weight, and exercise.  He may be tugging at your heart to work less and be at home with your family more.  But what does He want from your heart?  How can your life glorify His name in this coming year?  What changes does God want from you that will ultimately lead you to a closer relationship to Jesus Christ?

Here is a list of New Year’s resolutions all Christians need to work on in 2014:

Forgive more – As a forgiven sinner, you are required to forgive sinners.  Let go of other people’s mistakes and shortcomings, even if those decisions directly affected your life.  Satan will remind you of the pain others have inflicted on you but YOU are a forgiven sinner and are called to forgive the sins of others.  Remind yourself that you have not always been a Christian and that you too have hurt others.  We have all fallen short and we will all fail again.  Pray for those who have hurt you, that they are blessed by God and that those blessings change their lives.  “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:31-32

Pray always – It’s so simple to say “pray more” but the thought of praying all the time can seem very daunting.  Rest assured, if you miss an opportunity to pray, you must not give up!  Begin by praying every morning or evening and slowly add in other specific times in your day devoted to prayer.  You will soon notice how your prayers shift from specified times to daily conversations with God throughout your day.  Make sure you also add a few minutes of reflection time to listen to what God says to you about your prayers.  “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Quit worrying – We begin to worry when we feel as if we are not in control.  The truth is, very seldom do we have full control over anything.    When we allow worry to seep into our lives, we are saying to those around us that we are helpless and have no one to turn to.  But as Christians, we must have faith in God and faith in His plan.  Find the good in every situation and be thankful for what God has already blessed you with.  “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6

Give more – Give more of your time, your money, and your effort.  Pray about this specifically and see where God wants you to give.  Does he want you to give more of your money to your church or a mission?  Does He want you to give more of your time and volunteer efforts?  Does He simply want you to give your family more quality time?  Whatever it is that He leads you to give, give wholeheartedly and give as if you are giving to the Lord.  “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7

Go to church – Attending church should not be a Sunday morning visit when times are hard.  Church is a time for weekly reflection and an energy boost.  It’s a time for us to put aside the craziness of life and refocus on Christ and His will for our lives.  Church is a time for Christians to fellowship with other believers and together build the kingdom of God.  “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24-25

Learn more – Read your Bible this year, start a devotional, or commit to reading that book your spouse has asked you to read.  If you’ve already read the Bible in its entirety, read it again to gain more knowledge.  You cannot go wrong opening your Bible and reading scripture!  But there is power when reading with other Christians and discussing life together.  “An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.” Proverbs 18:15

Judge less – Learn how to judge righteously and ask God to show you when you’re sinfully judging.  Practice the art of judging the sin and not the sinner.  Find the good in every person and in every situation, even if it’s simply acknowledging that God will use that situation for His glory.  Remember that we have all sinned and fallen short in the eyes of God.  We will all stand on even ground before God one day; your sin is no less than any other man’s.  “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” John 7:24

Be more gracious – Again, find the good in every person and in every situation.  Treat others with kindness and respect.  Even if we don’t think they deserve it, they really do.  Don’t assume the worst in others, even if their track record shows otherwise.  Give people the benefit of the doubt, always.  Complement those who frustrate you, and add a smile.  Work on changing your heart towards others and people will begin to seem far less threatening to you.  “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

Plant seeds – Write down a list of people who are non-believers and commit to praying for them over this next year.  Make it your goal to talk to them about Jesus Christ and his unending love for them.  Invite them to church, offer to pray for them, connect with them regularly and allow them the opportunity to see how Christ is working in your own life.  The outcome is amazing to see how God uses YOU and your everyday circumstances to change the lives of others.  You plant the seed and watch as God grows new believers.  “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

Go on a mission – Your mission trip doesn’t necessarily need to be across the world to a third world country.  While that is definitely an incredible experience, your mission field can be right here in your hometown.  Your mission field is the path you drive to work and the places you run your errands.  To be on a mission for Christ is to tell others of Christ and bringing His Good News to non-believers.  Begin by asking strangers, “Do you know that Jesus loves you?”  Spend time everyday preparing for your mission work and ask God to show you where your work needs to be done.  “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Matthew 28: 19-20

To put our focus on Christ rather than ourselves is ultimately what God wants for our lives.  He wants us to depend on Him.  When we do these things, our lives begin to take on a new meaning and good things begin to happen.  We will still suffer loss and heartache, setbacks and pain.  But life becomes bearable when we walk with our Savior and allow Him to lead the way.

