Posts tagged ‘Christian’

EASTER IS OVER. NOW WHAT?

Have you noticed what I have noticed? Easter is over. The build up, the celebration, the ham dinner and Easter egg hunt. Its over…until next year, when we will do it all again.

I must say, one of the best parts about the day was waking my boys up with the announcement that “He is risen!” The only communication I had with my husband that morning was a text! But it was, “He is risen!” “He is risen indeed!” (Long story:-) And how many times did I shake someone’s hand at church with the same greeting? Many! It was so exciting! Exhilerating! To be celebrating the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! We rejoiced in the victory He had over death, and sin. He beat the cross that took Him down, and stood triumphantly outside the tomb, breathing in deep breaths of fresh, spring morning air. Jesus had come back to life!!!

And then…Monday. Life was back to normal. The celebration was over. Work and school were starting back up. The hum-drum of daily life. It sucked the joy right out of me! You could almost hear the high-powered vacuum! And I thought, “Why? Why should my joy only last for a day? Today should be a new beginning to a new year…a year in which I celebrate each and every day the joy of worshiping a risen Lord.”

That was when I realized that MY new year isn’t January 1st, and all those ridiculous New Years resolutions to lose weight, or do more things to please myself. It isn’t even the first day of school in the fall (when I traditionally wish my fellow teachers a happy new year:-). MY new year begins each year on Easter Sunday. It is the reason for my joy. Easter Sunday is the day I celebrate the new life I have in Christ, and the day that I am reminded that every day afterward belongs to Jesus. Easter Sunday is the starting point. It is the basis on which I live every other day that God gives me. Because I have Easter, I have meaning. Why wouldn’t the Christian mark his calendar for New Year’s Day on Easter? From now on, that is how mine will be. So even though this is a bit late…Happy New Year! For He is risen! He is risen indeed!!!!!

Oh. And my relolution? Only to live every day serving my risen Savior!

It’s Time for Day Lilies to be Sunflowers!

Recently I attended a conference that had absolutely nothing to do with sunflowers.  However, sunflowers were used as an example of something during the presentation.  I honestly can’t tell you how they linked to the topic, because when I heard the illustration, I grew a bunch of goosebumps and had a worship-my-God-the-amazing-creator-of-all-things moment.  Here is why.

The presenter at the conference told of an experiment that was done with sunflowers.  (Unfortunately, when I asked later, she could not tell me the name of the experiment, and I have not been able to find it.)  In the experiment, sunflowers were planted in a controlled environment, a room.  A bank of lights was put at one end of the room, and turned on at a certain time every day.  The scientist wanted to see if the sunflowers would remember which direction the light came from.  I’m not certain how they were going to measure this.  But what they discovered is that the sunflowers would actually turn toward the bank of light an hour before the lights would go on.  Amazing!!!!

Now, in my attempt to find this particular science experiment, I have sort of accidentally learned more about the sunflower.  Apparently they have an uncanny ability to turn towards the sun as it comes up in the East, and follow it through the day so that it is still facing the sun as it settles in the West.  In the morning, it has turned back and is ready to follow from East to West again the next day.  Amazing!!!!

I’m not a scientist.  In fact, science was always my worst subject in school.  I couldn’t make heads or tails of it then, and still can’t today.  So the next bit of information I share here is going to be the best that I can understand of why sunflowers do this fix and follow every day.  Apparently the “neck” of the flower, which I suppose is the stem, grows in a sort of rotation.  As the sun shines on the East side of the plant, that side of the stem begins to grow stronger and so the plant faces East.  Then the Northern side grows, followed by the Western side, with the flower turning according to its strongest stem-side.  During the night, the south side grows (in the dark? Don’t ask me why!) and so the flower returns back to the East for the morning light.  This could likely go down into the Guinness Book of World Records as the most pathetic science lesson in history!!!!

