What My Faith Means to Me

My husband recently retired, and we’ve been sorting through old papers and pictures, trying to decide what we want to keep. I came across this paper in a file — it was written by one of our daughters (although I’m not sure which one, maybe they will both read it and let me know!) when she was confirmed. She would have been about fourteen. I found it touching, and maybe you will, too. If only we could all keep that accepting, childlike faith throughout our whole life!

Wouldn’t it be a good journal question for each of us? Think today about what your faith means to you, and if you have time, write it down!

I have faith in many things. They range from very small things to something as large and important as Jesus. I have faith that He will be there for me when I am in trouble, listen to me when I have no one to talk to, and forgive my sins.

From the time I was baptized I have been accepted as one of God’s children. Being accepted into His family, I have been given a path to follow in my life. It is a path that will eventually lead me to his kingdom. To follow this path, I need to trust, and have faith that He will help me climb over the mountains of sin and carry me over the ruts and ditches that block my way in the path.

Many things cause me to stray from the path in my everyday life, but with God’s help, I am constantly being put back on the path, becoming stronger in my faith than I was before.

I sometimes wonder where I would be without Jesus. The answer is nowhere. I would have nothing to live for and nowhere to go.

Having faith in God makes all my problems seem easier to overcome and all the work in my life worthwhile. That is why what my faith means to me is EVERYTHING.

For more on the topic of faith see:

Victorious Faith

The Right Kind of Faith

This Is Your Brain on Faith

Lets Be Clear

Lots of people have all kinds of ideas and opinions lately. Everyone is talking and not too many people are stopping to look, or stopping to listen. Even those who say they’re Christian. Now I don’t expect someone with absolutely no church upbringing, or relationship with Jesus Christ to understand a Christian point of view. However, I do expect Christians to know and understand BIBLICAL views. And I expect them to look to the one and ONLY reliable source for guidance and comfort. So since so many have an opinion (including Christians) what does God say? Lets start with the topic that seems to be on everyone’s mind. Equality. (In every sense of the term.)

Deuteronomy 10:17  “For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes.”

 Malachi 2:10  “Do we not all have one Father? Did not one God create us? Why do we profane the covenant of our ancestors by being unfaithful to one another?

 Job 32:21-22    Let me now be partial to no one, Nor flatter any man. For I do not know how to flatter, Else my maker would soon take me away.”

 Galatians 3:26-29  So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

Now how about authority? What does God say about that?

1Peter 2:13-14  Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority; whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to the governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to command those who do right.”

 Romans 13:1-2  Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgement on themselves.

 Ok, but what about social responsibilities? What? In fact, does God have to say about that? This one brothers and sisters, carries a warning (and instruction) for those within our own ranks.

 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15  “In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ we command you, brothers and sisters, to keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you to imitate. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: ‘That one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.’ We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the food they eat. Take special note of anyone who does not obey our instruction in this letter. Do not associate with them, in order that they may feel ashamed. Yet do not regard them as an enemy, but warn them as you would a fellow believer.”

 This is strong language. And it’s strong language intended for the first Christians so that repentance might occur. (And because the first Christians, much like today’s Christians, didn’t behave like they should.) Keep in mind too, this is after Jesus came to earth for forgiveness of our sins. Yes, Jesus is patient. But these words in Paul’s letters are not just Paul’s words. They’re inspired by the Holy Spirit. In other words, this is Jesus saying these things. It’s easy to get comfortable in God’s great grace and mercy that He freely offers His children. However, be alert. God will not allow arrogant disobedience to reign and poison the flock. There will be a judgement day. For that reason, warnings are necessary. As some will fall away due to false teachings. So,(I’m gonna say it again) what does God have to say about false teachers, and blinded and hard hearts?

2 Thessalonians 2:2-17  “Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to Him, we ask you brothers and sisters, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us-whether by a prophesy or by a word of mouth or by letter-asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshipped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be god.

Don’t you remember when I was with you, I used to tell you these things? And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so until he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of His mouth and destroy by the splendor of His coming. The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie, and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.”

Brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ we have some choices ahead of us. Believe in God, or believe in the lie. How many of us go to church and yet, neglect the word of God in our daily lives? In America where Bibles are plentiful; yet, even Christians don’t read it. And if we do, we only read what makes us feel better. I beg of you, if you want to make sense of the world we live in and keep from incurring judgement; READ your Bible. Systematically, daily . . . and with purpose. I know this was a long blog, but I also know people don’t tend to look up verse references. Therefore, the whole verse is there for the reading. And if anyone does not like the words in this blog; it’s not my words they aren’t liking. It’s God’s words. Which is also why no one should dare to ask (or suggest) that their pastor sugar coat the message. Or take it easy on the wording. That’s just another way of nit-picking God’s word. It’s the job and duty of Pastors everywhere to tell the truth, harsh as it may be. It is not their job to tell us what we want to hear but what we NEED to hear. Love warns those in danger, love does not keep silent while watching victims head into danger. Who among us wouldn’t stop our children from running into a street? This is no different.

A Blast From the Past

I don’t know how many readers are old enough to remember this song, but the theme of “clarity and charity” brought it to my mind.  I remember having the record when I was a child.  Written by Dale Evans,  she often sang this 1955 gospel hit as a duet with her husband, Roy Rogers.

The Right Kind of Faith

Our congregation has weekly Lenten services, and this year we’ve been blessed to have a minister who attends our church bring the Wednesday messages.  His homily this week addressed the critical topic of faith.

Have you ever thought about the idea that there are different sorts or levels of faith?  For example, I may understand Christianity.  I may be able to recite the Apostle’s Creed.  I may even read the Bible and attend church, and be perfectly well informed in the basics tenets of the faith.  I may know all this, but still not really believe it.

Or, I may know it and believe it in a superficial way.  I may intellectually accept it.  I may say, “yes, this is true.  These are the facts.”  I believe that Jesus died, was resurrected and is God’s Son.  I may believe in this way and yet still act as if these things do not matter.  I may fail to put my full trust in the facts that I profess to believe.  This has been called being a “practical pagan” or a “Christian atheist.” (You’ll read more about this in an upcoming book review.)

Saving faith not only understands and assents to the Christian worldview, it transforms believers.  Those who truly believe are willing to make changes in the way they live.  They surrender their will to put on” the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:16) They trust Him even when their life and the world seem out of control.  Job was evidencing a saving faith when he said:

“Though he slay me, yet will I trust in Him.”  Job 13:15

The analogy our speaker gave went like this:  maybe every day, you see a man push a wheelbarrow across a tightrope between two skyscrapers;  you see it with your own eyes, so you know it is true;  you believe that every day he will continue to do this successfully.  However, this is the test– are you willing to get into the wheelbarrow?

There are some big theological words for each type of faith, but I don’t remember them, and you probably don’t need to know them either.  So I’ll simply leave you with our Lenten question for the week:  Do you have the right kind of faith?  Will you get into the wheelbarrow?

Small Groups Made Easy – A Book Review

Ryan Lokkesmoe is a well-known author of several books on small groups, as well as, small group curriculums. The book is divided into 2 parts. The first part addresses the practical applications of small groups. He covers logistics, planning, leaders, childcare, and location, as well as many more.

He gives practical, simple principles to follow to make sure the group is instituted, planned and lead well so that it can succeed in the first part. I found the principles to be easy and effective if a bit simple.

The second part is based on 12 basic Christian studies which I enjoyed more than the first part. I felt that the studies were well thought out and provided ample questions to engage all participants. He backs up his study material with ample scripture references and ends each study with the most important thing – Prayer.

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars. I felt it was well-written and gave sound advice but could have given a little more detail in the implementation part.

I have received a free copy of this book in return for an honest and fair review – Disclaimer pursuant to FTC 16 CFR Part 255

Confronting Christianity – A Book Review

Rebecca McLaughlin has written a book that tackles 12 hard-hitting questions that most Christians should be able to answer but shy away from, whether from an inability to answer or afraid of the answer, remains to be seen.

The chapters are divided into topics such as slavery, the denigration of women, homosexuality, and God allowing suffering are just a few.  Each chapter gives detailed Biblical reference to the position stated and additional references from noted theologians.

The book is so detailed in the response to the questions that I would argue it is more than a one time read. It is an armchair reference manual to be studied regularly and absorbed. I feel more comfortable in explaining several of the questions asked but will take more time to read and digest them all. I applaud the author for this undertaking and feel that she has done a tremendous job of equipping Christians to answer those hard-hitting questions.

I give this book a stellar 5 stars. This review is based on the thorough, detailed explanation and thought that went into the compilation.

You may purchase this book at the link below:

https://www.crossway.org/books/confronting-christianity-hcj/

I have received a free copy of this book in return for an honest and fair review – Disclaimer pursuant to FTC 16 CFR Part 255

It’s ELEMENTary

Today I took my five-year-old granddaughter to see Frozen II. It was my first time seeing the movie, but it was her third – she is really a Frozen fan!

