John 8:36 - So if the Son makes you free, you will be truly free.

Galatians 5:1 - We have freedom now, because Christ made us free. So stand strong. Do not change and go back into the slavery of the law.

This is my journey.

Monday, July 30, 2012


Let your character be free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, "I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you." - Hebrews 13:5

Contentment. It can often be a difficult task, to be content. Not just with what I have (or don't have!), but the situations I find myself in, the things I do or don't want to do, the ways God is working to mold me into a woman after His heart.

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain that we can carry nothing out. – 1Timothy 6:6-7

It’s not worth it to be discontent with my situation, or my life, or what I don’t have, and the list goes on… THINGS are just things, situations in my life are only temporal. God has put me in my life exactly where I belong, to do exactly what He has planned for me to do! Discontentment will only harm my joy and ability to do anything for anyone else. Our culture is very based on “do/have this to be happy” and “think about what will make YOU happy”, when really, I have found the times I am most happy and content is when I am serving others.

A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy is rottenness to the bones. – Proverbs 14:30

So often, we miss or overlook those little gifts in life that God gives us, those everyday small joys. If I can’t find joy in the small things… how will I be able to find true joy in the big things? I have seen that often come to be true; those who are always looking for something BIG to bring them happiness, never find true happiness even when those BIG things are attained. As Paul said,

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. – Philippians 4:11-13

It's incredibly easy to fall into the trap of thinking that having our lives be perfectly comfortable and "perfect" will make us better people, when it's really the opposite. It's only through the hardships, the trials, the tough times, that God is able to work and chip at our sins and flaws and mold us into who He has designed us to be.

I find myself saying "Lord, why this trial? Why this struggle? Why this hardship?" And He is saying "I want you to learn to pray. I want you to learn to trust. I want you to focus on me and only me to be everything you need." Because really... how else would I learn?

And He said to them, "Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions." Luke 12:15

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Will I?

  Look at him!  His way with words...Lord, he would be such a great witness if he was a Christian!  And her...she just gets people inspired and doing things.  How she would be able to speak to people."

  "And what about you?"

  Me?  Uh...I'm

  "You don't think I could use you to speak to people?"

  Not...not in the same way.  They could do such great things for you!  I wouldn't even know what to say.  I always say the wrong thing, too.

  "Don't you know I will give you the words to say?  You don't think I can work through you as well as anyone?"

   No...I know you can.  You just...could do it better through them.

  "Better?  My power is not strong enough to work as well through you as anyone else?"

  I know.  I know you can.  I'm just...I'm scared, Lord.

  "It is all right to be scared.  It is when you are weak and unable that I become able for you.  It is when you know you cannot do it on your own that you ask me and I help you.  It is when you see the strength you lack and allow me to do my work through you."

  What if they reject me?  What if they don't even want to listen to anything I say?

  "It is not for you to change their hearts.  That is for me.  It is for you to speak the truth.  It is for you to tell others about the reason I came and died, regardless of what their reaction is.  How can their hearts be changed if they do not hear the truth that will change them?"


  "Enough buts.  Will you be the witness I ask you to be?  The witness I equip you to be?  Will you say the words I give you to say, no matter the cost?  Will you?"

Will I?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Commandments of Men?

**Disclaimer - it may seem I am up on this particular (or a similar) soapbox often, and I just want to state it is not aimed at anyone or anything in particular. I just often have conversations with myself in my head, then I write them down and want to share them, because perhaps it may help someone else. So that's why I've been posting so much on this issue recently, it's one I've been thinking about quite a bit.**

1 Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, 2 “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!”
3 Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’ and ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ 5 But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is ‘devoted to God,’ 6 they are not to ‘honor their father or mother’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. 7 You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:
8 “‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
9 They worship me in vain;
their teachings are merely human rules. ’”
10 Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. 11 What goes into your mouth does not defile you, but what comes out of your mouth, that is what defiles you.”
12 Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?”
13 He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. 14 Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”
15 Peter said, “Explain the parable to us.”
16 “Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them. 17 “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18 But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these defile you. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what defile you; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile you.” Matthew 15:1-20

This morning, I was pondering several issues, and wanted to touch on a couple of them. Separate issues, but all intertwined as well.

