Choose To Please Him More

October 31, 2009

Friends,
Well, the end of yet another month… Time seems to be flying by.

Let’s stop and evaluate what we have done to please the Lord this month. What will we do to please Him this coming month? It’s not as much about what we will accomplish for Him as it’s about what we allow Him to do in us… molding us… getting us “to be conformed to the likeness of His Son.” (Rom. 8:29) Will we do what is necessary for that? Because He has given us choices to make… steps to take… efforts… ways to make ourselves available –surrendered– to His workmanship in us.

Things like prayer, worship (one on one alone time with Him), praise, and meditating on His Word.

Will we do it?

There’s 30 days in November. Where will your heart be by the end of 30 days? Will it be Christlike –more so than it is now?

Love,
Rachel

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Calvinism Is Heretical

October 30, 2009

Friends,
I am finding that within Christianity there is an evil doctrine that is being not only tolerated, but now glorified above the Scriptures. It is called Calvinism. Many men in the pulpit have been schooled in this doctrine and they are quickly seeping into all mainline churches. It is time for us all to examine this, expose its errors and blasphemies, and root it out, for it is not true Christianity.

Calvinists are dangerous to the body of Christ because differently than those such as Mormons, Muslims, or atheists, they use the very Scriptures we use –those beautiful inspired words of the Most High God– and then twist them, defaming God and confusing those who are trying to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Calvinists teach a different god. They teach that God randomly picks some humans to be saved and others to be tortured in Hell forever. They teach that God has all power to save these condemned souls, but does not do so merely because their damnation brings Him the most glory. They deny that the salvation extended through Jesus’ death and resurrection covers ALL who, by their own free will, repent and believe. Instead, they teach that salvation is brought to the few only because God randomly picks those few. In this, they teach a different way of salvation.

Friends, when a group teaches a doctrine that is not in Scripture, especially that which concerns God’s attributes and way of salvation, they are deemed heretical. Why is Calvinism not being exposed for what it is –heretical?

God is good. He is compassionate, merciful, and loving. He is not willing that any perish. (2 Peter 3:9) He has provided a way of escape to ALL (1 John 2:2 & 1 Tim. 2:3-6), and that way is not by random selection, but through repentance and belief for “whosoever will.” Therefore, ALL, even those without the Gospel in their native language, are given the ability to look about them, see God’s “divine nature” (Rom. 1:19,20) revealed in creation (Ps. 19:1-4), and attempt to seek Him. (Acts 17:27) And God says that all who seek Him with their whole heart will find Him. (Jer. 29:13,14) This, to the Calvinist, is a useless endeavor because they say that those selected for damnation never will seek Him anyway, and those selected for salvation needn’t do so either –since their salvation is already a guaranteed election. Thus, the Calvinist makes nonsense out of so many Scriptures as they hold fast to their wrong interpretations of their few pet verses they take out of context.

Besides the gift of free choice, God has also graciously given to everyone a conscience by which to make right choices –to do good and seek truth– though yes, many suppress this because of their love for sin. God has given us the ability to be convicted by His wooing Holy Spirit, but He will not force His will onto anyone. God can do anything, but He will never violate His nature. Because of this, when the Calvinist says that God foreordains all actions, words, events –everything– he displays his inability to reason logically if he does not also admit that he is saying that God then DOES evil acts. Because if none of us can make choices, then it is God who holds us all by puppet strings, we are the puppets, and He is the one who moves the strings that cause the evil. No, this is defaming God, calling God a violator of His own attributes of holiness, mercy, and love; for one who DOES evil, IS evil. Thus the Calvinist blasphemes God!

Friends, be assured that Scripture does inform us of a God –the God– who is more merciful, loving, and kind than any of us can fathom. And that He is holy, which means He can never do one thing evil or wrong, He does not take pleasure in evil (Ps. 5:4), nor does He create that He may torture in order to bring Himself glory. This god that the Calvinists have made up, is just that –at best– a god of their wicked imaginations. At worst, they are actually worshipping a demon-god, who “masquerades as an angel of light.” (2 Cor. 11:14)

Please read the Scriptures carefully. And start exposing this heretical doctrine of Calvinism in your church.

Sincerely,
Rachel

Friends,
I have often conversed with others about the importance of prayer, specifically about doing so first thing in the morning –before Satan, others, or oneself has the chance to try to usurp from God His servant’s heart and mind. I’ll share some of what I pray most every day upon waking –in case others of you may want to use something similar. I actually often pray these things once or twice again during each day –especially when faced with any sudden new decisions to be made– so that all of me will continuously and completely be submitted to His lordship –He who is the great and awesome King Most High.

