Christian Life

That Elusive Contentment

I sat at my computer working on one of my least favorite jobs in our landscaping company. It’s not something I have to do often but it is something that needs to be done. I reminded myself how much I hate this job (inside my head) a few times before remembering a conversation I had had with my youngest daughter a few days before.

She was telling me how she thrives on trying new things and pursuing new hobbies but that sometimes there are seasons in life that there is no time for that because there are other priorities. And how important it is to find contentment even when there isn’t the next and new hobby or adventure or experience. She went on to say how sad it is that her generation is being taught to always look for the next “experience” to fulfill them.

And that is what has happened. While my generation was about getting stuff, her generation is about getting experiences. Many of them hop from one to the next. Their contentment is driven by these new experiences.

But it matters not whether we search after contentment in stuff or in experiences. Both are deceiving us into believing contentment can be found outside of God.  In fact, our search for contentment in anything outside of God is fruitless and disappointing.

As I sat there at my computer, I thought about the impatience I feel when I am doing a job I don’t like. Let’s just get this over with and move on. But this time–and maybe for the first time ever–I took a moment to think about why I am telling myself I hate this job. It really is not that bad. God has given me the tools to do it and it’s a small part of my life. And I suddenly recognized the need to be content even in doing this mundane, ordinary job that I don’t like.

This really made me reflect on this idea of contentment. So many of us spend our lives jumping from one stage, one experience, one remodel, or one big purchase to the next. We have been taught that contentment comes with change. And so we are constantly changing.

Our culture has molded us to want and desire change. How often do we find a favorite scent or flavor of something just to find it has left the store shelves never to return? Or we go into the bank and the person you’ve talked to forever has been moved to a different branch? Just because. (That actually happened to me many years ago– my bank at the time moved their employees every three months so you could never get to know any of them. That was when I left that bank.)

But somehow in the midst of the constant changing, we became convinced that change is what it will take to make us happy. If my kid will just reach this stage. Or if my husband would just do this. If we’d just make more money or be able to redo the kitchen. Or if we could just lose weight or get a college degree. You can fill in your own sentence here. We all have our own “next thing”.

But I am learning–ever so slowly–that when that thing arrives that you thought would make you content, it only lasts for a bit and then your heart feels empty again and that next change calls your name. It’s a vicious and never-ending cycle.

So how do we find real and lasting contentment? Where does it come from and how do we get it?

As always, the Bible has something to say about this! Let’s take a look–

 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)

Before we get to that beautiful promise that God will never leave us or forsake us, we have this seemingly irrelevant sentence: Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. Why would the Holy Spirit direct the author of Hebrews to write that? Perhaps it is because God knows full well that His being with us and never forsaking us is enough. Why do we covet and crave the temporal? We can be content with whatever God has given us at any give time, knowing full well we rest wholly in His sovereign and loving care.

Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. (I Timothy 6:6-8)

These verses remind us that all of these things we hunger after are just temporary. We cannot take any of this with us when we die. It will all fade away back to dust. Does someone live a fuller, happier life because they have a million dollar house and can buy anything they want? Does someone live a fuller, happier life because they have traveled the world? Well, maybe…but maybe not. Because the Grandma over there who has submitted to the Lord’s will for her life and chosen to obey Him is going to have a much better life than the Grandma that hasn’t, even if they have everything money can buy. The young man who chooses to go into his trade job, joyfully living for Christ, is going to be far happier than the young man who has a prestigious career but follows his own selfish desires.

The choices we make in our lives that bring God glory always also bring us the greatest contentment. God’s plan and workings are both mysterious and quite amazing!

Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:11-13)

These are probably the most well-known verses regarding this subject of contentment. When we read Acts, we recognize that Paul isn’t just writing this out of thin air. He’s writing it out of his own personal experience. He has both abounded and has suffered need. He has learned this the hard way.

So what is Paul’s key to this contentment? First, we see from verse 13 that he recognizes that contentment comes from Christ alone. That it is Christ who strengthens us in all circumstances and that turning our eyes upon Jesus and taking them off of our circumstances is the key to this contentment.

But I think we can also gain a little insight into this contentment of Paul’s by turning back a few chapters in Philippians–

For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:21)

But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. (Philippians 3:7)

It is here that we recognize that Paul was able to find contentment because he understood that earthly gain matters not a bit. Christ was his center. Christ was the source of his contentment. To live is to live for Christ alone. To die is to be with Christ for all eternity.

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And so scripture reminds us that true and lasting contentment isn’t found in changing our circumstances. Rather, it is found in changing ourselves through the power of the Holy Spirit (Philippians 2:12-13).

May we turn to the Word as we seek after contentment rather than turn to the world with all of its empty promises and fleeting feelings. The world might make fabulous promises but they are barren and hollow. The Bible, on the other hand, not only makes promises, but God keeps every promise He makes. True contentment only comes through trusting and obeying God.

 

 

 

A Trip to the Zoo

The monkey spotted something interesting. It jumped down and came over to the window to investigate. It moved its hand towards the window, trying to grab the food that was so enticingly being lifted to the mouth of my grandson on the other side. It stared for awhile. Almost like it was thinking, “How can I get that food?” Of course, the thinking was worthless because he could never get it. Not without some help from the zookeeper, which was about as unlikely as a 100 degree day in Alaska in January.

After awhile, he gave up and moved back from the window. Meanwhile the baby monkey’s antics entertained us. Trying to hang on to the rope as she grabbed bits of what looked like zucchini from the floor, she made us laugh. She was just like a toddler, learning to do all of the things her elders already knew how to do with ease.

On that same day, we had had the fascinating opportunity of watching a giraffe drink from the stream right in front of us. Have you ever seen that? It is an amazing feat of dexterity. She spread her front legs wide apart as she leaned her long neck down to take a drink. Then she’d lift her head high, seemingly to let the cool water flow down her long neck. And then back she’d go for more.

Of course, I just love flowers (which you probably already know!) and so I was not only interested in the animals but also in the many lovely flowers throughout the zoo. Especially gorgeous were the large camellia shrubs in full bloom. If you know anything about plants, you know that camellias thrive in warmer temperatures and are not normally found this far north. Apparently, there are some zone 6 varieties (which I need to hunt down. It’s one of my favorite flowers.)

The zoo is such a great place to be reminded of God’s awesome creation. How can one walk around a zoo without awe for our Creator? The variety, the colors, the incredible capabilities and designs, and the sheer beauty all literally shout that there is a Creator.

