Christian Life

What to Expect When You are Expecting

There’s a popular book for pregnant women called What to Expect When You’re Expecting. It was actually very helpful to me thirty years ago and it must be fairly timeless as I see the 4th revised version is still available today. But this post isn’t about expecting a baby. It’s about our expectations of this life and what we should expect when we are expecting.

But, first, a story.

Last fall, our youngest daughter, Marissa, decided to take a semester off of college so that she wouldn’t lose her senior year playing soccer. With that in mind, she restarted in Spring and this fall is her final semester before she graduates in December. She was really looking forward to a her final soccer season and things were going well. She was expecting a great season.

But that all came to a flying halt a couple of Saturdays ago when her foot made contact with someone else’s shoe and shattered two of the toes on her right foot. With a trip to the doctor and a boot on her foot, the expectation for a great soccer season faded away to nothing and left only bitter disappointment in its place.

It’s been a hard couple of weeks for her because this girl loves soccer. I know God is growing her and teaching her because she loves Him and He has promised us in Romans 8:28-29 to use all things in the lives of those who love Him to conform them to Christ’s image but–as we all know–some of those “all things” can be very painful.

As I was reflecting on the past few weeks yesterday, I was thinking how my daughter’s disappointed and unfulfilled expectation mirrors what we are all experiencing to some extent. Prior to March 2020 we all had expectations for our lives. They were reasonable expectations (for most of us). Things such as: Have a happy family whose needs are met; Enjoy spending time with those we love; Travel and vacations; Good health (and wonderful healthcare should we need it); buying anything we need (or want) and getting it in a timely fashion; financial security; etc, etc, etc.

While we knew (and had probably already experienced) the hard facts of life (such as disease, death, betrayal, broken relationships, financial difficulties, etc) the world around us always remained stable in the midst of those terrible trials.

But within one week in the year 2020, all of those expectations came crashing down. Suddenly, our world wasn’t so stable after all. We recognized in such a short time that we aren’t really free, after all. We recognized the stranglehold on the information flow. And we recognized the outright deception being played out on so many levels. It was disconcerting and frustrating. And as time marched on after that pivotal week, our expectations became less and less likely to be fulfilled.

And we were reminded in a more vivid way than ever before of what can we expect when we are expecting in this life on earth: We can expect disappointment and disillusionment.

But, just like my daughter will need to work through her unfulfilled expectation for her life, so, too, will we need to do the same. We need to release those expectations we had and rest in the Lord’s will for our lives. His will is not our will and we need to trust Him as we move forward.

The wonderful thing is that we can trust Him. Not only has He proven Himself over and over again in our own lives and the lives of those who have gone before us, but we are seriously watching what was prophesied two thousand years ago getting set up to come to pass right before our eyes. If that doesn’t confirm scripture for you, then I don’t know what will.

And we finally realize: There is one expectation that will never go unfulfilled. One hope that will never dim or fade away.

And that is our hope in Christ.

He made a way for us to be reconciled to God through His sacrifice on the cross so that we could live in His presence forever (learn more about this here.) Our expectations for a future with God in heaven will come to pass.

Unlike this old earth that is fading away, God is the same yesterday, today, and forever and we can count on Him to fulfill His promises.

So instead of tentative, precarious expectations based in this unsettled, strange world, perhaps it’s time we base our expectations in the rock of Ages. Perhaps this is part of what God is doing–moving His children’s hearts from this world to the one to come (Colossians 3:1-4); deepening our understanding of our role as pilgrims and sojourners in this world (I Peter 2:11); and helping us understand that our hope for this life and for our future should lie in Christ alone (Ephesians1:18-21).

Oh, my friends, let’s move our expectations from this world to the God of the universe. Let’s move them from the tentative and unsure to the certain and the definite.

And, in so doing, everything will change. Instead of being driven by discouragement and disappointment, we will rest secure in our eternal hope. Instead of being self-absorbed we will turn outwards, bringing hope to the lost souls around us and emanating the peace and joy that only God can give.

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If I look at myself, I am depressed. If I look at those around me, I am often disappointed. If I look at my circumstances, I am discouraged. But if I look at Jesus, I am constantly, consistently, and eternally fulfilled! ~Author Unknown

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(Yeah, that sounds so wonderful, doesn’t it? And I do know that what I wrote above is true. But that doesn’t mean I always live it. Like you, I am trying to grow and learn in this strange new world we are living in. It’s a real challenge some days. The most important thing that has helped me is studying and memorizing the Word. If you are saved and just don’t know where to begin in moving your hope from this world to an eternal hope, start there. Open Ephesians 1 and read what God has said about His own. Read Philippians. Read John 10, John 15, Colossians 3, Psalm 37. And on and on. God has given us so much in His Word from which we can draw strength in these difficult days.)

 

 

The Light and the Map

I awoke this morning to see a thick, murky fog all around. It was a bit depressing. But as I went outside to take the photo above I also found it beautiful—in its own way.

Unless it’s nighttime. It’s one thing to drive in fog during the day when there is a hint of light but when it’s dark outside and it’s foggy it can be downright dangerous and a bit scary. This can really get terrifying if you are on a narrow mountain road.

I’d imagine that most people feel like they are driving in dense fog at midnight on a dangerous mountain road right about now. No light, no guide, no way to know if they are going the right direction or heading towards a cliff.

This is the real difference between someone who is saved and someone who isn’t. We are in the same circumstances, we endure the same murky fog at midnight… but we have been given a light and a map.

Fog only allows us to view one step at a time. It is impossible to look very far down the road and see where we are headed.

But God has given us a light (Jesus—John 1:4-5) to guide our steps and a map (the Bible, God’s Holy Word) of where we are going. We can see the next step (submission and obedience to God’s Word) and we know exactly where we are going (Heaven).

