I'd like to share something with you that I read this evening in The Word In Life Study Bible based on I John 2:3-6 I hope you will benefit from reading it.
"Most parents expect obedience from their children as a sign of loyalty and trust. In a similar way, God expects His children to follow His commandments (vv. 4-5). In fact, when we obey God and act like Him, we show ourselves to be His (v. 6)
We can be thankful that God has established rules and standards. Without such boundaries, we would not experience freedom but chaos. After all, we no longer inhabit Eden, but a broken world of sinners. We need moral safeguards that protect people's rights, delay gratification, enforce commitments, define relationships, ensure privacy, and demonstrate a respect for life.
Furthermore, we can be thankful that God is the One who has defined moral absolutes. Sinners could not be trusted to define goodness or justice.
God's original desire was for humans to have authority over all creation (Gen. 1:26-31). But sin and rebellion made us incapable of carrying out that responsibility (Gen. 3:22-24; Rom. 1:18-32). However, Christ has opened the way for us to re-establish our relationship with God and assume once again the responsibilities for which He created us:
*He has provided for the forgiveness for our sins (John 3:16-19). *He has provided renewal for all of our life (2 Cor. 5:16-21). *He empowers us to carry out His work (Acts 1:6-8). *He has established guidelines for proper conduct (1 John 2:7-17).
When we follow God's commandments we experience true liberty. As His obedient children we can be fulfilled, fruitful, and joyful as we look forward to the promise of eternal life (v. 17)."
When we live in a world based on God's laws, God's rule, we are blessed. When God's laws and God's rules are cast aside for laws and rules made by men (especially when they do not know God), we suffer - there is chaos, fear, and pain. We can have joy and happiness in this world, but not what we could have had if we had been obedient to God. For Christians, there will be trouble and sorrow all around us until the Rapture or our death, whichever comes first. And then, for those who are left behind, the real trouble will begin.
Some time ago I wrote a post entitled, Convicted and Marked. I felt deeply about what I wrote then, and I still feel that way.
This morning, while driving in my car, I heard a portion of a Focus on the Family radio program on WMCU 1080AM and was strongly affected by what I heard. Phil Downer brought a message about the change God made in his life; here is a summary of what he said.
"At nineteen, Phil joined the Second Battalion, Fifth Marines, and was shipped to South Vietnam. He saw death all around him, and it was not easy to deal with. At one point, he was an "ammo humper" - the person who carried the ammunition for the machine gunners. He received several promotions; one of these promotions moved him from "ammo humper" to machine gunner. For about two months, he carried the machine gun in heavy combat until he was promoted to Machine Gun Team Leader, which meant that the guy behind him now carried the machine gun. One of Phil's best friends, John Atkinson from up-state New York, was "the guy behind him." He became Phil's gunner and took over the responsibility of carrying the machine gun in battle.
One day, the men in Phil's group had to charge across an open field and make a left turn. Several men did this before Phil; then it was his turn. Phil's team, with his gunner leading the way, now had to make the same maneuver. Just as John made the left turn, two enemy snipers fired on them. Phil dove to the ground and returned fire. As he was falling, a bullet went through the pack on his back from bottom to top. At the same time, he felt a heavy weight fall on him; the weight turned out to be his friend John and Phil's old machine gun. All of the bullets, except the one that went harmlessly through Phil's pack, had hit John, and he was dead.
This was a very painful experience for Phil - to see his good friend dead on the ground. You can probably imagine his thought at this time - at least some of them. One of the first things Phil thought about was that John had just received a letter from his wife telling him that she was carrying their first child; John would never see this child. Then Phil realized that not only was John dead, but that John had died in Phil's place. Until the recent promotion - only three days earlier - Phil had been the machine gun carrier. You see, the snipers had let everyone go by, waiting for the machine gunner. Had the promotion not taken place, Phil would have been dead on the ground; and John might still have seen his child. Phil said that that moment "marked" his life.