Some flat out deny that there is a God. The Bible has something to say about  these people–

The fool has said in his heart,
“There is no God.” (Psalm 14:1a)

We also know that all people know full well that there is a God, no matter what they say. In fact, the wonder of creation tells us–

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and [g]Godhead, so that they are without excuse, (Romans 1:20)

But there are far more people who give lip service to believing in God that live like atheists. While they might talk about Him creating the animals or go to church on Sunday, their day to day life is lived without Him. They are practical atheists, living as if God doesn’t exist. Uninformed and indifferent to what the Bible says about how we should live; uninterested in pleasing God, they passionately follow their own hearts and desires.

Which brings us back to that monkey and the snack he couldn’t get. Living life for our own selfish gain and to fulfill our own self-focused dreams has us grasping at the air, trying to reach the impossible. And if the impossible happens and the zookeeper actually allows us to have that “snack” , it doesn’t satisfy. It never does. It just makes us long for something more. Something different. Something better.

The things we so long for in this world are so very temporal. Not only do they not last but they just can’t satisfy. Power, popularity, wealth, fame… they are fleeting and do not fulfill.

I often think of this when I see movie stars from my era. No one cares much about them anymore. They have become yesterday’s celebrities and most have sunk back into insignificance. When you read the stories of these stars, they are generally sad, sad tales filled with the consequences of compromise and sinful choices to “make it to the top.”

Even in this current day, I watch so many who claim Christ make deep compromises in order to be popular. Can they be happy?

Compare these to the godly 90 year old who led a simple life loving and serving the Lord without compromise who dies with the hope of life eternal.

Which of these lives actually brings more peace and joy? Which do you want to be?

It all starts with acknowledging the Creator. Recognizing that God created the world. And then understanding His plan for mankind, which can only be found in the Bible, and submitting ourselves to Him, repenting of our sin, and accepting His wonderful gift of salvation as we recognize the utter impossibility of being right with God without Jesus Christ.

His transforming love and power then change us. He makes us a new creation (2 Cor 5:17); He gives us the strength to serve Him abundantly (2 Cor 9:8); He gives us joy and peace (Romans 14:17); He guards us from the evil one (2 Thessalonians 3:3); He guides us (Proverbs 3:5-6); He works all things out for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28-29); He promises us eternal life with Him that is far beyond anything we could even imagine (John 14:1-4; I Corinthians 2:9).

Really reflect on these abundant blessings that we receive upon our salvation. Is there anything in this world comparable to these? Do you really think that a few years of popularity or some money can even compare to these blessings? Why do we get so caught up in the temporal?

Even we genuine Christians can struggle with this. As I write this out, I realize how silly we must look to God with our mixed-up priorities–chasing after fame and fortune (or hobbies or entertainment or having control) when we have what is really important right in front of us, freely given the instant we are saved.

But we are human. And the age-old battle still rages within us. The desire to be popular, rich, to have control, to be engrossed in things that are irrelevant and unimportant–these idols die hard.

However, the more we are in the Word, the more we see these for what they are– snacks on the other side of the glass that are often unreachable and always unsatisfying.

Oh, may we have the wisdom to take delight in the eternal and abundant blessings that are ours if we belong to Jesus Christ as we appreciate the beauty of creation that surrounds us each and every day.

 

 

The Sick Toddler

The mother eyed her whimpering toddler with grave concern. He had stopped crying. Like he had run out of the energy to even cry. That couldn’t be good.

“I think it’s time you take him to the doctor,” her husband said worriedly. The young couple had watched their little son grow worse and worse over the past two days.

Within a short time, the mother had the feverish baby strapped into his car seat and was on her way to the doctor. Every once in a while she’d look in the rear-view mirror to check on him. She grew more worried with each passing mile. What was wrong with him?

When she got to the doctor’s office, she was ushered into a room right away. Holding the hot and limp little boy, she prayed. Soon the doctor was examining him. His expression grew concerned. He sighed, stood up, and turned to the mother.

He explained what was wrong with the baby and said he had medicine to help the baby. The effect would be immediate. But there was a big problem.

“What is it?” said the mother with trepidation.

“The medicine tastes awful,” the doctor spoke as if this mattered, “he might not like it.”

“I don’t care. Make my baby well. Give him the medicine,” urged the mother.

Good health was more important than pleasant-tasting medicine to the mother who loved her son more than she loved herself.

It was more important that he be healthy than that he be happy in that moment.

I heard this illustration on a sermon series by Dr. John Whitcomb today (I’ll include the link below). I felt compelled to share in hopes that this would help you understand why the Bible clearly commands us to expose false teachers. It isn’t about dividing the Body of Christ. It never has been. It’s about loving and protecting the Body of Christ.

A few days ago I put a post on Facebook about a false teacher. He’s much beloved and, as expected, I lost many followers. Some expressed their disgust that I would share something negative about this man. The conclusion is always the same: You are absolutely sinful and wrong to do this.

But is this what the Bible actually says? Does the Bible clearly show that it is unloving and sinful to expose a false teacher? We know it doesn’t when we compare this premise to scripture. (I have written about this in the past so I won’t repeat what I wrote but you can go here for that post.) But let’s dig a little deeper into the why. Why does God want us to expose false teachers? Why does it matter?

The truth is like that awful-tasting medicine. It doesn’t taste good and, as humans, we’d just prefer not to have it. But the truth is the only thing that can keep us spiritually healthy.

There is a spiritual pandemic going on and it’s sweeping across this land and into the utter parts of the earth. It’s a pandemic of wrong beliefs without any biblical basis. It’s a pandemic of strong opinions dominated by personal experience. It’s a pandemic of declarations and prophesies and zero doctrine. The landscape is simply littered with teachers who twist and warp scripture as they shout their opinions and ideas from well-lit stages to packed auditoriums.

This has led to many sick Christians. They are sick because they are listening to and heeding false teachers. And there are so few who are willing to speak up.

But just like that mother who loved her baby enough to give him bad-tasting medicine so that he could be well, so, too, should we love our siblings in Christ enough to tell them the truth.

For only when we know the truth can we begin to be spiritually healthy. The truth truly will set you free.

Jesus said this in John 8:31-32–

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

Do you notice that the truth is only known by abiding in His Word? The Bible isn’t just an old book. It’s where we find the truth. It has been provided to give us a litmus test by which to test everything. It is the tool given to us to examine ourselves and to examine any teacher, author, or preacher that comes our way.

And so, if we truly love and care about the body of Christ we must speak up. For only this is truly love.

“Niceness” and pleasant words will never prove your love. For love is proven by actions. As we can see from the illustration above, this mother loved her son enough to frustrate his desires in the short-term because she really cared about him in the long-term. Is this any less true in the spiritual realm? What an important lesson for us all.

