Intimacy Versus Imitation

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James 4:8a (ESV), “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”

Hypocrites. We all know a few, maybe we have even been one. Prayerfully you aren’t one now. They say one thing, but do another. They say they are pro-life, but vote for abortion rights. They say they are Christian, but they treat people with contempt not compassion. There are Churches full of people who say they have surrendered to Jesus, yet haven’t changed anything about how they think, live, or talk. There are bars, universities, social clubs, and governments who say they don’t believe in God… until there is a disaster, or war, or a financial crisis.

How about those people over the years who claimed they were your friends, they said they had your back, and they said a lot of things to make you feel good. But when the going got tough, they got going. I call those “two faced” people and “so called friends.”

We can be the same way with God. Instead of being true, real, vulnerable with Him, we fake it. We don’t fool Him, but most of the time we are really trying to fool other people. We can talk like a Christian, spout scripture, even do “good works” but we don’t really know Him, and we certainly haven’t surrendered our lives. Look what Jesus had to say about that.

Matthew 7:21-23 (KJB), “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

Just doing good works doesn’t cut it. Sure James said that he’d show us his faith by his works. Yes, if we truly are born of heaven and sold out to the Father, there will be fruit and works. However, works alone won’t get you anything but the accolade of men, and possibly exhaustion.

Back to what James said, there are those who say they love God but they won’t lift a finger for Him. They won’t take their authority as Son’s of God, and they refuse to recognize the power of the Holy Spirit.

II Timothy 1:3-7 (NASB), “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

Mark calls them Hypocrites. God says they only do lip service.

Mark 7:6 (NIV), “He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”

God doesn’t want bodies. He isn’t into head-counts or roll calls. He wants hearts. Even David talks about this after he had sinned.

Psalm 51:16-17 (NLT), “You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.”

His desire is and always has been intimacy. After kneeling and humbly breathing life into Adam, who He hand sculpted out of dirty, He walked and talking with His creation. He gave them everything, but most importantly, He lavished his affection on mankind. He never wanted anything else. After the fall, His desire didn’t change. Man had changed and every decision, every law, Jesus’ sacrifice, everything He did was for our own good, for the good of mankind. God is love. He loves us always. He wants our love in return. Not out of obligation, that isn’t true love. Not a false and fake love, not lip service, no one-sided, two-faced love affair for Him. He wants genuine, lavish, sacrificial love.

What do you want?

Intimacy or imitation?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review for “God Moment” – Christian Non-Fiction

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“Reads almost like fiction but is actually true. The factual account relays awe-inspiring miracles experienced after following God’s personal and specific words heard in prayer. Through personal testimonies, the authors give hope and encouragement that even after falling into doubt and disobedience the Lord can still provide outstanding miracles. As the Lord deals with defeats from major depression, bipolar disorder, and marital separation He creates a victorious conclusion. Bette and Wayne’s transparent account, full of God, is sure to uplift and inspire.”
My Review:
I received a copy of “God Moment” from the authors in exchange for an honest review. I sure enjoyed this book! It is an honest and transparent testimony of God working in the lives of Bette and Wayne Price. They tell about the good and the bad, their faith and lack of faith, struggling with Bipolar and with backsliding. It is written in both of their first person perspective, and at times I had to slow down to see who was talking. The print is different but if I was distracted by something it took a minute to reacquaint myself with who was speaking. I give it four stars. I really liked it. I’d say best suited for adults.

Book Review for “A Place Called Bliss”-Christian Historical Fiction

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“In A Place Called Bliss, Sophia Galloway, a rich and pampered lady of Scotland’s renowned house of Heatherstone, and Mary Morrison, a simple servant, share a dream of traveling to a new land of freedom, promise, and opportunity: Canada. On the tumultuous journey overseas, Sophia and Mary both give birth. Neither mother knows how closely their destinies will be intertwined by a secret with the power to shatter their lives.”

