Archive for the ‘Christianity’ Category

Should a Christian drink alcohol?

March 22, 2016

While there are prohibitions throughout scripture against drinking too much wine, it is never prohibited outright. There are religious groups who do not drink alcohol, indeed they pledge not to drink alcohol. That is because they feel alcohol is such a problem in today’s world, they don’t want to be the cause of someone else falling into sin with alcohol. They believe that though they are free to drink, it would not be pleasing to God in their situation. I think it is somewhat similar to the situation in the Corinthian church (I Corinthians chapters 8-10) that Paul wrote about involving eating meat that had been sacrificed to idols. Strong Christians who knew idols were nothing believed they had the freedom to eat any meat and not worry about whether it had been in an idol temple. But other Christians believed it would be a sin to eat meat that came from an idol temple. Paul said for a person who believes it to be a sin, if they eat it anyway, for them it is a sin. He also taught those who believed it was not a sin, to be careful of the consciences of others, and not to trip someone else up. We are not to act in doubt, for anything we do apart from what we know to be right is sin. So if someone is in doubt about drinking, and our doing it pressures him to do it because of us, we have put him into a situation where he might fall. Love for others doesn’t do that.

No One Gets Away with Anything

January 26, 2016

But don’t be afraid of those who threaten you.  For the time is coming when the truth will be revealed; their secret plots will become public knowledge.  Matthew 10:26

In today’s culture, anyone who is at all open about their faith gets harassed sometimes by some people, and at times it seems the bullying occurs a lot of the time by a lot of people. Bullies usually aren’t open about what they are doing.  They harass others outside of the public eye.  They gossip, lie, slander, ruin reputations, start rumors, etc.  They do anything they can to diminish their prey, and do it without looking bad themselves.  If they can take your job, your position, your good name or your peace, they will try to do it, and very slyly and secretly.   But God says, do not fear.  He will one day see that justice is done.  They will be exposed for who they are and truth will be known.  Do not be afraid. God has your back.  Nothing ever goes on without His knowledge.  He knows those who are His, and He will never let this go so far as to defeat His plans and purposes for those He loves.  Again, do not be afraid.

 

Caribbean Chicken Salad

July 6, 2011

O God of Peace, we praise you and give thanks for your gentle, guiding calm in our lives. We give thanks for safety, food, shelter, and nations where we are free to pursue those things.

Caribbean Chicken Salad

Marinate chopped chicken breast in favorite marinade.

Stir fry chicken and allow to cool.

Arrange greens on plate.  Put 2 tablespoons of pico de gallo in the middle.  Arrange chunks of fresh pineapple and slices of orange around pico.  Put chicken on top of pico and crush some “hint of lime” tortilla chips over all.  Pass dressing around the table.

Dressing:

1/4 cup dijon mustard

1/4 cup honey

1 1/2 TB sugar

1 1/2 TB oil

1 1/2 TB white wine vinegar

juice of a whole lime.

Shake together and put in small pitcher.

Enjoy this refreshing summer salad with rolls, flatbread or other bread, tropical fruit punch or tea.

Loving an Enemy–a prayer

March 12, 2011

Lord, I can’t control what others do to me, but I can control the attitude of my own heart.  Help me truly love, care for, pray for and sacrifice for those who do not love me–who indeed may hate me.  You loved like that, Jesus.  Now You are letting me experience the sorrow of having an enemy who has done harm to my soul and spirit.  Lord, I know this is a practical lesson.  I am to practice loving the way You do–not just think about it.  I need Your help so much.  Please change my deepest heart attitudes–especially the ones I don’t know about, and bring my attitudes in line with Yours.

When Christians Get Depressed

March 8, 2011

When Christians get depressed, there are reasons unique to being Christian, and reasons in common with everyone.  I’ll include eight reasons here.  These are non-medical things and assume one has first been checked out for physical causes of the depression.

1.  Anyone, Christian or otherwise is not thinking clearly when depressed.  Things in life, both good and bad tend to be out of proportion to their actual importance.  Many things, both good and bad are forgotten.  The negative tends to be exaggerated and the positive is downplayed.  A sensitive listener who can interject the positive can help.

