Tag Archives: Christianity

Spiritual but not religious

Panorama Z

“Now the Spirit expressly says that in the latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.” 1 Tim. 4:1 NKV

“Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day (The Day of The Lord) will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the. Son of perdition.” 2 Thess. 2:3 NKJV

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.” 1 John 4 NKJV

I came across an article recently which discussed the findings of a survey done by the Public Religion Research Institute. The survey of some 2000 Americans performed in early 2017 found that 18 percent identified as “spiritual but not religious” and that their beliefs “transcends stereotypical religious identity.” The article sited several participants whose ideas about their traditional religious upbringings led them to find their own way of being in connection or feeling one with some “higher power.” Threw the use of yoga, arts, filling their apartment with plants, meditation and finding ways to have lifestyle choices accepted by “more progressive denominations” these “new faith” believers make peace with themselves in a world of traditional religious establishments.

Now, before I come across as some narrow minded self righteous fool let me give you some background. I was raised Catholic and went threw the sacraments. I was obedient to follow the traditions and rituals of the church as taught to me and in doing so felt empty and uninspired. I have also sinned. I have fallen away and done things “that I wouldn’t want printed on the front page of The New York Times” (as my Grandmother would say). I have denounced traditional religious sects and their empty rituals. At my worst I have raised a clinched fist skyward and declared in my folly that there is no God. I’m not proud of any of that but facts are facts and the Lord saw me threw it all. I ask that you keep all of this in mind as I discuss the article please.

If we look at this survey and the beliefs of its participants who are finding their own new way in the light of scripture we see that they are being deceived. It’s not their fault. Some organized religious groups fail to inspire it’s people. Some will compromise the basic principles of the Word of God in order to fill the seats or be politically correct.

Jesus was never politically correct or a supporter of the empty religious groups in His day. Even though the rituals and religious leaders were established by God Himself over the many years they leaders became proud and the reasons for the rituals blurred into history until they were just going threw the motions. Jesus called them out on their hypocrisy even when they tried to trap him. When the religious men brought the adulterous woman before Jesus they said that she was caught in the very act. Really?! So, these guys busted in on a man and woman (presumably one or both of them married) in the act of making love. In an attempt to test Jesus they dragged the woman before Him but the Law clearly states that BOTH the man and the woman are to be stoned to death for the sin of adultery. As we know Jesus didn’t fall for their trap and He did not condemn the woman. He showed mercy to the woman and simple told her to “go and sin no more.” See John 8:3-12 and Lev 20:10

Jesus turned over the tables at the Temple and criticized the establishment. He ate and kept company with the outcasts, sinners and tax collectors. Jesus did not look like, talk like or behave like the leaders of His time and that got Him both admired and despised. What He did do was affect people. In His short ministry He taught, healed, fed, and raised the dead. He fulfilled the scriptures concerning His birth, life, death and resurrection. He fulfilled the Law and in doing so made a way for all the world to be free from sin and hell. He will meet each and every one of us right where we are and share His love and bring new life. What He will NOT do is barge in on anyone to take them captives or seduce them with goosebumps and warm feelings.

The devil does that. The devil tempts and teases. He sees our pain and our longings and plays on our weaknesses. Jesus called him the Father of lies. The Deceiver. The Lion who seeks to devour.

It’s been said that the greatest accomplishment of the Devil is convincing people that he doesn’t exist. Even as I write this I know that many good churchgoing people will roll their eyes at the mention of the devil. After all isn’t he an imaginary foe created to be blamed for what is simply the behavior of bad people? Isn’t the dark side of our own human nature the real devil?

The answer is a firm “No!” Jesus was tempted by the devil. He spoke clearly of the devil. The Holy Spirit through the Apostles spoke of the devil many times.

Before I stray much farther from my point I will stop. Whether or not you believe in the Devil isn’t the point. The point is that there are deceiving spirits in the world. Always have been but the devil knows his time is short. The participants of the survey taken are looking for answers and fulfillment that they didn’t find within the walls of ritualistic stereotypical religion. They crave, everyone craves, the very real relationship with Jesus. They crave it because there’s a cross-shaped hole in everyone’s heart that only He can fill. It’s and old saying but true.

Lastly, the biggest take away from this post and that survey is that we don’t have time to be judgmental or self righteous. People need the Lord. People need to hear the good news. People need the Lord. Not religion. Not rituals. Not spirituality. People need a relationship with the Lord of all Creation and the Good News is Jesus stands at the door and knocks.

All of us who truly believe have an obligation to share the compassion and love of Christ with all the world. The rest is up to Him.

