Are You Happy that God Made You?

“Are you happy that God made you?”

Certainly there won’t be a lot of wishy-washy answers if you ask this question to those you know; provided, of course, that those you ask believe in God. But what if you were to ask that question of yourself: “Am I glad God made me?”

I think that people’s answers to this question will reveal a lot about who they really are; at least who they are today. If a person answers ‘yes,’ he or she is probably hopeful about their current statuses in life and/or their futures, while those who answer ‘no’ have probably lived through some particularly difficult times and can’t really see a light at the end of their tunnels.

The answers will also, more than likely, reveal a person’s thoughts on the heart of God.

Today—right this minute—I am walking through the most difficult financial situation of my life. Not seeing the solution makes me a bit apprehensive. It’s also very revealing about my thoughts on or toward God. There are also those fleeting moments in which I wonder if God really exists. And, truly, those moments are fleeting.

I do know that God exists. He and I have got too much history together for me to dismiss Him as a figment of my imagination. But history doesn’t cancel out the question: Am I honestly glad that God made me?

History.

From a personal perspective, history does develop part of the answer for me. After all, as a long-time Christian, I can look back and see definitively that the Lord has gotten me through many storms. There is a track record of His faithfulness to fulfill His promises in Scripture. Scripture passages like, “I know that all things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purposes” (Romans 8:28), and “My God will supply all of my needs according to His riches and glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). Fifteen years ago I went through a similar rough patch, though not quite as deep. God proved Himself through His sons and daughters—my brothers and sisters—in Christ. He also proved Himself by putting me into the right position with the right company at the right time.

God being God, doing what He loves to do … rescue.

History.

From a non-personal perspective, history for some people has been filled with pain and disappointment. Today, they don’t feel as though they want to go forward.

  • They are tired, scared, and/or fed up with life. Maybe they’ve experienced too many “things” to believe that God’s heart toward them is good.
  • They’ve gotten divorced from spouses that have cheated.
  • They have lives in which their bodies are not cooperating with their brains, because of sicknesses like Cerebral Palsy or Muscular Dystrophy or Multiple Sclerosis.
  • They suffer from ailments that just don’t make sense to them, like adrenal fatigue.
  • They’ve learned that they have some form of cancer.
  • They look in the mirror and see disfigurements that cause others to glance, do double-takes, then stare.
  • They are addicted to drugs, alcohol, or pornography, and they just … can’t … let … go.
  • They’ve been physically—maybe even sexually—abused.

There are so many bad things that could cause a person to doubt that the heart of God is good, and calling out to God hasn’t seemed to do anything to reverse what they’re enduring. I can almost hear their prayers of desperation: “Why? God, why are you letting me—why are you making me—go through this? Is this what I was put here for? Is this why you made me? I want to just be done with this. Please, let this just end.”

It seems unfair—backward, even—that a good God would have us born into a world in which such bad things are going to befall us. After all, God knows the future. He knew that we were going to go through all of these bad things that seem to want to crush our souls. He knew, and He created us anyway.

Why?

Certainly, I cannot know the complete and perfect mind of God. Scripture quotes Him as saying, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, and my ways are not your ways,” and “Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9).

Doesn’t it seem that if those statements are true, that God would have done something to protect us from such extreme difficulties?

The heart of God.

To understand God’s heart, we need to know the genesis of man’s relationship with God the Creator. Jesus created us perfect (yes, Jesus. See the Gospel of John, chapter one). He created us to have a perfect relationship with Him. But, due to deception and temptation mankind fell for a lie. We abandoned God for the sake of trying to selfishly dictate life on our own terms. That great fall into lives of sin began a cascade of heartache, pain, disease, and universal chaos that has been perpetuated by each generation ever since. We are the cause of our dis-ease. God warned us about it, and we still chose our own will over His.

It’s easy to blame original sin on the original first couple. But, knowing our own selves so well, can any of us say that we wouldn’t have been the cause of the world’s chaos if we’d been created first?

Here’s the thing. God created mankind so that He could love us and so that we would love Him, too. Our lives were created to be beautiful. Perfect. Imagine having never been separated from God by our sins. Imagine what it would have been like to enjoy talking face-to-face with the Creator. Imagine animals not killing one another. Imagine fruit on trees and vines not being infested by bugs and worms. Imagine no physical ailments. Imagine … living like this forever. That, my friends, is what we were given. What we lost.

And that is also why, all of these thousands of years later, we might not like that God made us.

But …

For those who know Jesus, there is a future. A future, according to Scripture, in which we get the kingdom back. A perfect Earth, with perfect bodies. No fears or concerns. No major life complications. As tough as life may seem now, a day is coming… Revelation 21 & 22.

Those of you who have accepted Jesus as your Savior and Lord, this short life (although days, weeks, months, and even years can seem long) will be traded in. We won’t have to live like this anymore. Our “joy will be complete.” We will actually be so very excited that God made us, that we get to spend, literally, forever in the kingdom that God wanted us to live in from “the beginning.”

A hope and a future.

For those who are not exactly excited about life here, just remember that it was never God’s desire for you to go through torment. Jesus made it clear, though, when He said, “In this life you will have trouble” (John 16:33). But in order for us to get into that amazing place called Heaven and the New Earth, we’ve got to go through the birth pains into that new life. Scripture says, “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship [and daughtership], the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:22-23).

I so yearn for that day—for that eternity. We’ll trade fear and pain in for peace. We’ll trade discontentment and sadness in for fulfillment and forever happiness.

And you, my friends, will also be a part of that. You will excitedly tell Jesus that you are so glad that He made you—that He wanted you to exist to experience the life you’ve always wanted, only better.

So, today, in the midst of whatever you are going through, tell the Father that you are grateful for having been created. Thank Him that He’s got a destiny for you that is going to blow you away when it comes to the love, peace, and joy you will never have to let go of.

As for me, I’m looking forward to meeting you on the other side. And on that day, you and I will high-five (or hug) and say to each other, “I’m so glad god made me! And I’m so glad He made you!”

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How an Autograph Sparked the Truth about God’s Grace

Yesterday afternoon, I was fortunate to spend several minutes with a reader of my first two novels. She had asked if I would be willing to meet at a local Starbucks to have me autograph her copies.