Look, I don’t have this down. By no means am I saying follow my example, for I have such a long way to go. The fact that it took me so long to write about Disney (which is so obviously occultic) shows me that I am certainly not immune to compromising in order to please people. Oh, that we may all (myself included) be encouraged to love people enough to speak the truth, no matter the cost.

And so I write to encourage us all. May we be loyal only to God. May we be willing to risk reputations, friendships, and whatever necessary to speak the truth for the sake of sick and hurting siblings. And may we remember that we aren’t perfect. Sometimes it is us who is sick. Let’s be willing to listen when someone speaks truth to us as well!

For only through Truth–both speaking it and listening to it— will the Body of Christ be healthy and unified in the way God intended.

 

 

Here is the excellent series by John Whitcomb that I referred to above:

Truth is Greater Than Love (Part 1)

Truth is Greater Than Love (Part 2)

Truth is Greater Than Love (Part 3)

 

 

Eating and Exercising God’s Way

From the moment my daughter announced her wedding date, my mind started turning. Surely, this would be just the incentive I needed to spur on my weight loss. I grew excited by the prospect of having a really great reason to lose weight.

But week after week after week passed by and I could never go more than two or three days of “eating right” before I’d just cave. I’ve never been skinny but these past few years have really been a struggle, as my age, the craziness of the past two years, and my thorough enjoyment of food are a really really bad combination.

A month or so before the wedding, my goal of being a thin and attractive mother-of-the-bride started to fade from the realm of possible and became the impossible. I told myself all kinds of things, such as: “The day isn’t about me, anyway,” and “so many women my age have this problem” but it didn’t really help with the deep disappointment that reverberated in my soul every time I looked in a mirror that day. And when the photos came–well, as is often the case–they looked even worse than the mirror.

This was just not how I had hoped to look on my daughter’s wedding day.

But, you know, I’ve been thinking about this whole subject for a long, long time. As I’ve traveled along in this world beside both slender and heavy people; athletic-looking and comfy-plump looking; overweight, just-right, and too-skinny people, I’ve come to understand something important in this discussion on eating and exercising–

You cannot tell a person’s relationship with food and exercise by their weight.

We’ve all run into those people who can eat junk food all they want and never gain a pound. Are they more godly because of this? We’ve also run into those people who seem to gain two pounds for each fry they splurge on (you may even feel like that’s you!). Do those few extra pounds indicate disobedience to scripture? What about the people that put fitness ahead of God and their families? Is this good or right? I hope the answers to these questions is obvious.

So this brings us to the fact that we must understand that this question of eating and exercising goes so much deeper than how someone looks. SO. MUCH. DEEPER.

Perhaps some reflection on the questions below would be helpful for all of us–no matter what our weight. There are some things we should all think about when it comes to food and fitness.

I’ve been working through this for what seems like my whole adult life. I have struggled so to find peace. And this has led me to ask myself some really important questions:

What is my motive to lose weight/be healthy?

How does it look to please God with eating and exercising?

 

I don’t actually have the answers to this yet but I have learned a few things (or, at least, am in the process of learning these things)–

In regards to the first question: What is my motive?

• If I want to be thin for my own pride’s sake (to impress, to draw attention, to look better than others), that’s not the right reason.

• If I want to be healthy, that could be the right reason–if I want to be healthy for the right reason.

• If I want to be healthy in order to please and serve the Lord and those He has put in my life–then this is the right reason.

 

I’ve also learned some answers regarding the second question: How do I please God in this area of my life?

• There aren’t good foods and bad foods.

• It’s more about moderation and wisdom than it is about avoidance of certain foods or entire food groups or spending hours on a treadmill or at the gym.

• Consistent self-control and intentionality regarding eating and exercising–day by day, step by step– is so key. The latest fad diet or running a marathon might work…but these extremes rarely yield lasting results that keep us focused on the real reason we want to be as healthy as we are able to be.

 

God doesn’t say a whole about weight in His Word but we can gather a few things about this area of our lives from the following verses (this list is by no means exhaustive)–

Have you found honey? Eat only as much as you need, Lest you be filled with it and vomit. (Proverbs 25:16)

We learn from this verse that there is nothing wrong with eating sweets– just don’t overdo it!

Do not mix with winebibbers,
Or with gluttonous eaters of meat;
For the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty,
And drowsiness will clothe a man with rags(Proverbs 23:20-21)

So we learn here that we must avoid gluttony (excessive eating or drinking). Some self-examination is probably helpful in determining what excess eating looks like for us personally.

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. (I Corinthians 10:14)

This verse reminds us not to give eating and exercising a wrong priority in our lives. (Paul reminds us in I Corinthians 9:24-27 that a physical runner receives a perishable crown, but the race we run as believers yields an imperishable crown. How important to remember that we must keep our spiritual race the priority!)

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits[a] of the world, and not according to Christ. (Colossians 2:8)

It is important that we discern truth from error as health and fitness movements sweep over our cultures. Is this practice, routine, fitness philosophy, song I’m exercising to–are these things compatible with being a Christian? It’s too much to get into here, but it is safe to say that much occultism has swept into the homes of Christians through this area of fitness and even in how we eat (see here for an example of how it’s influenced fitness and here for a way it is seeping into how we eat.)

do not be anxious about anything, 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 your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

We know that instead of eating when we are anxious we should, instead, turn to prayer. The answer for anxiety isn’t in food, it’s in keeping our mind stayed on God (Isaiah 26:3). How funny that some of us (me, for example) turn to food when we are anxious–as if that will help at all. Emotional eating is a result of not trusting God fully for the present life we live and the days that lie ahead. It’s a lifelong journey putting this into practice for those of us that struggle with this–but we must keep working at it for it is a command: Do not be anxious about anything. That’s what it says. And so we must learn to trust and pray instead of eat.

Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?  If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are. (I Corinthians 3:16-17)

Here we see that we are the temple of God. We should treat our bodies as such, eating in moderation and with self-control and keeping ourselves as healthy as is possible. Of course, ultimately, this is in the Lord’s hands so we never want to believe that we can avoid disease and death by doing certain things. While this may certainly help we mustn’t count on this. We all know the healthy runner who has a heart attack or the health nut who gets cancer. These things are in God’s sovereignty and, ultimately, we must surrender our health to the Lord.

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

and this one, too–

Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,
But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. (Proverbs 31:30)

From these verses we women (in particular) learn perhaps the most important lesson of all when it comes to this topic of weight: We don’t want to be consumed with what we look like. If we are known for anything, may it be that we fear the Lord. May it be for our service to Him. Our top priority should always be seeking the Lord.

