Today is #WellnessWednesday, so it is a good time to talk about giving as it relates to Christmas.
Any Christian will tell you that Jesus gave his life so that we could be forgiven of the wrong that we’ve done. However, Jesus gave much more than his life while he was on Earth. Let’s talk about it:
1: HIS TIME
Whether it is putting your phone down more often at the dinner table, or volunteering your time to a cause, it is a valuable resource that many people choose not to give up.
2: HIS GIFTS
You likely have talents and gifts that you can use to help or inspire others. This could be singing, writing, designing, or building to name a few examples. Your gift can really help someone in their time of need!
3: HIS WISDOM
He always took the time to explain things in the way that the people of the time could understand. . If you notice, many of the parables in the Bible are related to agriculture or farming. That’s because many people of the time could easily understand analogies using these things.
Take some time to share some wisdom with someone this season. Teach them to do something they cannot do by themselves.
4: HIS HEART
It is important that we meet people where they are to help get them where they can be.
5: HIS EAR
There are a number of Christians who believe that Halloween is an evil holiday. Personally, I never have thought that. I do believe that people take advantage of the time to do bad things, but I still believe it is still used to help children have a good time.
Today, if you are a Christian who doesn't feel comfortable letting their children participate in traditional Halloween celebrations, I'm going to share with you a few things you can do with them so they don't miss out on all of the fun:
1: FIND A CHURCH-BASED TRUNK OR TREAT
2: HAVE A CHILDREN'S MOVIE MARATHON AT HOME
3: THROW A HALLOWEEN PARTY FOR THEIR FRIENDS
BUT, THIS IS WHAT I RECOMMEND
When I was growing up and we would visit our dad's house, our step mom often wouldn't let us watch things like Pokemon and Harry Potter, even though both my brother and I knew that it wasn't real.
My mom took another approach. If she wasn't sure how something would impact us, she would go experience it herself before taking us. I recommend that you don't shield your children from the world because, as someone who attended a southern Baptist church with a lot of very sheltered children, you're just setting them up for a scarier adulthood.
Instead, I think it would be great to let your children participate in traditional celebrations under the understanding that it is just a holiday and shouldn't be celebrated as anything but a day for kids to get candy or for people of appropriate ages to watch scary movies!
It is officially fall, and it is also blogtober here on TheOpinionatedOne.com. That means that I’m trying really hard to keep everything on theme for this month.
Today, I thought my “message” of sorts could be about harvesting. I know, weird. But I promise I’ll do my best to make my point.
“Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.” Matthew 9:37-38
WHAT IS HARVESTING TO FARMERS?
Jesus uses these farming parables in hopes of helping the multitudes understand God.
Harvest is defined by Merriam-Webster as “the season for gathering in agricultural crops.” A lot of people understand this time to be around autumn when the weather starts to get colder and some crops cannot grow very well. The idea was that the excess crops would be stored up and saved to be used later.
HOW DOES THIS RELATE TO OUR WALK AS CHRISTIANS?
In the scripture that I quoted at the beginning of today’s post, Jesus has just seen a multitude of people who needed help with one thing or another. This was after Jesus healed the blind men and a man possessed with a devil.
Many of the people in this multitude likely knew the people Jesus healed for several years, as communities were even more closer-knit than they are today. After seeing someone suffer from an illness or handicap for that long only to see them healed by Jesus, they must have been a desperate crowd.
If you are lost and someone (in this scripture a “labouror”) shows you kindness and helps you, you may put your faith in Christ. If you are already saved, you may become a “labouror.”
This time of the year can kick off seasonal depression, the beginning of colder months for the homeless, and difficult times for those who no longer have family to be around.
There are a lot of people in need, but very few people willing to help. When we aren’t in a bad situation, we tend to think of an issue as someone else’s problem and we have this attitude that they should just deal with it themselves.
This was also for my benefit! We are commanded to love one another, and the best way to do that is to help in the harvest. Who knows if you will help someone see or feel God when you do it. Your harvest in times of need could reap enternal benefits. You never know unless you try!
Life as a young Christian can be challenging. I had trouble in my faith when I was in college, as do many young Christians setting off on their own, perhaps for the first time.
It’s around this time that a lot of young Christians in college start turning away from Bible study, prayer, and going to church. It’s much easier to catch up on sleep or spend the evening hanging out with friends than doing something that can help cultivate your faith.
