Monday, August 30, 2010

Weight Loss & The Continuing John 16:33 study

I haven't done a weight loss update lately....I have lost 34 lbs now since Jan. YAY!!! I hit a plateau at the end of April and had not lost a single pound until last week when I managed to lose 2 more. I am very excited about that! My husband super surprised me last week by coming home and telling me that UPS had left a box on the porch and could I go get it. The funny thing was that I was a bit miffed that he saw the box on the porch when he came home and then walked in and told me to go get it. But, I decided to be nice and just go get the box for him. He is always ordering stuff for our remodeling business so a UPS delivery is nothing new around here. Well, when I got to the door which is mostly glass I saw a HUMONGOUS box sitting in the yard. I gasped and yelled out something which I can't remember. I thought UPS had made a huge mistake and left some huge box at our door by error. Then I opened the door and saw a drawing on the box and boy did I get excited! The hubs bought me an elliptical!!!!! I had been wanting one badly. He was hiding behind me to see my reaction ha ha. It was a good thing I held my tongue about him telling me to go get the box, right? hee hee. Well this elliptical is kicking my booty! I have never sweat so hard and so fast. I am expecting some great results.

On the spiritual side of things....the study the Lord has me doing in the book of John has been really incredible. It all started with Him giving me John 16:33 as the scripture topic. But, of course as I posted earlier you can't do a study on John 16 without also studying John 15 because the first words in John 16:33 were these things I have said unto you, which implies of course that you would have to know what "these things" are. So, going to John 16:1 the first words are things things I have said.... again now we need to know what "those things" are in John 15 which may I say John 15 is incomplete in a full understanding without doing a study on John 14. After going over these chapters I feel like God wants this broken down into a two fold study. First, Jesus in the topic verse that the Lord gave me to study is telling us to be of good cheer or to be of good courage when we face all that the world throws at us as we go about doing God's will for our lives. Jesus says that we should have "tharseo" which means to be of good cheer or to be of good courage. That is why some translations in this verse say good courage and some say good cheer. Both meanings come from the same word. So, since that is the verse God gave me He obviously wants us to study what it truly means to be living a life of tharseo and what would that look like in our every day lives. How can we become people of tharseo? But I also feel so very very strongly that in going through chapter 14 and 15 of John that Jesus is quite serious about the command He gives and how living this command is serious business in relation to abiding Him and in relation to Him showing Himself to us. Jesus states twice in chapter 14 that His command is to love others as He has loved us. Without getting too exhaustive here, I feel so strongly that the Lord wants us ladies to study what exactly it means to love others as Jesus would love them. What does that truly mean and do I do that?

Do I love my husband as Jesus would love him? How would Jesus treat my husband when he walks in the door from work? How would Jesus treat my children on a daily basis? What would Jesus's attitude be about taking care of my family? Would Jesus throw a hissy fit because my husband treasures his relaxation and down time with the kids more than he treasures a clean and tidy home? ( I say that only because that's one of the biggest complaints women have in their homes.....they are doing all or most of the work and their husbands are not very helpful. But alas, our husbands tend to be more like Mary and we ladies tend to be more like Martha and we could learn to relax more and not be so control freakish about our homes and learn some from our husbands.) Jesus states he gives us his peace in the same conversation in John. Am I a woman of peace in my home? Am I a woman of peace at work? Am I a woman of peace in my friendships? How do I love the people in my life? How would Jesus love the people in my life?

Of course we will tackle the issues of the "unfairness of life" and how to actually be a person of tharseo and a person who can learn to love others as Jesus would even in unfair situations. 'Cause let's face ain't a bed of roses for any of us and some of us have it harder than others. We need to discuss these scenarios and learn how to apply this command Jesus gives us in this study. I don't want this to be a feel good study and then nobody ever learns to apply the command. So.....I am seeking and studying this topic and am excited to see how it all turns out. I will teach this on Sept. 16 so I have so decent time to get it ready. I'll post everything as soon as I get it done but the "live" bible studies we do at the church are always more than twice as good as the paper notes I always type up. We have some wonderful discussions in class!