The world tells us what we should look like. But the Lord obviously doesn’t agree or there would be a verse like this in the Bible about it–such as “Thou shalt be thin all the days of your life” or “May there not be found an overweight brother or sister among you.”

Please don’t hear me saying it’s okay to be an unhealthy weight. The Bible teaches us to take care of our bodies. But, in doing so, it is so important that we have a biblical perspective on this: It’s about balance and pleasing the Lord. It’s not about what others think of us or our obsession with being the best-looking 30, 50, or 70 year old around.

So, yeah…

I obviously struggle in this area of my life. I am still such a work “in progress” and most times I don’t feel like there is much progress. Honestly, this is probably one of the most challenging areas of my life.

I hesitated to share this here…

I know assumptions are made when I share something so personal. Sometimes condescension or ridicule are in the thoughts of those reading, even if they are never spoken. This is a risk I take with this kind of post.

I have chosen to take this risk because I wonder if there is someone else out there like me? Someone who is working through the eating and exercising question. Perhaps today you just need to know that you are not alone. I am right there with you–looking to please the Lord in this area of food and fitness and trying to discern just what that looks like from God’s Holy Word.

 

 

Changed Lives: Lorraine

Are you truly saved? Or are you faking it? Today’s testimony is from a pastor’s daughter who faked it for many long years.

When I first met Lorraine, years ago now, I was so refreshed by her vibrant faith and dedication to the Lord. I had no idea that her testimony included many years of only pretending to be a Christian. When she shared this with me, I realized she was probably revealing to me one of the most tragic and best kept secrets of the church: So many are just pretending.

Some of these pretenders do give doubts regarding their claims of faith by their continuing sinful and worldly lifestyles, but Lorraine reminds us that there are others who do all the right things, say all the right things, and yet their hearts are so far from God.

Lorraine’s testimony is so very important for this time–this era of pop Christianity (which isn’t actually true Christianity); for this time of easy-believism; for this time when people are taught that their salvation is assured with a childhood prayer or a walk to the altar; and for this time when the fake gospel of Jesus fixing your life and fulfilling your dreams or the gospel of being nice and doing good works is replacing the true Gospel.

2 Corinthians 13:5 says this:  Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.

A few years ago, I was leading a Bible Study that Lorraine attended. One evening I shared my consternation over my lack of faith in a certain situation and my accompanying doubts about my salvation. Instead of delivering cliches and assuring me that “of course, you are saved,” Lorraine looked me in the eye and told me to examine myself carefully to make sure I was in the faith. At first, I was quite taken aback by this unexpected reply but after reflecting on this for several days, I realized that this was the kindest thing she could have said to me and I took her advice to heart: I carefully examined myself.

Where are we going when this life is over? The answer to that question stretches on into eternity and there will be no second chances. I hope Lorraine’s testimony will cause all who read it to examine themselves to see whether or not they are “in the faith.” It’s the most important question of our lives.

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This is my testimony of coming to a saving knowledge of Christ Jesus; of my soul finding rest and peace at last. It is a story of deceit, lies, and sin—and of amazing mercy and grace.

If a child is born into a godly Christian home, they have great advantage. My father had been gloriously born again just a few months before my birth. All of my life I was taken to church, including Sunday mornings and evenings, as well as Wednesday nights. Sunday school, Vacation Bible School, Christian summer camp, and Youth for Christ were all part of my childhood. I went to revival meetings, mission meetings, and prophecy conferences. I was taught early on of the love of God, of the depravity of man, of the redeeming work of the Lord Jesus, and of the wrath of God on the unrepentant and unbelieving heart.

In other words, I had no excuse not to believe for I was surely taught the truth.

My childhood memories are very happy ones. Sometime probably around the age of ten I went to the altar and professed faith in Christ. My teen years were both happy and troubled (as teen years often are). It became evident to me during this time that whatever troubles I had, they were nothing compared to the trouble I was in with God! By this time, with the knowledge I had of the Scriptures, and the godly life my father modeled before me, I realized that I was not saved. I had not been born-again. I was not a child of God but, rather, was a child of wrath.

When I was sixteen, a pivotal moment is etched in my mind. There was nothing in my life at that time that would have given a perceptive father any confidence that his daughter was right with God in spite of her profession of faith and one day, with a very heavy heart, my father asked me if I was saved. Did I know Christ?

Instead of revealing my desperate need for Christ to my father, I boldly looked him in the eye, and very consciously and with frightening ease, lied right to his face about the state of my soul. I told him I was saved so that he would stop bothering me.

That lie would be deeply entrenched within my heart and life, and for many years my ugly pride would prevent me from ever acknowledging my desperately lost condition. Pride nearly carried me to hell, to everlasting separation from God, to eternal damnation.

Within the next few years, I would fall in love, marry, have a daughter and three sons, teach Sunday School, become a youth leader, and attend church every time the doors were open (which was frequently). And yet…

I lived in dread and fear of dying or of Christ returning because I was most certainly not ready to meet a holy God.

Years passed. By this time, I was an expert at living this carefully crafted and concealed lie of pretending to be this wonderful Christian—which I knew I wasn’t.

At one point in my desperation, I tried to make a deal with God. I wanted to be saved but I wanted to be saved at home in the privacy of my bedroom so that no one need know that, for the past 15 years, I had lived the life of a phony, a hypocrite, a liar.

I learned something about the Almighty God, the King of the Universe: He doesn’t make deals.

Shortly after this, during the last night of a revival service, the Sprit of God powerfully worked upon my heart and God reminded me that “today is the day of salvation”.  A great battle was being waged for my soul and, though I was so terribly lost, without hope and without God, the thought of publicly walking down that long aisle was just too much to ask of my prideful self and held me back. After all, whatever would people think?

The last verse of Just As I Am called me to come and be saved at the end of that service but I refused. I left that service still lost, still trying to find my own way to God. After that evening, it was like God said “alright, Lorraine, do it your way!” and for the next two years God left me to myself. There was no conviction or striving. I was utterly alone. There was a deadness in my soul and I plunged into despair, believing that I had been totally abandoned by God.

With my sin heavy upon me, I was at the point of being willing to do whatever was necessary to find peace with God and rest in the Lord Jesus.

At the end of that two years, another revival meeting was held. While I was not particularly affected by either service or the special speaker that Sunday, this was the day that I came to the end of myself.

We came home that evening and put the children to bed and then I sat down heavily on the sofa, deeply shadowed by much misery and despair…feeling like I could not live yet knowing I could not die.

My husband, Dick, sat down beside me, sensing something was terribly wrong. Finally—after years of carefully guarding my secret—I told him that I did not know Christ. I told him I had never been saved and that now I was quite sure I could never be saved. I truly believed I had “missed my opportunity” for grace.