Of course you are wondering by now why in the world I am making such a weak attempt to share all of this information.  Hang in there, I’m getting to it.  Of course an illustration could be made that we, as Christians, should always be facing the Son of God, Jesus.  Keep your eyes focused on Him as you go throughout your day.  Makes perfect sense.  A great illustration.

I would like to go back to the sunflowers in the room that turned toward the bank of lights an hour before they turned on, however.  And I ask you, isn’t that what we should be doing?

There is another flower that I know of that opens up to the sun.  I am sure there are more, but I am not a florist, or a botanist…too closely related to scientist:-)  We have a patch of Day Lilies that grow every summer out behind our shed.  My boys love to pick them for me.  They are always so excited to offer me this beautiful orange flower, bloomed and open to the sun…and so disappointed at night, when the sun has gone down, and the flower in the vase in the window has closed up and sunk down into the vase.

There are far too many Christians who are like the Day Lily…asleep at the wheel; oblivious to what is happening.  Jesus told us to watch for His return.  Pay attention to the signs.  Matthew 25:42 – “So always be ready, because you don’t know the day your Lord will come.”

In 1 Thessalonians 5:2-6 Paul warns us to be alert.  “You know very well that the day the Lord comes again will be a surprise, like a thief that comes in the night.  While people are saying, ‘We have peace and we are safe,’ they will be destroyed quickly.  It is like pains that come quickly to a woman having a baby.  Those people will not escape.  But you, brothers and sisters, are not living in darkness, and so that day will not surprise you like a thief.  You are all people who belong to the light and to the day.  We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.  So we should not be like other people who are sleeping, but we should be alert and have self-control.”

How can a Christian be alert, and watch for the return of the Lord, if they are not awake and paying attention half the time…like a Day Lily that sleeps through the night?

The sunflower not only looks to the sun, and follows it all day long, it remains alert to it, even through the night, by turning to watch for its return each morning.  The sunflower is always ready, even turning it’s face before the sun returns.  Christians must wake up!  The end times are here.  The wars and rumors of wars.  The continual, rapid decline of mankind into greater and greater sin and depravity, turning further and further from God.  The increase in natural disasters.  Prophesy after prophesy are coming true, right now, in our lifetimes!  If you follow the events in the Middle East, it is nearly impossible to miss the signs!!!  The alarm clock is sounding!  We must wake up!!!  We must be ready!!!  God is calling us to a state of readiness, and we cannot afford to be Day Lilies.  It is time for Christians to be like the sunflower…to be SONflowers!  We must follow the Son all day, all night, and be turned, with our faces toward Him, ready for Jesus to make His appearance in the skies.  He is coming…soon, very soon.  Are you watching the skies?  Is your face turned to see Jesus coming through the clouds?

 

What is Holding You Back?

It has come to my attention (thank You, God) that it is time to share my testimony with you.  But not necessarily my salvation testimony.  I don’t have a dramatic salvation story…I was only 4 when I invited Christ into my life, after all.

Like all Christians, I had my ups and downs trying to figure out what this Christian life was all about.  One thing I always had, though, was someone who was a true faith warrior.  It wasn’t always the same person.  Sometimes there were more than one.  But these were the people who always gave God the glory.  Always held strong to their faith.  Were deep in the Word, and anchored by prayer.  For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a Christian like them.  I wanted that relationship with Jesus that filled every part of my life.  I wanted to be in love with Jesus…but for some reason I just could never seem to get there.  I prayed.  I read my Bible.  I went to church.  I always served God in some capacity through my church.  Nothing seemed to work.  So what was holding me back?

