Posts Tagged ‘christianity’

 I have been alone with my thoughts more than I care to be. This reminds me of a scene in The Mirror Has Two Faces where Lauren Bacall (playing Barbara Streisand’s mother) after a sleepless night comments to her middle aged daughter, “It’s awful to leave a woman my age alone with her thoughts.” The inference to age aside, I am realizing that when left alone I seem to default to fault-finding introspection.

I have more time on my hands recently since I am between Seminary courses right now. I love my classes, although I no longer enjoy the camaraderie of my peers now that we moved half-way across the country from my school…again. Southern Evangelical Seminary is my third college to attend because we have moved so much due to my husband’s career. I have 110 hours toward a business degree and am about 11 courses short of completing my Biblical Studies degree. Studying as an external student is isolating, almost as much, I remember, as being a stay-at-home mother of four preschoolers.

Anyone who knows me can tell you that I LOVE learning! I have over 600 books on my computer (many are reference books), but I could read a book every day for 200 years and still never satisfy my insatiable appetite for knowledge. Makes me sound smart and perhaps in some circles I am, but the more I learn, the more pitifully inadequate I become.

I say all this to culminate with this confession; I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. Sounds juvenile and pathetic, I know. And I am quite embarrassed at the acknowledgment of said fact; however, this undeniable observation is the elephant in the warehouse of my thoughts. I have been a stay-at-home mom for 15 years now, and, by God’s grace, I do not have to work. This I recognize as a beautiful blessing, as I am unhindered to fully invest in my family. But still, a small part of me wants to do more—to be more. And that small part is getting louder with every day that passes.

Is this the equivalent of my husband’s mid-life crises? I hope not, because we don’t have enough room for all of Jim’s accumulated toys in the garage for me to add to the stash. I do sense an emerging desire to DO something rather than HAVE something. Everywhere we have lived, God has placed successful Christian writers and speakers in my life and many have encouraged me to pursue the same occupation. I have considered this many times, but (and here is the darkest thought that keeps occupying my mind)… I am NOBODY. I fully believe that I have nothing of value that would be of any help to anyone.

But maybe that is not an ominous thought after all…

Maybe it is essential for a simple clay pot to realize it is a simple clay pot. Apart from Christ I am nobody and can do nothing of eternal value, and perhaps that is the most proficient knowledge of all. To be content as a clay pot is liberating, to be satisfied as a clay pot is condemning. So I shall feast my mind’s eye on this: Let every breath glorify my Savior even if my service never seems to reach beyond the four walls of our home.

I foolishly believed that enduring a plethora of humiliations at Walmart at the less than stellar behavior of my children, that I have emerged a humble woman. But, no, I could still be accused of secretly desiring glory for myself. While there may be some substance to that accusation, I really just want the approval of my Father. I just want to please Him and I think we all make the mistake of confusing the praises of the world as the praises of the Father.

God can be glorified whether I am scrubbing toilets, teaching a precept to my son at the dinner table, reigning on the Best Seller list, or speaking before an audience of thousands. Loving the Lord faithfully should consume my thoughts and my actions even when no one is watching. I may never enjoy the praises of the world, and I can be content with that. I would much prefer the praises of my Father.  My purpose is not to draw attention to myself, but to draw the attention of others to Christ. Perhaps one day something eternally exquisite will arise from the confines of this simple earthen vessel. When that day comes, to God be the glory!

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“What happens to someone who professes Christ, goes to church for 30 years, serves in the church and does all sorts of good in the church and then decides they don’t believe anymore? Are they still saved?”

 

Short answer: No, scripture tells us that they were never saved to begin with and that their leaving was to show us that.

 

Long answer:

 

First, I think we need to be reminded that only the Holy Spirit can testify to the authentic faith of another believer. While we may judge the fruit of a professed believer, and correct them in love, we do not condemn unbelievers for they are condemned already as we once were.  If someone professes Christ, however, they should be held accountable to the truth as a brother or sister in the faith. If they choose to reject the Holy Spirit, then we are to treat them as an unbeliever, not condemning them, but leading them to the truth with gentleness and respect.

 

1 Tim. 3:2 “The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.”

 

Secondly, the apostle John addressed this very issue within the church in his first letter. At that time people who were in the fold had left the church in the face of persecution and to follow other teachings. “They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.” 1 John 2:19

 

Jesus explained how this happens in his parable of the seeds recorded in Luke.
“Those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away. The seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity. But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance. Luke 8:13-15 Jesus assured us that a true believer will hold fast to the end, bearing fruit with perseverance.

 

Christ, in speaking about salvation, says no one can snatch such a believer out of His hand. “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” John 10:27-29

 

We know that someone who has been saved by grace through faith is eternally sealed with the Holy Spirit. And according to John, they have assurance that Christ will keep them till the resurrection. True believers recognize and obey the voice of the Savior, seek the Wisdom of the Father and their lives testify to the Truth that they claim. As we see in 1 John, people can “play Christian” and “do church” appearing to be one of us, but never really know the Savior and later deny Him. John tells us that their leaving is an indicator to us that they were never truly one of us. In addition, many may confess Christ with their lips, but deny Him with their lives. While the heart of others may be hidden from us, the heart is never hidden from God the Father.

