Wednesday, May 29, 2013

If You Preach It They Will Come

     What is it that really brings people to church?  What are they looking for?  Is it the style of music, the type of clothes they can wear, "seeker" friendly or "high church" formality?  These questions came to mind after reading Carl Trueman's critique ("The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie") of Andy Stanley's book "Deep and Wide:  Creating Churches that Unchurched People Love to Attend".  Included in his critique was an excerpt from Stanley's book that seemed to be a microcosm of some of his beliefs.  I am reprinting one paragraph from his book that Carl Trueman quotes:  "People are far more interested in what works than what's true.  I hate to burst your bubble but virtually nobody in your church is on a truth quest. Including your spouse.  They are on happiness quests.  As long as you are dishing out truth with no 'here's the difference it will make' tacked on the end, you will be perceived as irrelevant by most of the people in your church, student ministry, or home Bible study.  You may be spot on theologically, like the teachers of the Law in Jesus' day, but you will not be perceived as one who teaches with authority.  Worse, no one is going to want to listen to you."  (The entire critique and further passages from his book Kindle pgs. 1216-1234 can be found at ).
     After reading the review of the book, I found it hard to believe what Andy Stanley had written.  People are not interested in the truth?  Only a happiness quest?  I am on the quest for the truth and as for my husband, he is too.  Sorry Andy, hate to burst your bubble but there are some people who attend church to hear the truth from God's Word preached.  In fact the Bible substantiates the way people actually come to have a relationship with the Lord - through preaching!  Paul writes in Romans 10:14-15, 17:  "H
ow then will they call on Him, in whom they have not believed?  And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard?  And how are they to hear without someone preaching?  And how are they to preach unless they are sent?  As it is written, 'How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!'  So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ."  As I read it, Paul is telling us that preaching is the means through which the message of salvation is imparted.  Nowhere in this passage does he discuss music type, relaxed dress codes, or a "seeker" friendly environment.  
     Where I believe that mega churches and "wannabe" mega churches often miss the mark is in thinking that we have to be like our culture in order to bring people into the church.  Whatever happened to the conviction that the church is meant to be different than the culture?  Worship services
The Cathedral in York, England
are meant for believers to come in reverence before the Lord to hear God's Word preached so that we may then go out and tell others the Good News of Jesus Christ.  Furthermore, none of us (this includes pastors) causes another to become a Christian.  It is the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of that person.
Holding rock concerts, bringing in some form of entertainment, or adapting to the culture in terms of dress may bring people, but what are they coming for?  They are coming for the entertainment or the concert.  This is why many of the "mega" churches have as many people leaving the back door as they have coming in the front door.
     My contention is that when the Word of God is faithfully preached, people will come, the sheep will be fed and in turn, the sheep will bring in others to hear that Word as well as share it with their neighbors.  This past week alone, I heard from two different people who came into our office that one couple in our church invited both of them to attend.  They came and were blessed because the Word of God was proclaimed and people were friendly to them.
     Jesus never said that everyone would believe.  He told us to:  "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you..." (Matthew 25:19-20a).  In order to make disciples, we must make certain new believers are taught the Word and encouraged to put down deep roots.  Jesus did not play to the culture.  He came to clarify the Law which the Pharisees had misinterpreted.
The most effective means of bringing in new believers is through the preaching and teaching of God's Word.  Then, we must leave the results up to God who is the One who changes hearts.
     In closing, let us be reminded of the power that is in the Word of God.  Hebrews 4:12-13 says:  "For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.  And no creature is hidden from His sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eye of Him to whom we must give account."  To this I say, "If you preach it, they will come...drawn by God's Spirit to a place where truth is taught."  May we pray for our pastors as they fulfill this call to preach the whole counsel of God and may we pray for reformation in our churches that all of us may go seeking the truth...not happiness.  Selah!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Shattered Glass - Shattered Lives

Mourning doves around our bird feeder
     Sitting quietly this morning on my love seat near the window, I was enjoying a cup of coffee along with a good book.  Our old dog Roscoe lay comfortably at my feet.  Suddenly, there came an enormous explosion with glass flying everywhere.  At first I thought someone had thrown a rock through our front window.  My husband came running out to the living room to see what had happened.  Then, I spied the culprit who had done the damage.  A frightened young mourning dove sat on our window sill trapped by my venetian blinds. He did not appear hurt but merely startled.  Obviously this young bird was not a frequent flyer or even a good one for that matter.
     My husband donned gloves with which to pick up this young creature as I gently raised the blinds so he could get a careful grasp of him.  We were uncertain whether he was cut, but when my husband lifted him up, there was no blood.  This was further confirmed when this young bird was gently put down near the trees in our yard.  He immediately flew off most likely to share his story with other feathered friends.
     In the meantime, I began my now half a day of moving furniture, vacuuming the house and picking up both glass and feathers.  I have been amazed to find glass slivers reaching in our study some 20 feet away and also across our long living room.  I swept several times because we now entertain toddler grandchildren in our home and I would never want them to step on a piece of glass.  Naturally our window could not be fixed on a holiday so we managed to put a piece of cardboard with duct tape over the gaping hole.  It is amazing what one little off course bird did that changed our plans for the morning.
     As I reflected on this unplanned chain of events, I couldn't help but draw a parallel to what happens when we commit  a sin.  While we tell ourselves that our actions really do not have any impact on others, we find out that the opposite is true.  Consider just a few examples from the Bible.  David never thought that his adulterous affair with Bathsheba would be found out once he had Uriah the Hittite put to death in battle (2 Samuel 11-12).  Who would know except for his general?  However, God knew and made it clear through the Prophet Nathan that what David had done would bring grievous consequences.  Even though David repented before the Lord, the baby that he and Bathsheba had conceived died.  Likewise, the sword never departed from his own household.  Absalom rose to oppose his own father for the throne.  These were the out workings of his own sin.  God forgave David, but the consequences of sin remained.
     Next we need to consider Samson.  Here was a man born to serve the Lord as a Nazarite (Judges 16).  This meant he was to abstain from unholy conduct, wine or other sins against the Lord.  God gave him great strength to defeat the enemies of Israel but Samson was instructed not to give away the secret of his power (his long hair).  Unfortunately, like many of us, Samson thought he could handle his life without God's help and fell into a relationship with a harlot.  Later he met another woman who was a Philistine (one of Israel's enemies).  Again, he had a wrong relationship with her, and she ultimately betrayed Samson to the Philistines by convincing Samson to tell her the source of his strength.  As a result of his foolish sin, he suffered defeat when his hair was cut.  He was blinded by the hands of the enemy and only as a last act was he able to cause a great temple to fall upon the Philistines killing a large number of them.  How different could his life have been had he not only observed the Nazarite vow and lived according to the Word of the Lord?
 How our hearts deceive us!
     In both biblical examples, lives were shattered by sin.  Like the glass that flew far and wide across our living room and study, sin touches many in its wake.  All we have to do is pick up a newspaper in order to see the pain brought by sin.  Similarly, when spiritual leaders fall into sin, it devastates not only the person's family but the entire congregation.  The Apostle Paul wrote these words of admonition to the church at Galatia:  "Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.  For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life" (Gals. 6:7-8).
     Picking up all the pieces of glass this morning is nothing compared to trying to pick up the pieces of a broken life damaged by sin.  God's Word is a sword that cuts through false beliefs, so before we step out to do something, let us make certain that  we are living according to the foundation laid for us by the Lord.  Our little bird friend was lucky he wasn't killed by flying through the glass.  Sin is every bit as dangerous.  Therefore, let us be certain to walk by the spirit and not in the flesh.  There are no consequences to fear when we walk in obedience to the Lord.  Selah!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Humble Hearts and Amazing Grace