Be Blessed A&B

This is the link to the article I mentioned https://www.vox.com/identities/2017/11/10/16630178/study-spiritual-but-not-religious

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Give Thanks

In Your Home Is it Thanksgiving Day, Turkey Day or the just the day before Black Friday?

The start of the hectic holiday season or a day to reflect on just how fortunate we are and give Thanks to He Who gives us our daily bread? I am sure it means something different to all of us according to our particular traditions and upbringing. Some families at Thanksgiving will go around the table expressing what they are grateful for before dinner. Some of us will have the TV set to the Parade, a game or the dog show maybe we use the day to begin playing holiday music. There may be that special dish served at dinner that isn’t seen any other time of year. Perhaps the special china is lovingly unpacked for the occasion. Perhaps the special part of the day is that the whole family is gathered together in one place.

Thanksgiving Day has always been special to me for so many reasons. It represents the start of the Christmas season – which is a magical time of year. The holiday season is a time to express our love and appreciation for those close to us and to also smile at strangers everywhere. Something we might otherwise not do if not for the festive spirit in the air. For me, it is a time to consider where I was and where I am and how I got here. I am thankful for the life I have.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGSR1-nGsLI

Give Thanks – Don Moen You Tube

An attitude of gratitude. The expression “give thanks” is noted so many times in scripture and is encouraged by prophets, kings, apostles and is exemplified by Jesus Himself. It was the ungrateful and hard hearts of the elders in the wilderness that cost them their entrance into the Promised Land. Ingratitude paints a dark picture over the memory of days gone by and diminishes any hope for the future. No matter what our past or current circumstances there is a light of hope and reason to be grateful. As long as we are alive we can have hope for tomorrow because He lives and loves us and wants to see us safe, healthy, loved and secure.
This Thanksgiving Day we encourage you all to be of good cheer, be thankful and be hopeful because He loves you.  Be Blessed A&B 
PS – Parts of this post were reprinted from last years but that doesn’t change the sentiment behind the words. If anything, this years Thanksgiving post means more to us because of all of you who have visited with us and encouraged us. This year, as in previous years, we pray that everyone feels the love of God in Christ and can be grateful for the gift of new life. Al
PSS – Hope you like the new theme.
In every thing givethanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18KJV
 
 

 

Fitness trackers and Faith

We are a fitness tracker family. We set goals and track our steps (gotta get those 10,000 steps in!). We keep a record of our weight and our water and food intake. We compare and compete and congratulate each other. Being a construction worker, it’s not hard for me to reach some goals, such as steps and distance. But reaching other goals like weight lose or water intake can be harder. At the end of the day I can see where I am at and where I fell short. Every Midnight starts a new day of tracking and all of yesterdays successes and failures are a thing of the past. While I sleep a new clean slate is made and I wake to the possibilities of reaching or even surpassing my set goals.

“It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassion’s fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.” Lam 3:22-23 KJV

The love and compassion of our Lord are new for us every morning. A clean slate awaits us with each wake up call.

Isn’t that just our life of Faith in Jesus? We are blessed to serve a God of “Now”! Yesterday is gone and tomorrow is not here, yet. All we have is right now. We wake up with a clean slate. At any point in our day we can take an accounting and if needs be, start over. Start over or renew our efforts to reach our goals. These trackers can remind you to get up and walk every hour. They can show you the number of steps completed in relation to your goal so that you can take action to reach the goal.

Paul shared with us that with all that he had done and all that he had been threw he did not presume to have reached the goal but he continued to press on to the mark of the high calling of Christ Jesus. Phil 3:13-15 Paraphrase mine

“Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before”…Phil. 3:13 KJV

Putting yesterday behind us and heading straight into the day ahead of us with the goal of pleasing our Lord

Just as we have physical step goals and weight loss goals and strength goals that we set for ourselves we have spiritual goals that we can aim for. Just as we may fall short of these physical goals we will fall short of the spiritual ones as well.

“All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Rom. 3:23KJV The definition of the word “Sin” translates to “missing, or falling short of, the mark”

Fortunately we have a Lord Who is full of mercy “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1John 1:9 KJV. Whose mercy is new every morning. Lam. 3:22-23 KJV

Every morning is a new opportunity to reach our goals so be encouraged and inspired

So get up and go!!

Well, I just don’t know….

   Well, I just don’t know………

……if the Bible says that.

…….if it’s God’s will.

…….what I should do.

…….what Jesus would do?

    In this age of information technology why is there still so much uncertainty?