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Does X-Mas Take the Christ out of Christmas?

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jesusIs there really any truth to the saying that when someone writes “X-Mas” that they are intending to keep “Christ” out of Christmas?  Is it true when people write “X-Mas” that they are claiming to be non-religious and yet still celebrating a religious holiday?  Should Christians be offended when we see others shortening the name of our Savior and taking the word “Christ” out of Christmas?

I admit I’ve always been a bit insulted when I see the shortened version of Christmas.  I’ve always justified my offense with the statement that Christ gave us His ALL, including His life, why would anyone save time and shorten His name?  Surely the Savior deserves His full name to be written out during this precious time of remembrance!  This year I decided to dig a bit deeper and search for the truth behind this issue.

I confess… I was definitely surprised!

The “X-Mas” abbreviation is neither recent nor disrespectful as many people believe.  The usage of “X-Mas” has been in use for centuries, possibly as far back as the very beginning of Christianity.  Its Greek origins can even be traced back to the Roman alphabet.  The Greek word for “Christ” is “chi” and the Greek letter for “chi” is represented by the symbol “X” in the modern Roman alphabet.

The fact remains – the X-Mas abbreviation was NOT created to slight Christianity or fashioned for the purpose of demeaning Christ in any manner.  While the abbreviation is definitely an old form of writing from a very different language, it may still cause offense to those who do not know the history of the abbreviation.

Study the facts and be ready to share when you see someone who feels insulted by this abbreviation.  Extend grace to those who choose to shorten the word “Christmas” because they may have absolutely no intention of keeping the “Christ” out of Christmas and were just quick to write the word down.

And most importantly, the method in which someone writes the word “Christmas” is NOT an appropriate time to judge anyone.  Even if you are still offended by the use of “X-Mas”, this is not a sin and we are not called to judge anyone based on their mode of writing.  We do not know their hearts or their intent when abbreviating the word Christmas and therefore we are not to cast judgment based on something so futile.  What we can do is extend grace to those who may offend us and remind ourselves that the abbreviated form has been used for centuries and really does have origins in Christ.

Other fun facts about “X-Mas”:

  • Chi is the first letter of the Greek word Χριστός which translates in English to Christ.
  • The –mas in the word Christmas is a Latin-originated Old English term for “mass”.
  • The expression X-Mas was very popular for religious scribes, who are believed to have started the abbreviation for Christmas.
  • The XP symbol is derived from the Greek letter “X” (Chi) and “P” (Rho).  This christogram is formed by overlaying the two letters to create a monogram.  Although the XP monogram is not exactly a Christian cross, the Chi-Rho letters do resemble a cross.
  • The Chi-Rho symbol was used by Greek scribes to mark respected or significant passages.
  • The wreath around the Chi-Rho symbol signifies the victory over the resurrection over death.

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Christian Response to Miley Cyrus VMA Performance

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mileyOur family didn’t watch the VMA’s because quite frankly we didn’t expect anything wholesome or appropriate from the awards show.  I did, however, watch Miley’s performance on YouTube after my social media accounts were flooded with improper and derogatory comments about the poor girl, not only about her performance but about her actual life and her eternity as well.  I knew I also needed to watch the performance because, like much of America, I have teenage children in my house and needed to know what the appropriate response to their questions and statements should be.

I watched and immediately felt horror for this poor innocent child who has clearly been affected by the outside world.  What must this child, and yes Miley Cyrus is still a child at the young age of 20, have been taught (or not taught) to think this public behavior is okay?  How have we failed these Disney stars that continually seem to fall so far from their previous innocent roles on public television?

And ever so humbly, God reminded me of my teenage years.  How thankful I am that I wasn’t in the public eye for so many people who did not know me to judge my worth and eternal value!   I’m fairly certain I would have failed that test.  God reminded me that he views all sins as sins and that my sin of laziness or losing my temper with my children are just as equal in the eyes of God, which is far more important than what man believes.

