The Name Game

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From Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, 1594:

JULIET:
      ‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
      Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
      What’s Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
      Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
      Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
      What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
      By any other name would smell as sweet;
      So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,
      Retain that dear perfection which he owes
      Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
      And for that name which is no part of thee
      Take all myself.

Although I’m taking this a bit out of context, Shakespeare’s intended meaning is the same:  Juliet meant that it doesn’t matter what name we give to something, it remains the same.  Think about it:  does a rose smell any different if I call it garlic?  Nope.  Still smells delicious – just with a different name.

As it is with a lie.  Still reeks, just with a different label.

A lie is a lie regardless of the packaging.  It’s sort of like being given the most hideous gift ever, something truly revolting, in a beautiful package trimmed with bows, ribbons, exquisite wrapping and a lovely gift card with real gold lettering.  The package itself does not make the gift any less revolting.  In fact, it makes it worse because you expect something fabulous, and instead, get…..horrific.

In our society, we have given way to “New Age” beliefs, numerology, scientology, kabbala (sp?), hinduism, buddhism, islam, athiesm, homosexuality, abortion on demand, success-oriented churches, astrology, etc.    And in doing these things, we heap lie upon lie.

Satan, the author of lies and confusion, loves it.  He doesn’t really care what we call his lies as long as we believe them.  But the fact remains, it is still a lie.  It doesn’t matter what name we give the religion or agenda, if it is contrary to the Word of God, it is a lie.  Regardless of the name.

 

 

Love letters

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Imagine this scenario:

You pick up your mail, like usual. As you sift through the endless amount of bills, credit card offers, sales flyers and more junk mail, you see a long white envelope with an actual stamp on it. You pull it from the stack and realize it is a letter from a dear friend you haven’t heard from in years! You pull into the driveway and read the letter before you even put the car in park!

Or, how about this one:

Ladies, you’re being courted (or dating as is said now, though the two are not interchangeable), and your betrothed presents you with a handwritten letter. The letter tells you about the way his life was before you met. It tells you about how great of a love he has for you and talks of future plans and dreams. And deep within, in the middle of the letter, is a wonderful surprise – a marriage proposal. This is definitely a letter you will read again just before you walk down the aisle. In short, it is a letter you will read over and over again, breathing in each and every word as if your very life depended on it.

Try this one:

You receive a poetic love letter from your spouse. The letter is very long, and handwritten, with all types of prose. It begins with the story of your lives together. It tells of the good times, and the bad. There are pages that talk of nothing but hardship, and other pages that are full of blessed memories. There are poems and beautiful language. You read this letter everyday, especially since your spouse is now deceased. You treasure every single word, and you can almost say the entire thing by heart. It is, by far, your most valued possession.

Now, imagine this one:

Imagine getting any of those letters, and only taking it out once a week to read one or two sentences. Imagine only reading the parts that are happy, and not ever bothering with the parts that are hard to understand.

Instead of reading it all, you pick out little bits of information here and there, but you miss the big picture since you never read the whole thing. But, after all, you don’t have time to sit and read the whole thing. Dishes must be washed, laundry folded, errands run, and emails to check. So you miss out on the wonderful words and sweet poetry your friend or loved one put together, specifically for you.

Are you wondering where I’m going with this? It’s been said that the Bible is God’s love letter to us. And it struck me tonight that if it is indeed a love letter – or a letter at all – we have ignored it unopened on the desk corner for far too long. Unlike the long-lost friend’s letter, or the letter from our beloved husband or wife, we open it and read only a verse or two once a week. And we wonder in the meantime why there are days when we just don’t understand what’s going on. There are days when nothing makes sense, and when we ask God to explain it, we wonder why He doesn’t speak to us.

The truth is, He does speak to us still, and has given us something that the early church would have gladly died for – a book that contains His words and thoughts. We have in our hands something of such great value that people die for it everyday. And we leave ours all too often on a shelf or coffee table to gather dust.

Why don’t we give our Bible the same attention and care we give those love letters? After reading those love letters, we can quote so much of it word-for-word, and yet we have a hard time remembering much more than a few scriptures, and then may only know the jist of it. Knowing its address (the book: chapter and verse) is another thing.

So my challenge is this: treat your Bible and the word of God as 1000 times more important than any other love letter you could ever receive. Read it every single day. Read it all the way through (not all at once, of course!) – and then do it again. Carry it with you when you travel. When you feel worried, scared, happy, sad, or blessed, read it. Memorize it – hide its words in your heart.

Do that, and its guaranteed, when the hard times come, you’ll have a direct line to God – His written word. And you’ll have a much easier time of knowing how to handle everything that comes your way.

Spend time in His word today – and be blessed.

The Wicker Basket

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I received this in an email and wanted to share it…timeless.