 Lately, I have been so blessed by reading the prayers written by the Puritans in a book compiled by Arthur Bennett, Canon of St. Alban's Cathedral, England.  First published in 1975, "The Valley of Vision" reveals the humility of heart that characterizes the early Puritans who strongly believed in family devotions and private worship.  Their pastors encouraged many of them to record  their prayers on paper in order to better vocalize them.  What a wonderful thing to do!  Keeping a record of our prayers and petitions has much value as we travel through life and what a legacy to pass on to our children.
     The Puritan Movement came during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries but their influence continued until the time of Charles Spurgeon in the eighteenth century.  Spurgeon, himself, was so influenced by the Puritans that he could be said to be one of the last.  Scripture and the doctrines of grace were at the heart of their belief system, and the Puritans ranged from Anglican dissenters to New England Presbyterians.  At the center of their character, the Puritans believed both in prayer and meditating on God's Word.  Oh that we could recapture their hunger and thirst for righteousness!
     Ultimately the Puritans desired to purify the church and remove any elements of worship that were seen as worldly or vestiges of Roman Catholicism.  For their stand, many were driven from the church and eventually from England.  The Pilgrims who settled in Massachusetts were a part of this movement, and came to this country to start a new life where they could worship according to their conscience.
      Among their virtues, the Puritans demonstrated a strong work ethic and viewed labor as something done for the Lord.  They believed in biblical morality as outlined in the Bible and formed the bedrock of our country upon its founding.  While some have made light of their contributions, it was the Puritans who created the first public school and college (Harvard).  Today, it is hard to see any remnants of their faith demonstrated in either.  If it were not for faithful Christians who invest themselves in the lives of children in our public schools today, there would be no influence at all.  This would be unthinkable to a Puritan in the early era of our country where children were taught to read by using the Bible.
     Several outstanding examples of the early Puritans include:  John Bunyan (Pilgrim's Progress); John Winthrop (his outstanding sermon "A City on a Hill" is a classic); Cotton Mather; John Foxe (Foxe's Book of Martyrs); Isaac Watts (we know many of his hymns); Thomas Watson; Augustus Toplady and
William Jay (a great pastor of a church in Bath, England).  I mention all of these examples of those who followed the Lord faithfully during their life.  They serve as godly heroes for us.  The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians these words of exhortation:  "Be you followers of me, even as I also am of Christ" (I Cor. 11:1).  He also wrote to the Thessalonians (I Thess. 1:6):  "You became imitators of us and of the Lord...."  The goal of the early Apostles was to make disciples of all who came to faith in Christ.  They attempted to teach both God's truth from His Word as well as the ordinances given by our Savior.  When we take time to read of other great heroes of the faith as they followed Christ, it should inspire us to likewise seek to walk in obedience to the Lord.
     Unfortunately, today's history books are often scrubbed of the truth and the story of the brave men and women who walked in faith trusting Christ for salvation is almost never heard in the public schools.
This is why it is good to look at history for ourselves and read the things written by those who have gone before.  They are not perfect nor are their writings, but as they point to Christ, they will inspire us to live in such a manner that we will leave a legacy that points to God and His glory.
     As I close out this remembrance of the Puritans, here is one of the beautiful prayers recorded in "The Valley of Vision":
     "O Thou giving God,
     My heart is drawn out in thankfulness to thee, for thy amazing grace and condescension to me in influences and assistances of thy Spirit, for special help in prayer, for the sweetness of Christian service, for the thoughts of arriving in heaven, for always sending me needful supplies, for raising me to new life when I am like one dead.
    I want not the favor of man to lean upon for thy favor is infinitely better.
     Thou art eternal wisdom in dispensations towards me; and it matters not when, nor where, nor how I serve thee, nor what trials I am exercised with, if I might but be prepared for thy work and will." (pg 110, The Valley of Vision).
     May we be inspired by others who have gone on in the faith and may we strive to live a life of humility prayerfully meditating on God's Word each day just as the Puritans did.  Selah!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Revisiting the Garden