He tried to assure me that I was simply backslidden—that I simply needed assurance of my long-held faith. But I would not be consoled. I kept telling him I was lost. If anybody ever was lost, it was me! I then told Dick that I wanted to go before the entire church body and tell them I had been a phony all these years and to ask for prayer to God on behalf of my lost soul. I was now far past caring about what anybody thought of me. I had hit bottom and was so broken.

It was very late by now and we decided to wait until morning to go to talk to my dad—who was actually the pastor of the church we attended (Yes! Pastors’ kids can look so good but still be faking it!)

Early the next morning, we took the children to my sister’s house and were soon knocking on the parsonage door. We went into my father’s study and I told him what I had told my husband the evening before.

I had so perfected my role-playing of “good Christian” to such an extent that even my father was unbelieving. “Oh, Lorraine, you are surely just backslidden,” he said over and over again. Again, I said no, I have never been saved. And now I can’t be saved. Surely it was too late.

Then my wise father gave me the first words of hope that I had had for many years: Lorraine, the fact that you are here is evidence that God has not given you up!

My dad suggested that we talk with the special speaker who was visiting our church for the revival meetings. This speaker had seen many just like me—pastors, missionaries, elders, Sunday School teachers, and others—who had made empty professions of faith perhaps in their childhood or as a young adult but had finally and genuinely come to Christ after many years of service. He said to me, “Lorraine, why don’t you ask Christ to save you?”

I had been down this path before but this time was different. This time my will was broken and I had been humbled. I was well aware of my sin and my need for a Savior. Had any sinner prayed such a simple prayer or one so heartfelt as I did that October morning? In simple, believing faith I received Jesus Christ as Lord.

Lightening did not flash. I heard no voice from heaven. But God has said in His Word: as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name, which were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:10-12).

I had received Christ through faith and I was born again. My life was radically changed—For God hath said: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

And my sin—well, God has something to say about that, too! : “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool. (Isaiah 1:18)

and also: who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed. (I Peter 2:24)

Now I sing with gladness!–

My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!—
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

It is well with my soul,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

 

I greatly fear that many sit in churches, as I did, with an empty profession, their hearts becoming increasingly harder and their doom sure. God will say to many as they parade their works before Him in that great day: Depart from me, I never knew you.  (Matthew 7:21-23)

If you are still in your sins there is a mercy seat. The door of grace is still open. The Savior has said all who come to me, I will in no wise cast out. (John 6:37) Flee then to Christ. Look to Christ. Plead with Christ to save you!

In this world of pleasure, acclaim and applause, of fame and riches, there is nothing, nothing, nothing that can be compared to knowing Christ Jesus the Lord. He is the treasure of all treasures. Take ten thousand worlds and they are nothing compared to the infinite, amazing worth of knowing the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Find other wonderful testimonies of God’s amazing grace and never-ending mercy in the lives of His children here.

Are Disney and God Compatible?

A few years ago, I stumbled on to a documentary about Disney. I was so disturbed but the cost of speaking out against Disney was high (as it is dearly loved by so many Christians) and so I am ashamed to say that I just let time slowly fade this content from my mind. I had a vague recollection but decided to not worry about this.

Some of our best family memories took place at Disney World. While we weren’t Disney fanatics by any stretch of the imagination, we did thoroughly enjoy our trips there. My kids watched many of the movies over and over growing up. (Of course, never the ones that were filled with sorcery— as if a “little sorcery” in the ones we did allow was not as worrisome as a lot!) At any rate, I wasn’t prepared to pay the price of turning away from this American staple. Neither publicly or personally. It seemed too hard.

But, recently, not only has Disney been doing some really concerning things in their theme parks, but their content is getting darker and more propaganda-like with each new movie or show.

And so I decided to watch the documentary again. And, friends, Disney has been telling us their direction all along. They have been putting it out there for all to see and we Christians have been completely and utterly deceived.

I decided, this morning, to share this documentary on Facebook. But, unbeknownst to me, the video used a fake photo. I doubt the author of the video knew it was a fake photo, but this was enough for me to remove it. (I am so thankful to the reader who brought this to my attention!) Although the video was otherwise spot on in the information it presented, this one fake photo would discredit the video enough to sour and turn off those who are looking for excuses to ignore this information.

SO this is why I am writing today. I want to take a look at what is wrong with Disney, according to scripture. May we be brave enough to open our eyes to these truths.

Here are the questions I’d like to answer today:

What is Disney’s purpose? And is it compatible with God’s purpose?

I want to acknowledge, right up front, that it took me a very long time for me to get to this point. I am ashamed to admit that I was not willing to face the ridicule of family and friends in order to stand for what is right. I was not willing to marginalize myself that much. How incredibly sad is that?? I am so ashamed.

But no more. I think it’s time we all take our proverbial heads out of the sand and take an honest look at what Disney has been teaching all along.

First, there is sorcery in almost every single movie in one way or another. While we think of these as innocent stories expressing the age-old theme of good against evil, they really are teaching our kids and grandkids about sorcery.

Let’s remind ourselves what God thinks of sorcery:

There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord, and because of these abominations the Lord your God drives them out from before you. (Deuteronomy 18:10-12)

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)

It is fairly clear in these passages (and others) that God HATES sorcery of any type. So why would we Christians bring entertainment into our homes that contain this thing that God hates? (This goes for Harry Potter and Narnia and Lord of the Rings, as well–entertainment that is FULL of magic and sorcery.)  Why do we make exceptions for entertainment?

I believe that Disney paved the way for Christians to accept sorcery as an acceptable inclusion in their entertainment. Oh, how naive I was. How naive we all were.

Second, the theme of almost every Disney movie is “Follow your heart.” Any believer who is familiar with scripture at all must recognize the grave error of such a message. In fact, there we read that the complete opposite is true–

“The heart is deceitful above all things,
And desperately wicked; Who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)

It is Satan who deceived Eve into thinking that she was capable on her own of determining truth. It is Satan who deceives us in this way yet today. We can’t follow our hearts because they will always lead us astray.

And yet this is the main message of the company that is the main entertainer of America’s children. Perhaps of your own children. Really reflect on that for a moment.

Third, Disney is busily changing the definition of family. Again, in almost every film, there lacks a normal family. Think about all of the Disney films you have watched. Almost all are missing a parent. Obviously, this sometimes tragically happens but it has never been the norm. I can’t think of one (even their real life series and movies often are not showing the proper–and what used to be normal– nuclear family structure). This change in the nuclear family structure from these movies of yesteryear have opened the door for other family structures. Can you see the progression?

