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What? I have to repent?

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Salvation involves three steps.  I will use the ABCs that we use for Vacation Bible School to simplify.

A — admit to God that you are a sinner and REPENT and turn away from your sins.

B — believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and accept His gift of forgiveness.

C — confess your faith in Jesus as your Savior and your Lord, forever more        (Partial lyrics from the Tumbleweed song)

btw – believing is not enough.  I can believe that a chair will hold me, but that belief means nothing till I test it out by sitting in it.  The Bible says that “…the demons also believe, and tremble.” (James 2:19)

~*~

This post is born of my prayer time this morning.  It makes me so sad that people I know and care about claim to be Christians, and yet live as if they are anything but.  Even Christians are not perfect by any means, but when you live in blatant sin, with no idea that it might be wrong (or not caring), that’s a problem.

~*~

Problem 1:  Ignorance

One problem we can lay at the feet of the church and the lack of Christian mentoring and teaching.  The newest generation is more ignorant about the things of God than any one I have seen before it.  I am often amazed at what they do not know — even the basics are new to them!  How did this come about?  What went wrong that in a matter of a few generations, things have changed so much?  So many churches seem to have a watered down version of Christianity, or they just do not meet the teaching/discipleship needs of upcoming generations (I know, personally, I had many discipleship opportunities that are not available today).  How can these kids make it in such a wicked world without a foundation?

~*~

Problem 2:  Church drift.

This concept is not new to me and relates to problem 1.  Often as the world drifts farther and farther into wickedness, the church drifts right along with it.  We are still different from the world, but we are both far away from the standards of God.

<———–World————————–Church——————————————————GOD

. . . . . . . . . .|____________________| |____________________________________|

This may remain static               But this grows larger and larger

When the Church (the Christian body, not a building) drifts from the things of God, God calls for them to REPENT.

If my people, who by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”  2 Chronicles 7:14     If the church needs repentance, what hope has the world?  How many people do we send to hell because we do not repent?

~*~

Problem 3: Lack of Repentance

I see those who want to skip the repentance part of the equation.  They are among the “God is love, so He will forgive me later.” crowd.  Or, they are among the crowd that now insists on saying that sin, especially those things specifically covered in the Bible, are not sin at all.  Our children, indoctrinated in the schools, by Television and Movies, by their role models, etc., come to believe that sin is not such a bad thing or that sin is not sin.  May it never be!

Some know of their need of repentance, but choose not to.

Others are told there is no need of repentance, either because they don’t realize they are sinning, or because they just don’t see the need to change their lives.

Repent —->  TURN AWAY —->  Make a U-Turn —> Stop going one way and go the opposite way.

That in a nutshell is repentance.  If I sin as a Christian, I do not do it with impunity.  The law of God is inside my heart, and it causes me to have a deep sorrow for blowing it.  This draws me back to God through confession and repentance.

“To be sensible and truly discerning of sin is to sorrow for displeasing of God; to be afflicted that He is displeased by us more than that He is displeased with us.”  John Bunyan

~*~

Today’s Christian seems to want the benefits of forgiveness without the burden of repentance.  Drugs, addictions, sex outside marriage, language issues, and so much more abound within the “Christian” community.

Why?  Because there is no repentance of sins?  I’m sure it’s not as simple as all that, but that’s a big part of it.  This makes me so sad because I have to wonder if we have people walking around thinking they are Christians when they are not.

The solution?  Well, I guess that goes back to the verse above.  “If my people….”  If those of us who know get right with God, He will heal our land and wake up our zombyism slumbers and heal our land.

~*~

As always, my posts are often me thinking aloud, trying to make sense of the things I see around me.  I have a knowledge base to work with, but I’m not God, so I get things wrong sometimes.  I hope you’ll be patient with me and join along with me as we seek understanding of God’s truth.

The Weaver

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THE WEAVER

My life is but a weaving

Between my Lord and me.

I cannot choose the colors

He worketh steadily.

