Tuesday, December 5, 2017

SINGLE PONDERINGS

Singleness can be a very lonely time.
Almost every Christian single knows all too well the overwhelming feeling of loneliness, sometimes to the point that going food shopping gets depressing.......SIMPLY and ONLY because you have no company, but whether it’s living with an unfulfilled desire, or just being alone a lot, like a lot, singleness can be the loneliest season, that seems to just drag on and on.

Being single in your 20’s is far different from your 30’s and beyond.

When we think of singles, we think of teens and college kids. But it’s far more than that. Churches all across the world are filled with singles who are divorced, widowed, or over the age of 29. “Being single in your 30’s is so different from your twenties, sometimes, I feel lost.” a friend once told me

I'm still in my 30s, but as the years go by, I can already see the feelings, attitudes, and perspectives toward singleness changing to that of a sort of terminally diseased person.  Obviously, this makes for super awkward encounters.  At times, it's like other Christians seem ashamed to be seen having a conversation with a single person. 

Things to be mindful of

Watch your social media posts. Not every single social media update has to be about your spouse. Admittedly, this is probably more to fault the singles over the married couples, but constant posts about your spouse is annoying and can create envy in singles.

Watch your words closely. “Stop saying, ‘just be content in Christ,'” is, unfortunately, very likely the first thought that enters the mind of a single person in conversation. When people rush into truthful statements, or rush to a specific point without first listening and understanding what a Christian single is saying, they make singles feel like you don’t care.  I'm always reminded of this quote .

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply” Stephen R. Covey.

Give the truth in love, however, jumping to these blunt, albeit very true statements can also be perceived as "This is what you need to know, but stop talking to me."

Don’t try to play “Match-Maker.” This is a BIG one. Introducing a godly guy to a godly gal is fine, but constantly trying to hook singles up in your church is exasperating.  I'm sure I'm not the only single that finds this exhaustingly annoying.

Intentionally pursue GENUINE friendships with singles. Married, it's ok to genuinely be friends with a single person.  They don't have leprosy and just because you’re married doesn’t mean you can’t hang out. Just don't ALWAYS talk about setting them up with so-and-so or even go through the names of all the single people you could introduce them to.

Ways churches can help

Provide Bible studies for singles.....of ALL ages.  A lot of "singles ministries" are nothing more than social clubs.  Perhaps that bible study could be a series of messages on all the single people in the Bible, encouragement for waiting on the Lord.....or being prepared to never be married. 

Maybe host an annual game night at church, encouraging singles to come out.  Churches can help by facilitating an atmosphere of genuine friendship building. That is, set things up to where married folks hang out with single folks more often.

Answer the questions singles are asking. Hoever, when answering questions, don't look down at the person as if to say, "you should know this..why don't you know this?"  Or " I don't need to talk to you, go look it up/study it yourself"  That tone just pushes them away.

Foster and encourage the talent of talented single Christians. Many churches are “run” by married folks. We must adhere to the biblical guidelines of church leadership found in 1 Tim. 3 and other places, but let’s not forget about singles when it comes to small group leaders, giving announcements, and other such roles.

Ways anybody can encourage singles in their lives.

Encourage and remind them of the blessings of their free time.  Many Christian singles feel lonely, but not all.  Yes, singleness can be painful, but it doesn’t have to be joyless. Whether it’s overseas missions, serving the church, or more time for evangelism, singleness offers a lot advantages that married people don’t have and encourage the singles you know in this.

Some singles definitely have a deep and, at times, burning desire to be married one day and some will probably get married...and some may not. The big wedding day, honeymoon, and family that they envision for their life may come......or it may not. No one has any idea what’s going to happen to them tomorrow let alone their future. Instead of placing hope in a spouse, place hope in the perfect life, death, and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, and encourage living for the glory of Christ.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

A Biblical perspective

Does God detest the occult?

Ephesians 5:11-12 "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.  For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret."
Witchcraft and sorcery is specifically named by God in the old and new testaments. 
Deuteronomy 18:10-11 "There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer."

      Pay close attention to the next verse

"For ALL that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee."
These verses are under a different dispensation and so some say that God has changed because Christians are under a different dispensation.  Let's look in the new testament.   The Holy Spirit groups witchcraft, idolatry, sorcery, etc. under sins that are a direct result of the sinful nature.
Galatians 5:19-21 "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God."

I'm not sure that anything can be misinterpreted here.  Witchcraft, idolatry, sorcery, etc. are all works of the flesh.  Romans 8:8 is also very clear in stating "So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God."  This verse, itself, is convicting.  How often do Christians do things in the flesh?  Sometimes even witnessing to others can be done in the flesh.  It is so prevalent that we don't even think about it most times, yet this verse tells all believers that when something is done in the flesh, it's useless.  The Christian's goal, like the apostle Paul in Philippians chapter 3, ought to be to please God in every aspect of life.   

Here are some brief and initial thoughts from a new believer.

