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At Home With God

“Yet he (Abraham) did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God.”  Romans 4:20

Holy God, everything I have belongs to you — my home, my car, my food, my marriage, my family. Help me to use them in service to you each day so I can proclaim Your glory and the wonderful work you have done in my life. Amen

I’d have to say one of the first obvious signs that I was submitting to God and giving Him authority over my life was years ago when my brother-in-law came to visit us and wanted to bring his girlfriend.  We had two small children and my husband and I decided we needed to model God’s morals by telling his brother that although she could come, they couldn’t sleep in the same room together.  He laughed, thinking we were joking.  But when we affirmed our decision, he asked how we could decide that when we, ourselves, had lived together before marriage.  It’s an easy answer actually.  We were now Christians with children to whom we were responsible for modeling God’s will.

Here’s the thing, Christian, it’s ok, even necessary in God’s act of progressive revelation, to change our minds.  To grow in our faith.  To set up new boundaries.  Especially in our own homes.  For Abraham, mentioned in our first verse today, he struggled to align his entire household with God.  He made bad decisions about his wife, he had to make peace among his family, he was faced with the prospect of sacrificing his son to the Lord.  But He kept moving forward in his faith.  With each step he learned more about God’s expectations of him and he guided his family and home toward God’s promises.  He set history on the right path by giving glory to God over and over. Joshua carried this forward when he assembled all the tribes of Israel.

"15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15

Our home spaces are the perfect place to glorify God.  Why? Because when we stand in our home, every blessing we can see belongs to Him.  The home, apartment, tent, condo, all belong to God.  The food in the cupboards, the furnishings, the beds, the indoor (or outdoor) plumbing – yes, all belong to Him and should be used in His service to glorify Him.

My two oldest friends are unfortunately not believers.  And over these last few years I’ve had the Holy Spirit convict me of my behavior when I’m around them.  I need to show them the work God has done in me.  When they are at my house, I must model God.  That means I shouldn’t allow certain behavior or speech within the walls of my house.  I fail at times when I let myself be pulled into the world of unbelievers.  Sometimes I forget to pray over our meal, I drift into outraged political discussions, and I gossip.  My first step was realizing what I was doing doesn’t honor God.  My second step is to be more consistent in application.

Friend, if the Lord has blessed you with a comfortable place to lay your head each night, a place to make a life for your family, a home to provide hospitality to others, we need to remember it was all given for a purpose.  If we struggle to honor God in our home, how can we be expected to receive further responsibility from Him outside our homes?  So today, stand in the middle of the place you call home and proclaim it is all for His glory.

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The Well-Worn Path

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. Psalm 91:1

In the mid-1800s hundreds of thousands of pioneers left the comfort of their eastern homes beyond the Mississippi River and traveled West toward what we now call Oregon.  The result of those courageous pioneers is hundreds of miles of well-worn wagon wheel ruts.  In some places the gouges from the wagons extend four feet deep in the rock.  It became a symbol of being on the right path when your wagon wheels found the ruts for which to follow.  And because they were so deep it meant your wheels would stay true to that path.

And there lies the idea behind “being in a rut.”  A well-worn path that, in some cases, is a good place.  So often, however, the result of creating those paths in our lives leads us down roads we long to escape.  I wonder how many of us Christians find ourselves in a well-worn path that either isn’t to our liking or to God’s?  

The last few weeks we’ve looked at ways Christians are expected to stand apart, be held to a higher standard, and stand resolutely with Christ, not the world.  But for many of us that means climbing out of that four foot deep rut.  The rut of going along to get along.  The rut of living in half-truths such as only expressing love without truth or vice versa.  The rut of an unintentional life.  The rut of sitting in a church where you aren’t convicted or spurred to share the message of eternal life.  The rut of any number of sins.