1. The idea that a Christian wife and mother must be a stay-at-home mom. (Titus 2:3-5, Timothy 5:14)
2. That all Christian women must grow their hair long/never cut it. (1 Corinthians 11:6,15)
3. That women must wear dresses/skirts and never pants. (Deuteronomy 22:5)

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. Titus 2:3-5

So I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander. - 1 Timothy 5:14

To begin, there have been very few cultures throughout history in which women even could be a “stay-at-home” mother. Most were simply trying to survive. Even in our American culture, it is very recent that almost anyone can afford one parent to stay at home while the other works. The lower classes have always had to work, all throughout history and even in some cultures still. Black slaves in recent history had no such option. There is no way we can take 1 or 2 verses picked out and call them God's “ideal” if they cannot be applied to everyone, every culture, every time era. God's “ideals” transcend all human thought, laws, cultural divides, and time eras. God has no “ideal” lifestyle for His children – why else would He have created such diversity?

Neither of those verses state all women must be a stay-at-home mother, and there is "no way" God might call her to something different (such as the mother working and the father staying at home). Or both parents working, as may be necessary in many cases.

I am not saying I think being a stay-at-home mother is somehow “wrong” or “lesser” than pursuing a career, it is my dream and desire to be a stay-at-home mom myself. I am simply making the case that it is in no sense “God's ideal” or any sort of mandate He's place on His children.

If it is not applicable to every nation, culture and time era, it is not God's mandate or ideal.

The same ruling should apply to hair/clothing as well. What is “men's clothing” or “women's clothing”, and what is the standard we are basing that off of? Our current culture? The 1800s? If we're taking for example, the 1800s... whose 1800s, America's, Europe's, Asia's? Because they all were completely different from each other.

Back in Bible times (through many of those time eras and cultures), everyone wore robes... which in our current culture appear quite similar to dresses. Does that mean Jesus was cross-dressing? Does that mean Scottish men are wrong to follow their ancient tradition of kilts because we in America don't do that, and kilts look like a skirt? What are we basing this “clothing ideal” off of anyway? What constitutes “men's” or “women's” clothing changes with every time era, every culture – it is constantly in a state of change. However, no matter what culture you are in, there is always distinctions between what is men's or women's clothing. It makes far more sense that this verse:

A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the Lord your God detests anyone who does this. Deuteronomy 22:5

Would be talking about cross-dressing/transvestite actions, rather than specific articles of clothing (pants or skirts) that eternally are “men's” or “women's”. That doesn't even make sense, in light of all the cultures that have come and gone in the thousands of years the world has been around.

Some say that 1 Corinthians 11 is stating women should wear a veil/scarf on their head always (or especially when praying). Others say no, just grow their hair long. And even others state it is simply meaning “do not ever cut your hair.” (You can read my breakdown of that passage here:

But that stipulation only makes sense in a culture like ours, where hair is something of an afterthought, and is simple to deal with. However, what about countries where the women shave all their hair off simply because they have no way to take care of it? (Like, say, all of Africa.) Are they “shamed” then, because they do whatever is easiest with their hair because IT DOESN'T MATTER, and they have other things to worry about, like survival? Even in the western countries black women have incredibly unmanageable hair when grown out.

To tell women in third world countries they must “grow their hair long” (which in many cases isn't even possible – some women cannot physically grow their hair long), or “never cut their hair” would be putting a terrible and completely unnecessary burden on them. Does God really put such massive physical burdens on us, burdens that have 0 eternal significance? That just doesn't make sense.

God does not give mandates that only some can accomplish. God is not about arbitrary man-made rules, or really outward appearance at all.

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

Once you make outward appearance important, a mandate, then THAT BECOMES YOUR WHOLE FOCUS! It suddenly becomes more important to “look right” than to actually be righteous, to love others, and to focus on spreading God's word!

Yes, God does put difficult burdens on us. He commands us to forgive, not to lust, to be holy. He burdens me to pray for the lost. He commands us to love others as He loves us. He tells us to give, and serve, and be a light. These can be very difficult to accomplish, even in the power of His Spirit. But what do all of those have in common that is different from hair/clothing/staying at home? They all are heart issues and have eternal significance, whereas hair/clothing/staying at home are simply physical issues that morph and change every few decades. They are simply part of this physical world that means nothing in light of eternity.