Well, it's time to exercise and then do my secretary/accounting duties for Stonecrest Homes & Renovations. The business has been doing wonderful, amen and thank you Lord for that! I just started a Facebook Fan page for Stonecrest Homes if you want to join. I would love to see you there as we will post something probably once a week, twice at the most and have some great inspiration pictures of the work we do.

Love y'all,


Friday, August 20, 2010

How Not To Grow Church Attendance

This is not a regular blog post. I just feel led to type this thing out and I think perhaps it is for someone with a church attendance issue or a church nagger to stumble upon but who knows?

You can be right and wrong all at the same time. Did you know that? How can this be? Well, to put it simply we can be doing our best to try to help someone in their spiritual walk with the Lord and be right in everything we say scripturaly but be completely wrong for even saying it in the first place. The Bible says the power of life and death is in the tongue. I have seen a new meaning in that this week. Yes, I have seen that we can indeed KILL someone else's spiritual walk with our tongue.

I have been witness to a few people in the last few weeks being judged and nagged about their church attendance and their walk with the Lord. And, as an avid church goer myself, as in I go to all 3 services every week plus I teach the ladies Bible class every other Thursday so on those weeks I am there 4 times a week, and do you know what that means? Diddly, that's what it means in the big scheme of things. I do not have to attend that many times to be saved, sanctified, justified or have a close relationship with the Lord. If that were so, why do we even bother with missions in 3rd world countries where they have no churches? Hmmmm? Why are we even in Africa? Or China? What's the point?

I mean seriously, how long must Christianity be in existence before we get this stuff figured out folks? It just kills me when we put our own personal spin on what we believe and put it out there as theology and then blab out to people who we "want to help" by nagging them to death (Oh but sister, I am just pointing out what they need to be doing so they don't fall away. Um, no they will fall away because you are nagging them to death and now church is not a pleasant place to be and instead a place of negativity and condemnation. And, who wants to be in a place like that?). I know I don't want to be in a place like that! You know why I go so many times a week? Because I want to, not because I have to, but I WANT to. And, it took me many years before I wanted to do that. For decades I went on Sunday mornings only and did a little volunteering here and there and I didn't feel a lick of condemnation. You know why? I wasn't in the same place spiritually back then that I am in right now and you what? That's okay. It really really is. We all have such unique walks with the Lord. Why can't we as Christians accept that and stop trying to work things out ourselves and let God do it instead?

What does this mean exactly? Well, if I feel like brother or sister so and so is pulling away from the Lord the best thing I can do is pray for them and be an encourager by my loving actions when I do see them. The worst thing I can do is convene an inquisition every time I see them and question them as to where they were during the last church service that they were not at and then begin to list a slew of terrible things that can happen to Christians by beginning to pull back. I want to suggest that we actually trust God and His Holy Spirit to lead His people. I want us to trust in the fact that we can move mountains by prayer and petition. Before we begin to suggest to someone that they need to do something we truly need to hear from the Lord that He wants us to say these things. Should we call and check on those who have suddenly disappeared from the radar? Sure, they may be sick or just plain need to know someone missed them and loves them. I think that's great. But, I don't think it's cool to let someone know by a postcard or by comment that it was noticed that they were not at every service they miss.

I'm like, please show me where it says that if you do not attend every service you aren't right with the Lord! Good grief. I feel so fortunate that I have been able to have the opportunity to talk to a few of the people who have been condemned and nagged lately and convince them to either ignore and run hard away from the naggers or change churches all together. Alas, one of the people just plain won't go back to church. That's so sad to me, it really is. You know what else is sad about that? The person who did the nagging will never know the damage they have done. They have sinned also. They would tell me if they could that they are right I'd bet and quote a bunch of scriptures out of context. My favorite when I have this discussion with folks is where they say "Well the Bible says we are not to forsake the meeting together of the saints. We are to meet together in fellowship." So I say to that, okay well, where does it say how many times a week we should meet together? You can imagine the dirty looks I get. Hee hee.