Here’s some of it:

“Heavenly Father, In the name of Jesus, Your Son, I take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ as Your Word says to do in 2 Cor. 10:5. I submit to Your Lordship: My heart, my mind, my will, my emotions, my decisions, my relationships, my affections, my hopes, my dreams, my aspirations, my expectations, and my prayers. Also, everything I read, write, listen to, and watch. Everything I eat and drink. Everything I wear and when. Everywhere I go, and when. My time, my desires, and my life are completely devoted to You, Lord, because I truly do want to please you perfectly. So please HELP me to please You by filling me with your Holy Spirit. Thank you for coming to earth to ransom us. I love You, God… very much. Amen.”

I pray a lot of other things too, of course, but that is the prayer I start with –as soon as I wake up. I also try, even if I’m discouraged, to sing “new songs” to Him, which I just make up. I also like to exalt Him by describing who He is to me. “Lord, You are my Fortress, my Rock, my Shelter, my Protector, my Deliverer, my Savior, my Redeemer, my Ransomer, The Lifter of my spirit, the Anchor of my soul, my Helper, my Shield, my Comforter, my Counselor, my Teacher, my Friend, my Shepherd, my Provider, my Stronghold…” I also put in adjectives often, like “majestic, good, kind, merciful, loving, compassionate, strong, mighty, all-powerful, all-knowing, beautiful, great, awesome, amazing, glorious, holy…” I also ask that He cause nations and peoples to ascribe to Him the glory due His name, and that all blessing, honor, power, might, dominions, kingdoms, rulership, reverence, exaltation, worship, obedience, wealth, wisdom, beauty, splendor, strength… be ascribed to Him. That His will will be done on earth and in my life, just as it is done in Heaven. And that He will soon bring all other powers and principalities to naught.

Those are the prayers of surrender and praise I offer up to God –all based on what Scripture teaches us to do and say. As well as this, I also ever morning, (and maybe other times too,) am sure to insert repentance praying, making sure I do this before I make my requests and petitions. I usually kneel on sackcloth, which is of course a symbol of repentance, as I bow with my forehead on my Bible. A good repentance prayer to start with is Ps. 51:10,17.

Of course there can be shortened versions of all these prayers. Like: “Lord God, in the name of Your Son, Jesus, I come humbly into Your majestic presence. I surrender all of me to You today and always. Help me to please You perfectly… every single minute today –and always. Because You are worthy to be praised, honored, adored, and obeyed. Thank you so much for being my Savior, my God, and my Heavenly Father. And for making me Your child. Please forgive me and cleanse me of all sin. I love You. Amen.” That covers it too.

I do not believe in ritual. But I believe in practicing good habits. So making it a habit to begin our day with prayers similar to these (and meaning them) will please God and enable His people to walk in strength, faith, and obedience.

Sincerely,
Rachel

Friends,
In my alone time with the Lord this morning I happened to read Ecc. 10:1 again. It says, “As dead flies give perfume a bad smell, so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.” I meditated on it… how one ounce of foolishness can negate one’s good reputation, one’s blessed life, one’s right standing with God.

I pondered all the times that I’ve heard compromising statements, all the many excuses I’ve heard about something being “no big deal”, all the times I’ve seen even pastors shrug off the importance of sticking to the exact truth of correct doctrine and pure behavior and speech for themselves and other leadership in their church.

As the verse above teaches, a little error –unattended to– corrodes the whole lump. One fly begets maggots. One drop of arsenic can kill. Even one cockroach found in one’s tea would cause the whole glass-full to get poured down the drain –for no thinking person would try to sip around it!

I thought of the many times that I’ve seen one word of slander devastate a friendship, a family, a church, a soul. I thought of the many times one action killed. Killed a marriage. Killed a career. Killed a family. Killed a life. Like one act of road rage… or even one careless miscalculation… or one misinformed judgment…

Let’s be careful. Let’s be sure our words are HIS words, our actions are HIS actions, our judgments are HIS judgments, our desires are HIS desires, our doctrines are HIS doctrines, our thoughts are HIS thoughts…

We do this through knowing Him. And His Word.

Love,
Rachel

Your One Starfish Matters

October 27, 2009

Friends,
No, we don’t accept every philosophy or belief system, nor should we aid those promoting injustice, deceptions, or falsehoods. (2 John 1:10,11) But we ARE to accept everyone as a person. Here’s Scripture to support that: “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to [……….. –to WHAT?–] bring praise to God.” (Rom. 15:7) May we all remember that that is the point of our existence. To bring Him praise. And to love Him and others –the two commandments on which all the others rest.

