When God’s Children Fight

It doesn’t sound good does it? I mean, is that the
image we want to portray to the world that Christians fight? Well I have news
for you, they already know. The way Christians manage dispute, and the way we
deal with the resulting consequences of the dispute, are what the world sees.  Sometimes on television, sometimes in their
local churches.   
Many non-Christians believe that Christians should not
fight, that we should not make mistakes, that we should not drop the ball.  I have news for you, we are human beings. We
will mess up, we will drop the ball, and we will make mistakes.  Part of our transformation is however, that we
are willing to correct, to change.  When
we become Christians, we are supposed to grow in our knowledge of Christ.  That means we cannot keep the same bad
attitudes and dirty habits.  We will not
necessarily change overnight, but we should not be anywhere near the same a
year or 30 years after we become Christians! 
Unfortunately, some Christians do not change.  So you will see the same bad attitude and not
much change, year after year after year!
I think this is the struggle most non-Christians have.  They see many Christians acting and talking like
non-Christians and they get confused. 
Most non-Christians will tell you that although they are not Christians
themselves, they know how a Christian should act.  It sounds superficial, but that is the
thought process of many non-Christians.  The
fact is, most people at least in America, identify with the Christian faith. But
identifying with a faith and living the life are two completely different things. 

For those Christians who more than identify, who truly
believe, we still run the risk of messing up from time to time. Sorry!  There is a further difference though.  And here’s the clincher, the true Christian’s
mess ups should be fewer as the years go by. 
After all, like any relationship we are truly interested in cultivating,
we want to learn the other person’s personality.  In fact we take on aspects of their
personality.  We want to please that
person, and we want to stay in relationship with that person.  We learn what makes them tick, what makes
them upset, and what makes them happy. 
Our relationship with Christ is pretty similar, except that we get more
out of the relationship than he does.  In
my opinion.  He loves us unconditionally,
he wants us to spread the good news about how wonderful a relationship with him
would be.  But he also wants us to
reflect his attitude toward life, toward others, the more we become like him.
He wants us to be more forgiving. He wants us to be
about his business instead of gossiping, backstabbing, and jostling for
position.  God wants us to recognize our
weaknesses and work on them daily, realizing we will never be perfect. He wants
us to be more like him every day, every year, whether it is a year or 30 years
from now! 
When we have disagreements especially with other
Christians, God wants us to resolve those issues with him in mind.  He wants us to act like brothers and sisters,
not mortal enemies.  He does not want us
to go for the jugular, pounding each other into the ground, trying to destroy
each other.  Those are all worldly and definitely
ungodly actions.   We should not forget who or whose we are when
we disagree with each other.  If we
cannot resolve differences amongst each other like proper Christians, we are
showing a bad example to the world.  And
we are proving that we have not grown and probably have no intention of doing
so.  We are just identifying with
Christianity, but not living the life.

God will have the
last word in every aspect of our relationship with him, and with each other.  He will give us increase and he will admonish
us, because he loves us.  The question
is, will you just identify with Christianity, or will you be about the life? 

Top 10 ways to know God can trust you financially

10) No matter
your income, broke is a state of mind. 
Whether
you make $5.00 per hour or $5000.00 per hour, handle your money, do not allow
your money to handle you.
9)   Give. Be generous with your time and your finances.  Whether you teach a Sunday school class,
give to your local little league, or contribute to your local soup kitchen, be
generous. “Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many
days.” Ecclesiastes 11:1.
8)   Save. 
No matter how much or how little you make, save something. There is
no excuse for not saving.  The reason
most people cannot save is because they are too busy trying to keep up with the Jones’s.  There are so many discount
stores around these days, anyone can look like a million bucks for less!
7)  Bless someone.  If you feel lead to give something to
someone, or even pay for their meal, do it. 
It does not matter how much you think they are worth.  Indeed, it does not matter if they are a
multi-millionaire and you are not. See the scripture above in number nine. Of
course, make sure your ‘blessing’ is done from the right place in your
heart.  If you are doing it out of guilt
or pride it will not work out.
6) Don’t hate.  Just as I mentioned above in number seven, it
does not matter how much a person has or how much you think they have, offer.  It can be done without insulting them, it is
a matter of being nice. Allow them the choice to accept or not.
5) Learn from
your financial mistakes. 
Everyone
has made financial mistakes.  The key is
to learn from those mistakes, and not repeat them. It may be tempting to repeat
something expecting a different outcome, but trust me, the outcome will be the
same.
4) Ask for
help. 
Most employers offer
retirement savings plans as part of an employee’s compensation package.  With the retirement savings plan, typically a
401k or 403b; the company your employer hires to manage your 401k offers free
assistance.  They can help you choose
what mutual fund(s) to invest your 401k or 403b contributions.  The tools are there, do your research and be
ready for retirement.   The government is
not going to help you get ready for retirement.
3) Pay
attention to the world around you. 
No
matter how you feel about it, we live in a global village.  Everyone is affected by everyone else.  Know what is going on in the world around
you.  You do not have to be a
professional financial person, news hound, or fluent in multiple
languages.  Just be aware.
2) Know your
financial weaknesses. 
And act
accordingly. Make a grocery list so that you do not spend double what you
wanted to. Go clothes shopping at your planned time.  Some people buy clothes twice a year.  Or maybe you are shopping for a special
occasion.  If not, stay out of the stores
if you do not have the will power to ‘just browse’.

1) Know how to wait or to live without.  Stop using your credit card for your
wants, and recognize the difference between wants and needs.  If you do not take control of your finances,
you are only sabotaging yourself and your future.  “I know what it is to be in need, and I know
what it is to have plenty.  I have
learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well
fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Philippians 4:12.  When God sees you doing your best with your
finances, he will trust you with more.  Leave
the Jones’s alone!  

Sea of voices

Have you ever been at a large gathering, typically Sunday morning church service, and the entire congregation is reading scripture or repeating a prayer? I think most people are subconsciously listening to their own voice, thinking ‘I don’t like my voice’. I don’t like to hear my voice either. It doesn’t seem to blend in with everyone else’s. Maybe that’s how it is for everyone. But have you ever stopped to listen to all of the voices? The unison but at the same time the differences. The male voices and the female voices. The young voices and the old voices. It sounds awesome doesn’t it?

Do you ever wonder what God hears when he hears our voices? Can you imagine the number of voices he hears on a Sunday morning all around the world? It probably sounds like a sea of voices to him. That’s how I imagine it. A beautiful sea of voices.

But what do you say on the other days? What does God hear when you are not in church? Does he hear negative words and thoughts? Does he hear us ripping each other apart with our lips? Does he hear us ripping ourselves apart? Do the words that come out of our mouths Monday through Saturday match the words that come out on Sunday morning? Do we talk about love on Sunday but use a different set of four letter words on the other days?

Never thought about it? Unfortunately, it’s not something many of us think about on a regular basis. But we should. Now more than ever, we need to be strong in our faith. We need to have the right words and thoughts in our minds at all times. There is so much happening in our daily lives. There are things happening that we never dreamed would. There are wars and rumors of wars. More people around the world are lacking the basic necessities than ever. There is hatred and strife, lack of understanding and empathy, and fear.

But what would our lives, our voices be like, if we speak the way God wants us to? What would happen if we said positive things and remembered his promises? Promises like ‘And the Lord shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath; if that thou hearken unto the commandments of the Lord thy God, which I command thee this day, to observe and to do them: And thou shalt not go aside from any of the words which I command thee this day, to the right hand, or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them.’ Deuteronomy 28:12-13. How about remembering God’s blessings on us instead of speaking negatively about ourselves?

What about saying and thinking positive things about people instead of thinking and assuming the worst? Like in Philippians 4:8, ‘Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.’ It’s not easy when people have mistreated us, especially when they have done so on purpose. There are times when we will have to dig deep for the right attitude, the right words, and the right thoughts. But dig deep we must. It will work out better for us in the end. It will be worth it.

I often say that this Christian life is not easy. Many people want us to stop believing the word of God. They want us to give up our beliefs and just blend in. Live and let live you know? Say whatever we want, live however we want, believe whatever we want. But how would our voices sound to God? Our voice may sound weird in our ears, but I believe it must sound like a beautiful addition to the sea of voices he hears? I want my voice to be a part of the sea of voices. How about you?

In the Gap

Many times in the Christian community, when we pray for
someone who is not present in the church service, we stand in the gap in prayer
for that person.  In proxy.  But what about the people who do not have
anyone to pray for them, to stand in the gap for them?  There are many people around the world who
need prayer.  They may be Christians who
are being killed, or non-Christians who do not know who Jesus is.  They may not even care who he is. 
Every day, people leave for work, their children leave for
school, and they did not even thank God for waking them that morning, never mind
asking Him to go with them throughout the day. 
Many people feel like they are living life under their own steam and do
not need any help from above.  It could
be too, that they did not do it because they did not know to do it.  Besides, you would have to believe God can
really help you to ask right?
And that’s OK, because when they get a revelation that there
is a God and that they could rely on him in the good times and the bad, they
will talk to him more.  They will
pray.  They will rely on God to protect
their children from the craziness they face at school every day.  They will rely on him to protect them during
their commute, at work, and even in their relationships.  They will get a revelation that it is God who
made us, who protects us, who wakes us in the morning and takes us through the
day. They will realize that prayer before leaving the house is just as
important as a good breakfast!
With everything that is going on in our world, what would be
wrong with prayer? 
Well, in the meantime, maybe those of us who are Christians
should stand in the gap.  Maybe in
addition to praying for our family members we can pray for people around the
world.  Maybe we can pray for Christians
around the world who are going through things we cannot even imagine.  Maybe we should take a world view of our Christian
beliefs, and really pray against all of the unbelievable things that are
happening.  I believe we can really stand
in the gap for the world. 

Many of us are taught to pray what we call ‘specific prayers’,
rather than the typical general or generic prayer.  What should we pray for specifically? We can
pray for Christian families who have been uprooted because of their beliefs.  We can pray against the kidnappings of
children and women who are being used as sex-slaves.  We can pray against world-wide
terrorism.  There is actually quite a bit
we can and should be praying about.  As
Christians, we cannot afford to pray the simple generic prayers anymore.  Life is no longer that simple.  We must
pray for each other around the world.  We
cannot afford to pretend that all is well because all is well with us.  We are
our brother’s keeper.        

Coming Out

What is the first thing you think about when you hear that
phrase, that sentence, ‘coming out’? 
Here in America, when someone makes the decision to come out, they are
telling their family, friends, and the world; that they have made the decision
to live their lifestyle out loud.  They
are no longer willing to hide and pretend. 
They have decided to live their life in its truest form.
Why profess to be a Christian, a believer, and then hide your
beliefs when you are not at church?  Your
friends and co-workers do not even know you are a Believer.  You bless your meal at home, but not when you
are at a restaurant.  You blend in.  You believe it’s best to go along to get
along, especially in the age and time in which we live where every religion
except Christianity is accepted. 
I am not saying you need to have your Bible open on your desk
at work, not getting your work done, because you want to be ‘in The Word’.  That’s what breaks and lunches are for.  When you are at work, work comes first.  God is not the author of confusion, his word
also says if you do not work you do not eat. 
‘For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is
unwilling to work shall not eat.”–2 Thessalonians 3:10.  NIV—New International Version.  This tells me, we had better find and do our
job, our work.    
It is not necessary to walk around your job, or around town
shouting down the roof top that you are a Believer.  Your boss might not appreciate that too much,
he may just want you to do your work.  But
do you laugh at those jokes you know you should not laugh at, just to fit
in?  Are you living the life God wants
you to live?  Are you daily growing in
your relationship with Christ? Are you living one way in church and another way
‘on your own time’? Do your co-workers know for a fact that they should not
tell certain jokes around you or invite you to certain places after work, on a
Friday night?  And even if they do, just
to try to press your buttons, what is your reaction? 

What exactly do you stand for?  Do you know? 
We are living in a time where everyone is living exactly the type of
life they want to.  No one is hiding
anymore, people are coming out.  Are you
coming out or staying in? 

Are you serious?

Sometimes I think about the state of Christianity in the
West.  Actually, I think about it a
lot.  I may step on some toes, but I want
us to take a personal accounting.  I get upset
when Christians refuse to grow.  We actually
feel we are OK
Recently I was listening to a show where a former terrorist who
became a Christian, was talking about his faith in Christ.  He had become a Christian!  His face was concealed because he could be
killed if he were recognized.  Do you
understand the risk? They concealed his face because he could be killed! 
In the meantime, we continue to sit in our comfortable pews Sunday
after Sunday, and we do not change.  We
continue to keep ugliness, resentment, even hate, in our hearts.  We gossip, we start rumors, and we jostle for
church position. All of this as we listen to the pastor tell us how a
relationship with Christ is so important.  Seemingly not connecting the dots. 
There are Christian missionaries around the world, in very
dangerous places, with their lives on the line daily.  Some of them are in jails around the world.  But we’re ok with straddling the fence,
fitting in, jumping on bandwagons we have no business being on; only calling on
God when we find ourselves in an emergency situation. 
How does God feel about this?  We will have to make a decision.  Not just an in the moment, sitting in the church
pew decision, although that’s a start.  But
a decision where we ask God to forgive us. 
A decision where we tell him we believe and trust in him, and that we
want to grow in him.  We can continue
trying to fool ourselves that we are OK, because we live in a Christian nation
with the greatest military on earth.  But
none of that means anything, if we the Christians, are not praying for our
country.  It means nothing if we are not
praying for our military.  It means
nothing if we refuse to grow in relationship with Christ.  It means nothing if we pray only when we have
to.  And it means nothing if we
continually straddle the fence. 

There is no earthly relationship where we can straddle the
fence, reach out to the other person only when we need something; or just to use
that person.  How long would such a relationship
last before the other person asked us for an accounting, or just ended the ‘relationship’?
I have one question: Are you serious?

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