The most powerful thing about the Bible is that it is not neutral---in fact, there is no such position as a "neutral" one. One way or another, we must all contend with its claims. To not make a decision about whether or not it will serve as the authority for your life is, in fact, to decide against it. - Greg Hall in Already Compromised, co-authored with Ken Ham, published by Master Books

Monday, November 23, 2009

I doubt it!

Yes, I said it...I doubt...do you?

This is a very appropriate subject, in light of the fact that we are currently on a journey to figure out what we believe and why. Are you one of those people who thinks that a "good Christian" does not doubt God, His existence, the Bible, etc....? Are you one of those people who not only doubts all of that, but just out-right doesn't believe in any of that at all? Either way, doubt in itself is not a bad thing. As a matter of fact, denying that you doubt could end up being more harmful to you than doubt itself. WHEN you doubt, not IF, it often can be a good thing, because it forces you to go on a journey to discover why you believe what you think you believe...sound familiar!?!

I thought this one email I got was very timely this week. Max Lucado puts things in a very down-to-earth, easy-to-relate-to perspective. One of his daily emails this week was on just this subject. You can check it out at this link: http://www.maxlucado.com/articles/daily/do_you_doubt/#When:06:01:33Z

A couple of the things he said that I liked a lot (I really liked it all!) is that Doubt will "tell you not to believe in the invisible yet offer no answer for the inadequacy of the visible…His aim is not to convince you to confuse you. He doesn’t offer solutions, he only raises questions."

And another thing he said that was oh-so-true is, "If you are more cynical about Christians than sincere about Christ, then guess who came to dinner?" Ouch!!! I think we can all relate to being burnt by Christians...after all, Christians are HUMAN BEINGS...very imperfect just like anyone else. The trick is to realize that our hope is not in people, our hope is in Christ! Yes, He lives inside of Christians, but that doesn't mean Christians are made perfect on this earth. We still do and say very disrespectful, selfish, rude, hurtful things to fellow believers and non-believers alike. We still have our innate personalities, which when given to God to be used can be used amazingly (He made us the way we are for a reason!), however when we take our eyes off of Him and get too caught up in ourselves and doing things the way we think are best, those God-given personalities can be quite difficult for others to deal with - not to mention difficult to deal with ourselves.

Sooooo, what are you going to do with this?

I doubt (pun intended!) you can go away from this without reconsidering some things in your life, as I am in mine.

Specifically, Why are you avoiding God (if you are)? Are you using excuses that are fed by doubt? Give your doubts and fears and failures and guilt to HIM...accept His love and grace and forgiveness and faithfulness to you and acceptance of you.

Don't put off getting on the right road with Him (or BACK on it) until you "get some things straight" or "figure it all out" or find a church and/or denomination with which you completely agree and find no "bad" Christians. You will NEVER be satisfied if you are waiting on any of those things! Just come to Him...NOW...NOT LATER...just like you are right now.

Even if you've walked away from Him deliberately and feel guilty about it. Even if you think you've been just fine and living the "good Christian life"...still take this time to really think about that and re-evaluate it all. He wants to go deeper with you right now...not later! He wants to show you who He is in YOUR life, not just who He is period. I dare you to be real with Him and to trust Him! He will shock your socks off with what He wants to do in YOUR life!!! Hold on...are you ready?

Come to Him now, be real with Him...if you dare!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Seal of Approval?

When I came back in town from my monthly trip to New Orleans, I had to sort through a stack of mail that had come throughout the week I was gone. Of course there are many varied offers attempting to get me to do everything from sign up for a "pre-approved" credit card, purchase a year or more of a magazine subscription, or give some amount of money to a fund-raiser (which I must say is the best idea of the 3 possibilities, though you just can't give to them all...not to mention that my family has to be clothed and fed first). Anyway, one of the many things in that stack was an offer for a subscription to Good Housekeeping. For some reason, this one struck me as interesting...

On their list of perks you get by subscribing to them, one of the first things mentioned is..."the Good Housekeeping Seal". Yes, you have all heard of it, and often don't even think twice about it except that it sounds pretty good. But really, come on! Who are these Good Housekeeping people and why do I need their "Seal"? (They want us to think we do, after all.) Oh yeah, and in the fine print, it says that "*A few exceptions apply." Another couple of the perks mentioned in the list are "Ask Heloise" and "Money-Back Guarantee" ("If you are not 100% satisfied...").

