I am not sorry – they say . . .

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Faith is Stronger than Reason

Faith is Stronger Than Reason

That is how the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary gives definition to faith in its second definition “Faith is stronger than reason.”

Four events I have read in the Bible cause me to stop and question the strength of my faith in Jesus Christ. The first one is when God asked Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. Abraham did so without questioning his faith. The second is the story of Joseph who was sold by his brothers to lead an adventurous life of which included being placed in prison and eventually being placed in charge of Egypt. The third is the story of JOB, where everything he had was taken from him but his last breath, yet he would not curse God. The fourth example is of the opposite, it starts with Matthew 8:23, Jesus Christ and the disciples are in a boat on the lake and a furious storm developed, the disciples became so afraid, even though they had Jesus Christ in the boat, they woke him; his statement to his disciples was: Matthew 8:26 “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?”.

This last example helps me question my faith. Even though I have accepted Jesus Christ as my savior, in a way, he is in my boat, how do I respond when my life becomes turbulent like the lake did on the disciples. Do I proceed with faith, or do I do what the disciple did, become afraid, and have to wake Jesus Christ to take care of my troubles.

Even if I can recite versus from the Bible, I go to church every week; I engage in church activities, work on knowing about God and Jesus Christ, is my faith as strong as Abraham’s, Joseph’s, and JOB’s. I believe our faith in God, Jesus Christ our savior should far outweigh our knowledge of the Bible. If there is one thing I would teach anyone, it would to have unwavering Faith in God. Is your faith stronger than reason?

My favorite versus from the Bible on Faith are from the Book of James:

James 2:14 What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

James 2:18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”

Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

James 2:20 You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21 Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.

James 2:25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

 

First Year Anniversary

First Year Anniversary

 

May 10th of last year, Mother’s day I was baptized.  Being baptized to me was just like getting married.  I felt the commitment, the love, the passion, but how would my life, my relationship with Jesus Christ will change?

As I got up May 10th 2009 partially to my alarm and partially to my fear of being discovered, I felt an excitement, a peace, a relationship I thought I would never have.

I knew I had to be up and out of my storage shed, where I had been staying for the last couple of months before people started entering and the manager showed up.

Like most mornings while sleeping in this shed, which I had made into a makeshift apartment, I went over to my bucket of water I renewed last night and take a relatively fresh towel and douse it and then proceed to ‘sponge bath’ myself.   I do not know why, but the face is the most important part, if my face feels clean, the rest of me feel even that much cleaner.

The choice of clothes narrowed since doing laundry is not a luxury; my last batch was hand washed in my bucket using leftover shampoo I happened to have.  From time to time, I did receive some money, either a loan from my friend or because I sold some of my belongings.  With some money I had, I bought a spray that contained bleach.  This spray, as with bleach changed the color of the clothes, thus I only used it on the inside of the clothes.  This spray was a great saver, it killed of course germs, like under the arm type stuff but also made the clothes smell fresh out of the laundry, and at least I thought and hoped.

I dressed in my best jeans, cleanest T-shirt and today even shouldered a button down shirt, for I was going to be baptized.  I Finish up by wetting my hair and brushing it straight back. Found the shoestring I extracted from my tennis shoe the night before and tied it around my right angle, over the pants so my jeans would not get caught in the spokes of my bicycle.

I also had to pack my bag carefully and make sure I did not miss anything. Returning to the storage shed during the day was not a smart maneuver.  It exposed how the storage shed was set up and indicated it has more than just objects in it.  I had to make sure I carried even a change of clothes in my bag, computer, books, power cords, food, or anything else I might need for the next 18 hours.

I looped the shoulder bag over around my back so it sat just about the middle, I mounted my faithful Mountain Bike and glided over the push password box and entered my code.  Slowly the gate would slide open and I would peddle my bike through and then make a sharp right to get to my first destination, Starbucks, without much notice.

To get out with as little notice as possible, I was usually heading to Starbucks around 6:30 AM and today, my baptism does not start until 9:00 AM, so I have a little time to myself.  Today, as most days, I start by reading the Bible, writing in my journal and responding to potential job offers.

Around 8:30 AM, I mount my bike again, which I hid around the corner by the trash bin at Starbucks, and throw my bag over my shoulder, but this time it does not sit right on my back, it hits the bike seat and causes it so swing right or left when I stand to mount the seat.  This causes two challenges; firstly, I am off balance and two it gets in the way of riding.  With effort, I try to swing it back to where it should be without causing me to swerve into something stationary or cause the swaying of the bag to throw my balance off enough to where I have to start over getting going again.

The ride to the church is uneventful.  As usual, I am the only bike on the road, an odd feeling in a town with sidewalks; young people and great weather one might think they would be filled with them.  I have my routine down.  I cross the street back towards Starbucks then ride behind the RaceTrac gas station, then dart back across the street in a free break in traffic and charge up the sidewalk.

Down to the Town Square, where the multitude of shops, restaurants and the movie theater are, then back across the street.  I will stay on this side of the street for the remaining part of the ride.  The sidewalks are partial here; I know I have to cross four thresholds of grass before I will arrive at the church driveway.

