Monday, March 28, 2011



There are two types of childish behavior at work here in our lives. One is positive and the other negative.

When we are children, we learn and grow, physically and mentally. However, some children learn good behavior and habits, while others learn bad behavior and habits. Some grow and mature, while some grow more immature.

When it comes to our personal faith. God wants us to have the attitude and purity of a child, while at the same time not being childish? Does that make sense?

Read these two verses below and see if that helps?

1 Corinthians 14:20 "Brothers and sisters, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults."

Matthew 18:3"And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."

Some people grow into adults but never fully mature. They are immature, act childish, behave childish, and because of their behaviors and atttitudes they seem to stay in trouble, cause conflict, and hurt others. You know anyone like that? Got them in your family?

However, on the flip side of that, though God wants us to mature in our faith, he wants us to maintain a child-like faith, which is of innocence, purity, and unconditional love.

There are people out there that will never grow in their faith because they refuse to mature and grow and act like an adult. Then there are those who grow and mature deeply because they work on staying pure at heart and keeping themselves innocent of sinful behaviors and surroundings.

Being mature means treating people with respect, not retaliating when someone hurts you, treating others how you want to be treated, and not accusing people falsely, and accepting responsibility for yourself and your actions. Being immature means being disrespectful, causing drama, trying to hurt others even if you don't have all the fact, and treating others badly out of your own selfishness.

Being Child-like faith is striving to have a pure heart. Doing things like praying daily and reading your bible regularly and being involved in bible studies and serving God and reading christian books and listening to christian music and things like this that will help you meditate and stay pure. It's protecting your innocence by avoiding things that cause you to be tempted, to lust, to cheat, and to hurt others.

We must grow and mature in our faith as we physically age and grow older. And the older we become the more we should grow in our faith. Which means we become more knowledgeable of God's word and will, we improve in areas of our lives where we are weak, we hone our spiritual talents and gifts and use them for God's kingdom. Our life becomes less about us and our wants and more about God and His needs. The more we grow in our faith the less judgemental we should be, the more wisdom and discernment we should have, and the more we make a positive difference in the world for God.

At the same time we are aging and hopefully maturing and growing in our faith we become more child-like in our faith. That simply means that God wants us to keep an attitude of purity and innocence like a child. Seeing the good in others, learning to share, avoiding things that corrupt our hearts and minds.

God is our spiritual father, we are His children. I hope we all can learn to have child-like faith, while the same time learning to grow and mature in our faith.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Realistic VS Legalistic

Realistic VS Legalistic
Are you being realistic in your faith or legalistic? Legalistic is defined as: the principle of strict adherence, to law or prescription, especially to the letter rather than the spirit.
Realistic is defined as: interested in, concerned with, or based on what is real or practical. So again, I ask how you in your personal faith in God?
I want you to Look at 3 scenario's and be objective:

1. Which christian does more harm, one who drinks alcohol(wine/beer) socially, in moderdation, or rare occasions (not getting drunk) or a christian who gossips regularly and often?

2. Which christian does more harm, one who was led to Christ by reading the (NLT) New Living translation of the Bible or one who condenms every translation except one or condemns anyone who reads any other translation other than the one they think is the only one?(typically the King James Version).

3. Which christian does more harm, one who fellowships and accepts other christians of other denominations or those who believe different than them on certains biblical issues or the one who thinks their church is the only church going to heaven and you are only a christian if you got to "their" church?

These are only 3 scenario's, I could write several others but for space/time reasons I won't. My point today is, there are many judgemental, narrow-minded, ignorant, set in their ways, and uneducated, maybe even some well-meaning christians out there, who are doing more harm than good. They condemn certain behaviors or people or groups, while their own behavior or attitude is really more harmful to themselves, others, and God. PLEASE UNDERSTAND I am not endorsing or promoting drinking, every bible translation, or even every group that calls themselves a church, but we need to be realistic and objective, that sometimes we fight the wrong battles, focus on the wrong things, and many people do more harm than good. Also, we need to keep in mind that we all have indiviual freedom, convictions, and preferences in certain areas of our faith.