When Phil's thirteen month tour was up, he went home and attempted to restart his life. He got back into college (though this was no easy task since he had flunked out of college before going to war), but this time he was successful; he became a lawyer. While in school, he met and married a young woman who also became a lawyer. They both found good jobs and were on their way to the life they dreamed of.
Earlier in his story, Phil had said that John Wayne's portrayal of war as a positive or noble experience was a lie. He mentioned John Wayne (I'm a big John Wayne fan) again at this point. He said that John Wayne's portrayal of true happiness coming from success, position and family was a lie. Phil seemed to have everything, but he was not happy. On the surface, everything was fine; deep inside, he was empty, restless. Nothing brought real fulfillment or joy even though he seemingly had it all. Phil said that he went from "hero to zero."
The pressure of his work got to him. As a trial lawyer, there was a lot riding on what he did; businesses and livelihoods depended on the outcome of the trials, and the responsibility of it affected him. He began to bring his problems, fears, frustrations, and anxieties home with him, and he took them out on his wife. He began to break all of the commitments he had made to his her. His temper was out of control; he broke furniture, punched holes in walls, and slammed the phone against the walls in anger. He never struck his wife, but he crushed her; he broke her heart.
At this point, he was invited by a fellow lawyer to go to a Christian retreat, but he said no. About a month later, his wife (who had never asked him to do anything just for her) asked him to go on the retreat. He agreed through he did not want to be there.
Initially, he did not participate in the retreat; he just sat at the back doing nothing. As the meetings progressed, the men began to share about the real issues of life, and this got Phil's attention. These men had gone through the same things Phil was going through. Then they explained to Phil that God love him, that God knew all about him and still loved him enough to send His Son to die for him. Phil had heard this before; but this time it meant something to him; it broke his heart, and he received Christ as Lord and Savior. Phil found a peace, joy and contentment beyond all description - a contentment that he had never known before.
The change in Phil was so complete that his wife immediately saw it, and she became a Christian as well. Despite his change and her conversion, his wife was not interested in being married to him any longer; she had been planning to divorce him for a long time and no longer loved him. As a new Christian though, Phil's wife began to pray that God would give her a new love for Phil; and over about a year and a half, God gave her that new love, and they rebuilt their marriage. Out of this change that they both experienced grew a ministry called DNA - Discipleship Network of America http://www.dnaministries.org/."
Phil had been on a road to nowhere, but God was watching and directing his path. For reasons we cannot understand, God spared Phil's life by allowing John to die in his place; thus leaving a mark on Phil that would eventually drive him so low that he would finally be able to see God and surrender to Him.
If we are marked by God, that is a good thing. Thank God for His love and forgiveness.
I DID NOT write this post. I wish I could write something as powerful as this, but I cannot. I came across the post yesterday morning and wanted others to have the opportunity to read it as well, since many of us suffer from wrong thinking - some frequently and some only occasionally. The title of the blog is "Inside My Head," and it is written by Mary Hess.
In this post, Mary talks about a book that was very helpful to her. Another book that some persons may find helpful is How to Win Over Depression by Tim LaHay.
Please read what Mary has to say. You may not need this information for yourself, but it may help you to assist someone else.
Inside My Head (http//networkedblogs.com/p14588702) Stressed by Mary Hess
Phil. 4:8,9 - Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - I will think on these things. Ephesians 4:23, 24 - I will be made new in the attitude of my mind. And I will put on my new self created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
You know, so many of us - well, let’s be honest - ALL of us battle something in our minds -insecurities, trust issues, lust, lying, fear, negativity, depression - you name it, I bet we have each battled one, if not more of these things. And I’m sure I’m leaving the list way too short.
A few years ago, God really changed my life. It’s too much to type here but suffice it to say that the enemy had major control of my mind - to the point that I felt like I was going insane. How’s that for being real? ;) A friend of mine introduced me to a wonderful book by Joyce Meyer called The Battlefield of The Mind and I read it. And quite honestly, the book ticked me off. How dare someone tell me that I had control of my thought life? She obviously didn’t know what she was talking about. But the more I read, the more I saw that Joyce had been exactly where I was. And she did know what she was talking about.