      Anyone who is acquainted with my dear husband and has attended a Bible study led by him will have heard him say, "It all started in the Garden."  I smile when I hear that response because he is correct.  The woes of a fallen nature and world began in the middle of a perfect environment.  Adam could not blame his parents for abusing him nor could he complain that if his environment were better he would never have eaten the fruit.  No, it is clear that what he did was in direct disobedience to the word of God.  Then, Adam and Eve attempted a literal cover-up.
     Genesis 3:7-11 reads:  "Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked.  And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.  And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.  But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, 'Where are you?'  And he said, 'I heard the sound of you int he garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.'  He said, 'Who told you that you were naked?  Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?'"  How interesting that Adam and Eve really thought they could hide from God what they had done.  When God confronted them, they began a blame game.
Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the serpent.  However, they could not deflect the truth of what they had done against the command of the Lord.  They were to face the consequences of their sins as outlined by God in Genesis 3:14 to the end of the chapter.
     When we look at present day scandals in the news, has anything really changed?  Certainly, the answer is "no".  Man does things in secret and somehow believes that no one will find out.  While fellow men may be deceived, there is One who knows all and sees all.  A great example of this can be found in the book of Numbers chapter 32.
     Moses spoke of dividing the land according to the tribes of Israel.  Two of the tribes wanted to remain on one side of the Jordan and not go into the Promised Land.  However Moses told them it was unfair that the rest of Israel would have to go to war to claim the land while these two tribes remained on the other side of the river.  With this being said, both tribes proclaimed that they would help to fight alongside their brethren until the land was conquered.  Then, they would return to the other side of the Jordan to their inheritance.  Moses acquiesced to this agreement but gave them a warning we would all do well to heed:  "But if you will not do so, behold, you have sinned against the Lord, and be sure your sin will find you out" (verse 23).  This is one verse that has stuck in my own mind through the years.  In fact, I have tested it out for myself and found it to be true.  Every time I tried to do something in secret so my parents would not discover what I had done, my misdeed was uncovered.  God is true to His Word.
     Why does a man, whether in government, church, home, or work, ever think he can hide his sin from God?  Eventually, the Lord uncovers the sin for all to see.  I love this simple truth from Proverbs 28:13:  "Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy."  Now some may say, "I see the wicked prosper."  However, I would reply that they may appear to prosper for a season, but in the end, their sins will find them out.
     Ultimately, whenever we sin, it is not just against another person.  The sin is against God, and there are consequences.  Adam and Eve tried to cover up and hide.  The same is just as true for our society today as it was at that moment in the garden.  Excuses, excuses excuses and playing the blame game are the favorite pass time of sinners.  The bad news is that we are all sinners.  But the Good News is that God desires to show us mercy.  He sent His Son to be the payment for our sins.  In Christ, we become a new creation.  This does not mean we are perfect.  However, it does mean that when we sin we can quickly be restored through sincere repentance to a right standing with God.
     One outstanding lesson that we all need to take away from the Garden is this:  our sins will find us out.  There is nothing which can be hidden from God.  Jesus said in Luke 8:17:  "For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light."  Those are scary words for anyone trying to hide something.  The truth is that God already knows.  Therefore, each day, we need to take stock of our lives, confess our sins before God and live according to His precepts.  Then we will not live in the fear of being uncovered.  Revisiting the Garden daily will help us to keep our perspective.  Selah!

Monday, May 20, 2013

No Condemnation

     This is a busy time of year for many families.  Ours is no exception.  In May, alone, we have five
birthdays.  Added to these types of celebrations, there are also lots of graduation open houses to attend and vacations to plan in the weeks to come.  With all the activity, tempers can flare and words can be spoken that ought not pass our lips.  We have all experienced this to one extent or another at times when we are overloaded, not feeling well, or stressed.  Unfortunately, our tongues can sting others as mightily as a whip.  When we realize what we have said or done, we know the guilt feeling that rises within as the Holy Spirit reminds us that we have transgressed not only towards another but also against our Lord.  Upon that recognition, we would do well to practice 1 John 1:9:  "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."  Following sincere repentance, we should put to rest all the guilt we felt and accept God's forgiveness.  But what if we still feel estranged from God?
     In Paul's letter to the Romans 8:1-2, he writes:  "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.  For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death."  I think this needs to be before our eyes and seared into our memory banks so we never forget this.  When we are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, we are clothed in His righteousness.  God looks upon us and no longer sees our sinful heart.  Instead, He, Himself, has given to us a new heart.
     Christ has made us free; however, when we do fall and walk in the flesh, there is no condemnation.  We are not utterly cast off!  This is the Good News of the Gospel.  I wish I could stop writing at this point with this said.  Nevertheless, there is a lot of false guilt being laid upon the children of God by the enemy of our souls.  This is not guilt resulting from sin, but instead, it comes as a result of a works mentality that has slipped into the Body of Christ.  We may impose this guilt upon ourselves as we tell ourselves we are not doing the work.  Or we may fall under the spell of an errant teaching that is out there which requires Jesus + something else in order to please God.  That is why it is so critical to know the Word.  Read Romans 8:1-2 again.  Paul could not be any clearer.  "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus..."  We must not allow ourselves, like the Galatians, to fall under the sway of false teachers who told them they had to be circumcised in order to please God.  Likewise, we need to address those vain imaginations we sometimes raise up in our own minds that tell us we are not worthy of God's love.  Our Lord's Word is true and if our heart does not condemn us of a sin then we need to dismiss Satan's lies.
     Paul tells the Galatians in 5:1:  "For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery."  Good words for us to live by and remember.  We must not allow anyone to place us into bondage again when we know that in and through our Savior there is no condemnation. False guilt used by others to manipulate us into believing our salvation is Jesus + something  has no place in our thinking.
     If we do sin against our Lord, we know that our forgiveness is assured when we repent.  Therefore, when we do fall into short tempers over busy schedules, let us stop and turn it over to the Lord.  Let me close with a portion of a Puritan prayer that serves as a good model for our own:
     "Holy Lord, I have sinned times without number, and been guilty of pride and unbelief, of failure to find thy mind in thy Word, of neglect to seek thee in my daily life.  My transgressions and short-comings present me with a list of accusations, but I bless thee that they will not stand against me, for all have been laid on Christ;  Go on to subdue my corruptions, and grant me grace to live above them.  Let not the passions of the flesh nor lustings of the mind bring my spirit into subjection, but do thou rule over me in liberty and power"   (The Valley of Vision, pg. 138).
     Once we have laid all things at the foot of the cross, we must live in the freedom of knowing that "there is therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus."  Selah!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Danger Ahead