 

Now you might be asking, “How do I know that I’m not just “doing church” and just don’t know it?” Hmmm, sounds like a topic for next time…

 The doctrine of the Trinity or the Triune God of Christianity is revealed in the New Testament. The Old Testament is clear that there is one God, not many as Mormons believe. The Jewish shema in Deuteronomy 6:4 states, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.” The Christian Godhead possesses omniscience, omnipresence and omnipotence—attributes denied by the Mormon godhead. In addition to these qualities, both the Old and New Testaments recognizes a plurality of persons in God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in. The use of the Greek word trias to describe this doctrine was first employed by Theophilus (A.D. 168-183) indicating that the understanding of a plurality within the Godhead was recognized from the onset of the Christian faith.1 An examination of the essence of the one true God of scripture indicates that God the Father is God, God the Son is God, and God the Holy Spirit is God—three persons with one essence. Scripture is clear that God the Father is all powerful, not confined to one space in time, and all knowing.

 The Hebrew name Elohim is used for God the Creator in Genises 1:1. The plural term itself allows for a multiplicity within the Godhead, however, only in persons, not in essence, for there can be only one essence which is infinite, all powerful, or one all knowing. Jesus taught his disciples to pray to the first person of the Tri-unity calling Him “Father”in Matthew 6:9. The Father is omnipotent, “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.” Job 42:2. The Father is omnipresent, “But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!” 1 Kings 8:27. And the Father is omniscient, “then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Forgive and act; deal with each man according to all he does, since you know his heart (for you alone know the hearts of all men),” 1 Kings 8:39. A Being who is all powerful, all knowing and omnipresent cannot be a mere man as Mormons believe of the Father. Scriptures reveal that the Son shares the same essence as the Father.

 Jesus, the Son of God, claimed to be Yahweh in John 8:58 when he stated, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was born, I am!” prompting the Jews to pick up stones to kill him for such blasphemy. The gospels testify to the truth of Christ’s statement. Luke 5:22 refers to Jesus’s omniscience when he recorded, “Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts?” Jesus referred to his omnipresence in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” And Paul testified to Christ’s omnipotence in Colossians 1:15-17:

 “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”

 Jesus is obviously not a glorified man as the Mormons suggest, nor is he a spirit-child conceived through sexual relations between Elohim and Mary, nor is he Michael the archangel. Jesus claimed to be God and demonstrated his authority and power through his incarnation on earth. Jesus clearly stated the purpose of his incarnation in John 3:16-17:

 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

Salvation is found by grace through faith in Christ, not by works as Joseph Smith taught. Christians are eternally sealed by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity.
Just as the Father is called God and the Son is called God, the Holy Spirit is also called God. Luke records in Acts 5:3 that Ananias lied to the Holy Spirit, then he restates this in verse 4 saying, “You have not lied to men but to God.” The Spirit of God embodies the same attributes of the Godhead as the Father and the Son. He is omniscient in Corinthians 2:10-12:

 “but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.”

 In addition, the Holy Spirit is omnipotent as seen in Job 33:4, “The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”  David expresses the omnipresence of God’s Spirit in Psalm 139 in that the presence of the God’s Spirit is everywhere such that he cannot hide from him. In John 14:16-17 Jesus tells his followers regarding salvation, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” God’s Spirit is very much immaterial in nature and can occupy all places in time and space contrary to the teachings of the Mormon Elder Talmage.

THE ONE TRUE GOD

 The Mormon teachings of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit is polytheistic and contrary to Orthodox Christian teachings. The Bible refutes any teachings that God is a glorified man incapable of occupying more than one place in time. The Triune God of Christianity is omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient—qualities not shared with man. The current campaign to identify the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a Christian church is doomed to fail because the writings of their own prophets contradict biblical doctrines. The doctrine of the trinity may be explained as three subsistances properly identified in God, “though each possesses the same intelligence and will. Each of the Persons of the Trinity has a divine nature with all the attributes of God. Though the Trinity has three subsistences, they have but one and the same divine nature as one God.” 2 Mormon theology diverges from Christianity in denying the one true God of Scripture. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not only deceiving in name, but also in theology.

1. M. G. Easton, Easton’s Bible Dictionary (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997), “Trinity” entry.

2. Lewis Chafer, Systematic Theology, Volume 1 (Wheaton, Illinois: Scripture Press, 1988), 181.

 

What would you say to a friend who claimed that the Christian God doesn’t exist because there’s too much evil in the world?

One approach is to respond with a question, “How do you know what evil is?” Some say we learn right and wrong from our parents. Really? So when your son took a toy from your toddler, you had a lesson on property rights before she screamed in protest? And you taught your son how to lie before he came up with an excuse as to why he wasn’t violating these moral laws. We have a conscience so we instinctively know the moral law, we do not need to be taught these things.