Oftimes he weaveth sorrow,

And I know foolish pride

Forget He sees the upper

And I, the underside.

Not till the loom is silent

And the shuttles cease to fly

Shall God unroll the canvas

And explain the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful

In the Weaver’s skillfun hand

As the threads of gold and silver

In the pattern He has planned

~ Author Unknown

~*~

~*~

In cleaning out my dad’s room, I found this old poem in one of his books. It was like finding an old friend. This poem is one of my favorites, because it reminds me that I am not God, I am not the center of the universe, and I am not all-knowing, all-seeing, or all-powerful!  To seek to understand everything that happens in my life is a fool’s task.  God is the only one who sees His plan from beginning to end.  I do not.  I must trust that, when I do see the final tapestry, it will take my breath away in its beauty, its complexity, and its rightness.  If you’ve ever looked at the underside of a tapestry, you will know what I mean.

~*~

 Today I challenge you to look at your beliefs, and see if you are looking (and critiqueing) by the underside of your tapestry (or anothers).

Life is Hard

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Many times I have heard people say, “God is a crutch for weak people”

I say, “DUH!”

What those people do not understand is that we are all weak!

As human beings in all our sin nature and humanness, we are broken.

 

 

If you had a broken leg, especially if severely broken, you would not try to walk around without a cast, a crutch, or whatever you needed to get around.  You would think someone crazy who attempted to walk around with a broken leg.  And yet, this person crawls around, broken but unable to see it.  This person laughs at those who have their leg set and cast, walking around with crutches or in a wheel chair.

~*~

Life Is Hard

~*~

Life is hard; why do it alone,

Standing hard against the wind?

“God helps those…” you often say

For yourself you try to fend.

~*~

We are weak, but He is strong

Not about defeat, but true.

We have a need that He can meet,

When we allow Him to.

~*~

He gives us grace to carry on,

Always taking the larger share

Of the yoke that we must carry

And each burden we must bare.

~*~

When storms approach, His arms

Wrap ’round to take the brunt

Of all the crashing wind and waves:

Those things wich do affront.

~*~

We feel the wet and cry, “Why me?”

Not knowing what He’s done

Saving us from much worse things

When hard times have begun.

~*~

Life is hard; why do it alone?

For all is better shared.

Yoke up with Him, lean hard-

With Him forever paired.

~*~

a poem by Angela Masters Young  copyright 3-29-2012

 

What are some of the things people lean on instead of God?  (i.e. addictions, …)

Lean hard my friends!

 

 

I is better than U

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~The wart on his broad forehead drew my eyes in spite of my need to look away.  A beautiful smile lingered just five inches lower, eclipsed by the small mar that drew me.  “Look away!” I ordered my eyes, lowering them, looking anywhere but at him, hurrying to get away from the sight I didn’t want to see but couldn’t look away from.

 ~*~

~The smell overwhelmed my senses, drawing me into a deep, dark cavern of odiferous horror.  His hand extended to me was too close to avoid the cloud surrounding him.  I shake his hand, quickly letting go and stepping back away from him.  “Welcome.” I say with a smile that hides my need to exit the orbit of his unwashed body.

~*~

~She danced down the isle, lifting her hands high in praise to her Lord.  Embarassment washed over me, for her, as I wondered if others noticed her extreme behavior.  I understood the need to praise, but this was over the top!  She must be wanting others to stare at her.  Why else would she behave in this fashion?  I would never. . . .

~*~

The above are three imaginary circumstances that could (and do) happen in the real world.  Each time, some perceived flaw comes to the attention of the senses.  It grows, sometimes to gigantic proportions, in our mind, sucking all our attention to it and it alone.  Causing us to miss everything else as we succomb to it’s lure, it’s seductive draw.

We don’t mean to focus on the black dot on the white paper, but we are human.  Our humanity, our sin nature if you will, draws us to this ogling of what we consider bizarre or beneath us.  Our nose curls with disdain as we struggle with our base nature and it’s need to put others into categories that make us look better.

