Joys of Christian life

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God is amazing, He’s good, and He’s always on time. The more trials we experience, the more testimonies we can attest to. I am a living witness to God’s grace and His hand in my life but it took me 34 years to appreciate just how good He really is.  I’ve experienced many heartaches including financial distress, illness, divorce, loneliness, addiction, homelessness, abuse, rejection, abandonment and so much more yet I am still standing. I’m still here because “…The Lord will never leave you or forsake you…” (Deuteronomy 31:8) He keeps His promises at all times and He always takes care of His children.

God gave me so many chances to get my life together. He opened my eyes and showed me how sinful my decisions I made in life were and I finally repented and started living for Him. Previously I would sin, ask God to forgive me, live righteously for a few months, then backslide and repeat the cycle all over again. Until one day He showed me the sinful things I used to do for entertainment weren’t enjoyable anymore, I was disappointing Him, and I was being a hypocrite. I’m so glad and grateful He showed me the truth and I was finally receptive to receive it. The truth is the evil things of this world offer short term gain and long term pain.  God is the center of my joy and the center of joy for all who follow Him. There is no vacation, no car, no food, or anything else that can compare to the joy that comes with living a Christ-centered life. The Bible blesses us as well by giving us spiritual insight and wisdom to live our best lives this side of Heaven.

Following Christ puts me in a better mood, makes me want to be a positive person, more loving to others, and more forgiving. I am so grateful that “…The Lord is patient with you not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) The joys of living a Christian life are limitless just like His love.

 

Rich on earth, poor in hell..

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(Picture is from http://www.artway.eu)

I watched Steve Harvey and actress/comedienne Mo’Nique on his talk show a few days ago debate about what was more important: integrity or money. Mo’Nique thought integrity was more important and would speak out against inequalities no matter what the repercussions would be. Steve felt that money was what’s most important and that “…the best thing you can do for a poor person is not be one of them.” This was one of the best interviews I’ve ever seen on television. Their candidness and honesty was telling which brought me to the infamous story Jesus told about the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31.

Jesus is all too familiar with humanity’s love of money and greed. He knows that excessive wealth may cause selfishness and a complete disregard for those that are poor. So Jesus gave us all a cautionary lesson for those that desire wealth with no regard to the poor. Luke 16:19-31 tells of a wealthy man who had no empathy for Lazarus, a poor man who begged at the rich man’s gate. The wealthy man lived in luxury every day but when he died the tables were turned. The rich man went to hell and was tormented. Lazarus went to Abraham’s bosom’s and was comforted. The rich man even begged for a drink because “he was in agony in this fire.” He was denied and told that he received good things in life while Lazarus received bad things. There was also a great chasm between them so no one could switch sides. He had to stay there in torment and live with the bad choices he made on earth. The rich man asked if Lazarus could warn his brothers but Abraham said they had the Law of Moses and the Prophets they could listen to. When the rich man said if someone from the dead went to them they would repent but Abraham said if they wouldn’t listen to Moses and the Prophets they wouldn’t even be convinced if someone from the dead went to them.

I believe the story of the rich man and Lazarus is not a parable but a true account of real people. It’s a story that tells of what happens when you don’t love God with all your heart and you don’t love others as yourself. I’m not putting Steve Harvey in the same category as the rich man in the book of Luke because I don’t know him personally. I can’t judge someone based on one interview. He is very generous on his talk show and overall he seems like a pretty decent person. We all have flaws. If we didn’t we wouldn’t need God. However, the best thing we can do for a poor person is to help them. After all, Jesus said “it is harder for a camel to go through an eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:24) So many are striving to be rich on earth not realizing without Christ they will find themselves without Him in hell. The best life is measured by our standing with God, not amounts in our bank accounts. Only then can we have a rich life in Heaven with Him.