When I have the opportunity to talk face-to-face with readers, to me it’s an opportunity to ferret out some specific thoughts or feelings they may have regarding the characters or storylines in my stories. This helps me as a writer, but also adds a measure of satisfaction if their thoughts, while they were reading, mirror the intentions I had while writing.

More importantly, though… In fact, most importantly… I get to engage my readers in conversations about God. I want to find out about their personal relationships with Him. It’s great getting to just sit with a brother or sister in Christ (or non-believer) to talk about the One who created us.

The young lady that I met with on this day is a new believer. Back at the beginning of summer, she asked Jesus to become her Savior. She expressed that the change in her heart and actions was immediate. She felt the Lord penetrate her being and renew her. “Reading between the lines” of some of the things she said, I could sense that it had been an emotional experience, but not just that; it had been a confirmation of God’s existence—His realness.

One of the specific topics that I love to bring up with people is God’s unfathomable grace. As we began to talk about this characteristic of God, she began to struggle not to cry. I stopped talking, allowing her to recover. She apologized and said something that I hear quite often from believers: She felt as though she was now failing God, that He might now be turning his face from her because of some recent bad decisions she had made.

I smiled. Situations like these are always opportunities to minister to hearts about the truth of God’s own heart toward them—toward us all.

For the sake of what I’m about to write (what I discussed with her), imagine a timeline that stretches from the death and resurrection of Jesus, all the way through the life of the last person who will ever be born. You may already know that the work of the cross—the spilled blood of Jesus—was performed so that ANYONE who calls on Jesus will be saved, completely forgiven—made righteous, but there is much more that is REALLY important about that dreadfully wonderful day when Jesus died for us.

Now the truths that I was blessed to share with this young woman, based on the truth of Scripture (the Bible), which apply to every single one of us:

First, understand that you were intentioned by God. Irrespective of what anyone’s parents may have said about you about being “an accident,” it’s not true. The moment that sperm and egg combined to start physically forming you, the Lord God—the Creator—put a very specific spirit and soul into that newly developing baby: YOURS. It doesn’t matter if you were a deliberate attempt by your biological parents, if you were the product of IVF, a sperm bank, rape, or unprotected sex. God, in that moment, wanted a very specific YOU to be born—and viola!—you now existed, pre-planned by God Himself.

Second, you were specifically made by God SO THAT He may have a personal relationship with you … forever. But there was only one way that could happen…

Third, 2,000+ years ago, Jesus died ON PURPOSE so that the Trinity (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit) could rescue you from eternal separation from Him in a very real place called hell. Doesn’t matter who you are, what you’ve done, or what has been done to you, God wants you to be His son or daughter forever. Why? Because God is love. Because God loves you.

When Jesus died on the cross, He pulled all of the future sins of everyone who would ever be born back to Him on the cross. (See timeline) This includes the sins of the very last person who will ever be born. See how pulling that person’s sins back to the cross includes yours as well. Notice that this means that ALL of your sins—including those you are still GOING to commit—were pulled back. There isn’t a single sin, past or present in anyone’s life, that didn’t get put on Jesus while hanging on that cross.

This is good news! Because…

Fourth, if you have accepted Jesus as your Savior & Lord, you are IN Christ Jesus as much as Christ Jesus is in you! The Holy Spirit lives in you and you have been positioned by God to be in the being of Jesus Christ. A paradox? Yes, but true, nonetheless.

Being “in Christ” comes with some AMAZING promises from God in Scripture. Two of which I will iterate here:

You are no longer condemned by God AND never will be. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1-2)

This passage deserves a close look:

Watch how the writer, the apostle Paul, works hard to make a point:
“Therefore, there is (present tense) now (present tense) no condemnation (present tense) for those who are (present tense) IN Christ Jesus.”

The way Paul words this makes it very clear that you are not going to somehow walk out of God’s grace. The fact that you are “in Christ Jesus” because the Holy Spirit is in you, makes it impossible for you to out-sin what God did for you by His grace. (Now, don’t think this gives you license to sin, because it does not. Paul made that clear, too (Romans 6:1-2).

God’s grace stays with you through your future actions—and thoughts of the heart—for the rest of your life. God’s grace is perfect, without flaw, just as He is.

What does that mean when it comes to who you are in Christ? It means that God has given you a new station in life—a new status: Righteous.

While a certain large religion tells its followers that saints come into existence after they’ve died and then come back to Earth to perform some sort of documentable miraculous sign, Scripture makes it clear that anyone who is in Christ is a saint. You are sanctified, made righteous by the blood of Jesus.

Remember the parable of the Prodigal Son in the Bible? Everything in that parable means something. It’s not just a story about God’s forgiveness and redemption. It’s a story about “station.” Let’s take a look.

In the story, a young man has demanded from his father his share of the inheritance that the two sons would receive when the father dies. The father divides up the wealth and gives one half to that son. The son goes off and lives a life of waste: sin and self-destruction. After the money is gone and his “friends” have abandoned him, he finds work performing the absolute lowest of form of labor, feeding pigs. The Jews listening to this story would have cringed, because pigs were considered an animal that would contaminate a person both physically and spiritually. So, the son had sunk even lower in his status (in his station) and in his own self-worth.

The son finally has a rational thought: “At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! I will go home to my father and say, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.’” (Luke 15:17-19)

The son heads home and is noticed by his father a long distance off. But the son doesn’t run to the father. Instead, the father runs to his son! What does the father do then? He hugs and kisses him! The father doesn’t give even a THOUGHT to what his son’s actions and intents of the heart had been. He … just … loves … his son.

The son confesses his sin, but the father dismisses them and says: “‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’” (Luke 15:22-24)

The father’s grace is showered on the son. But here are two things that most who read this don’t realize:

1. The father gives his son back his family identity. His desire is to place on his son’s hand—immediately—the family ring. This symbolism would not have been missed by the Jews hearing this story, but today, here in the West, we don’t have family rings passed onto us that identify us as a family member (of a high house) in good standing.