 In "The Sermon on the Mount", Jesus warned believers to watch out for false teachers:  "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.  You will recognize them by their fruits" (Matthew 7:15-16a).  The warning about watching out for false prophets and others who distort the truth was not a new teaching by our Lord, but rather, a continuation of the many warnings given throughout the Old Testament to beware of those who twist the truth.
     Paul continues this theme as he speaks to the elders of Ephesus when he says:  "I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them" (Acts 20:29-30).  The sad part is that Paul's words came true.  The Ephesian church had some of its own leaders who became involved in speaking twisted things and leading others astray.  This becomes clear when we read the letters to young Timothy.  Paul mentions quarrels over words (2 Timothy 2:14), genealogies (I Timothy 1:4), meaningless talk (I Tim.1:6) and godless chatter (1 Tim. 2:16; 1 Tim. 6:20).  In fact Paul starts his series of letters to Timothy by saying:  "I urged you when I was going to Macedonia to remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith" (I Tim. 1:3-4).
     Some of the issues that the false teachers raised concerned the prohibition of marriage and of certain foods (1 Tim. 4:3) as well as the belief that the resurrection had already taken place among believers (2 Tim. 2:18).  These "pot stirrers" were upsetting the faith of their fellow believers.  Jesus predicted this would happen.  Paul predicted it would happen, and he warned Timothy to guard the flock as a result and make certain to handle the Word with skill and care.
     Sadly, many false teachers can arise from within the Body of believers as they did in Ephesus.  Some come along for monetary gain and others for power.  Then, I believe there are those who may sincerely believe that their twisted teaching is right.  They have fallen prey to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons (I Tim. 4:1).  Ultimately, it is easy to get caught up in this web if we are not solid students of God's Word.  Let me give an example.
     During the years we homeschooled, there were some strong movements within the community of Christians committed to teaching their children at home.  One of these influential people was Mary Pride.  I had purchased a number of her books as she had a lot of good information on curriculum.  However, she also subscribed to a firm belief that couples should have unlimited children and that birth control was not what God wanted for the family.  On face value, it would have been easy to get swayed into that manner of thinking.  However, after prayer and Bible study, I could see that perhaps that was something the Lord had laid upon her heart, but my husband and I were not bound to that system of belief.  Don't get me wrong.  Children and family are very important.  I love them as evidenced by the four we had, but this is a decision to be made between a husband and a wife with God at the center.  This is not something that then is a mark of a "true" Christian.  Works, performance, do's and don'ts are not prerequisites for salvation.  Nor can doing certain things add to our salvation.  So how can we begin to discern if someone is passing along a teaching that is missing the mark?
     First, see how the teacher is using the Scripture.  Is the interpretation sound, and biblical?  We should not look at their personality.  Instead listen to what he says.  I John 4:1 tells us to test the teacher to see if he/she is from God.  Secondly, what is their goal?  Is there a spiritual goal?  Does this teacher want to lead people to a deeper relationship with God and holy living?  Third, check the teacher's motive.  Are they selfless or selfish?  Are they demonstrating humility in their life or in their efforts are they becoming wealthy?  Fourth, what is the teacher's effect?  Do those who follow this teacher understand the Gospel and the proper use of the Law?  Jesus said we would know them by their fruits.
     Once we have evaluated these things honestly, prayed and sought out the Scripture, we will know if the person is misguiding people in their teaching.  The church today, as in Ephesus, needs to confront and deal with false teaching.  Otherwise, we can get caught up in bunny trails that lead us away from the Lord and down a wrong path.   Let us be gentle as doves but as wise as serpents when it comes to eliminating false teaching from the body of believers.  Know the Scripture, study the Word and be alert for the enemy of our souls wants to distract us from living for Jesus Christ.  Selah!

Picture of the wolf courtesy of Jaqabar on Wiki Commons at:  Lobo en el Zoo de Madrid 01.jpg

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Lessons Learned - A Reflection