Every time I look at someone’s black dot, some thing that mars them in my eyes, I am saying, “I am better than you.”

Every time I look in wonder at someone performing some act I would never perform, based on my culture, my beliefs or my upbringing, [not including such things as 1st degree murder….] I am saying, “I am better than you.”

I don’t know about you, but I often find myself saying negative things (in my head) about others.  I don’t speak them out loud, and I don’t want to think them.  They just pop up, and I have to fight them.  In my head is better than out loud, but the struggle still exists.

~*~

It was an epiphany for me when I realized that every time I had these thoughts, I was saying, “Im better than you.”  {Given – there are things that we should judge as wrong, although motives (the heart) are off limits to us to judge.  We are not talking about those things (for my literalists in the audience☺)}  I did not see myself as judgemental. I could, for a time, feel good about myself because I did not do/have/etc. whatever it was. {Ever catch this phrase(s) going through your head:  I’m so glad I don’t ….;  I’m so glad I didn’t ….; I’m so glad I have … instead of ….; etc.

We have delved into this topic before, but it bears repeating.  What makes us compare ourselves to others? The simple answer:  we do it so we can feel better about ourselves.  If we look where we should for comparison (God), we realize our ‘messiness’ and need of a Savior.  Whether we compare ourselves to others we find “less” in some way in order to feel better, or to others we feel as “more” in some way causing is to feel worse, it is wrong.

~*~

Looking down our nose

I’m not sure where that phrase originated, but it appropriately describes what we do when we judge others based on self.  One must be higher in order to look down.  I have seen people who, very literally, base their self worth on where they stand in comparison to those around them.  While a temporary feeling of superiority may occur, sooner or later, this person will realize he or she is not at the top of the scale.  What then?  Basing our self worth on others leads to a slippery slope of “I’m better/I’m worse” metamorphasis of how we feel.

~*~

Who I am in Him

When we compare ourselves to God, we realize we are at the bottom of the heap.  Our righteousness is as filthy rags.  Our holiness is non-existant.  Sounds bad, doesn’t it?  It is. But, it does get better.  This finding ourselves at the bottom of the heap forces us to look up for relief (salvation).  We ‘come to ourselves’ like the prodigal son and return home to the Father, begging for restoration.  [See Luke 15:11-32]   Then, we surrender ourselves to the Father, and accept Jesus blood as payment for our sinful, messy lives.  We hand Him our sin and unrighteousness (which He places under the blood) and He gives us His righteousness.  From then on, when God looks at us, He sees “Paid in full by the blood of Jesus Christ” and sees His righteousness instead of our filthy rags.  Another post could emerge discussing identity in Christ, but I will leave it here for now.

~*~

I hope you haven’t turned me off yet, because I found this poem on YOU DECIDE called “Shoes in Church” that I find well worth the read. It says it all.  I hope you enjoy it and check yourself next time one of these comparisons pops up in your life.

Friendship Boquet

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After a recent post, The Friendship Package, a new friend told me about a friendship power point presentation she had made concerning friendship. The presentation contains several sayings or truisms about friendship, on absolutely gorgeous flowers. I thought it was worth the view, and I want to share it with you. You can find it here:

http://freedomborn.wordpress.com/2012/03/21/friendship-bouquet/

Enjoy!

Spring into Rebirth

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I found a new photo challenge from Cee’s Life Photography Blog that I decided to do today.  It is part of the challenge and part of this post. Cee said, “This new challenges comes from Print-Sense photography and design blog site, please check it out and join along in the fun.  Here is the assignment.”

I’m inviting each of you to take a small walk.  Only 50 steps.  Our challenge is to take 50 Step from our homes or places of work to find something amazing, beautiful or creative to photograph.  (This is the actual challenge)

Today I was out and about with my Mother-in-law.  I took her to lunch and then for a cone.  While we ate our cones, I drove around looking at the budding flowers and trees in my neighborhood.  All of them are beautiful, of course, but 50 feet from my front door is a lone daffodil, springing up proudly among the weedage from last year to announce, “Hello world!  Today Spring begins.”  This beautiful, sunshiny flower is a pop of color in a green and brown world.  Here is the image I consider amazing and beautiful:

Announcing Spring!