Fourth, many of these movies promote things that are utterly unacceptable and yet somehow make them seem alright– a young man enticing a teen girl to leave her room (Aladdin); a magical being luring three young children on an adventure (Peter Pan); A magical nanny teaching children witchcraft (Mary Poppins and Bedknobs and Broomsticks).

Oh, Christians, what have we been doing?!?

These are just four (of many) reasons we should stay far away from Disney, although more reasons are being piled up upon these four every day. From the ridiculous changes they desire to make in their theme parks to the ever-darkening propaganda they continue to push forth on the naive culture in their movies and series.

Should we be surprised at this trajectory of Disney?

Absolutely not. Not when we do a little digging into Walt’s past. You see, Walt was a 33rd degree freemason. He was always anti-God and  in direct opposition to biblical themes. From the beginning, he wanted to put occultic themes into the heads of children.

We Christians were just so naive.

Oh, I know that some of you saw this all along. And you were willing to speak up about it, too. I am so glad that you have done so!

But far more are unwilling to face the truth about this company that is deadset on teaching their kids and grandkids all that goes against scripture.

It is my hope and prayer that this post leads even one of you to re-evaluate this company and to start removing the wicked entertainment they are spewing forth from your lives and the lives of the precious children in your care.

And, like I said, I am saying this to myself as much as I am saying it to you. I will be throwing away my Disney movies (those I incorrectly labeled as “innocuous”). I have already canceled my Disney Plus and Disney credit card accounts. I am on a mission, now that God has opened my eyes.

There’s an inconspicuous verse in Daniel 10 (what I am reading this week) that says this:

Then he said to me, “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words. (verse 12)

The angel came in response to Daniel because he had “set his heart to understand.” Well, I want to be like Daniel. I want to set my heart to understand so that I am not deceived by things like Disney. I am ashamed it took me this long to “set my heart” but better late than never, right?

Will you join me?

 

(If you want to be horrified and further educated regarding what Disney is teaching our young people, then this documentary which I referred to earlier will inform you. However, please be aware that the author included–I am guessing unbeknownst to him–at least one “photoshopped” photo. Unfortunately, this photo will discredit the author when the bulk of what he says is clearly true. So use your own judgment on this.)

 

Considering Our Legacy

The other day I was paging through an old photo album. I got to the page which held the sepia-toned likenesses of my great grandparents. I took a moment and stared at those eight faces. All but two of them were gone before I was born. The two that were alive died when I was a young child. Those eight people are strangers to me. I have little recollection of them nor did they have any input in my life.

Or did they?

They must have. For they shaped the grandparents that would shape the parents that would shape me.

But two generations later they are simply photos to those who come after them. There aren’t even memories to warm my heart as I look at their photos.

I think of this as I consider the children of my grandchildren. I will most likely not have any great impact in their lives. If God would so bless me then, for sure, that blessing would end by the time the great-great grandchildren came along. You see, we are always just a couple generations from being forgotten.

I was struck by this same brevity and insignificance as I have been reading Daniel. As God gives Daniel prophecies of the things to come, it brings to mind just how small I really am. It is both humbling and important to remember that the world doesn’t revolve around me. Most of us will die less than a hundred years after we are born and the majority of us will go unremembered in the annals of history.

But there is much we can do to bless future generations. We are given this precious opportunity to shape our children who will then shape their children who will then shape their children and on and on it goes.

So often, godly heritage is lost as the following generations go on a downward spiral. Whatever you choose to do, your kids will go just a step further, and on and on, until the future generations are lost to worldliness and immorality.

While we surely can’t stop this from happening, we can do our best to keep it from happening.

And I am reminded once more of the critical nature of following hard after God. We get lazy and we think our choices to not study the Bible or to remain prayerless for weeks on end affect only us. We somehow believe our choices to sin or to compromise are personal choices. But these choices echo into the halls of eternity through those that come after us.

Our daily choices are, by God’s very design, affecting future generations.

In light of this, we are led to a very important question–

Am I living life in a way I want my children and grandchildren to emulate?

So many people are just living for themselves these days. It’s the way of the world. As believers, we need to set a much higher standard. We need to not only live for Christ, we need to strive to be like Him. We must be intentional and single-minded in our submission and obedience to God.

Of course, we are reminded of God’s marvelous grace when we remember that some of you have been plucked right out of your worldly, ungodly families to be saved for God’s glory and His purposes. How awesome is that? You actually get to be the beginning of godly heritage for those future generations that come after you. What a privilege!

And, while setting a great example is of utmost importance, let’s also remember the critical nature of passing on the baton of godly heritage through communication. Let’s talk about the things that are of eternal significance with our kids and grandkids. Let’s point them to the Word, explaining why it is our only true anchor in this life.

We also can’t underestimate the power of prayer as we consider the future generations. Many years ago now, I started praying that the generations after me would grow stronger rather than weaker. It has been an awe-inspiring thing to watch God begin to answer that prayer as my kids grow–and that despite the many weaknesses and sin struggles of their parents. I didn’t realize until recently that my mother has been praying the same thing for her kids and grand-kids for many years. Prayer is an invaluable blessing, given to us by God.

So what if you don’t have kids? Does that give you a free pass in this legacy stuff? We know it doesn’t. There are young people around you that need a godly example. You can support godly parents of children you know by confirming what they are trying to teach their children. You can come alongside a child or teen that sadly lacks a godly example in their lives. How many people have been affected by godly men and women who are unrelated to them because that person reached out and gave them the gift of time and wisdom?

God will give all of us ample opportunity to build our legacies, if we will just look for the opportunities.

I don’t know how long we will be on this old earth but, for however long it is, may it be our deepest hope and ongoing prayer that the generations coming after us desire nothing more than to know Christ and to make Him known. May they stand firmly on the Solid Rock, be full of faith, and be bolder, stronger, and wiser than we are.

Because, as we watch the crumbling world around us, it’s pretty clear they will need to be.

____________________________________

Praise the Lord!

Blessed is the man who fears the Lord,
Who delights greatly in His commandments.

His descendants will be mighty on earth;
The generation of the upright will be blessed.

Psalm 112:1-2

 

 

What Is Your Price?

Every now and again I’ll go searching for some new music on Amazon music. There is a lot of good Christian music on there that is outside of the mainstream CCM that I stopped listening to a few years ago.

The other day I found a CD by some random guy that I was thoroughly enjoying. It was just his great voice and a piano and the songs were very appealing to my ear.

But a couple of songs in, I heard a weird phrase. Wait, what? I listened for it again. I wasn’t sure if it was unbiblical, but something didn’t seem right. I kept listening…

The next song came on. In this song, he assured his listeners that God would enable you to listen to your own heart. It was actually a very strange lyric and–no question with this one– definitely NOT biblical (Jeremiah 17:9)

At that point, I moved on.

But, it was a reminder that unbiblical, false teaching comes in all kinds of packages. It comes in pleasant-sounding songs as well as rap music. It comes in theatrical productions as well as in a soft-spoken preacher. In church and at work. On the TV as well as through a friend or your favorite social media account.

Any false or unbiblical teacher has either been deceived themselves or has chosen to compromise.

We can avoid being caught up in deception by careful and correct study of scripture. It is authoritative, inerrant, and sufficient. It is the only source of truth and God’s gift to us to keep us from deception. If we are deceived for a short time, He is faithful to call us from deception at some point if we are His own, dear child.

But let’s talk for just a bit about those who intentionally choose to compromise.

Some say we all have a price at which we will compromise. For many it is popularity, for some it is power or wealth, for others it is fear of what others will think. For many in the west, the price of compromise may be comfort, convenience, security, or stability. And then there is family. Many are unwilling to stand strong because of the ridicule and antagonism they receive from their families.

More and more, we are watching people compromise what is taught in scripture. People we have trusted to not compromise.

It is a most discouraging and disheartening process.

In the face of this most discouraging set of circumstances, how do we respond?

Since we can’t control what others do, we must keep plodding along, serving the Lord, intent only on pleasing Him. When we put our eyes on some other goal or idol, we end up compromising —sometimes without even realizing it.

Pastor Randy Hooper wrote this recently: “Most people, even the unbeliever, will not compromise his belief for ten dollars. But how about ten thousand dollars or ten million? A person is not any more noble because they, in a sense, charge more for their defection and cowardice than others.”

Exactly. Most people have a price. Oh, they may hold out if a small reward is offered. But when the cost gets too high or that thing that is so highly valued becomes available if they but compromise (just a little…) then most who call themselves Christians will cave.

So what is your price? What is mine? Will we compromise?

This is when it is helpful to take an honest and hard look at ourselves. What is our idol? What is more important to us than God? Hopefully nothing but this is a tough one. Sometimes we don’t even realize that something is more important to us until we examine our hearts. And this is our weak spot. This idol is what Satan will use to tempt us to compromise.

And so we pray for protection. We pray that God would enable us to keep Himself number ONE in our hearts, over and above all other things and people.

Others around us may compromise. But may we stand strong until the end!

And let’s not forget: We can only do this through the strength of the Holy Spirit. And this, through prayer and the Word of God.

Alone, we are like little lambs in the wilderness—prey for false teachers and incredibly susceptible to idol-bowing.

May we be people who are both unwilling to compromise, as well as people who refuse to fill our minds with the fodder of compromised teachers as we travel in these very strange times in these last days.

 


 

You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops. Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things.

2 Timothy 2:1-6

 

 

We All Need a Little Help Sometimes

This past Saturday night we were rudely awakened by Macy’s deep bark. She is our Labrador Retriever and even as a rather old dog, her hearing remains fairly sharp. I squinted at the clock and tried to discern if the doorbell I heard ringing was real or part of a dream. It was 2:46am (3:46am on our phones because they had already switched for Daylight Savings). What had caused Macy to bark?

Eric ran downstairs to make sure no one was at the door. When he was assured that the doorbell had indeed been in my dreams he came back upstairs. But instead of getting back in bed, he stood at the bedroom window.

“What are you looking at?” I asked.

“There are car lights. They aren’t moving. I wonder if someone is stuck?”

The temperature was frigid and the wind was brutal. It was causing the snow that had fallen earlier that day to drift in great waves of white across the road, making it impassable.

We both stood at the window watching the headlights of the motionless car. Finally, after a few minutes, my husband turned to me, “Shall I go rescue them?”

Now, I have to say that I hesitated. I am sad to admit that. But what is someone doing out at 3am in the morning, anyway? They are probably drunk, at the very least. The thought of my husband going out on that freezing, blustery night to rescue a complete stranger did not thrill my soul.

But my husband is a born rescuer. If someone needs help, he’s there. He always has been like that, even as a young man. It’s is one of the things I love most about him.

And, so, he was soon dressed in warm coat and boots and headed outside to get his biggest skid-loader to see what he could do.

Forty-five minutes or so later, he was back inside. He had not only rescued the man and the young teen with him (presumably his daughter), who were coming home from a party but had also cleared the road for any others who might need to use it.

The weather made conversation difficult and so Eric doesn’t really know much about the man and the young girl that was with him. He couldn’t really tell if he had drunk too much before leaving the party or if the girl was truly his daughter. We don’t know why Macy even barked at that time. What we do know is that they needed help and Eric had the means to provide that help.

Can you imagine how they must have felt when they saw a skid-loader headed their way to rescue them? They probably felt pretty hopeless as they sat there in the dark, surrounded on all sides by wind and snow. But, for some reason, God had allowed us to be awakened so that Eric could help them, just when they needed it.

I think of how often something similar happens to us. How we are at the end of our rope and feeling so hopeless and then–just at the right time–we get the help or encouragement we need. Someone offers to bring a meal, or they let us know they are praying for us, or we receive a little note in the mail. They may take the kids for an evening or come sit quietly with us as we mourn.

There are millions of ways that God orchestrates to comfort, encourage, strengthen, and, yes, even rescue us. He does this most often through His people, who are His hands and feet, meeting the needs of fellow siblings in Christ, as well as the lost in this world who so desperately need Christ.

Sometimes we get to be the rescuer (as my husband did last night) and sometimes we need to be rescued.

 

It takes selflessness and love to be the rescuer.

It takes humility and grace to be rescued.

 

Oh, may we meet both of these situations in a way that honors God and points others to Him.

NOW… there are some common temptations for us in these two areas, aren’t there? Some common ways we respond that would not be from God–

 

Temptations for the would-be rescuer

“Someone else can help them.”

“It’s just so inconvenient.”

“I don’t have time.”

“It might be dangerous.”

“I just don’t feel like helping.”

“I have more important things to do.”

“It’s too hard.”

 

Temptations for those who need rescued

“What will people think of me?”

“I’m so embarrassed!”

“I don’t need help!”

“I can do this alone.”

“I should be able to handle this.”

 

But–here’s the thing– God has designed us to need each other. He has designed humans to fellowship with one another (I John 1:7); to encourage and edify one another (I Thess. 5:11); to love one another (John 13:34-35); to help gently restore each other when we are struggling with a sin (Galatians 6:1); to be kindly affectionate with brotherly love (we are family!) (Romans 12:10); to meet the needs of each other (Romans 12:13); to rejoice and weep with one another (Romans 12:15).

