MY 2020 SPIRITUAL GOALSRead Now
I've already sort of talked about some of my goals over on our YouTube channel but, since today is #WorshipWednesday on the blog, I wanted to talk about some of my spiritual goals in particular. So, here we go:
READ THE ENTIRE BIBLE
Luckily, audio books have made a surge in recent years, and my app that I use at church can read the Bible out to me with a year-long reading plan. This makes it so easy to listen to it and absorb in the car. I just need to make it a priority of each day and morning!
SERVE MY COMMUNITY THROUGH MY CHURCH
From free Easter egg drops, monthly meals for the homeless, a food bank, feeding our first responders around the holidays, and much more, my church is super involved in helping our local community. With that being said, I haven't been the best at getting involved myself. So, I'm hoping to really make that effort this year!
LEARN MORE ABOUT APOLOGETICS
I learned about apologetics a few years after I graduated from college. I think it is the best and newest way to communicate with this generation and generations to come.
LISTEN TO MORE WORSHIP MUSIC
Skepticism is a good thing. A lot of skeptics of the Christian religion tend to be well-educated people who look to science and logic to form their views on the world and their views about reality.
As a Christian, this is why I like apologetics so much. It takes time to explore secondary knowledge found in the Bible that can aid in giving evidence for the existence of the Christian God. Today, I thought it would be fun to outline some of the scientific principles that are highlighted or hinted at in the Bible. Let's get started!
QUARANTINE AND PROTECTIVE MEASURES
"And the leper in whom the plague is, his clothes shall be rent, and his head bare, and he shall put a covering upon his upper lip, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean. All the days wherein the plague shall be in him he shall be defiled; he is unclean: he shall dwell alone; without the camp shall his habitation be." - Leviticus 13:45-46
THE WATER CYCLE
"Behold, God is great, and we know him not, neither can the number of his years be searched out. For he maketh small the drops of water: they pour down rain according to the vapour thereof: Which the clouds do drop and distil upon man abundantly." - Job 36:26-28
"Thou shalt have a place also without the camp, whither thou shalt go forth abroad: And thou shalt have a paddle upon thy weapon; and it shall be, when thou wilt ease thyself abroad, thou shalt dig therewith, and shalt turn back and cover that which cometh from thee:" Dueteronomy 23:12-13
THE STARS ARE INNUMERABLE
"As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, neither the sand of the sea measured: so will I multiply the seed of David my servant, and the Levites that minister unto me." - Jeremiah 33:22
Scientists now estimate that there are at least hundreds of billions of stars in space. The Bible, however, made this known in 626 B.C.
"TURN THE OTHER CHEEK" DOESN'T MEAN "BECOME THE PUNCHING BAG:" HOW TO RESPOND TO HATERead Now
"But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on they right cheek, turn to him the other also." - Matthew 5:39
We all have moments in our lives when someone does something mean to us to hurt us. Most of the time, these people just want a reaction from you. I remember hearing this verse often when growing up.
Just by logic, most would interpret this to say that you should let someone continue to abuse you either physically, spiritually, or emotionally. In fact, the lack of "retaliation" when someone wrongs you might be why some people don't want to learn more about Jesus. So, I wanted to clear some things up for today's #WorshipWednesday post!
LOOKING AT CONTEXT
"Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:" Matthew 5:38
"Then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother: so shalt thou put the evil away from among you. And those which remain shall hear, and fear, and shall henceforth commit no more any such evil among you. And thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot." Deuteronomy 19:19-21
WHAT JESUS MEANS IN THE TEXT
It further evident that this is the case when you read Bible verses like those in Ephesians 6:10-11, where the Bible says to " be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil."
But, perhaps most importantly, I learned from these Bible study that God doesn't always want us to sit back and continue to let people walk all over us. Our response of kindness makes a statement. Our honest words said in a dignified and classy way will leave an impact. But none of us are perfect!
TIPS FOR RESPONDING WITH THE LORD'S STRENGTH
This past Sunday was our first Sunday back in our regular church pattern. When we arrived, it felt right, like it always does!
One of the pastors jumped up on stage after the last worship song had ended to tell the congregation that the head pastor was out, and that we would be watching a video of a service that was previously recorded. I was pretty excited, because I never leave church without a good word.
But this was the word that I needed to hear.
She was doubting herself and, believe me, if you know this woman, you know she’s kicking butt at this blogger thing!
I often find myself waking up and wondering what in the world I think someone as small and insignificant as me is going to accomplish. Sometimes, this burden gets even heavier when you don’t get many views, likes, or shares on your post. You feel like you’re not reaching the right people.
I think I finally am beginning to understand the message God had for me when we watched the sermon on Sunday. The sermon was out of Mark 5.
