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.
I don’t know about you, but I’m a huge music lover. You can probably tell by my handles on Instagram and Twitter being @gemusiclover (go follow me)!
So, for today’s #WorshipWednesday, I thought it might be interesting to share some famous songs that you’ve probably karaoked or jammed out to in the car that are said to be based on Bible verses or have some sort of imagery related to the Christian faith.
Let’s get started:
1: CARRY ON MY WAYWARD SON | KANSAS
"And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want." - Luke 15:12-14
In Luke 15, Jesus shares the parable of the prodigal son. A man has two sons. The younger son asks his father to give him his inheritance, and the father does. The son goes out and wastes his treasure on “riotous living” and finds himself with no money in the middle of a famine.
Lyrics from the song say “I was soaring ever higher, but I flew too high,” implying that the son was living the high life, but quickly found himself being “tossed about…like a ship on the ocean.”
2: JOSEPH, BETTER YOU THAN ME | THE KILLERS
"Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost." - Matthew 1:19-20
This song is pretty clear, in my opinion, but I thought it was interesting that the Killers had a song about Joseph, and it features a number of other artists! The song is about Joseph, Jesus’ adoptive father of sorts, who sticks with Mary despite the fact that he was probably surrounded by controversy.
Some give-away lines include “are you bad at dealing with the fame, Joseph” and “you’re a maker, a creator, not just somebody’s dad.”
3: THE SOUND OF SILENCE | DISTURBED
"Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." - John 8:12
The Sound of Silence, originally by Simon and Garfunkel, was hauntingly remade by Disturbed. The lyrics are chock-full of imagery commonly associated with God and Heaven. It talks about light splitting the darkness.
“People talking without speaking, people hearing without listening,” is a reference to what a lot of people think heaven will be like. Many believe that communication with God will be more of a mental thing than a spoken thing. But, as the writer of the song implies, it doesn’t make sense to them made clear by the line “Fools said I you do not know, silence like a cancer grows.”
The writer then finds that the words were like silent raindrops.
4: WHERE IS THE LOVE? | THE BLACK EYED PEAS
"Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also." - Matthew 5:38-39
I don’t know about you, but this was one of my favorite songs back in the day. It talks about the struggles of the world, mentioning in particular that people are dying from terrorism, police and gang violence, and more.
The song then says “Can you practice what you preach? Won’t you turn the other cheek?” The song then goes on to specifically as “father” for help and send guidance from above.
In Matthew 5, Jesus tells others that they should turn the other cheek and refrain from retaliation when we are wronged.
5: HOW FAR IS HEAVEN | LOS LONELY BOYS
"For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:" - II Corinthians 5:1-2
This catchy tune is all about escaping the world to get to the paradise of Heaven. To me, the song listens like a modern-day Psalm.
The song has lyrics like “cause I know there’s a better place than this place I’m living,” and “I’ve been lost in my own place, and I’m getting weary.” This translates well with Corinthians 5:1 which says “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”
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.
WORSHIP WEDNESDAY: REOCCURRING THEMES IN ANN MARIE RUBY'S BOOK, "SPIRITUAL SONGS II: BLESSINGS FROM A SACRED SOUL"Read Now
I wanted to approach this book review from a different perspective and offer up a sort of analysis of some of the major reoccurring themes I picked up from this book. Let's get into it:
MY LORD, MY CREATOR
Lord (lôrd): Someone or something having power, authority, or influence; a master or ruler.
Cre·a·tor (krēˈādər): A person or thing that brings something into existence.
You can really tell that Ann Marie Ruby is passionate about the Lord, as she seems to refer to him several times as "My Lord, My Creator." In a lot of biblical literature, you will often see someone referring to Jesus or God as "my Lord," but I find that the term has lost its power as humans were are can still be referred to as "my Lord," to their subjects at least.
Ruby takes this title of sorts to a new level by adding in "creator," which gives a nod to the fact that we wouldn't even be alive without our Lord. It is a refreshing way to refer to God, for sure.
Dev·o·tee (devəˈtē,ˌdevəˈtā): A person who is very interested in and enthusiastic about someone or something.
Ann Marie Ruby refers to herself often as a "devotee" to God, which I found interesting. This isn't because I disagree, I actually agree with this self-definition myself. However, you don't usually hear people saying they are a devotee of Christ.
Much like the added use of "My Creator," using this word instead of "follower" or "child" was really refreshing.
When I read this, it reminded me of the song Sandy sings about Danny Zuko in Grease, called "Hopelessly Devoted to You."
Ob·sta·cle (ˈäbstək(ə)l): A thing that blocks one's way or prevents or hinders progress.
Ann Marie Ruby continually refers to obstacles in many of her spiritual songs in this book. It seems clear that she has faced a number of struggles in her life, but she constantly affirms that she knows Christ will help her overcome whatever obstacles life puts in her way. I particularly appreciated to imagery she added.
