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Entries in Fight (8)

Thursday
Oct052017

Don't look now...

Don't look now but it appears certain persons have crept in unnoticed. Yikes! It's a bit unnerving to think of people creeping around trying to blend in and go unnoticed. They appear good but are up to no good. We hear about such people all the time on the nightly news. Friends and family shocked when they find out what the "creepers" been up to. 

Recently, we traveled to small-town Illinois to go to the fair and attend some dirt track races. As we walked up and down the midway, it was such a blessing to see so many families out enjoying the food, rides, races, and near-perfect weather. Children were running ahead of and lagging behind their parents. Groups of teens were enjoying not being with their parents.

Oddly, I kept thinking these children and teens were easy prey.  These same thoughts flooded my mind this weekend as we gathered in with other families to watch sprint car races in central Pennsylvania. Adults fixed on the races while kids were running around and teens enjoyed a night out together.  Easy prey.

One evening after a late night of racing, my husband and I decided to go for a middle of the night breakfast! Something we used to do all the time in our younger days. Sitting in a diner at 2 AM we wondered who we were and why in the world we were eating breakfast rather than sleeping when I noticed several groups of teens sitting in the diner with us. It appeared they had been to a dance or function as they were all dressed up and had corsages. The majority of the teens were girls, but there were a couple of guys. So cute, young and possibly unaware of the dangers that could be facing them at 2 AM. Easy prey.

I normally don't walk around with this mindset. I'm usually in the moment and unaware of my own surroundings. I don't look for or expect to find "creepy" people lurking around. That's exactly my point in writing this blog. Furthermore, I certainly don't expect to find "creepers" in church or among those who call themselves Christians. Until I started reading the book of Jude.

Y'all...certain persons have crept into the church and into Christian circles unnoticed. These are bad, bad people. How is this possible? Well, they talk the talk, but they don't actually walk the talk. In fact, according to the book of Jude, they aren't Christians at all but, because they can talk the talk, they fit right in - unnoticed. And guess what? They don't look creepy. How concerning is that?

Here is how Jude describes them and how we can recognize them:

  • They use the grace of God as a license to sin.  Especially when it comes to sex and money.
  • They are like
    • Clouds without water carried along by winds or like autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead.
    • Wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam.
    • Wandering stars for whom shameless darkness has been reserved forever
  • They are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts, speak arrogantly, flattering people to gain an advantage, cause divisions, are worldly-minded.
  • They are devoid of the Spirit.
  • These people deny Jesus as Lord and want others to do the same.

Here's the thing...don't expect them to verbally deny Jesus as Lord. No, they won't do that and they won't get others to do that. What they do and encourage others to do is to deny Jesus by their behavior. They deny God's word especially when it comes to sex and money. They encourage others to do the same. How many churches do you think have been divided over issues regarding sex and money?  Far too many. Here's another thing...if you and I don't know what God says in His word for ourselves we are at great risk. Our faith is at great risk. The faith of the next generation is at risk.

Remember, they have crept in unnoticed. Why they could be excellent communicators, charming, funny, smart, a leader followed by many, relatable, helpful, look good, and by all outward appearances be an awesome spiritual mentor. But, they are devoid of the Spirit.  

Okay, now look.  Do you see them? Can you identify them? 

If you and I do not know God's Word, we cannot earnestly contend for the faith. Plus, these "certain persons" are believable and have the influence and potential to cause doubt, division and many will stumble and will be in need of being snatched from the fire. They do this by picking and choosing what in God's word is truth and what was is no longer relevant for today - especially when it comes to sex and money. This is called relativism and its crept into the church unnoticed. How is the possible? As I sit this morning and ponder all this, there can only be two explanations:

1.  We don't know what God's word says for ourselves, so we don't know the difference. 

2.  Or, we know the difference and yet choose not to contend earnestly for the faith (conviction of truth).

I don't mean to sound harsh, but there is no way that we could have gone from a Christian society to a post-Christian society if we'd all been fighting earnestly for the faith (conviction of truth). 

So, does this mean we are to roll up our sleeves and duke it out with those in our churches who preach another gospel or use grace as a license to sin - especially when it comes to sex and money?  Are we to scream and holler during church business meetings?  Are we to call out on social media all those we believe have crept into the church?  Actually, here's what Jude says we are to do:

"But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh. Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen."

