Friday, March 30, 2007
I'm sure I can survive without email and Internet searching. Please check in after Wednesday, April 4th... have a great weekend!
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Well, I went to a site that I recently discovered while I was doing research for an article for Atlanta goodlife magazine (http://www.atlantagoodmagazine.com/); it's called GotQuestions.org. So far, I've found the answers -- after a search phrase or question is entered -- to be really on target. I like the site so much so that I started there when I began writing this post. The answer they gave was so good that I thought you would like to read it as well.
The question I asked on http://www.gotquestions.org/ was “how do I worship God?” And this is the information the site displayed:
"What is true worship?
Question: "What is true worship? How can I worship the Lord in spirit and truth (John 4:23-24)?"
Answer: True worship is God-centered worship. People tend to get caught up in where they should worship, what music they should sing in worship, and how the worship looks to other people. Focusing on these things completely misses the point. Jesus tells us that true worshipers will worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). This means we worship from the heart and the way God calls us to. Worship can include praying, reading God's Word with an open heart, singing, participating in communion, and serving others. It is not limited to one act, but is done properly when the heart and attitude of the person is in the right place.
The first thing we should know is that worship and praise is reserved only for God. Only he is worthy; not any of his servants (Rev 19:10). We are not to worship saints, prophets, statues, angels, any other false gods, or even Mary, mother of Jesus. We also should not be worshiping for the expectation of something in return, such as a miraculous healing. Worship is done for God, and God's pleasure alone. Worship can be public praise to God (Ps 22:22, 35:18), in a congregational setting, where we can proclaim through music and praise our adoration and thankfulness for him and what he has done for us. True worship is felt inwardly, then comes out through our actions. "Going through the motions" out of obligation is unpleasing to God, and is done completely in vain. He can see through all the hypocrisy, and he hates this. He demonstrates this in Amos 5:21-24 as he talks about coming judgment. An example is the story of Cain and Abel, the first sons of Adam and Eve. They both brought gift offerings to the Lord, but he was only pleased with Abel's. Cain brought the gift out of obligation; Abel brought his finest lambs from his flock. He brought out of faith and admiration for God.
True worship is not confined to singing in church, or open praise (although these things are both good and we are told to do them in the Bible), but it is the acknowledgment of God and all his power and glory in the things we do. To do this, we must know God, we can not be ignorant of him (Acts 17:23). Worship is to glorify and exalt God; to show our loyalty and admiration to our Father."
Now, I think, that answer was better than any I could have written. Check out the entire page at http://www.gotquestions.org/true-worship.html.
Monday, March 26, 2007
Check it out for yourself, buy it for a friend and pass the information along. ... And, when you're done, let me know what you think!
Sunday, March 25, 2007
Although I didn’t write down all the key points under each letter, I thought you might find what he had to say interesting.
Family background – you need to know something about or investigate an individual’s family background.
Attitude – what type of attitude do they have? Are they up one minute and down the next?
Compatibility – how compatible are you? “Salvation is not a sign of compatibility,” Bishop said. Someone being saved does not necessarily mean they are the person for you.
Experiences – what life experience or past experiences are they bringing into the current relationship.
Skills – identify the key skills they bring to the table. “Cute is not a skill,” Bishop said, causing everyone to laugh.
Bishop also taught us that we can know God’s face by these five things:
Five Ways to Know God
Prayer: You know God through prayer/communication.
His word: The bible reveals His nature to you.
By walking with Him: Travel with Him. When it comes to this point, for me it means that as you go about your day God is continually with you. You’re consulting to Him, talking to Him, praising Him, etc. For someone else it may mean something different.
Worship: You’ll reach another dimension of knowing Him through worship.
Through His manifested love: You’ll get to know God through His grace and His mercy.
I hope this brief look into today’s sermon has been a blessing to you.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
One of the things that stands out to me the most is the last verse, verse 18, that tells us to not only say we love someone, but to let our actions speak for themselves. I’ve often conducted my life like this and told other people this, but didn’t remember it was actually a directive from our God to do just that.
