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.
"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.
We have a saying in the news business: “If it bleeds, it leads.” This means the most controversial stories like murder or hit-and-runs are always printed above the fold so you could see the horrific headlines on the newsstand. Sales and views always went up when someone was murdered, or whenever some white-collar worker got mixed up in a town-wide scandal.
I’ve often found myself being the interviewer, the reporter asking all the questions to the grieving person. This is the first time in my life that I’ve become part of the headline rather than part of the byline. It’s hard, and I never realized how easy I thought it was.
It all started last week. I was replying to messages and scheduling social media posts at my job, when I found myself nervously staring down at my phone, impatiently waiting for a message from my mom. I couldn’t wait any longer.
“Did you find her?” I remember typing the words with shaky hands and quivering breaths.
My mom had called me minutes earlier to tell me that she couldn’t find my grandmother. She was supposed to be going to a doctor’s appointment, but she never arrived. This worried me because my grandmother has dementia, is over the age of 70, and drives like a maniac, so she really shouldn’t be driving anywhere.
On top of this very troubling development, I learned that my grandfather, who has been in the hospital since August 2018, now had MRSA (an infection caused by staph bacteria) in his lungs.
Things have continued to progress with my grandfather, and there are talks about a meeting this weekend with hospice care.
We learned from the doctor last weekend that he will just continue to get infected by the next lung bug until he is too weak to fight. Last weekend was the first weekend that I saw all hope drain from his eyes.
I try to remind myself on a daily basis that Jesus’ sacrifice on Calvary was one of the biggest headlines of His day. Jesus was a rebel. He went against the grain of society in the humblest and kindest way possible (except that time he literally flipped a table). His motivations were always pure and God-driven.
But Jesus still ended up on the cross. He still suffered and died for me and you. He was scared, too, judging by the fact that he began to sweat blood (Luke 22:24) in the garden before he was taken to be crucified.
According to the US National Library of Medicine, Hematohidrosis is the name for the condition Jesus suffered from. The condition is rare and causes humans to sweat blood. This can happen for a number of reasons, including excessive exertion and psychological factors (like high levels of stress).
One of my favorite verses is 2 Timothy 1:7, which says “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
Fear comes from the enemy. I’m human and unconsciously swayed to act in fleshly manner. Naturally, I am a scaredy-cat. I will tell you that I totally ignored the fact that my car’s engine light (which had been on for a week and that same morning on the day I left) turning off to run with my tail between my legs back home for fear that my grandfather was going to pass.
“And the Lord God called unto Adam and said unto him, Where are thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” Genesis 3:9-10
The verse in 2 Timothy reminds me that God is in control and God will always win, and it reminds me to talk a look at the power, love, and sound mind that God has given me, rather than harp on the worldly things I often tie myself up in.
Whether my grandfather passes sooner rather than later, or if he lives another five years, that verse from 2 Timothy will always remind me that I am a child of God, not of this world. Satan has no hold on me, no matter what he tries to hurl at me.
I’ll close by saying this: Jesus took the “if it bleeds, it leads” saying seriously. He was a revolutionary leader who every true Christian strives to follow and model their lives after. If you want to become a child of God, you can click “details” below to learn how you can accept Christ as your savior.
- 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:
Ann Marie Ruby
Give Me An Answer
J. Warner Wallace
Turn The Other Cheek