As Christians, we should not be bashing this poor girl so hatefully and most definitely not so publicly.  In fact, we should not be condemning her at all.  This is where we, as Christians, must use discernment and practice biblical judgment.  Our judgment should simply be that we do not want our children listening to her music or seeing the VMA video.  Our biblical judgment must stop there.

We sin when our judgments defy the command from Paul in Ephesians 4:29, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”  It pains me to see my brothers and sisters in Christ talk so poorly of this child of God while failing to remember their times of disobedience and immoral choices.

John 8:7 says, “And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”  Are you my fellow Christian willing to throw that first stone?  Are you willing to bear ALL your sins on your social media status or on national television?

I challenge you brothers and sisters to spend time in prayer for Miley Cyrus.  Every time you hear about her racy video, see a comment about her life or eternity, or see the inappropriate pictures people are posting about her, to simply pray for her.  How might her life be changed if all Christians stood in the gap in complete and humble prayer for her soul?  What might her testimony be after she encounters the Holy Spirit after un-judging Christians fell to their knees and prayed for her redemption?

This should be our response.  Will you join me in praying for her?

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What Should I Wear to Church?

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These-ARE-my-church-clothesSomeone recently asked me what I thought about how people should dress for church.  Honestly, my first reaction was, “who really cares?!”  Not too long after this, I heard some friends complaining about how their church members dress for church and again I wondered why this really matters.  But apparently some have a very strong opinion about what someone ought to wear to church.  I’ve spent some time in my Bible and prayer and these are the scriptures that I continue to fall back on:

1 Samuel 16:7 – But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

1 Peter 3:3-4 – Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.

We are called to worship in everything we do.  It says in Colossians 3:17, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”  Our lives should be a constant worship of our Creator.  The difference between worshiping daily and worshiping at a scheduled church gathering is the actual worship time and that it’s with a community of believers.  Why should our appearance be any different at the different places of worship?  The Bible tells us that we should not consider our outward appearances, but our hearts.  When we put too much energy into what we wear, especially if it’s just to please others at church, we are sinning against God’s word.  Our hearts during worship is what our Heavenly Father is looking at, not our outward appearances.   Our hearts must be in the right place and focused on our worship toward our God.

Likewise, if you are bothered by what others are wearing in church, your heart and mind are not focused on worship; your heart and mind rather are focused on others’ outward appearances.  This is a sin.  If this is something you struggle with, turn to God and ask Him to clear your mind for worship.

1 Corinthians 6:19 says, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own.”  This doesn’t mean just on Sundays; it means every day our bodies are a temple for God.  Every day we should be worshipping and every day we should be mindful about our appearances.  Every day we should be modestly dressed and in preparation for worship throughout our day.

Some may choose to attend church in their absolute best clothing.  And this is okay.  Rather than worry about the appearances of others, devote time in prayer that your appearance will lead others to dress in their Sunday best.  Ask God for a more gracious and forgiving heart, and seek opportunities to clothe others if they are lacking in clothing.  And remember, if Christ came to your church wearing the only garments He owned, you wouldn’t turn your back on Him because he wasn’t in a designer suit.  Likewise, don’t turn your backs on those not dressed up in the fanciest clothing as they may already be wearing their best.  As we all grow in our walk, we are continually transformed and there is nothing wrong with wanting to “present” ourselves to our Father in an honoring fashion.

We must praise God for those who are in church, regardless of their apparel.  Hallelujah!!  People are coming to church!  What a blessing that the church doors are flooding with people who want to hear the word of God and come just as they are!  How sad it is that some of us are scoffing at mere appearances rather than seeking their hearts.  Welcome them in, have a servant’s heart, and be a witness for Christ!

Romans 8:1 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  There should be no judgment on what others may be wearing to church.  Let God, not man, convict their hearts to wearing clothing that honors our body as a temple.

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Why Go to Church?

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6a0133f0b2fdc2970b0177440bf370970dThere seems to be a growing number of people who proclaim to be a Christian but seldom, if ever, attend church.  Church has always been a necessary component of the Christian faith, so why have we allowed satan to convince us that church is not important and can be pushed back another week, another month or even to the next holiday?  Why have we lost sight of the focus of church and the importance of a community of believers?  Let me clarify before we go any further… Church is not the building we gather in rather it is the Community of Believers that gather on a consistent basis.