If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling,no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. Psalm 91:9-10

The Apostle Paul was in a rut.  He followed half-truths taught by the Pharisees and then he, himself, passed those false truths along with a vengeance.  It wasn’t until Jesus abruptly entered his life and yanked him out of that four foot hole that he realized his state.  And when he did, he took the message in Psalm 91 to heart.  He pressed on and on staying close to Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  He trusted that although perils would befall him it would not stop him from his mission.  And thank God.  Because he, like you and I, was just a man.  A regular flesh and blood human.  A person filled with sinful ways.  Without his trust in God, without his life of intentionally following Jesus we wouldn’t have his wise words to guide us.  He was like Jesus in a sense that God wanted us to have a fleshly example to model.  Jesus clothed Himself in skin so he could endure our earthly life.  And endure it with full trust in God.  

“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. Psalm 91:14

Because He loves me just as much as He loved Paul, I know that I can live a bold life in the name of Jesus.  I know that even when hands come against me or when words try to hurt me, I will receive the ultimate promised prize.  And when we live a life in worldly ruts – cowering before our accusers, afraid of speaking our faith, staying in the shadows not helping pull our fellow travelers from the flame – we are saying to God, “I really don’t trust you to work all things for my good.”

The ruts we need to seek are the well-worn paths of the saints, not the sinners.  The paths that Jesus has laid out for us are so clearly defined in His Word.  We need to look for them as parents, as spouses, as co-workers, as sisters in Christ, as citizens.  

He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation. Psalm 91:15-16

We can’t do this alone my friends.  Through praying in the Spirit (not the flesh), through Christian fellowship, good teaching, and constantly living with God just ahead of us as our pioneer guide we can accomplish everything He asks of us.  And He will satisfy us with salvation and the glory of heaven.

Friends, what well-worn worldly paths are you living in?  Is it your parenting style?  Or maybe you’ve flipped the script in your marriage.  Are you in too deep with equating your faith with your politics?  Have you forgotten that God sees and knows every word you speak, every emotion that lies in our heart?  Are you taking advantage of God’s promised salvation and disobeying Him without repentance?   It’s time to stop in our tracks and look up to the edge of the rut.  Stick out your hand and ask the Holy Spirit for a leg up.  You can do it, we can do it.  You are not alone.

Join me starting November 1-30 for 30 Days of Thankfulness!

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Sojourners & Exiles

No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. 2 Timothy 2:4

We Christians are sojourners and exiles.  This is not where our ultimate allegiance lies!  

David Van Drunen, Politics After Christendom

We certainly aren’t lacking in opportunities to engage in political discourse these days.  From mask wearing to vaccine mandates and budget crises to abortion laws the world around us is in quite a turmoil.  But when, as Christians, are we to engage?  When are we called to join the fight and stand resolutely in our faith?  These next two posts will look at our life as Christians and the political realm.  First, starting with what role the church, and therefore Christians, play in our common citizenry.

But let’s back up a bit.  For those of us living in the United States we’ve seen a serious deterioration from our Christian-held values over the last 70 years or so.  Not long ago almost all businesses were closed on Sundays and you certainly couldn’t by alcohol on that day.  Now, a business that makes the decision to not be open on Sundays because of their beliefs is vilified.  I’ve heard different arguments about whether or not the United States was a special project by God.  Whatever stance you may take on that we can be certain that every single nation was formed by God.  Every single head of state has been placed in their position by God and therefore is subject to His expectations and final judgment.

For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Colossians 1:16-17

That the United States was founded with God and the idea of His sovereignty at the forefront should not, however, be in dispute.  Besides the federal founding documents, all state constitutions, except one, reference God and His oversight of said government in the beginning of those documents.  It was then left to the citizens, as it has throughout the history of the world, to maintain that stance.

When you get deep in to C.S. Lewis’ great Christian apologetic book, Mere Christianity, you’ll find the concept of a Moral Law.  Through every empire, every phase of human existence we turn to this moral law for guidance.  We know what basically is wrong (ie: killing another human for gain or pleasure) and what is right (ie: helping a widow or orphaned child).  And, as Mr. Lewis argues, no matter your faith or lack thereof those concepts have been placed in our hearts and minds by someone.