Basically, Saul was anointed King of Israel, but disobeyed God. Samuel, the profit, is told by God to find a new King of Israel, and he finds David, a shepherd boy.
David defeats Goliath (a very well-known story) and actually becomes close to King Saul. However, Saul grows jealous of David and how the people adored him. Now, let’s talk about the differences between David and Saul:
DO YOU REMAIN FAITHFUL OR DO YOUR OWN THING?
He trusts God, evidenced in I Samuel 17:37, as he tells Saul that God has protected him from animals of prey as he watched sheep, and he will surely protect him as he goes up against Goliath. As we know, he is victorious.
However, Saul goes against the will of God. Samuel the profit tells Saul to go and destroy the Amalekites and everything that they have. The reason for this is unknown (at least to me), but Samuel was instructed to do this by God.”
“And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword. But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly.” – I Samuel 15:8-9
Doing your own thing historically isn’t a great idea, and Saul is meant to be an extreme example of that. That’s not to say that your life will be easy as a Christian, but it will be a whole lot lonelier and more difficult without that relationship.
It is so easy to do the wrong thing and go against what you know God would want for you. Everyone is doing it and it seems like you’ll miss out if you don’t do it too. Trust me, I made a whole lot of mistakes when I was in college, some of which still effect my life today. It is worth it to remain faithful to God’s word. My life undoubtedly would have been much more victorious (thus far) had I maintained that relationship.
DO YOU REMAIN HUMBLE OR DO YOU BECOME ENVIOUS?
It says in I Samuel 18:7 that the women in Israel would come from their houses and say “Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousand.” It says from then on, Saul watched David closely. This set off a “witch hunt” of sorts with David. Saul would do things to hurt David intentionally.
Even though David was put in charge of Saul’s army, he “behaved himself wisely in all his ways; and the Lord was with him (I Samuel 18:14).”
In college, it is easy to become envious of others and what they have. Financial hardship is pretty common. Some students have to work part-time jobs, do a work study job, or fulfill scholarship requirements while others get to party all weekend, go on lavish Spring Break trips, and so on. Envy can come also from appearance, lack of a romantic partner, and academic success.
I personally found that these things got to me more when my relationship with Christ was weak. That’s why it is important to keep your relationship strong.
DO YOU KEEP YOUR PROMISES OR DO YOU MAKE FALSE COVENANTS?
Sadly, Saul’s sons are killed on the battlefield, including Jonathan who David loved.
God is very clear about His opinions on promises. You are to keep your promises, according to the Bible. Promises in college may include doing a group assignment, being there for a friend in times of need, or committing to a community service project.
ARE YOU FOR THE PEOPLE OR DO YOU BRING OTHERS DOWN WITH YOU?
He makes foolish decisions, gets into battles that he can’t win without the Lord, and loses his sons and his armourbearer and undoubtedly more people along the way.
David had a relationship with Jonathan, Saul’s son. He could have used that relationship against Saul to threaten him or otherwise cause harm. That’s what Saul would have done, after all. Instead, David remained a loyal warrior who fought to protect God’s people. He even stayed away from everyone else and traveled alone, undoubtedly because other people would have become targets had they been with David.
However, if you maintain a strong relationship with God as David did, you will see the value in living your life for Christ to be an example to other Christians around you who are struggling in their faith.
Pretty much all of my recent Worship Wednesday blog posts have been inspired by a message from church and have interestingly enough been themed around water.
Today, I want to reflect on a passage of scripture that I don't think I really took a lot of time to absorb and understand. It was sort of a footnote in the last message I heard at church (at the time of writing this), but I was amazed when I heard our pastor mention it.
GOD IS FAITHFUL TO US
"But the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea; and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left." Exodus 14:29
But he made a way and helped them get away. I think of other examples like the bread from Heaven or the rock that Moses later struck to give water to the people.
And there are so many other examples in the Old and New Testament of God's faithfulness to provide for us, usually in a way we wouldn't think of. For a few examples:
Furthermore, when our prayers are answered, they might not be answered in the way we thought they would or should be. I was always told that praying for patience will bring a lot of things into your life that will make you impatient for a time. God doesn't answer things in your will or in your time. He answers them in his will and in his time.
This unfortunately keeps a lot of people away from the faith. I've heard many people ask why they should believe in a God who lets people have cancer or allows tragedy to happen. In fact, atheism experienced a noticeable growth after Sept. 11, 2001. What people fail to remember is that not all things are from God. A lot of things come from the enemy. This goes into a whole other debate about God's all-powerful nature. If you have questions, pop them in the comments!