Some mornings everything goes very well across these tracks, but it depends on the path, speed and how much they water the night before to whether it is a clean crossing.  Today, even though my day to be baptized, one patch of grass has been watered and a bit sloppy lake like, so I get a spraying of water and mud all over me, but it’s not to think and appears to have the ability to dry without a mark.

The parking lot of the church is full, there are five services available, thus the parking lot is continually full until after the last service and people are always around.  I am somewhat self-conscious riding my bike to church, thus come to the exit and enter from the sidecars do not usually drive through.

I found a great spot for my bike, to hide it from being noticed, thus limited embarrassment and for protection from being possibly stolen.  In front of the church, there is about a 5′ white brick wall, it hides the AC units for this section of the church.  There is enough room between the wall and the A/C units to put my bike, so I gently slide it between the two.  I grab my bible from one of the compartments of my bag and place it gently next to the front wheel of my bike.

I head over to the sanctuary I am to be baptized.  In my pass over, I stop in the main lobby and grab a donut and a quick cup of coffee and then I run into Ed.  Ed is a member of the church, is part of a group called “Stephen’s Ministry”, and he has been there to counsel and listen to me and to help guide me for the last several months.  As I shake hands with him and embrace in a hug, he asks me, “Did you ride your bike?”   I smiled and said of course!

That was about a year ago.   Today, I went to church.  I work up to the same alarm I did a year ago, but I did not have to get up and leave because of the lurking possibility of being discovered, in fact, I ignored the alarm and continued to sleep a bit longer.  My bed is soft and my blanket and comforter soft and clean.  I have a selection of clean clothes to choose from, but wonderfully more is I get up and get into a warm shower and shave with ease.

I walk down the few stairs from my loft of a bedroom; admire the artwork of my younger children abound on the walls and the floor.  I open my front door of my warm, carpeted apartment and get into my 1995 excellent running and reasonably kept Lincoln Continental and drove to Church.

Today I still wonder how my life has been changed by my renewed relationship with Christ.  Even though a tremendous amount has changed, I still this question, I ask this question because I do not feel as though I can have a close enough relationship with Jesus Christ and never feel like I want to be content with the relationship I have.  Each day, I want to try harder to server Jesus Christ even more.

Even though, with all my honesty I could tell you I feel as close to Jesus Christ today as I did last year the day I was baptized, my life, my outlook, my faith, and love have all changed for the better.  Is my life easier, no, it has not if anything it has gotten harder? Harder because I have greater wisdom, faith, and love, I did not have before.  So why is my life harder, it is because I struggle with my own vision of my limitations and the ones God has for me.  And constantly, when I feel I am out of capacity, I continue to have more.  In addition, having more love, faith, forgiveness, argues against my personal self-logic of why I should extend myself anymore.  However, I realize, I am not extending anything, it has is God’s will and if God can do it and ask me to do it, then I can do it, but it does not always make it easy.

I guess it’s no different than a coach believing the student can do more than the student believes themselves they can do as well as the teacher knowing the why the student needs to learn the lesson.

I look forward to my next year.  I know I still have so many obstacles to overcome, I know I will feel like I did this last year, that I was making no progress, my relationship with God and Jesus Christ needs even more work, but in the end I can say I learned even more lessons and been able to extend my love, grace, faith, and forgiveness even more.

With All My Prayers and Blessings,

 

The Holy Spirit . . .is more than water!

This is interesting, there are two different baptisims? I never heard, mayb by Pastor Miles, of these two different ones, but it is not talked about much.  I am not sure I am clear.  I did get baptized by water and I have asked Jesus to live in me and direct my life, but I am not sure I have been baptzed with the Holy Spirit.  Is asking Jesus into my life, my faith and love for him being baptized of the Holy Spirit?

 

 

Acts 19:1–7 (NIV)

Paul in Ephesus

19 While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”

They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”

So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?”

John’s baptism,” they replied.

Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues  and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all.

Just Pray . . .

There is so much emphasis on prayer and there should be.  There is also a lot of “teaching” about prayer.  I always feel the best place to learn about praying is from the source.  In John, Jesus says three prayers together.  Along with the Lord’s prayer, this I believe is a great model for our prayers.  God Bless!

John 17:1–25 (NIV)

Jesus Prays to Be Glorified

17 After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed:

“Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.

Jesus Prays for His Disciples

“I have revealed you  to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.

13 “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.

Jesus Prays for All Believers

20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me.

Beware . . . don’t be fooled

Matthew 7:15–20 (ESV)

A Tree and Its Fruit

15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

Matthew 24:24–26 (NIV)

24 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you ahead of time.

26 “So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the wilderness,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it.

Revelation 13:11–18 (NIV)

The Beast out of the Earth

12 It exercised all the authority of the first beast on its behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. 13 And it performed great signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to the earth in full view of the people. 14 Because of the signs it was given power to perform on behalf of the first beast, it deceived the inhabitants of the earth. It ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. 15 The second beast was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that the image could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. 16 It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, 17 so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name.

Acts 20:28–31 (NIV)

28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God,  which he bought with his own blood.  29 I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. 31 So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.

2 Timothy 4:3–5 (NIV)

For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.