Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Sanctuary of Tranquility: As Christians, Are We Allowing Fear of the Truth t...

Sanctuary of Tranquility: As Christians, Are We Allowing Fear of the Truth t...: For I want you to know  how great a  struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face,  2  t...

As Christians, Are We Allowing Fear of the Truth to Divide Us?

For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2:1-3

Because I was on a small vacation, I attended church this past Sunday with a friend in her hometown. The church we attended was one I had previously attended for several years. It has become one of many churches that are struggling to capture and keep a steady congregation.
It started small and then moved into a huge venue with all the bells and whistles; coffee in the lobby, trendy flooring, a very cool paint job and steampunk decor. Sadly, all of those things weren't enough to keep people coming and they have now gone back to a small venue.
What are people seeking?
Whatever it is, it was obviously not found there.
During the sermon, an associate pastor was teaching that Jesus should always be first and foremost in our minds, hearts, and lips, except in places like our jobs, as we don't want to mention his name, annoy someone, and run the risk of losing said job, right?
That offended me.
My mind went immediately to John the Baptist and I felt as though this pastor was advising people to deny Christ. No! As Christians, we can't ever do that! There's no turning back, remember?
O.K., so granted, our jobs are important. No one is asking you to jump up on a break room table and deliver a sermon; (unless it's in your heart and Holy Spirit led), and then if you want to do that, it would be great! Living in fear of annoying someone because of your adoration of Jesus Christ is no way to live, no one to show that adoration.

Matthew 10:30-31  But even the hairs on your head are numbered. 31. Fear not, therefore: you are of more value than many sparrows. So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also acknowledge before my Father who is in Heaven. 

Fairtrade is it not? 
Remember, God always has contingencies. 
If you value and honor Him, 
He will never forsake you...not ever.

I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments. For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ. Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him,rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. Colossians 2:4-7

I understood what that young pastor was saying. ...honoring Jesus before others can present a risk. However, sugar coating the Bible is lying...it's misinforming and that presents an even bigger risk.
When we are reluctant to be a teacher of the truth we are misinforming the flock.
Advising people that it is ok to deny Christ to keep your job is first and foremost a lie.
Put God first and he will see that and you will always be taken care of.

Don't let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high sounding nonsense that comes from the spiritual powers of this world rather than from Christ. Colossians 2:8

Before I left for vacation I had coffee with a friend who has a twenty-seven-year-old son who is a homosexual, in an active relationship. This scenario was making his mom a tad bit uncomfortable so she set up an appointment with one of the pastors from their church; which is a huge, very popular church in my home town, and discussed her son with him. The pastor gave her a book to read which defends homosexual behavior, stating that as long as both parties have good relationships with Jesus not to worry about them. 
The look on my face when she said that made her quite defensive. I am sorry if that is the case, but read your Bibles, my friends. Don't seek the truth from some paper back book that someone gives you that will support your version of that truth. 
Don't read books about the book, read the book!!
Discover what it says for yourself and then believe it. Don't run from the truth, you are only fooling yourself. Face the truth, even if it makes you squirm in your seat. Even if it causes you to deal with your family and friends differently and harder yet, even if some of them walk away. 
Choose Christ. Choose the truth. 

 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. Colossians 2:9

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Sanctuary of Tranquility: Our Walk With God is Unequally Ours

Sanctuary of Tranquility: Our Walk With God is Unequally Ours: In one of my way too many recent emails, I read the fictional account of two women who had both passed on to heaven.  As the first woman ap...

Our Walk With God is Unequally Our Own

In one of my way too many recent emails, I read the fictional account of two women who had both passed onto heaven. As the first woman approached the throne of the Lord and knelt before him, he commended her for all of her earthly accomplishments. She had opened and operated an orphanage, financially sponsored countless children from all over the world and had been an inspirational speaker reaching countless people. The next woman who had been patiently waiting, lowered her eyes as she knelt before the King and wept silently. When He asked her why she was weeping, she asked him to please forgive her for not accomplishing more during her own lifetime. After hearing of all the wonderful things the woman before her had accomplished she was certain she was a huge disappointment. The Lord studied her for a moment before reaching out and wrapping his arms around her. "What are you talking about?" he asked, "Why you are a wonderful wife and a beautiful mother. You raised four remarkable young men who each went through very difficult periods, yet are excellent, hardworking grown men who honor my word and laws. That, my daughter, is an accomplishment few can master." 