Personally, I try to remind myself that God has always answered my prayers in the way it best impacts me. I remember praying about all three of the men I dated, and all of those relationships, except the one that resulted in my marriage, ended.
All I ask to non-believers or those who aren't sure is to be open-minded and learn more about God and the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. You would be hard-pressed to find a Christian who hasn't experienced a prayer being answered in an unconventional way.
I got into an interesting debate with a family member and one of his friends online. Since a few months ago, I've decided not to respond very much to things I don't agree with. I disagree less than I used to, and I also just don't see the point.
But one thing I almost always speak up about is Jesus. I want everyone to have as much information as they can so they can make an educated and informed decision about their faith. When I see something that seems wrong, I try to correct it or provide more information.
DOCKING THE BOAT
Now reflect on this example in your life. Life is a journey filled with sunny days and rough waters. Sometimes the tides are high, and sometimes it's smooth sailing. The anchor is always with us. The anchor is our faith in Christ. It is our foundation. Sometimes we drop the anchor and step out on faith.
This series of sailing, anchoring, and taking up the tides again continues all of our life until we dock at our final destination: eternity.
WHEN THE ANCHOR DOESN'T HOLD
This often happens in the faith journey. Someone steps out on faith and they don't get the outcome they want, so they allow their faith to sink into the dark depths, probably never to be found again. They then can float off of the path that is best for them and drift down into even rougher waters like addiction, crime, and just plain despair.
What people so desperately need to remember is that faith grounds us. But our faith can easily sink without something else. That something else can be different for everyone.
For me, that something else is the evidence I've found and have been taught. The clear evidence that Jesus lived, ministered, died, and rose again. Evidence that other people knew about Jesus. Evidence from eye witnesses and even hostile forces that wanted Jesus to disappear.
It has always helped me to remind myself of the evidence the Bible and secondary sources give to tell us about Jesus and God.
Here are some things others may tether to their faith:
All of these things are excellent ways to remind yourself that you can step out on faith knowing and reminding yourself that God did for you once and he will do for you again, but in HIS time. If you step out on faith without that tether of security and confidence and things don't happen how you want them to, your faith might sink and disappear from your life.
God's goodness is all around us. We can't just give up when the enemy throws his punches. Tether yourself to weather the storm.
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.
At a point in my life, I wasn't really sure what I believed. I've always had a strong sense that we were created and placed on the Earth for a reason by a higher being. For most of my life, that higher being was the Christian God. That was, until college happened.
All of my questions were logical. They weren't "why don't I feel God" or anything like that. They were questions that had answers in the Bible. But I wanted to ground those answers outside of the Bible, too. I wanted to know both spiritually and mentally that God existed. I still have a hunger to be able to answer other questions that are similar, both for myself and for others.
So today, I want to share with you three particularly helpful sources outside of the Bible that helped me ground my spirituality in my intellect.
1: "COLD CASE CHRISTIANITY" BY J. WARNER WALLACE
I was fighting this particular battle. I always believed that God existed and Jesus had come down to save us from sin. But, I wasn't so sure I had (at least at the moment) believed in God and had faith in Him.
In the book, Wallace addresses a common complaint from non-Christians: the disciples accounts don't always match up exactly. The former cold case detective and hard-core atheist decided to examine the gospels as he would a cold case that would have little to no physical evidence.
He found that he would never expect witness testimony to line up exactly. If it did, it would point to some sort of conspiring that would mean the witnesses "got their story straight."
I love this book. You can get it online on Amazon for between $5.69 and $17.58.
2: GIVE ME AN ANSWER - YOUTUBE
I like this because it becomes sort of a debate. You get to not only hear from the educated pastor, but also from others with differing opinions. The others are usually students and sometimes faculty or staff at the University. This series not only helps you to identify some ways of approaching certain question that you or others may have, but it also teaches you about what non-Christians may believe and their reasons for it.
I am a huge advocate for healthy, friendly, and cordial debate. I think it is important to never stop thinking. Cliffe and his son, who is a licensed psychologist, are great at what they do. There are tons of videos for you to binge-watch, but I linked one of the more recent ones below.
3: "THE CASE FOR CHRIST" BY LEE STROBEL
Strobel is extremely relatable as he delves into asking some pretty tough questions that most people have doubts about. I love the narrative style, which makes for great listening in audiobook form!
