Friends,
Tonight at 9:00, on 89.7 FM radio, my brother and the leader of the Muslim group at the university (UTA) can be heard discussing the cordial, even friendly and caring, relationships they’d like to see between Christians and Muslims. This station services the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex, but it can also be streamed by clicking here:

Steve on PowerTalk

Certainly it should be understood that one of the goals of a democratic society is that all people are to be treated with equality and respect. This does not require agreement concerning everything pertaining to values and religion, nor does it mean we must be friends with everyone, but it does mean that we treat others the way we want to be treated.

Besides the wonderful mission work he and his family do in Japan every summer, my brother, a pastor, ministers to internationals at UTA, most of whom are not Christian. He is known for shining Jesus in all he does and says, so I hope many will be able to tune in tonight and receive, not only important insights, but also a great blessing.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

 

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Friends,
I found a very excellent explanation of what I believe to be the teaching of God’s Word concerning Psychology’s teachings which have infiltrated the church. This writer and pastor, Steven J. Cole, addresses these questions:

Questions at a glance . . .

Here is the link:

http://www.kenscustom.com/bible/psycho-qs.html

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
It is truly distressing to have people talk about how certain counselors, counseling techniques, therapies, and practices are bringing them healing –even when they have been involved for years and actually seem no better at all. In fact, though the problems they say they need healing from actually seem to multiply as they focus on themselves, these individuals apparently don’t recognize this. They also don’t seem to realize that they have become overly attached to their counselor (or their technique), nor that the reliance itself keeps them immature, needy, and unhealthy.

God did make humans to need each other, and this so that, among other things, we will put into practice selflessness and love. But we are to do this as the body of Christ, supporting each other under one Head –the Lord Himself. This we learn to do correctly by reading the Instruction Manual (the Word of God) as tutored by the Spirit and while being infused with power from Him to put into action what we’re told.

What has been happening, sadly, within Christianity, is that there has been a growing and ungodly awe of those who are considered “scholars”. It has replaced the awe we should have for the Word of God alone. Many do see the importance of esteeming the Scriptures, but then they turn right around and begin to idolize, not the doctors of psychology, but instead the doctors of theology. However, whatever the object of awe, if it is not the Lord God Himself –as He is revealed in His Word– then it is idolatry.

God’s Word is living, alive, active. (Heb. 4:12 // 1 Peter 1:23) It is God’s breath. It contains His Spirit. God is the only true Healer and He has ordained that He work miracles through His Word and Spirit. This He does when we ingest His life there by reading it, meditating on it, and seeking Him there. It does take effort and it does take time. It takes discipline and patience to go to Him there and wait. It takes faith. It takes obedience and a submission of our will to the Lord’s will. All these things are things people don’t want to involve themselves with, for being counseled by a visible and talking (aloud) human seems easier than hearing from a quiet-voiced and invisible God. Besides, because attention is really what most people are craving, rather than try to get this from God who might rebuke them, it seems much more gratifying to get it from a human who is coddling them and telling them (so as to boost their self-esteem) that they are wonderful. And that more than wonderful, they are poor victims who, it’s understandable, have had to express their hurt (even if the expressions are immature and sinful).

But why wouldn’t a counselor or technique-promoter continue to deceive a person in thinking he needs more than God’s Word to become healed and whole? For are they not receiving money, prestige, and a sense of purpose through others’ neediness? Of course. So why should they not deceive even themselves into thinking therapy is the right thing to do for wounded souls? And so the idolatrous system continues…

But what does God in His Word say about this kind of idolatry? He says a lot. He says that because of forgetting Him and trusting in false gods, He will expose their shamefulness. (Jer. 13:25,26) He says that going to anyone or anything but Him for healing is vain effort (2:13 & 46:11 // Isa. 30:1-5 & 31:1-3) and is actually to come under a curse. (Jer. 17:5) He commands us to stop relying on men and idols and rely on Him alone. (Isa. 2:22 & 57:13) He declares that He is the LORD who heals (Ex. 15:26), that He restores to health and heals otherwise incurable wounds. (Jer. 30:12,13,17) –That is, for all who will open their eyes, perceive Him, listen to Him, and repent. (Acts 28:26,27) Ps. 147:3 proclaims that the Lord “heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” He (who is Jesus and the Word) says He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. (John 14:6) –True and abundant life! (6:53-63 & 10:10) He says He will come to obedient ones as the Counselor, the Comforter, the One who gives peace, and the One who guides into all Truth. (14:15-28 & 16:13)

The Scriptures are clear: Taking refuge in the Lord is true help (Ps. 60:11,12 & 118:8), and His Word, which He has exalted above all things along with His Name (138:2), is true healing. (107:20 & 119:93) Certainly then, it is very unwise for anyone who has the Lord to ever turn aside to that which is inferior.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Necessary: To DO God’s Will

September 27, 2012

Friends,
It is not the person who knows God’s will, but the one who does God’s will, who will inherit eternal life. For there are many who, in spite of what they know to be the will of the Lord, will not do it, but instead pursue their own will. This they do because their desire for glory, pleasure, and sin overwhelm Wisdom’s plea to obey God.