-God is a God of life, but Halloween focuses on death. Should I participate in a holiday where people decorate their front yards with tombstones?

-The Scriptures tell us to put away deeds of darkness (Rom.13:12) and that light has nothing in common with darkness (2 Cor. 6:14). Is celebrating a dark holiday something a child of the light should be doing?

-I had been delivered from fear and panic attacks and knew that fear comes from the enemy. Should I participate in a holiday that has fear as its very foundation?

-Witchcraft is clearly detestable to the Lord (Deut 18:10-13). Shouldn't something that glorifies witchcraft (just take a walk through the Halloween store) be detestable to me as well?"

-Halloween is a sacred, high holiday for Wiccans (the official religion of witchcraft). Is this a holiday Christians should celebrate alongside Wiccans?
-Is it cute when we dress our kids like the devil (or witches, ghouls, scary characters, etc.)? Isn't it, well, demonic?

-What if my child dresses in a wholesome fireman costume? Romans 16:19 says that we need to be wise to what is good and innocent of evil. If I let him participate in Halloween, even while dressed as a fireman, aren't I sending him a mixed message by allowing him to participate in a celebration of evil?

-The Lord said in 2 Cor. 6:17, "Come out from them and be separate ... Touch no unclean thing ..." Doesn't God want His children to be set apart from the world and from sin and evil? Aren't we supposed to be a peculiar people?

-My extended family thinks it's ridiculous that we not allow our son to dress up for Halloween. Should their opinions matter to me more than God's? Shouldn't pleasing God be my utmost concern?

-If there is even a question in my heart and mind that it might be wrong, shouldn't that be my first clue? Why would I continue to do so with even a lingering thought that it is wrong?

-Does Halloween bring glory to God? No! It glorifies the devil!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Do humans have a soul? Why/why not.


(This was my reply to the above question posted on a Facebook page that I follow.  My response includes a few other pre-existing blog posts which were simply copied here.) 

YES, WE DO!

Genesis 1:1 "In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth."

The first verse in the Bible tells us a great deal about God.  In the beginning, God.  Before we even get into all of His creation, we must first understand these first 4 word.  In the beginning God.....not buddha, raqa, muhammad, or any other religion.  In the beginning, God.  God created everything in heaven and earth.  All the galaxies that we can see and all the galaxies we can not see, were created by God.  Everything we see on earth and the things we don't see, but know without a doubt, are there.....the air we breathe, the wind that blows through trees and makes the waves....also everything in our make up.....our intricate brains, the paths our blood flows, the veins they travel, the white blood cells and red blood cells, the marrow in our bones, our nervous systems and the communication between our bodies and brains that tell us that we have a papercut.  Our emotions and all the intricacies of how we decide to be happy, sad, meloncolly, energetic, etc.  ALL of this, and a TON more, created by God.  God also created man, and breathed his soul.

Genesis 2:7 "And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul."

In creating us in His image, God created us to be intellectual, emotional, and to have a free will.  If you think about it, can science really explain where we get our emotions from? Our intellect?  Our drive to do what we want? There is a lot that science can explain, but only to a certain degree, after that.....the explanation stops. What about creation or the big bang theory?  The Bible says clearly that the heavens and earth were created.  Believing in creation or believing in the big bang theory take the same amount of faith.  No one, not me, not you, not our ancestors, were alive when the earth began.  There is far more evidence for creation, than for the big bang.  Even in humans there is far more evidence for creation.  Did you know that women have 1 less rib then men?  Coincidence? No, I don't believe so. The Bible says God formed woman from a man's rib!
And this isn't just another theory.  It's very real, and very possible, and very real and possible to know thi Almighty God, the creator of everything we see and dont see, including humans and their souls. Our souls are destined to Hell because those first humans God created, sinned.  There also, needed to be a penalty for sin, death.  Both, physical death, but also spiritual death or eternal separation from the Almighty Creator.  Our souls will either spend eternity in Hell or eternity with God.  The Bible tells us that the only way to know God, be saved and spend eternity with God is to believe in the finished work of Christ, God’s only begotten Son.  It is as simple as believing in a chair to hold you up when you sit down, or as simple as drinking a glass of water, or even walking through a doorway.  All the payment of your sin and the sin of the world is paid for by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  There is no more work that needs to be done, and there is no more work that can be done.  

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
John 3:16

         The ONLY requirement for salvation is to believe.  Jesus said that receiving him as savior is as simple as taking a drink of water or walking through a doorway.  In the Old Testament, God gave an illustration of salvation to us by way of a plague sent on the nation of Israel, in Numbers chapter 21:6-9.  The nation of Israel was questioning God’s deliverance upon them.  In verse 6, the Bible says that God sent poisonous serpents upon the land and caused them to be bitten and many Israelites died.  Many of the Israelites came to Moses, confessing their sins and wanted Moses to pray and ask God to be merciful upon them.  Moses was commanded of the Lord to make a statue of a serpent and put it on the end of a pole and lift it up for all to see.  The only requirement for the deliverance of the people from their sickness was to look upon the brass serpent.  The idea of the people looking up to the serpent didn’t mean that all the people had to do was to glance at this serpent, but this was a two-fold meaning and it also meant to believe what the Lord has said.  Jesus himself refers to this event in the Gospel of John 3:14-16.