Interesting that this offer came when it did. In my current Journey Through John (How are you doing on that, by the way? Would love to read some comments - here or on Facebook.), I just happened to be reading this week about Jesus having God's "seal of approval" on Him. (John 6:27) Now THAT's a Seal of Approval I can trust and be 100% satisfied with! What do you think? Are you starting to feel the same way? I feel much more secure asking Him when I have questions/confusions/doubts/needs or even wants, rather than asking "Heloise". After all, "your Father knows what you need before you ask Him."(Matthew 6:8) Who better to ask than someone (THE One) who already knows what you need!?! And as far as that "Money-Back Guarantee", I don't think I need or want that either. One reason...what He gives is FREE!!! (It cost Him A LOT, but nothing but belief is what it costs me!!! That's truly Amazing Grace!) And, another reason...He promises that we will be 100% satisfied by Him (John 6:35 "...He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.")...no need for a Money-Back Guarantee. If you are still working through my challenge to you from that previous post, then you are most likely reading a lot about the satisfaction and filling that He promises us. If that's not enough for you, search the word "satisfied" on BibleGateway.com and read ("in context") the results that come up in that search. He not only promises satisfaction, but He provides satisfaction over and over again throughout the ages, and the only dissatisfaction that comes is due to stubbornness/rebellion/disobedience/lack of trust in Him - thinking we know a better, easier way.

So...whose Seal of Approval are you going to trust? The FREE one, that's proven over many AGES...or the one you have to PAY FOR that's only been around as long as that magazine has (or less)?

"Choose you this day whom you will serve..." (look it up in Joshua 24:14-16) or better yet...put another way, "If you decide that it's a bad thing to worship God, then choose a god you'd rather serve—and do it today." (That's the same verse, but in "The Message" version.)

Like I have said..."To Not Decide Is To Decide..."!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Deep Thoughts...

"I'm still learnin' what I believe. Sometimes I'm a hero, sometimes I'm a fool." That's part of a song I heard tonight on the radio somewhere between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. So very true!!!

This won't be a long post, since I know I gave you quite an assignment in the last one. Besides, I've got to get some rest before my week of working in New Orleans starts tomorrow.

Here's a deep thought for ya'...

If you were to spend only 5 minutes a day hearing negative news (sounds like a fairly typical day, doesn't it!?!), how do you think that would affect you? Well, as a matter of fact, on that very same radio station tonight I heard that a study was done with just that notion in mind. And, after a certain period of time (maybe a month, but forgive my lack of recall as I have just driven 5 1/2 hours after a full weekend) the group of people who were tested in that way were notably depressed and fearful and even had begun to believe that many of the same very bad things reported on the negative news were very likely to happen to them as well. Sound familiar? Then, stop exposing yourself to all of that negativity (quite possibly far more than 5 minutes a day, I bet!)! As I tell you that, please know that I have 3 fingers pointing back at me.

On a more positive note, some of the most powerful and influential speakers and writers of any time (past and present) have merely written and/or spoken out of the vast amount of great, contemplative thoughts that have poured through their minds! That means, all of those deep things you and I think about all day and night could potentially be channelled into something that can be used to inspire and help others...all from our own deep thoughts! (Of course, if you are working on that challenge I posed to you in my last post, then you are quite possibly learning Who is the true inspiration and author of those great deep thoughts and more...)

Contemplate this..."For as he thinks within himself, so he is." (Proverbs 23:7) Who are you?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

What's with the name?

"To not decide is to decide..." What's that all about? Well, I'm glad you asked! (You did, didn't you!?!) Anyway, if you are anything like me, you may choose at times in your life to "take the high road" and "not make any waves". Sometimes it seems as if that's just the better way to be...you will make (and keep) more friends and will in turn have a better chance of influencing more people. Well, in some ways this is true, and even good. However, there are some very important, fundamental decisions that you just HAVE TO make. Some things require you and me to not only make a choice, but to then STAND for that choice...STAND for what we BELIEVE.
This, though, presents yet another dilemma...How do you stand for what you believe if you don't truly KNOW what you believe!?! Sure we all think we do for the majority of our lives. We are raised a certain way and "just believe" what we always have because we always have. (I know, that's a little deep, but bear with me!) True belief in something, however, requires some true soul searching.

First, you have to figure out WHAT you (think you) believe as well as WHY you do. Maybe you are on that journey right now...deliberately rejecting some things you've always been taught and lived by, because, after all, what if they are not true? "What if my whole life up to this point has been a farce?" "Why do I believe the way my parents do...what if they've got it all wrong? They're just humans like me, too." Or, "why did I raise my kids to believe this way? What if I've misguided them? After all, my life hasn't been going so well lately, so maybe I've been wrong all this time." All of these are legitimate, honest, real questions that we must admit we all have asked in one way or another at some time in our lives. Are you a bad person for thinking that way or questioning those long-held values? No, you are real.