'These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
their teachings are merely human rules.’
You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions. Mark 7:6b-8

Monday, July 16, 2012

Steadfast In Prayer

Therefore, I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it shall be done for you. And when you stand to pray, forgive whatever you may hold against anyone, so that your heavenly Father may also forgive your sins. Mark 11:24-26

The more books I read about it, the more I spend time praying, the more I realize I need to pray! I am hoping to personally build up to at least 3-4 hours of prayer daily. Still currently working on 1 hour daily.

Pray at all times as the Spirit inspires you. Keep watch, together with sustained prayer and supplication for all the holy ones. Ephesians 6:18

I have always been really bad with procrastination and self-discipline, especially in this area. I will do really well for a few weeks or months, then will begin slacking off and grow stale for a (sometimes very long) while.

Be steadfast in prayer and even spend the night praying and giving thanks. Colossians 4:2

It's time to change the way I do prayer. With quite a few large changes and events coming up in the next year (and all needing much prayer!), I figure now is the optimum time.

For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:4-5

It is time to become the prayer warrior that God has called me to be, no longer wallowing in mediocrity, but stepping out in faith and the power of the Holy Spirit through me. It is time to pray as I ought, with the knowledge that God has placed in me the weapons by His divine power to destroy strongholds, and come against every evil thing!

Pray without ceasing and give thanks to God at every moment. This is the will of God, your vocation as Christians. 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18

This verse has a very interesting statement... it is the will of God for His children to pray without ceasing and give thanks continually, as our vocation! Do I view prayer as I would a job? Do I set times to pray and make the commitment to “be there” with the same commitment that I would a regular job?

Just as others are counting on me to get to my workplace and do my job, so also others are counting on my prayers, whether or not they actually are aware of them. I do not have any way to know if perhaps I am the only one praying for someone, for their particular situation.

The prayer said in faith will save the sick person; the Lord will raise him up and if he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven. There will be healing if you confess your sins to one another and pray for each other. The prayer of the upright man has great power, provided he perseveres. Elijah was a human being like ourselves and when he prayed earnestly for it not to rain, no rain fell for three and a half years. Then he prayed again: the sky yielded rain and the earth produced its fruit. James 5:15-18

Elijah was just a regular man, no different than me in God's eyes. Yet through his prayers, God accomplished a mighty feat – no rain for 3 and a half years, then rain again after all that time. God longs to use me in this same way, if only I am willing and ready to persevere.

What did Elijah do that caused his prayers to be effective? There are 2 stipulations I see. In verse 16: The prayer of the upright man has great power, provided he perseveres. I must be in right standing with God, and I must be persistent, despite how I feel, or what my circumstances are, or what anyone says in opposition to it!

And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, "In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, 'Give me justice against my adversary.' For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, 'Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.'" And the Lord said, "Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?" Luke 18:1-8

That is the persistence I should have! If that unrighteous judge gave the widow what she asked for, how much more will God give justice to His elect?

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us - whatever we ask - we know that we have what we asked of him. - 1 John 5:14-15

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Miracles Or Myself?

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. - John 14:12

What is a “miracle”?


1. an effect or extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause.
2. such an effect or event manifesting or considered as a work of God.
3. a wonder; marvel.
4. a wonderful or surpassing example of some quality: a miracle of modern acoustics.

In order for a miracle to happen, there are several necessaries required. 1. It is the accomplishment of something otherwise deemed impossible. 2. It is that impossible task brought about through supernatural means.

I want to be used by God in a supernatural way, I want Him to be able to use my life to work miracles in the lives of others. I have talent, I have many abilities. I feel well-able to be used by God, and perhaps that is the problem. Why would I need God's help to work through me if I am already equipped to accomplish it myself?

Too often I ask, “Lord, what can I do for you? What can I do to build a ministry/touch lives/spread the gospel?” Perhaps the question should really be, “Lord, what do you want to do through me to further your Kingdom and bring glory to your name?”