2. The father covers—clothes—his son in the “finest robe.” This is not a sign of belonging to the family. This is a sign of his son’s station—his status. No longer is anything that has been done to, or with, the body seen. He has been clothed in righteousness. No one is to see him as ANYTHING other than perfect and accepted by the father. All the bad that has been done before is forgotten. To emphasize this, using Scripture to back the point, the apostle John who was imprisoned on the Island of Patmos toward the end of his life, had a vision that he recorded that became what we know as the Book of Revelation. In the sixth chapter, John records what he saw given to those who died for the cause of Jesus: “Then each of them was given a white robe…” (Revelation 6:11)

According to Romans 3:22, “This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” Given. Not earned.

You live “in righteousness” because of the station given to you by God. Your status does not change when you fall flat on your face by sinning. King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, penned something through inspiration of the Holy Spirit that backs this up: “… for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again.” (Proverb 24:16)

The number seven is used here with purpose. The fuller meaning of this verse is this: Even when those who are righteous fall to sin over and over (“seven times”—the number of completion/perfection), they do not lose their righteousness.

The truth of God’s love and protection over us should be a CONSTANT source of encouragement. We’re not going to out-sin God’s grace. We can’t. Before we were born, he already knew every sin that we were ever going to commit and already paid for them through His Son on the cross. “Paid in Full!”

Those who have a relationship with God through Jesus need NEVER come to Him begging for forgiveness. The forgiveness already exists. Instead, we express our sorrow, but praise Him that He’s already forgiven us. We intention with our hearts to never commit that sin(s) again (this is repentance, to turn around), but if we do … we express that we are sorry, but we thank Him for having already forgiven us.

See? This is grace, the knowledge that we do not have to live in guilt. All guilt is either self-applied or whispered into our hearts by the Enemy. Tell the Enemy to shut up and get away, in the name of Jesus!

Sharing these truths with this young woman, I saw the fear and the tears become a radiant smile. She lit up, because she had just heard that she was NEVER looked at by her Father—her Daddy—as anything other than a beloved daughter that He takes joy in having created.

God doesn’t regret that He created you. He wants you to fold yourself into His love and grace so that the two of you will have an everlasting relationship, despite any and all trips, stumbles, and falls along the way.

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Can We Communicate with the Dead?

ouijaIt is a desire resident within all of us, to know what happens after we die. For any who slip from this existence into what we call death, there has got to be that moment in which we hope we are right about what we believe.

Even for atheists, there must that moment of not being sure, hoping that their existences will end after that final breath. For others, there is that hope that they will not be reincarnated into something incapable of human interaction, something small and insignificant. For the “spiritual,” the hope is that they will pass into Tir Na Nog, Nirvana, Heaven, or a version of a “cool” Hell.

Some people are less concerned with what’s going to happen with their own deaths, wanting to, instead, know what is happening with someone that they knew who has already died. Is the dearly departed finally happy? Healed? Is that person finally capable of forgiving? Is he or she stranded in a state of limbo until something is finally resolved in this world?

So many questions to be answered, and many people seek them out in ways that they might never have considered, let alone pursued, before, all because they have got to have some reassurances. Which leads me to this …

Today on Facebook, I came across the following meme:

After reading several of the emphatic responses in the affirmative, I felt a need to reply as well. Here is my explanation of why I had to state, “Absolutely not”:

Absolutely not.

Having been involved in the occult and now a researcher and writer about the occult, I can tell you emphatically that your loved ones cannot visit you or speak with you after death.

First, what we know about God, demons, death, and the afterlife is from information recorded over thousands of years and preserved through a compilation of books/letters that we can read and research today called the Bible. There are also writings, both old and recent, that can provide some additional details about the afterlife, but they do not, in any way, contradict what the Bible has to say on the subject.

Here is the deal (please be patient, as this may take a minute or two to explain): We humans had a beginning date to our existence. This beginning came as a result of a loving God wanting to have a creation that He loved that would love Him back. But prior to humans being created, God created those that exist with Him in the heavenly realm. They were (are) called angels. These beings are not (and have never been) little babies with wings or pretty females with perfect figures and flowing hair with wings. The Bible details angels to be fierce and fearsome creatures. Every time that a human being in Scripture had an encounter with one of these beings, he or she was terrified, and each time the angel had to tell that human to not be afraid, that he meant no harm.

Prior to God’s work of creation on Earth, there was an angel named Lucifer who was the greatest and most powerful of the angelic beings. His splendor and strength was unequaled. He was one of the race of angels called Archangels. This being (to make a long explanation short) became extremely prideful. He fostered rebellion, believing that God was not fair in his distribution of power and authority. Lucifer wanted to replace God with his own self-styled regime and convinced a full third of the angelic beings to follow his lead.

God did not tolerate this rebellion and cast Lucifer and his angelic followers out of Heaven. Lucifer was renamed Satan (Adversary) and his followers were renamed demons. (I’ll refer to this renamed cadre as the Enemy.)

OK, that said …

Because of God’s love for His creation (we humans), the Enemy has been doing all it can to deceive, kill, steal, and destroy, with a focus to keep us AWAY from a true relationship with God, the way that God wants that relationship.

The Enemy’s hate for you and me cannot be quantified, because we cannot contemplate true, absolute evil. But suffice it to say, there are no bounds when it comes to what the Enemy wants to do to destroy us. We see it all the time, every day, the killing, the hate, the perversions, the false religions, the sickness, the gossip, the jealousy, etc. etc. etc. The combination of the Enemy’s plan and our own greed (desire to please ourselves, irrespective of what it costs others and what it does to impact a relationship with our Creator) has disrupted, quite effectively, what God wanted for us: peace, love, purpose, and pure relationships (with Him and each other).

Part of the Enemy’s deception to keep us away from God is to lead us to believe that Heaven is real and Hell is not. Also, to believe that our loved ones who have “gone before” can relate to us comforting explanations about the afterlife. Things like, “It’s beautiful here. Peaceful. Don’t worry about me. I’m well. I’m waiting for you” without any need for knowing who Jesus is. These “loved ones” are contacted through mediums using various methodologies to communicate back and forth, like tarot cards, crystal balls, Ouija boards, channellers, etc.

If we can be made to believe that we’re having some sort of contact with our loved ones in the “great beyond,” then we will begin to believe their testimonies of what life is like in that next life.