Two things.  The first was the belief that God could not use me.  I’ve heard people use this argument when they have led a rather sordid life.  They have skeletons in their closet that would scare ghosts.  Not me.  For the most part, I was a pretty good kid growing up.  The kind of trouble I got into was fighting with my brother, and talking back to my mom.  No drugs.  No alcohol.  No illicit sex.  Even as an adult, I was tame.  I married, had children, and settled down to make the good Christian home.  We took the boys to church on Sunday.  Went to Sunday School and made sure they did, too.  I taught in Vacation Bible School every year.  Still, I didn’t believe God could use me.  Why?  Because I knew my heart.  I knew the thoughts that ran through my mind.  The judgments I made of others.  I knew how frustrated and angry I got with my boys when they misbehaved.  I knew the bitterness I held in my heart for some.  All the little secrets held inside me that no one else could see…but God.  God could see them.  I’m not perfect.  I’m not holy.  I’m pathetic.  There is no way God can use me.  I’m a living, breathing example of a hypocrite.

The second thing holding me back from that love relationship with Jesus was fear.  Oh yes!  Fear.  I was scared to death of what He would do in my life.  And maybe not even that as much as how He would do whatever He wanted to do.  What trial would He ask me to bear?  What pain would I suffer?  What, or even who, would He ask me to give up?  I guess I was afraid of the process of learning to love Jesus, more than the end result.

Still, I watched the faith warriors in my life, and longed for that same relationship.  That longing just became greater and greater over the years.  It never waned.  Always at the back of my heart was the call to draw closer to Jesus.  I know now, of course, that He was calling me.  Never giving up.  Because even though I couldn’t love Him completely, He loved me more completely than anyone else ever could.  A few short years ago God’s pull finally overcame my push.  And I realized that the only way I was going to have that relationship with Jesus was to completely surrender to him.  I had to believe that Almighty God could actually do something with my life that would bring glory to Him.  And I had to give over to Him all of me, and all those people and things that meant so much to me, and trust Him to do whatever He knew to be the best.  I had to lay it all on the line.  And I did that.  One day as I sat in a room alone, with the door locked shut, I cried out to God.  “I want that relationship with you, God.  The one that so-and-so has.  Please, take me and make me Yours.  Do with me as You please.  Just use me, please.”

Then came the change.  It wasn’t instantaneous.  But it has been steady.  I have found a deep desire to learn more and more about the God I serve.  I am drawn to read His Word like I am to eating sweets.  I crave the Bible, and find myself looking for opportunities to read it, even outside of my devotion time.  I have the same craving for my prayer time.  You might say I have a sweet tooth for Jesus.  And I finally have that I’m-in-love-with-Jesus kind of relationship with Him that I have longed for since I was four!  It has been a long time coming!

What about my fear and belief that God can use me?  The fear God has taken care of with His peace that passes all understanding.  Now and then I will hesitate, or even find myself gripped by fear, but I have learned to recognize that as Satan trying to pull me away from God.  The Bible tells us that God does not give us a spirit of fear.  So praying and praising will quickly dispel that trouble.

As for God not being able to use me, well, that is another story.  And it is one that you are reading right now.  Since my cry out to God, I have learned that He has given me the gift of prophecy.  And I am learning how He wants me to use it to lift up, encourage, and edify His people.  This blog is a direct result of His calling to me, and a demonstration of how God is using me.  Am I any more perfect or holy than I was before?  No.  Just ask my boys:-)  I still lose my temper.  I still wrestle to keep my thoughts controlled.  I still say and do things I shouldn’t.  And I’m sure there are still people who could look at my life and call me a hypocrite.  But I’m trying.  And I continually give myself over to God, asking Him to change me and make me the person He wants me to be.  God is using me in spite of myself.  I guess that is what makes this relationship so humbling.  God knows me better than I know myself, and yet He still loves me, wants a relationship with me, and wants to use me for His honor and glory.

The thing I want most in this world is what I hope to hear in the next.  I want desperately to hear, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

Someone out there is reading this blog post and longs for a deeper relationship with Jesus.  Someone is wrestling with the same fear that I did, and believing the lies that Satan is telling them.  I want you to believe that God can use you!  Heed His call in your life.  Cry out to Him!  He is waiting, longing to ease your fear, give you peace, and shower you with Himself.  And He will use you.  I don’t care who you are, what you have done, or what sins you still wrestle with.  God is God, for Pete’s sake!  Of course He can use you!  Nothing is impossible for Him, including you.