My Review: This was a wonderful Christian Historical Fiction. It is set in the 1800’s and begins in Scotland. It ends in the Northwest Territory. I really liked it and will probably finish the series at some point. There are a total of six so don’t expect a quick read. This could easily be a stand alone as well as there is a clear finish to this book. I give it four stars. I really liked it. No swearing, or sexual content, no violence. I can recommend for teens and up.

What Does The Spirit Say?

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Romans 8:14 (ISV), “For all who are led by God’s Spirit are God’s children.”

We hear a lot of voices throughout our day, in fact we even hear them while we sleep. There is good advice, bad advice, jokes, cliché’s, sayings, stories, sales ads, preaching, teaching, facts, fiction, doctors diagnosis, kind words, hateful words, and too many things to name here. It isn’t all bad, but it certainly isn’t all good. Whose voice should be listening to? Should we shut off everything that isn’t God’s voice to us? I hate to say it but that really isn’t possible. What is possible is which voice we believe!

I have learned when I hear something I am not sure about, or something that troubles me to ask myself this question, “What does the Spirit say?”

That voice that says I have to look like I am in my early twenties, wear a size four, and not have a wrinkle to be beautiful may be insistent, but is it what the Spirit says? That voice that says I need a few tattoos, some piercing in weird places, and wear a lot of leather to be beautiful may be the current fad, but what does the Spirit say. That voice that says I need Botox, a tummy tuck, and a boob job is socially acceptable, but is that the voice of the Spirit?

Ok, I think you get the picture. I can go on about those words like, “You have cancer,” “I never loved you,” “You just aren’t working out like we’d hoped,” and more, but those are pretty obviously not what the Spirit says. But what about that little voice that says, “I don’t know how I am going to pay the bills this month,” you know that one that sounds just like you. Or the same voice that says, “They helped sister so and so when she was sick, but no one even asked if I needed anything.”

It is so easy to allow those little foxes to spoil the vine. Those seemingly harmless voices, that sometimes are our own flesh talking, to take root. Anything that is contrary to God’s word isn’t Him. Anything that is less than how God sees us isn’t the Spirit talking. He may correct us when needed, but He will never be-little us, spew venom, accuse another, feed jealousy or bitterness, or make us think less of ourselves or another. He will help us to see what God thinks about us and any situation we can face.

Romans 8:6 (NLT), “So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.”

John 14:17 (NLT), “He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.”

The battle takes place mostly in our minds. Which voice are you listening to? Which voice are you entertaining? Which voice are you telling to shut up?

The Spirit of God speaks to us all the time. Are we hearing Him? Are we open to what He has to say and can we even recognize His voice? Start by searching out the scriptures and see what God has to say about you.

And hear is a few things that explicitly say, “Hear what the Spirit says to the Churches.” That’s me and you.

Revelations 2:7, 11, 17, 26-28 3:5, 12, 21 “Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. The one who is victorious will not be hurt at all by the second death. To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations that one ‘will rule them with an iron scepter and will dash them to pieces like pottery just as I have received authority from my Father. I will also give that one the morning star. The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels. The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it. He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.

Be Vocal

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Matthew 10:26-26 (NLT), “But don’t be afraid of those who threaten you. For the time is coming when everything that is covered will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all. What I tell you now in the darkness, shout abroad when daybreak comes. What I whisper in your ear, shout from the housetops for all to hear!”

Christians should be the most vocal people on the planet. Not arrogant know-it-alls, or vain babblers chatting away about any trivial thing, not course jesters trying to get a laugh, but true witnesses of the goodness of God. We should be like Peter and John in Acts.

Acts 4:20 (NIV), “As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

The Jewish religious leaders had just forbid them to speak about Jesus. They weren’t having it. In fact in verse 19 they say, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges!”