So then, what do we do now? Well, for one, we must accept that we will never know all of the answers nor were we ever intended to figure it all out. Some things are just too big to wrap our little finite heads around...and that's okay! I personally don't want any more responsiblity and expectation on me than I already have. How about you? Just let go of that control thing and accept that everything just will not fit into our nice little boxes.

Yeah, so, I got that...now what? Once again, glad you asked! Now go on a truth-seeking journey. A what!?! Yeah, a truth-seeking journey. Since you always thought you knew what you believed but now you've figured out that you're just not quite sure about that...now you've gotta find some truth to stand on, or trust me...you will fall...and it's not fun! (True, often the lesson is in the fall, but try to avoid it if you can.) So, for the first part of the search thing, what do I do? Well, once again, bear with me and listen (or read, rather) with an open mind...you do esteem that value in yourself, after all, don't you!?! With an open mind, I dare you to take this challenge...no matter where you are in your journey of life. (We could all use a little refresher, huh?)

I challenge you to start this truth-seeking thing out by *hold on* praying. Yes, I said it...PRAYING. Okay, if you don't like the way that sounds and it's just a little too out there for you (yeah, you with the "open mind") then I'll put it another way. Talk to God...yes, God...you know that whole belief that you are questioning right now...yes, Him! Okay, so how and why would you "talk to God" if you're questioning His very existence in the first place? (Admit it, I'm not just talking to the un-churched crowd here, am I!?! You know who you are and, once again, that's okay. Just be honest about it and come on this journey, too. What could it hurt?)

Well, to answer my question I asked before the little "aside", the "How" is very easy...just open your mouth (or speak with your heart if you're still uncomfortable speaking out loud to someone who is not physically sitting there with you). At this point, you don't have to believe He is there with you listening to you, just trust me on this one and do it. Just tell Him, "God, if you're out there...and I really feel kinda strange even talking like this, since I really don't think you are right now, or I'm just not sure...but anyway, if you're out there, then I ask you to show me." Come on, you can do it! Oh, and no, most likely you will not see fire come down from the sky right then and there, nor will you hear some booming voice audibly speak back to you (not that those things couldn't happen, but they most likely won't).

So now then, "Why"...especially if those cool, show-stopping things aren't going to happen? Did you ever hear your mama say "Because"? Well, because...because that's where it all starts. (Well, it really started way before that, but you'll figure that out soon enough.) Another reason is because in order to take the next step on this journey, it will greatly behoove you to have started with that crazy prayer thing.

Should I keep going, or should I just save the next step for the next post? Okay, okay, okay...I can't and won't leave you hanging like that. (Hope I haven't already lost you before now!) I would be doing you a great (bad) injustice if I didn't at least give you the next step.

Now, you've laid aside your pride and preconceptions and you've said that prayer thing (or talked to God...or whatever you would prefer to call it). Now what? Once again, I have another challenge for you...I know you're up to it! Especially if you've come this far. I challenge you to read something that is not for the faint at heart (actually, it is...it is really for everyone of us). Not just anything, but I specifically am saying you should now find a * Bible * (yes, I said another one of those words) you could even go online to BibleGateway.com or some other Bible website to read online.

Hold on! I am not challenging you to read the whole Bible (though that's not a bad idea over time)...you need to specifically read the book of (gospel of) John. (You know...Matthew, Mark, Luke, JOHN) Whether you are able to read it in one sitting or it takes you a couple of sittings, please don't forget that first step EACH TIME before you read it (pray that He will show Himself to you). You may even need to stop along the way and pray that again (and again). Remember as you read it that this is not a fairy tale. (I know, you're possibly questioning that, too, but trust me...or Him, rather...this is Truth...He is Truth, the ultimate one and only Truth.) The events you read about really did take place. You don't believe it? Well, how do you know that George Washington lived, or the Civil War happened, or Julius Caesar existed...and I could go on and on...but I think you get the point.

Now, this is, of course nowhere near the final step of the journey...but the first steps are always the hardest. Take this challenge, no matter what age you are, no matter how long you've gone to church - or not - , no matter how many times you've read the Bible...doesn't matter...take the challenge! I am, and believe me, you will see things you've never seen before.

These are the first steps of discovering and defining what you believe, because, after all...To Not Decide Is To Decide!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

My first blog

Well, never done this before...though I've read quite a few. I do have many musings I feel are screaming to be shared. Okay, screaming may be a strong word for it, but sometimes it does feel like that. You probably know how I feel! Anyway, at the moment there are many daily duties that are screaming at me even louder, so I must wait until later to truly start this journey. Just wanted to take that first big step...that is, the first big step AFTER coming up with a name and web address! Until later...
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