You can purchase the book from $3.99 to $15 on Amazon!
4: CROSS-EXAMINED - YOUTUBE
"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
A whole lot of Americans were born into Christian families. They spend their Sundays and maybe even Wednesdays going to church, sitting with their friends during the message, and learning about Jesus.
But there comes a point where something is said or done that causes a lot of Christians to decide they no longer want to go to church or have a relationship with God anymore. There are a few things that happen: their parents were too strict, they never really connected with the messages, or someone in church said something that put them off.
IF ALL CHRISTIANS ARE GOING TO BE THIS WAY, WHY SHOULD I BOTHER COMING? CHRISTIANS ARE SUPPOSED TO BE BETTER AND KINDER.
Jonathan's home church is a lot different. It is more casual and contemporary, but still filled with the spirit of God. We started attending and got engaged. At this point, the pastor of the church lightly pressured us into hurrying our marriage along. We agreed and got married only a few months later. After this, the real problems began.
LISTING THE ISSUES
I started getting sick and losing all energy. So, we stopped coming on Wednesday nights. Our schedule was rather hectic and I still had a house to take care of.
Shortly after we stopped coming regularly on Wednesdays, but still coming on Sundays, Jonathan received a text message from the assistant pastor. He told my husband to "be a man" and make me come to church. This was not OK. You are not allowed to judge someone's manhood because they aren't forcing their sick wife to hop up and go to church when they wouldn't be able to focus on the message and might actually cause distraction to other churchgoers.
Before all of this happened, I served faithfully in the nursery. I went wherever I was told to go and helped in whatever way I could. I told the lady in charge of the nursery that I would be out of town on most holidays. Several of the ladies who served in the nursery were local and had family near them. We always go out of town to spend time with our parents, grandparents, and siblings.
SO I WAS BARRED FROM SERVING IN THE NURSERY BECAUSE I ASKED HER IF I COULD SWITCH DAYS WITH SOMEONE BECAUSE OF HER NEGLECT WHEN MAKING THE SCHEDULE. THIS REALLY HURT BECAUSE I LOVE CHILDREN AND NEVER COMPLAINED ABOUT SERVING IN THIS CAPACITY.
WHAT FINALLY HAPPENED
It all came to a close when the head pastor visited the house where we live to tell me that I should move or find a different church if I couldn't come every single service. I'd never been so frustrated before. I felt hopeless and wondered why I had ever stepped foot in that place.
But we decided to start looking for different churches. One of my coworkers told me about her church and we decided to give it a visit. From the moment I walked in, I knew it was going to be different. However, since our first visit, I never leave without feeling 1,000 times lighter. I leave with love in my heart and a good message to get me through to the next service. I wasn't getting that at our old church. It felt repetitive and mundane. It felt judgey and harsh.
YOU HAVE TO UNDERSTAND THAT, AT THIS OLD CHURCH, THE PASTORS WOULD TALK ABOUT SPECIFIC PEOPLE BEHIND THE PULPIT. THEY WOULD TRY TO DISGUISE WHO THEY WERE PREACHING ABOUT, BUT THE CHURCH WAS SO SMALL THAT EVERYONE KNEW.
WHY I'M STILL A CHRISTIAN
I usually put people who are Christians or people with faith to a higher standard. I agree that everyone is human. But you can't go into every situation with an intent to hurt someone and they blame your actions on the fact that everyone is human.
After all, our call is to be like Jesus. It isn't like Jesus to name call or to treat someone with disrespect because they don't fulfill your requirements for the perfect person.
I'M STILL A CHRISTIAN BECAUSE IT ISN'T GOD'S FAULT THAT SOME HUMANS ARE AWFUL. I HAVE SEEN AND CONTINUE TO SEE PEOPLE WHO CLAIM TO BE CHRISTIANS GOING THROUGH STRUGGLES OF THEIR OWN. CALL IT KARMA OR CALL IT GOD, BUT I THINK THAT IS TEACHING THEM A LESSON.
I love God. He gives me little reminders throughout the day that he is watching, listening, and caring for me. That's why I refuse to let someone influence my relationship with him.
It is easier said than done to ignore chaos around you to worship. When the stuff happening around you starts to impact your relationship with God and your ability to absorb a message, it is probably time to find somewhere new to learn and grow. And that's OK.
HOW TO GET TO HEAVEN
There is a common misconception that there are several ways to get to Heaven when you die. This isn't true. JESUS IS THE ONLY WAY 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: