Progressive Dinners {1.27.18}

As I lay in bed last night before sleep, I began praising and thanking God. One praise was for the blessing of new relationships with other believers. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to meet with fellow Christians and discuss God’s Word and how He is working in our lives. I began thinking about the Bible study class I am in with a wonderful group of ladies. We meet for one hour each week during Sunday School. We have been meeting together for a few years now. As I was going back through our studies of the past year or so, I had to thank God for the journey He has taken us on. It seems like one study grew us right into another on a closer and more active walk with God. While I was praising God for that and His immense love, patience and grace, He put a thought into my head of progressive dinners. progressive dinner

Have you ever experienced a progressive dinner? You start out at someone’s home with maybe an appetizer. You eat, drink and get to know each other a little better. Then you move onto another home. Maybe this one is a salad or soup. You sit down with everyone and again, eat, drink and share life. Then after a bit, you move on again – to the main course this time. Same thing, you enjoy dinner, conversing with one another. Finally you end up the meeting at another home where dessert is served – the pièce de résistance– a sweet ending for the night. More conversation ensues and by the end of the night, you know much more about each other than when you started. You are fully satisfied from an evening well spent.

God showed me that just like my Bible study group’s journey, our Christian walk is kind of like a progressive dinner. We begin when we admit we are sinners in need of a savior. We believe in God, that His Word is truth, and accept the gift of salvation offered to all who put their trust in Jesus Christ. But, salvation is not the end of the journey, it is only the beginning. It’s like the appetizer. Then as we head on our journey down that narrow path, it’s kind of like when you are driving to the next home for your entrée or main course. Through the reading and teaching of God’s Word, fellowship, encouragement and accountability of other believers, we grow and become fully satisfied as if we had a delicious meal. All the time remembering that we are not on this journey alone. Others are walking with us toward our destination.  We reach heaven – the sweet ending to our journey, the dessert course so to speak. home in heavenHowever, this is not the end at all – it’s just the beginning of eternity. How sweet it is to be loved by Jesus!

Philippians 2:12-13 “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”

At first I thought this “progressive dinner” term was kind of strange but then as I thought of all the references of bread, milk, etc. in scriptures, it’s not strange at all. Walking out our faith (salvation) is like life itself. As babies we begin on milk and then as we grow and mature, we eat more substantial food.

 Matthew 4:4Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

 1 Peter 2:2-3Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.”

 Hebrews 5:12-14In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!  Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

 I will never view progressive dinners the same way again.  God has placed a feast in front of us. I want to enjoy the entire meal, the company I am journeying with and get to the sweet, sweet ending!

Going for the Gold {8.15.16}

Are you caught up in the Olympics? I am! What a blessing to have the ability to record events even when I’m not at home to watch. Some things about new technology are pretty fantastic (as long as you still have young people around to help when you have questions – thanks kids). Anyway, back to the topic at hand. OLYMPICS!!!! gold medalI am not an athlete by any stretch of the imagination. The closest I ever got was twirling a baton (which I loved). But, every athlete needs someone at home cheering them on and encouraging them. That’s where I come in. I so much appreciate not only the gifts and talents of these incredible athletes but the strict training and commitments involved in making their dreams come true. [Just a side note of cheering for my son Kyle who has become quite an athlete himself in triathlons and iron man competitions – way to go! You deserve a gold medal in my book.]

1 Corinthians 9:25 “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” olympic training schedule

While Olympics and any kind of competition is fun, we are all in another kind of race. It’s not a competition between each other but together, we can all win the ultimate price. How about that? We don’t even have to be athletes in the Olympic sense! We can still win!!!!

Philippians 3:14 “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

Check this out:

  • Our entrance fee has been paid and there is no need for a sponsor. JESUS PAID IT ALL ON THE CROSS
  • We have a coach that NEVER leaves us and always guides us into truth. THE HOLY SPIRIT LIVING IN US
  • And after our race is finished and we go home, THE FATHER IS WAITING FOR US WITH LOVING ARMS

And…we have a new home. You can read all the details in Revelation 21. Here is our “gold” at the end of our race:street of gold

Revelation 21:21 “The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass.”

If you have not yet selected a team for the race of live, I urge you to do it now. We never know how many more events we have before the race for us ends.

