29 May 2013

Fortress of Faith- Pillars of Faith: Study Four

Pillar Two- God the Son
Four pillars hold up our Faith.  The first pillar, God the Creator who is God our Father, is not alone in upholding the Faith we hold dear.  The second pillar is God the Son who is also God our Savior.  This week, we will learn more about God the Son. 
For thousands of years after God created all that we know to exist, after He proved Himself to be actively interested in the lives of His people, God realized it was time to fulfill His promise of salvation. 

We all know the Christmas story.  A virgin girl found herself pregnant.  During a period and in a culture where being pregnant out of wedlock meant being cast out or worse, that young woman and her skeptical fiancee were visited by angels and directed on what was truly happening.  Into their humble lives, they were about to welcome the Son of God made into human flesh with the promise that He would be the Savior their people had been waiting for.

From the very beginning of His life on earth, Angels first declared Him to be the Son of God.  Throughout His life among us, people gathered around Him, at first skeptical, but later admitting they too knew Him to be the Son of God, for no other man could have done or said what He did.

In Luke 2 verses 41 to 50, Jesus was a young boy on the cusp of becoming a teenager.  He found Himself in Jerusalem for the Passover Feast along with Mary and Joseph.  When it was time to go home, His earthly family left him behind without realizing it.  When they did realize He was missing and turned back to search for Him, they found Him in the Temple where He was learning from and sharing His thoughts with the teachers there.  Of course, as a distraught mother, Mary rebuked Him for the worry she felt over His disappearance.  In reply, Jesus said to her,"...Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?"  This was Jesus' first recorded admission that He was the Son of God.

Later, as an adult, Jesus visited with John the Baptist.  John instead wanted to be baptized by Jesus, but finally relented and baptised Jesus.  As Jesus came out of the water, God Himself declared,"This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased."  Matthew 3 v 13-17

What is the significance of Jesus being the Son of God?   

Why does it matter that Jesus Himself, God the Father, Jesus' disciples, new believers, and even the unbelievers acknowledged Him to be the Son of God?

As Christians, we believe in right and wrong, heaven and hell, good and evil.   We believe that there is life after death.  What many of us struggle with is the reality of a place we have not seen, and the reality of salvation.  All doubts in our Faith stem from society's take on our God, our Savior, our Spirit, and our Word.  Because of these society induced doubts, the significance of Jesus as the Son of God is amplified.  If He is not the Son of God, then He truly is just a fantastic teacher, prophet, and one heck of a magician and illusionist. 

However, when you weigh all His words, all His actions, and all his teachings, we find that He never sought to uplift Himself.  He never asked for anything more from His followers except that they listen, believe, and follow.  He did not ask them for their earthly possessions.  On the contrary, He asked them to leave those things behind.  He did not ask anyone to fight for Him.  On the contrary, He healed the man Peter injured in the attempt to resist arrest.  He did not provoke His followers to riot as He hung on the cross.  On the contrary, He prayed to GOD, His Father, to forgive us.

If Jesus were simply human, the miracles He performed time and again throughout His short life among us are nothing more than coincidental chances of luck.   But because He is the Son of God, He has the power to not just heal, but to CURE.  He has the power to not just preserve life, but GIVE life.  He has the power to not just look over our sins, but to FORGIVE them.  Most importantly, He has the power to love us, like His Father, completely without condition and without expectations.

So if its so important to keep in mind that Jesus truly was the Son of God, why must we also acknowledge His humanity?

Many of us, as parents or child care workers, realize on a daily basis how hard it is to relate to children of any age.  From infant, to toddler, to child, to tween, to teen, we adults forget what it is like to walk through certain struggles.  Even as adults, as we move from one chapter of life to another, we forget the struggles we walked through and then have a hard time understanding what our neighbors are going through even as they walk through something similar.  In a perfect world, we would retain all that knowledge and experience and treat our fellow man better and raise our children with more patience and unconditional love.

In that way, Jesus, as the Son of God, was a perfect being.  However, how does God save His children if He has a hard time understanding the struggles they face?  When Jesus became human, even in His perfection, He felt the emotions we feel.   He was tempted by wealth, by power, by earthly things.  He struggled to do what He knew was expected of Him by His Father.  He even felt anger when He saw His faith being watered down and marketed.   His time among us drew Him closer to us, drew His empathy, drew His compassion, and committed Him to His role as Savior.

His humanity and His deity in combination are what make all  He accomplished so completely perfect.  His actions, His character, His words, and His faithfulness were so incredible that even the soldiers who crucified Him admitted."Surely he was the Son of God!" Matthew 27 v 50-54

Do you have a hard time imagining a perfect human being?   Take a few minutes to imagine what the perfect person would be like.  What attributes would they have?  Would they be someone well liked?  Or would they be someone met with criticism?