It took a lot for me to push through my urges to make excuses as to why I couldn’t possibly get control of my own thought life - and a lot of prayer from close friends and my wonderful husband who had to endure a lot of attacks from the enemy - through me - because of the battle I was going through. But God’s grace prevailed. And so I chose - look at that word - I chose to change. I wrote down scriptures dealing with our minds and memorized them.
Every time a thought would come over me that wasn’t supposed to be there, I would say my scriptures out loud. I would sing songs - even if I had to make them up - that would lift up Jesus. I would choose to respond positively and not negatively. I kept myself accountable to my husband and to a few close friends. They would keep me in check if I started going down the wrong road again.
I hated having to do so much work to become free from this negative thought pattern. While I hated it, I loved it. Being broken and admitting there was so much junk in my life wasn’t fun. But it was necessary. And I’m thankful I did it. Many, many days all I could do was say, “Jesus, please give me strength to do this.”
You see, we live in a time where people expect to get everything quickly. We forget that some things we really have to work for. When you work for something, chances are you appreciate the end results even more than if it was just handed to you, right? God knows that about us of course! He created us! So, there are times in our Christian walk we have to push through on purpose to get the victory in a battle. And it isn’t easy. And there will be battle wounds - wounds that turn into scars. But those scars will definitely remind us where we came from and help us to toughen up for the next battle!
So I encourage you today to take inventory of your thought life. Are there things you allow to dwell there that aren’t pleasing to God? There’s a saying I’ve heard my entire life: “You can’t stop a bird from flying over your head, but you sure can keep it from building a nest in your hair.”
While that sounds silly, it’s very applicable to what I’m talking about today. I can’t stop a thought from going through my mind, but I sure can keep myself from dwelling on it. The enemy places the thought there and then waits to watch for your reaction to it. If he continually sees you reacting the opposite of that thought he’ll move on to some other tactic.
Even today, I still have times where it will try and trip me up again. I haven’t reached perfection in this area of my life. But I make sure to keep quoting those scriptures (I carry index cards in my purse with them written on it), sing those songs, pray those prayers and hold myself accountable to those I’ve entrusted with my life. Together we make a GREAT army for God! And we need each other!
Here are a few scriptures (taken from NIV) that I have used to help me. I’ve tweaked them a bit to be more personal but the overall theme is there. I hope they help you as much as they have me.
Ephesians 4:23, 24 - I will be made new in the attitude of my mind. And I will put on my new self created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Isaiah 26:3 - You will keep me in perfect peace because my mind is steadfast and I trust in You.
I Corinthians 2:16b - I have the mind of Christ.
Romans 12:2 - I will not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but I will be transformed by the renewing of my mind.
I Peter 1:13 - I will prepare my mind for action. I will be self-controlled. I will set my hope fully on the grace to be given to me when Jesus Christ is revealed.
Phil. 4:8,9 - Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - I will think on these things.
I Peter 5:8, 9 - I will be self-controlled and alert - the enemy prowls around like a roaring lion looking to devour me. I will resist him and stand firm in the faith.
I Corinthians 14:15 - So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind. I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind.
Ephesians 6:12 - My struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers to this dark world and against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
II Corinthians 10:4, 5 - The weapons I fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. I demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God . . . and I take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
About the author of this "posted post"- Hess,Mary - Mary Hess is a thirty-something mom to 2 beautiful girls (13 & 2) and wife to an amazing man! She has been involved in ministry for most of her life teaching, leading worship and serving wherever needed. She and her husband own Purses and Such and have been enjoying learning how to run a successful business of their own. Her most recent adventure has been to re-enroll in college to finish her degree in Psychology: Christian Counseling. Hopefully by the time her youngest daughter is in school she will have her Masters Degree and be on her way to completing her doctorate. While all of these things are important to her, Mary stresses that her main purpose in life is simply to pursue God. Wherever He takes her and whatever He wants her to do is her ultimate desire.