“And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes. And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains…” – Mark 5:1-3
“And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones,” – Mark 5:5
I don’t want to spend too much time on this, as I don’t want to regurgitate the message and pass it off as my own. What you need to know is that Jesus left the many to tend for the one who needed him most.
Jesus’ sacrifice wasn’t exclusive to one person. It can be applied to anyone. However, Jesus comes to us personally. He knows all of our needs and our desires.
He came to this man after leaving the thousands of people, some of which I’m sure could have used something from him. He met the man right where he was. This man was said to be filled with demons, and his name was Legion. Our pastor explained that, while demons do exist, demons were also said to be things like different ailments or problems.
I know that many people who have anxiety hate hearing that they should just turn to Jesus or they should stop worry. I’m not a fan of that, either. The truth is that anxiety is an issue with your brain, and so is depression. It’s an illness, and it can consume us.
My anxiety has not gone away, but I can attest to the fact that it is a whole lot better when I stay close to Jesus. Most of all, this story taught me that, if Jesus thinks that I or this man who was so bound down by society and his own problems are both good enough, why shouldn’t I?
Jesus left thousands of people to help one man. If that doesn’t have you smiling bigger each and every day, I don’t know what will. This week, remember that you are loved. Stop telling yourself you won’t amount to anything, or your efforts are in vain. Do what you love, and never apologize for it.
If you’re a Christian, you know that this week is holy week. I know that some of the days in Holy Week aren’t celebrated by every church. I work at a Methodist school, so we have observances for every day.
For today’s Worship Wednesday post, I wanted to talk about some of the science behind some of the conditions that Jesus suffered from on his way to the cross. And, if you’re a non-believer who thinks I will be saying “he didn’t really die and rise from the dead,” then don’t bother reading. I fully believe this happened.
So, let’s get in to this:
JESUS SWEATS BLOOD
The medical term for sweating blood is Hematidrosis. While doctors don’t know exactly what triggers Hematidrosis, many think it is linked to the body’s “fight or flight” response. Hematidrosis has been linked to extreme distress or fear like facing death, torture, or severe and ongoing abuse.
While this could just be a sort of imagery in Luke to mean that Jesus was praying with great effort, it seems his situation would warrant the medical side of this very real condition.
Although there doesn’t seem to be too much information about it, we know from historical research from the time that this was the normal scourging that went on. Most scholars believe the soldiers who scourged Jesus used a flagrum (pictured) which was a leather whip containing pieces of metal, glass, and metal balls at the end of each strip of the whip.
CROWN OF THORNS
They mocked him by putting this crown of thorns on his head. They also gave him a reed in his hand and said to him, “Hail, King of the Jews.”
I never really connected it before, but I wonder if they chose thorns because of his parable of the seeds where he says that seeds are often chocked by thorns. Interesting!
But, at this point, we know that Jesus is severely stressed, he has taken a beating with a very dangerous weapon, and he has had a crown of thorns placed on to his head.
CARRYING THE CROSS
So, imagine being beaten, mocked, and wearing a crown of thorns and being forced to carry the cross up to Calvary. We know it was hard for him to carry.
“And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross.” – Matthew 27:32
JESUS' TIME ON THE CROSS
as he pushed up on his nailed feet just to breathe. This would also cause him pain on his wounds and his hands and arms. The goal was to make those being crucified suffer as much as possible. It might take days for someone to die. People would come out for the set up and stay for a while, but then they would leave the crucifixion victims out there until they passed.
Usually, to make sure that they couldn't escape, the guards would break their knees. This didn't happen with Jesus.
"Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs: But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water." - John 19:32-34
This water mingled with blood is a condition that happens when the organs begin to shut down. This was likely coming from his lungs and heart. Dr. Cahleen Shrier from Azusa Pacific University, said that this watery liquid was lkikely caused by carbon dioxide build-up in the blood, which causes a high level of carbonic acid in the blood.
This makes the person want to breathe to get more oxygen in the body. However, if the person can't breathe well, it causes damage to tissues which cause capillaries to leak!
I know that the headline of this is rather shocking for my regular readers who are Christians. But, I want to ease your mind by letting you know that I’m partially borrowing today’s title from the book written by a speaker I recently heard.
For today’s post, I want to discuss the ideas from theologian, philosopher, and writer Dr. Thomas J. Oord. I will then respond to them with my take and opinion.
DR. OORD’S SOLUTIONS FOR EVIL
We all struggle with answering the most difficult question to tackle in Christianity: “If God loves us, why does he allow bad things to happen?” According to Oord, and to my experience, many people explain away God’s “role” in tragedy by saying one of two things: “It’s all part of God’s plan” or “because we have free will that God chooses to grant us, he wouldn’t violate that by intervening.”