Of course, if surrendering our will to God and obeying His Word had been our priorities all along, what’s going on in the world wouldn’t have us so rattled. We talked about being pilgrims, we talked about persecution in vague terms, we’d lightly talk about heaven being a better place.. But now…well, now, we really mean it, don’t we?

And so we travel in this alternate universe one step at a time with our light and map in hand showing us the way to go, recognizing that not only are we pilgrims in a foreign and very strange land but we are hated pilgrims in a foreign land. Very few want our light and even fewer have any interest in our map.

But here’s the thing: That light and map we have—we are supposed to share it with others. We aren’t responsible if they choose to continue in darkness rather than to grab hold of the light. We aren’t responsible if they get angry and toss the map back in our face.

We are just responsible to share.

So let’s not be discouraged. We only need to take one step at a time and God has given us exactly what we need for that duty. He has told us exactly where this world is headed. While we may not know the exact layout of the land nor can we predict each curve or mountain, we do know where it’s going and where the road ends. In that, we are so blessed.

So share that blessing with others. Share your light and your map with those walking beside you. At work, when you are shopping, in school, sometimes even in our churches—so many are traveling without these invaluable tools to navigate this murky, dark time.

They may not want them but may it never be said that you didn’t offer!

False Teacher Friday: Jen Hatmaker

Jen Hatmaker looked so good there for awhile. She seemed to say things that seemed biblical. That were almost…right. And then she started veering off to the left. Ever so slightly and subtly. Until eventually she landed at where she is today– an absolute heretic when we compare what she is teaching to what the Bible says. It seems almost pointless to show that this woman is a false teacher, given how clear she makes it for us..BUT if you aren’t in the Word on a regular basis, you may be fooled by her twisting of the Word and her silvery tongue. She sure does make her poison sound like honey. And so my daughter, Jess*, did some digging to give some hard evidence to what this woman is really teaching, comparing it to scripture–

Jen Hatmaker has been around for quite a few years now. She has authored many books, hosts a popular podcast, and has a huge social media following. She has a very likable personality and people love her writing style full of humor and candor. She made headlines in 2016 when she came out in support of the LGBTQ community and received both applause and ridicule as a result. She claims to have reconstructed her faith and now offers “a new kind of christianity” that is really just paganism slightly disguised.

Honestly, Jen is so obvious in her blatant disregard for Scripture that I almost didn’t feature her. However the idea of deconstructing and reconstructing your faith, sometimes called a de-conversion story, is one that is gaining traction and popularity. And so I thought it might be helpful to break down her story so we can see where she gets it wrong according to the Bible. Not because I find joy in calling people false teachers or because I have fun defaming popular “Christian” figures. It makes my heart hurt. But her message is so dangerous that it demands we chime a loud warning bell. And if I can help just one person steer clear of her false ideology, it will be worth it.

The first thing Jen shares about her de-conversion story is the negative aspects of the traditional, evangelical church. She claims that the church doesn’t let people ask questions, never acknowledges gray areas, doesn’t allow for uncertainty, and are unaccepting of certain types of people. That church is outdated, racist, unloving, misogynist, naive, oppressive, and too dogmatic.

The second thing she does is portray herself as the victim of this big, bad church. She simply decided to ask the questions nobody else would. She started seeking and embarked on a journey for answers. And when the answers she found didn’t line up with historical & Biblical Christianity, then she was “mistreated in ways that were scary, disorienting, crushing, devastating.” But her conclusions were in complete opposition to the Bible. So just because some people told her that she’s wrong and the Bible’s right, she’s a victim?

And finally, Jen shares with her audience a new belief system her journey lead to. When she was finally brave enough to ask the hard questions, she found freedom and light and acceptance. She invites them to go on the same journey. Here’s just a few of the conclusions she came to:

𝐖𝐞 𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐲 𝐜𝐚𝐧’𝐭 𝐛𝐞 𝐜𝐞𝐫𝐭𝐚𝐢𝐧 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐰𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐁𝐢𝐛𝐥𝐞 𝐬𝐚𝐲𝐬. “For a season that sense of certainty was wonderful…but of course upon scrutiny it breaks down because, as always, we come to Scripture and the things that we say are certain are obviously not certain to other people…certainty really only works in an echo chamber.” She is insistent that if we really scrutinize our beliefs, we’ll find that we can’t really be certain about anything at all. She claims that when she struggled to find clarity, the Bible “just wouldn’t cooperate on perfect clarity.” I’m confident it wasn’t the Bible that wasn’t cooperating.

𝐖𝐞 𝐰𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐤𝐧𝐨𝐰 𝐰𝐡𝐚𝐭’𝐬 𝐭𝐫𝐮𝐞 𝐛𝐲 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐟𝐫𝐮𝐢𝐭. One may wonder how we can know what’s true if we can’t be certain about anything the Bible says. Ironically, she twists the meaning of Jesus’ parable in Matthew 7 to answer this question. She says that “[Jesus is like] when there’s something, be it a relationship, or a person or a doctrine, whatever, that feels ambiguous, or it feels contentious, or there’s tension around its interpretation, look to the fruit…a good tree is gonna bear good fruit, and a bad tree is gonna bear bad fruit…that’s a clue that I feel like Jesus put into the hands of future believers, as we were going to do our generations work of pressing on Scripture and finding the threads of truth, and how do we interpret it and apply it to our lives at this time.” Yes, she did just say threads of truth. Actually, Jen, the entire Bible is true and it applies to our lives the same way for all of time.

𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐜𝐡𝐮𝐫𝐜𝐡 𝐬𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐚𝐜𝐜𝐞𝐩𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐋𝐆𝐁𝐓𝐐 𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐦𝐮𝐧𝐢𝐭𝐲. Her theory of good and bad fruit is what convinced her of this fact. She said the fruit of the “non-affirming Christian tree” was rotten (depression, self-hatred, broken families, loneliness) while the fruit of the “affirming Christian tree” was universally good. “And so that gave us the confidence to continue pressing until we felt convinced that God would have us open our arms wide to our LGBTQ friends and neighbors, and welcome them into the church, as they are” she concluded in an interview. (Given her view of scripture this would make sense, would it not? No passage regarding this would matter because it isn’t a “thread of truth” in her world. She is the one who gets to decide what is true and what isn’t. ~lda)

𝐃𝐞𝐧𝐢𝐚𝐥 𝐨𝐟 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐬𝐢𝐧𝐟𝐮𝐥 𝐧𝐚𝐭𝐮𝐫𝐞. “That question you are asking, that dream, that need, that buried anger, that delicious desire, it can all live in the open, and its unveiling can be your liberation song” she writes. She encourages her readers to believe that “I am exactly enough” and “I deserve goodness.” She writes that even the worst evildoers “have something precious at their core.” She believes that if we but uncover our inmost being, we’ll find great and glorious good for the world. But the Bible says that our inmost being is utterly sinful, that there’s nothing good in us, that we deserve hell, and that our fleshly desires lead only to sin. And since she misdiagnoses our sinful condition, then there is no need for the Gospel. Which makes sense, I guess, since she never mentions it anyway.

𝐂𝐡𝐫𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐚𝐧𝐢𝐭𝐲 𝐚𝐜𝐜𝐞𝐩𝐭𝐬 𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲𝐨𝐧𝐞. “Everyone belongs” she says “and until everyone belongs, we’ve replaced truth with a lie. This the world Jesus envisioned.” She begs us to ask “what feels and sounds like actual good news, instead of who is in and who is out?” Is that really the world that Jesus envisioned, though? He talks countless times about the narrow way, about people being in and people being out, about the wheat and the chaff, the true and the false. Does it matter what feels like good news to us?

𝐑𝐞𝐝𝐞𝐟𝐢𝐧𝐞𝐬 𝐁𝐢𝐛𝐥𝐢𝐜𝐚𝐥 𝐥𝐨𝐯𝐞. “When loving God results in pain, exclusion, harm, or trauma to people then we are doing the first part wrong. It is not God in error but us.” She makes it clear that if we tell anyone that they’re wrong or sinful then we aren’t loving. But that’s her definition of love, not the definition we find in the Bible that never rejoices in iniquity.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. She completely negates the need for church since she figured out this new Jesus “lets me watch CBS Sunday Morning instead of church without shame.” She never shares the Gospel. She never talks about sin or repentance or the Bible. She makes Jesus exactly who she wants Him to be. It amazes me that she can say all of these things and still be accepted in the “Christian community.” There’s nothing Christian about her. She throws out the Bible, the Gospel, the church, and the true Jesus Christ and then expects to be accepted by the Christian community? How have we come to this place? She followed her lusts straight into a pit of heresy. I pray that she goes on another journey that leads her back to the Bible. Because if we can’t be certain about that, then what’s the point of faith at all?

 

 

*Jess is wife to Seth and mom to three active boys. She loves to research and write (like her mom!) and can be found at Anchor for the Soul on both Facebook and Instagram.

 

 

An Analysis of Disintegration

You may be wondering what is pictured in that photo above. And that would be a great question. 

This past weekend my husband decided to clean our garage. It was a bit long overdue and there was quite a bit of “stuff” in there that we hadn’t seen for rather a long time. (You know those photos of picture-perfect garages with bins placed neatly on shelves? Yeah, not us.) Anyway, one of the things he found was an old blanket. I didn’t even recognize it so I have no idea where it came from. My husband brought it into the house and threw it in the washer.

When my daughter went to the washer, the above photo shows what she found. Thousands and thousands of tiny pieces of that blanket. The whole thing had literally disintegrated into nothing.nothing.

What a wonderful spiritual lesson we can learn from this. I couldn’t pass this one up! Actually there are two. I won’t spend a lot of time on the first one but I do want to touch on it. 

First, blankets get old and disintegrate. Everything gets older and weaker. Think of something you bought a year or two ago. Is it getting better? At the very least it looks the same. It doesn’t grow shinier and stronger as the years go by. This is a basic law of science. Things disintegrate as they age. Now think of this in light of evolution. Do you notice that it goes completely against this established law? There is no logic there whatsoever. It is my opinion that this illogical belief in evolution set the people up for the great deception we are seeing at work today.

Don’t let anyone intimidate you into thinking there is merit to the theory of evolution. They may try to intimidate you with their big words and degrees but the bottom line is that no one alive today was actually there in the beginning and what you believe is based on your starting point.

And this is just one way evolution goes against basic and tested scientific laws. It takes more faith to believe in evolution than to believe that God created the world. Just saying…

But I’d like to take this morning to consider this blanket in a different light. When my kids were little three out of four of them had a “blankie”. Their blankets were a form of security. They wanted them to relax and sleep with (and probably would have taken them everywhere if we had let them).

You see, we all have those things we turn to for security. We have those things we turn to that feel comfortable. Or help us escape from the real world. 

But when I looked at that trash can filled with those tiny blanket pieces, I was struck by the fact that all of those things will disintegrate, too. 

No love of the world will matter in the end. Sports; entertainment; hobbies; cars or boats or planes; temporal goals to make money or to climb a social or corporate ladder (and even fighting for freedom); buckets list full of daring (or average) things to do–none of this will matter. They will disintegrate like dust. Those things we obsess about–those things that gobble up hours of our time–those things that consume us, they will disintegrate just like that blanket.

