The Gift of Life

Good morning, my beautiful readers! Yes, it’s been a while since I’ve written anything, but I have a really good excuse this time! I’m pregnant! Currently, 13 weeks and 2 days.

I was working two jobs when my husband and I discovered we’d be expecting–the day after Thanksgiving, lol–but I quit my part-time position in December, after the holidays had subsided, and the only thing preventing me from sharing with y’all has been the fatigue and nausea associated with the first trimester. I have been feeling a little better the last few days, so hopefully, I can continue where we left off.

This morning, on my way in to work, God and I were having this really long conversation. I was talking to Him about my pregnancy and the baby; my marriage and relationship with my husband; my friends and family who are also expecting; and my friends who’ve recently given birth, and their marriages. Then I started thanking Him for the life He’s given me and here’s where I started to break down a little.

If you’ve read my testimony, you understand why I began getting so emotional. There was once a time in my life where I didn’t see a baby as a precious gift, but as an inconvenience. I’ve since then recognized my flawed thinking and repented of my sins and failures, but to be in the position that I am now…is overwhelming, to say the least. God’s not only given me new life through His Son Jesus Christ, but now He’s giving me new life in the form of a baby; and that just goes to show how forgiving, loving, and merciful and generous He is.

This Friday, January 27th, is the March for Life in D.C. Last year I got snowed out, and this year I won’t be able to make it just due to the fact that that’s a lot of walking and I’m not prepared for it in my current state (my body has been so achy, lately, since everything is shifting inside). However, if you can make it, I encourage you to do so. I’ll be praying for your safety and that God speaks clearly through you. Don’t forget that there are people on both sides of this issue and we all need to see God’s love and truth through you; we need our talk to be seasoned with grace at all times.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:1, ESV

Lastly, I just want to say…we serve a great GREAT God and I don’t know where I would be without Him. If you are, or ever have been, where I once was, or you don’t have a personal relationship with Christ, and you want to know more, submit a comment below and I’ll be sure to respond with love and grace. I love you all, because God loves us all, and gave up His one and only Son for us so that we might have eternal life with Him…all of us.

Take care and God bless!

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Treat People the Way God Treats You

Don’t treat people the way they treat you. Treat people the way God treats you. ~ Dave Willis

The other day I saw a meme shared by Focus on the Family in my Facebook news feed, with the above quote. I immediately shared it, thinking “Yes! Someone else gets it!”

The truth is, we live in a society in which we measure out things like, love, grace, and respect in the measure that it’s given to us; but the Word tells us to live otherwise.

In Matthew 7:12, Jesus Himself, says “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you.” (We talked about this previously, in my R-E-S-P-E-C-T post, about a year ago.)

So, why are we revisiting this? Because we always need to be reminded, and like I said in a previous post (The Lamp of the Body), we’re called to be a peculiar people. We’re not supposed to think and act like those in the world. Is this difficult? Yes; but, again, we’re not doing it on our own, but by the power of the Spirit of God living within us. The verse we’ve been returning to again and again, in church this year, has been Zechariah 4:8: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit says the Lord. This ties right in line with what we’ve been saying here for years.

Give Grace

So, what does it mean to treat others the way that God treats us? I believe it means that we’re showing people grace, as God shows us grace. The word grace itself, is described as free and unmerited favor, meaning it’s undeserved. God doesn’t provide grace for us because we deserve it, He provides it because of Who He is. In same, we shouldn’t offer grace towards others based on merit, but because of who we are in Christ; we forgive others because we’ve been forgiven (Matthew 6:14; Ephesians 4:32).

Discipline in Love

Secondly, it means that we discipline in love, the way God lovingly disciplines His children. Proverbs 3:11-12 and Hebrews 12 talk about discipline. I think we often equate discipline with corporal punishment, but as I believe we’ve briefly discussed before–in Correction–this is more like training and teaching than anything else. Basically, we’re talking about speaking Truth, gently and lovingly, into people’s lives and letting God do the rest of the work. Again…Our job is simply to share it, not to force people to believe (for more on this check out, For All to Hear).

Treat all Equally

Third, it means we treat all equally and with respect. Jesus died for all, not just a few of us and He gives us all equal opportunity to become children of God (Romans 2:11; Galatians 3:26-29; John 1:12; John 3:16-17; Acts 10:34). James asks in chapter 2, “how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others?” This could be based on financial or social status, as it was in James’ time, but it could also include race or ethnicity. The Church of our Lord, Jesus Christ is global. There will be people of all races and tongues in heaven, whether we were rich or poor, married or unmarried, U.S.-born, Middle Eastern, African, raised in the church, or became a believer in our old age; none of it is going to matter when we’re all standing before God (Revelation 7:9).