BUT … It’s all deception. It’s a massive network of lies, a grand illusion to keep people from seeking out the truth of God (because we inherently, now, want to find our own satisfactory way of discovering “truth” and “reality”).

Demons impersonate those we love (or just knew) who have died. Let’s face it, our lives are being watched by these beings in the spirit realm. They know who we are, they know who our friends and relatives are. They know who our enemies (lower-case “e”) are. Using this information, they provide a counterfeit reality to try to persuade us that the Bible isn’t important, that we can create our own version(s) of who God is, and that we ultimately don’t need a relationship with Jesus in order to make it into Heaven.

It’s a game. It’s a game that the Enemy has created, with rules that they made up. Heck, they don’t even have to follow their own rules! They don’t NEED Ouija boards, for example, to communicate. But Ouija boards are mysterious and exciting. There is something about them that almost begs us to hope and believe that answers can be had through them. Same with tarot cards and channellers. But it’s all deception. It is the Enemy telling you what you will believe (both bad and good things about our lives and the lives of the departed).

The deceptions of the Enemy seem so very real, because they seem to surpass explanation. After all, if the being controlling the Ouija board or speaking through the channeller can give us details about our lives or those who have passed, that no one else knows, then that being must surely be “in the know” and most likely be someone that we actually knew. But it’s all a fabrication. It’s all a lie. And it’s ALL done to keep the one seeking answers from the TRUE Answer, who is Christ Jesus.

To those who say: “My medium believes in Jesus.” Or “I believe in Jesus, too,” I’ll say this …

The same Scripture that tells us who Jesus is and what He did to win us back to Himself through the Cross and Resurrection, makes it clear that the forces behind mediums, soothsayers, stargazers (horoscopes/Zodiac), etc. are evil; they are not to be sought or trusted.

Anyone can claim to be aligned with Jesus, but Jesus, Himself, said that on the day of final judgment of all who have lived, there will be many who will say, “But Lord, we did many signs in your name. We even cast out demons!” But the Lord will say, “Depart from me, you workers of evil, I never knew you.”

… And it will break God’s heart, because each individual who has ever lived was intentioned by God to exist so that he/she would have forever relationships with Him. His love, though, would not force anyone to have a relationship with Him. We must want Him as much as He wants us. It’s a shame that so many people will never seek Him with all of their hearts.

 

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Broken Sex, Broken Us

Broken SexEarlier today, I read an “article” called The Next Time Someone Uses the Bible to Say that Homosexuality is a Sin, Show Them This. It is a sarcastic jab at the Old Testament’s restrictions and permissions. The big problem is that it is completely without any context. It’s easy to make the Bible seem ridiculous if Scripture verses are used without frames of reference.

Sometimes I find myself just having to respond. It takes time to write up a decent response, because part of me wants to respond with the same level of sarcasm. Other times I just want to lash out and say, “You’re stupid and here’s why!” But, if I do that, I just show that I’m the stupid one.

Never are we, as Christians, called to lash out with a rant that is a put down. Even if we get angry that our beliefs are attacked or misrepresented, we’ve got to remember that “such were some of you,” as Paul said of the Christians he was teaching. Obviously, he was right.

Because I know that I come from the same brokenness—the same life of sin—as everyone else, I had to respond to this article with representative grace.

I nearly started off my response using the word “Liberal” to begin hacking away with my spiritual machete. But I knew in my spirit—thank You, Holy Spirit—that all I would be doing is pushing someone away who has a liberal view of living life. I needed to be a representative, not of “conservatism” or “the religious right,” but of God and His Word, not a jerk.

I know that the article is supposed to be sarcastic humor, but I also know that, ultimately, it’s a slam against the Bible and those who believe in it. Are we supposed to slam back?

No. I just wanted to have a say so that my beliefs could be heard. Just a carefully-worded response. Here it is:

Regarding the text in Leviticus (and the other Old Testament books referred to) it’s all about context. One must know more than the words of a verse of Scripture; one must know WHY things were written. Nothing in the post gives any reference to the whys.

But, even if things had been explained in detail, there is a REASON why there is now a NEW Testament. Not because God changed His mind on anything that was sin, but because HE DID SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

He put into play a RESCUE for every one of us.

First thing’s first, though…
Virtually EVERYONE is broken sexually in some fashion, whether it’s lust, adultery, premarital sex, transgenderism, pornography, homosexuality, rape, dominance, etc. None of these are God’s design for sex. Sex was designed for two things…
1. Making babies (obviously)
2. The development of a special, on-going loving bond between husband and wife combined with pleasure, intimacy, and intensity

IMPORTANT:
We have ALL violated God’s standards of what is right, EVEN IF IT HAS NOTHING to do wish sex.

This is WHY Jesus came to Earth: to be our Savior. And if we needed a savior, then that means we all need to be saved. but what does that mean, exactly … Saved?

The Bible says that “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Imagine the Creator of the Universe loving us so much that He would come in the form of a man and go through a hellacious death process, spilling His blood, taking the guilt of every sin we will ever commit onto Himself. All because of an intense love for you and for me.

His death … if we accept Him as Savior and Lord … saves us from punishment after we die. Hell is everyone’s default destination, NOT BECAUSE we are gay or adulterers or drunks or haters, etc., but because EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US has a sin problem. We are ALL guilty of wanting our own way instead of God’s.

Christianity has NOTHING to do with hate. It has nothing to do with being “better than everyone else.” It has nothing to do with that demonically-led Westboro Baptist Church. It has nothing to do with judgmentalism. NO! It has EVERYTHING to do with God loving EVERY ONE OF US so much that He paid the price for our sins though Jesus.

And all it takes for ANYONE to be “saved”—to be rescued from a horrible after-death destination—is to let Jesus know that we want His gift of grace (forgiveness that we can’t do anything to earn on our own).

My life was radically changed by Jesus Christ. He accepted me as a broken, suicidal, witchcraft-practicing mess and gave me a new life filled with purpose and hope, peace and freedom. I am NOT perfect. I still do stupid stuff, but it’s all about the RELATIONSHIP with God and nothing about how “good” I can be to impress Him.

