Standing Strong

I found that when I preached the actual truth of what I was reading, it conflicted with my church’s teaching. 

My son in Massachusetts has a lung infection and is at high risk in our current COVID- saturated environment. So he’s been quarantined for a month by the doctors but through prayers and good medical care, he is doing better. He had me scared there for a minute because when he called, he could barely breathe or talk. Mama was going to be on the next plane out, but an ambulance was called and got him to the ER. His friends and his landlord have been making sure he gets food and what he needs. Thank God.

On another note and the real point of this post is that I wanted to make belief statements today. In my journey to more honest Christianity, I’ve been amazed at the influence church organizations can have over how you read your Bible, how much you read your Bible and how honestly you read. I think it’s something to be vigilant about on our spiritual journey.

I used to read and preach from the Bible with my mind confined to my denomination’s teaching and not honestly reading for truth. Even though I thought I was doing just that–reading openly and honestly.

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I found that when I preached the actual truth of what I was reading, it conflicted with my church’s teaching.

Oh yeah. For real.

People would get confused and start questioning my loyalties and what I was saying. I finally realized what was wrong with that picture and finally took the step of leaving my beloved church and not trying anymore to change their system, but staying with God. When people have such a paradigm shift it’s possible that they would leave Christian life altogether, but one thing I knew was that the Lord had saved me and I held to that. Of course, to them, those two things-leaving them and staying with the Lord – could not co-exist. If you leave them, you’ve left God. But I had to get over that and move on. freedom in Christ

freedom in Christ

I Believe…

I believe God wants Christians to commune and be influenced by Him more than their Pastor or fellow Christian friends. I believe we should have our mind and heart focused on Christ and his words alone and live by them and love those principles from the heart, and I believe that is all that matters.

I believe God wants us to develop our walk with God based on his personal revelations to us from His words about our lives rather than other folks’ revelations.

blue freedomI believe that a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is just that. One where you are not judged by the next man about your personal convictions regarding non-gospel related things. Of course, you have some that believe everything in life is tied to the purpose and goals of their church organization, but that is not what the Bible teaches. As it’s often said, God didn’t call us to church but to Christ. Having lived under strict teaching about outward things, I can say the bible is correct. This is the doctrine of the Pharisees. People create strict rules to make themselves more holy, but more often than not, those same people will tend to act fleshly in attitudes and conduct, which is the more serious offense. Those man-made rules have no value in changing or cleansing the spirit.

I believe that a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is just that. One where you are not judged by the next man about your personal convictions regarding non-gospel related things. Of course, you have some that believe everything in life is tied to the purpose and goals of their church organization, but that is not what the Bible teaches. As it’s often said, God didn’t call us to church but to Christ. Having lived under strict teaching about outward things, I can say the bible is correct. This is the doctrine of the Pharisees. People create strict rules to make themselves more holy, but more often than not, those same people will tend to act fleshly in attitudes and conduct, which is the more serious offense. Those man-made rules have no value in changing or cleansing the spirit.

18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.

20 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— 21 “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” 22 (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? 23 These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh. Colossians 2:18-23

I believe that freedom in Christ is the freedom to do as Christ leads according to his words and guidance. It is grace to live as we should and submit ourselves to the will of God as he reveals it to us.

I believe God has a truth that transcends petty differences that divide men.download (1)

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I believe it takes a long time for Christians to realize that although we have truth in Christ, it is not our job to be judge and jury. It is our job to love humanity and show God’s unconditional love as much as it is in our power. That’s a hard lesson for most of us to learn.

God does not always fit into our small box of judgment, as he has proved time and again.tiny box

tiny box

8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.

9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9

Amen to His Word

Keeping Our Peace

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid

In Acts 1:6-7 the disciples asked the risen Christ legitimate questions about the future,  but his response was:

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

I’m sure that’s not what they were looking for.  Some of them might have said  to themselves “well thanks Jesus, we followed you for 3 years believing that you would restore Isreal to a kingdom status and you’re still only giving us bits and pieces”.

This passage reminded me that at times we ask God reasonable questions, seemingly vital to our sanity.  Are you going to help us?  Give us a clue? What is your ultimate plan?  Let us in on this one. Still, Christ only told them the immediate things they needed to know and do.   He didn’t tell them everything — and yet he did.  He sidestepped their question and went straight to what they actually needed for their coming role in the world

You will receive power.

They needed his strength, gifts, and ability to spread the gospel and go through their own struggles while He transformed their lives into his image.   And that’s it isn’t it?

Often I hear Christians who read scriptures about power and focus, like Simon the sorcerer, on something everyone can see. After all, shouldn’t we do things to amaze and convert like in the Book of Acts?    Let’s show them that we can perform miracles, prophecy future events, go to church and kiss the coronavirus on the forehead and not be harmed.  We’ll show those unbelievers!

