Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Unjust Shall Live By Lack Of Faith

“The Year Of Living Biblically (One man’s humble quest to follow the Bible as literally as possible)”
By A.J. Jacobs

Great News! According to A.J. Jacobs, now even atheists and agnostics have a place in Heaven! Pearly Gates-WIDE OPEN! You don’t even have to have faith-intellectual acceptance is enough.
I have a friend who lent me this book by A.J. Jacobs, and I have found it quite interesting. I believe Jacobs is a sincere, honest writer who came up with an intriguing idea. According to Wiki:
“Jacobs' new book, The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible, chronicles his attempts to live for one year according to all the moral codes expressed in the Bible, including stoning adulterers, blowing a trumpet at the beginning of every month, and refraining from trimming his facial hair.”
Jacobs had a few obstacles in his path: he is/was a secular agnostic Jew who didn’t believe that Jesus is the Messiah. So the Old Testament was more palatable to him than the New. I’m reading the chapters now dealing with Jacobs attempts to follow the New Testament ‘rules’ while ignoring the references of Jesus Christ being equated to God.
Another obstacle for Jacobs: not just Christ, but Christians. He visits Jerry Falwell’s church, finds the Christians there to be warm and sincere…but they are also straightforward about considering Homosexuality sin. That doesn’t jibe with Jacobs beliefs; he makes up for it by finding and interviewing “Evangelical Gay Christians” who claim that every Biblical reference to homosexuality being an abomination are… misinterpreted. Silly old Patriarchs. Jacobs finds the “EG Christians” to be more acceptable. Comfortable.
Think about this: “One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible”…humble? Before Whom? With respect to Whom? Is he humble before God, or did he put ‘humble’ in the title to sell books?
Jacobs may be sincere, but attempting to follow the Biblical Laws while ignoring the Lawgiver (God, Not Moses) is ridiculous. This isn’t a full review-there is much more to the book, which is…verbose. The man knows how to write. And he loves to use a lot of words.
Heaven is the refuge of sinners. Jesus Christ is Our Savior because we need saving. Living biblically for a year to write a book is an intellectual enterprise, not a faithful one. As I told my friend who lent me the book, “I’ve been trying to live biblically for 30 years.” And it is humbling. And I am grateful to God every day FOR every day.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

And For Him

“13For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, 14in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
15And He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”
Colossians 1:13-17

And for Him. Those who wonder why we are here, what purpose we serve in life, here is your answer.
We were created by God for God. We live by His good Grace, and live to raise up praise and worship to Him, commune with Him. Emmanuel. God with us. Not against us, not to us, but with us. Because of sin in this world, this domain of darkness, many reject Christ. It is not His will that any should perish, but that all should be saved. But only a small percentage are rescued; I can’t tell you why God chose me or anyone else. We who are chosen become brothers and sisters, transferred to the kingdom of His beloved Son.
We don’t and can’t ever deserve such a wonderful gift. But we are grateful, and Praise God for rescuing us.
If you haven’t yet reached the point in your life where you feel that God is calling you, seeking to rescue you from this troubled dominion, I encourage you to seek Him, ask Him for the gift of Salvation.
As you look out on a world without hope, dark and troubled, know that there is Hope only in Jesus Christ.
The world will tell you that Christ is false, that Christians are fools, that there is no hope in Christ.
They were created as part of His Creation, and they reject Christ. They were ‘built to worship God’ but instead they worship themselves or some other lesser god.
Seek God while He may be found. Accept no substitutes. I hope to see you in Heaven.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Safe Journey

I live near what we in Phoenix term a "mountain" preserve, which would be more aptly named a "hill" preserve, but I guess we like to pretend here that something more majestic is going on. Regardless, it's a beautiful area that I can reach by abbreviated walk from my home. Then I escape into all the creativity of our heavenly Father's handiwork. It's a marvelous and quite vast area called Lookout Mountain. Maybe you can Google­® Map it. I head south right up 16th Street to get there.

While the weather is yet pleasant, and since my "retirement," I have tried to hike into the area once or even twice a week. I had been foraying out quite recklessly with nothing but myself for several weeks before my trainer insisted that I include a cell phone and some water on my trips. I'm not against a certain amount of caution, so at her advice I now drag along two items I really don't want to be carrying. I like to have my hands free for balance and I've never once felt the need to call anyone out there. But I guess there is a lot of loose rock, and on a downward incline I could slip and fall and then a phone would be handy. There have been occasions when I haven't seen anyone for a half hour or more. Maybe if I fell and wasn't sighted for a few hours I would actually need to have a sip of water. So there you have it, now I'm quite prepared. It hasn't cramped my style much; I spend an hour or so appreciating the beauty of the earth, thanking God as I travel for being so wonderful, and huffing and puffing. Often I try to pray, but frankly, it's hard for me to pray without closing my eyes, and that's not a good idea when one is maneuvering around a precipice.