Oftentimes, especially in relationships, we say we love someone and then we do something that possibly indicates that we don’t. Our actions often hurt the person more than any words could. (An extreme example would be a physically abusive spouse who says he loves his wife, but who beats her up every night.) If we could simply remember to let our actions – and even our attitudes – reflect our love then we would be doing what God wants us to and walking in love.
I want to back up a little before I conclude: Another important point in this scripture tells us that if we hate our brother (meaning anyone) then it is the same as if we committed murder. And, as we all know, murder is a sin. So not only do we have to love with actions, but we also have to love in our heart. If you have hate in your heart for someone then it’s imperative that you deal with it, pray about it, ask for forgiveness and do whatever you need to do to release that feeling and move into a feeling of love.
Don’t think of it as doing something for someone else; you’re doing it for yourself. And you will be richly rewarded. Today, and everyday, walk in love.
“To love and be loved is to feel the sun from both sides.” David Viscott
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
I’m a God’s nature freak. “A what?” You might ask. I look at nature and I see God. I see the wonder of everything He has created and I think it is amazingly beautiful. I often give thanks to Him for his wondrous creations.
It’s something we should stop and do each day. Well, if you aren’t into the beauty of nature, as I am, then simply taking a quiet moment to be with God can do wonders for your mood and your outlook. And in the quiet moment, having an attitude of gratitude can also do wonders for you.
Are you familiar with the popular book and DVD called The Secret? Well, if you’ve heard about it then you know that one of things it supports is having an appreciative attitude, which in turn draws positive things to you. It’s really nothing new, but it’s something that most people haven’t tapped into. In fact, a lot of the things that The Secret is based on can be found in scriptures – you just have to do your research. (Maybe we’ll investigate that a little further in future posts.)
An-t-way, I get up this morning, open the blinds and gaze at the tree. Nothing unusual or different seemed to be going on. (Just a little tidbit about this tree: My family and I watch it every year and it seems to suddenly lose its leaves. Seemingly one day they’re there and the next day they’re gone. So this year we’ve been watching the tree very closely. And I have watched it even closer than before.) The tree still held half its dead leaves all around its bottom with the top branches bare. My 15-year-old daughter and I have determined that it knows we’re watching and has decided not to drop all its leaves. A few days ago we realized that spring is fast approaching and we wondered whether the old leaves would be pushed out by the new ones.
So, no change this morning. I didn’t think much about it until I was driving my two youngest children to daycare. There were trees up and down the streets and roads that had bloomed white flowers. How marvelous, I thought! Spring had bloomed!
The blooming trees had thrown me back into my realization of God’s beautiful creation. How amazing, don’t you think, that the seasons change and in doing so it’s all so exquisite.
It doesn’t matter what we’re going through in life… the seasons will still change. It doesn’t matter what problems we’re having, what feelings we have … nothing stops the seasons from changing. Now think of it in terms of celibacy (you should have known I would bring that up). Celibacy is just a season. Even for those who decide on a lifetime of celibacy, it will eventually come to the end of its season. Look at celibacy in your life as a season of time that you have to endure. Then think about the beauty that will come of it. You’ll share what you’ve saved with one person who God has ordained for you to share it with. What a wonderful way to end a season!
As for our tree, some of the other trees and bushes should tell it that spring is here!
To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring. -- George Santayana
Friday, March 09, 2007
Whatever the answer, there’s something in the air that makes this a hot topic. In the March 2007 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine (www.oprah.com), there is a story called “The Innocence Project,” which was written by Amanda Robb. It started off like this: “A lot of fathers hope their daughters will be virgins until they walk them down the aisle. But some are going a step further – taking pledges to support the girls’ commitment to chastity. And formalizing those pledges at what are called purity balls.”
Before I even finished reading the story, I thought, “What a wonderful idea!” As a, what I like to call, born-again virgin before I married (celibate for five years before), I have talked quite a bit to my 15-year-old daughter about maintaining her purity until she’s married. I even passed on my covenant ring (review some of my earlier posts that talk about covenant rings and making the commitment) to her after I got married. So, the idea of a purity ball seemed like a wonderful reinforcement to what I am already teaching her.