The heathen, we know, have no regard to seek God’s will, and they will be judged accordingly. But worse are those who seek it primarily for their own gain or reputation. Once they know it (through studying the Word, through sermons, or even through the conviction of the Spirit), they refuse to do what they know God is commanding them to do. And even if they know this is sin on their part (James 4:17), they don’t care! For they have the attitude that believing in Jesus’ atonement and asking for forgiveness of sin is enough, and that it is good, but not necessary, to walk in the will of the Lord.

However, the Word of God has much to say about God’s will. It says we must seek to know it and then do what we are instructed, and that if we do not, we will cease to be taught and a veil will be thrown across our eyes. We will no longer hear the Spirit’s voice, we will no longer understand God’s Word, and our minds and hearts will become dull and darkened. (Rom. 1:21,22,28 // 2 Cor. 3:14-16 & 4:3,4 // Eph. 4:17-19) By having known God’s will yet refusing to do it, a punishment of many blows will be awarded. (Luke 12:47) No, this does not mean merely an earthly punishment, for verse 46 makes it clear that the punishment is in Hell –and of a worse degree than that given for those who were less knowledgable or privileged. (v. 48 // Matt. 11:20-24)

Jesus says in Rev. 3:3, “Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.” Compare His words there with His words back in Luke 12:46: “The Master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect Him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers.” Let us take note that this servant was Christ’s servant at one time, but was a servant who strayed from His Master’s will, and was thus assigned the punishment of unbelievers. Is, then, mere belief really the ticket to Heaven? Or is it obedience which gets a person there? –Obedience to God’s commands and will? Verses such as Heb. 10:36 and 1 John 2:17 tell us that it is the man who does God’s will who is given eternal life, while Jesus warns in Matt. 7:21-23 that those who do not do God’s will, even if they pretend they are doing it, will be refused entrance.

In light of these Truths, may all of us –daily– pray along with the Psalmist, “Teach me to do Your will, O Lord,” (see 143:10) “[for] to do Your will, O my God, is my desire; Your law is within my heart.” (Ps. 40:8) –Not having it merely in our heads or on our lips (as with the hypocrites), but having it abiding and working in our mind and heart (Mark 7:6 // Heb. 10:16) so that God’s will is accomplished in, by, and through us. (Eph. 3:20 // Phil. 2:12,13) For only by our full submission and total obedience to God are we enlightened with more knowledge of His will (Matt. 13:11-16 // Rom. 12:1,2) and are thus enabled to progress in His will, doing so in strength and confidence, performing those good deeds and exploits He has prepared in advance for us to do. (Matt. 11:12 // Eph. 2:10)

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Relating To Dogs & Swine

September 26, 2012

Friends,
Apart from there being a time to sin, there is a time for everything else (Ec. 3:1) –an appropriate season, a right moment… and those who are wise will know the proper time and procedure for every matter. (8:5,6) This wisdom comes from a thorough understanding of God’s Word, for only then, and by the Spirit’s help, can we correctly interpret those verses which seem to contradict each other.

One of these main “contradictions” seems to be in regards to how to treat the wicked, those who are fools, and those who take advantage of us, lie to us, mistreat us, and who put themselves at enmity with us in one way or another. Many people teach that Christianity is all about love and kindness and laying down one’s life for another. This is only partially true. For if Christianity is about Christ-followers learning to conform themselves to Christ, then they must be conformed to His whole nature, not just one aspect of it. For God (Christ) who is total Love, is also totally just and fully wise. He is generous and kind, He is patient and long-suffering, He is merciful and forgiving… He woos and He exhorts and He warns and He beckons… but He also sometimes hides Himself (often so as to get us to seek Him more fervently), and, toward the rebellious, He may stand aloof, retreat further away, or come with a heavy hand of anger and judgement.

For the genuine Christ-follower, we should require ourselves to be just like Christ in each and every situation. But wow… isn’t that often difficult to determine? It is. For it often depends upon so many factors –the amount of warnings, the intelligence and spiritual level of those involved, the personalities, the effort being made… and besides all this, we have instructions from God’s Word that could be taken as contradictory!