The story is told of an old man who lived on a farm in the mountains of eastern Kentucky with his young grandson.  Each morning, Grandpa was up early sitting at the kitchen table reading from his old worn-out Bible.  His grandson, who wanted to be just like him, tried to imitate him in anyway he could.

One day, the grandson asked, “Papa, I try to read the Bible just like you but I don’t understand it, and what I do understand, I forget as soon as I close the book.  What good does reading the Bible do?”

The Grandfather quietly turned from putting coal in the stove in the stove and said, “Take this old wicker coal basket down to the river and bring back a basket of water.”

The boy did as he was told, even though all the water leaked out before he could get back to the house.  The grandfather laughed and said, “You will have to move faster next time,” and send him back to the river with the basket to try again.

This time the boy ran faster, but again the old wicker basket was empty before he returned home.  Out of breath, he told his grandfather that it was “impossible to carry water in a basket,” and he went to get a bucket instead.

The old man said, “I don’t want a bucket of water, I want a basket of water.  You can do this.  You’re just not trying hard enough,” and he went out the door to watch the boy try again.

At this point, the boy knew it was impossible, but he wanted to show his grandfather that even if he ran as fast as he could, the water would leak out before he got far at all.  The boy scooped the water and ran hard, but when he reached his grandfather, the basket was again empty.

Out of breath, he said, “See Papa, it’s useless!”

“So you think it is useless?” The old man said, “Look at the basket.”

The boy looked at the basket and realized for the first time that the basket looked different.  Instead of a dirty old wicker coal basket, it was clean.

“Son, that’s what happens when you read the Bible.  You might not understand or remember everything, but when you read it, it will change you from the inside out.”

The Lord said in Isaiah 55:11

So shall my Word be that goeth forth out of My mouth:  it shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

I know many people, and I have been there myself, who struggle with reading their Bibles daily because they “just don’t get it.”  I am a firm believer in the KJV only approach (with much to back up my opinion), and therefore, some of the writing is a little more difficult to understand.  What’s more, sometimes the Word itself is challenging.  I think God is very VERY clear in His Word about everything, but I think our understanding requires obedience and a sincere desire to understand, thereby showing our love for Jesus.

About four and a half years ago, the person I charge with being my spiritual mentor (you know who you are JG!) gave me this sage advice:  “Pray and ask God to show you what He wants you to understand before you even open the Bible.”  Ask God to bless your reading at that time so that your spiritual eyes may be opened, paving the way for God to give you the understanding of whatever passage you are reading.

Sometimes, it takes reading, and rereading, and rereading again, before you “get it.”  Other times, it happens instantly.  But, one truth remains:  God can’t speak to you and show you His thoughts if you don’t read His word.  He speaks to us first through His written Word, and if we refuse to stay away from it – even out of fear of not understanding – we are shutting down a supply of blessings that would span our entire lifetime. 

New Year’s is coming up, and with it, New Year’s Resolutions.  Now, while I won’t make a “resolution,” I will have goals for the upcoming year.  How about you?  Will you make it a goal for the new year to read your Bible daily, and spend some time each morning with your Savior?  You will be blessed.  And that’s a promise from the King.

Tithes….what do you think?

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Recently, I have posted a few topics pertaining to blessings, gifts, and church finances.  This has brought up a discussion I figured we could all discuss – TITHES.

What do you think about tithing?  Please don’t give us specifics, as that is between you and the Lord, but just give us an idea of where you stand on the issue…

Is it necessary?

If so, is there an amount or percentage?

What scriptures are you using to make your decision?

Do all of your tithes, or offerings, go to your local church, or do you divide them between church and charities?

Do you consider giving of your time & other resources an offering as well, or do you feel that the term only refers to monetary gifts?

I know where we stand on the issue, but would prefer to get others’ input before I throw mine out.  I will say that my ideals have been recently challenged, and have changed. 

Please comment and let us know what you think – and remember, since this is a Christian issue, be sure to back up your thoughts with scripture references so the rest of us can check it out!

Looking forward to the discussion!

Toni

Sharpen Your Sword (week of 11/30/08)

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Ok, let me be perfectly honest here. 

I was going to write about James 1:13-14 today.  In fact, I had it written and was just adding a few supplemental verses at the end. 

But, I came across something that stumped me, and realized I may not have it exactly right, yet.  So, I’m going to pass over that one for now and go on to one of my favorite verses.

John 8:32   And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.

Are you in bondage?  Are you a slave to someone or something?  Work, drugs, sex, alcohol, money, anything?  Are you a slave to sin?  Are you a slave to religion?

Did you know that you have a Redeemer who has come “to set the captives free?”  It’s true!  And, it’s amazing!