This gives us a beautiful picture of what being in God’s family should look like. I fear that in these days, it is more often like a bunch of disconnected people going to the same building for a few hours each week –like a big group who would attend a show or a concert but know nothing about one another. This is understandable as we live in a culture where so many of us do not even know our neighbors.

We aren’t going to change the culture or probably not even our churches, so what can we do? What should we do?

Since we don’t do what is right because we want to change something but, rather, because we want to obey the Lord we love, we simply choose to do what is right in whatever opportunities we are given.

This means putting aside our own selfish agenda and unwillingness to give of our time, money, and other resources (that aren’t ours, anyway) to reach out to help; to know the Word so we can encourage and point others to its treasure trove of help and promises.

It means casting aside our ugly pride and to stop worrying about what people think and, instead, graciously and gratefully accept help when we need it.

These things sound so easy, but, unfortunately, they often aren’t. Most of us are not naturally unselfish or humble. It is only by the Holy Spirit working in and through us that we grow in these areas. This is a lifelong journey as we seek to become more like Christ.

Only by casting selfishness and pride away can we be the family of God that He has designed us to be. Only by reaching out, helping, and accepting help when we need it can we be obedient to God’s Word.

May we give our efforts to building up the body of Christ, creating strong and loving bonds with our siblings in Christ. As the world continues on its downward spiral, I believe we are going to need each other more and more. Let’s be building the bonds of love now so that they are strong enough to withstand any storm that comes.

 

 

Here Comes the Bridegroom!

On Sunday at church, the elder reading the scripture gave an illustration. Ironically, the illustration was one we found ourselves in at that very moment. He asked if we had ever seen a bride two weeks before her wedding (Why, yes, we have– just yesterday, in fact! We are two weeks out from the wedding of our youngest daughter.)

He then asked if that bride is ever just lying around on the sofa doing nothing (Absolutely not. There are a million things to do!)

He compared that to us, as believers, preparing ourselves for the wedding that is coming. There are so many verses that declare that the Church is the Bride of Christ. And, Church, our bridegroom is coming soon!

Our daughter, Marissa, the bride-to-be, is busily preparing for her special day, as well as for her new life. She’s preparing for her wedding and she is preparing her new home. She is preparing herself for her bridegroom. She’s purchasing and working and scurrying and…swamped. So much to do! So few days in which to do it!

Oh, Christians, this is exactly how we should feel. It is past time for the Church to recognize the lateness of the hour and to get up and get going. We have become so self-indulgent and engrossed in the cares of this world. Instead, we should be preparing ourselves for our bridegroom. We are to be serving, encouraging, giving, sharing the Gospel, and growing in holiness.

Paul, in I Thessalonians 5, explains what is coming for them (the world). And then Paul says as we wait for the rapture (which he writes about in chapter 4) and for that day to come, we should not sleep. He puts it like this:

But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be a]”>[a]”>aa]”>]sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.

Elwood McQuaid writes about this idea of not sleeping in his book called There is Hope (which I highly recommend, by the way)–

“Herein is a solemn charge to be discerners of the times and seasons; that is, to be in step with what God is doing in these last days. It is a warning for believers to disassociate themselves from the self-indulgence and obsession with petty non-issues that seem to be so much a part of the evangelical scene today. I am constantly amazed at how little many Christians seem to know or care about some of the ominous prospects coming upon us in these last days. We seem to be somewhat afflicted by the spirit of desire to hope everything is OK. But things are not OK. We live in a world awash in chaos and violence–a world needing a clear proclamation and life-demonstration of the gospel as never before. We are being admonished to wake up to our obligation to be serious about our faith and seriously engage in standing with Him in these climactic times.”

But things are NOT OK. Did you catch that, Christian? There is no happily ever after for this world for those that don’t know Christ. They are headed into the worst time in history to be followed by eternity in hell.

These words by McQuaid were written in 1996. Twenty-six years later, we are not waiting for ominous prospects any longer but are now living them. Oh, the day the Bridegroom comes for us has to be so close.

For those skeptics that point back to World War II and other horrible times in history as a time when Christians were waiting expectantly for the return of Christ, may I say a quick word.

This. Is. Different.

Oh, so different.

I know this is a bunny trail, but I believe it’s a very important one. Let me {very briefly} explain some of the differences–

Never before in the history of the modern world has it been so obviously prepared for a global government. As America dies a slow and painful death, the prospect of global governance creeps ever closer. Never before has technology been advanced to the point that there could be a “mark” that tracks buying and selling of every person on earth. Revelation 13 prophesies both of these things and we can actually see them being set up to happen in the near future! Never before would there be the possibility to see the “two witnesses” from Revelation across all the world in real-time (Rev 11). Never before has the professing church been so apostate and ecumenical in joining with false religions. A One-World religion seems more than possible–it seems probable (Also prophesied in Rev 13).

And if those things aren’t enough, let me share a couple of other things that should confirm it.

Do you know that they have added “beheading” to the medical code for legal execution?!? Beheading! In 2022, we could be beheaded as a legal means of execution. That method of death has been looked on as repugnant since the French Revolution, yet here we are in these last days and it has been craftily added to an official medical code both in WHO and in the US. Look up Revelation 20:4 to find out why that is important.

(*After I posted this a reader commented (see below) why the above is not accurate. That, this change in the code is not what I understood it to mean. I believe that she is right and I am wrong. I don’t actually think that changes the significance of the item being listed, however, in relation to what is ahead in the tribulation. I will rewrite that section when I have some time to research it a bit.)

And then there is that obscure prophecy in Ezekiel 38. The one we could never, ever before see being set up to actually happen. And yet, here we are– seeing it be set up in front of our very eyes. And the accuracy with which it is matching what the scripture says is astounding! (Do some research and be amazed!)

And, if those two aren’t enough, there is that oddity I read on a new age website many years ago now about people disappearing off the face of the earth and how they will explain it away using aliens (written in the early 90’s). Even they know the true Christians are disappearing one of these days.

Oh, dear Christian, the Bridegroom will soon be here. The true Church is in the last few days before the wedding. It couldn’t be any clearer. The question is: Are we ready? Or are we laying around, indulging ourselves and keeping busy with the things that just don’t matter for eternity?

I believe that the urgency we true believers feel right now is from the Holy Spirit as the time for this era winds down and the world prepares for the next. May we not ignore what is welling up within us but be about the Lord’s work.

May we not be caught slumbering without oil but, instead, keep our lamps burning and full of oil as we wait for our Bridegroom (Matthew 25) for He will soon be here!

 

 

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