If ever there were a time for us to be getting serious about knowing God's word for ourselves it is certainly now.  May we build ourselves up in our most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit and keeping ourselves in the love of God. If we do these things, contending earnestly for the faith will the natural outcome.  We will be merciful, loving, joyful and passionate contenders that might look like Faith and Football

If you want to learn how to dig out truths from God's word for yourself, message me. I'd be happy to help you. I can also pass along two books that you might want to add to your library.  Pray asking the Lord to give you desire and hunger to know Him and His ways through His word and keep praying.  He will answer that prayer, and soon, you'll be able to contend earnestly for the faith!

Women of the Word by Jen Wilkins

Living by the Book, The Art and Science of Reading the Bible by Howard G. Hendricks and Willaim D. Hendricks

 

 

 

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Saturday
Sep232017

Football and faith

I bet without hesitation you can name your favorite football team, start singing the fight song from memory and have at least one jersey you could pull out on game day.  Am I right?

I love the passion and conviction of college football fans. Fans scream, yell, point big foam #1 fingers in the air, paint their faces and some their bodies. Fans high five, chest bump and can't sit still.  Their team colors are displayed in endless pieces of clothing and accessories. Even babies are dressed for game day. (They recruit them young!)  If attending the game and in anticipation, they arrive early, watch their team warm up and start singing and keep on singing their team's fight song. The energy and the sound level are high.  It's intense and electrifying.

During a college football game, there is no way you can be a passive observer.  Eventually, you'll be drawn in by the passion and conviction of the fans. Before you know it, you'll be jumping up and down, screaming, giving high fives and singing the fight song.  Oh, you'll pick sides alright.  And, if you aren't careful, fans might win you over to the other side.  Let me give you an example of what I'm talking about.

I'll never forget attending the Oklahoma vs. Tennessee game in Knoxville in 2015.  I think they said that event set an all-time sound decimal record.  We went to the game with Oklahoma fans and were seated in a sea of Tennessee orange and white.  Me, I'm not so much into football, but I love the social aspect of being with my husband and friends.  In other words, I go for the fun and not so much the football!  But, this event was beyond fun.  It was intense and electrifying. I jumped and screamed for OU and wished I had a big foam #1 finger.

The coaches and teams fought hard to win!  The teams, bands, cheerleaders, and fans were all in!  They shared the common goal:  Victory!  Bands played their fight songs over and over and over again.The cheerleaders and band kept rallying the fans, and in response, the fans sang louder, chanted more, swayed and fought hard to cheer their team on to victory.  

Oh, did I mention that Tennessee played "Rocky Top" a bazillion times?  The first few times, a yeah, alright, okay - we hear you kind of experience.  A catchy tune but somewhat intimidating as it reminded us that we were in their territory.  Then, it got irritating.  Enough already.  Of course, they didn't stop, so the song continued and continued to be played. At one point, we looked over to find one of our die-hard, season ticket OU fans standing in his seat singing Tennessee's "Rocky Top."  What?  How is this possible?  I remember my husband and the others giving him a really hard time about it and yelling so he could hear them over the music. "What are you doing singing 'Rocky Top'?  Get down." While he wasn't won over or converted into a Tennessee fan, he was caught up in the moment and drawn into the passion of the people in orange and white. What possible harm could there be in singing the opposing team's fight song?  Uh...like I said, he was caught up in the moment and forgot himself.

College football is one of those places where being passionate and convicted is expected and acceptable. As obnoxious as it all can be at times, football fans show each other a lot of grace. I love it because their passion and conviction are very appealing and in many ways makes an appeal to me and to you to join in.  Football fans love to invite people to come watch the game, hang out, bring and eat food.  They recruit. Hanging out with them and it won't be long before you are wearing their team's colors, singing their fight song and filled with the same passion and conviction as those around you. Yep, they recruit young and they recruit hard!

In a way, football fans "contend earnestly" for their team! Their team is THE best. Even if their team is having a bad season, they are still the best. Team fans might talk among themselves about not being happy with the team, a player or coach performance.  Sometimes they'll fight among themselves about such things.  This is all normal and acceptable.  But, if someone on another team starts talking negatively about their team, player or coach - watch out. It might not be a fight song that breaks out. Let me say it again.  Football fans are a passionate and convicted group of folks.