I hope that my words don’t come of as condemning, especially since I’m fully aware that I’m no better than you or anyone else. I just needed to respond. Thank you for that opportunity.

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“Wait … You knew about this?”

Friends ForeverThe teenager was watching. She didn’t have to. It wasn’t a requirement. At first, it was merely curiosity, but then she was unable to turn away, like watching a devastating train wreck as it took place. It was painful to experience other people’s pain, but she couldn’t quit watching individual after individual approach the end of the line … for one final conversation.

She had been standing within the gathered, sorrow-filled crowd of spectators, listening for what must have been hours, possibly days. Years, even. Person after person moved forward, listening to decision after decision, resulting in horror-filled expression after horror-filled expression. The line of the accused stretched back much further than could be seen, each individual awaiting his and her turn to hear about his and her failure to make one simple, important decision.

Then she saw her; her best friend. She was in the line, tears running down her face, fidgeting in place, anticipating her next couple of steps forward to stand and wait some more.

Making her way—pressing to the edge of the gallery of spectators—the teen called out to her friend, hoping to gain her attention. “Lauren!”

There were many in the line who responded to the call of the name. Many Laurens would eventually reach the head of the line. Many Sandys and Brittanys and Carols. Many Brents and Brandons and Marks. Many Sashas and Mishas and Sujas. Many Ahmeds and Ivans and Ye-juns. Every single ethnicity and culture. Every single religion and occupation was represented.

Another call out. “Lauren Capshaw!” This time her friend’s eyes found her own.

“Ashlee?”

And just that quickly, Ashlee ran out of things to say. She stood with a muted stare, tears forming in her own eyes.

“Ashlee?” the non-specific question came again.

“I… I…” Words wouldn’t come. How could she communicate with such sorrow the tragedy she was witnessing?

“Ashlee,” came the name again. “Why… Why are you there?”

“It’s different…” Ashlee couldn’t continue.

“What? Why? Why aren’t you in line?”

“It’s different … for …” She stopped dead, again.

“It’s different how, Ashlee? Tell me!”

There was a combination of frustration and terror in Lauren’s voice.

Fear and self-loathing gripped Ashlee’s heart and mind. This whole thing might have been avoided if… If only…

“TELL ME!”

“I’m … different.”

“You? You’re one?”

Ashlee’s head dropped. Her eyes closed. The first convulsion of sorrow forced its way through her chest.

“You’re a Christian?! YOU?!”

Without lifting her eyes, Ashlee slowly nodded.

“Wait … You knew about this? You knew this was coming?”

Ashlee lifted her head and looked at her friend. The line advanced a few more steps. Lauren now had to slightly turn back to keep eye contact.

“I was…” Ashlee broke down, unable to finish her sentence.

Anger flared within Lauren. “You were what?! Uncaring? Unloving? A fake friend?!”

“I was … scared.”

Lauren’s mouth dropped open. She just stared.

“I thought you’d laugh at my faith. I thought I’d lose your friendship.”

“And this… ? This is better? How? How is this better?!”

Ashlee couldn’t respond. There was no good answer.

“Tell me, Ashlee! Tell me how this is better!”

“I… It’s… It’s not better. It’s not! This is horrible!”

“No, Ashlee! No! This isn’t horrible; this is HELL! Do you understand? I heard someone call this the Great White Throne Judgment! Judgment Day! I didn’t know Jesus! I died without him! How could you… ? How could you not tell me? I loved you! We were friends! Even if I had been your worst enemy… How could you?!”

With barely a whisper she answered, “I was scared.”

Posted in Christian Life, Christianity, False Religion, Life & Death | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

‘Fear and Dread’ to Control One’s Wife?

(Man threatening woman – Shutterstock)

What’s written below is a response to both an article and some comments that I saw posted on Facebook today. In order to understand why I felt compelled to write this response, please read what this short article says is acceptable “Christian” behavior from men in order to get what they want from their wives:

Christian Marriage Adviser: Use ‘Fear and Dread’ to Control Your Wife — As God Intended

Understand that this is a secular site posting a secular article about two “Christian” men who advise controlling women through fear and intimidation. As for the two “men” quoted in the article, where did they get their ideas on how to subjugate women so that men can have all the sex that they want? Not from any of the writings of the Bible.

The tiny snippet about wives being in submission… *sigh* … is always taken out of context (or deliberately PUT out of context) in order to either make the Bible look harsh and unworthy of being read, let alone being followed, or to push an ungodly agenda, as is the case with these two “marriage advisors.” Everything in the Bible needs to be read IN CONTEXT.

In today’s “progressive” world of “do whatever you want that feels good, as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else,” is a belief system that DOES hurt other people, including those who practice it. An example is today’s LGBT movement that is encouraging young people to seek out their own sexual identities without guidance about the harms that can come from it. Did you know that 41% of all Transgenders have attempted suicide? That’s what one gets from seeking one’s own identity—one’s own pleasure—without listening to what God has to say about how we were designed and created.
(Reference https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/gender-confused-suicide-rate-ten-times-national-average)

While LGBT is not the subject of the article, the message is still the same; that men should seek out what brings them the most pleasure without proper guidance from God. I say “proper,” because these “men” are telling other males that God said that using fear is a good way to get sex from their wives. Again, it’s about reading things in context, not the twisting of what the Bible actually says.

Here is the full passage in Ephesians chapter 5:

21 And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

22 For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. 24 As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything.

25 For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her 26 to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word.[b] 27 He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. 28 In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. 29 No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church. 30 And we are members of his body.

31 As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.”[c] 32 This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. 33 So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Verse 21 sets the framework for everything that follows. It’s an instruction to both men and women: “… submit TO ONE ANOTHER out of reverence for Christ.”

There are, then, two references on how this works; one to wives, one to husbands.

In the 1960s there was a HUGE cultural shift that began because of two movements, both of them counter-biblical: the “Free Love” and the Feminist or “Women’s Rights” movements. Both phrases sound wonderful, don’t they? On the surface, both sound quite satisfying.