But, as I continued to read the story, it seemed like Robb revealed some statistics and facts that indicated there may not be that big of a difference between teenagers who take the pledge and teenagers who don’t. Although between 1990 and 2002 the United States teen pregnancy rate declined by more than 30 percent, which supporters of abstinence-only initiatives believe their programs are largely responsible for, according to Robb, social scientists don’t believe that the programs are behind the declines. It was further revealed that 88 percent of teenagers who make the pledge end up breaking it.
Robb, and O magazine, presented a well-researched article that offered a variety of viewpoints on the subject. Everyone from adults who made the pledge as teenagers and still ended up having sex and adults who made the pledge and remained virgins until marriage to experts in the field of sexuality, abstinence and statistics. The comments got me to thinking: Should parents get involved in encouraging their children to make a pledge of abstinence/celibacy before marriage?
Absolutely! The obviously unsuccessful storied and discouraging statistics didn’t change my viewpoint. In fact, they gave me a little insight. Although it’s necessary to support our children in the correct decisions for their lives, it is also necessary to give them complete information. Parents are remiss if they don’t tell their children the dangers of having unprotected sex and give them complete information on protecting themselves. Wait. Wait. Don’t get mad at me. There’s fine line between supporting premarital sex and providing necessary information. A lot of Christians, and parents in general for that matter, believe that if you give complete information then you open the door for sexual activity.
The fact remains that some teenagers aren’t going to abide by their abstinence pledge. Most often because they’re taking the pledge at such a young age, don’t really understand it completely and are doing it to simply please their parents. Which means a lot of times parents, although they have good intentions, are missing some key ingredients in providing their children with abstinence information and support.
Also, pick up a copy of O magazine and check out “The Innocence Project” article. It was excellent reading.
Whatever decision is made on how to promote abstinence among the single, teenage people in your household; it is still the right decision to make. As we encourage our children to be celibate until marriage, we encourage a future generation of adults to do what God has called for them to do, which is not to commit adultery (any sex outside of the bonds of holy matrimony).
To assist you in your commitment to remain celibate until marriage or to help you talk to your teen/children about celibacy and abstinence, I’ve listed some organizations that may help:
Organizations that support “abstinence” until marriage:
True Love Waits -- http://www.lifeway.com/tlw/
Silver Ring Thing -- http://www.silverringthing.com/
National Abstinence Clearinghouse -- http://www.abstinence.net/
Heritage Foundation -- http://www.heritage.org/
Articles, links and information -- http://www.insideout.org/documentaries/withthisring/links.asp
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
Now, I’m no expert when it comes to relationships. In fact, I can probably tell you all kinds of things NOT to do when you’re in a relationship, but what I do know is that you must prepare yourself. When I say prepare, I mean “be ready” for the spouse God has for you before you actually meet the person.
How do you do that? There are several different things that you should try to have in order. Most are relevant for both men and women.
The primary thing, before we go any further, is having a strong relationship with God. That means regular prayer, worship, praise and fellowship. Relationships – especially marital unions – can be the most trying of your life. Why is that? The devil doesn’t want the marriage relationship to succeed because it’s ordained by God.
A girlfriend of my recently voiced it this way, “If something great wasn’t going to come out of the relationship then it would be a piece of cake!”
How many of you have heard of Prophetess Juanita Bynum? Well, Prophetess Bynum had a sermon called No More Sheets and she has a book of the same name. It has been more than six years since I’ve seen the video, but some of the preparation things she spoke of have stuck in my mind.
One thing is ensuring you have your financial house in order before you get married. It may not be practical to have zero debt – although that should be the goal – but do not enter into a marriage with a lot of financial baggage. If you don’t know how to balance a checkbook and are incurring a lot of fees then learn how to do it. If you don’t know how to stick to a monthly budget then take a debt management class. If you have consumer debt then work with a financial planner to get it paid off. If you don’t know anything about savings and investing then do some research and start some savings and investing plans that will benefit your future.