Let's look closely at these 3 scenarios:
First, scripture is clear on getting drunk and drunkeness being a sin (Luke 21:34, Romans 13:13, I Cor. 6:10, Prov. 20:1 & 23:20-their are several other scriptures as well), however, scripture also teaches us (whether we like it or not), that Jesus did indeed drink wine (Luke 7:33-35 and John 2-water into wine-he accepted others drinking wine) and Jesus clearly didn't condemn alcohol use, but scipture does condemn mis-use, abuse, and lack of self-control of alcohol. Alcohol isn't the bad guy, it's the people who use it excess or abuse it. Sort of like people who abuse authority, food, or other things out of their intended boundaries. However, gossip is always wrong. There is not place in the bible where gossip is ok in moderation, on occasion, or in social settings. Gossip is ALWAYS wrong. (prov 11:13, 16:28, 18:8, Romans 1:29, 2 Cor. 12:20) However, many churches are full of "christians" who gossip on a daily basis and nothing is said, but you hear or see a "christian" drinking a beer at a restaurant or see a picture on facebook of someone having a glass of wine at a social gathering and we automatically condemn them as being a hypocrite, sinner, or evil? But we look the other way at our church full of gossips, dividers, and slanderers?

I think it's honorable if people choose to abstain from alcohol, certain foods, or certain hobbies, or practices, but we must be very very careful to not bind our own personal convictions on everyone else(Go Read Romans 14, esp 14:22) especially when scripture doesn't back it up, and again I'm just using alcohol and gossip as examples. Don't miss the forest for the trees.

Secondly, the word version or translations is pretty self-explanitory to me. It means it's a version of the original or a translation of the original text. Not every tranlation or version is a good one, but not everyone is a bad one. Many people have come to Christ and have grown in their faith and even preached and taught others with the King James, New King James, New International Version, New Living Translation, American Standard, Revised Standard, and the Message to name a few. Who is more Christ-like? One who shares the word of God and reads it and does what it says or one who is dogmatic, negative, judgemental in saying there is only ONE translation and the rest are uninspired, evil, perverted, or wrong? Heaven will be a small place if only people who read one version go there. (Eph 5:6-empty words, 2 Tim 2:24 false teachers, Hebrews 4:12-God's word). Sometimes translations improve the original texts, and changing words, doesn't always mean changed meanings. Wy is translating the orignial texts into today's language so evil? If we found another ancient writing today, would we not translate it in today's language or would be go back to 1600 Shakespeare old english? Jesus did not speak old english folks. Which is realistic and which is legalistic?

Thirdly, there are many denominations, non-denominational, established, and independent churches out there, there are many branches of different movements. I agree there is only ONE church, but that church is GOD's church, not a certain denomination or non-denominational group. The church is the BODY of Christ. HE is the head and we are all a part in that body.

We may attend the Baptist, methodist, church of Christ, Presbyterian, or community churches, but we all can be a part of HIS church. Are there churches or certain religous groups out there that aren't teaching the bible correctly? Yes. Are there churches out there that started for the wrong reasons? Yes. Is there a church (group) out there that's doing everything correctly? No. No church whether denomination or not, is doing everything correctly, or has all the answers. If there was, then Jesus died in vain. Do we all have to agree with every topic, issue, or doctrine out there? No. Do I have to have the same belief about speaking in tongues, the end of times, baptism, or grace to consider you my brother or sister? I shouldn't, but many people do. They judge someone a christian or not based on whether they agree with them and where they go to church.

I don't agree with a lot of peoples views and I certainly don't agree with every denomination or doctrine out there, and many wont' agree with me today, but that doesn't give me a right or authority to condemn every christian who doesn't agree with me or doesn't go to the same church I do. When we do that, we limit God, put Him in a Box, and make salvation about being in the right group or right set or rules and not about what Jesus did. Jesus condemned this type of behavior (read the Matt, Mark, Luke, & John and Jesus words to the Religous leaders and Pharisees. Paul fought legalism too, read Acts). Jesus came to FREE us from religion, rules, and legalism, by enabling us to have a relationship with him. Why do we want to make being a christian, going to church, and being saved so hard for people?