The Bible commands believers to commune and gather together.  Hebrews 10:24-27 says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.  If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left”.  We are warned that if we do not follow this commandment, the charge to attend church with our fellow believers, that we are sinning.  This is not a judgment of believers but a fact based on scripture.

Going to church is our outward visible appearance that we love and worship God.  Jesus says in Matthews 10:32-33, “’Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven.  But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.’”  It is a public gathering of people who confess they are sinners and need the redemption of Jesus Christ.  Church is not about receiving blessings but returning our blessings, giving thanks, and praising our God.  Attending church is the least we can do for our God who gave His ONLY Son to die on the cross for our sins!

A time of fellowship with other believers is extremely important to Christ followers.  The Bible tells us in Matthew 18:20 that “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”  It is true that God is always with us, even outside of the church walls, but He tells us there is special time of the Lord’s presence when communities of believers come together in His name.  And who doesn’t want to experience this extraordinary visitation from the Lord?  We are also called to hold our brothers and sisters in Christ accountable for their transgressions (Matthew 15).  The same must be true for us; we need to also be held accountable for our wrongdoings.  We must live life with our church members and learn to love, forgive, and cleanse each other from sin.  Your church will be the people there when times get tough and they will be the hands and feet of Christ when satan attacks you and your family.  Likewise, you will be given opportunities to bless those inside the church and build them up as believers, serving each other as Christ has called us to do.  John 16:33 reminds us that this life will not always be easy but we will find peace in our Savior who has overcome the world.  “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”  It is when we are gathered with and surrounded by other believers that we are challenged and strengthened to be the best that God has called us to be.

Attending church regularly also builds your spiritual strength and knowledge.  Every day we will fight the enemy and stand firm in our faith.  Sermons, lessons, music, praise and worship, offerings, and a community of believers is your weapon against the enemy.  Ephesians 6 tells us about the armor of God – “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”  We must always be ready for battle, to fight the good fight.  If we slack in our time with God and other believers, we won’t be fully prepared to do His work.

We must also remember the commandment in Exodus 20:8, “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.”  While the Sabbath is often recognized to be Sundays, we are free from the bondage of this old law.  Your Sabbath may not be on a Sunday, but you do need to acknowledge God’s standard and set aside a specific day for your Sabbath.  There is no wrong time to attend church and remember our God.  But there is a consequence for NOT keeping this commandment.  We are called and expected to remember the Lord’s Day in worship and prayer.

Yes, Christians should go to church.  We have nothing to lose and yet everything to gain!

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Homosexuality Q&A

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What-The-Bible-Says-About-Homosexuality-300x2251. What about when people say they “are born this way”?

The Bible is very clear about this issue.  In Genesis 1:27, “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”  God is perfect in all ways and He made us in His OWN image!  We are born of perfection; sin is what makes us unclean and imperfect.

2. Times are changing, surely God would be okay with everybody just being happy and getting along versus fighting over the way some people choose to live?

What God wants is for His children to live in obedience to His word and live with a purposeful heart to spread the good news of the gospel.  God gave us commandments and principles to make our lives better and He promised us in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.  God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”  God knows the human heart, after all He created us!  He knows we fall subject to sin but He also provides a way out of sin.  We too often choose to go our own way in life thinking it is easier.  But God tells us in Proverbs 3:6, “in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”  God wants obedience, He wants us to long for and rely on Him, He wants us to have faith in His ways, and He wants you and me to have victory in Christ.

3. Why should we care how other people live their lives if they aren’t hurting anyone?

Everyday Christians should be on a mission for Christ.  We should be seeking and saving those who are lost.  Acts 22:15 says, “You will be his witness to all people of what you have seen and heard.” Someone at one time took the time to reach you, to preach to you the good news of Jesus Christ.  We should also be doing the same for others.   We are also called to rebuke fellow believers when they are sinning.  James 5:20 reminds us to, “remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.”  As Christians, we need to know when we are sinning so that we can repent and turn from our evil ways.  Sometimes we don’t recognize when we are sinning and even when we do we need to be held accountable to our fellow believers.