When reading this, and understanding some of the deeper biblical roots, it gave me a sense of calm, much like the time when Jesus calmed the waters to ease the fear of his disciples. It also reminded me of one of my favorite Christian songs. See the video below to listen!
Om·nip·o·tent (ämˈnipəd(ə)nt): (of a deity) Having unlimited power; able to do anything.
Om·ni·pres·ent (ämnəˈpreznt): Widely or constantly encountered; common or widespread.
They read like a modern-day psalm or proverb. Their repetitiveness drives home the overall idea that Ruby want's to communicate: God is good, all the time.
If you'd like to purchase a copy of Ann Marie Ruby's book, "Spiritual Songs II: Blessings From a Sacred Soul," click the link attached to the title, or search for it on Amazon.com.
Thank you for reading this review!
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.
The service was based on Genesis 32, a passage where it is believed that Jacob wrestled with God or with an angel. These verses stood out to me in particular:
"And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him."
I realized that what Jacob did when he wrestled with God or with God's angel was very physical. But today, our wrestling matches with God are not physical, one-on-one matches. Rather, our wrestling match with God is a spiritual, emotional one.
Instead of taking lessons on this solely from Jacob, I applied his experience with the masterpiece of the painter, Vilas Tonape. He knows much more about art than the average person. This guy taught former president George W. Bush how to refine his painting skills.
Photo Credit: Vilas Tonape
As I watched him paint, I found myself waiting with bated breath to see what brush stroke he would make next. I was curious. Honestly, I didn't understand why he put certain colors into the painting, or what he was doing with his brush strokes. But, in the end, it made a beautiful image that wouldn't have been possible if it wasn't for those brush strokes that I didn't understand.
It dawned on me at this point that each and every life is like a painting. We often try to pick up the paintbrush and paint our ideal picture, but rarely does that work out for us.
When you become a Christian, you decide then and there to hand God the paintbrush and allow him, through your own free will, to become the painter of your life's portrait. But, when turning over authority to another being, you do begin to question and wonder why certain brush strokes were made and why others weren't.
Whenever I hear sad news relating to a family member's health, or when I feel disappointed in myself or someone I know, I often question the brush strokes.
"Why me, God? Why my sweet grandpa and my loving mother? Why did you allow this person to hurt me?"
The problem is that I don't have the perspective I need to understand why. And I doubt that I ever will as long as I live.
Several times throughout his painting, I noticed Vilas backing up to see the entire portrait. Because he was standing so close to the canvas while he painted, he couldn't see all of his work at once. Backing up to see the full picture helped him to determine which move to make next.
Because I am a biased individual and I want what I want, it is often hard for me to make the best decision for myself.
God can see what I need. He can see what is best for me and what will be best for me down the line. Have you ever heard those amazing stories from people who claim that they had a flat tire only to realize there was a massive wreck that occurred on the road they were about to travel on? Flat tires can really mess with our day. We don't understand why God would give us a flat tire the day before we get paid, but there is an unseen reason for everything. These are the brush strokes we don't understand.
My advice for this week is to try giving your paintbrush to God. Don't live in the way that profits you most, but listen and wait to hear what God would have you do.
In my opinion, doing this is the best way to ensure that your life's painting will turn into a masterpiece. This is the best way to make sure that your life will mean something and give glory to God. That doesn't mean that there won't be mistakes here and there from those times where you snatched the paintbrush from God. But all mistakes make you who you are and make your life something picturesque and beautiful. Give God the paintbrush! You'll be so glad that you did!
"...Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now." - John 2:10
There is a lot of debate in the church over wine: should you drink it, is it a sin? In the New Testament, we read of Jesus actually replenishing the wine after it ran out during wedding celebrations in Cana.
Jesus was at the wedding with him mother and his disciples. Mary reveals to the reader in verse three that the hosts have run out of wine. Jesus then answers that "he has nothing to do with it" because his hour hasn't come yet. I interpret this to mean that Jesus wasn't planning on performing a miracle just yet. But Mary, being the mom she is, knew that Jesus would do the right thing and help out with the shortage.
After the servants filled the pots, he told them to draw out of the pot and give a glass to the governor of the feast. The water was turned in to wine. Even more, the host asked why the servants had kept the best wine until the end.
Now, if you aren't Jesus, it will take you about five steps to make wine.
Water is in everything. It is in our bodies, our food, and our oceans. Water is a life source, and without it we would all wither away. But, it is fair to say, that water is pretty bland. It doesn't have flavor and there isn't much sustenance to it. But, wine is much more flavorful. It has sustenance and can fill us up!
When I was reading these passages, I saw an extraordinary comparison between the water to wine story and personal testimony. I feel like most people, including myself, feel as though their life now as substance after accepting Jesus.
"Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place. For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish:" - 2 Corinthians 2:15
My prayer for you in these next few weeks is to thank God for the transformation that allows you to be called a sweet savor in His house. Without God's selfless sacrifice of Jesus, we would all stink!
- 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