The “Free Love” movement didn’t want any boundaries on what could be done sexually, or with whom they could be done. Multiple partners, orgies (including swingers parties), etc. They did not want anyone telling them that they needed to be married or that they needed to have their “love” constrained to only one person. The whole “do whatever you want that feels good, as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else” thing was hurting people all over the place. Women getting pregnant, men and women getting diseased, broken relationships, women feeling used because men didn’t want to make commitments to them.

Women, at their core, are about wanting to be cherished, to be protected, to be found beautiful. Their hearts are desirous of pouring out love to those who treat their hearts properly. I don’t care how the minority of women with loud voices want to contradict these facts. Women were created to become united with their men. And men were designed to need that union.

Men dropped the ball (without realizing it) following World War II. There was a horrible time of readjustment to American family life. Men’s hearts came back from the war hardened (if the men came back at all), and a lack of emotional stability was brought back with them into the families.

The sons of these men were not properly mentored—trained through example—on how to properly show love and be proper spiritual leaders for the women in their lives. These sons are the ones who ushered in the “Free Love” movement.

Two back-to-back world wars, followed in rapid succession with the Korean and Viet Nam wars, tore men out of their proper roles while also damaging their hearts. The end result was that of men inadvertently damaging the hearts of women. No wonder women felt that they needed to pick up the ball and run with it. No wonder women demanded “Women’s Rights.” Their hearts were being neglected and downplayed. But, as with all non-biblical approaches to fixing the problems, it was just the start of other problems.

Women began pushing men away. Of course, this is a generalization, because it wasn’t the majority of women. But they were a loud minority, and even the majority of women who didn’t like the message of the women’s rights crowd were affected.

Women’s hearts got harder. Men became weaker, and even timid (especially when it came to approaching women). Men had to approach women differently. Men began to believe that they had to approach carefully, less confidently. The leadership role of men began to diminish. Women wanted a 50/50 role in all things, including in relationships. The threat of “leaving” became the all-the-time option in relationships. The divorce rate began to skyrocket. Why? Lots of reasons: abandonment of God, abandonment of marital tradition (traditional relationship roles), the idea of “what I bring into the marriage is still mine, not yours,” and on and on and on it went.

Marriage was (is) no longer 100% dedication of one person to the other. It has become selfish and self-protective. Everything became, “If he (she) steps out of line of what makes me happy, I’m outta here.”

Another mischaracterized phrase from the Bible (I’ll get back to the passage that I posted above in a minute) is the one that says that women are supposed to be a man’s “helpmate” from the Hebrew ezer kenegdo (Genesis 2:18).

Author John Eldredge states:

“Eve is given to Adam as his ezer kenegdo—or as many translations have it, his ‘help meet’ or ‘helper.’ Doesn’t sound like much, does it? It makes me think of Hamburger Helper. But Robert Alter says this is ‘a notoriously difficult word to translate.’ It means something far more powerful than just ‘helper’; it means ‘lifesaver.’ The phrase is only used elsewhere of God, when you need Him to come through for you desperately. ‘There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, who rides on the heavens to help you’ (Deut. 33:26). Eve is a life giver; she is Adam’s ally. It is to both of them that the charter for adventure is given. It will take both of them to sustain life. And they will both need to fight together.”
(Ref. http://www.ransomedheart.com/daily-reading/ezer-kenegdo)

Partners in this life. Partners and lovers. Partners who love one another sacrificially; love God individually and corporately. THIS is what was given to us by God.

Let’s get back to the original passage I posted.

22 For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For a husband is the head of his wife AS Christ is the head of the church. [Jesus] is the Savior of His body, the church. 24 As the church submits [humbles itself with a heart of giving] to Christ, so you wives should submit [do the same for] your husbands in everything.

What is offensive in those words? The word submit has been made out to be an attack word. But, biblically, it is something that is nearly automatic in the heart and mind of a woman IF—IF—a man follows through with his responsibilities to her (as we’ll see below). The order in which these are written MIGHT cause someone to think that a woman needs to submit first. But that’s not true! Both the man and the woman submit at the same time. AND a woman is also inclined to lean her hear toward her husband (boyfriend, fiancé) if he is living up to his responsibilities toward hear and toward God.

25 For husbands, this means LOVE YOUR WIVES, JUST AS—[in the SAME WAY]—Christ loved the church. HE GAVE UP HIS LIFE FOR HER 26 to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word.[b] 27 He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. 28 IN THE SAME WAY, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For A MAN WHO LOVES HIS WIFE actually shows love for himself. 29 No one hates his own body but feeds and CARES for it, just as Christ cares for the church. 30 And we are members of his body.

31 As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” 32 This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. 33 So again I say, EACH MAN MUST LOVE HIS WIFE AS HE LOVES HIMSELF, and the wife must respect her husband.

Men are REQUIRED by God to LOVE their wives. This isn’t the same kind of love as “I love chocolate” or “I love sex.” This demand of God is for a man to love sacrificially; giving of himself to the point of laying his life and his heart on the line for his wife’s benefit. There is no benefit for a woman to be living in fear of abandonment. There is no benefit for a woman to be toyed with so that a man can have all the “rough” make-up sex that he wants.

What these men teach in the article is abhorrent to God! It stinks like rotting flesh, because it abandons EVERYTHING that God wants for His creation. In fact, Scripture also says, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” If God isn’t going to give us a spirit of fear, do you suppose that God wants husbands to put into their wives a spirit of fear? No!

God isn’t a “God of love.” God IS love! He desires that we have relationships with Him, not just so that we can be saved from Hell, but so that He can heal our hearts—our brokenness—and infuse within each of us love; love that is willing to sacrifice for the wellbeing of the other. Nothing about this life is supposed to be about “what I can get.” It’s about caring for one another’s hearts and souls. It’s about REAL love.

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How Free is Freedom in Christ?

freedomTwenty years ago, I remember sitting in my church in Virginia listening to a story that Marilyn Hickey related about an experience she had with another passenger on an airliner. It went something like this:

I was seated next to a man who became disturbed as I took my Bible out to read. He said, “Oh brother. You’re one of those.”

“One of what?” I asked.

“One of those ‘Thou shalt not’ Bible thumpers,” he replied. “You people are all about restricting people’s freedoms.”

“Freedoms to do what?” I wanted to know.