Are there some churches and christians out there mis-informed? Yes. Are there some things I believe that are probably wrong? Yes. That is why it's important for us to talk to God daily, read and study our bibles, and contine to grow in our faith. Many churches are known for what they are against instead of what they are for. Many christians push people away and turn people off from God and the church because they are arrogant, argumentative, pushy, and judgemental. You are not going to lead too many people to Christ with those types of attitudes. Does that mean you have to agree with everyone or be comfortable in every type of church? No. Go to church and serve where you feel led, but don't condemn another church, worship style, preference, or christian just because it doesn't match up with the way you were raised, taught, or even feel. (Romans 14:1, John 3:17, Romans 15:7, Gal 2:21, Eph 2:8-there are many other scriptures)
We need to be REAListic not LEGAListic. Our salvation comes from God, not our own smarts.
Our relationship of faith in God is up to us, not others. We will answer to God, not someone else and not our church group or personal opinions. I believe in absolutes, I believe in boundaries, right and wrong, and sin. But, I also believe in personal freedom/choice, grace, preferences, and common sense. What is wrong for you, might not be wrong for me, but I am also to exercise wisdom and discernment. Sometimes things are better for us not to do or say, not because they are a sin or wrong, but because it may offend or hurt someone else or even hurt the church.

Sometimes we might not agree with someone over bible translations, worship music, or even doctrinal issues, or personal choicies, but we can agree that Jesus died for us, he loves us, and His grace covers our sins if we repent. We make things issues that I believe God never intended for them to be issues, but when you mix human beings that are sinful by nature an not perfect, things get complicated.

God wants us to have freedom in Him, that's realistic. God doesnt want us being legalistic and limiting His love, power, and grace. No matter your views, opinions, preferences, or even beliefs, be careful to get the plank(Matt 7:3-5) out of our eyes first.
We may never drink alcohol, but we gossip constantly. We may only use the King James, but we never use it like the person who uses their NIV everyday and shares their faith. Or what about ther person who prays and fellowships with people of other denominations, while one person has nothing to do with anyone other than "their own" churches. Who is making a bigger difference?

I don't have all the answers, you may not agree with some of the things I said today, well good news, you don't have to. I'm at a place in my walk with God where I'm not going to let people, churches, or anything dictate how I live, believe, feel, or serve.

I want my life to reflect my relationship with God and that's as REAL as it gets. I want God to use me to give others FREEDOM in Him. WE need to stop being so legalistic in our religion and start being more realistic in our faith. I encourage you to search the scriptures, pray, and study on your own, don't take my word for it, take God's.

"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed."

Monday, March 14, 2011

Give Up

It's easy to give up isn't it? It's alot easier to throw in the towel, stop trying, and not make any effort. Why do you think so many people don't change their lifestyle, habits, or situations? Because they give up. People don't stop smoking, lose weight, fix their marriage, or better parent their children because it's easier to ignore, look the other way, live in denial, or just simply give up.
However when you give up that way, your problems never give up, they continue and continue and they get worse, deteriorate, and pile up.
I've been there, I am there. It's easy to give up on ourselves and our problems. Well I am telling you today to GIVE UP, but I am not talking about this kind of giving up, I am telling you to GIVE UP your problems to God.
That's a totally different type of giving up. When you GIVE UP your problems to God, you are saying my problems or issue or struggle is too big for me to handle on my own, I need help, I can't do it alone. Until you get to this point, then things aren't going to change. Well they will change, but only for the worse.
God wants us to give up control of our lives and situations to Him. God alone is the answer. Now, I am not saying God wants us to just dump our stuff in His lap and we are done. We have t0 accept responsibility for our actions if we've caused the problem(s) in our lives. And God also expects us to take ownership of our lives. Also, when we give up things to God, we are giving Him permission to come and work in our lives and our situation, whatever it is. We give up control of trying to fix it, however, God really wants us to partner with Him. He desires us to make an effort to learn, grow, mature, and deepen our faith in Him as He works in our lives and situation.
The more we GIVE UP to God the more He is in control. The more control He has in our lives, the more He can and will do. Giving Up to God is totall surrender of our will, but it also requires us to do our part. To pray, to study, to be obedient, and depending on the situation it will require us to do part of the work. It may mean God requiring us to confront someone, it may mean us changing habits, or friends, or jobs? It may mean we develop new attitudes, or attributes? I don't know what it means for you or me,it depends on our situation, problem, or issue. Whatever it means, we must totally surrender ourselves to God and then ALLOW Him to work in our lives.
Surrending to God is giving Him control, but it's not giving up on ourselves or our responsibility to respond to God's leading. If we GIVE UP things to God it still will require us to work, obey, make effort, and change. The more we GIVE UP to God the more He is able to work in our lives and our situations, but GIVING UP to God is not GIVING UP as stop trying or being defeated.
Giving UP to God is actively realizing we can't do it alone and we NEED God in ALL things, not just the good times and not just for our wishes and wants. God is a God of TOTAL relationship.
He wants to be in our ENTIRE lives, but will only be in our lives when INVITED.
GIVE UP yourself and your problems, struggles, issues, and situations to God today and let Him lead and guide you through them and see how they change or maybe how you change. When you can't do it, and when things seem hopeless, God ALWAYS can according to His Will and His time and through it, as we give up to God, He will grow us, heal us, mature us, and help us. He always knows what we need and what is best for us, and though it may not always be popular, comfortable, or what we want or how we want it, we can have peace, when we GIVE UP to God we are doing what is best.
Psalm 79:9Help us, God our Savior, for the glory of your name; deliver us and forgive our sins for your name’s sake.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Know it All

Know It All

We know there is no shortage of people with opinions about our lives, how we should live, what we should do, how we should handle situations. The problem is however, that it's very easy to give advice or know how to respond to a situation when you are not the one living it.

It also very easy to have an opinion when you don't know all the facts or haven't experienced what the person is going through. For instance, It's easy for me to tell someone to stay married to an abusive spouse, when I don't know what that is like. It's easy for someone to tell you to get a divorce when they've been divorced 5 times. I can't tell you I know how you feel when your dad dies, when my dad is still living. You can't give me good advice on my job when you've not worked there or had to deal with the things I've dealt with there.

However, we live in a society where people are heavy on advice and short on wisdom. I've been just as guilty. Someone will start sharing a problem with us, and before you know it we are pouring our advice on them, without taking the time to listen, maybe pray with them, or just pu ourselves in their shoes.

I've had people come to me with a relationship situation and I've been quick to say dump them, or get over it, well it's easy to say when you're not in it, but when you're in it, it's not so easy to just end a relatioship or even "get over it" so easy.

I think especially as those of us who call ourselves "Christians", we need to be quick to listen, and slow to speak (James 1:19). If we don't have an experience or know what someone is going through, we should be more careful about spewing out advice. We also need to gather facts before we form an opinion about someone or something.

Many times we are biased about our opinions because of our relationship with a person or our own past experiences as well. We must be careful not to taint our words because of our own mistakes or past hurts.

The truth is I don't know it all, you don't know it all, and only God knows it all. When we have issues or problems, we need to take them to God, but it's also a good idea for us to take our problems to trusted friends for Godly counsel, prayer, and advice, so we must choose wisely whom we share our problems with.

Or, if someone comes to you with a problem, then listen, pay attention, and only give advice when asked. Don't force your opinion on someone, especially if you don't know. We must be careful not to give bad advice, or better yet become judgemental or someone's situation that we do not know all the facts or the entire experience.

I do not know it all, you do not know it all. Let's be slower and wiser to start dishing out opinions and advice, and help others by listening and praying, and let's choose wisely who we go to for advice.

1 Peter 2:15(NIV)

For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people.