   When I first got saved I went to buy a Bible and the gentleman behind the counter suggested a Thompson Chain Reference Bible. It was a King James Version of course but what got my attention was how you could look up a topic – like marriage and see every instance where “marriage” was mentioned from Gen to Rev. No commentary or discussion or opinion just every single scripture related to that topic. Wow! What I also realized as I looked threw the topics was that God has an answer to every question or topic imaginable. Anything you could think of related to the Word of God and how it can apply to you is easy to find. There doesn’t have to be any ambiguity or confusion if you are a believer. Just look into God’s Word and you’ll find the answer.

Well, I just don’t know….

….because the Bible is so confusing!

…..which Bible version is trustworthy?

…..if the Bible is relevant for today.

…..because you can make the Bible say what you want.

   I have heard people say that the Bible is confusing because of its old world language. Today we have so many translations that speak in plain, easy to understand language. I like the King James Version, also called The Authoritative Version, but really it is a translation also. Yes! That’s true. The Bible in any English version is a translation. Jesus spoke Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic – not English. Having said that you might wonder how we can know that our English Bible is correct? The answer is a Concordance. A concordance takes every word in the Bible and shows us what the Greek (for the New Testament) and Hebrew (for the Old Testament) words were and what they mean so we can see how it was translated and learn. Granted, some translation can be more elaborate than others but I believe in God and His power to protect His Word. After all the Word was withheld from the common man for centuries but God’s spirit prevailed.

   Regarding the ability to manipulate the Word of God. This can be done if you take scripture out of context and pick and choose what you want to site. But in context and supported by other scripture on the same topic the Word of God is true. God’s Word is not full of contradictions if you take the time to study it. But so many people want to be fed tiny Sunday bites of the Word of God rather than feast on it by personal study time.

  Lastly, if Jesus is the same yesterday today and tomorrow why isn’t His Word relevant for us today? Did God not know that we would be here in 2017? Are the circumstance’s and challenges we face a surprise to Him? Are things today really that different then 2000 years ago? I don’t think so. Sin is sin regardless of the civilization, technology or calendar.

   Thankfully God is still on His throne and we can know the truth and it is that truth that will make us free.

   Remember that Jesus told us that even though heaven and earth shall pass away His word will not pass away. Matthew 24:35

Trust in God. Read His Word. Be Blessed Al

As always please do not take my word for anything written here but be challenged and look into God’s Word for the answers – you will find them. al

Build the Wall

There’s lots of talk about building a wall that will separate America from Mexico. Who will pay for it? Is it feasible? Is it the right thing to do?

I saw a bumper sticker the other day that said “Hey! We’re all immigrants!!” I suppose that could be said in a broad loose way about everyone that isn’t  of Native American heritage. That is a shot at those who are opposed to the illegal immigration epidemic that has been a part of our country’s past. I don’t think that this new administration is anti-immigrant per-say when they talk of securing our borders. Just anti-illegal immigration.

Can we step back from the politically correct rhetoric long enough to acknowledge the phrase – Illegal Immigrant?

My heritage is Irish American. My paternal Grandmother came from Ireland as a teen at the turn of the last century. She went threw the process to get here. She became a citizen. She learned the language. She assimilated! She came here legally to become part of this great nation. Likewise, my in laws came here from  Ireland legally. Every year people from all over the world swear an oath as they become American citizens.

There’s a right way to do something and a wrong way. While we hear people say that “Jesus loves everyone” and “Jesus ate with/hung out with/associated with sinners” we have to look at the whole picture. Jesus loves everyone for sure. He died so we all might live. He also ministered and befriended sinners because He wanted to save them. Jesus often said to a sinner “go and sin no more”. So don’t start saying that Jesus endorses a lifestyle of sin because He loves the sinner. His heart will break over every single soul lost to eternal damnation because they did not repent.

Over and over the Word of God tells us to do what is right. Obey the laws over us. Pray for those in authority over us. Jesus doesn’t endorse breaking the laws of God or man.

We here in America have in place an Immigration and Naturalization Department expressly established for the introduction of foreigners into our country. Those who seek to (or have already) circumnavigated this process are criminals and as such are subject to the penalties laid out for such acts. They are not victims. They are not citizens. They are not innocent. They are criminals.

Build the wall. Make it high and strong. Make it so that those who wish to join our nation do so through the door that has been provided for so many other law abiding people.

The government has a right and a responsibility to protect its people from all threats foreign and domestic.

 

I suppose this will not be “Liked” by many but it’s what I believe to be true. Be blessed, Al

The Mega Millions Jackpot is now……

Does your shopping list include bread, milk, cold cuts, lotto tickets and scratch offs? Many people do. Many Christians do too. After all as a Christian we could do so much good with alllllllll that money. Right? Where’s the harm in that?

From cover to cover The Word of God tells us how much God loves us. In the Old Testament we learn the Names of God as He revealed Himself to the children of Israel. He is the God our Provider, The God our Healer, He is God Almighty, The God Who goes before us and so on.  In the New Testament we see God incarnate – God with us. The Creator of the universe left heaven to walk amongst us and even suffer unbearable things and die for us. We need to grasp just how much we are loved and be humbled at the thought of it.

But don’t forget to check your numbers! You gotta be in it to win! Today might be your lucky day! Someday my ship will come in!

But seriously brothers and sisters look at what the Word says about God’s provisions for your life and the trap of riches. God has no problem with wealth. Look at Solomon – the richest man ever – past, present and future.  That’s just one example of people God has blessed with great wealth because He wants to bless us. God promises to open up the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing on us that we can not contain – if we are good stewards of what He has already given us. If we fall into the trap of thinking that we don’t have enough or that we would be better off winning the sweepstakes what we are doing is telling God He is not enough or worse – He lied!

Thou shall not covet! It’s one of the Big Ten! Covet. Such an Old Testament word. Covet – to desire, be envious of, want or lust for. Now I know that none of us do that but there’s plenty of opportunity to if you did. The TV, Magazines, Billboards, Social Media all flash images of things we don’t have, or newer, bigger, nicer, better versions of what we do have, in our face. So naturally we want the newest, bigger, best, whatever. After all look at what we do have! ugh! It’s  old, it’s dull, boring, outdated.

It’s a trap. A trap to get you to devalue the blessings that God has given you – spouse, job, money, home, stuff, etc.,  and lust after something you don’t have and can’t afford to have. But, if I could just win the Lotto my problems would be solved. No they wouldn’t!

Goggle lotto winners and you’ll find many have lost it all. Spent it, gave some away, got robbed, whatever that case. The sweepstakes did not solve their problems. Only God can do that. He may be doing that already and you just don’t see it.

If you are working – you’re blessed! Many people aren’t.

If you’re working but unable to make ends meet. Look at what you spend your money (God’s Blessing) on.

If you are not working ask yourself why. If you’re health prevents you from working – Pray for strength or assistance.

If you are healthy enough to work but aren’t ask yourself why. Pride is a big hindrance to getting a job. “I’m a college educated ________ and I’m not going to work for anything less than $_____ an hour/day/week. Get a job. Any job and pray that God blesses your humility. I have countless stories of people I know who are in great positions but started at the bottom.

Instead of wishing you could win the jackpot and get all those new, bigger, brighter, better things, thank God for what you have right now. Because either God loves you and has provided for you and will continue to provide for you. Or He is a LIAR!

And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.                                                                                                                      Phil 4:19 NKJV

God is NOT a Liar. But He told us about one and we should be careful not to fall into the traps set by that liar. He (the devil) comes to kill, steal and destroy.

Give thanks and be blessed, Al

 

The 45th President of The United States

As I sit watching the inauguration of the 45th President of the United Sates with it’s procession of dignitaries, past Presidents, and all it’s pomp and circumstance with one thought in mind.

Is Donald J. Trump God’s man for the job?

Is he? Does God even concern Himself with who sits in the Oval Office? The Word of God would lead us to believe that God isn’t a nationalist. He is not a respecter of persons and wishes that all men (and women) come to the saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus. We know that He loves the children of Israel. The people, not the nation.

The Word of God tells us that we are not of this world. We are, in fact, strangers in a strange land. This is not our home. At the same time we are instructed to pray for those in leadership positions over us. Pray for the Peace of Israel. To follow after peace and treat each other as we would want to be treated.

But all this doesn’t answer the question – Is our 45th President ordained by God?

In my humble opinion – Yes! God ordained Donald Trump to be President at such a time as this. Not, because he will be the savior of the USA or the hero of our nation. Not because he is a deeply religious man. Not because he is an accomplished statesman. No. The now, President Donald J. Trump, is ordained by God to lead our nation because God is in control. From His Throne on High, God orchestrates the course of history to accomplish His goals. He  allows nations to rise and fall, leaders to come and go, in order to fulfill is mandate – save souls! God desires that no man perish! He know the number of the hairs on our head, He collects our tears in a bottle, He loves us with an everlasting love and sent His own Son to die for our sins.

It is this Father God in Heaven Who loves us enough to care about who is our leader. Weather that leader is great or small. Fallible or infamous. Religious or secular. No matter if you love our new President or hate him if you call Jesus Lord and God your Father you must pray for him and trust that God is in control.

Presidents will come and go but Jesus is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow!

Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men,   for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.  For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,  who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus                               1 Timothy 2:1-5 NKJV as read at the inauguration by the Rev. Franklin Graham

May God Bless President Donald J Trump and May God Bless America!