There was once a man who wielded great power in a small church. But guess what happened when he got old and decrepit? Suddenly, his opinion didn’t matter that much anymore. You see, none of those things last. None of them. 

While there is nothing wrong in enjoying the good things of life, they shouldn’t consume us. I believe this is the number one way Satan distracts and renders the believer ineffective–wrap them up in the things of this world that don’t really matter. 

But let’s also take a look at that blanket in light of true vs. false religion. Worldly priorities aren’t the only thing that will disintegrate. So, too, will false religions.

You see, Christianity can be thrown in any washer, rung out a million times, hung out to dry in the fiercest of weather, and still come out strong and looking like new. It stands up to its promises.

All other religions disintegrate under pressure. Eventually, they leave people feeling hopeless and lost. From demon and ancestor worship to the “health and wealth” or “social” gospels, the blame is on you if things go wrong. It all comes back to something you need to do or didn’t do. It’s a horrible way to live. Oh, many are pleasantly deceived for a time but if you talk to those caught up in other religions, you quickly realize that the majority of them are not at peace. They really don’t know if they are good enough or if they’ve done enough to warrant heaven. 

What an amazing contrast we have in scripture–

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. 18 Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. John 3:16-18

Only biblical Christianity teaches that there is nothing we can do. Do you realize that this is the only religion that doesn’t teach that man needs to DO something in order to be right with God? It is one of the ways to know that it is the only true religion. It’s unique among every other world religion in that way. 

So why is it so hated? Why do people cling to their disintegrating blankets? The next verse in John 3 gives us a little insight to that–

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. John 3:19

People love darkness. They are completely disinterested in walking towards the light. What does that darkness consist of? I John 2:16 tells us–

For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.

You see to follow Christ, we must give up everything. We must first give up our pride. There is NOTHING we can do. NOTHING. We are lost sinners without hope. That’s a hard pill to swallow for most people and is the greatest hindrance to accepting that gift that Jesus freely offers.

And we must give up our lusts. The sins we love. The sins we enjoy. The sins that call us so enticingly. And, instead, we must pick up our cross and deny ourselves (Luke 9:23). That does not look very appealing to a world obsessed with self.

Only the saved person can understand the peace and joy that comes from a life lived for God. Only they can understand that, in losing our lives, we find them! (Matthew 16:25) This makes NO sense to the world.

And so, dear Christian, recognize that you have the blanket that will never disintegrate. While others around you are holding on to things that are fading away, disappearing, and turning to dust, you have something to hold on that will never diminish in its glory.

Let’s share this truth freely and often and with enthusiasm as God gives us opportunities.

Favorite Trees Topple and So Do Favorite People

I am writing a quick post on this holiday weekend because I have begun to notice a very disturbing trend of which I want to warn you. Keep in mind that I am making no statement about motives here. I have no idea why people are doing what they are doing. But we all need to be aware that many are doing it.

I believe that it is extremely important that we do not align ourselves with either side of what is going on here on earth currently. Both the Great Awakening and the Great Reset sides are evil to the core. One may sound more appealing and even more “Christian” but if you start digging just a bit, you will find it’s pretty ugly. If you don’t believe me, please just do some research. Both sides are clearly being used by Satan to bring in his antichrist system.

Which leads me to why I am writing today. I have been more than a little troubled to see many pastors, ministry leaders, and authors choosing to align themselves with one side or the other. Please beware if someone does this!

Last week two willow trees stood strong and tall side by side on my in-laws property next door. And then the other day Hurricane Ida blew through and brought 7″ of rain. As the ground became more and more saturated, the shallow roots of one of those willows loosened until the whole tree finally just toppled over.

When my grandson saw the tree he was so sad. “But that was my favorite tree.” Now I don’t really think it was his favorite tree. But he doesn’t like change. And this was change. I don’t think he’s very different from the rest of us. None of us love change. But change is here. And we can’t ignore it.

I am convinced that we are watching many “trees topple” just now. Some of them may even be our favorites. Ministries and people that we thought were sound and solid are toppling over into one ditch or the other and getting caught up in unbiblical arguments, bullying, and even “marketing”.

Honestly, it’s just…weird. And more than a little disturbing. 

I can’t believe the amount of people I have trusted who are attacking people for their beliefs about different issues. Should any Christian condescendingly attack another Christian about anything? If someone accuses a whole swath of people without knowing those people personally, I’d be very suspect of that person or ministry.

Beware of anyone who comes out strongly on one side or the other in a spirit of attack. It is one thing to share things kindly because you believe what you are sharing is important. This can very much be done out of spirit of love—no matter which side you find yourself on.

But when you can feel arrogance and condescension oozing from someone you have trusted, take a step back. If someone thinks they know how everything works, stop following them.

The bottom line is that NO ONE knows except God how this is all going to go down. We can do research, we can find some pieces to the puzzle, we can perhaps even see the overall big picture– but no human KNOWS what is going on behind the scenes or how the future is going to play out.

Strong trees topple and so do seemingly sound Christians. Don’t be fooled. Don’t be so loyal to someone that you miss their “toppling”. Examine the fruit of the Spirit of those you follow as you are able. Evaluate their words and attitude when someone disagrees with them. These things are very telling. Don’t blindly follow anyone (including me!) Only Christ deserves our unwavering loyalty.

We must keep our eyes on Jesus in this unprecedented, strange, and wildly wicked storm. We must stay in prayer and be in the Word. May we pray for discernment and for a heart and eyes open and willing to see the truth–whatever that is.

And expect to be disappointed. I hate to even write those words but I believe it’s true. It’s been a disheartening and incredulous year and a half as we have watched rampant compromise and the bizarre u-turns of people we have trusted. If this isn’t the beginning of the great delusion, then it must certainly be a foretaste of what lies ahead.