     In the quiet of my home last evening as I was savoring the sweet birthday wishes from friends and family, I reflected on the years God has given to me.  I was born on May 14, 1948 when Harry Truman was President and the day the State of Israel came into existence.  Through my 65 years of living, I have experienced the turbulent decade of the sixties with riots, hippies and protests against the war in Vietnam to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, his brother Robert and Dr. Martin Luther King.  I witnessed the resignation of President Nixon and the horror of 9/11/2001.  In addition, I have survived bulba
r polio, graduated college with a B.A. degree in communications/teaching, attended graduate school at The Ohio State University for a year and met and married a wonderful man.  We have raised four children, homeschooled them 21 years and watched three of them marry and have families of their own.  During the course of this time, my husband and I have buried our parents and lost other loved ones as well.  What has sustained me, kept our marriage together and enabled us to forge ahead during tough times was our faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord.  The lessons God has taught have been rich and full.
     First, I have learned that "life is not fair".  My father and later my husband always remind me of this by saying, "Who ever told you life was fair?"  Indeed, Jesus said, "In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart!  I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).  Living in a fallen world as a citizen of heaven is not an easy task.  We face opposition for our worldview because we proclaim and live the truth claims of Christ.  However, we have an advocate in our Lord who stands before God and intercedes (prays) for us!  When I remember that and the fact that He overcame this world, I am comforted when life, indeed, leaves me disappointed.  We are just passing through this broken world and our destination will be a place that is fair, holy, without tears, losses or heartaches.
     Over the years, I have also come to rejoice in the sovereignty of God.  Knowing that God rules and reigns over all the affairs of men, nations, kings, rulers and armies brings me peace of mind at a time when there are wars and rumors of wars.  Having lived through the Vietnam conflict, I saw many of my college friends go off to war never to return.  Living through the assassination of one president and the resignation of another can leave anyone wondering what is going on here?  Nevertheless, when we know and trust in a sovereign God, we believe that He knows the beginning from the end of all things and works all things together for good.  Isaiah 46:9-10 reads:  "...remember the former things of old; for I am God and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying 'My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,'.....I also love this verse in Isaiah 55:11:  " shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it."  These verses bring me comfort.  Living under His watchful eye, knowing that He is in control even if life's circumstances are not should bring our hearts peace.  Has God ever failed in His promises?  No!  He has fulfilled them all in Christ our Savior.  Whether others believe this truth or not does not alter it.
     Perhaps the greatest lesson I have learned, though, is that my worth as a person is not found in my performance, my appearance, my income or based on all the good deeds I do.  No, rather, my worth and significance as a person is found in Jesus Christ as Lord.  In Him, I am whole and complete.  Though my body has aged and changed, my spirit is renewed daily.  I am the same person I was when I was much younger only I have had a lot more experience with the bumps and bruises of life.  Yet, I am still continuing to learn and grow daily.  Realizing that we are pleasing to God through a relationship and commitment to His Son Jesus Christ sets us free.  His forgiveness as a result of our sincere repentance allows us to know that we are clean before God.  No amount of money, toys or gimmicks can do that for our soul.  I don't have to dance to a certain tune, do "X" number of good deeds, or worry about my body type.  In Christ, you and I are accepted when we make a real commitment to Him.  Now that is freeing!
     I do not know how many years the Lord will continue to bless me with.  However, I do know that as long as I live, I want to glorify Him, encourage others and serve Him with gladness.  Life is a journey - a preparation for eternity either with Christ or in Hell.  The opportunity to receive Him and grow in Him is always there.  If He is calling to your heart, do not delay in coming to Him.  Speaking from 65 years of experience, I know that my life has been richer and fuller because He called me to Himself in Christ 42 years ago.  I have to agree with the words to a song, "Every Day with Jesus is Sweeter Than the Day Before." May you know that joy as well and put your hand in His.  He will
never disappoint or fail you.  Selah!

Monday, May 13, 2013

A Virus and a Verse

     This past week my husband and I were battling colds.  We had both been pretty healthy until this point.  I thought I was recovering nicely when I was hit with a wave of nausea and a fever this past weekend.  Knowing that there is little to do for a virus, I went to bed, took some Tylenol and drank lots of fluid.  Some things are just out of our hands.  We can take basic steps to be comfortable, but we have not found a cure for the common virus at this point.  As I was thinking about this, a verse came to my mind.  Ephesians 2:8-9 reads:  "For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast."  Just as I cannot cure the virus infecting my body, I cannot save myself.
     Opening my Bible, I reflected on the verses that came before this verse quoted above.  Paul makes it clear that we were dead in trespasses and sins:  "And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience - among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind" (Ephesians 2:1-3).  When we are dead, there is no life in the body, and there is nothing we can do in ourselves to bring that life back.  Spiritually speaking, this is our original condition.  Paul made it clear in Romans 3:10:  "As it is written, there is none righteous no not one."
He continues in Romans 3:23:  "for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God..."  Knowing that we are dead spiritually, what is the answer?  What can bring us to life?
     Paul continues in his letter to the Ephesians with these words of comfort:  "But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ - by grace you have been saved - and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:4-7).  Did we get the two main words?  "But God".  It is God that works to bring us to life.  He is the one that calls us as He applies His mercy and grace to our dead souls.  He breathes the breath of salvation into our hearts so we are able to believe.  Now Paul's famous verses make complete sense:  "For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing."
     Because we live in such a performance oriented society, our sinful flesh tells us there must be something we can do to add to our salvation or even to obtain it.  However, Paul makes it crystal clear in this passage of Scripture as he writes under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  We cannot do anything to bring salvation into our lives.  It is God who in His love and mercy calls us, regenerates us and brings us to believing faith in Christ.  Just as I cannot do anything to make the virus leave me, I cannot come to salvation by any effort of my own.
     Funny how God brings home His truths when you are sitting in a sick bed, but I am happy that God uses all things to teach us.  I rejoice that He has called me to salvation, and my prayer is that any who read this will be quickened by His Spirit and awakened to salvation.  If you are already a believer, may this encourage you to know how great a gift God gives to those whom He chooses and calls.  We serve a mighty loving Father who provides all we need for life and godliness.  In Him alone, do we find salvation.  Selah!

