Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Milk or Meat?

I was reading an article today about how people are feeling frustrated in church and why that is. So after some thought, I decided to come to my blog and share my thoughts on the matter.

We, as sinful, broken human beings WANT to go to church and sit under the teaching of someone who will tell us that Jesus loves us, that we're covered by the grace of God, that we're doing a great job being good little helpers. We WANT milk because milk is easy to swallow and takes no real effort on our parts to digest.

However, the spirit in us NEEDS meat. It needs to be convicted and urged to repentance. It needs to be told that while God is loving and gracious, He is also just and jealous. It needs to be made aware of our shortcomings and our sin and reminded that being a Christian is more than just about the love of God. It is centered on that, yes, but because of the love, there is also sacrifice. Sacrifice hurts. Meat requires us to chew, it requires time and effort for our bodies to digest. We WANT milk but we NEED meat and in our hearts we know this.

In order to grow there must be growing pains. We must stretch and reach and endure as the Lord shapes us and burns off the chafe. Many times in the Word of God, believers are compared to precious metals that must be refined with fire. The metals are melted with very high temperatures and anything that is not silver or gold would be burned off by the heat. We are the precious metals but in us are impurities that must  be burned off- sin, bad habits, lustful thoughts, anger and bitterness, gossip, un-forgiveness, laziness, and so many others that must be burned off through trials and Godly correction.

So, as we sit through yet another sermon about love and grace and joy and all the feel good things, our spirit is starving to death and thus, we feel discouraged, frustrated, full of angst because we're not getting the nourishment we need from the one put in place to nourish us. Jesus told Peter to feed His sheep but many of today's religious leaders are failing to do that. We, as God's children, need to hold our leaders accountable for that. We need to demand- even though we know it's painful to be convicted- that our pastors teach from the whole Word of God and not just the feel good parts. They need to stop being so worried about offending people and be more concerned about offending and angering God.

Are you feeding on the meat of God's word or are you still drinking milk and starving for more? Does your pastor challenge you? Does your church convict you? Do you leave church some weeks feeling burdened with the weight of your unconfessed sin? If not, then you need to ask, "Why not?"

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Who do you love?

I've touched on this topic before but considering the state of things in our nation right now, I feel like it's something we need a reminder of. There isn't a whole lot of loving our neighbors going on at the moment and that's sad.

When Jesus was asked what the most important commandments were, his reply was this:

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 22:37-39

Love your neighbor as yourself. 

So, who are our neighbors? 

Jesus was asked that question too and He responded by telling a story. The parable of the Good Samaritan.

Luke 10:30-37
30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

So you see, a neighbor is not just someone who lives nearby. A neighbor is any other person. The Samaritan didn't know the beaten man, had never seen him before, yet he took pity on him and gave of what he had to help the man. He sacrificed his own time schedule, his own clothing, his own comfort, his own money, to help someone in need. A stranger...and he expected nothing in return. 

Do you love your neighbors? Do you love ALL of your neighbors? Jesus didn't say, "Love the neighbors who think like you, look like you, believe like you." He didn't specify which neighbors because He wants you to love ALL of your neighbors as you love yourself. Not just the ones who are the same color or the same religion or the same political party...ALL of them!!

But look around, look at the news, look at the ugly hateful comments being left on Facebook posts. There is far more hate happening in this country than there is love. Which are you contributing to? I know I'm guilty of leaving less than friendly comments on news articles I don't agree with. I need to remember that each of these news articles involve people, human beings that need love and prayer. The very least we can do is pray for our neighbors because we all need that. 

What can we all do to make things better in our own homes? In our own neighborhoods? In our own towns and cities? In our own states? In our own country? Little steps in love lead to great things. How can you love your neighbors today? How can you be the change you want to see in your world?


Thursday, January 5, 2017

A friend is a friend longer a friend?

My heart hurts today. I had a friend- or I thought she was my friend- but now she's not my friend and I've done nothing to deserve it. Our husbands had a falling out so now I guess we can't be friends either...who knew those were the rules? I didn't. I always thought the wives could be friends even if the husbands weren't but I guess I was mistaken.

I knew our husbands would no longer be friends but when I went to facebook to send her a message, she had not only unfriended me but blocked me as well. I texted her hours ago and there's been no reply so I guess she really doesn't want to be my friend anymore. And that hurts. Makes me want to cry, in fact I have cried several times today over it because I don't understand treating someone this way. It's not in my heart to treat people like that so I can't rectify it in my mind as the appropriate way to treat someone you once called friend.

So, I went to the Bible for comfort. What does the Bible say about friendship? Here are a few of my favorite verses about friendship and being a friend:

Proverbs 17:17 A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing
Job 6:14 “He who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!
Proverbs 27:10 Do not forsake your friend and your father's friend, and do not go to your brother's house in the day of your calamity. Better is a neighbor who is near than a brother who is far away.

Friendship is meant to be an affirming, uplifting, strengthening relationship that is comforting and joyful. Sometimes it's sacrificial, sometimes it's hard, but the one thing that is always is is constant. It's supposed to be dependable. It's supposed to be a blessing. 

I have never made friends easily. For me it's a struggle because I tend to be very shy, painfully shy in new situations. I'm terrified of saying the wrong thing. I'm afraid of making myself look foolish. I want people to like me but I tend to hide the real me because I'm afraid they won't like who I really am. Some of my old friends- the ones I've had since grade school- can attest to that. They are few but they are true. They've seen me at my worst and still love me. They've seen the real me time and time again and still like who I am. Sadly they live far away and I don't get to see them as often as I'd like but I know that the next time we meet face to face, we will hug and catch up and move forward as if we'd always been together and distance never separated us. 

So for me to put myself out there and call you friend it is truly from my heart. For me to express devotion to someone- tell them I love them- is a struggle for me. I don't say it unless I mean it. I can't say it unless I mean it, my heart won't let me. 

Please be careful with your friendships. Treasure them. Treat them with respect. If there's a problem, address it, figure it out, grow from it. Don't let some silly difference get in the way of something life long and beautiful.