I like to think of myself as the let's just call it like it is Christian. Let's leave our personal opinions out of theology unless we are going to state out loud "this is just my personal opinion". Let's be honest here, is it awesome and beneficial to read our Bibles every day, to pray every day, to stay aware of the presence of the Lord throughout our day, and to attend Church when the doors are open? SURE!!!!! YES!!!!!!!!! It's AWESOME!!!!!!! But, do we all get to the place where we want to do those things immediately? Do we get to that place with the Lord the same way? NO. Therefore, we should pray for and encourage those who are not at the same spiritual maturity level as we are as we should also pray for ourselves to continue to grow our own spiritual walk lest we think we are uber special or something. 'Cause none of us are perfect no matter what your church attendance record says. Can I get an Amen? Thank you.

I personally had my own little emotional breakdown this week over someone in my family being condemned and nagged to death and it hurt me deeply. Thankfully a great couple from church talked to me for an hour and a half after church and blessed me to death. I needed their encouragement and I am so thankful they were wise and gave it to me. I think I was hurting too much to be able to reason rationally which is odd for me but alas, that was the case. I felt led to discuss the issue with a friend and I am so glad I did. I was able to help a few people with this issue recently and this friend and her husband were able to speak wise words to me also. I just honestly get so frustrated and I wonder how much God looks down on us and thinks, "If those people would just stop trying to do everything for me and let me do it instead they'd be a whole lot happier!"

So, I'd like to encourage anyone who feels condemned by other Christians that they aren't doing it right, to ignore those words you have heard. Even if those words were true you may not be at the place in your walk with the Lord where you have the desire to do certain things. Can I encourage you to not give up on Church and to not give up on the Lord. The most important thing is to first establish a personal relationship with the Lord. This is how we hear from God, by seeking Him with a pure heart and talking to Him in prayer. What does it mean to have a pure heart? Well, to put it simply, you just want Him and you want to see Him, hear Him and know Him and you just want Him. You have no selfish motives, you just want to experience the Lord and let Him live in you and work through you. So it is through this abiding relationship with a pure heart that you will truly begin to develop your walk with God in wonderful and fruitful ways. He will draw you, He will give you truth and it is by remaining connected to God/Jesus/the Holy Spirit through studying and prayer that you will hear from God, you will grow spiritually and you will desire all the wonderful things God has for you. Prayer is everything, getting to know God's word for yourself is crucial! You are not a failure because you are not doing what someone else thinks you should be doing, even if they are right. Please just do not ever stop spending time with the Lord and seeking Him. It is a daily choice to seek the Lord and I want to encourage you that it is okay to take baby steps as long as you continue to grow. God will get you where you need to be if you just trust in Him to do that. If you want to know Him more and do what is right, then pray about it daily and He will be faithful to do it in you. You will never be perfect but you can receive perfect love and you can always be moving forward. Amen to that.

Friday, August 13, 2010

How Do You Really Know if You Are Saved?

How do you really know if you are saved? How do you know what to tell someone else who wants to be saved what to do once they pray the prayer? How do you REALLY know? Hmmmm, I am amazed at how we all have the same book and yet clearly cannot come to a clear conclusion as to how one becomes saved and retains that salvation if in fact salvation must be retained and is not a done deal at conversion.

Which leads us to the real question doesn't it? Can salvation be lost?

If it can, how do you lose it?

If it has been lost, how do you get it back?

Matthew 7:21-23 is a real sticking point in the "can you lose your salvation argument". Clearly there are people in this passage that know Jesus and were out there doing things in the name of Jesus and yet Jesus is not letting them into Heaven because they have not done the will of the Father. This passage is an excellent argument that you can in fact be a follower of Jesus but be out of the will of God (i.e., doing our own thing and not serving God actively or getting saved and then never letting the process of salvation have any real effect in our lives and we go on just like the rest of the world and live unchanged) and not be able to enter Heaven. I mean, the whole couple of paragraphs is even entitled A Tree and It's Fruit letting us know if the tree (us) is not producing fruit (worshiping, praying and doing the will of the Father) we ain't gettin in. Or does it?

In the subtitle of the Bible "A Tree and It's Fruit" there are two paragraphs. you can read them here.

The paragraph above Jesus sayin you can't come in even though you know me and did things in my name is a warning against false prophets that bear bad fruit. The come as wolves in sheep's clothing but we will be able to recognize those that distort God's word by their fruit we can recognize their true intentions by their fruit. We can recognize what is in their heart by their fruit. Then after the warning that some will come in His name but not really be of Him, we see Jesus saying that not everyone who says Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of Heaven even though they were out and about doing things in His name. No, only those who do the will of the Father.