Finally, I have something new to write about the beautiful caterpillar I wrote about some time ago. He formed the chrysalis about three weeks ago, and all we could do was wait to see if he would become a butterfly or die from trying to complete the metamorphosis in captivity. According to what I could learn via the Internet, the change should have taken about two weeks.
Well, two weeks came and went, and I had just about given up hope when I got word that the new creature was here. Since the caterpillar was so beautiful, I assumed the butterfly would be fabulous as well - a true thing of beauty. Well, he is beautiful; however, not at all what we expected.
The butterfly is not a butterfly; he is a moth - a big, grey one. He is still beautiful though - just not what we expected. Have a look -
This was a good experience; I'm glad I was able to have a part in it.
Today was not really a good day (from the standpoint of my mood); however, I know I am responsible for my attitude - I'll try to do better tomorrow.
Yesterday I searched for the music to a song; and though I thought I knew where I had put it, I could not find it. Since I really wanted the music, I decided to look for it again this evening. I was successful this time and found the music quickly along with what I am going to share with you in this post. What I found is quite silly, but it lifted my mood and made me laugh. I hope you will get at least one laugh from it as well.
The following is an email I received in April of 2001 from "Mikey's Funnies."
Medical Daffynitions Artery: The study of painting Bacteria: The back door of the cafeteria Barium: What doctors do when their patients die Bowel: A letter like A, E, I, O or U Caesarean Section: A neighborhood in Rome CAT Scan: Searching for a kitty Cauterize: To make eye contact with a girl Coma: A punctuation mark Enema: Someone who is not your friend Fester: Quicker Fibula: A little lie Labor Pain: When you get hurt at work Nitrates: Cheaper than day rates Node: Was aware of Outpatient: A patient who fainted Pelvis: An Elvis impersonator Recovery Room: A place to do upholstery Secretion: Something you don't want anyone to know Seizure: A Roman emperor Tablet: A small table Terminal: Where the planes land Urine: Opposite of "you're out" Varicose: Nearby Vein: To be conceited
Hope you found something in this funny enough to make you laugh!
I read an interesting article this morning by R. C. Sproul about the church and hypocrisy. Over the years, I've frequently heard persons complain that they do not want to attend church because it is filled with hypocrites. My basic response (non-verbal) to this is that this complaint is a convenient excuse. None of us is perfect; therefore, the church is filled with imperfect persons. I've also heard it said that if one finds a perfect church, he should not join it since it would then cease to be perfect.
A hypocrite is (in my opinion) one who is commits a particular sin and says he does not, one who lives a particular (sinful) lifestyle while pretending he isn't, or lives a particular (sinful) lifestyle while criticizing others for living that same lifestyle, or one who professes to be perfect while knowing that he is living a very imperfect life. The explanation could go on and on; however, I am sure you get the point.
Hypocrisy is a sin; there is no question about that, and because none of us is perfect, we sin. We do not all commit the sin of hypocrisy (at least not all the time or all at the same time); therefore, the church (while filled with sinners) is not necessarily filled with hypocrites. Christians are sinners who came face to face with Jesus Christ, repented of their sins and accepted His gift of salvation. This does not make us perfect; however, God now sees us as perfect, since He sees us covered by the blood of Jesus Christ.
The church is filled with imperfect persons who, if they are genuine Christians (saved by the grace of God and with Jesus Christ as Lord of their lives), join together to worship God, serve others, support and encourage (edify) one another as we grow in our faith and move toward sanctification (something I believe none of us will reach until God takes us home). The church can be a very good place to be, though one has to be diligent to find a church that follows Scripture. The church can be of great assistance to the individual, and the individual has a responsibility to be of assistance to the Church - the body of Christ. Fellowship with true believers, while not without risk since we are not perfect, can be a blessing to us as God (at least in part) intended it to be.
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