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On the contrary, our power is living our lives according to God’s word and having peace in the midst of confusion.  Strength comes by using our gifts to be Jesus’ hands, feet, and heart in times of crisis.  Sound mundane? Less than spectacular? Consider that the ability to endure, and make it through trouble is something few have the patience for.  One of the fruits of the spirit is PATIENCE. The ability to wait and see. Less talk and more prayer. This pandemic will definitely try our patience.

Inner peace and patience are prized possessions (yes more than toilet paper and hand sanitizer). Having God’s peace in a time of trouble has stellar, black-market value.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27( ESV)
The disciples just needed to know that he would be with them.  They didn’t need to know every detail of what was coming at them, but they did need to know that his presence would be there to help them.
That he would not leave them in time of distress, tragedy, or sadness.  Having peace is powerful. We just need to know that He walks with us from day today.

 

Learning to Breathe As A Christian Parent, Ages 3-18

I love that definition of prayer.  Simply putting oneself in the hands of God.  One thing my experience as a Christian parent has taught me:  Breathe, pray and don’t take everything so seriously. Sometimes we put so much pressure on ourselves to be the perfect parent.  If we believed that God created them and has plans for their lives, then realize that God is there to talk to them when you’re not. 

Casting all your cares on him because he cares for you. I Peter 5:7.

God is not this judgmental ogre who stands there waiting to condemn you at every turn.  He does not force us or even micromanage our affairs. He simply teaches and loves. I’m learning to imitate that part of the divine.  

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved  children. Ephesians 5:1

Our children are wonderful human beings that we’ve been blessed to raise.  Each one of them is different in their own manners, thinking process, emotions and character.  As I pull away from toxic things I see my kids for what they are: individuals.  

There is something about looking at my children this way and not as an extension of my own image that is freeing and refreshing. So often as Christians we tend to focus on how our children make us look since there is this duty to bring them up in “the fear of the Lord”.

So to continue my discussion of child development, here we go:

Ages 3-5

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Experts tell us this is an “assertive” age with a lot of activity and questions.  Kids want to initiate and interact. As much as possible, try to support their desire to learn or  avoid over controlling them at this age. If they’re constantly criticized or overly controlled they will learn to withdraw and develop guilt about normal behavior.  Try not to make them feel like they’re a nuisance even when they ask questions over and over again. Of course some guilt is necessary so that the child will have a conscience. 

I used to wonder why highly controlled children seemed to have little initiative and seemed almost blank in creativity. Maybe this is why.

Age 5-12

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If children are encouraged and reinforced for their initiative, they begin to feel industrious (competent) and feel confident in their ability to achieve goals. If this initiative is not encouraged, if it is restricted by parents or teacher, then the child begins to feel inferior, doubting his own abilities and therefore may not reach his or her potential. If the child cannot develop the specific skill they feel society is demanding (e.g., being athletic) then they may develop a sense of inferiority. Resource

To learn competence, the child has to experience failure. Kids learn by initiating, doing and seeing if they can be successful in things they started.   If they are not allowed to do anything on their own, the skill and power of feeling competent is a struggle. I’ve seen children, including my own that have grown up in a highly controlled existence. Usually they struggle with self-esteem and feeling accomplished.

Adolescence

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 Any of us that have teens knows that our relationship with them changes during this time.  We have to move along with their maturity. Teens are looking toward, careers, relationships, family housing and becoming independent and wanting to find out who they are.  It’s a critical stage. Sometimes in religious settings it’s styled as an age of rebellion. I prefer to think of it as adult discovery. They are discovering relationships, sexuality, their own thoughts on subjects, what careers they might be good at and even their own belief system.   They may not want your religion or lifestyle and it’s ok because they are finding out about their own identity. Many Christian parents are afraid of this stage because the questions come out and doubt comes in and the parents are afraid they will lose the child forever. Just pray for them.  

f God loves and understands them at this stage so should we. The child needs to understand that you’re there for them and will listen to them and talk to them like the adults they are becoming.

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Learning To Breathe As A Christian Parent, Age 0-2 years

Lately, I’ve been trying to educate myself about child development from a secular standpoint. In the beginning, fundamentalist childrearing seems good because the children seem very obedient and controlled. But if the goal is to bring them to Christ, it seems to fall apart around adolescence and young adulthood.

Continue reading “Learning To Breathe As A Christian Parent, Age 0-2 years”

Can A Good Church Become A Cult?

I’m sharing this research because part of being a stable Christian is being aware of the pitfalls of religion. Frankly, any business, social or religious organization can become a cult. Just have the wrong people in leadership and there you go. As I talk to Christians, many are unaware of what makes up a cult. The word has such negative connotations, especially in the post-People’s Temple/Jim Jones age. The idea that cult members are these rabid, zombie-eyed deadheads who make no sense when they talk is a misconception. If one listens to , for example, Scientology interviewees, these people are sane, intelligent, educated people who simply thought they were joining an organization where they could make a difference. They didn’t think they’d give up hundreds of thousands of dollars, their freedom and the physical and mental well being of their loved ones. They got reeled in.

Continue reading “Can A Good Church Become A Cult?”