But as a society drifts further away from a common faith, as in the case of much of Europe, North America and South America, we create new ways of working around what we know to be right and wrong.  We bend the moral law to fit the desires of our flesh and we seek to be accepted by the world.

You cannot make men good by (man-made)law; and without good men you cannot have a good society.

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

And so, as Christians we watch as one of the last bastions of religious freedom, the United States, which also built upon that with many other freedoms, begin to crumble.  And we can so easily misplace our fears on our elected officials and the laws they create. 

So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. 2 Timothy 1:8-9

At the time Paul wrote this letter to Timothy the Romans ruled with an iron fist.  Anyone that did not submit to their laws was imprisoned, tortured, killed, or pushed out of everyday society.  And Paul reminds not just Timothy but all of us who read this message that we have one commander to whom we must be most concerned – God and His son Jesus Christ.  We are set apart to be holy and live a holy life.

We are reminded that our role in this world is a sort of dual citizenship – to the country we call home and the home that waits for us.  It’s a balancing act that the disciples knew all too well.  We are to obey the laws of our government as good guests yet remembering we have limits based on God’s expectation of our adherence to His moral laws and knowledge of the final judgment.

Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles,to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. 1 Peter 2:11-12

It may come as a surprise to many Christians in the United States but it isn’t our role to create a “just society.”  It is our role to seek justice for those in need in our communities but we can’t right every wrong.  We need to be comforted that God is in charge and we can, as individuals and corporately do His good works.  But Jesus, time and again, never sought regime change.  He sought heart change. He sought obedience by His followers to God’s expectations.

Being a sojourner did not require isolation from surrounding societies.  Abraham seems to have understood the need to exercise prudential judgment about how, when and with whom to share common activity.  One approach did not fit all cases.

David Van Drunen, Politics After Christendom

So does this mean we shouldn’t try and affect our government’s choices or laws?  No, it’s just remembering who we serve first, resolutely.  It’s remembering the difference between violently protesting a wrong and speaking out within the framework of how God wants us to act.  It’s figuring out where God and the church stands on an issue (ie: abortion) and where something may not be biblical at all (ie: the federal budget).  It’s making sure our heart and mind set firmly with God, not the world.

Believe me, I’ve struggled with these issues a lot.   I’ve stood on street corners waving my country’s flag and promoting a candidate.  I’ve stood up to politicians who have demonstrated a lack of moral character. Neither of which are wrong for a Christian.  I vote in every single election. Which is, in a way, expected as a Christian. But as my faith progresses, I’m taking a new view of my place on this big blue planet.  When I firmly set King Jesus as my authority, as my hope, as the Lord and Savior not just of my world but of every single human that has existed and will exist, my perspectives change.

As Christians we cannot continue to say we trust God, we know God will judge in the final conflict and still scream in outrage at people who disagree with our political opinion.  That message speaks loud and clear to non-believers that we don’t trust God.  That we haven’t set Him as our authority. That we have no concern for eternity. 

It’s time, fellow sojourners, to pull out our passports and remind ourselves of our future travel plans.  To stand resolutely with the one King that will judge everyone for all ungodly acts.  He has not appointed us commissioners of that judgment.  Yet, we are also not called to be passive in our worldly citizenry — sitting back and watching the world fall around us. He has appointed us as soldiers to exhort others to follow Him before it is too late.

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The Singing Warrior

“At this they tried to seize Him but no one laid a hand on Him because His hour had not come.”  John 7:30
“Noah did everything just as God commanded him.” Exodus 6:22

My church is in the midst of a study of Genesis and a few weeks ago we landed on the story of Noah. Christians and non-Christians alike are very familiar with this famous Bible story.  How often do we see cute children’s books, artwork, decorations that take up this story showing all the cute animals piled into a tiny boat riding out the storm with a rainbow overhead?  