Do you find it hard to imagine how Jesus could balance His divinity and His humanity?  Take a moment to compare the struggles we face as humans to live a life free from sin.   Do you think Jesus had it easier or harder than we do?

Read the following passages to learn more about Jesus as the Son of God:
Matthew 14 v 29-37
Matthew 16 v 13-17
Matthew 17 v 1-7
John 3 v 16
Hebrews 1 v 1-3
Phil 2 v 6-11

27 May 2013

Musical Monday- Memorial Day Tribute

In honor of those who sacrificed so much for our Country, I created this video.

God bless America!  God bless the men and women who gave their all.

26 May 2013

Sacred Sunday

In honor of Memorial Day- in honor of the men and women who have ever fought for their Faith, fought for their Freedom, fought for their ideals, fought for their Country, and fought for their Family.   God bless those left behind.  God let us remember the sacrifices made.  God bless America.

For those who now stand in the shadows of those who have come before, who voluntarily take up arms to follow in the footsteps of those we honor this weekend, I salute you.   Memorial Day is for those who have come and gone, but its also a reminder to you to encourage you and challenge you.
God bless you as well!

"10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
12 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.
13 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.
14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,
15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 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.
19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel,
20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should."  ~Ephesians 6 v 10-20

19 May 2013

Sacred Sunday

For anyone who knows me, and for those who have looked close enough at my profile picture, you can see that I am turning gray at a young age. 

I am a worrier. 
I admit it. 
Worry is my recurring shame, my biggest sin, my unbearable weakness. 

 I have no reason to worry- He has proven to me over and over in my life that He has EVERYTHING under control and I have no reason to worry.  He HAS PROVEN that to me in big ways and in small ways, in ways that defy logic, reason, and the typical series of consequences for mistakes I have made.   And still--- I worry. 

((How glad I am that He does not give up on me and STILL chooses to prove to me
that He cares and that He has it all under control.))  

Now, here we are, my Military family, on the brink of another PCS, and I find myself tossing and turning, praying and pleading, and worrying and stressing even as I know in my heart and mind that my worry only hurts me.   So I turn, once again, to His Word and I draw comfort from Jesus' words as he entreats [me] not to worry.

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."  ~Matthew 6 v 25-34
I have asked for prayer from you all previously, and I continue to ask you to pray for me as I struggle through this transition period. 
Do you also struggle with worry and stress?  If you do, I hope the above passage helps you refocus your gaze on Him, and help you place your trust more fully on Him.  Let's place our worries at His feet, and move forward with peace in our hearts that He has this under control!
God bless you!

13 May 2013

Musical Monday

Our lives are a serious of decisions from when we are really young to when we are really old.  Our choices shape us, who we were, and who we are at this moment. 

However, the choices we have made do not have to define who we become.  There is no shame that is too deep for Him to conquer.  There is no sin so great for Him to turn you away.  We are ALL sinners.  We ALL fall short of perfect, yet He still chose to die for us.

The greatest choice we can make, as creatures of free will who can act beyond instinct, is to turn to God, to accept His love, grace, forgiveness, and redemption.  That simple choice can wash away every choice we made or failed to make that we fear can impact our future negatively.

Have you chosen to follow Christ?  Have you let your past be washed away by His love, by God's forgiveness?  If you have not, and would like to please let me share with you more about His perfect love, and how to have a new future in Him.

God bless you!

12 May 2013

Sacred Sunday

 In honor of Mother's everywhere:   HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!

Being a Mother means different things to different women because we are all mothers in slightly (or vastly) different circumstances.   We all love our children and do our best to raise them right.  We all struggle against outside influences and the effects they might have on the malleable minds of our youngsters. Regardless of how we choose to mother, we all become a jack-of-all-trades. We all take on multiple roles.  We all wear a dozen or more hats.  And we all do a bang up job, though much of what we do is never noticed or acknowledged.

God bless you, Mothers!

25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
~Proverbs 31 v 25-30

08 May 2013

Fortress of Faith- Study Three: Pillars of Faith

Pillar One- God the Father
When we think of "father," no doubt we have many different preconceptions associated with the person who fits that role in our lives. 
What characteristics do we ascribe to men we consider to be "good" fathers? 
Do we think they must be strong, handsome, fearless, masculine, tough? 
Do we think they should be men who demand respect and honor? 
Have our experiences with our human father left us full of love or empty and wanting?
No doubt, we each have a little different idea of what makes a good father.  However, our God, our Heavenly Father, has set the bar for fathers.  He has been an example of the perfect Father, as well as offering us insights into the characteristics that drive His actions in our lives.
First, we must acknowledge that God is not just our Creator.  He did not just say "do it," and it was done.  He is omnipotent and omniscient and a million other things that make Him God.  However, He did not just make us to then leave us to our own designs.  Our Lord created us with the intention of having a relationship with us.  He created us with the intention of watching us grow, of leading us on our way, of reveling in our successes, weeping with us in our sadness, and carrying us through our struggles.  Our God the Creator did not create us and then leave us alone.  
Jesus acknowledges this fact when He instructs us how to pray.
“This, then, is how you should pray:
‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name',
~Matthew 6 v 9
Throughout Jesus' life among us, he repeatedly spoke of His Father in Heaven.  As young as a pre-teen boy who wandered off to be found among the adult men in the temple, Jesus described His own relationship with God as a Father-Son relationship.  However, in the prayer Jesus gives us, He makes it clear, that we too are children of God the Father.  We too have an opportunity to have that Father-child relationship.
Second, God our Father is not an absentee father.  The Bible is testament through its myriad of recollections that our Father is present in the movement of this life.  Psalms 121 v 5-8 speak of our God as one who watches over us, who cares about the lives we live, and the struggles we might face.  Psalm 85 v 5 and 1 Thessalonians 4 v 9 both speak of how our Father teaches us; He specifically teaches us how to love as He loved us.  Because of His love for us, the Bible also tells us that He sometimes disciplines us (Psalm 3 v 11-12), just as we would expect a human father to discipline his own child out of love.  The Bible goes on to speak of the presence of our Father, saying that He remains close to the broken-hearted (Psalm 34 v 18).  From cover to cover of our Bible, we can find evidence of a loving, but just God (Nahum 1 v 3)- acting just as a Father concerned for His children acts.
Third, God our Father has all the attributes of the Perfect Father.  He is a prime example of what fathers should strive to be.  Our Father is strong, but loving (Psalm 62 v 11-12).  He is slow to anger, compassionate, and merciful (Psalm 103 v 8-13).  He is forgiving and good (Psalm 86 v 5).  Plus, He is not just our Father, but He is also open to adopting.  Psalm 68 v 5 says that He is Father to the fatherless.  Of course, this means two things- He is Father to all the literal orphans and left-behind children this world has seen and will ever see, and He is Father even to those who never call upon His name and join the Christian family. 
Finally, our Father does not expect nor demand perfection.  Though many people today shrug off Christianity condemning us all as hypocrites, because they mistakenly believe we must strive to be perfect to meet standards of perfection, which of course, we cannot come close to living up to.  No, He does not demand perfection, as most human father's do not of their own children.  On the contrary, He expects us to TRY our best.  He expects us to do the BEST that we are capable of.  He expects us to use the GIFTS He has given us.  Do our human father's not expect the same things from their children?   No, He does not expect perfection, and knowing that we are imperfect, He offers us forgiveness, mercy, grace, hope, and SALVATION.
Have you come to know our God to be your Father?
Would you say that you have a relationship with our Father?  What does that relationship look like?
Did you have preconceived notions of a harsh God, a distant God, one who does not truly care about you and your life?   Has that changed?  Would you like that to change?
This week, I challenge you to read the verses included in the text of this study.  Think on the ones that stand out to you the most.  Consider why they stand out to you.  Then practice praying to our Father as though you were speaking to your human father.  Consider if God the Father were physically in front of you, what would you say to Him?  What do you think He might say to you?
 God bless you!

06 May 2013

Musical Monday

I want to take this opportunity to ask all of you to remember me in your prayers this week.  Nothing is wrong, I just have so much on my plate, and I find myself getting easily overwhelmed and frustrated.

Keeping that in mind, I draw much comfort from reading His Word, from prayer, and from Christian music.  So today, I wanted to share two songs with you that bring me comfort.  I hope they bring you comfort as well!  

Please... if you have prayer requests as well, please add it to the prayer wall... I want to pray for you!

01 May 2013

Calling ALL Christians

In light of the news I have seen plastered all over my Facebook and Twitter walls today, I have had a heavy heart all afternoon.  "Pentagon: Religious Proselytizing Is Not Permitted"

I have previously written about my own struggles as a Christian while I was serving on Active Duty.  One simply did not share their faith.  I had been asked on numerous occasions how I was able to work through one struggle or another, or if I was simply cheerful, I would be asked why I had such a sunny outlook.  In real life... LOL... I hate saying that... I would share exactly how I get through struggles, or why I am joyful- because of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.   However, when those questions were asked of me while I was on duty, I knew I could not simply answer that way.  I would always have to couch my answer in some vague "Oh... Well..." hem and haw... "a lot of it has to do with my Faith..." 