Ordinarily I would share this type of challenge on my other blog, but this picture fit perfectly with my thoughts for a post here.  Spring is a time of rebirth.  It is a time when we begin to feel hope after the long winter. It inspires us.  It makes us happy.  In Christ, we are like this daffodill.

In Christ we are:

☼   Reborn

☼   Full of Hope

☼   Able to feel joy in the midst of trying times.

☼   An announcement of the Christ in us.

☼  A pop of color that draws others to Christ.

Of course, not all who claim the name Christ follower look like this daffodil, but this is our goal – to draw attention to the new life we have in Him.

Can you think of any other ways this picture is like a person in Christ?

Are you aware that many eyes are on you, looking to see if you’re real or not?

As Easter approaches, I find myself thinking these thoughts more.  We are only human, but in Him we are more than merely human — we are the children of Light, redeemed by the blood of Christ, raised to walk with Him in newness of life.  .  .  .

The Friendship Package

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Friendship bracelet

Friendship bracelet (Photo credit: petr cervinka)

Yesterday I read a blog by Lisa TerKeurst, When Friendship is Tough.  In it, she discusses her middle school daughter having a friend problem.  Later the daughter said this profound statement:  “Mom,” she said with great authority, ‘”I’ve decided something about friends.  They all have good stuff and bad stuff.  Things you like and things that really annoy you.  So, you just have to decide if you can handle their package deal.”‘

Pothole

Pothole (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lisa goes on to point out, later in the post, that we too have good and bad in the package we offer others, so we must remember it goes both ways.  “We’re both messy people, willing to work on our not so fun stuff and are fully aware we’re going to hit some muddy potholes along our friendship path.” (about a particular friend).

How about you?  Are you willing to accept others as a package deal, the good, the bad, and the ugly?  Or do you minimize your own annoying habits and maximize those of others?  Do you expect others to be perfect while allowing yourself to be imperfect?  Have you let go a friendship that just needed a little work after hitting a pothole? 

The Relationship Package

What about other relationships in your life?  The one’s with your siblings,  your parents, your children, or others in your life?  Have you accepted them as a package deal?

 The Marriage Package

Español: Intercambio de anillos entre los novios

Español: Intercambio de anillos entre los novios (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone (usually female) talk about their love interest, before he/she becomes their mate, as if they can change the things they don’t like about him.  “He’ll change after we get married.”  NOT!  Not only will those irritants still be there, they will be there even more because the ‘winning’ part is over.  The time to decide if you can live with the whole package and accept him/her as is, is before marriage.  After all, he/she must accept you the same way.

Do you accept your mate as the package deal he/she is?  Have you expected acceptance from mate while not offering it in return?  Have you expected mate to change to make you happy?

 

god

god (Photo credit: the|G|™)

The God Package

God is a package deal.    So many today want to have a god, but they don’t want God on God’s terms.  They want to decide what God is and isn’t.  I first heard this in a 12 step group in which they told people to view their ‘higher power’ in whatever way made sense/was comfortable for them.  I disagree. God is unchangeable.  He is what He is.

He takes us as a whole package, and He wants us to accept Him as a whole package too.  He doesn’t want us to pick and choose what we want to believe based on society’s views or what makes us feel good.  It doesn’t work that way.

God is love – absolutely!  But God is also just and holy.

God’s justice demands payment for our sin. 

God’s love sent Jesus to pay that price for us.

But God commendeth His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  Romans 5:8

Do you accept God as He is?  The parts you like along with the ones you do not understand?  Or do you create a God that pleases you (idolotry)? 

What do you think?

Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sin.  God’s love.  God’s justice

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