Do you like to eat? Then there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to cook. I’m talking to men and women. You don’t have to be a gourmet chef, but you should know how to prepare some general meals. Men, let me ask you a question, what are you going to do when your wife is sick or recuperating from having a baby? Are you going to expect her to be able to get up and cook your meal, feed herself and any children that you may have? And, be realistic, it isn’t always practical to eat or order out – it’s not cost effective either.
One word to a small group of ladies I’ve been coming across lately: What’s with not knowing how to cook? I’ve encountered several adults who still live with their mothers and they don’t know how to cook. Now cooking isn’t everyone’s gift, but you have to be able to provide for your family that way so although you don’t have to know all the ends and outs, grab a cookbook and follow the directions to prepare dinner for your family. Ask your mother or a trusted friend for advice and recipes or take a cooking class.
That leads into general housekeeping abilities. Even if your wife stays at home or works from home, men should still be competent enough to take care of the house and assist in keeping it clean and orderly. Pick up after yourself, etc. And, women, general housekeeping knowledge is a must.
One of the most important things, if this applies to you, is to get rid of any soul ties that you may have. Let me explain, soul ties exist when you’ve had sex outside of marriage. Every person you’ve ever slept with has left their mark on your soul and it’s important to pray to God for help in cleansing that from your soul.
You don’t want to be in your marriage bed comparing your spouse to someone from your past. You don’t want to be doing something in your marriage bed just because someone from your past enjoyed it. … I think you get the picture.
As I’ve said before: I’m no expert on the ends and outs of relationships. But, like most people, I do have some general knowledge to share that may make things a little easier for you. Just because you’re celibate doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare for your spouse.
"All married couples should learn the art of battle as they should the art of making love. Good battle is objective and honest -- never vicious or cruel. Good battle is healthy and constructive, and brings to a marriage the principle of equal partnership." Jane Austen
Friday, March 02, 2007
If you recall from my last post I mentioned two young women who I knew who died recently. Although I’ve been doing what I told you I would by focusing on ensuring that I’m living a life God wants me to live, I still had a few questions in the back of my mind. And, true to God’s word, He has answered my prayers and questions.
Before I tell you how, let me tell you this first: When I posed a question to my mother on how could these women have died when God’s word says “we’re already healed,” she told me not to dismiss that God also says His will will be done. Hmm? So, then I got to thinking well isn’t His will for us to be healed since He says that in His word?
With those thoughts in the back of my mind I have continued on with my daily life… not dwelling on death. It wasn’t until February 27 when I was reading “Our Daily Bread” that I think I got the answer. The title of the entry is Keep Praying and it is written by Dave Branon. Mr. Branon wrote about his daughter who he and his wife had always prayed to keep safe. As his daughter and her friends began to drive, they prayed, “God, please protect Melissa.”
Well, Melissa was killed on a warm spring night as she was driving.
How devastating for a mother and father to have to deal with the death of a child, but that didn’t stop them from continuing their prayer life. In fact, they needed prayer more, which was Mr. Branon’s point. But, for me, I stopped to think. Why didn’t God answer that prayer? Or was it that it seemed to me it went unanswered?
Dave Branon and his wife prayed “protect.” What God brought to me is that by taking Melissa home to Him was the ultimate protection. He answered their prayers just not in the way they saw fit or would have assumed. Well, I’m not sure anyone of us would have assumed that. And that brings me back to my friend who died of cancer. Although we had prayed for her healing there are no stipulations in the Bible based on when, where or how. With her death came the ultimate healing and an end to her suffering.
Amazing! God protected Melissa by bringing her home to Him. He healed my friend, Doris, by bringing her home to Him. As always, God is true to His word. We, as His children, simply have to continue to trust and believe.
“Faith is not demanding what we want; it is trusting God’s goodness in spite of life’s tragedies,” Mr. Branon wrote.
Thank you Dave Branon, thank you Doris and, of course, thank God!