Ask anyone who has been rescued from a life or death situation, and they will tell you of the immense relief they felt.  No, relief is too light a word.  Honestly, I’m not sure how to describe that feeling.  And, yes, I have been on the receiving end of such a rescue. 

About 4-1/2 years ago I was in a position where I thought I was “hooked up.”  I mean, I believed in Jesus…that’s all it took right?

Wrong.

**NOTE:  Reading further is probably going to anger some.  That is not my intention.  My intention is to reveal the Truth of Christ’s love for the church through the example of some of my own experiences.

I thought that as long as I didn’t commit the “Big 3” sins, I was ok – you know, murder, theft, and adultery.  I was told that going to church and confessing to a priest was necessary for forgiveness.  I was encouraged to pray to saints and to the virgin Mary.  (No, I am not knocking Catholics here….but, this was my experience and this is what I learned from it.)  And, there was more, but I won’t get into the rest.

I did go into that cubicle and confess to the priest.  He told me to go have a good weekend.  WHAaa???  Needless to say, I was confused.  Wasn’t there more to it than that?  Didn’t I need to say some Hail Marys, or something? 

Well, God is so gracious.  He sent me someone I had never met (and still haven’t met in person!  Hint hint!) to point out to me the error of my ways.  I learned that I was right to question the need to confess to a priest once a year, or, at all.  In fact, I learned the truth that the only One I needed to confess to – the only One in fact, who could absolve me of my sin anyway – was Jesus!  I learned I was right to question praying to the dead – ie, saints, Mary, etc.  

It was not until this revelation that I began my life anew as a true, repentant believer in the Son of God, Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior.  And, the truth of being set free creates a euphoria that cannot be explained and never fades.  I was saved….and my chains were gone.  The ransom – PAID.

Slavery comes in many forms, and I was very close to accepting the chains offered to me that would have placed me in bondage (and kept me in bondage to previous unconfessed {to God} sin).  I am so grateful to God that He chose to intervene.  My rescue from God came via email!  At least the first installment.  It’s kind of like I was hanging from the edge of a rocky cliff, and was held onto long enough (the email) to allow someone to tie a rope (the Bible) around my waist.  The rope pulled me to safety, and prevented me from getting close to the edge again.  

Now, I am not saying that the Catholic church is a rocky cliff to jump (or be pushed) off.  But my experience was that the legalities kept me from experiencing true Christianity.  Religion, yes.  Christianity, no.  There is a difference.  Religion = legalities/rules/regulations = BONDAGE.  Christianity = FREEDOM IN CHRIST.

And it was the Word – the TRUTH of God that set me free. 

Jesus came to set the captives free, and wants nothing more than to draw you to Him, and rescue you from the edge of whatever cliff you are desperately hanging onto today.  Grab hold of His hand, and let Him pull you to safety.  Let Him pull you close and keep you from the edge.  He wants to rescue you – after all, you are His creation – His child. 

Other than the sin we are in bondage to before we are born again as believers, there are various ways Satan chooses to keep us in chains:

Drugs

Alcohol

Sex/pornography/homosexuality (there are TONS of things in this category…but I’m sure you understand)

Money – wealth/debt – Material things

Work

Marriage/Children/Family (If we place these relationships ABOVE our relationship with Jesus in our priority, then we are, indeed, in bondage to them.)

Success/fame/personal glory

Gluttony

Vanity

Lies/deceit

Hate/anger

Religious legalities

Abuse – emotional/physical/sexual

Impure thoughts

And the list goes on….

I encourage you to find a fellow believer if you are in bondage today – ask them to pray with you that your chains will be lifted and that you will be freed by the Truth that is Jesus.  Even now, before you accept that new-found freedom, read your Bible everyday.  There is so much truth in it, that you can’t help to remain free with God’s grace!

May all God’s children experience true Christian freedom.

Psalm 51:10,

Toni

Faith and Works

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Even so faith, if it has not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, You have faith, and I have works: show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith

by  my works.  (emphasis added)  James 2: 17-18

 

Faith & Works. How often do we confuse, or worse, separate the two? We are told in 3 John verse 5 to “do faithfully” – and yet many times we don’t want to do. We have our kids’ tee-ball practice, supper to cook, or something else we must do instead of doing to serve God & His Eternal Kingdom. We become complacent. We begin to take our own salvation for granted, without trying to ensure we lead as many as possible to the LORD as well. As God-fearing Christians, we should look at every opportunity to serve as a blessing, not a burden. Doing is fun! And exciting! Works without faith is possible – faith without works is not.

But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like a man beholding his natural face in a glass. For he beholds himself, and goes his way, and immediately forgets what manner of man he was.  James 1:22-24

Are you “doing” or just hearing?