Walking on egg shells...  We all know we are not allowed to "evangelize" in the Military.  Duh.  That is common sense.  However, if someone asks me about my faith, or WHY I am the way I am, I should NOT live in fear of sharing the TRUTHFUL answer to those questions.

Walking on egg shells...  Since 1999....  That is when I went through Basic where I was told I could not pray with others outside of Chapel, where I was told that if my Bible offended someone, I would not be allowed to read it again except at Chapel.

Now... walking on egg shells is facing the potential of walking through a land mine for Christians serving in the Armed Forces as Pentagon leadership sits down with a well-known anti-Christian group leader, Mikey Weinstein and entertains his plethora of anti-Christian rhetoric concerning new regulations for our men and women in the Military.

I am no longer serving.  However, my husband is.  I have hundreds of military friends all around the world serving their country, and serve our Lord.  They already walk on egg shells.  They already bite their tongues when an opportunity to share His Word, His Love presents itself. 

I have prayed and prayed today about how handle this news.  I know His will is going to be done ultimately.  I am praying for peace.  I am praying that the sense of foreboding deep in the center of my chest is replaced with the HOPE I know He has given me.  Finally, I have come to this conclusion.

Let us all get on our knees.  Pass this on.  Share with your friends.  Share it at church.  Post it on your Facebook page, on Twitter, whatever your social outlet is to get prayers out.

Let us all pray... Not just that this piece of military regulation falters, if it is His will, but more importantly, pray for Mr. Weinstein.   Let us start a prayer chain that lifts this man up to our Lord, to soften his heart, to wash away his hate or his anger or his bitterness, to offer him true hope and peace and truth.

Will you pray with me for Mr. Weinstein?

Fortress of Faith- Study Two: Pillars of Faith

God our Creator

As we move forward in science and technology, it appears on one hand that we are discovering the secrets to the universe, but just as quickly as we learn the way something in nature works, we also discover that we have no idea why finding instead that a million other questions are left unanswered.

In modern-day Christianity, we now see more and more science spilling into explanations of the miraculous.  Sometimes that science allows us to see just how miraculous the miracle of creation is, but more often then not, the science is a poorly veiled attempt to draw our focus away from our Creator, to demean His abilities and ultimately His love for us.

Genesis chapters one and two clearly lay out the narration of God creating not just our world, but all that we comprehend to be real in this universe.

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth..."  According to Scripture, God spent several days creating all we know, not millenia, there are no gaps in time.  If there were gaps in time as some insist, when God inspired Moses to write Genesis, he would have directed him to say "-the first period."  No, over and over the time of creation spanned "-the first day," "-the second day," and so on.  Still, science, and those even among the Christian community cannot fathom such a monumental task occurring, so our Creator is put into a neat little box with a label on it saying He can't literally create a universe, a planet, ecosystems complete with plants and animals, and people in one week.  Yet, He did.   Scripture clearly states God created all that we see around us in a miraculous manner, to include us.  (Job 38 goes in depth on His handiwork versus our arrogance in thinking we can understand creation.)

Romans 1 v 20 says "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities- his eternal power and divine nature- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse."

As Christians, we should be able to see Him in the world around us.  We should be able to see the divine architect's plan as we learn about the amazingly perfect balance nature has.  We should be able to see the miraculous when we learn about the human body with its incredible cells, chemical makeup, and inter-working systems that work together in perfect harmony so that we  not just live, but we also reason.  We should be able to see all that science has learned as proof of His existence, not as a reason to doubt.  We should see Him in creation, but even more so, when we look at ourselves, we should see He is OUR Creator.

Genesis 1:26 says that God created us in His image.  Now, we will not know until we meet Him in Heaven exactly what that means.  Does that mean our bodily appearance reflects the physical build of our Creator?  Does it really matter?  What does matter is that He thought as an artist.  He hand-crafted us in a manner pleasing to Him, and He breathed life into us, and He thought we (according to verse 31) that we were pretty cool.

Psalm 139, one of my favorite chapters in the Bible, speaks of His relationship with us as our Creator.  According to David, who wrote this Psalm, our Creator has an intimate relationship with us.  He knows us inside and out, knowing what we wish to say before we do. 

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.  All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." Psalm 139 v 13-16

I encourage you, as you go about the rest of your week, take a moment to wonder at creation.  Take a minute to truly consider the balance of our ecosystems.  Take a minute to truly look at the veins in a leaf, and consider how it moves nutrients that are absorbed by the sun and changed in the fiber of the leaf.  The look at yourself in the mirror.  Try to count the hairs on your head.  Try to fathom how your body's systems work together, automatically.   Try to really line that up with the "scientific" explanation of a big bang versus the well-planned execution of a divine plan.

You, my friend, are a miracle living among the miraculous! 

God bless!