4. But what if you have feelings for the same sex?

We are all sinners just as it says in Romans 3:23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”.  However, as Christians we must recognize our sins and change our mindset to praise God.  While we are born of perfection, we are subject to sinful thoughts and actions.  This sin is no different than an alcoholic struggling to not drink, a mother struggling to keep her voice down, a father fighting the urge to work late, or any person fighting any sin that keeps him away from giving God glory.  We need to recognize our sinful thoughts and ask God to change them.

5. Can a person repent of their homosexual activities and inherit the kingdom of God?

Absolutely!  We are all sinners and are all in need of the redemption and saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Romans 10:9-11 reminds us, “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with your heart you believe and are put right with God, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.  As the Scripture says, ‘Anyone who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.’”  To be truly repent means to turn your back on sin completely.  You must believe in ALL the Bible and praise God in all circumstances.

6. Is it possible to be a Christian and be gay?

This is a question that is best left between each individual person and God.  I believe that as a Christian we should turn our back on ALL sin.  We cannot justify our sins to please our desires of the flesh.  As a Christian, we should strive to be like Christ in all that we do, in every way, and every day.  To knowingly sin and continue to sin, is not a true repentant heart aiming to serve God in every way.

You might also like to read Homosexuality and The Bible.

Should Christians Drink Alcohol?

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Alchohol-and-the-Bible.002-564x272Some Christians believe alcohol is a sin and any drinking is unwise, some believe drinking is okay in moderation, and others believe alcohol is a gift of the Lord.  Very different perspectives from just one simple topic!  The issue of alcohol consumption is one that can easily become a heated debate between believers and non-believers as well as stir separation between Christians themselves.  So what does the Bible say about drinking specifically?

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 – “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

Galatians 5:21 – “Envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

Ephesians 5:18 – “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit”

1 Peter 5:8 – “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

Proverbs 23:20-21 – “Be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat, for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags.”

1 Corinthians 6:10 – “Nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”

Numbers 6:3 – “He shall separate himself from wine and strong drink. He shall drink no vinegar made from wine or strong drink and shall not drink any juice of grapes or eat grapes, fresh or dried.”

The argument I hear most is “they drank alcohol and wine in the Bible!”  While this is true, I don’t believe the alcohol content was near as strong as we make it in our present day.  Our alcohol made today is made with the pure intent to make people drunk.  But even so in Biblical times, the people were warned about not getting drunk.  When we drink to get drunk, we are deliberately disobeying God and his principles for our life.  And being disobedient is a sin with consequences.

Many things can happen when we are drunk and not of sound mind.  Nothing good can come when we are breaking God’s laws which were given to us as a free gift to better our lives.  As noted above in 1 Peter, when we are intoxicated the devil is more likely to use your impaired judgment to cause havoc and chaos in our lives.  We simply are not able to make Godly decisions when we are not of sober mind. Having a designated driver, drinking in honor of a celebration, drinking with close friends and out of the public eye are NOT good excuses for getting drunk.  They are simply excuses and nothing more.  I do not think a drink on occasion is a bad thing.  But I do believe we should be watchful about our consumption of alcohol and know when to stop.

We should also be aware of the people around us and the impact our choices can have on their walk with Christ.  Romans 14:15 reads, “For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died.”  We don’t know the path the person next to us has taken or will be taking.  We don’t know if they are a recovering alcoholic, if they are currently struggling with alcohol, or if they are simply angry and judgmental and will chose alcohol because the strong Christian sitting next to him has a drink.  We simply do not know the life circumstances of everyone around us and must be attentive to those around us.  Sure, you may be okay to have a glass of wine, but that glass of wine may be a stumbling block to someone else.  Is that drink worth the risk of someone else taking a wrong path in life?

Ultimately, alcohol is a personal choice.  We are blessed with God-inspired scriptures to be used to make a sound judgment.  If the Holy Spirit is leading you to stop drinking (for whatever reason), then you must submit to those principles for your life.  The gift of the Holy Spirit was given to you to help you discern scripture and life circumstances; use that gift!  Open your heart and mind to the beauty of God’s wonderful gift and really seek His will for your life.

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