During the sermon I was struck with the thought that this is not a sweet story at all.  It’s a story of total depravity on the part of man versus the faith of one warrior for God.  The face-off between a world bathing in the flesh and one, lonely soul swimming against that tide.  The ark was a last chance lifeboat built by a soldier, an obedient servant who loved God.

For anyone who has ever seen the movie, “Evan Almighty” – a theatrical depiction of a modern-day Noah – the result of being a warrior for God, even a reluctant one, is shown in all its technicolor truth.  Friends, family, neighbors, the media, and even the government may come against us.

“When you give your best to the Lord, it’s not unusual to be criticized by people who ought to encourage you.  Moses was criticized by his brother and sister.  David by his wife, and Mary of Bethany by an apostle.”  

Warren Wiersbe commentary on 1 Samuel

During the extreme lockdowns of 2020 there were many “warriors for God” who found themselves on the receiving end of much criticism from Christians and non-Christians.  Pastors and even Catholic bishops who insisted that churches needed to remain open and serve their flocks were impugned by church authority, the media, non-believers, and parishioners.  In some states the government brought the full force of the law down with arrests and extravagant fines.  

Now, some might still say churches should’ve been closed to protect people from illness.  But these flock protectors felt called by God to bring healing to people’s hearts and minds and souls.  Church attendance has never been a requirement for anyone.  And they believed those who needed church should be allowed to partake in its offerings.  Parallel arguments about keeping people from getting sick included the admonishment to obey governments based on Romans 13.  And yet the clarification of hierarchy of obedience is spelled out in Acts 5.

"The apostles were brought in and made to appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.”

Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings!” Acts 5:27-29

About a few months into the lockdowns, I started seeing a confident warrior for God pop up in my Instagram feed.  This young man had originally run for a state office in Northern California.  He ran as a conservative Christian in a heavily liberal area and lost.  I had donated a small amount to his campaign about a year before and had apparently “followed” his account.  He is a musician by trade, a devout family man, and a fervent follower of Christ.

And when our churches shut down in California, he stepped out onto a stage bigger than he’d ever imagined.  Compelled by visions given by God, he would show up at a beach with a local pastor, his family, a few other musicians and put on a revival meeting of sorts.  As word grew, each time he held a “Christ concert” more people would find their way to listen.  More people asked to be baptized in the cold ocean waters.  And more people started harassing them.  And fines by local authorities started piling up.  And he wouldn’t stop.

You may have heard by now about Sean Feucht and his merry band of “Let Us Worship” team.  They’ve since led large worship services all over the United States, including Washington DC.  Sean may have lost a politician’s job but he gained so much more. Throughout the pandemic their small pastoral team helped lead thousands to give up fleshly addictions and find Christ.  All the while, others would show up at these events screaming demonic words, throwing blood on them and even accosting his pregnant wife.  

Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” Matthew 4:10

I can only imagine how many times Sean and his family have reminded themselves of this statement by Jesus to Satan.  I’ve watched the videos of Sean’s meetings in Portland and Seattle.  It’s some of the most disturbing things I have seen in terms of demonic possession of people.  You may raise an eyebrow at that statement but truly, I have never seen anything like it.

Sean is just a man.  A man with a family to protect.  A man who is trying to make his way through this world just like you and me.  He didn’t start serving the Lord suddenly during the pandemic, he has a quiet history of spreading God’s Word including countries outside the United States.  He has led missionary trips to Afghanistan, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.  He is obviously a man used to trusting God.  And isn’t it fascinating to know that he went to those dangerous places to share the gospel seemingly as preparation to lead thousands into worship in a “safe” place like the United States?

We won’t all be warriors for God just like Sean but every person who chose to attend one of his meetings during these difficult times was a warrior in their own way.  Today, every person who hears God’s urging to step out in faith and stand for Him takes up the armor and can call themselves a warrior.  We have a lot of good soldiers who have paved the way for us, to drawn on how they trusted God to protect them until their time was done.