To be honest, I have never felt like someone that God couldn't use. I have never experienced an identity crisis in which I feel totally worthless and useless to God. In fact, it's generally the opposite... me wondering, Lord, why haven't you guided me to use my talents yet? I should be using them for something, right? When are you going to show me what you've given them to me for?

I want to see miracles, but I somehow also want to affect them through my own doings, rather than relying solely on God. In fact, I rarely find myself in situations where I've stepped out to the point of needing to trust completely on God because there is no plan B.

No plan B. Now that is a frightening thought! I like my plans. I like the assurance of a well-thought out plan and course of action. I like knowing when/where/how/why/who. I like to know I can accomplish something in my own strength.

Even in the little things, I have such a hard time with “letting go and letting God.” Focusing on prayer (and sometimes fasting as well), without worrying about the “what ifs” and plan B's. Forget plan B! I want God's plan A! I don't want to simply garner carnal glory for myself, but rather doing whatever God has called me, His work and for His glory.

Lord... what do you want to do through me to further your Kingdom and bring glory to your name?

Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. - John 14:13-14

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Will I Be Ready?

Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. Matthew 24:42-44

The world can be a vastly frightening place – more so every day. Violent attitudes and actions daily, almost worsening before our very eyes. Yet many Christians have slipped into a slumber, believing persecution will not come to us here, almost that our American comfort makes us invincible.

We cannot count on our “rapture” teachings to protect us from persecution on this earth. The attitude of the world and promoted especially by the media, is one of intense and extreme hatred against Christians. That is not long from boiling over into massively violent acts against Christians. Will we be ready when that time comes?

There have been 2 times in history in which God has intervened in history in a worldwide manner. The first, when He flooded the earth in Noah's day, and the second, when He sent Jesus to turn the world upside down. These two events had something in common.

The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. ...But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. Genesis 6: 5,8b

There was only evil everywhere on the earth, and other than Noah people living completely in carnality. So God destroyed the world as they knew it and remade it anew. At the time Jesus came to the earth, the Roman empire ruled most of the known world. It was a time of extreme violence, rampant sexual immorality, and complete godlessness.

I believe that is where our world is going to be once again when God intervenes on a worldwide scale for the last time – at the second coming of Jesus. This next up and coming generation has grown up filling their minds and hearts with the most horrifyingly violent and immoral images and ideas through the media. The majority of this insatiable beast of violence is aimed directly at those following Christ.

Will I be ready when the time comes, in the face of persecution and death, to look them in the eyes and claim Jesus before men? Am I ready to give up every worldly comfort in favor of spreading God's word and love?

Once again I am reminded and convicted to devote myself to prayer, daily, hourly. That is the only place that true change and miracles happen – on my knees before the wondrous God, the Creator of the universe!

Pray at all times as the Spirit inspires you. Keep watch, together with sustained prayer and supplication for all the holy ones. Ephesians 6:18

Do not be anxious about anything. In everything resort to prayer and supplication together with thanksgiving and bring your requests before God. Philippians 4:6

A video series about the messages hollywood is sending through movies/TV.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Power On My Head

1 Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. 2 Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you. 3 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. 4 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head. 5 But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. 6 For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered. 7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. 8 For the man is not of the woman: but the woman of the man. 9 Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. 10 For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. 12 For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God. 13 Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered? 14 Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? 15 But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering. 16 But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God. 1 Corinthians 11:1-16

I was reading a blog the other day about this and it got me thinking, and really wanted to write up what I believe on this issue, as the Lord moves me to write. There are a few verses I want to focus on especially.

For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels. 1 Corinthians 11:10

This seems perhaps to be the most confusing of all the verses in this passage. What sort of “power” should be on the woman's head? Why because of the angels? Is it because of the angel's devotion to God? There really isn't any indication of that, though it seems to be the most common line of thought.

Let's look for a moment at that word “power” (sometimes translated “authority”). What is this “power” the woman should have on her head?