“You know, you Christians can’t drink alcohol and condemn anyone who does.”

“That’s not true. I drink all the alcohol that I want. No restrictions.”

“What? You’re allowed to drink booze?”

“Of course,” I said.

“Okay, then you’re not allowed to have extra-marital sex.”

I laughed. “Actually, I have all the sex outside of my marriage that I want.”

This floored the man. He didn’t know how to respond, so I told him, “I am allowed, in the freedoms that God gave me, to do whatever I want. I just choose not to do them, because I love the Lord so much, and I want to honor Him with my life.”

It seems that Marilyn Hickey took the Bible literally where it says, “All things are permissible, but all things are not beneficial.” (1 Corinthians 10:23)

How literally should we take this verse? Is there context for it? Are there other verses to compare it with?

Let’s look at how free our freedom in Christ really is.

Legalism teaches that all of the commandments of the Old Testament are applicable to the New Testament Church; except for those that can be safely dismissed as a result of Jesus’ or the Apostles’ direct teachings. An example of this would be not eating certain types of foods, per Levitical law. However, the New Testament has Jesus saying, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” (Act 10:9-16) Outside of a direct reversal, legalists proclaim all law still in effect. Some even create new laws that were never even in the Old Testament, because they are not addressed in the New Testament. An example of this is not allowing musical instrumentation in churches, because nowhere in Scripture does it say that the early Church used them. By its very absence, some legalists say they are clinging to the original ways of worship in the early Church.

Let’s take a look at what Jesus said in His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapter 5.

17″Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18I tell you the truth, until Heaven and Earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of Heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of Heaven. 20For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of Heaven.”

There are some great things in this passage. First, it’s obvious that He came to fulfill the Law. And in order for Jesus to fulfill the Law He had to both live the Law and preach the Law without one slip-up. Those were His requirements—His constraints—pertaining to the Law being completely fulfilled. Therefore, as we read about Jesus dotting every “i” and crossing every “t” (“the least stroke of a pen”) He is living the Old Covenant not the New Covenant. He preached a better covenant was on its way as a result of Him and that when those of His day saw Him, they were witnessing the fulfillment of the Old Covenant (according to the Apostle Paul, the “shadow” of good things that would later come) and the transition—through His death and resurrection—to the New Covenant (the kingdom of God). And because of that transition, we are not subject to having to fulfill the Law that Jesus was required to uphold before He died.

What it truly means to be a Christian is written within the letters of the apostles, starting with the book of Romans and concluding with the book of Jude. These are the instructions on how to become a Christian and how to live the Christian life, given to us by the First-Century Church leaders by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to be passed down to the Church throughout the ensuing ages.

What Jesus did prior to the cross, and up through His death, culminated in a finished work. The Law is fulfilled. The real question is, what does it mean when Scripture states that Jesus fulfilled the Law and the Prophets?

It means that He did, in our stead, what we could not and cannot do for ourselves. He took care of it once, for all time. He also said, that He didn’t come to abolish the Law, that the Law would stand until it was accomplished in Him.

Now, notice something important. In verse 19 of Matthew chapter 5, Jesus says there is a consequence for breaking the law and teaching others to do the same even after the Law has been fulfilled. What is that consequence? Being “called the least in the kingdom of Heaven.” Those who love the Lord with all of their hearts, even if they disobey the Law, and teach others to do the same (though why a lover of Christ would ever do this is beyond me) will have a lesser place in the kingdom, not a place in Hell. In this passage, Jesus separates the Law from righteousness, stating that “Unless your righteousness [made possible through His coming sacrifice] surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law [the legalists, relying on something other than only Christ to save them], you will certainly not enter the kingdom of Heaven.”

Legalism isn’t just restricted to “legalist” churches, by the way. It’s difficult for churches to not have something to enforce. There are rules: Ten Commandments, rules of conduct, rules of ceremony, etc. Enforcing these is policy. The first question is, What is the Lord’s focus when it comes to obedience and the Law?

In the Old Testament we are told that “Obedience is better than sacrifice.” (1 Samuel 15:22) Actions, born out of your love for God, will accomplish what trying to perform something “holy” in order to gain God’s favor cannot—Relationship. The second and third questions are, What do we have to do in order to have God’s favor? and How does God’s favor figure into our freedom in Christ?

Let’s take the three questions one at a time.

1.       What is the Lord’s focus when it comes to obedience?

Is God looking for someone that is subservient to His every will and whim? Is He a taskmaster bent on having people do things for Him? I think that if we look at the Bible as a whole, we see a grand epic of God’s progress toward redeeming Man back to Himself so that we can enjoy the relationship with Him that was lost at the Fall of Adam and Eve. God’s intention is to restore, not to place rules. In fact, when we read of what Heaven will be like, there is no mention of another Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. There will be a Tree of Life, but nothing that can lead to man choosing against God again. It appears that “All things [will be] permissible” in Heaven, as there will be no measurement of sin again. Interesting to think about, isn’t it? Just don’t read into this that we’ll somehow still have hearts that are evil and will want to test how “permissible” things will be in Heaven.

2.       What do we have to do in order to have God’s favor? 

In the Old Testament, it appears that in order to gain God’s favor, one must have made sacrifices and been obedient to the Law. However, if you look at the Old Testament’s friends of God, you’ll see that it had nothing to do with the Law, even back then. It had to do with relationship and with the heart. The Law gave people a 24/7 focus on not being able to be perfect enough in God’s sight. We see that now when we look at the Ten Commandments—the futility. Sacrifices in the Old Testament didn’t make people’s hearts right with God, it only covered people’s sins. It was impossible to wash away their sins with this system. Instead, it was people with hearts that desired to be made right, who were making sacrifices for forgiveness. Do you think that people who brought sacrifices to the altar with hate in their hearts got any benefit from them? No way. Even in the New Testament, before Jesus’ completion and fulfillment of the Law, Jesus said that “if you are offering your gift on the altar, and there you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” So, to have God’s favor is to have a right heart toward Him and toward one another. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? “The whole of the Law is wrapped up in these two commands…” Love God and love your neighbor—words of perpetual, life-filled action, not dead law.