Romans 10:9 “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord’, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead you will be saved.”

Hallelujah!  Our “GOLD” is waiting for us. Let’s run the race with perseverance and stay on track, not looking to the left or right. The road is narrow but it is straight and we can’t get lost if we keep our eye on the prize.

Go Team USA! GO TEAM GOD!!!!

Terror from the Tempter {7.13.16}

I don’t know about where you live but when I turn on the news each morning, there seems to always be sad and tragic news in abundance. I really don’t remember the last time I watched the news and there was no killing reported. It’s so sad. It rouses many emotions in us but I wonder how often it prompts us to do the things we can do – pray and love.

Matthew 5:44: “But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”

The terror we are seeing is from the tempter, Satan. He wants to steal, kill and destroy. He appears to be doing quite a fine job of it, with help from us. God never tempts us to evil but He does allow us free will to choose good over evil.

James 1:13-15: “When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”

1 Timothy 5:15: “Some have in fact already turned away to follow Satan.

Remember, when we are tempted to sin/evil, God will ALWAYS provide a way of escape for us. We need to look for that escape route and take it.

Loving our enemies is hard to do, hard to even think about doing in our own strength. That’s why we need GOD. It’s only possible through His love and His Strength working in and through us.

1 Thessalonians 5:15-24: “Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not put out the Spirit’s fire, do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil. May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.”

Sometimes we let these awful things we hear go in one ear and then out again if it doesn’t happen to our family or friends. But, we know that it affects us all. This is a war we are in the middle of and the battle is fierce. It’s a war against good and evil. It’s a war against our nation, our families, and even our sanity. The great news is that God has provided us all we need to fight this battle. Check it out below.

Ephesians 6:10-18: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for the saints”

So, I guess the purpose of this post is to remind myself and others who may read it to keep on praying, keep on trusting God and keep on fighting the fight, on our knees and with love. Loving God first and foremost and then with His help, loving others – all others. After all, Christ died and rose again for EVERYONE.

If you have not yet joined the family of God, you can do that right now. Admit your sins, accept the gift of the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ as your savior and then love, trust and follow God. It’s that simple. God will help guide and direct you and give you understanding through His Holy Spirit.

Mighty things can happen when we all join together in love and prayer. Are we with God? Or, are we with Satan? Those are our only two choices. If we don’t actively choose God, we choose Satan by default. His team may win battles but they lose the war and end up in terror and torment for eternity. Choosing Satan is a choice leading to death. With God, we will spend eternity in heaven. Easy choice – choose God and live!

The Magic of Music {3.7.16}

I know, music really isn’t magic but it does seem to have the power to transport us, doesn’t it? Sometimes it’s to another place and time, sometimes it’s an attitude or emotional change. At least in my life, music speaks to my heart and it speaks loudly.

When my children were toddlers, I took them to the Disney Magic Kingdom. We all had a great time but the one thing I remember (aside from how cute they were in their Mickey Mouse hats) is going on a boat ride through a tunnel while the song “It’s a Small World” played. I can’t hear that song even today without smiling. Something about it lifts my spirits no matter what. Can you ever hear the “hokey pokey” song without thinking of a roller rink? And for me, when I hear a John Philip Sousa marching song, I quickly get in step and think of picking up a baton and marching down the street in a parade (loved those days). When I want to spend quiet time with God, I often sing “In the Garden” to myself (I sound better that way – silently). I’m sure we all have memories tied to songs. It can bring to mind wonderful times, sad times and let’s be honest – sometimes we just like the beat. music notes

The other day I caught a bit of a TV show where Loretta Lynn was performing live. She sang one of the songs on an album recently released. I’m not sure of the title of the song but the chorus was: “Everybody wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die”. In the song she talks about Hezekiah and Jesus but mostly I remember that chorus. There is so much truth in that verse.

Just yesterday we traveled to two funeral homes for services. One was for an elderly relative who had lived a fairly long life and suffered greatly toward the end. It was a comfort to her immediate family that her suffering had ended. The other was for a young 10 year old boy. That is always much harder to understand. While he lived three years longer than expected, to us it still seems like his life was cut short. “Everybody wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die” However, he had godly, loving parents who introduced him to God and he accepted the gift of salvation and was baptized. He was truly going home. Even though his life was filled with physical problems, doctors, hospitals, etc. he was a very happy child. What a precious smiling face he had and the smile went all the way up to his brown eyes.