Okay, so you know this preaches, right?

I started writing out the book of Jude this week.  I've only written out the first 3 verses because I can't get past verse 3.  It's grabbed my heart and mind.  I've read the verses that follow, so I know where Jude is going with this, but still, I'm stuck in verse three.  Let me share it with you and explain why.  "Beloved, while I was making every effort to write to you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints."  

Contend earnestly for the faith.  Jude feels it necessary to appeal to us to contend earnestly or fight with sincere and intense conviction for the faith (conviction of truth).  And the picture I have painted above is what comes to my mind.  It's time to put on our game faces, dress the part and get out our big foam finger that points to Jesus.  With passion and conviction, we fight for our faith. When those on the front lines fight their way up the field, all stand to their feet, wave with all we have and cheer them on to victory. The preacher preaches, the choir sings, the band plays, and the faithful sway!  Every inch of ground gained is a victory in Jesus.  Sure, we get pushed back, fumble the ball, miss the kick and even get intercepted.  But, we keep cheering, trying and believing.  We keep contending for our faith.  We sing fight songs!  The chorus of one goes like this:

OH, VICTORY IN JESUS,
MY SAVIOUR FOREVER
HE SOUGHT ME
AND HE BOUGHT ME
WITH HIS REDEEMING BLOOD

And, if we see one of us standing in their seat getting drawn into the passion and conviction of the other side, what do we do?  We contend earnestly for the faith.  With passion and conviction and over the noise of the opposition, we yell "what are you doing"?

Okay, so when I think of contending earnestly, you know what visually comes to my mind.  So, if you see me with a cross painted on my cheek, pom-poms in my hand or a big foam finger pointing toward Jesus and I'm singing about victory in Jesus, you'll show me some grace and remember I'm passionate about Jesus, my faith, and the truth!  You can expect that I might dance a little jig, jump up out of my seat or shout, post, and tweet over and about truth.  Oh, and I probably need to warn you, if I see you acting like you are getting caught up in the passion and conviction of the world and talking anything other than the truth, I will ask you "what are you doing?"

Saturday
May042013

Soldiers at War

I fell this week and broke a bone in my knee.  I knew immediately I hurt something but also prayed immediately that God would spare me a broken bone.  He didn’t. So, I’ve spent the week learning to adjust to pain, an immobilizer,crutches, the inability “to do” (on many levels), having no energy and not being able to concentrate.  Wow!  Who knew one broken bone could cause such a ruckus in one’s life. 

Thankfully, because I know the God of the Word, I can rest in the truth that He allowed this to happen and since I know all of His dealings with me are good, I can trust He will purpose this event for my good and His glory.  God’s Word also tells me why trials come,what they produce and how I am to respond (James 1).  Isn’t that awesome?  Because I know these truths, I no longer have to walk around acting as though some strange thing is happening to me as a result of breaking a bone (1 Peter 4:12).

This broken bone hasn't been brought into my life to slow me down or stop me. No!  It’s to test my faith which produces endurance.  I need to learn torun with endurance and how to fight the good fight of faith.  Yes, I need to take care and give my body time to heal.  But, slow down? Are you kidding me?  This week’s news included the fact that without parental consent, 15 year old girls can purchase and take the “morning after” pill and the Air Force announced that leaders of all levels (including chaplains) may not "promote their personal religious beliefs to their subordinates or to extend preferential treatment for anyreligion." The penalty is court-martial.  Slow down?

For far too many years I pursued the things of the world rather than the things of God. Fight?  Hardly.  Because I didn't fight, I'm part of the reason truth has literally stumbled in the streets. Much ground has been lost. So,today as I sit here with a broken bone, I also remind myself I am in God’s boot camp because I need to learn endurance.