Keep your head up, my friends. Our redemption has to be drawing so nigh!

A Collection of Thoughts

Today’s post is going to be a bit different than usual. I wanted to cover a few different things that have come to my attention recently. I decided to combine them all in one post. Hopefully it doesn’t get too long…!

First–

Earlier this month, I wrote a post called “Preparing the Sheeple”. A few weeks after writing it I was listening to something and my ears perked up when the speaker talked about the tragedy of calling people “Sheeple”. His thought was that this is a trick of Satan’s to take what God has called us in the Bible and make it look like something bad. I was immediately stricken by this. Of course. I believe this man is right on in what he said. As Christians, we are compared to sheep. Sheep with a wonderful Shepherd. (See John 10.) So to compare us to sheep is really not a bad thing. Jesus makes it clear that this is exactly what we are.

A better animal to use for what we are currently seeing in the world is the lemming. A lemming is a small rodent-like creature that lives in the arctic. There is a long-standing myth that they jump off cliffs en masse and commit suicide. Yes, we are most certainly watching lemmings. Not sheep.

So please forgive me for not catching this before posting it. I’ve already changed that post, but I also wanted to draw attention to this error publicly. I feel rather foolish not to have caught it myself but I am so thankful the Lord drew my attention to this!

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Second–

A dear sister in Christ sent me a post that has had me thinking since I read it. I wanted to touch on just one paragraph of that post as it profoundly impacted me. Just in the case that I am not alone in this, I wanted to share it here with you, too. I’d like to first say that I know nothing about this author or how biblically sound she is. I do trust the sister that sent me this but please don’t view my sharing this as my carte blanche approval of everything the author has written. I am unfamiliar with her so, as always, be a Berean.

Okay, now that that is out of the way, here’s the bit from the post–

It is tempting to grow downcast, discouraged and despondent, curling up into a crumpled heap of despair. Careful: this is also a form of rebellion: Things are not going my way.

OUCH.

Seriously.

OUCH.

Have you ever considered the fact that your depression and despondency and discouragement is rebellion? I had not thought of it in those terms. I mean I knew it was sin but to be outright rebellion? Not me, Lord. But wait, when you put it like that, then: Yes, I have been rebellious.

It makes so much sense, does it not?

Instead of bowing the knee to our Creator, we are sulking. Sadness, frustration, irritability, despondency, anger– when these are a result of our dissatisfaction with our circumstances, these are all forms of rebellion against God and His sovereign will.

What do you think of when you think of a rebel? This doesn’t really fit our definition, does it? But there it is. If we unpack this, we can see that it is true. Oh, that God may eradicate all rebellion from our hearts–even the “acceptable” kind that so cleverly hides itself behind our cultural norms.

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Third–

As we navigate these strange times and recognize (if we are realistic) that the world we have known our whole lives is gone forever and we contemplate the ramifications of this, it is important to take one day–even one hour– at a time.

I can still remember my brother (Pastor Dean) telling me this often throughout his wife’s battle with cancer. As she approached death, he was still saying it. One hour at a time. God’s grace is sufficient. We must take just one hour at a time.

This reminds me of a verse I have memorized–

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:34)

Interestingly enough, this verse is preceded by a very familiar verse to us all–

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. (Matthew 6:33)

These verses show us that our duty is to seek God and His righteousness and then let Him take care of the rest. While we must always act wisely and be smart (as opposed to flippant fatalism), these verses speak to the fact that, truly, we have zero control over anything.

So how exactly do we do we release that worry and anxiety? How do we get to that place of trusting God implicitly? (Just to be clear, I am still working on this myself…) But, as always, we find the answer for this in the Bible. Philippians 4:6-9 shows us–

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.

These verses show us how to beat anxiety and worry–

  1. Make an intentional choice to cast off our anxiety
  2. Give every request–both small and large–to our God
  3. Have an attitude of thanksgiving
  4. Expect God to give us that peace that surpasses all understanding
  5. Think on things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, and of good report
  6. Familiarize ourselves with what Paul taught; know the scriptures well
  7. Follow Paul’s example as we seek to live our Christian lives

And the God of peace will be with you!

That’s a promise.

I believe we are all getting just a little bit more opportunity to put these verses into practice, aren’t we? This takes on a whole new meaning when you have to trust God because you are forced to quit your job due to a mandate that is beyond your control. It takes on new meaning when you are told you can’t see a family member or friend because you won’t meet their demands. Many of you are facing unbelievable trials right now. Things you never thought you’d face. We are learning to trust God in a whole new way and He is up for the challenge! He is GOD. He is far greater than any problem we are facing and He is faithful! We know this by His Word, by the experiences of past and current believers, and by our own experiences. May we remember His great grace and many mercies as we navigate these difficult days.

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Fourth (and finally)–

A few months ago, I asked you to give me your email address if you’d like to keep hearing from me should I be censored. I have decided to just go ahead and look for a new service, as I recently heard of my current subscription service shutting someone down for saying something they didn’t like. While that has not extended to my type of blog just yet, we do know just how much Satan hates the truth of Jesus Christ most of all. I believe this means it is only a matter of time before anything Christian is shut down by this company. Of course, this will probably extend to far more than just that particular company if the censorship gets that bad but I am hoping to extend the blog’s life just a little longer by moving it to a different subscription service. And so I am actively looking for a new service. (This is no easy task and I appreciate your prayers for wisdom in this!)

But let me explain why I am even sharing this. I have a subscriber list that is over 1200 people. But most of those 1200 people do not actually open the emails. As with most blogs, only a fraction of the people actually read the posts with any regularity. As I change services, I only want to add those who actually want to be on the list.