So: “There is no mere mortal.” I believe C.S. Lewis coined that statement. In other words, every human is important because they are made in the image of God. Yes, because “He died for all” (2 Cor. 5:14,15) and “gave Himself as a ransom for all men [mankind]…” (1 Tim. 2:6) and was “the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2)

Every person ever created is precious. Jesus underwent a cruel death for a reason… to deliver His created souls from the bondage they’d incurred upon themselves. Why? –Because He truly, deeply, more than we can fathom… loves people.

And He commands that we love also. So how do we love? How should this love look? Well, 1 John 3:18 says, “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” Actions… Truth… And as we sit at the feet of Jesus, with His Word in hand, we will learn what that all entails…

There’s a thought-provoking story that touches on the actions of true love that has been around for at least 20-30 years and many of you have heard it, I’m sure. However, I have no idea who first wrote it and there are many versions to it. So here’s my made-up version:

********
The tired, bitter man trudged slowly to the crest of the sand dune, then gazed across the shimmering salt-water. At the shoreline a movement caught his eye. “What in blazes…?!” Yep, it was a small boy, running back and forth, bending down… “What’s he doing?” the grump muttered. “I better go see.”

As the man hobbled down toward the water, he noticed the beach was coated with starfish, some alive, many dead, some still dying… “Boy!” he snapped as he neared. “You are wasting your energy! There are thousands of starfish on this beach. What you are doing is not going to make a dent. What you are doing does not matter!”

The little boy squinted up at the man with an astonished, quizzical look –as if he had never considered such a thought. “But sir,” he said as he held one of the creatures in his hand. “It matters to THIS one.”

The man’s brows narrowed, but he had nothing to say. The boy then hurried to the water’s edge and gently let the starfish slip in.

“Ridiculous waste of time,” the man finally grumbled as he started away. Then he happened to look down. He saw a starfish on its back, its arms waving frantically –at him, it seemed. “Oh, bother,” he said as he painfully leaned down to pick it up. He shuffled over to the water and set it free. He didn’t want to look back at the boy, but he could tell the youngster was watching him, so he glanced his way. The boy broke out into a huge grin.

“Oh, bother,” muttered the man again. But he held up his hand toward the boy as if to say, “Okay, I get it.” Then he turned and left.

********

Remember, “There is no mere mortal.”

Even if we can’t even make a dent, it matters to the one YOU are helping, the one YOU are called to love…

Can we love just ONE starfish back to life…? Let’s try.

Sincerely,
Rachel

Study Carefully God's Word

October 26, 2009

Friends,
I encourage us all to search out truth on our own. –To be careful about taking anyone else’s word for something. –To do our own research and study of history, astronomy, and other areas of fact, but especially that which concerns the Bible and how it came to be. Because the Bible, which made prophecies which have indeed come to pass, also has some grave warnings about the eternal destinations of human souls.

Once a person is convinced about the legitimacy of the Bible, then the correct interpretation must be found. This is done by reading and rereading God’s Word, and it is very helpful if one already has been born anew and has the Holy Spirit indwelling them. (1 Cor. 2:10-16) However, even a sincere seeker will experience God’s grace as He woos, illuminates, and teaches, drawing the seeker to spiritual truth.

There is one concept in the Scriptures that I am especially concerned about people examining. It entails the necessity of holy living and careful obedience to God. I believe study concerning this is exceptionally necessary because it is something that unfortunately seems to have been very watered down in almost all of Christendom. Few seem to be teaching the importance of it, and if they command it, they usually do not disciple people on how to adhere to the command.

Step one is to seek truth –the truth in the Word of God. We cannot find without the seeking… and it cannot be done half-heartedly. We must study, meditate, and ask the Lord to reveal truth to us. Quote to Him His own Word. Like Ps. 119:27,34 –“Let me understand the teaching of Your precepts… and I will keep Your law and obey it with all my heart.” I’m sure sometimes people don’t obey because they don’t understand. But unfortunately for them, that is no excuse. There IS a way to understand: Study. And once they determine to seek and study, they will learn that there is a power offered to us by which to live blamelessly. Sadly, though, many do not want to study because they actually do not want to walk in that holy power. Why? Because they want to sin!

But… for those of us who love righteousness and truth: Once we have His Holy Spirit in us, we do not need anyone else to teach us. (1 John 2:27) Only Him. (John 16:13 & 14:26)

Now, does that mean we aren’t to sharpen and encourage each other? Of course not. And to those who point out truth and who keep reminding us by their words AND LIVES, we should thank them. It encourages them to go on and not become weary in thinking their efforts were in vain.