My prayer for you today is the courage and faith to surrender to God, and then all the blessings that come with being in love with your Lord and Savior.

BOO! Gotcha!

Nothing can make me crabbier in an instant than one of my kids sneaking up behind me and hollering to make me jump.  Oh, I hate that!  They catch me off guard, and in that moment, I feel completely out of control.  To make matters worse, I am usually pretty aware of where each child is, and what they are doing.  It is rare that I don’t have at least a general knowledge of their where-abouts, so when they manage to make me jump sky high, it means they have caught me in a moment when my alert level was low to begin with.  For that moment when I am spooked, control of my situation, and of myself, has been forcibly yanked away from me.  I am out of control because I have been taken off guard.  Because I hate that feeling so much, I stay alert…always listening and watching…ever aware of where the boys are.  I protect myself this way, and I know when one of them is standing outside the bathroom door just waiting for me.  When they jump, I can just keep going…or use the opportunity to attack and tickle.

Right now the stage is being set for a ginormous “BOO!”  And the world is absolutely oblivious to it.  Even Christians, who should be alert and watching, are going on with life as usual.  But when it comes, the world will be turned on its ear and will never be the same again.  It will change everything.  It will cause far more than a yelp and a rapid heartbeat.  It will be a complete upheaval of the world as we know it.

I am talking about the moment when Christ returns to take His people out of this world to be with Him.  The Rapture.  In my July 15 post, The End Times, I shared with you that God as revealed to me that Jesus is coming soon.  The end is near.  I don’t have a date or a time.  I would never expect that because we are told in the Scriptures that no one but God knows that.  But I do know that it will be within the lifetimes of my children.  As time flies so quickly, and with the view of thousands of years in the history of the earth behind us, even if my boys lived to be 100, Jesus is coming soon!!!  We must be alert!!!  

As I sit in restaurants, walk through stores, or even see people on the television, I think, “Do they have any inkling of what is to come?  Do they realize that Jesus is coming soon and that the world will change forever after that?  Do they know that the day they will need to stand before God Almighty and answer for their lives is looming before them?”  Of course they don’t!  They don’t have a clue!  They expect the world to continue on for thousands of years to come, just as it has for thousands of years in the past.  1 Thessalonians 5:2-3 (NCV) – “You know very well that the day the Lord comes again will be a surprise, like a thief that comes in the night.  While people are saying, ‘We have peace and we are safe,’ they will be destroyed quickly.  It is like pains that come quickly to a woman having a baby.  Those people will not escape.”

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 – “The Lord himself will come down from heaven with a loud command, with the , with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God.  And those who have died believing in Christ will rise first.  After that, we who are still alive will be gathered up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.  And we will be with the Lord forever.”

Believe me, this is not the kind of event that anyone is going to be oblivious to.  The whole world will witness it!  And when every citizen of earth hears the trumpet call of God, and the voice of the archangel.  When every person sees millions of dead people rising to meet Christ in the sky, and millions more living Christians joining them, those who remain will not shrug it off and go about their business as usual.  There will be fear and panic.  Chaos will reign until someone is able to gain control and restore order.  All the Christians will be gone…as will all of the good they brought to the world through Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  What kind of life do you envision this being?  It will not be fun!  Picture all of the movies you have seen about the world after a cataclysmic event…a global warming disaster, a universal nuclear war, an attack by far more advanced alien race…they all paint a picture of complete devastation and survival that is only one by fighting tooth and nail for the basic necessities.  I won’t say that this picture is what is going to be.  It is just what I envision in a world without the presence of the Holy Spirit.