2.  Christians who are depressed aren’t on speaking terms with the Lord.  They may be angry with Him, or have the perception that their prayers aren’t being heard.  Faith at this time is very weak and fragile.  Lengthy time in the scriptures, especially the psalms can help.

3.  Christians who are depressed aren’t remembering what God has done.  A simple list of blessings is difficult to compose.  With assistance from a friend in making one, a list may help a depressed person gain some perspective.

4.  All depressed people tend to be separated from nurturing relationships.  The isolation is usually self-imposed, and sometimes difficult to penetrate.  A good friend or two who “keeps knocking” can help.

5.  Depression is often the aftermath of great victory.  It seems the huge expenditure of energy needed to achieve the victory leaves one with a let down.  Reminders that this is normal and will pass, as well as a time of rest can help.

6.  Physical and emotional exhaustion are often components of depression for all people.  Whether the exhaustion is the result of fighting a battle and achieving victory, or fighting anything over time, rest is often a necessary part of recovery.  Depression used to be called “nervous exhaustion” in lay terms, and still is quite descriptive in many cases.  Again, physical, mental and emotional rest help.

7.  Self pity is also part of depression for all sorts of people.  Seeing only the negatives in one’s situation and feeling “life is unfair” are strong contributors to depression.  A good listener who can interject some balance can help.

8.  Comparing oneself unfavorably to others is also a big part of depression, with guilt and a “why try” attitude riding along.   One has to simply give up the bad habit of comparing.  No two people or their situations are alike, and no human is qualified to judge others or even oneself. 

All of us get off track, even Christians, and it takes the time of patient friends as well as time with God in prayer and scripture to regain perspective.  This of course, assumes one has already been checked out medically for something physical or chemical which must be fixed first before the rest will work.

Good Friday

April 2, 2010

In the courts of the heavenlies, past the realm of time and in eternity, the Godhead sat enthroned, surrounded by thousands of angels.  These were the angels who had remained loyal after the great rebellion.  The angels were highly intelligent, highly sensitive creatures, who could have forgotten their place and fancied themselves as equals to God.  In fact a third of them did just that very thing, and were cast from heaven along with their leader, an angel named Lucifer.  Only Lucifer could still, at times, approach the throne of God when God allowed him to speak. 

The Godhead had created a cosmos.  It contained 300 billion galaxies, and in one of the galaxies, in a tiny solar system near the edge, on a tiny planet, the Godhead had created life.  There was vegetation, all kinds of animal, bird and reptile life, and an awesome creation called man.  The man was created plural, as the Godhead is.  Man had his mate, called woman.  God shared his life with the man and woman.  He walked and spoke with them in a way they could understand.  He made them a little lower than the angels, not so intelligent as the angels, and not so sensitive, yet intelligent enough that God could have partnership with them.  Yet, the man and woman had also rebelled against God.  They believed a lie of Lucifer instead of the truth of God, to whom they owed everything.  Why?  The lie was enticing.  They could become equal to God–the very thing Lucifer had tried to do.  Lucifer, who had spat out the words to his creator: “I will not serve you”, now tried to recruit followers and had been successful.  

The thousands of loyal angels were watching.  The rebellious angels had been driven from the heavenlies and from God’s presence.  What would God do to the man and woman?  Justice demanded the same treatment for the man and woman, spiritual death, unless justice could be satisfied in some other way.  The second person of the Godhead offered himself in place of the man and woman.     He would become human as they were, and enter life on the earth.  He would taste death so they would never have to.  The angels were satisfied and praised God for His great love, justice and mercy.  But Lucifer, now called Satan, wasn’t satisfied.  He hated God and he hated the humans.  He stepped forward and described the crucifixion.  It was a horrifying thing, and the gasp echoed through the courts of heaven.  It was satanically inspired cruelty.  And Satan threw down the challenge.  “You would never love them that much!”  The second person of the Godhead answered, “my love is infinite.  I will do this.  I will go.”  And he did go, as Jesus, all the way to the cross and endured it in all its hideousness.  It was literally the worst Satan could have devised.  Jesus died, so we will never have to experience death.  And the Father showed His acceptance.  The veil of the temple, which had always separated man and God was split in two from the top down.  Jesus was raised from death on Easter morning, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father to rule and reign over all the creation.  And Lucifer, now called Satan, lost.  He still wanders the earth, trying to deceive humans through pride (you are divine) or through lies about God’s character (God doesn’t exist, God doesn’t care, God doesn’t love you).  But Satan has lost the war.  Whatever he says can be refuted by God’s people using God’s words.  And he no longer has any power to harm us without our permission.  So, arise dear soul.   God won, and so have we.  Live for God’s glory and bask in His Love.