Of course, who really, is going to reap the consequences of our beliefs and actions? Us. And our hearers. So for teachers of all kinds –including parents, it is of utmost importance that we study. And that we study with sincere and humble hearts, under the guidance of our compassionate and all-wise Counselor, the Holy Spirit of God.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Love Might Rebuke

October 25, 2009

Friends,
For those who have ever struggled to uphold truth –whether it concerns ethics, equal rights, the inerrancy of the Scriptures, or even if the earth revolves around the sun and not vice versa!– there is something to be kept in mind. That is, that love is also to be upheld. Love for God, others, and the truth itself.

However, a problem often arises: Those who don’t agree like to suggest that disagreement, and certainly rebuke, is not loving. And of course, especially these days, to “be loving” is very politically correct –in Christian circles, but also in non-, though that’s often termed “unity” or “peace-efforts”. So to call, “Foul! –You’re being unloving!” is a favorite ploy they think will work. I mean, who wants to be known for having broken “the two greatest commandments”? Or of having been accused of intolerance?

Sadly, this tactic is working with many and is frightening those who believe in absolute truth. Society wants to tell those of us who stick to the infallibility of the Word of God that we are narrow-minded and bigoted, and believing in things like Judgment and Hell show we are grossly unloving. This was bad enough coming from the world, but now it is coming from those right INSIDE Christianity! Emergents are one group who resort to this. They have such a watered-down way of salvation, that they are trying to tell the rest of us that “Yes, Jesus is the best way for us, but for those in other religions… well, Jesus will accept them too. Because God is love. You are not showing us Christians to be Christ-like.”

Then we get the Christian-Buddhists… a group quickly increasing in number here in the USA. They say, “I like spiritual experiences, and yes, I do believe in a type of God… even the good man, Jesus…. but I also believe the Bible has been too tampered with to believe much of it…” That’s their rhetoric.

And on it goes… with all the cults… with all the false paths… with all the false gods being promoted…

What are we Truth-lovers supposed to do? We are to be loving. We are to strive for peace… though not at the expense of truth. So… how do we juggle this?

One way is to disassociate ourselves from fellow-shipping with them. Prov. 25:26 says, “Like a muddied spring or a polluted well is a righteous man who gives way to the wicked.” So definitely, when we encounter pressure from wicked people, we are not to give in to their ways, advice, philosophies, or beliefs. If we have any choice in the matter, we are not to allow ourselves to come under their control. We are to leave if possible.

Another option is to counter their error. This is something God’s Word also calls us to do. If He has given us the opportunity, and if there is abuse, mind-control, or anything immoral, unethical, or illegal being done, then a stand against that needs to be taken. Often the stand is against leadership, for it is those who, be it political, religious, or even social, wield much control over others.

Now what about those who are not necessarily “wicked”, but who are teaching falsehoods, even right inside mainline Christian church groups? Well, verses such as Titus 1:10,11 say that “rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers… must be silenced.” And how should we attempt to silence them? Verse 13 says “Rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith.” This was something that was indeed done by the apostles, the writers, the prophets, and certainly Jesus Himself. In Matthew 23 Jesus gives a scathing rebuke to the experts in the law, calling them all sorts of names and attributing to them all sorts of sins. Stephen, in Acts 7:51 called the religious leaders stiff-necked, deaf, betrayers, murderers, etc., yet verse 55, as well as 6:5,15 let us know that he was full of the Holy Spirit. And many, many other examples could be cited.

So, is rebuke “unloving”?  If done with a motive of love, it is not. Jesus says in Rev. 3:19, “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline.  So be earnest, and repent.”  Therefore, we see that rebuke to the foolish is actually a necessity if one truly loves and cares. It is also a necessity in upholding truth. And when it comes to upholding truth about God or His instructed way of salvation from an eternal death, it is the most loving action a person can extend to another.

Are there different types of rebukes? I use different types. To the timid, fearful, sincere, and/or humble I speak softly. I couch the rebuke as best I can in loving, uplifting, encouraging, even complimentary words. With many this works well. I look right into their eyes, and we connect. They know I love them, because Christ in me does. In fact, so very much. But do I withhold truth? No. I often take their hands and say, “Oh friend, you have to slay that sin. God will not allow in His presence one who is not repentant.”

But to the arrogant, or those who lord it over others –those experts in the law who should know better– I suppose I may sound a tad bit more harsh.

Well, let’s keep contending for the faith. And may our firm love for Truth also include love for each individual soul… whom Christ in us deeply cares about… even if it be tough love… —or love misunderstood.

Sincerely,
Rachel