This little story made me stop and think of all the times when I feel like I have fallen short and have done things all wrong, or not done what I was supposed to do at all. 
It filled my heart with a deeper love for the one I pray to and adore.
A God who is loving, kind and fair.  A God who created us each to be beautifully unique in every way, including our walk with Him. 
We each have our own journey with assignments and instructions to fulfill that lead us to our own destiny. The first woman may have had access to a great fortune and multiple connections at her fingertips. She may have also battled alcoholism or lost a child. Yet she may have known just the right people to ensure that everything she wanted to accomplish would flow smoothly. 
Her stumbling blocks were unique to her, and her path her own. 
The second woman, whose accomplishments may have seemed more mundane had her very own struggles as well. Perhaps difficulties giving birth, or raising and nurturing her boys. She may have had to make many personal sacrifices along the way that no one was even aware of... except Jesus. 
Both women completed the assignments given and pleased God and that is all that mattered.
For anyone to try and compare one with another is foolish. 

When my children were growing up, they asked me why certain classes; that didn't really make sense, were required to graduate from high school or college, There were times when I didn't fully understand those reasons myself. I did, however, understand that often times what we were taking or studying isn't nearly as important as that we were following directions and completing the required material.
Following directions that are given to us by the Holy Spirit is much the same; it is not up to us to determine if those instructions make sense, or if we agree with them or want to carry them out. 
It is simply our job to do what we have been asked to do without too much whining. 

Certainly, some of the things he has asked me to do didn't make sense nor did it seem like they really mattered, and sometimes I even thought to myself, this is really silly or he must be joking, right? 
But in retrospect, I am certain that they were all important, for even if they seemed silly, or inconsequential at the time to me, they were requests from my Lord, Jesus Christ, and he wanted to see if I was listening, being obedient and having faith. 
As Christians, we have each had our own experiences with the Holy Spirit and we have heard testimony from others concerning their experiences as well. I have met people who have made great sacrifices to be obedient. People who have been asked to move to destinations that make no sense to them or their family and friends and I have met people who have been asked to give up things or do things that our earthly minds feel are crazy or even wrong. In some cases, their livelihood and finances were jeopardized and in extreme cases, they were arrested and placed in jail or prison
But because they believed they were being obedient to God, it didn't really matter what other people thought or what the consequences were.  

Meeting and sharing with these various people has shown me that we have no business ever doubting any one's personal testimony concerning the Holy Spirit. Most of the time, what we think we know about someone else's life is not even close to the truth.  
It is never a good idea to second-guess or doubt someone's testimony unless it is evil or against the scriptures. Doing so is calling the Holy Spirit a liar and we all know that nothing could be further from the truth. 

Numbers 23:19(KJV) God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?

Telling someone that God doesn't speak like that, or that he wouldn't ask them to do something which may seem far-fetched to them such as giving up their job or home or lifestyle, indicates a huge lack of understanding of Our Lord. Advising someone that the things prophesied over their lives are not possible or are unlikely is wrong as well, doing this is not an assumption we are qualified to make. It creates an unnecessary division amongst Christians, which is getting to be all too common.  When someone offers us their testimony it is good to listen, have faith and offer prayers and support. Never ridicule or judge. We may have made up our minds that we have it all together and that our life is cake until God asks us to turn that all upside down to do the things for our own good or things he knows we were born to do. He knows all things. and he is nothing like us.   

                      "His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways. 
                    For as the heavens  are higher than the earth, so are his ways higher than
                                 our ways and His thoughts higher than our thoughts."