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:  That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

In order for people to get better from this poisonous bite, one had to simply look and believe on what the Lord had said.  This was the only way of deliverance that the Lord provided and it was his plan to do so.  There was no other way that the people could get better.  In the same way, there is no other way that one can be saved and have eternal life, but to believe on the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross 

Acts 4:12 “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”

2 Corinthians 6:2b “…behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”

1. The Bible - The Word of God
It is so important for a young Christian to start right; therefore, the first lesson is designed to help establish your faith in the Bible, for it is the Word of God.
“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”- Romans 10:17
Keep in mind that the Bible is not a book of philosophy, though it is philosophical.  The Bible is not for a scientific treatise, however, there is no discrepancy between ascertained facts of science and the Bible. The Bible is not a book of history, but is found to be accurate when recording history. The Bible was given to man from God, revealing Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and God the Son, the only Savior. (John 14:6) He is the center and the circumference of life. (Col. 3:4) It is Christ from Genesis to Revelation. (John 5:39,46; Luke 24:44; Col.3:16; Rev. 1:1) The Bible is as high above all other thoughts and ways of any man as the heavens are above the earth. (Isaiah 55:8)
The Bible is the inspired Word of God (II Timothy 3:16, written by the Holy Spirit. (II Peter 1:21)
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” - II Timothy 3:16

“For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” - II Peter 1:21
In Daniel 9:2 is one of my favorite passages referring to the authorship of the scriptures.
“…I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.” - Daniel 9:2
The Bible says that Daniel read the book of Jeremiah to understand his own dream.  This, also, is proof that the Holy Spirit wrote the scriptures.  Daniel was given a dream, recorded his dream with great detail, yet had to search the scriptures for more understanding.  This also is a great transition into the next point.
The Bible is a difficult book (I Corinthians 2:14-16)
“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.” - I Corinthians 2:14-16

            It is impossible for the natural man to know and to understand the things written in this tremendous book.  It is impossible because the Holy Spirit does not dwell within the natural man and therefore can not minister.  In fact, the Bible sounds foolish to him and this is mentioned again in 1 Corinthian 1:18.

For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

            Unbelievers might not realize this truth, but it is proved over and over again when a believer shares the truth of God’s Word.  The unbelievers response, in one way or another, will be that the believer has been brainwashed into this foolish and ridiculous fantasy, made up years and years ago.   In this same verse, Paul writes that the preaching of the cross is the POWER of God to them that are saved.  This is a huge encouragement to any believer.  It is only by God’s mighty power to change the heart and thinking of a person.

The Bible or Word of God divides “soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)
This verse states clearly that the Word of God discerns the soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and thoughts and intents of our hearts.  In this blog, I will only be addressing the thoughts and intents of our hearts.
In comparison to Jeremiah 17:9 and multiple verses in Proverbs, the Bible states in a lot of places that we, in and of ourselves, can not direct our own ways or thoughts.  Isaiah 55:8 states “…my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.”  The divinely inspired verse in Hebrews reminds believers that there is a way to direct our hearts and thoughts, His Word.  We are God’s creation and so it is only logical to conclude that we can not think or direct our own ways and scripture reminds us of this over and over.
It is human nature to entertain a worldly, lustful, and insidious thought life.  The good news is God made us a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17) at the moment of salvation.  Therefore, we have all the ability we need to have a wonderful thought life.  In Philippians 4:8, Paul writes “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”  It is also logical to conclude that Paul wrote this verse because it is very unlikely otherwise to have a pure, true, etc. thought life. Other verses that address the thought life are found in Romans 12:2 and 2 Corinthians 10:5.  Both of these verses contain great, Biblical advice regarding our thought life.   In Romans, we are commanded to renew our minds.  The act of renewing our mind is exercised simply by reading God’s Word.  In Ephesians chapter 6, God tells us that the whole spiritual warfare is in our minds and that we need “Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth” (Ephesians 6:14) and arm ourselves with “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17)
On the opposite side of the spectrum and because God knows the human nature and knows that if left to ourselves, believers will entertain that worldly, lustful, and insidious thought life, found in 2 Cor. 10:5.  “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ”   This verse highly recommends that believers control their thought life by casting down every thought that is against the knowledge of Christ.  Paul’s goal in life was that he would know Christ.  A great way to get to know God and His Word is imply to think about the things that you read in His Word, or the Spiritual conversation you had with a friend at church.  The verses in scripture are ever insightful and will never be exhausted, in our life time.  It truly is a blessing to ponder the things of God!