I take the stance of the latter most of the time, but Oord’s presentation got me thinking. His solutions for God’s “role” in tragedies are as follows:
While Oord has some excellent points here, I’m not sure if I can totally hop on board with all of them. Let’s talk about them one at a time.
GOD CANNOT STOP EVIL BY HIMSELF
However, God did judge the earth with a flood in Noah’s time. Perhaps it was God’s promise to Noah that he would no longer judge the Earth with floods (Genesis 9:11) that had Oord thinking in this direction. But, the promise was only about judgement in the form of the flood. Additionally, Revelation speaks about the many ways God will judge the Earth later, and we know he will triumph over sin. So, this solution isn’t a good one to me.
GOD EMPATHIZES WITH US
God most certainly empathizes with us, and I have no doubt that he is angry when one of his creations harms another.
GOD SQUEEZES GOOD FROM THE BAD
Biblically, we see this in the Book of Job. The devil tests Job’s faith and, while it is clear that Job is sad, frustrated, and hurt, he does not give up his faith. God then rewards him later many times over.
GOD NEEDS OUR HELP FOR LOVE TO WIN
I mean, he obviously has charged us with the responsibility of spreading the good news of Jesus Christ. I think that our three main responsibilities as Christians are to live like Jesus, tell the world about him, and worship God. Does he need us? I don’t think so. But, I think that God’s first intention was to live in harmony with his creation. That is, until sin came in to the picture.
“In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should sine unto them.” – 2 Corinthians 4:4.
I believe that God turned control of the world over to man and limited his power because of this. I mean, sin escalated from eating a fruit to murdering a man really quickly! He chooses to intervene sometimes. Most of the time, the interventions are due to the fact that a person may have been destined to accept him and hadn’t yet, or because they had some sort of call on their life that would lead to more good coming to the world.
Lucifer, who has become known by many names like Satan, the devil, the deceiver, the enemy, etc., has decided to reign over this world. He does this by trying to stop those who care for the Lord from spreading God’s message. You’ll likely see many people in the world who are not Christians who seems to prosper. Satan has them in his grasp, so it’s light work for him.
If you’re interested in learning more about Jesus, please check out some of my other posts. Additionally, you can click the “details” button below to learn how to accept Jesus as your savior!
I was scrolling through Facebook last night when I saw an article shared by a young woman I went to church with. Now, at the age of 25, I’ve done a lot of growing up and, thanks to a few years of studying the Bible in college and personally, I’ve done a lot of growing in my religion.
I’m a Christian, as you likely know. The article that was shared was a blog post about how woman should not be equal to men because the Bible tells us so. I was troubled to see a young woman sharing this because I don’t see anywhere in the Bible where it says a Christian woman should be lesser than a man.
For the purposes of this blog, I want to tell you what I mean by "feminist." I simply mean someone who believes that men and women should be equal in right, pay, and by societal standards. I know that men and women each have different talents and abilities (i.e. birthing children).
Here are a few reasons why I believe with all of my heart (and Bible) that Jesus and God are both feminists:
1: GOD CREATED WOMEN
2: MUCH OF THE OLD TESTAMENT IS JEWISH HISTORY & LAW
In Colossians 3, we see that verse 18 does indeed say “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.” This whole chapter of Colossians is talking about kindness and love. This doesn’t mean that you should necessarily submit to your husbands overall will, because let’s face it, that can be unwise. I read this and understand it to mean that we should submit to our husbands in love and respect (and I think the next verse says that husbands should do this also).
In 1 Peter 3, it says “Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;”
Notice here it says “likewise,” which grammatically implies that the section before this was saying the same thing. It also gives power to the woman here, saying that non-believers who are men can be won over by the way their Christian wives treat them and act.
3: JESUS GAVE MORE POWER TO WOMEN THAN ANYONE IN
Jewish women in Jesus’ time did have to follow the law that came from the age-old curse of being ruled by their husband (thanks Eve). But Jesus did so much for women in his time.
First of all, he saved Mary Magdalene from being stoned to death for adultery. After that, he allowed her to travel with him, even to the crucifixion. And in some of the gospel accounts, she was the first one to see him after his resurrection.
In Mark 14, a woman came into the house of Simon the leper where Jesus was and broke a box of expensive oil/ointment that was very precious, over his head.
“And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made? For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against her.” Mark 14:4-5
4: GOD’S LOVE OF WOMEN
Let’s name a few of the women who God gave an amazing responsibility to:
Also, to address this here at the end, chastity in the Bible is meant for everyone, not just females. Never does it say that only females should abstain from sex. Rather, in 1 Corinthians, it says that a man should not have sexual relations with a woman unless he has his own wife.
So, I want to give a praise of thanks to the Lord for loving me and valuing my life, no matter my sex/gender. To all of you Christian women, you can continue to be great while respectfully and lovingly submitting yourselves emotionally, spiritually, and physically (if you’re on the same page, this is consensual) to your husbands.