As God always does, He has placed quite a lot of podcasts, sermons, and Bible studies in front of me in the last few weeks on this very character trait of Jesus.  I wanted to share with you a prayer from Sparkling Gems from the Greek to help spur our warrior character on.

Lord, help me start seeing myself as a might soldier in the army of God.  You have provided every weapon I need to prevail against the enemies that come against my life, my family, my business, my friends and my church.  I want to stand tall and firm against the wicked plots the devil tries to exert against people’s lives whom I love and need.  Holy Spirit,  give me the power and strength I need to successfully resist every attack and to drive all dark forces from my life and from the lives of those close to me!   I pray this in Jesus’ name!

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Solidarity

Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. 
Hebrews 12:14

I was having lunch the other day with a friend and she shared with me a disturbing trend in her two Bible study groups.  She said to me, “I’ve had it.  I’m exhausted.  I don’t want to hear either side anymore.”  You see, the Christians in her group forgot who was in charge of their lives and the great gift of peace bestowed on believers.  They started arguing about politics.  In fact, one of her groups completely dissolved because of this.

When we think about the status of our faith, we usually concern ourselves inwardly.  But throughout the New Testament we are charged with guiding our fellow believers closer to God’s truths and blessings.

See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.
Hebrews 12:15

So often that “bitter root” that gets fomented in our churches, faith groups, Bible studies, etc causes people to disconnect from their faith journey.  And if we have joined in creating that situation, we must count ourselves at least partially responsible for the results.

It is easy to throw stones at others, but glass houses should whisper caution.

Charles Spurgeon on A Political Dissenter

That’s not to say we aren’t to discuss the worldly goings on and the effects they have on our lives.  But our primary focus should be always on God and being peacemakers.

When the Covid pandemic hit and a Bible study I was in was still meeting we were discussing our fears and such.  The group leader proclaimed, “I believe God is sending us this pandemic as punishment for what we have done to the environment.”  I’m sure that just caused everyone reading this to divide into camps.  Now, I love the environment but I’m not an “environmental activist.”  And that statement didn’t sit well with me.  But instead of going on the attack I kept my mouth shut for once realizing that nothing I might say would change her mind or be helpful.

We seem to have evolved into a society where our opinions absolutely must be heard and must be accepted or else we are prepared to judge our “adversary” in all manner of ways.  And when this happens within a Christian group, I can tell you one thing for sure, Satan is quite happy.

This quote by AW Tozer is a bit long but he handles this issue very well:

One thing must be kept in mind: We Christians are Christians first and everything else after that. Our first allegiance is to the kingdom of God. Our citizenship is in heaven. We are grateful for political freedom. We thank God for democracy as a way of life. But we never forget that we are sons of God and citizens of another city whose builder and maker is God. For this reason, we must not identify the gospel with any political system or make Christianity to be synonymous with any form of government, however noble. Christ stands alone, above and outside of every ideology devised by man. He does not join any of our parties or take sides with any of our great men except as they may come over on His side and try to follow Him in righteousness and true holiness. Then He is for them, but only as individuals, never as leaders of some political faction. The true Christian will be loyal to his country and obedient to those in authority, but he will never fall into the error of confusing his own national culture with Christianity. Christianity is bigger than any country, loftier than any civilization, broader than any human ideology.  

A.W. Tozer

I’ll be honest, I’ve really struggled with this issue for the last few years.  I want to live in God’s peace but I also am a lover of freedom and America.  For the last few months each time I work myself up to being outraged over some issue I’ve turned to God.  I remind myself that He is ultimately in charge.  I remind myself that my job, as a Christian, is to share His Word and live faithfully by it.  That means showing grace and compassion.  It also means “allowing” God to handle everything until He tells me He needs me to do my part.

When we truly desire to be peacemakers and have Christian solidarity as a goal, we change our conversations and words.  Instead of sending around an inflammatory news article or Facebook post to our Bible study group and letting it drop like a bomb, we should share with them the struggle we have with the issue and where we see God in it.  