Believing anything less indicates a lack of faith and trust in him. For he is God Almighty and if he wants to throw diamonds down from heaven or sprinkle us with gold dust when he is pleased with us, who's going to stop him? Believing anything less than that about him is putting him in a box and you can't put God Almighty, the maker of the Universe in a box.
It's time we all press in closer to Our Father instead of second-guessing or judging what he is telling someone else to do. Allow their walk to be theirs and yours your very own. Busy ourselves listening for his voice, his instruction in our own lives. Be alert and without one single worry or concern about the things he asks us to do. So what if we are inconvenienced or our lives get tossed around for a season. His plans for our lives are exactly what we need to transform us into who He wants us to be. They are for our own good and the good of the kingdom. 

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" Philippians 4:13

So why not start right this very moment by encouraging to others and focus on the prize...remember that our rewards are in heaven and that God knows every little detail of our lives. and we never know what he might have for us right here, right now if we only just listen and obey.
It might just blow your mind. God is that good!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Sanctuary of Tranquility: A Little Blog About How We Grow & Change

Sanctuary of Tranquility: A Little Blog About How We Grow & Change: O nce, in a little pond, in the muddy water under the lily pads, there lived a little water beetle in a community of water ...

A Little Blog About How We Grow & Change

nce, in a little pond, in the muddy water under the lily pads, there lived a little water beetle in a community of water beetles.
They lived a simple and comfortable life in the pond with few disturbances and interruptions. Once in a while, sadness would come to the community when one of their fellow beetles would climb the stem of a lily pad and would never be seen again. They knew when this happened; their friend was dead, gone forever.

Then, one day, one little water beetle felt an irresistible urge to climb up that stem. However, he was determined that he would not leave forever. He would come back and tell his friends what he had found at the top.

When he reached the top and climbed out of the water onto the surface of the lily pad. He was so tired, and the sun felt so warm, that he decided he must take a nap. 
As he slept, his body changed and when he woke up, he had turned into a beautiful blue-tailed dragonfly with broad wings and a slender body designed for flying. 
So, fly he did! 
And, as he soared he saw the beauty of a whole new world and a far superior way of life to what he had never known existed.

Then he remembered his beetle friends and how they were thinking by now that he was dead. 
He wanted to go back to tell them and explain to them that he was now more alive than he had ever been before. His life had been fulfilled rather than ended. But, his new body would not go down into the water. He could not get back to tell his friends the good news. 
Then he understood that perhaps their time would come, when they, too, would know what he now knew. So, he raised his wings and flew off into his joyous new life!

— Author Unknown And Greatly Appreciated!

This is a very powerful prayer we sing at my church...

Change Me, Lord, 
Change Me, Lord, 
Don't Let Me Stay the Same, Lord, I want to be just like you. 
Take My Heart, Make My Heart, Just What You Want it to be
Lord, Please Change Me, Change Me, Dear Lord.... 

If we spend enough time with Him, God will change us just like He changed the little water beetle. We become a new person in Christ. 
We become the person He intended for us to be before all of the religious training we engaged in messed up our thinking and before all of the ideas and values were dispensed by friends and even family members.

I can honestly say that although I often wish I had known God sooner, I am thankful for the fact that I never experienced very much of that other stuff in my life. Not ever learning it certainly simplified my transition from Gentile to Christian. I seldom wonder where the old me went, I am just very thankful for the changes.

Thinking about this brought to mind the little story of the water beetle. 

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. James 4:8

If only we could each grasp the concept that we are all much like that little water beetle. All capable of changing into something as beautiful as the blue-tailed dragonfly. Capable because of the great love of Our Father, God.

We may not be water beetles living underneath lily pads, but we are all characters in the Book of Life, and our story has already been beautifully written by Our Father; who wants nothing more than to bless us and fill us with joy.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old things have passed away; behold new things have come. 

Each and every moment of our lives, both the good and the not so good were conceived by the author and the finisher Himself to draw us closer to Him, and turn us into human versions of the beautiful blue-tailed dragonfly. 

I hope this little dragonfly story blesses you as much as it did me. 
We should always be seeking ways to be more like God and asking Him to change us and make us more like Him. He will introduce us all of the things we have been missing and show each of us that new world to explore so that we too can be fulfilled.