Here’s how todaysmilitary.com describes boot camp basic training and combat training.  I think this relates to being in God's army.It says: "Basic training prepares recruits for all elements of service: physical, mental, and emotional. It gives people the basic tools necessary to perform the roles that will be asked of them for the duration of their tour." Yep,this will preach! This is exactly how God intends to use the various troubles and trials that come my way! It goes on to say: "combat training is a journey of self discovery...discovering inner strength and learning valuable skills that will help them succeed as soldiers in the army and in life." Preach it some more! God has certainly used the troubles and trials in my life to help me to discover HIS strength as well as teach me valuable skills that ARE helping me to succeed as a soldier in His army. Oh, how I need to remember that life here is not about me, my comfort, my anything. It's about Him and advancing HIS kingdom. No longer do I want to play the role of the harlot princess pursuing the "good life"and the riches of this world or who whines and complains and wishes she were anywhere other than where God has her. That me didn't even know she'd been recruited into God's army - let alone boot camp. I'm embarrassed that I can say I totally get where Private Benjamin is coming from in the below scene from"Private Benjamin." No more...

I might have a stint in a leg immobilizer but I’m still mobilizing forward! How about you (whoever is reading this)? Are you in or are you out?


Sunday
Sep232012

Mission Impossible?

Here's a blast from the past.


So can I be honest here?  That message of the 80's was the image of womanhood I thought I was suppose to live up to. After exhausting myself, burning more bacon than I ever brought home and giving my husband shivers not eluded to in this commercial, let me assure you the 24 hour woman needs more than perfume!

Last week while studying Genesis, I was reminded that we females are "fashioned" by God.  We come in all sizes, shapes and colors. We can be prissy, athletic or both! We can love pink or NOT. The point is we’ve all been created distinctively female and according to the"helper design". Remember what God said…no helper suitable was made for Adam so God provided one. You say, but I’m not married. I'm not talking about being married. I'm talking about ALL women fulfilling their purposes according to their role as helper (helper design). Read what Susan Hunt says about out helper design:

“Helper is not a fragile word, and we are not called to a mission of fluff. This is a life-giving ministry of nurture, defense, comfort and caring. Adam celebrated the purpose and privilege of this design when he ‘called his wife’s name Eve, because she was a mother of all living’. Two words summarize the helper ministry: community and compassion. But sin marred woman’s design, and now she thinks about her womanhood in terms of her own self-fulfillment. She seeks her own completeness. She is her own reference point. She is her own authority. She abandons her design and mission for a never-ending quest for her own happiness. Woman became a life-taker rather than a life giver… It is because of our redemption that we can live out our helper design. Redeeming love breaks the reign of sin in our lives and empowers us to fulfill our creation mission. And it is our knowledge of our Redemer’s love that compels us to do so.”  Susan Hunt - The Legacy of Biblical Womanhood
Being in the world but not of the world (John 17:16), is all about the hard selfless work of nurturing, defending, comforting and helping others on behalf of God Himself.  And, in doing so, we reflect His image.  Sound beautiful and I want it so much to live this way.  But...

This kind of work is both emotionally and physically exhausting. And, I admit - there are times...days...okay even weeks where I want it to be "all about me."  People’s lives can be messy and getting involved can be costly. Honestly, this life giving mission is impossible apart from the Holy Spirit of God.  And, as Mrs. Hunt says, in the world this kind of helper ministry lifestyle doesn’t fit or make sense. Truthfully, helper ministry only fits and makes sense within a community of women who have surrendered their lives to Christ and understand, embrace and live out their role as helper. Thank God for my sisters!

The Enjoli commercial spoke into my life independence, "self sufficiency is power", pride in my ability to bring home the bacon, fry it up in the pan and never let him forget he’s a man. It was all about me and my glory. The message of the Enjoli commercial is a lie that my generation believed and it is the lie we have passed on to the next generation and the next… This lifestyle and thinking is in stark contrast to the Word of God.

“Helper is not a fragile word, and we are not called to a mission of fluff. This is a life-giving ministry of nurture, defense, comfort and caring.”
Married, single, divorced, widowed our mission and role as helpers is life giving. Reconciliation with God brings life and we speak reconciliation with words, actions, behaviors, and attitudes that nurture, defend, comfort, and care. This is serious, life giving work!  As women, we have a unique role in God’s plan (as do men). Before the foundation of the world, God planned for us. He knit each of us together in our mother’s wombs – distinctively female according to the helper design. God has prepared specific works of nurture, defense, comfort and caring for us each one of us to accomplish. These works are life giving and God glorifying and prepared specifically for each one of us.  Wow!