To have God’s favor means to be forgiven of everything, because according to Jesus, if you’re guilty of breaking one law, you’re guilty of breaking them all. That part of gaining God’s favor has already been settled. The work on the Cross was perfect, and performed perfectly for every person who ever lived and ever would live. There is not one person who has not been forgiven by God. All have been forgiven, but many people will never accept that forgiveness and, as a result, will remain outside of God’s completed work. So, you can see that it’s not a matter of what we can do to gain God’s favor. God’s favor is not the issue. We’ve got it. God is “especially fond” of each and every person He has ever created. It’s a matter of accepting His favor.

3.       How does God’s favor figure into our freedom in Christ?

Here’s another radical thought. God’s favor is not earned, so neither is it lost. God’s favor simply is.

There is freedom in Christ because of God’s non-earnable, irrevocable favor, which comes from His perfect, no-strings-attached love. If God’s love is perfect, and if Christ fulfilled the entirety of the Law, how much Law do we have to live up to in order to have God’s love and favor? None.

When the apostle Paul said, “All things are permissible,” he meant it. Here is a man who was taught his entire life to be obedient to the Law of Moses. He was a “Pharisee of Pharisees” and to him all things were not permissible. Then Jesus interrupted his life and told him “It is hard for you to kick against the pricks.” That’s an analogy that means “You are trying so hard to hurt My Gospel, but you’re injuring yourself by your blind pursuit of the Law.” If anyone knew the fallacy of trying to maintain the Mosaic and Levitical Law, it was the apostle Paul.

Let’s look at another Scripture verse that legalists use to keep people “in God’s good graces.”

“If you love Me,” says God, “you will obey Me” (John 14:15). Seems plain enough, doesn’t it? In fact, this verse seems to conclusively prove the legalists correct. In order to prove your love for God, you had better obey Him. But, let’s see how accurate that interpretation is when matched up with other Scripture.

“If you love Me, you will obey Me” is actually a Cause & Effect phrase, not a directive as I will demonstrate below.

Jesus was actually saying something entirely different in this wonderful verse. I do not believe He was saying, “Obey Me. This is how I will know that you love Me.” No, He knows our love by our hearts, not by our actions. God’s heart is not about obedience, rather it is about relationship.

“If you love Me” is a causal statement, while “you will obey Me” is the effect generated by that cause.

So, here’s how I believe this verse is supposed to be interpreted: “Love Me, and as a result you will obey Me.” “If you love Me [the end result will be that] you will desire to do My will.” Doesn’t that just seem more right in your spirit? In fact this seems to be confirmed in the same chapter in verses 23 and 24:

23 Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.”

If anyone loves me …

  • He will obey my teaching.
  • We will come to him and make Our home with him.

He who does not love me …

  • Will not obey my teaching.

It’s our love (a response to His love) that causes us to obey; it’s not the obeying that is the precursor to a loving relationship with our Creator God.

Does obedience reflect our love? Absolutely! It shows that we are empowered by His love. His love empowers us to want to love Him with our actions, not just our words.

Does all of this mean that we are absolutely free to do whatever we want without losing God’s favor and His love? Here’s the scary answer for all of us. Yes, that’s exactly what that means. We are free to do whatever we want. We are no longer bound by the Law. All of the requirements of the Law are accomplished through our love for God and our love for others. All of them. And how do we know this? Romans 13:8 says, “Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law.”

By accepting the work of Christ on the cross into our hearts; by accepting the Holy Spirit to indwell us, we have gained freedom. 2 Corinthians 3:17 says, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

The final question is, What do we do with this freedom?

I think the best answer to this question is a statement I make to myself whenever I see what appears to be an obvious move in a good game of Solitaire:  “Just because I can, doesn’t mean I should.”

Let’s face it; Jesus made it clear that there are still consequences to our actions. Even the laws of physics dictate that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Everything we do affects something. It affects something positively, neutrally, or negatively. So we should be asking ourselves a primary question when we have a dilemma: “How will this affect my communication / relationship with the Lord or with someone else?”

If I use my freedom to drink, will it cause a “weaker” brother to stumble if he sees me?

If I use my freedom to have sex outside of marriage, will it cause my partner to stumble in relation to the Lord? And if my partner is unsaved, did I pass up an opportunity to be a witness for the sake of a good sensation?

If I use my freedom to cheat on tests, will it affect my future ability to apply what I should have studied and learned?

If I use my freedom to gossip, will word get back to the person I talked about, or will the person with whom I spent time gossiping do the same behind my back?

If I use my freedom to lust with pornography, am I creating an unhealthy view of the opposite sex and how to treat them in person (let alone the wasted time in a vain pursuit)?

When I do something that goes against what I feel the Lord would have me do, I end up feeling guilty afterward. This causes me to turn my face from Him. I drop communication in favor of nursing my shame. This does not make for a healthy relationship. The trade-off for reckless abandon is not worth it.

When Paul says, “All things are permissible, but all things are not beneficial,” we come to understand two things:

  1. I’m allowed to do whatever I want and still have the kingdom of God as my inheritance (if I’m a Born-Again believer).
  2. Just because I’m free to do whatever I want doesn’t mean I’m going to enjoy the end results of my actions. “Whatever you plant, you shall likewise harvest.”

As Christians we live apart from the Law. But does that mean that the Law has no purpose and that it is not good? No! It doesn’t mean that at all! In fact, Paul said, “The Law is good for the purpose that it has” and that purpose is to show people that they cannot be perfect and that every individual is a sinner in need of a Savior—a Redeemer.

Praise the Lord, though, because these five aspects of God’s grace are certain:

  1. We cannot dismantle Christ’s perfect work!
  2. We cannot undo His forgiveness!
  3. We cannot undo His love!
  4. When we fall we are still counted righteous!
  5. We cannot outsin His faithfulness to forgive us of our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness!

With His work on the Cross, Jesus took every sin we would ever commit upon Himself, so that we can know and experience such amazing grace! Such amazing freedom in Him!

“He who the Son sets free is free indeed” (John 8:36).

“There is, now, no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”     (Romans 8:1).

“So stand firm in the liberty—[the grace]—that Christ used to make us free, and do not let yourself be entangled again with bondage to the Law” (Galatians 5:1).

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