The storyline involved the four elements: earth, water, wind and fire. They were represented in the movie by four spirit beings. Now, I’m not saying that the movie in any way had a Christian message – it didn’t. But I did start thinking later about the Holy Spirit in connection to those same four elements.

The Spirit came on Pentecost in wind and fire. We are baptized by water and the Spirit. But where did earth come into the picture? Then I realized that, as all humans come from the earth (“dust you are, and to dust you shall return”), the earth of the elements is Jesus, because he became human. And the earth that is Christ becomes a part of each of us when we receive it in the Eucharist.

What does that mean for us? We should stay grounded in God’s Word; we should be walking wet, remembering that our baptism makes us children of God, we should breathe in the breath of God, knowing that the Holy Spirit lives in us; and we should be on fire for Christ!

A blessed Epiphany season to all of our readers!

Hope’s Highest Mountain – Book Review

I always like to start my reviews with a little bit of information about the author. Misty M. Beller is an author who has set her stories in the 1800’s frontier. She has several well-received series and this is the first in a new series titled “Hearts of Montana”.

This book is a fiction book but I can believe that some of the incidents and locations referred to in the story exist or have existed.

Hope’s Highest Mountain is about a young woman named Ingrid Chastain and her journey to a settlement to deliver a smallpox vaccination. The book starts with a horrifying accident that claims the lives of her entire traveling party, including her father. She is found in freezing conditions, seriously hurt by a “mountain man” who later turns out to be a doctor with a past.

I do not typically read this genre of book, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was enthralled by the storyline and once started I did not want to put it down. The author uses descriptive language to bring the reader into the physical surroundings and paints the picture so well, I sometimes thought I could feel the cold.

I also loved that the main character’s Christianity was soft in its delivery but firm in the showing of her faith. You were led into the story of her hero’s walk back to faith in a believable way.

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys a Christian romance with sustenance.

I have received a free copy of this book in return for an honest and fair review – Disclaimer according to FTC 16 CFR Part 255

You may purchase this book at the link below:

 

Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Hopes-Highest-Mountain-Hearts-Montana-ebook/dp/B07NNPQF9D/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1NLITC62ABL03&keywords=hope%27s+highest+mountain+by+misty+m.+beller&qid=1575167084&sprefix=hope%27s+highest+mont%2Caps%2C348&sr=8-1

Do You Think God Can’t Use You?

I’ve had this list up next to my desk as a reminder that God can use anybody to do his work.  When I feel depressed or insignificant all I have to do is read over this list and I feel better.  So now I’m going to share it with you.

If you ever feel that you can’t be used by God just think of these persons from the Bible:

Noah was a drunk,
Abraham was old,
Isaac was a daydreamer,
Jacob was a liar,result-3236280_640
Leah was ugly,
Joseph was abused,
Moses couldn’t talk,
Rahab was a prostitute,
Gideon was afraid,
Samson was a womanizer,
Naomi was a widow,
Job went bankrupt,
David was an adulterer,
Elijah was suicidal,
Isaiah preached naked,
Jeremiah was too young,
Jonah ran from God,
John the Baptist ate bugs,
Mary Magdalene had demons,
Martha worried too much,
Zaccheus was too small,
James and John were self-promoting,
Peter denied Christ,
Thomas had doubts,
Paul was too religious,
Timothy had an ulcer,

And Lazarus was Dead!!

What is Faith? (according to Martin Luther)

“Faith is a living, bold trust in God’s grace, so certain of God’s favor that it would risk death a thousand times trusting in it. Such confidence and knowledge of God’s grace makes you happy, joyful and bold in your relationship to God and all creatures. The Holy Spirit makes this happen through faith. Because of it, you freely, willingly and joyfully do good to everyone, serve everyone, suffer all kinds of things, love and praise the God who has shown you such grace. Thus, it is just as impossible to separate faith and works as it is to separate heat and light from fire! Therefore, watch out for your own false ideas and guard against good-for-nothing gossips, who think they’re smart enough to define faith and works, but really are the greatest of fools. Ask God to work faith in you, or you will remain forever without faith, no matter what you wish, say or can do.”

This is an excerpt from “An Introduction to St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans,” Luther’s German Bible of 1522 by Martin Luther, 1483-1546

For other Luther quotes, go to these post:

A Quote from Martin Luther

Martin Luther on Traveling Lightly

Martin Luther on Growing Our Gifts