Treat Others as Better than Ourselves

Lastly, it means we treat others as better than ourselves. In Philippians 2:3-8 (NLT), Paul writes:

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.

You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

Jesus, Himself, showed us what it looked like to pour out His life for others. Remember when Jesus washed His disciples’ feet in John 13?  He told them to use it as an example, and to wash each other’s feet as He washed theirs. Elsewhere, we’re told that we are to serve one another in love, to love our neighbor as our self, and to give to those in need, period (Leviticus 19:33-34; Galatians 5:13; Mark 10:42-45; Mark 12:31; Romans 12:20; James 1:27). And to top it all off, we’re to expect nothing in return (Luke 14:12-14).

Will this be easy? No. Will this be possible? Absolutely. But only by the power of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives. Are you up for the challenge? I know Paul was when he stated, “But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy” (Philippians 2:17).

Let’s act accordingly.

For All to Hear

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7, NLT)

The words above were spoken to the prophet Samuel, after he took one look at Jesse’s son, Eliab, and immediately assumed he would be the next king of Israel. God gently chided Samuel by telling him not to judge a man by his outward appearance and reminded him that He (God) sees the parts that truly matter. This weekend, as I was praying during one of our church’s worship and prayer services, I heard the following words spoken to my spirit: How dare we pick and choose who we will share the message of the gospel of Christ with! His spilt blood and broken body are far too precious for us to keep to ourselves.

Now, for most of us this may seem common sense and we’re thinking to ourselves, “I don’t judge anybody by their outward appearance!” But honestly…how do we usually decide who we share the gospel with? Do we only share the truth with those we think will be most receptive to hear it? Do we only share the message with strangers and overlook our friends because we’re afraid of changing the status of our relationship? Or perhaps we only share the gospel with our friends and ignore strangers or people who seem different from us? I know I’ve been guilty of all of these at one point or another.Until the Whole World Hears

Whatever the case may be, the truth remains the same. Christ died for all. And our responsibility as believers is to share the good news with everybody; not just those we believe might accept it, or just with our friends and family, or only with strangers. I hear you asking, “But what if they don’t accept it?” Our job is simply to share it, not to force people to believe. And here’s where we need to be reminded that no one has been, or ever will be, won over by the gospel of Christ if we’re rude, pushy, judgmental, or hateful. We’re called to speak in love and truth, to live what we believe, and plant the seed, whether or not we ever see any fruit firsthand.

How many people will miss out on the saving knowledge of Christ because we’re afraid of being rejected, mocked, or persecuted? How many people will miss out on the single most important relationship they’ll ever need or want—with Christ—because we’re afraid to modify the status of our relationship with that person?

You know, when Jesus said in Luke 14:26 that if we wanted to be His disciples we must hate everybody else, He didn’t mean that we actually were to hate them; He meant it in comparison to Him. The whole point is that we are to love God so passionately that everything else we love pales in comparison. He should be our everything and the only One we should be worried about displeasing. Therefore, when we put relationships with others before Him, we’re actually being disobedient. Furthermore, don’t we want the people we come into contact with every day to have that opportunity to receive Christ as their personal Lord and Savior!? What’s more important, the relationship, or their eternal soul?

Lastly, since fear is the obstacle I face most often when it comes to sharing the gospel, I like to keep Hebrews 13:6 posted in my cubicle at work (and continually in the back of my mind) to constantly remind me that God is always with me, just as He’s always with you. Now…”go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” and remember He is with us always…”even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).

So we can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me? (Hebrews 13:6, NLT)

So we take comfort and are encouraged and confidently and boldly say, The Lord is my Helper; I will not be seized with alarm [I will not fear or dread or be terrified]. What can man do to me? (Hebrews 13:6, AMP)

Since God assured us, “I’ll never let you down, never walk off and leave you,” we can boldly quote, “God is there, ready to help; I’m fearless no matter what. Who or what can get to me?” (Hebrews 13:6, The Message)

High Stakes

I finished the book of Romans, and have begun 1 Corinthians, this week. I’ve decided that I really like keeping a journal when I study the Word of God, because it helps me remember what I’m reading, which in turn, helps me understand and apply it. Well, this is what I’ve been mulling over for the past few days…

Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple. (1 Corinthians 3:16-17 ~ NIV)

I’ve always taken these verses in the literal or physical sense, as in the Holy Spirit lives within us and therefore, we shouldn’t do any harm to our physical bodies and neither should others harm us, because God will have His revenge. But when I read the same verses in the Amplified Bible, it took on even deeper meaning.