Picture courtesy of David at Wiki

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Joy of Passing on a Godly Heritage

Our granddaughter Rilyn Rebekah
     Once again, the baby monitor came to life.  I rolled over and looked at my clock.  It was 4 a.m.  Our dear little granddaughter either had a bad dream or her gums were sore from teething.  I got up to see if I could calm her and soothe her back to dreamland.  Her parents had taken her brother on a birthday trip to Disney World, so I had the pleasure of watching over this little princess along with Papa.
     As I looked in her crib, her little face was wet with tears.  I bent over and wiped away the tears then whispered that it was all right.  I softly stroked her face with my hand and continued to speak in a calm voice.  At that moment, I remembered my mother doing the same thing to quiet me when I was little.  I often had trouble going to sleep and my mother would stroke my face and sing a song softly until I drifted off to sleep.  Here I was doing the same thing for this precious little gift of God.  Passing on love, comfort and  the godly heritage that I received is the ultimate blessing for me.  There are many simple things we do every day that convey the love of Christ to our children and our grandchildren, but we sometimes think we are not leaving a mark.
     When I was a little girl, my parents frequently visited with my grandparents on their farm.  My Grandfather Engel would often read to me from his Bible.  I may not have understood all the big words but I grasped the importance of this holy book that he read from all the time.  Before taking his nap in the afternoon, he would kneel by his couch and pray.  Once again, I was eyewitness to someone who loved the Lord.  He died while I was only 6 years old, but I will never forget him.  At his funeral in the church he served as lay minister, I remember well the hymn "The Old Rugged Cross" being played.  My mother told me it was his favorite.  To this day, I recall the hymn being sung at this service, and the simple things he did which passed on to me a godly heritage.
     Home life also provided me with many basics on which to hang my faith.  My parents attended church and took my sister and I each week.  We attended Sunday school and the worship service.  Before I was able to read, I simply opened the hymn book and babbled along.  If I got too loud, I was told to sing more quietly, but I remember well the beautiful voice of my mother as she sang.  I was inspired just listening to her.  She and my father made certain that I learned the catechism when it came time to join the church.  At each meal, we said grace and thanked God for the day.  In fact, we actually ate together and talked about our day.  All these things are simple.  There was nothing magical about any of them, but each activity prepared my heart for the day when the Lord would call me to salvation.
     Perhaps the greatest blessing in my life came when my mother taught me to read and pray the Psalms.  She had fallen into a deep depression after losing my baby sister who only lived for 14 hours.  Little Rebecca Hess was born too soon and there were no neonatal units in those days.  My mother had to be hospitalized and unfortunately, anti-depressants were not prevalent at that time.  Instead, the doctor treating my mother suggested reading the Psalms and praying them before retiring each evening.
This helped my mother ultimately recover from her loss.
     During the turbulent teen years, I found myself reading the Psalms, praying them and even singing them to tunes I made up.  This was a comfort to me when I felt upset over something.  Again, this was a simple thing my mother shared with me, but it had a profound effect upon my life.  To this day, singing scripture and especially the Psalms gives me peace of heart and mind.
     Both of my parents loved singing the hymns of the faith as well.  This became even more evident to me when they purchased an organ for the household to use.  There were color coded stickers for the keys to assist my father who had once played violin so he could learn to play the organ.  In the evening, I remember him playing "Sweet Hour of Prayer" which was one of his favorites.  Again, this recollection is a sweet reminder of my father's faith.  These are the things I want to pass on to my grandchildren.  They are joyful memories of a godly heritage.
     Scripture teaches plainly that we are to teach our children and grandchildren the truths of God's Word.  Deuteronomy 6:4-9 reads:  "Hear O Israel:  The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down and when you rise.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall write them on the door posts of your house and on your gates."  This command brings with it blessings from God.  I am the fruit of a household that did simple things which always pointed me to the Lord.
     As we approach Mother's Day this Sunday, we need to remember that faith begins at home doing
Grandsons: Gavin, Aiden, Briggs and Branson...missing
are Beckett and Bennett
the simple things like saying grace at meals, reading the Bible together, singing Psalms, hymns and making spiritual music, teaching children the catechism of the faith, going to church together as a family and making time to eat together.  There isn't anything complicated.  It is a lifestyle, a godly heritage which we have the privilege to pass along with joy to our children and grandchildren.  When they see us worshipping God in reverence and living our faith daily, they will also have pegs by example on which to hang their faith.
     I admit that I miss my mother who left for her heavenly home in January of 2000, but her legacy of faith and love lives on.  When I stroked the cheek of our granddaughter Rilyn to help soothe her back to sleep, I could not help but think of my mother doing the same for me.  If we are concerned about the next generation of Christian leaders, we must remember that it begins at home with the simple things as we pass along, with joy, a godly heritage.  Selah!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Leading a Radically Quiet Life