The apostle Paul dealt with strife amongst some of the churches.  Because let’s face it, our churches are just made up of people.  People with varying points of view and opinions.

I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world. For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.  
1 Corinthians 10:2-6

We should not be “waging war” like the world does.  Our fight should not be with each other – working to destroy one another’s faith.  We need to turn our focus back on to God and help our brethren to do the same.  

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Living In The Light

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. 
2 Corinthians 4:6

I’ve been thinking a lot about separateness lately.  As the world seems to move farther and farther away from the message of Christ, I find myself feeling separated from so much of the goings on.  Politics, social and moral issues that the world promotes appear to be so upside down.  At times I’ve asked, “Where is God in all of this?”

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.” 

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

“What on earth is He up to?” is, I suppose, the better question.  Since the beginning of time God’s work has been about separateness.  He separated the dark from the light.  The land from the sea.  The heavens from the earth.  He even set apart man from beast.  And when He commanded that there would be light it also meant He would set apart good from evil.  From that day on He started working in our hearts to bring us into the light.  The light that Jesus gave direct access to through His sacrifice.

I’ve been visiting a new church with my husband.  The pastor is Adriel Sanchez.  Some of you may recognize him as one of the duo from Core Christianity – a podcast and radio show heard around the world.  His church has begun a new series on Genesis.  And he spoke on the creation of light and dark.  

God created beauty, order and light and He didn’t need ingredients.  He made them out of nothing, darkness.

Pastor Adriel Sanchez

He went on to put the Jewish (and eventually Christian) creation story in to context.  The Jews were most likely wandering in the desert when this story was possibly given to Moses from God.  Their lives were dark and chaotic.  And while other religions of the time, just like today, have their own creation story, those religions created gods out of what was created – the Sun God, Moon God, God of Nature, etc.  You’ll notice in Genesis that the sun and moon aren’t called those names.  Possibly to avoid man from elevating them to a worshipping status.  God created all the things that these other religions made into little gods.

We weren’t created to serve the sun, the moon, or nature.  They were created FOR man by God.

Pastor Adriel Sanchez

When you think about what God did for us humans it’s pretty amazing.  Think about a gift you received that was the best gift ever.  Do you remember how you thanked the person who gave it to you?  Now imagine this gift that God gave us.  The light, the land, the skies, the animals.  How could we ever thank Him enough?  All He has ever asked of us is to set ourselves apart from the darkness. 

Our hearts are like the wilderness – dark and chaotic.  And God says to our hearts, “Let there be light!

Pastor Adriel Sanchez

So let’s go back to C.S. Lewis’ imagery of rebuilding the house.  God is working on rebuilding the world.  God works on large scale projects while also working on our tiny little bathroom remodel.  It’s the same work schedule He has maintained throughout history. There’s a lot of knocking down walls going on.  And with that comes a lot of pushback from people who don’t want the light to enter in the room.  They enjoy living in the darkness in order to put themselves and their desires at their center.   

I’ve heard people talk disparaging about the Bible – its violence especially.  Many uneducated about the Bible take issue with destroying whole towns and killing off all the residents.  But put in context it was a major remodel taking place.  Those cities were rife with termites and rot.  Child sacrifices and unbridled sexual exploits all in the name of satisfying some fertility god were rampant.  They were just plain evil.  

And while God was using other people and the Jews to destroy those darkened places He made it a point to work in each and every Israelite’s heart.  He cared about behavior but He cared more for bringing light to their hearts and minds.  They were to act like people set apart from the darkness. He cared enough about us, as individuals, to first send His Son and then leave us with the light of His Holy Spirit to dwell in each of us.

It’s hard to live set apart from the world.  It may cause our faith, at times, to wane.  But I’m finding when I change my question from “Where is God?” to “What on earth is He up to?” it helps me to see His work in me and the world.  For when I see my Savior I surely want to be remodeled, a house full of light.

bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, Faith, Jesus Follower, Transformation Prayer, Uncategorized

Jumpin’ Jehoshaphat!