Do you not discern and understand that you are God’s temple (His sanctuary), and that God’s Spirit has His permanent dwelling in you [to be at home in you, collectively as a church and also individually]? If anyone does hurt to God’s temple or corrupts it [with false doctrines] or destroys it, God will do hurt to him and bring him to the corruption of death and destroy him. For the temple of God is holy (sacred to Him) and that [temple] you [the believing church and its individual believers] are. (1 Corinthians 3:16-17 ~ Amplified)

EpistlesPaul’s epistle (letter) to the church at Corinth, wasn’t just talking about our physical bodies. He was also talking in the spiritual sense of harm and corruption to the individual believer and to the church as a whole!

These verses made me realize (again) how careful we must be as teachers—and sharers—of God’s Word, to stick to His Truth and not tell others things that they want to hear, just because we’re afraid of what they might say to us, how they may treat us, or what they may think of us, because we will be held accountable! And if we didn’t get the hint with these verses, the Word tells us the same thing elsewhere…

    • But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. (Matthew 12:36)
    • You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine. (Titus 2:1)
    • Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. (1 Timothy 4:16)

I believe I’ve mentioned before about how teachers will be held at a higher standard, because we “should know better” (James 3:1-6). As we should! After all, there are souls at stake!

Because I love the people around me and because I value the Bible as the VERY Words of God, I cannot, in good conscience, tell someone that it’s okay to live a certain way or commit a certain act, when I know that it’s sin–per the Word of God–and will ultimately lead to their complete and utter separation from God! I’m not passing judgment; I’m stating Biblical fact/Truth. This is me being loving because I don’t want anybody to be severed from the love of God. I want every one of my readers to come to the knowledge of Christ. To recognize their (our) need for a Savior!

For some reason the world encourages us  to warn people of the danger of being embarrassed, and the danger of being physically, emotionally, or financially injured; but for some reason, it discourages us from warning others of spiritual danger—the most important and destructive threat to our very souls! This life is temporary (extremely short); but eternity is forever. I want every one of you to spend eternity in heaven, but I also understand—according to the Truth found in the Word (the Bible)—that God can’t commune (connect or establish a relationship) with us as long as there’s sin in our lives. In fact, the Word says that as long as there’s sin in our lives, we are actually enemies of God (James 4:4).

Yet, even so, God still desires a relationship with us! As it says in Romans, “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (verses 5:7-8). Can you imagine dying for your enemy? THAT’S love. (Jesus did all the work; all we have to do is repent–turn away from our sin and turn towards God–to receive the precious gift of eternal life and a relationship with the giver of life, the God of creation, the lover of our souls!)

Okay, so now you’re probably thinking to yourself, “Everybody makes mistakes and everybody sins and they should just be free to make their own choices.” (I know this because I’ve heard it repeated and asked over and over again.) Sure. Fine. But I’m not going to encourage anybody to make bad and/or sinful choices. I’ll continue to encourage them to do just the opposite; to make wise choices. Because isn’t that really, what love is about? Being there for the individual, speaking truth and encouraging them to live holy lives, pleasing to God (Hebrews 10:24)? That’s what I want for my younger sisters, my parents, my friends. I understand that ultimately, it’s their decision. I can lead a horse to water—in this case, I’m talking Living Water—but I can’t make them drink.High Stakes

Make sure the words from your mouth and pen are spoken in love and truth. Make sure you hold true to the standard that God provides us with through the Bible. If God says that He’ll respond to our actions in a particular manner, don’t accuse Him of bluffing. This isn’t a poker game (and if it were, our souls are mighty high stakes to be playing with)! If He said it, He meant it! I get the feeling that we think that God will change His mind in regards to sin. “Oh, but He loves us, how could He condemn us?!” His Word says He can and He will. We will stand before Him and be held accountable (Matthew 12:36-37; Romans 2:5; 2 Peter 2:4-9, 3:7 ). The questions we should be asking ourselves are: will we have Christ defending us (Revelations 12:10)? Is Christ our rock and our foundation (1 Corinthians 3:11; Ephesians 2:19-20)? Is He our covering (Galatians 3:26-27; Romans 13:14)? Our life’s purpose (Mark 16:15; Philippians 1:21)? And is our life a testimony (evidence) of the One Who saves us (Acts 26:20; Romans 6:12-13; Hebrews 10:26-27; James 2:17; Galatians 5:22; Ephesians 4: 22-24; 1 Peter 1:22; Revelations 12:11)?

As Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, “I am writing this not to shame you but to warn you” (1 Corinthians 4:14).

Outside the Box

First off, let me start by saying I’m somewhat hesitant to write what I’m about to write. I don’t want anybody to get the impression that I think I’m better than anybody else, or “more spiritual,” but I really want to tell you what’s been on my heart for a while now.