Satan is busy, yet God’s good

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Satan is busy yet God is still good! I’ve had an amazing week. I received a phone call that my daughter would be attending a school tailored to people that will help with her needs. I had a lot of encouraging conversations and I’ve been in a pretty good mood lately. Then came a run-in with a man I’ll call “Donald Downer.” He has a tendency to say negative things to me and will intentionally try to “throw shade” as the hip population says these days. Yesterday was no exception. Immediately after my great phone call with the school came my run in with Donald Downer. It is no wonder why Peter warns us to “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) No, I am not calling Donald Downer the devil. I am saying that the devil will put people in your path and he will use people at times in an adverse way. (He has used me too).

I am so grateful God has blessed us with His Word to go when situations occur like this. I recognize Donald’s tactics and I know what to do. I said what I needed to say (peacefully) and walked away. There are times we aren’t always able to say things peacefully and God understands. Sometimes speaking the truth in love can bring conflict. Praying for what to say and how to say your words will support you when the time comes.

While Satan is busy God is good. Donald “tried” to steal my joy but he couldn’t. God has been too awesome and He’s done too much for me to let Donald’s comments take my eyes off God moving in my life. I’ve heard that the devil attacks God’s children. If he’s not attacking you and you claim to be in Christ maybe it’s time to re-evaluate if you truly are a Christ follower. Being a Christ follower isn’t about how much you give to the poor, attend church services, dress a certain way, or refusal to participate in “worldly” activities. Those things are great and certainly nothing to gloss over. But the Pharisees fasted and tithed and their hearts were far from Christ. Being a Christ follower is about accepting Him into your heart and professing that He is the Messiah. Christianity is all about what He has done. When someone sees a change in you and wants to know why you’re different it’s because of Christ – not ourselves. It’s because of His good work on the cross that we are here. This blog is to give glory to Christ, not me. If it can help bring someone to Christ then I’ve done what I sought to do.

We live in a dark world and it would be wise for us to take heed to Paul’s instructions to “put on the full armor of God…” in Ephesians 6:11. Satan is a created being who has limited power and a fate of fire. We don’t. As believers we serve a God who is always Good, who has all power and who has eternal life; the same eternal life He offers to us. What a wonderful God!

Lost now found!

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http://www.gregolsen.com

Amazing grace is a revered song among many regardless of faith, nationalities and ages. It is because there is no mention of a specific religion in the song so anyone can find comfort in the lyrics. The words in the song “ I once was lost but now I’m found” can apply to anyone who was lost, wandering in the world but later found and serving God. The writer of the song, John Newton a former slave trader knew all too well what being lost was about. Thankfully he denounced the profession and wrote the renowned song so that many also now sing what it is really like to be set free.

Jesus is the only one who can set us free. Jesus said in John 8:36 “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” Jesus is the one I trust and if anyone desires to be set free they will be free. I am a living testimony. I have done almost everything you SHALL NOT do but Jesus set me free from it all. He has made everything that I used to desire that was wicked and made it undesirable. He can and will do the same for you. It was a very long process for me because I didn’t truly desire to be set free. There was a part of me that still enjoyed doing things I shouldn’t have done. But one day in December I went to the altar at church. I grew sick and tired of being sick and tired of repeating the same disobedient offenses to God. I was anointed with oil and walked back to my seat and a few days later I felt different. My eyes were opened to all the darkness and wickedness I enjoyed. I finally saw it for what it really was. It was all temporary and did nothing to satisfy me eternally. I finally realized that my life has a purpose: to be the light Christ called His followers to be. I also have a responsibility to tell others going down the same wayward path I was on that there is a way out: His name is Jesus.

I take 1 step forward and 3 steps back at times because I am a sinner that still messes up. I’ve come a long way but I also know I have a long way to go. (I’m not perfect which is why I serve the one who is). I am greatly appreciative of God’s patience, forgiveness, and mercy. It is because of these aspects that I could insert myself in the Amazing Grace song because I am also one who was lost but am now found.