Many of you have already given me your email and are on the list already (and there is no need to give it to me again if this is the case). But if you haven’t given me your email address already and you’d like to keep hearing from me, please just respond to this email (or if you are reading this on social media, you can message me) with your name and the email address you’d like me to add.

This is not going to be quick and easy and I don’t know how long it will take until the switch is made. Currently, I am testing a service I came across to see how easy it is to use. It always amazes me how time-consuming these things are!

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Okay, so that’s it for today! Hopefully it wasn’t too long! I know it was a bit more disorganized than usual, but I do hope you were able to grab a nugget or two of truth to hang on to as you go out into the world today.

And remember: Be a light! Share Christ!  May we cast off our worries about saying the wrong thing or what people will think of us. We have the key to heaven and so many are lost. We have nothing to lose of eternal value and the lost person has everything to gain! Have a great day!

 

 

We Are Not Picking Out a Flavor of Danish

The other day I was walking through Costco when I came upon a display of luscious looking danishes. There were three options available: Cheese, Cherry, and Almond. Almond didn’t really appeal to me but when I asked the lady arranging the display which was her favorite, lo and behold, she enthusiastically said “almond”. A few seconds later, another lady came up and said they were her favorite, too!

Well, by that point, I was curious. Would I like the almond danishes? Was it worth the $5 if I didn’t like them? Aah, well. Why not try them? It’s nice to try something new once in awhile. I grabbed a pack and took them home.

And guess what? They were delicious! If you ever have a chance to try them, I recommend them.

But, of course, I am not trying to sell danishes. So what is my point?

I believe many Christians approach their Christian lives the way I approached those danishes.

 

Christian yoga? Oh, that sounds fun!

Lectio Divina (and other mystical forms of prayer)? Why not give it a try?

The latest trendy “Christian” book? What do I have to lose?

 

I’d like to submit that you have a LOT to lose. You see, the latest, greatest Christian trends are not like danishes. They aren’t like trying a different type of food or choosing to go with Ford instead of Chevy.

The Bible tells us that Satan is specifically trying to trip us up (Ephesians 6:11; I Thessalonians 2:18) He is seeking to devour us (I Peter 5:8). He does these things by looking like an “angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). In other words, Satan isn’t a fool. He knows that darkness and evil things would never be accepted by believers. And so he transforms his occultic offerings to Christians in pleasantries and “almost rights”.

Dear readers, there is a reason that we are told in the Bible to “test all things” (I Thessalonians 5:21). There is a reason we are told to separate from those who stray from the doctrine written in scripture (Romans 16:17). There is a reason we are given the example to examine the scriptures daily and compare them to what we are hearing from preachers, authors, and others who claim to be “Christians” (Acts 17:10-11).

You see, God has told us in His Word that we are in a battle. We are not in a battle with humans but with the “principalities, against powers, against the rulers of [c]the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12). If we are in a battle, fighting a supernatural enemy, doesn’t it seem that we should always be on the defense?

We can never be at ease. We are soldiers in a battle. We can never view the spiritual smorgasbord we are offered in this modern day the same way we’d view a smorgasbord of food. We don’t have that luxury.

Understanding our enemy and the commands given to defeat him go a long way in helping this concept make sense to us. Unless we are willing to see this as it is taught in scripture, we will view anything that comes along as innocent and worth trying.

May I encourage you to study the Word so that you can understand that the enemy desires to render you utterly ineffective in the Kingdom of God? He does this by things like distraction, anxiety, and busyness. But he also does this extremely effectively by turning undiscerning hearts towards doctrines of demons. If he can trip us up and get us caught up in practices that are not biblical, he has won a very important battle.

Oh, may we pray for discernment in this great time of deception. May we pray for God’s protection and guidance as we navigate all of the spiritual trends and modern-day marketing of all things “Christian” (most of which are NOT). He is faithful and He will answer that prayer.

 

But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one.

2 Thessalonians 3:3

 

 

 

While We Wait

Over the past year and a half I can think of three times where I heard something that was predicted to happen at a certain time and it made my heart tremble uncontrollably. It caused upheaval of my soul and I even lost sleep due to worry and fear.

But guess what? None of those things has happened. At least not in the timeline that was given.

I wasted my time and energy and lost sleep over nothing. Literally.

This frog 🐸 was sitting on our little bridge this morning. He sat there so still. Like he was waiting for something.

Made me think of myself and how tempting it can be to just…sit and wait for the inevitable “shoe to drop”.

But we are to be busy with the good works God has prepared for us (Ephesians 2:10). There is no exception clause that encourages us to hunker down and do nothing when we think we see the end in sight.

Oh, how I so desire that my time and energy is spent on these good works prepared for me instead of wasting them on worry and fear.

Life is so short. Like the one-page introduction in the sweeping novel that is eternity. Oh, to keep this in mind as we sojourn here on earth.

 

But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him”

I Corinthians 2:9

 

The Wisdom and Controversy of Agassiz

In the mid-1800s a man came from Europe to America by the name of Louis Agassiz. He was asked to be a professor at Harvard but, being a rather eccentric free spirit, he bucked the system. And Harvard, recognizing his genius, allowed him to do so. He smoked cigars on campus. He wore no black robes as the other professors. He allowed students in his classes without passing entrance examinations. And he prepared no syllabus.

I had never heard of this man before this past weekend, when I started reading David McCullough’s Brave Companions. McCullough writes in the introduction of this book that he is much more drawn to the people of history than to the events. I find that I, too, am the same. I was disinterested in history when it was all dates and happenings. But attach people and their stories to those dates and happenings and history absolutely comes alive!