I follow a few Christian authors on Twitter and they often make comments or ask questions or their followers. One such comment that continually pops us is about “cultural Christianity.” Basically it’s about how we live in a nation in which individuals identify themselves as Christians, but don’t live as such. I see it every day, both inside the church and outside; but what I want to discuss varies somewhat from this.

One of the definitions of culture is “the behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular social, ethnic, or age group;” and we’re going to talk about the “culture” of the current Church. There are many wonderful churches out there, full of passionate preachers, teachers, worship leaders, and believers. They love God with everything that they are, they speak truth and life into the people around them, and they live out their beliefs; but unfortunately where I find we’re falling short is allowing the Spirit to move freely. For some reason I feel as though we’ve put God in this tiny little box and said, you can move around in here, but you can’t go any further than this. I feel like we’re more worried about making people feel uncomfortable, or taking up too much of their time, than freely and unashamedly worshiping Him. If the Spirit is moving, let Him move! Let Him do His thing! Let Him heal the broken, renew the weary, and strengthen the weak; and let those who choose to pour themselves out to Him, do so.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, if we really want revival and change in our “culturally Christian” world, perhaps we should start where it matters most: the culture of our churches. We need to stop trying to contain God inside a little box, allow Him to pour Himself out on our congregations, and allow believers to soak in His presence; because if we really knew what His presence was like, we would never want to leave His side, and we would want everybody around us to share in that experience and come to know His great love.

Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth. (John 4:23-24)

The Word

As I drove home from work Wednesday multiple thoughts flew across my mind. I thought about God’s Word; the book of Romans; an article I read earlier that day on Louie Giglio & the presidential inauguration; the church & Christianity, in general; and lastly, I thought about Paul. (Yes, I know it’s a lot to think about…this is what happens when I let myself think, smh. Sometimes it gets overwhelming and I have to ask God to just give me a break and quiet my mind.)

Regarding God’s Word, I thought about how blessed we are to have it! Imagine trying to live life without any sort of direction or guidance. (I know many people try to do it, but frankly it’s impossible and leaves one with a meaningless, purposeless, lawless, and selfish existence!) I thought about all our brothers and sisters in Christ, around the world, that are without Bibles, and how they will do anything to just have a few verses or lines of Scripture, even risking their lives to obtain it. And I thought about how we often take God’s word for granted. We are so blessed in America to have the freedom to read God’s Word, but how many of us choose not to!? Then we wonder why we feel so lost and unsure of our beliefs…Love Story Bible

Regarding the book of Romans, I thought about how chock full of information it is! As I study it, questions arise—which I jot down until I get the opportunity to ask someone (preferably a pastor) about them—and I find myself intrigued, amazed, grateful, and passionate about every verse and chapter. The book describes the purpose of the Law, our need for a Savior, the love God has for us (as revealed in the fact that Jesus came to earth in the form of a man to reconcile us to God), and how even though we (Christians) now fall under grace and not the law, we’re still expected to uphold the law and live our new lives—as our old lives passed away with the death of Christ on the cross and our new lives arose with His resurrection (Romans 6:6-7)—glorifying God in everything we do and say. And, I’m only finishing up chapter 8!!

Regarding the article on Louie Giglio & the presidential inauguration, I thought how sad that we live in a country where the minority is slowly influencing what the majority believes, says or does. Free speech has now come to mean “you can believe or say what you want as long as it’s the same as what I believe and say.” That’s not free speech! Free speech is that everybody has a right to believe and say what they want (in a respectful way, of course). If you don’t like it, that’s just too bad, because that’s freedom of speech!

Regarding the church and Christianity in general, I thought about how so many of our churches have fallen away from preaching upon certain subject matter, currently inflicting our nation and how anemic “Christians” are running around preaching a message that is not God’s message. We need to stop basing what we believe about God based on our own feelings/thoughts or upon what our pastors are telling us. Instead, we need to open up His Word and read the Bible for ourselves!! (Now you’re seeing how my thoughts have run full circle ;)) And because we have so many churches/pastors not teaching the full gospel, those that do teach the full gospel are criticized because they talk about God’s laws, and nobody wants to hear it! We have to hear about His law and His grace. We can’t learn only about His love because we’re going to find ourselves in trouble when we find ourselves face to face with His just wrath because we didn’t follow His commands which are found in His WORD. On the other hand, we can’t talk only about His law because then we’re facing legalism and the idea that we can earn our into heaven all on our own (which is impossible!). All of His word must be taught, read, studied, learned, understood, and LIVED.