At any sign of abuse, do not read the Bible and think that God wants you to stay. Physical and sexual abuse is frowned upon, and it violates the one flesh union.
MY MOM IS GOOD, SO WHY DO BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO HER AND OTHER GOOD PEOPLE?Read Now
You have probably heard the question “why do bad things happen to good people?” It is a question many Christians are asked when beloved family members are strapped into hospital beds or when a helpless child diagnosed with leukemia seems to be slowly wasting away. Suffering.
I found myself asking God this question and tossing the question around in my subconscious in my quiet time.
MY MOM'S STORY
My mom has always been a great mom, no matter what she might say. Divorced when I could barely even waddle, she and my grandparents took on a near-impossible task: raising two headstrong children.
I hardly ever remember seeing my mom cry. I’ve come to learn that on those days where she’d resign early to her room, it wasn’t always because she was tired. She didn’t want to appear weak. She was a full-time mom with a full-time job.
Thanks to my mom and my grandparents, my brother and I were able to participate in a number of activities when we were growing up, including dance,
Caption: Myself and my mom.
Caption: My brother, Trey, and I in a dance photo.
musical theatre, band, sports, and outings with friends. All the while, my brother and I remained blissfully unaware of the sacrifices they had to make to help us want for nothing. I don’t think they wanted us to know. They just wanted us to feel...normal.
As we aged, my mom stressed the importance of education, which resulted in both my brother and myself graduating high school with honors and heading off to college, where we both received our degrees, all thanks to the sacrifices of our mom who took on hefty parent loans to fulfill our hopes of attending private, four-year colleges.
But her life changed when I was in school. Stress, undoubtedly from her job and an oblivious coworker, had affected her body so much so that she suffered from a stroke, which numbed the right side of her body.
Because of her stroke, and undoubtedly some other health conditions she suffers from, she ended up with Charcot’s foot, a condition that causes the bones in her foot to break. Her doctor took and x-ray and explained that her foot looked like a cracked, scrambled egg. My mom, an independent and strong woman, has been chained to her bed for the last several weeks, and will no doubt be stuck there for weeks to come as she recovers.
WHY DO BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE?
This got me to thinking on today’s topic. My mom, by societal standards, is a good person. She is supportive, loving, kind, charismatic, and understanding. So, why are bad things happening to her?
In many instances, some would blame God. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve spoken to who claim that, if God were real, he would deliver their loved ones out of the tribulation they’ve found themselves in. But I don’t see it that way.
When God created humans, He gave us a free will. Because of that free will, many people have made decisions that led them down the wrong path. Don’t get your pantyhose in a twist. I’m not saying that every bad thing that happens to someone is of their own doing.
What many people don’t understand is God’s sacrifice. He did much more for us than you realize. He not only sent Jesus to die for our sins, but he also chose to limit his power and sacrifice a certain level
So, we have the ability to choose to live in our own will or in God’s will. Man historically has lived in its own will. That’s why crime rates have skyrocketed, the ice caps are melting, men are becoming lovers of their own selves, and well, you get the picture.
BEYOND FREE WILL
But you can lose your zeal for God. This isn’t abnormal because, as humans, we feel that some burdens are just too heavy and we don’t understand why God would saddle us with them and seemingly not help us. This aides the enemy. You stop annoying your friends about how good God is, and you stop witnessing and living a God-filled life. You stop doing God’s work. That’s why it is important to remember that evil is the absence of good. When you aren’t doing good, you’re helping evil, and that can be a hard pill to swallow sometimes.
The devil isn’t concerned about people who don’t believe in or accept Jesus. He is worried about people who promote Jesus. Bad things happen to good people because, even if they don’t believe in Jesus, they are still living by his principles. Bad things seem to happen to godly people because the devil is a roaring lion seeking for whom he may destroy.
- Admit to God that you are a sinner
(Romans 3:23; Romans 6:23).
- Repent, turning away from your sin
(Acts 3:19; 1 John 1:9).
- Believe that Jesus is God's Son and accept God's gift of forgiveness from sin
(Romans 5:8; Acts 4:12; John 3:16; John 14:6; Ephesians 2:8-9; John 1:11-13).
- Confess your faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord
HOW TO GET TO HEAVEN
God is a perfect being who designed each and every one of us. He is sinless, good, and perfect. However, after Eve ate that apple, sin was released into the world and, as a result, everyone was born into sin and everyone does wrong. Only those without sin can enter into Heaven. But don't worry, Jesus came down to Earth and paid your sin debt do you could go to Heaven. Jesus is our salvation and offers us a way to Heaven. A way to live with Him forever. Here is what you have to do:
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J. Warner Wallace
Turn The Other Cheek