I often receive funny "anti-exercise" emails from a certain friend of mine, so I've been trying to persuade her that exercise is a good thing, and in the case of hiking the preserve, it can also be considered an exercise in art appreciation. After several rounds of emails, I finally persuaded her to take a short hike with me out to the preserve and, in fact, our very first "hike" was basically just walking over there and having a look at it. It was then that all the snake talk started. Now, I'm not particularly afraid of snakes or at least it is not a phobia that restricts me from doing anything. In fact on a hike at another mountain preserve many, many years ago a baby rattler was lying across our path, so we avoided that route for the day. No big deal. And in all my hikes since I'd retired, I hadn't once felt a tinge of fear at the thought there might be a rattlesnake somewhere in the preserve. I've seen bunnies and quail and lizards and coyotes and even some burros (not the food kind) out there, and we all just went our separate ways. However, my friend would just not let up on the rattler talk. "My husband said this is the time of year they come out. They like to stretch out on the paths and soak up the sun after the cool morning. If you see a bunny, there's probably a rattler somewhere behind. This time of year is when they're most dangerous because they're molting and their skins can block their vision and they'll strike at anything. Baby rattlers are the most dangerous because they don't know how to control their venom and they inject you with so much you'd probably die. I have a snake stick I'll bring along...."

The night before our first actual hike up into the hills my friend emailed me to cancel because she was going out of town. I knew that that day I could still have a good walk at my normal speed and I expected that walking with her was going to be a little slow going for a while, so it was fine with me. As usual, I set out with my phone and my water at a nice pace into the beautiful cool desert morning air. But something wasn't the same. The specter of the hidden rattlesnake ready to jump out and bite my ankles was situated dead center in my thinking, and all I could think about was keeping my eye out for hidden dangers. My joyous escapade into nature had lost its luster. My happy-go-lucky attitude was gone because I was wearing an invisible straight jacket of unrealistic rattlesnake fear.

God's Word tells us many, many times that we should not fear. Many times it is in the context of trusting God, a God who even notices when a sparrow falls to the ground. How much more will he care and provide for His children? We are also admonished not to be fearful of sharing the truth of the Gospel. My little experience with fear on my hike reminded me of how fear can steal our joy. We can travel this earthly sod watching our feet, frantically waiting and expecting doom, never lifting our eyes to appreciate so many blessings and so much beauty, or we can travel as if we have the best and most blessed tour guide of the ages at our side, ready to steer us clear of hidden dangers, show us the best sights and bring us safely to the end of our journey.

"Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love." 1 John 4.15 - 4.18
Don't be fearful of anything this world can do to you. Enjoy the journey! It's the only one you get on this planet and it's over before you know it. The next one is a doozy!


Monday, February 18, 2008


A week or so later one of my friends from our funeral group invited me to attend a “church meeting” with her in another town. She called it a charismatic service; I had no idea what that meant. The event happened to fall on the same day as my birthday, so I tried to use that as an excuse to get out of it, but, wouldn’t you know, my husband told me I should go ahead and go with her so I could get out of the house and away from the baby and kids for a day. Maybe I was acting a little crabby and he wanted to get me out of the house? More to be friendly to my new friend than anything else, I decided to go with her.

The service was one of sharing personal stories and times of prayer, but it also had the “charismatic” part of it that was pretty off-putting to me as a Catholic; I frankly just didn’t know what was going on so I tried to ignore that element of the service as I listened. Their “testimonies," one after the other, were of changed and transformed lives and I found myself feeling intrigued and drawn on one hand and angry on the other. I really didn’t want to do what it seemed they had done, and that was to actually accept anything that God would bring into my life once I took the step of faith they had made. I didn’t want to give up drinking and partying. I had a lot of “fun” things in my life that I really didn’t want to give up. My husband and I had plans! I mean, I certainly didn’t want to go to Africa to be a missionary. What if God asked me to give up my husband and children? What if He asked me to give up my life?! It was just too much! But soon I began to realize that God was speaking directly to my heart through the people who stood up to give their “testimonies." I remembered that I had asked God to show me the truth, and person after person stood up to tell their story about becoming “born again” or having “accepted Christ.” My heart began to melt as I finally began to really “hear” the story of the free gift that was offered by Jesus. Funny how I had always known about Jesus dying on the cross, but I really didn’t know that that act had any more particular importance than Noah and the flood or Moses' exodus from Egypt in the litany of bible stories I had heard as a child. I suddenly saw that the whole Bible from beginning to end actually pointed to Jesus! For the first time I saw that it was completely His work and His sacrifice alone that brought salvation, and it had nothing to do with anything I could do, any “good” thing I could perform. I saw that I could never do enough good things to be acceptable to a Holy God. Only by believing on Christ, Who died to take my sins away, could I be made acceptable.
At an invitation to receive Christ, an altar call, I felt God drawing me forward and I felt His Spirit whispering in my heart that I could trust Him. Knowing full well that it would change my life completely, knowing that I was trading my old life for His, I accepted His free gift of forgiveness for all the wrong things I had done. I felt completely washed clean and forgiven for the first time in my life and I knew that I had found the right answer. I felt like I was starting my life over again. That was June 14th, 1980.