Okay, I guess that is enough of the “History is Awesome” commercial… :)

Anyway…

This professor had a unique way of welcoming new students. He would grab a jar from his shelves of specimens. Inside the jar would be a dead fish. He would ask the student to observe anything and everything about this fish and then leave the room. A young man named Scudder describes his experience after giving his observations to the professor and then being told to look some more–

I was piqued; I was mortified. Still more of that wretched fish! But now I set myself to my task with a will, and discovered one new thing after another…The afternoon passed quickly; and when, toward its close, the professor inquired: “Do you see it yet?”

“No,” I replied, “I am certain I do not, but I see how little I saw before.”

Scudder goes on to write how the lesson lasted three whole days and of how much he learned about that fish. He says it was a lesson of inestimable value.

You see, Agassiz believed the backbone of education was to know something well. He believed that a “smattering of everything was worth little”. He believed that it was a “great and common fallacy to suppose that an encyclopedic mind is desirable. The mind was made strong not through much learning but by the “thorough possession of something.” In other words, “look at your fish.” *

As I read this story from the past I couldn’t help but think of Christians with their Bibles. How many of us have just a smattering of knowledge here and there? How many of us are reading or hearing about the Bible (devotionals, books, sermons) instead of making our own observations of the Bible? How many of us give our time and dedication to learning it well?

As believers, shouldn’t this be our main priority? Do we even recognize how important this is to our lives and how we live them?

The young man, Scudder, thought he had learned all there was to know about that dead fish. And, yet, when the professor encouraged him that there was more to learn, he turned back and found out what it was. He had a teachable spirit and he realized how very much he had missed in those first few hours.

If this is true of a dead fish, just think of how much we are missing when it comes to the Bible! We so often approach the Bible with the same spirit as Scudder in those first few hours, our eyes blind to the fact that there is literally endless treasure there within its pages. The more we study, the more we mine its spiritual depths.

If you have spent any time in the Word, you are already well aware of this. The more you study, the more you realize how much there is to know. And how much you don’t know. The more you study, the more you know your God. The more you study, the more insight you get, the deeper the comprehension and understanding of God’s plans throughout history and for the future. The more you study, the greater your discernment as deception grows in leaps and bounds all around us.

If we know anything WELL, may it be our Bibles!

And now, briefly, I want to touch on the controversy that surrounds Louis Agassiz. This morning as I typed his name in the search box to see if his museum of zoology is still in existence, the articles that popped up show that Harvard is ashamed of this professor. I have not done a thorough investigation, but apparently he was pro-slavery and also anti-Darwinism. These are two huge “no-nos” in the intellectual world today and they don’t seem to be quite sure what to do with him.

I bring this to your attention because it reminds me so much of the book “1984” which I read (for some unknown reason) in 2019. I wish I wouldn’t have read it, to be quite honest. But one of the things that sticks out in my mind from that book is the re-writing of history. It seems that this is what is going on in the academic levels. If they don’t like someone’s view on something they cancel them. As if that certain view makes everything from their lives–even their amazing contributions to mankind–null and void.

Do we realize the tragedy of this??!? And do we realize the absurdity of this? I think it is time we stop looking to the experts and the professionals and academic intelligentsia for answers. It seems they have obviously lost their collective minds.

It reminds me so much of that verse from Colossians 2:6-10–

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding [d]in it with thanksgiving.

Beware lest anyone [e]cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead [f]bodily; 10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all [g]principality and power.

We Christians have been snookered into thinking that man has our answers to life. We turn to professionals, experts, and academia for everything. We look for answers to our problems and big questions in the wrong place.

If we will but study our Bibles humbly and thoroughly, we will realize that the answers we seek for life are there. We are COMPLETE IN HIM. And that is straight from the Bible.

I do want to make one thing abundantly clear, however: I am not saying that there aren’t times we need help from others. There is nothing wrong in asking for help. But this help should come from someone who is dedicated to God’s Word and the principles for life we find there. These helpers are hard to find. Recently, someone shared with me their conversation with a current student of a biblical counseling program. As he shared what he was learning with this person and how he would handle different situations, it became quickly apparent that there was no “Bible” in it at all. It was all humanistic ideas and concepts.

If you find yourself in need of help, give much prayer and some research, too, before placing your trust in them. So many experts are leading Christians into unbiblical thinking.

As we continue on in this world, the Bible is literally our lifeline. It is where we find our hope, our sustenance, our joy. It is where we are told of our wonderful Savior and where we find principles for living a life that is pleasing to God.

Dedicating ourselves to really knowing it– knowing it deeply and fully–is the first step to living a holy, discerning, peaceful, and joyful life!

 

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for [c]instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:16-17

 

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12

 

 

*From Brave Companions by David McCullough, p. 25-26

 

 

Preparing the Lemmings

Since the beginning of time, man has assumed that the world came into being through a Creator. This is across all cultures and lands, where you will find variations on biblical accounts (such as creation, the fall of man, and Noah and the flood).

While man has always had a rebellious heart and worked hard to remove the accountability of man to that Creator (through religions such as Deism), it wasn’t until the late 1700s that someone came up with the idea to just remove a Creator altogether. From that point on, various men put forth this idea, but it wasn’t until the late 1800s that the theory of evolution caught on through a man named Charles Darwin.

Now we find ourselves in a place where if we don’t believe in this ridiculous theory, we are viewed as unintellectual and even stupid.

Never mind that it goes against all natural laws and is absolutely impossible. Never mind that it takes more faith to believe that than to believe in a Creator. Never mind all those things. Just believe what we tell you. Or we will shame you and and ruin your reputation.

Sound familiar?