So, is this bottom paragraph a warning for ALL Christians that if you are out of the will of the Father you lose your salvation? I want to say no. I would think it ridiculous that Jesus would be warning us of false prophets who will come into our lives, give us clear instructions on how we are to recognize them and then immediately segway into "Oh by the way, not only will the false prophets with bad fruit be thrown into the fire but all of you who are out of the will of God will be thrown in with them. AND, he just leaves it at that. This seems very odd to me that this would be the case. No, I personally find the two paragraphs completely related and tied together as in Jesus is still talking about the false prophets/ferocious wolves who would deceive us when he is speaking about those who will say Lord, Lord and try to enter into Heaven and be denied entrance.

Also, in numerous scriptures it says things like those who call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Or if you believe in your heart and confess with your tongue you will be saved. In all instances and folks, in the New Testament there are lots and lots of places where the salvation process is discussed it says to believe and confess to the Lord that Jesus is God's Son, died for payment of our sins, was sacrifice for ALL, died, rose again and is now in Heaven with God. I have to believe that this event is so important that it is in the Bible so many times for good reason. So, being that the salvation event is so important for us to become saved and set free, wouldn't it be just as equally important to have numerous writings on how to keep ones salvation if one can in fact lose it? I mean, what good would it do for us all to get saved and then just lose it? We are all sinners.....we are all going to poo it up......what if I am being a great little girl and then I have a bad month or two and die in a car wreck? Does 40 years of being saved not count for anything because I didn't go to church for 2 months and was a little depressed maybe? (Just an example). What if I am saved and go through a divorce and get a little nuts for 6 months or so....quit going to church, step out into worldly life for a bit and I die. Am I going to Hell now because I am not serving the Lord, have gone to dance clubs and had sex with my new boyfriend who I am obviously not married to? None of these things are God's will and are clearly sin, does that make me go to Hell now? I think not. I think I would be judged for my actions but my actions do not nullify my salvation.

If you can lose salvation I believe Paul, who was so good at writing out long and clear instructions (I mean look at Romans for pete's sake, it is a long clear cut argument for Christianity with why's and how's) would have addressed this issue long and hard. I believe there would be no question as to how to retain salvation because it would be addressed. What is the point of only telling us how to get salvation only if you can lose it? Wouldn't the Bible give us the various ways we can lose salvation? I think it would be much more clearly addressed.

Which is another kicker..... this is a great reason some of my atheist friends will not believe. They laugh at how us Christians cannot even agree on the salvation event alone much less the rest of the Bible. Well, it makes me mad but they are right. It frustrates me greatly.

I was just wondering what anyone else thought and do your churches teach salvation loss?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Be Of Good Cheer

What a naughty little blogger I have been lately. I have a great reason why. Not only have I been extremely busy but I have once again (kicking myself) put my personal relationship with the Lord on the back burner. Why oh why would I do that? I know better. I have made it a daily priority since 2007 and I would say a high priority at that. DAILY people.....what do I give Him lately? PRACTICALLY NOTHING. (still kicking myself)

I can be honest enough to admit I quit talking much to the Lord out of guilt from sin. This I really know better about! I know and teach all about grace, who I am in Christ, forgiveness and the blessed mercy seat. I think I let this get out of control when I started the 6 series DVD study at the ladies bible study I teach. We meet every other Thursday and we just met last Thursday and did session 4 so....what, that makes 8 weeks of me blowing God off. NICE.

I can say that I do not EVER want to teach another DVD study ever ever ever again if this is how I am going to behave. Normally I spend hours and hours over the course of days putting together the studies for the group I teach. Yeah um, it was great and I was totally in sync with the Holy Spirit and boy did I get some awesome bible studies out of it thanks to the Holy Spirit and the Lord. Now??? Oh boy. I have been asking God about teaching the ladies class and I know I do not deserve this position the way I am acting right now. Yeah, I got that. I also know I have one more week until lesson 5 and then 2 more weeks until lesson 6 and then 2 more weeks until I have to give my own lesson again. So, that is 5 more weeks that I can still act like a moron without anyone knowing about it.