Nathan's home school graduation in 2006
     In perusing some Christian articles today, I came across one that stood out from all the rest.  It was written by a young, twenty-something millennial about her decision to attend seminary.  Most of her friends thought she might want to pursue some extraordinary goal such as the mission field or even becoming a female pastor.  However, her response to such a notion was that she simply wanted to have a deeper knowledge of the Bible.  She felt she could use the training to assist her father who is a pastor or in some other way right where she lives leading an ordinary life.  I loved the simplicity of this article because for many years I struggled with the idea of "Am I doing enough for the Lord?";  "I am only a homemaker and home school mother of four children.  Shouldn't I be in a ministry somewhere?"  My closest friends will tell you of my struggle.  In fact, my husband and I even struggled with that tug of "should we go into ministry instead of optometry" question when we first became Christians just before our marriage. We were in our twenties at that time.  It seemed that everyone around us was in some sort of ministry.  Perhaps we were letting the Lord down by not selling everything and going on the foreign field.  Yet, through prayer, we felt God's call to continue to follow the goal and schooling that He had in mind for us.
     Within Jasmine Baucham's article, there was a reference to an article she had read by Dr. Anthony Bradley entitled, "The New Legalism:  Missional, Radical, Narcissistic and Shamed".  In his article (which is excellent and can be found at Acton Institute Power Blog,, Dr. Bradley writes about the young people presently coming through the local church:  "I continue to be amazed by the number of youth and young adults who are stressed and burnt out from the regular shaming and feelings of inadequacy if they happen to not be doing something unique and special.  Today's millennial generation is being fed the message that if they don't do something extraordinary in this life, they are wasting their gifts and potential.  The sad result is that many young adults feel ashamed if they "settle" into ordinary jobs, get married early, and start families, live in small towns, or as I Thessalonians 4:11 says, 'aspire to live quietly and to mind [their] affairs, and to work with their hands.'  For too many millennials, their greatest fear in this life is being an ordinary person with a non-glamorous job, living in the suburbs, and having nothing spectacular to boast about."
     As I read the article, the thought occurred to me that this is a problem not just for millennials but it is and has been the problem with each new generation of believers.  When a man or woman first awaken to faith in Christ and surrender their life to His service, there is a fire within to "go out and save the world."  The question that should be asked is how and where does God want me to go out and share the Gospel.
     In referring back to the scripture which Dr. Bradley quoted in his article (I Thess. 4:11), the footnote in my "Reformation Study Bible" reads:  "....the Thessalonians should be zealous for the honor that comes not through self-assertion, or an ostentatious show of personal greatness, but through humble, industrious, and unimpeachable behavior.  This exhortation, pertinent to all Christians, had a particular urgency in Thessalonica where the Christians had already been falsely accused of sedition (Acts 17:6-9).  By living lives that were respectable and unpretentious, the Christians were to allay any lingering suspicions."  I love this explanation.  Being a homemaker, a mother, a wife, a home school mother, a grandmother and presently, a blog writer are all the ministries which God has given to me.   They are not unimportant or insignificant in the face of God.  It is okay to lead an ordinary life in humility, loving and serving the Lord.  God's calling is unique in each life.  We should never think it is "one size fits all."
     At present, our family has three teachers, an attorney, an education director at a philharmonic center, a Christian Education minister/youth leader and a firefighter in training.  Each one of these is a ministry touching the lives of others.  As Paul told us in his letter to the Christians at Corinth, we all make up the Body of Christ.  There is no part more important than another.  Then he writes:  "But as it is, 'God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as He chose.  If all were a single member, where would the body be?  As it is, there are many parts, yet one body" ( I Cor. 12:18-20).
Thanksgiving 2012...our ministry to family has grown.
     For this moment, I am leading a radically quiet life coram deo (before the Face of God) according to His good pleasure.  My desire is to glorify God in my writing, in my singing (in the church choir), and in working alongside my husband in his optometry practice.  If I were to pass along anything to the next generation of young people, I would say that there is no need to feel inferior if God calls you to a quiet life of service in your town.  There is no greater calling than to raise a godly family who will serve and honor Him all of their lives.  Listen to the voice of God and find His will for your life in His Word.  Do not allow guilt or shame to drive you into a ministry for which the Lord has not called you, but serve Him heartily where He has placed you.  Then you will find satisfaction in your work and the blessing of God upon your life.  I speak from experience.  Selah!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Out of the Heart....

     For two weeks in a row, a verse from Luke 16 has kept popping up in front of me.  I felt it warranted some thought and attention since the Lord had placed it before my eyes twice.  Verse 15 in this chapter reads:  "And He said to them, 'You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts.  For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God."  These insightful words were spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ to the Pharisees who ridiculed Him for saying, "You cannot serve God and money" (Luke 16:13b).
     According to the Bible, the Pharisees were lovers of money and they justified themselves before the people so that no one would think less of them.  They kept the letter of the Law, but they did not keep the spirit of the Law.  They believed that if they did not physically kill someone they had not broken the commandment of God.  Yet Jesus, time and again, pointed out that it matters more what is going on in your heart and mind.  Sin begins in the heart, so we can do all the right things outwardly but have a foul nature inside.  This is clearly revealed in His "Sermon on the Mount".  In this address, Jesus clearly teaches what our character is to be like as believers.  He takes the Law and makes it plain by addressing the fact that merely avoiding evil behavior (i.e. killing, adultery, stealing) does not exonerate our hearts from having the thought of doing evil.  We are called to holiness.
     At the time our Lord walked on this earth, the Pharisees were the most influential religious leaders of the day.  Over and over again, though, Jesus called them out for living a life of presumed holiness.  However, inside their hearts, they were empty.  What they did was for show not for sincere worship.  Therefore, they earned the recognition of the common man for their devout practices, but Jesus pointed out their hypocrisy.  He told His followers:  "The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat, so practice and observe whatever they tell you - but not what they do.  For they preach but do not practice" (Matthew 23:2-3).  To put it another way, the Pharisees were teaching the Law of God, but they were not living the truth found in and through the Law.  Their lives were just the opposite so much so that Jesus said:  "Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness.  So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness" (Matthew 23:27-28).
     Now, lest we think we pass the "smell" test in our own lives, let us be honest.  Are there not times when we justify telling a "white lie" or even taking something that doesn't belong to us because our boss won't miss it?    Jeremiah writes:  "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?  I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds" (Jeremiah 17:9-10).  Now those are scary verses.  Jesus further elaborates on this notion when He says in Luke 6:45:  "The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks."  Our words, thoughts and actions will only show what is in our heart.  Do we love the Lord?  Then our righteousness must exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees as Jesus told us (Matthew 5:20).
     Society lauds people who are successful and seem to have it all together. Never mind that this person justified his sinful actions in stealing from a competitor because it was a necessary evil on his way to success...but basically he/she is a good person in the eyes of the world.  However, that is not the measure by which God judges.  What is acceptable in the sight of men and exalted by them is an abomination in the sight of God.  Our heart motives reveal who we really are and to whom we belong.  We are either in God's camp or the Devil's.  There is no middle ground.
     I am certain the Pharisees believed they were doing all the right things so they justified themselves and their actions.  However, God saw their heart and our Lord condemned their self-righteous approach to holiness.  We must examine ourselves daily to see if we fall into the same trap.  Sin is subtle, deceitful and resides in each one of us since we have received the fallen nature of Adam.  Only when we are regenerated by the power of the Holy Spirit can we see our sin for what it is.  Then, if we repent and turn to Christ, He clothes us in His robe of righteousness and gives to us a new heart.  Therefore, we need to always check our motives even as believers.  Are we doing something for the glory of God or for the praise of men?  There is a difference, and we need to be on guard lest we trip over the trappings of sin and become "whitewashed sepulchers" looking good on the outside but filled with dead men's bones on the inside.  May God help us daily to live the life of holiness from the inside out!  Selah!