And at this point is where I thought of Paul. I believe the reason God used Paul in the manner that He did was for one major reason. Paul—as Saul—was a major proponent of the law. He knew it inside and out. He studied it. He lived it. He was passionate about it. So much so, that when the early (Christian) believers began preaching that Jesus was the Messiah, Saul accused them of blaspheme and went from town to town having them imprisoned and even stoned/killed. When Saul came face to face with Christ on the road to Damascus, his life was forever changed (hence the name change to Paul). You may be wondering, “I still don’t understand, why Paul?” Paul was a murderer—he gave approval to the stoning of Stephen, the first Christian martyr—and there was absolutely no way that he would ever be able to “make it up” to God. Jesus’s grace was the only way to have his relationship with God restored. Paul understood God’s grace as well as His justice.

Whether we’ve failed a little or failed a lot, we’re all in the same boat. God’s word says we’ve all fallen short of the glory of God and not one of us is perfect/righteous/ in right standing with God (Romans 3:10, 23). But that doesn’t mean we ignore God’s law because we can’t live up to it or change it so that it’s easier for us to live by. Nor does that mean that we ignore the fact that God loves us all the same and wants all to come to repentance, and turn our back to those we think are “undeserving” or “too sinful.” For God’s word also says that His grace can cover it all and His grace has no limit (Romans 5:20)!

I’ve said it before and I’m going to say it again, we really must teach truth in love. Even then, we need to remember that the truth often stings, and we, therefore, must be prepared for backlash, and keep in mind what Jesus said about the world hating His disciples because we bring the message of hope to a dying world and bright light to a darkened room (John 17:14, 3:19; 8:12).

Live in the Word. Breathe in the Word. Allow it to transform the way you view the world and the people around you. Let it transform you: your reactions, your actions, your words, your life! You cannot survive on 1 or 2 pieces of cake each week (I call it cake because it gives you a momentary “spiritual” high); you need your daily bread, your meat, your living water!

What Do Mormons Believe?

Okay, I’m going to be completely honest and say, I read this one a few weeks ago and I have been wanting to share it, but the timing was off because of elections. So, I’m sharing it now…

Members of the Salt Lake City-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) are nicknamed Mormons after one of the main characters in the Book of Mormon. Mormons follow four books as Scripture: the Bible (officially, the King James Version), the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants (D&C), and the Pearl of Great Price (PGP).

The church’s leaders teach that God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to a teenager named Joseph Smith, Jr. in 1820, telling him that all the teachings of existing Christian churches “were an abomination in [God’s] sight” because their “professors” had changed the original gospel message (see “Joseph Smith–History,” PGP 1:19). Three years later Smith said an angel named Moroni led him to unearth a set of gold plates inscribed with strange writings from a hillside in rural New York. Moroni said that he himself had buried the plates there 14 centuries earlier, before he was transformed from a man to an angel.

Smith claimed the ability to translate the plates, which he said were written in “Reformed Egyptian.” No one else was allowed to see the plates. The results of his “translation” is the Book of Mormon, published in 1830. It tells tales about ancient Israelites coming to the American continent, Jesus visiting here after His resurrection in faraway Israel, and about evil, dark-skinned Lamanites destroying the righteous Nephites. After moving his followers to three different states, Smith was killed by an Illinois mob in 1844. Three years later, the second prophet (Brigham Young) let most of the church members to the Utah Territory. Mormons believe their church is guided by a living prophet as well as two counselors, twelve apostles, and several quorums of the “Seventy.” These men are called general authorities.

Mormonism’s emphasis on families and moral values makes it attractive to may people. The young, clean-cut LDS missionaries who spend two years of their lives sharing the LDS message around the world are able to convince many people to convert to Mormonism. Yet while Mormons talk about God and Jesus as well as salvation by grace and baptism, they give different meanings to these topics. For instance, in contradiction to the Bible, Mormonism teaches:

  • God the Father was once a human and today has “a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s” (D&C 130:22). The Bible says, “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).
  • The doctrines of the Trinity and Jesus’ equality with the Father are false.
  • Men can become gods of their own worlds and have families that continue forever.
  • Living Mormons can do good works on behalf of the dead through rites in the LDS temples.
  • Undergoing water baptism, joining the LDS Church, and getting married in the temple are requirements for being exalted in the next life.

Many Mormons are wonderful people, but the gospel they follow is not biblical and their beliefs about America’s history are clearly false. Learning more about Mormon teachings will allow you to become effective at explaining the vital differences between biblical truth and the mistaken beliefs of the Latter-Day Saints.

Johnson, E. (2009). Apologetics Study Bible for Students. Nashville, Tennessee: Holman Bible Publishers.