We know there is a moral law because moral absolutes exist. Morality is not relative, if it were your morality would be right, mine would be right, there would be no standard by which to judge one behavior to be objectionable and another to be valued. The difference between Hitler and Mother Theresa would only be a matter of opinion. In order for you to judge one behavior right and another wrong a moral absolute standard must exist. If a conscience or moral law exists, then a moral law provider, someone outside of the prescribed standard must exist. Christians call this moral law provider God.

While God did not make evil He did allow evil to exist. When He created the heavens and the earth He declared it all to be good. Part of the goodness was giving some of His creatures free will. Because forced love is not love anymore than forced obedience is willful obedience. We are not robots, we have a choice to love or hate, to obey or rebel.

The evil you see in the world is the result of people living in opposition to the moral standard they know they ought to obey. We all violate the moral law to some degree bringing judgment upon ourselves. Because God is good and just, He must judge law breakers. But Christ paid our fine and took our punishment providing forgiveness and a way to become righteous, free from our transgression. Christianity is the only world religion that provides a Savior, that is Jesus.

This is a Call to Arms for mothers everywhere.  Satan’s time is short and he has declared war on your family.  He is successfully enticing Christian mothers all over the world to sin.  One thing is evident:  Godly mothers do ungodly things.  Oh, you already knew that?  Are you living evidence of that fact?  You bear the image of a Holy and Righteous God making you the target of an merciless and ferocious enemy, hell-bent on destroying you and all that you hold dear.  But Mom, it is you who are called to be the defender of your domain!  What hope do you have? What hope does your family have against this prowling lion? 

 

Feeling singled out? That is what the enemy would want you to believe, but you do not suffer alone.  1 Pet 5:9 says your sisters throughout the world are undergoing the same type of suffering.  There is a strange comfort in cooperative oppression.  Other moms struggle with anger, a vicious tongue, and secret sins that we do not dare utter.  You never speak of the sins committed in your most hideous and ugliest moments, keeping them secret even from the Lord–or so you convince yourself.  My dear sister, that silence holds you captive.

 

In Rev. 12:11 John says the Saints overcame Satan by the blood of the lamb and by the word of their testimony. That is good news and bad news for us. The good news is that Satan cannot do anything about the blood.  You are living post-resurrection.  You are a receiver of grace, no longer an object of wrath and judgment – signed and sealed by the Lamb of God.  Just as God demonstrated at the first Passover, the blood of the lamb has been painted on the doorposts of your soul and neither Satan nor his demons can enter in.  You are a dwelling of the Holy Spirit.  The bad news is that although our adversary cannot control you from within, but he can and does try to control you through your circumstances.  Since he is defeated by the blood, the only strategy he has left is to influence your word, your testimony.  So you lose your temper, you react; you lash out and punish the people you love for making you angry.  Sometimes there is not a hint of love on your tongue — only the poison of sin.  Is that your testimony? Dear one, this is not a testimony that overcomes.

 

When was the last time you were really honest with yourself about your life, your lifestyle. When was the last time you took a really hard look at yourself, a moral inventory if you will? Most of us avoid such an uncomforatble introspection, some tragically live with a lifelong avoidance of the truth. But you and I need to face the truth before our holy God if we want to render the enemy defenseless. Don’t hide, don’t deceive, but bare your soul before God.

 

When Arnold Schwarzenegger was accused of sexual misconduct during the election for the Governor of CA, he did not take his queues from Clinton.  We can all picture the past president wagging his finger at the camera and adamantly stating, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”  And the ramifications of his sin went far beyond Bill and Monica, casting our entire nation into a cesspool of international shame.  No, Arnold quickly called a press conference and in his Arnold way, confessed and apologized.  And the other party threw their clipboards and election war plans to the ground in disgust.  He left them with no ammunition. I am not defending Arnold or his alleged behavior.  The point is this: you need to confess to the One holding you accountable and leave your enemy standing speechless dropping his war plan in the dust.

 

The guilt and shame of your failures, of your humanness is a triumph of an enemy whose greatest prize is the fall of a godly mother.  You are the white tiger he wants hanging on his wall.  Why?  Because if he can get to you, who is left protecting your children?

 

Today spend 15 minutes alone in prayer.  Write a letter to God.  Tell him about your darkest secret sins, your hateful thoughts, your frustrations, your anger, and your cruel fantasies.  Be honest with God.  He can take it.  He has big shoulders. 

 

Father God, you know all and see all.  There is nothing in me that is hidden from you.  I confess my failures to you.  It is against you that I have sinned and it is to you I need to be restored.  I love you, Lord God.  I lay my list of hidden sins before you.  I am broken before you and I need your healing power.  I need your power to work in me.  Place a guard upon my lips that I may not sin against you.  Strengthen my faith. Help me with my unbelief!  I am a woman after your own heart and my deepest desire is to please you.  I praise you Father for your mercy and grace.  Thank you for your forgiveness.  Because of your great mercy upon me, I can extend that same mercy to my husband and children.  Grant me an extra measure of patience and your holy discernment.  I believe you for the promises you have spoken to me.  I am your humble servant; use me according to your purpose.  Amen

 

 

Now tear up the letter into a million pieces and throw it away.  Did you hear that?  It is the enemy’s war plan dropping to the floor.

 

“as far as the east is from the west,

so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”  Ps 103:12