Last week I prayed and asked God to give me the topic for the next bible study that I would be leading after the DVD study we are now doing is over. I NEVER pick our topics to study. I always wait on the Holy Spirit to give it to me. Which, may I say is mega cool. Anyhoo, I asked God for a topic that would require major studying on my part, something that would not be easy to put together but something that we ladies needed. I asked for something that would have me in the Word for LONG PERIODS of time and also that I would need much revelation through the Holy Spirit to do this study. Basically, I want Him to help me get back to Him and the simplest way to do that is to ask. So, I did. I asked for a study that would challenge me spiritually so much so that I couldn't wing it 'cause I already knew all about it. Ask and you shall receive she says with a repentant heart.

Well, after my prayer the phrase "Be of good cheer" popped into my mind. I looked it up...John 16:33 from the King James translation says be of good cheer in it. Well, I guess that is our main scripture for the study huh? Ya think? I wasn't thinking anything about being of good cheer and it popped into my head so quickly after my prayer that I was momentarily stunned. Then I said "God, is that you"? Knowing it was but still a little unsure since it happened so quickly and since I have been blowing God off for a couple of months now I kinda was unsure of His voice. (yep, still kicking myself). When I was praying I was on my way to an evening service and after I heard the "Be of good cheer" phrase pop in I asked God for a confirmation that was in fact Him I was hearing so that I don't go off and do a study not His will for us. Well, during the service our Pastor basically says the same phrase and talks about staying joyful people and such. I took that as confirmation because he wasn't even preaching on that.....he merely side stepped in his sermon to make that comment. Thanks Lord for the confirmation. So I actually sat down today to study being of good cheer and what that means. Oh yeah baby!!!! Did God EVER grant my prayer request or freaking WHAT?

John 16:33....and the scripture begins with "these things I say to you....." so....... that implies that the being of good cheer is in direct ties with the above 32 other scriptures. In order to do a study that isn't just a "nice feel good study", which I hate those by the way, and do a study that has some major teaching and achieves actual life changing with "how to apply this to your life right here and now" applications I am gonna be in the Word for quite a long while and I see a at least a 2 part study here, maybe 3 lessons. Yep, He gave me exactly what I asked for.

I also think it's a little funny that in one of the 32 previous scriptures Jesus says you will receive what you ask for in His name and that you will receive it so your joy may be full. Well, I asked and I sure did receive. I couldn't make this stuff up, I'm too busy. You know..... I could be given a bizillion topics and stories and I could teach a class off the top of my head or prepare a lesson in under and hour because I already know so much on the topic. What are the odds I ask for something that requires weeks of studying to prepare a lesson and the thing that immediately pops into my head is not something easy that I could not easily prepare for? I could maybe b.s. my way through scripture 33 but you can't do that because it starts of by Jesus saying "these things I say unto you" so I have NO CHOICE to teach on what these things are and how they effect our ability to "be of good cheer".

I also told my pastor on Wednesday evening that I had not been giving my relationship with the Lord the attention it deserves and that I was neglecting it. You know, I am too stinkin honest sometimes, lol. But, I felt it had to be done. He had the most perfect response to what I said and he did what? He encouraged me, that's what he did. Dude, I was expecting anything but that. He told me I was doing an excellent job leading the class. He said his wife loves the studies and he always hears the ladies complimenting what goes on in the class. He said to just get back to studying and praying and everything will be all right and that it is all a battle and I cannot let Satan win. Huh? Wasn't expecting that but how like Jesus he was in that word he had for me. He didn't judge me, he just encouraged me and loved me right where I was. Gives a girl goosebumps it does.

So that is where I have been. Out there in the world. Still going to church 3 times a week and 4 every other week and that's all the time I gave God. Which just goes to show you can't judge someone by their church attendance. I was going to every service but my relationship was at the bottom of the heap. Appearances are deceiving are they not? I am excited by the study the Holy Spirit and I will be putting together and it should be quite interesting. I will post it when I get it done. Yes, that should be WEEKS from now, lmbo. I need it :)

I also had the horrible realization that whilst I am still REELING from the shock and horror of turning 40 on December 21 of 2009 that I will indeed be turning 41 in five more months!!! Oh the humanity........