While I thought of Loretta’s song in the physical sense, it has much more meaning in the spiritual sense, doesn’t it? We all want to go to heaven but do we really want to die? We are called to do just that – die to self and live for Christ. That’s not easy to do – in and of ourselves. But oh the freedom when we allow the power of God to transform us into His likeness. Through the death and resurrection of Christ, we have the privilege of coming into a personal relationship with God. That should make us sing for joy!

“Sing to the Lord a new song, sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, praise His name; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous deeds among all peoples. For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise, He is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before Him, strength and glory are in His sanctuary.”  Psalm 96:1-6

So, what song are you singing today? Is it a song of praise and joy for a God who loves you? Does it bring a smile to your face and joy into your heart? If not, ask Jesus into your heart. You will be singing a beautiful new song from here into eternity.

Let’s Sing!

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire {2.29.16}

liar pants on fireLiar, Liar, Pants on Fire. Just a silly rhyme of children? Maybe not. We all probably said that as children (and I have to admit I still say it occasionally when joking with others). But, until this week I never did make the connection between being a liar and fire. It finally hit me that this saying must have come from scripture. We know who the “father of lies” is – Satan.

John 8:42-44 “Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me. Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

So, we know where lies originate. They are from Satan himself. We all fall into that trap and have said a lie before, haven’t we? A “little white lie” maybe? But, lies are serious to God, like all sin. Our sin may start small but can grow and spread like crazy. Before we know it we find that our sin identifies us. We don’t want that! Look what John saw and wrote for us in Revelation. Liars are among sinners specifically mentioned.

Revelation 21:1-8 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new”! Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars – their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

There is good news in the above scriptures but the last sentence is hard when you think about the cost of choosing unwisely. God had a perfect plan for mankind to live with Him in the Garden of Eden but through the lies of the devil/deceiver, sin entered in. God cannot co-exist with sin. He is light and sin is darkness. Thankfully, He made another way for us to live with Him now and forever – Jesus Christ, our redeemer. God does not send anyone to hell. People end up there from their own choices. Satan didn’t start out there but he and some angels turned against God. Hell was created for them and thus, all of their followers will have an eternal dwelling place there as well.

Jude 1:6 “And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home – these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgmhellent on the great day.”

Luke 10:18 “He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.”

Matthew 25:41 “Then he will say to those on his left. “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

Matthew 13:40-43 “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.”

We had an experience recently where we tried to help someone. Even though options had run out for this person and bridges had been burned with family and friends, the lies continued. One lie piled on top of another and another and another and it kept up for several days. The lies were brought out into the open and proved but even then, the lies did not stop. This person continues to lie and we don’t understand it. No matter what the truth is, a lie is worse. One lie leads to another and another and before you know it I think you can start believing your own lies. Besides all that, it seems like way too much trouble to try to remember all the lies! Lies hold us in bondage for sure. I can’t even imagine the stress. But, THE TRUTH WILL SET US FREE.

John 8:31-32 “To the Jews, who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 14:6 “Jesus answered, “I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Jesus is the truth. There is such freedom in being true and truthful, isn’t there? Oh, the freedom we can have in Christ – awesome freedom, freedom from sin’s control. To live for Christ is freedom. To live for sin is death. We must choose. Will we choose Jesus and Heaven or Satan and Hell?

angels in heavenIn Revelation, John tried to describe the vision he saw but when I try to imagine it, I realize I can’t. Even those of us with the best imagination can’t fully grasp the reality of heaven. We know it will be wonderful. We know it will be beautiful. We know there will be no more tears or pain. We know we will all want to worship God. But, we really can’t imagine how wonderful. At the same time, we really can’t imagine the horror of hell. We know it will be never ending torment and fire. We know there will be gnashing of teeth. We know there will be horrible pain and no relief. But beyond that, we really can’t grasp just how horrible it will be in hell. These realities should cause all of us to pause and reflect or adjust our priorities. We must share the good news and hope we have in Jesus – before it’s too late.

So the moral of this story is…

If you don’t want your pants on fire – never, never be a liar.