Since I’ve made my decision to follow Christ, my life has had many ups and downs, but through it all God has been my strength and my comfort, and He has blessed me abundantly in so many ways. I have learned to love His Word as I study and ask Him to change me to have His nature. I have learned to ask Him for forgiveness daily for the sins I still commit, since we struggle with our sinful nature for the rest of our lives here on earth. But I know that in the end, Christ’s sacrifice is sufficient and complete, and by faith and through the assurance of His Holy Word, I believe with my whole heart that someday I will be with Him in heaven. I hope that if you haven’t already, you will now choose Jesus too. Jesus made it simple for us. Ask God for forgiveness for your sins, tell Him you accept the sacrifice Jesus made for you, mean it with your whole heart and tell Him that you want to live for Him, whatever it takes. Then tell someone, and watch the wonderfully bumpy journey begin! You will never regret it.
“….because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, "Everyone who believes in Him will not be put to shame.” Romans 10.9 – 11

What a joy it would be for me to see you in heaven! Jesus says, quite clearly, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except by me.” God bless you, friends.


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Vote For Antichrist!

Just kidding. In this election year, I hear one candidate being called “Jesus Christ” and “Messiah”…so please forgive me if that captures my attention for a post.
When my state had a caucus, a friend at work asked me which party “He” belonged to, as she wanted to go to vote for him. She didn’t know or care about party affiliation: she just wanted to give him her vote.
And my friend isn’t the only one. This candidate for high (but not THE Highest!) office is inspiring many to support him. He can fill stadiums, just like a rock star.
This world, this cosmos (world system) raises up rock stars, political stars, false messiahs by the boatload.
Christians are residents of Heaven, sojourning here in a foreign land. We are called to be in the world, but not of it. Many times I’ve heard Christians say, “I don’t care who the Anti-Christ turns out to be, as he won’t appear until after the Rapture. I‘ll be out of here.”
Very true. If these are indeed the “End Times”, it is possible that the person known as the Anti-Christ is alive today, and beginning to accumulate power. I’m assuming that he will be charismatic, a great speaker able to rally millions to his side.
I doubt that “THE” Anti-Christ is running for President this year. I wish he were, as that would mean that Christ’s return is imminent. I believe that the Bible is clear in stating that Christ will ‘catch up’ His loved ones before what is termed the Great Tribulation, which is actually God executing Judgment on the Earth.
Read the book of Revelation and see for yourself.
Whatever happens this year, whoever wins the Presidency, God is in charge. My joke about God giving us the President we deserve may come true.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Green Persimmons And Count It All Joy

“Here, taste this.”
“What is it?”
“A fruit-taste it.”
Two minutes of sour spitting and drinking water while my boss laughed at me-I had eaten my first and only bit of green persimmon. It soured my mouth, tasting horrible bad.
I could say that this has begun to seem like a green persimmon year, what with the politics not going as I like, assorted family health issues, war still raging and the economy in the dumps…but even in the midst of all sorts of negatives, we are called to count it all joy, and there is much wisdom in that.
More than anything else, I rejoice that God loves me. That He has my future firmly in His hands, that I need not worry about anything. Not health issues, politics, the multifaceted foolishnesses of Man…nothing. Rather, I count it joy that God has placed me in a good place, given me the duty of taking care of my parents, a great church family, a good job, a great country…
Yes. There is a lot to be thankful to God for. No matter who sits in the White House, no matter whether my health fades (here’s a hint-it will someday) or the entire world seems cockeyed and crazy…God is in charge, and I have nothing to fear. Count it all joy, friends.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

About this same time, my husband and I had become friendly with some Mormon missionaries who had appeared at our door proselytizing. They seemed lonely, and so were we, so we invited them in. Eventually we started playing board games with them at our home once a week or so. Before and after our games, they talked to us about Mormonism and I started to feel very troubled. My husband was quite convinced that Mormonism was not the right religion, perhaps more because he had been raised to believe that Catholicism was the only right religion than that he had any true conviction about it, but I wasn't so sure. I was very confused about why I believed what I believed, and quite honestly, what did I believe? On one hand I was becoming friendly with these women from my church who seemed so sincere about loving Jesus and who were so friendly and loving to me, and on the other I had these missionaries telling us that the Mormon church was the only right church. I began to feel more and more pressed to decide what I believed. I began to ask myself why I had let anyone into my life to disturb my comfortable status. Certainly, before all these different elements began inflicting themselves on my psyche, I was quite content just to live and let live when it came to religious things. Why were all these people suddenly bombarding me with disquieting philosophies and ultimatums? Then I also remembered my sister’s admonitions that I had to be “born again,” and I had no idea what that really meant. I was utterly confused. Little did I realize that God was working a miracle in me through His Holy Spirit. He was knocking on the door of my heart; He was preparing me to be pulled out of the muck and mire.
I did something then that was very out of character for me, I guess. I stood at my kitchen window, stared up at the sky, and asked God with all the sincerity I could muster to show me the truth. What did it mean to be a Christian? Did I really have to make some sort of decision? Why wasn't just going to church and being good enough to get me to heaven? I didn't know how He was going to answer me, but today I know that I asked the perfect questions, and God was just waiting.
To be continued...