Fast forward over a hundred and fifty years. This has happened over and over again with so many different things, hasn’t it? Both within the church and without. They have convinced us that therapy and medication is our only hope for inner peace. That the new age practices of yoga and mindfulness will help us. We are told that it is normal for women to work outside the home and to lead in our churches. “They” have been prying our fingers from the Word of God and its literal interpretation for many years now.

Scientists, psychologists, specialists, professors, doctors, authors, preachers, and celebrities all wield a particular kind of power that is actually kind of strange and more than a little scary. We have been fully prepared to listen to any specialist or scientist rather than God. To believe what they tell us over what God’s Word tells us. And when they are all saying the same thing, it can become overwhelming in its wrongness.

And now many of these “professionals” are telling us that certain things work and certain things don’t. To follow certain paths and avoid others. Even though it is clear from the statistics and data that they are LYING.

And so here’s a reminder:

Truth is not determined by how many people believe it.

Read that again.

A million “professionals” can declare, publish, and affirm a lie while a handful hold to the verified truth. Who is right and who is wrong in this scenario?

More than a few years ago now, I read the story of John G Paton and his missionary adventures in the New Hebrides Islands (what is now known as Vanuatu). In it, he told the story of how he sat in his house with his family one night with native warriors all around. For some reason, they never attacked them. He was puzzled until, some years later, one of those warriors explained. When they came to kill the family, they had seen large men in white standing guard. Angels had protected that family.

Fast forward to a few months ago. I had remembered this story (it’s a memorable and comforting story!) but just couldn’t remember where I had read it. So I decided to do an internet search to see if I could find it. One of the articles that came up was a Snopes article “fact-checking” this event from the 1800s and declaring it false.

Dear readers, fact-checkers are not always right. And, I dare say, are often wrong. These are being used as a tool to sway and move the lemmings in a certain direction. There is a method to the madness of all that is going on right now.

And, once again, may I remind you that this is from both sides. Beware of both sides. Don’t align with either. Both are evil. The great reset side and the great awakening side are full of deception and lies.

The world is calling its lemmings to pick a side. Do you know what a lemming is? It’s a small rodent that has a long-standing myth that surrounds it: They will jump off a cliff en masse and commit suicide. How about that??

But we aren’t lemmings. We are people. And we have a Good Shepherd (John 10). Instead of looking to the “professionals” for our beliefs, we look to what the Word says. Instead of basing our lives (and the many decisions we are called to make) on internet posts and books and podcasts, we base them on the Bible. Instead of picking a side, we firmly plant our feet on God’s side.

We are the people of God and we are but pilgrims passing through. The waves of darkness and apostasy that are overtaking the world should not ruffle us as much as they do. (But, if we are honest, many of us are quite ruffled. We are nervous and upset and worried when we stop long enough to think about the future. Particularly, if we aren’t getting strength every day from the Word.)

So there are a few things we can do to keep ourselves from joining the lemmings. To set ourselves apart from the crowd. But we need to ask ourselves: Am I willing to do this? It’s not an easy route to take, to be sure. It’s a difficult and rocky path. But it is worth it and it is what we are called to do.

1. Read and study your Bible. I know I say this so often, but the reading and study of the Word by a humble and obedient soul cannot be over-emphasized. You see, as you read, many of the lies we have been fed about this world fall away as we recognize the Truth and the consistency of that Truth throughout the entire Book. It’s an amazing and incredible Book.

I heard a statistic the other day: 97% of people who call themselves a Christian have never read the entire Bible through. Are you one of those people? If you are, may I encourage you to make a change today? (Personally, I waited far, far too long to make this change and it is one of my biggest regrets in life.) We are powerless and vulnerable without God’s Word. It is what He has given us to live a victorious Christian life.

2. Value and search for the truth, no matter the cost. Ask God to show you the truth about what is going on in this world, no matter the consequences. One of the reasons so many people shy away from the truth is because it costs too much. It hurts too much. It’s often so much more pleasant to believe a lie. But we can’t expect to know the truth if we aren’t willing to pay the cost.

Humanity has always loved lies. From the Garden of Eden to this present day, we are so much more prone to listen to a pleasant lie than an unpleasant truth. And God even tells us in His Word about this, where He explains that the ungodly exchange the Truth of God for the lie (Romans 1:25).

But, as believers, this should not be so! We should be earnestly searching for the truth in all situations. We should be facing the world with open eyes and ears, willing to hear even the hardest of truths. Christians can face these hard truths because they have a secure future in Christ. No matter what happens in this world, we are safe from eternal harm.

3. Stop caring about popularity. Oh, how powerful peer pressure is. You can see the lemmings lining up to do as they are told because they want people to like them. They don’t want to stand out as different. They don’t want to make a scene. They don’t want others to think they are uncaring or mean-spirited. They want to be accepted and loved. As we are told that there are certain actions we must take in order to receive acceptance, love, and to look like we are a “nice person”, many cave to the pressure. But it’s important that we fully evaluate any decision before we bow to that pressure. Is this what is best or is this simply what is going to keep us from standing out as odd?

4. Expect to be ridiculed. As you make choices that go in direct contrast with the world, expect to be hated. The world has never liked the guy swimming upstream in a downstream world. They have never liked the guy who chooses the narrow, difficult path, instead of joining the throng on the easy, wide road. As you make choices that go against the crowd, these things will come.

Sometimes they come from a very sad and disheartening direction and family relationships are strained and friends are lost. Sometimes even Christian ones. These may be the price to pay if we search out the truth and follow it whole-heartedly.

 

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As we strive to live in this crazy insane world, may we choose to remember our identity: We are the people of God. We are not the lemmings of the world that can be swayed and moved any which way. As we see the lemmings prepared for the antichrist system, may we believers keep ourselves separate and apart, just as we are told to do in God’s Word (Romans 12:2).

 

 

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