We don’t have to go around beating people over the head with scripture. We also need to be discerning. Our Senior Pastor frequently says, “People just need a cool drink of water-not a fire hose!” We don’t want to push someone away instead of draw them in. So don’t get stuck thinking that everything we say needs to be about God, or His word, or about Church. It’s OK and good to ask about their day. It is friendly and polite to smile and say, “Have a good day” to the kid who bags your groceries. Tell your child’s teacher that you appreciate them, tell your elderly neighbor that if they need something to give you a call, and talk to your coworker about your weekend, or your family. Then, when the opportunity arises, and it will, tell them how much God has blessed you. Tell them how He wants to bless them. Talk about the message you heard at Church this week, or invite them to come with you to the next one.

Just be real- and be vocal.

You can’t get to know someone without talking. Once we really know someone they will allow us to talk about more intimate things. By you opening up to them about your life, they will feel comfortable telling you about theirs and that’s when the opportunities come to witness. When they remember that you stayed faithful during a hard time, they will ask you to pray for them when they are going through their own trial. We don’t have to preach, we just have to share.

Now isn’t the time to be shy. Time is running out. We aren’t just trying to make friends. We are growing the family of God. We are rescuing a lost and dying world by leading them to the One who loves them. We are bringing heaven to earth. You can’t be a silent witness. The world is full of “nice” and “kind” people, but that won’t get anyone saved. You have to open your mouth about your faith, that leads people to Jesus.

Be vocal. Be bold!

Right after being flogged and ordered not to talk about Jesus, this is what the believers prayed:

Acts 4:29-30 (NIV), “Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

Book Review for “The Land’s Whisper”- Fiction/Fantasy

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I was given a copy of “The Land’s Whisper” in exchange for an honest review. This is a very well written fantasy. At first some of the language and names had me a little confused, however after a bit of reading I was able to work out what was meant. (in example measurements of miles and time were given fiction names). After finishing the kindle version I found the definitions in the back, so that might be a good place to start. The main characters are flawed and fleshed out. The story had me crying and laughing, and some places just plain cringing. There is no swearing or sexual content. There is torture and violence. It is after all a story of good versus evil. I give it five stars and can’t wait until the next book is out. Though it is part of a series, it has a clear ending. I give it five stars. I loved it.

Joy or Happiness?

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Nehemiah 8:10 (NLT), “And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the LORD is your strength!”
“You deserve to be happy.”
“I just want you to be happy.”
“Why can’t I just be happy?”
“I am so happy right now.”
“I was just trying to make him happy.”
“Why can’t you just be happy for me?”
“When I get the promotion, then I’ll be happy.”
“Won’t you be happy when you get your new home?”
Happiness- a state of well-being and contentment
How many times have we heard these statements, or maybe even said them? Part of our Declaration of Independence reads, “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” as one of our rights as a citizen of the United States. I love being happy, don’t get me wrong, but just as much as I love happiness, I hate being un-happy! That’s the problem with happiness. It depends on what is taking place in our lives and most of the time there is a lot of stuff that is out of our control. When we are banking on something or someone to make us happy we are going to be disappointed at some point and maybe even quite frequently.
On the other hand, when we are surrendered to God, when we allow Jesus to come into our hearts, we have something much better available to us. It is called joy.
Joy-delight, great pleasure, joyfulness, jubilation, triumph, exultation, rejoicing, happiness, gladness, glee, exhilaration, exuberance, elation, euphoria, bliss, ecstasy, rapture
Because joy is not based on circumstances it is not something that comes and goes. If we are confident in the Lord, in His plans and purposes for us, when we know Who He is and who He says we are, we can be in a state of constant joy. The only time we lose it is if we allow the enemy to steal it, or we just forget Who He is or who we are. Simple.
I know it can be a little easier said than done, however the fact, the Truth that it is always available to us doesn’t change just because we forget. God the Father and His Joy is always only one step back. We live in a fallen world and we all go through hard times, difficult stuff. The difference is that when we go through it with Jesus we don’t lose our joy!  In fact when we hold on to that joy the world will notice and we will be a witness for Him.
Happiness is fleeting, changeable, never constant, and always conditional. His joy is endless, wonderful, persistent, always available, never conditional and always trustworthy.
So do I want to be happy? Sure. But, I would rather have unspeakable joy!
I Peter 1:3-9 (KJB), “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.”