For example, in Matt. 7:1 Jesus tells us not to judge, yet in John 7:24 He tells us to make right judgements. In Matt. 5:38-48 Jesus teaches us about being generous, loving, and kind to those who persecute us, yet in 7:6 He tells us not to give dogs what is sacred or throw our pearls to swine, warning us that if we do, they may trample our sacred pearls and then tear us to pieces. Prov. 17:9 and 1 Peter 4:8 encourage us to let love cover over offenses, while Prov. 25:26 denounces giving way to the wicked, and 1 Cor. 5:11-13 commands us to shun them.

So what do we do? How do we treat evil and foolish people we find ourselves in close proximity with? We treat them as Christ would; and this we will have the wisdom and power to do if we are saturating ourselves with God’s Word, are interpreting Scripture under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit, and are continually submitting to the Spirit’s leadership concerning everything, including decisions, words, tone, procedures, and timing. This is how we not only receive instruction from God’s Word and Spirit, but how we also receive enlightenment into God’s character and can thereby treat others the way He would.

What, then, does Scripture reveal about the way God treats fools, deceivers, abusers, and other rebel sinners? We read that He sends His Word, His messengers, and His warnings to them as He waits patiently for them to change. We see that He often gives them blessings (in hopes that they’ll notice and give Him thanks and allegiance), He calls to them with loving words of promise, and He extends to them tender-hearted comfort in the midst of their sufferings. But, we also see that there comes a time (a day or a moment), when God makes the decision to give up on the unrepentant, to turn them over to their debasement, and to bring down on them what their sins deserve –ruin, disgrace, and eventually, Hell.

Now, being that we are not judges (unless we legitimately rule over others as a government official, or as a boss, teacher, or parent), then we are to leave the responsibility of punishments to the Lord. But, this does not mean that we forever tolerate the behavior of wicked people. There does come a time to take a stand, doing so by exposing their sin, and/or by rejecting fellowship with them. If total separation is not possible, detachment of the heart is, and this must happen, at least to some degree, so that we can continue to live sane and joyful lives with our focus on the Lord, not on the difficult person and the pain and chaos he or she causes.

So, as Ec. 3:1 says, there is a time for everything –including a time to put a stop to mistreatment and in allowing a sinner to flourish in sin. But, it is those who know the Lord and His Word, and who walk in the Spirit, who will be led by Him concerning when and how to do this. For it is certainly an undertaking that requires much wisdom.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Which Spirit Is At Work?

September 25, 2012

Friends,
Everyone should examine themselves by asking themselves hard questions. It may be painful to look honestly at oneself, but it sure beats the pain of having an eternity apart from God and all that is good and restful and happy –a fate due to our refusal to get honest and proactive about our spiritual condition.

One beneficial question should be one derived from Eph. 2:2: Which spirit do I have at work within me?

It really is a question able to be simply answered. For verses 1-3 make it clear that those who follow (walk in / live by / abide in / obey / serve) the ways of the world and the sinful nature are actually following the ruler of that kingdom which is in rebellion against God and thus under His wrath.

How is it made obvious, then, which spirit is at work within a person, be it the Spirit of Christ or be it the antichrist spirit of the rebel kingdom? It is obvious by the fruit of one’s deeds –whether the deeds show obedience to God (His Word and ways) or disobedience to Him. For these verses and their context reveal that disobedience (sin) is a dead thing of the past for those who have been made alive (who have stepped into Eternal Life) through God’s love and grace.

Sin is the domain we used to live in when we were spiritually dead and not yet reconciled to Christ through His blood and through our faith in Him. At that time we too contained “the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.” (v. 2) But now that we belong to Christ, we no longer are of that rebel kingdom, but of Christ’s Holy Kingdom (v. 6 // Col. 1:13,14 // 1 Peter 1:14-16 & 2:9) and we have a new master and authority –that of righteousness. (Rom. 6:16-18) This new mastery is found by completely renouncing the rule of the spirit of the evil realm and instead submitting fully to the rule of the Holy Spirit of God. (8:9)

Which spirit we have submitted ourselves to is made evident by our deeds –our good deeds or our evil deeds. One kind leads us to Heaven, the other to Hell. (John 5:29)

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Neighborhood Fun

September 24, 2012

Friends,
Yesterday afternoon we celebrated my mom’s birthday. Before hanging out at the mission pool for a bit, we had cake outside on my parents’ lawn and invited the elderly couple on the one side of my parents’ house and the neighbor kids who live on the other side. These children and their parents have recently moved in on the block, and being such nice, helpful, and polite kids, they’ve brought a lot of extra fun for everyone in my parents’ neighborhood, including us whenever we visit.

Below are some photos, the first four from yesterday, and the last one from a few weeks ago when some other neighbor boys gave us a little mini-concert.

I thank the Lord for family and friends who love and serve Christ Jesus and who it is, therefore, a joy to fellowship with. (Not everyone has such a privilege.)

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Me with my two nephews.

My niece… me hugging Mom… my husband in ball cap…

Eating cake…

Waiting…

Concert…