Out of the same mouth come 
praise and cursing. My brothers 
and sisters, this should not be. 
James 3:10

A prayer to avoid using coarse language

Holy Father, it has become so easy for me to use your name in un-holy ways.  There was once a time that when angered or frustrated I would just say some silly old saying.  But as I drew closer to the ways of the world my language followed.  I want to be closer to you instead, LORD.  I want to speak like your son, Jesus.  I know that anger, impatience, laziness, and bitterness are all roots of my use of foul language.  Help me, Holy Spirit, to cut out those roots so that out of my mouth comes praise, prayer, forgiveness and grace.  I will use my mouth, with your guidance, for these rather than obscenity and coarseness.  Amen


We all remember that moment well.  I was driving the middle school carpool that morning.  A car full of young, impressionable minds.  Just before I got to a busy intersection a car swerved over from another lane in front of me, causing me to hit my brakes.  And just as our basic driving skills become automated, my middle finger and mouth began its ugly automatic work.  The car went silent.  I was immediately convicted of my sin by five sets of enlarged eyes on me.

You’d think that instances like that would’ve got me to stop cursing in anger but it hasn’t.  In fact, knowing about three weeks ago that eventually I’d be writing this post I started more aggressively working on this problem.  And yet, just the other day I think I managed to use just about every curse word available when talking to my husband about politics.  

Nor should there be obscenity, 
foolish talk or coarse joking, 
which are out of place, but 
rather thanksgiving.  
Ephesians 5:4

Have you ever watched a movie where it seemed the director purposely had every actor place a curse word in every sentence the actors spoke?  I have.  And I’ve finally had to stop watching.  I understand when our anger rises up that we again allow our mouths to control our world.  But the gratuitous use of cursing is not something I understand.  Everything, to some people, is “f’ing (fill in the blank).”  It’s become just another adjective.  And yet, it isn’t.

According to one researcher, we swear on average from 0.3% to 0.7% of the time — a tiny but significant percentage of our overall speech.  Given the fact that the average woman speaks about 25,000 words a day that adds up to around 1,750 swear words per day.  That’s a lot of sinful speaking.

When I worked in our local high schools, I would see the prevalence of swearing amongst our teenagers.  Each year it seemed to get worse and worse.  When I would admonish a student they would say, “oops, it was just an accident.”  However, we all know that well-practiced behaviors become simply rote acts.  

We are told throughout the Bible and especially the New Testament that we, as believers in God and then Jesus, are to be set apart from this world.  

Let us behave decently, 
as in the daytime, not 
in carousing and drunkenness, 
not in sexual immorality and 
debauchery, not in dissension 
and jealousy. Rather, clothe 
yourselves with the Lord 
Jesus Christ, and do not 
think about how to gratify 
the desires of the flesh. 
Romans 13:13-14

This verse makes it clear, whether in daytime, nighttime, with Christian friends or non, in our work environment, our home, or alone in our car, we are to clothe ourselves with Jesus.  The worst I have ever read come out of Jesus’ mouth was to call the Pharisees “vipers.”  

In the United States, during the 19th century, there was a craze to come up with “mild oaths” or pseudo-swearwords that replaced profane words with inoffensive ones. They tended to be silly and even poetic. “Jumpin’ Jehoshaphat,” “Holy, Moly,” and “gee willikers!” were just a few. It was a sign of our Christian influence in society. Sadly, we seem to have lost not only that influence but our desire to be that influence.

My BSGs’ (Bible Study Girls) favorite saying is “imperfect progress.”  And that’s what I’m in the midst of – really, aren’t we all?  And as I listen to our media, tv shows, music, and more accept that cursing God’s name as the “new normal” I pray for the Holy Spirit to help me be set apart.  I want my “new normal” to be for the glory of God, not for the fulfillment of my flesh.

If you want this too, add the prayer to your daily prayer list and watch and see how God works in your life!