There are two points to be made in this.  First, we Christians need to wake up!  We need to be alert.  We need to watch and prepare ourselves.  We need to be ready for the call of Christ.  We can’t pack a bag of things to take with us.  Nothing that we have here on earth will matter.  We need to change our priorities, our perspective on our life here.

I used to love going to garage sales.  It was so much fun to look through other people’s junk and find a treasure that would look great in my house.  I have no interest in that now.  I find that I see possessions more and more as unnecessary.   Not to say that I don’t buy things.  I just bought a new pair of shoes for vacation so I wouldn’t kill my feet climbing in and out of a monster truck.  I am considering purchasing a small table I can set up in my living room to leave a jigsaw puzzle on for the family to do together.  But I can’t seem to bother myself with spending money of frivolous things that really have no purpose other than to allow me to spend money.  It just doesn’t seem to matter any more.  Why?  Because my perspective has changed.  I know that my life here is only a way-station, a rest-stop.  I’m not going to be here much longer, whether because I die, or Christ returns.  This is not my home, and I would much rather spend my time and money on serving God and preparing my heart to meet Him face to face.

1 Thessalonians 5:4, 6, 8 – “But you, brothers and sisters, are not living in darkness, and so that day will not surprise you like a thief….  So we should not be like other people who are sleeping, but we should be alert and have self-control….  But we belong to the day, so we should control ourselves.  We should wear faith and love to protect us, and the hope of salvation should be our helmet.”

The second point is that we need to be bold in sharing the good news of Christ.  Knowing what lies ahead for those who don’t believe in Christ should motivate us to move quickly and speak without fear.  They cannot have the opportunity to accept or reject Christ if they have not been introduced to Him.  Now is the time.  We are living in a life-or-death moment.  May the Spirit of the one true God fill us with the sense of urgency we need to send us out into the world.  The Christians of the early church boldly spread the Good News, and the church of Christ grew.  This is our last stand.  Today, the church of Christ must again go so boldly into all the world.  And that includes our neighbors, our co-workers, the people we meet on the street.  The time has come to leave the cares of this world behind, and grab a hold of the prize before us.  Onward Christian soldiers!!!!

ALL IN THE FAMILY

Romans 8: 28-29 (NCV) – We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love him.  They are the people he called, because that was his plan. God knew them before he made the world, and he decided that they would be like his Son so that Jesus would be the firstborn of many brothers.

We have heard it hundreds of times.  We, as Christians, are to be like Jesus.  The world should be able to see Jesus in us.  We are children of God.  Perhaps for you, as it has been for me, these words have become cliche.  The punch is gone.  But these truths from God’s Word are there for a reason.  They have meaning beyond passing thoughts.

As I considered verse 29 this morning, the first image in my mind was a bunch of Jesus-like clones.  We are made to be like Him in every way, so that the world is filled with thousands of Jesus’.  Everywhere people look, they see Jesus.  They hear Jesus.  They feel the presence of Jesus.  But somehow the cloning process went wrong.  It is as though each cloning lost some of the essential DNA that would make us identical to Jesus.  Jesus is perfectly sinless.  We are not.  Boom.  Messed up cloning.

Then I realized it isn’t like that at all.  It is more like being from the same stock.  When you see members of the same family, you can see characteristics that are the same.  While they are each individuals, different from the other, there are some things that identify them as being from the same stock…the same family.  They belong to that group.

Being a member of the family of God is like coming from the same stock.  We are all different.  We have individual personalities.  God has given us each gifts and abilities that work together with the others, towards one goal…the return of Christ and His coming kingdom.  But there are certain ways that we talk, behave, think, “walk” that identify us as part of this one group.  We come from the same stock…the family of God.  Our big brother is Jesus, and like all younger siblings, we try to emulate Him. We want to follow in His footsteps.  Thankfully, we can know that they will never go astray.  As long as we follow Him, the world will know that we come from the same stock as Jesus.  

THANK YOU, DEAR FATHER!!!!

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