When the reality of this truth sinks in there is no way we can look around and measure our lives against the lives of others. Knowing this, why would we ever entertain the thought that we are less than or our good works are not as important as the good works of others? I’ll tell you why. We’ve believed a lie! The one that immediately comes to mind is: “Surely God is holding out on me!” Trace it all the way back to the fall. Eve’s and ours! Are you mad yet? Satan’s crafty, lying, killing and scheming ways have distracted us, taken us on a detour, and robbed us of understanding and fulfilling our unique God given purpose. Just like Eve, the evil one has come along and caused us to doubt God’s word, His will and His good intentions toward us.

Enough! We are mad and we aren’t going to take it anymore! Let’s forget all that WAS or even IS and focus on what CAN BE and SHOULD BE!  We can do it!  Amen?

Saturday
Sep082012

I am woman hear me ROAR

In 1972, Helen Reddy wrote a song entitled “I Am Woman” which became the anthem for the women’s liberation movement.  Here it is:

Okay, listen to this: Reddy credits the song as having “supernatural inspiration.” She said:

 “I remember lying in bed one night and the words, ‘I am strong, I am invincible, I am woman’, kept going over and over in my head. That part I considered to be divinely inspired. I had been chosen to get a message across.” 

In October of 1972, the song reached No.1 on the Billboard charts and won a Grammy Award. In her acceptance speech for Best Female Performance, Reddy thanked “God, because She makes everything possible.” In 1973, the National Organization of Women (NOW) closed their annual convention with the playing of “I am Woman.” NOW’s founder Betty Friedan said

“Suddenly women got out of their seats and started dancing around the hotel ballroom and joining hands in a circle that got larger and larger until maybe a thousand of us were dancing and singing. ‘I am strong, I am invincible, I am woman.’ It was a spontaneous, beautiful expression of the exhilaration we all felt in those years, women really moving as women.”

Women were mad and they weren’t going to take being treated unfairly any longer! “I Am Woman” is the song of a feminist heart. The song lyrics reveal her experiences deepened the convictions (strong belief) of her soul. She had been:

· Down on the floor
· Bent but not broken
· In pain and paid a price

She goes on to say that wisdom was born from this pain. She infers that she has learned from this experience or experiences and that her thinking about herself and the direction of her life has changed.

Are we as women today so different? Some of our decisions have been born out of pain due to the actions of others.  This can certainly change the directions of our lives.  We can feel a need to protect ourselves, fight for our rights, or finally be heard (a/k/a ROAR). We have many reasons to thank those brave women who went before us fighting for equality and justice on our behalf. But have we come too far?

Often, our opinions, attitudes and actions are made based on what we feel or think is right based on our circumstances. So then, since truth is relative to our circumstances, we do whatever feels right, is comfortable, makes others happy, results in the least conflict or produces a positive outcome for us.  Here's the thing though - opinions, attitudes and actions can be influenced and, therefore, can change.  Is there any way to know that we know what is true about us no matter what is going on around us? Is there absolute truth in the face of our circumstances?

I believe God’s Word is absolute truth and God, in His Word, has a very clear standard for us as women and individuals.

Standard means…something set up and established by authority as a rule for the measure of quantity, weight, extent, value, or quality.

If we proclaim to be followers of Christ, then truth is not relative to our circumstances. We must make decisions based on what God says is right in a situation.  There is absolute truth and there are moral truths and principles that do not change no matter the times or circumstances.  No matter what is going on in society or culture, we can cling to absolute truth. No matter what our feelings or circumstances tell us, God’s standard for us remains the same. All kinds of bad things can happen to us and demeaning things said to us but God’s people make their decisions based on His Word - Truth. Every lie that demeans and devalues comes from the father of lies – the one who is a murderer from the beginning. We must remember his crafty schemes are devised to destroy us, our families, and our society. And, if we don't believe in absolute truth then any 'ole lie will do...and will eventually destroy us.

Our choices and behaviors not only impact our own lives, they have a ripple effect on our families and our society in general. But, we can turn this around.  We can do it!  First, we have to decide what we are going to believe.  Are we going to believe the liar or the one who is God – Truth?

I am woman hear me ROAR:   there is absolute truth!  Let's remember, to live otherwise has and will continue to put our families, homes and society at risk.  Amen?