Jesus in my Purse

March 26, 2010

Crazy Love by Francis Chan is one of the most profoundly life-changing books I have ever read.  It is truly counter-culture, both in terms of American culture and Christian culture.  Ultimately it asks, “How much do you love Jesus?”  How much do we think we love Jesus?  How much do we love the real Jesus?  How much of our love is devoted to a Jesus who fits our own image of what a God should be?

I think American women really want a Jesus they can fit into their purse.  If Jesus can fit into my purse, the convenience is amazing.  He’s small enough that I can carry him wherever I go, not a big God who (God forbid) carries me!  He’s  easily hidden so he doesn’t show up and embarrass me.  I take him when I please, and leave him home if he’s too much trouble to drag around wherever I’m going.  If  he’s with me, I want him to be sort of like a small spray can.  If I’m lacking confidence, poof!  I have it.  If I’m scared, poof!  I have  courage.  If I’m feeling weak, poof!  I have the Power!!  If I need money, the right words, a parking place, I name it and poof!  I have what I need instantly.  Oh yes, I’m grateful.  I’m always saying “Thank you Jesus!”  People think I’m really religious since they hear my thanks so often.  I even try to do things for Jesus to keep him happy there in my purse.  God forbid he should jump out and quit taking care of me.

Oh wait!  I have just broken the second commandment and broken it in a huge way.  I’ve made a Jesus in my image.  This is NOT the Jesus who came to earth to teach me who HE is and what HE wants of me.  This is not the Jesus who “set his face like flint” and headed to Calvary so He could die for me and the boatload of silly, selfish, foolish users just like me who treat the Lord of Heaven and Earth like my personal assistant.  This is not the Jesus who asked me if I would take up my cross and follow him.  This is not the Jesus who told me to love God with all my heart(passion), all my soul (emotion), all my mind (faith), and all my strength (commitment), and actually commanded me to love the other person (any other person in need) as much as I love myself.  No, the real Jesus won’t ever fit in my purse, and I have to ask if He will fit in my puny life.  My life is about keeping my shoes clean, looking good and not breaking a nail.  My life is the life of a “nice” lady who is only beginning to realize the depth of her sin and the enormity of the loving grace of Jesus.

Prayer During Lent

March 12, 2010

Jesus, how incredibly difficult it must have been for you, in your humanity, to face all you did in your earthly ministry.  You faced opposition everywhere you went .  Leadership was waiting for a chance to trip you up, dripping with criticism, sarcasm and hate.  The mob was filled with cynics and skeptics with attitudes ranging from “ho-hum, another populist” to “show us a miracle–impress us!” Much of the mob wanted only something for themselves.  Some was legitimate: people who needed an illness cured, for example.  However, many only wanted someone to take care of them so they could give up the responsibility of taking care of themselves.  And everywhere–sin.  Yet, you served and you loved.  In your divinity you healed.  In your humanity, you got tired, hot, hungry, thirsty and frustrated.  It was a trial beyond our understanding, to have to deal with all our sin all the time.  But you did, until it cost you your life in the most tortuous way of death.  Thank you Jesus for loving like no one has before, or since, or ever will again.  I’m humbled to realize I will never be able to love you as you deserve.  Help me at least begin.