Friday, May 3, 2013

When You Get Down, Sing Your Way Up

     As mentioned in my last devotion, our office had a major computer crash this past week.  We are making headway on restoring a week's worth of work which has disappeared into cyberspace.  It is painstaking and sometimes disheartening.  However, there has been a bright spot in my week and one that I look forward to each Thursday evening.  I attend choir practice.  By God's grace, as we work on songs meant for our time of worship on Sunday, my spirit is lifted above the mundane things of this world.  Not only do we sing but we have sweet fellowship, prayer time, devotions.  This is like a cold drink in an otherwise tiring week.
     In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul writes these well-known verses:  "....addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ" (Ephesians 5:19-21).  This is what it means to experience real "koinonia" or intimate fellowship.  As we sing, and encourage one another, it is impossible to remain discouraged about life.
     When I was still living at home, I remember that my father enjoyed singing some of his favorite hymns.  He had learned to play the organ by colored keys and would sit in the evening playing "Sweet Hour of Prayer" along with other hymns in his song book.  He derived joy from spending time with the Lord in this manner.
     Praise lifts us up as we focus more on God and less on ourselves.  Paul reiterates the importance of praise in Colossians 3:16 reads:  "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God."  If we look closely at this verse, Paul puts teaching and encouraging one another right up there with singing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.  This is what comprises true worship of God.
     If we look at Paul's own witness, we see him in a prison praying and singing hymns along with Silas (Acts 16:25) while the other prisoners listened to them.  Certainly, this had to be unusual for two people threatened by the authorities and locked up.  However, Paul found the key to keeping his perspective by keeping his focus on God rather than his circumstances.
     Simply reading through the Book of Psalms, we see many references to singing praise to God:  Psalm 100:1-2; Psalm 95:1-2; Psalm 150:1-6; Psalm 147:1; Psalm 71:8 to name a few.  Each of these Psalms encourages us to praise and make melody in our hearts towards God.
     I do not know what kind of a week you have had or what your circumstances are, but I do know that as we sing and worship the Lord, He lifts us up as well.  Therefore, if you get down, try singing your way up again.  Remember too, that God inhabits the praises of His people.  Begin today to lift up your voice in song and praise the Lord.  Selah!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Big Melt Down

     Sooner or later it was bound to happen, and a string of events seemed to make matters more complicated.  On Thursday of last week, our IT Tech left our office with serious chest pain.  She was heading for the ER.  Our computers were working fine at the time but had been rather slow.  By Friday morning, though, the computers would not open our special medical software.  With a day full of patients, we did not know what to do as we could not access schedules or other information pertinent to our operation.  We did the best we could and finally called our software support system.

     After working on our system via remote, our software support only made the computers worse.  In fact, they destroyed our shaky hard drive.  Now, there was nothing to do but write ourselves a thousand sticky notes of people to call when things functioned again.
     On Monday, our IT Tech was released from the hospital and immediately went to our office to work on things.  It wasn't until Tuesday afternoon that things were running again.  However, we lost a week's worth of information that we have to put into our system again.  It could have been worse.  We were prepared with many back-ups for such an occasion as this, but still, there are some things we cannot control.
     This is also true in every day life.  Like computers, we can have a complete melt down.  Coming to the end of ourselves, our attempts at happiness and our selfish ambitions opens the door to invite our Savior to come in and do a complete revamping of our lives.  Just like our IT Tech who removed the old hard drive and replaced it with a new one, Jesus comes into our lives and gives us a new heart.  The old stony heart that brought us emptiness and chained us to a life of sin is gone.  The Bible tells us:
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old  has passed away; behold, the new has come" (2 Corinthians 5:17).   Since we are new creations, we can live in the joy of the Lord,  Gone are the corrupted files that once filled our heart.
     Of course, this new life requires us to do some reformatting of our thinking.  Even if we have been Christians a long time, we need to remove the stray bits of information that our culture has dumped in our heads.  Once again, we have an answer for this problem.  Romans 12:2 reads:  "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."  Bringing our thoughts into conformity is not that difficult.  We can meditate on God's Word, memorize it, pray it or sing it.  When we do these things, we will become more like our Savior.
     In addition, we know that we have the power to live a victorious life.  The Apostle Peter writes:  "His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence by which He has granted to us His precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire" (2 Peter 1:3-4).  As long as we remain plugged into our source of power...the Lord Jesus Christ...we will over come the pitfalls, temptations and difficulties of this world.  He has made us and given to us all we need for life and godliness.  What a precious promise to cling to every day.
     Whether you are a babe in Christ or a seasoned believer, we all have our melt down days.  This is when we need to revisit these wonderful promises of God.  The enemy of our soul will tell us that we are still under bondage to that old heart, but we need to remind Him that the Lord has given to us a new heart.  Again, the enemy will tell us our thinking is not right.  This is when we tell him that we have the mind of Christ living in us.  Finally, the enemy wants us to think we have poverty of spirit, and we, then, remind him that we have everything we need for life and godliness.  We are lacking nothing.
     Thankfully, our computers are running once again as a result of our IT Tech's skill and knowledge.  She was prepared for such an event.  As believers, we need only turn to our Lord when life seems to bring on a melt down.  Remember, "...we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10) and "no weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed, and you shall confute every tongue that rises against you in judgment.  This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord and their vindication from me declares the Lord" (Isaiah 54:17).  Our warranty lasts for eternity unlike the computers we use every day.  So take heart and plug into His power source for daily living.  Selah!