What is Worship

March 8, 2010

This morning’s message was on worship.  While taking notes, I made lots of my own observations–reflections on the reflection, so to speak.  Anyway, a “fleshed out” version of my total note page follows.

What is worship?  The pastor likes the definition “loving God back”.  I like that too.  How can worship even be worship without love?  How can a phone call to a parent, made out of duty and without love have any value at all?  If I’m loving God back, it explains why the scripture tells us to “lift up holy hands”.  A little child lifts up its hands to its parent, saying “pick me up”, “I want you”, “I want us to hug”.  Since we are to come to our heavenly father as little children, lifting up our hands conveys all that childlike emotion and desire.

God loved me even before I was formed.  The scripture says God watched my formation and recorded the prenatal events in his book.  How like a pregnant mother!  That is love!!  I want to love him back with my whole heart.  How can I do that?  Love requires expression for its life.  How can I express that love to God?

I can offer God my whole day.  If I think of my daily life as an offering, it changes the way I see it.  In this day of offering, I can look for “divine appointments”.  I can be on watch for things God would like to show me.  I can be primed to show gratitude and appreciation for the things, people and events all around, for which I owe God thanks.  I can ask for and watch for an opportunity to share God’s love with someone else who needs that encouragement.  I can also watch for opportunities to serve God’s kingdom in some way.  I can be aware of the need to be loved–my own and that of others.  Everyone wants love and everyone wants to belong to something wonderful and bigger than themselves.  Everyone actually wants Jesus, although they can argue they don’t.  They aren’t being honest about what is keeping them from Him.  Jesus always demands that honesty, and will go right to the heart of that issue if we aren’t too busy pushing Him away.  When he probes us, sharp though it is, He always touches us with His tenderness.

Jesus said God wants worship in Spirit and Truth.  We worship in truth when we use our intellect.  It is based in growing knowledge of God and His ways.  Worship in spirit is emotional and is based on growing love and appreciation of God.  The “AHA” moments of discovery involve worship in truth.  The misty eyes and lump in the throat involve worship in Spirit.  We can’t have one without the other.   Spirit without truth results in emotional excess (there is such a thing), and  Truth without spirit results in dead intellectualism.  (I think its the reason theological schools can produce agnostics). 

Its not up to us to figure out how to worship God.  It is responding to God who moves first.  We worship as God instructs us both in the scripture and by His Spirit.  Its our spirit connecting to God’s Spirit.

Why do people find church boring ?  They don’t come expecting to meet God there.  They come for a bundle of other reasons, but don’t come to show their love to the God they already know and appreciate.  Worship is never about us, never for what we receive, and God forbid not about our entertainment.  Its about God’s Spirit touching our spirit, and when that happens, the worship style is irrelevant.  We can be touched in formal “high church” as well as a noisy “rock church”.  All that matters is coming into God’s presence, letting ourselves be open to God and grateful to Him, and the fruit of that is more love.  Its the love that the world will see on Monday.  If not, something was missing on Sunday.

The 45 Minute Solution

March 2, 2010

When confronting “the blues”, dullness, boredom and the like, I was once given a transforming recipe by a mature and wise pastor.  I call it the 45 Minute Solution.

First, spend 15 minutes a day reading the bible.  Ask the Lord to speak to you through the bible, and you can even ask Him what book of the bible to read.  Personally, I like the gospels, epistles and psalms, but I have never read a book of the bible where I didn’t find a little nugget of gold that met my exact needs at that moment.  Just be aware that God will speak to you if you ask Him and your soul is open and willing to hear Him.

Second, spend 15 minutes a day pouring out your heart to God.  Ask Him for everything you need, lay all your burdens before Him, and don’t forget to thank Him for all the ways you have seen Him help you.

Third, spend 15 minutes a day encouraging someone else’s faith, sharing the hope the Lord has given you.  You can do this through spoken or written words.  You can’t encourage someone else without the encouragement strengthening you, too.  As an old proverb says, the fragrance remains on the hand that gives a rose.

Try this for a couple of weeks.  I promise it will be life changing.