Strong's Number: 1849
Ejxousiva from (1832) (in the sense of ability)

  1. power of choice, liberty of doing as one pleases
    1. leave or permission
  1. physical and mental power
    1. the ability or strength with which one is endued, which he either possesses or exercises
  2. the power of authority (influence) and of right (privilege)
  3. the power of rule or government (the power of him whose will and commands must be submitted to by others and obeyed)

The 3 top translations of that word are:

1. power of choice, liberty of doing as one pleases
leave or permission
2. physical and mental power
the ability or strength with which one is endued, which he either possesses or exercises
3. the power of authority (influence) and of right (privilege)

The woman ought to have the power of choice, the ability to decide whether or not she should cover her head, either with a “veil” or with “long hair”. What it appears to be is that Paul is repeating back to the Corinthians one of the contentions they are dealing with, some false teaching going through their church about whether a woman should “cover her head” or not.

Why “because of the angels”? One important thing to remember is that 1 Corinthians was simply a letter, a very long letter, but a letter. If we look back just a few chapters, that “angels” reference begins to make much more sense.

Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? 1 Corinthians 6:1-3

Some in the Corinthian church were saying women should wear some form of a headcovering, or perhaps just her hair should be grown long to be her headcovering. So they ask Paul. He repeats back what they are questioning him about, and states, “For this reason the woman should be able to decide for herself whether or not her head should be covered, because they will be judging even the angels eventually.”

But how do we know verses 4-9 is truly Paul repeating back the false teachings rather than the truth? Well, let's balance it against the rest of the Word.

For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman: but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. 1 Corinthians 11:7-9

We know this simply cannot be true, for Genesis 1:26-28 says,

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

Woman was not created in the image of man, both male and female were created in the image of God, from the beginning. In the very next two verses, Paul clarifies with the truth.

For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels. Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God. 1 Corinthians 11:10-12

Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered? Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering. But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God. 1 Corinthians 11:13-16

Here he repeats them again, stating that “nature itself teaches that if a man has long hair it is a shame, but a woman's hair is her glory.” This cannot be Truth, because nature itself does not teach us any such thing about man's hair. In many societies and cultures (past and present), long hair on a man is desirable and masculine. Nature itself teaches us that hair grows just as well on a man as it does a woman if left to its own devices.

To close this issue, Paul ends with a simple statement. “But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.”

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Comfort and The Rich Young Ruler

And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. - Mark 10:17-22 (Also Matthew 19:16-30 & Luke 18:18-30)

It is so easy to be comfortable in America. To make comfort a goal, a dream, a desire. I often look around lately and realize just how much STUFF I have. Clothes, art supplies, electronics, notebooks, novels, writing supplies, perfume, knick knacks, shoes, blankets, craft supplies. Enough STUFF that I can pile my bedroom floor 3 feet high with things I own and still have some to spare.

So I want to be comfortable. To have everything I “need” to live a satisfying and fulfilling life. Not all comfort is bad or wrong, to be sure, and God does give and provide for His children. But often, comfort is a lie of the devil and my own flesh to keep me from growing spiritually.

Comfort says “Don't get up this early! You will still have an hour to pray a few hours from now.” Comfort says “No, keep that $20 for yourself, enough other people will provide for that missionary.” Comfort says “You don't need to pray for a FULL hour... I mean, there's things to do, to work on, people to talk to.”

We in America are the rich young ruler. I may say, “but hey, I'm struggling with my bills, and haven't had spending money for months! How is that rich?” But if you compare to the rest of the world, we are still in the top 3% for wealth!

We have access to clean running water 24/7. We have access to clean bathroom facilities. We have access to a myriad of locations to get food, some to be bought and some even for free. We have clothes and shoes. We have solid shelter. We have electricity.

We were raised in a country full of wealth. And so, it is extremely difficult to follow when Jesus says “Come then, give all you own to the poor and come and follow me.” I know it is difficult for me.

I want my things. I want my comfort. I want my warm bed to rest in each night. I want my clothing options each day. I want my electronics. I want the variety of food available to me daily.

And these things are not wrong. At this point, God has not asked me to give up all of those basic comforts that He has blessed our nation to have, and move to a third world country. However, it should be my heart, my desire, my commitment, that if God ever does request such a thing of me, I would be willing to do it no matter the cost.

He may start small, asking me to give up the comfort of my bed to have a time of prayer in the morning. Or perhaps ask me to give up food one day weekly in order to focus on intercessory prayer. He may require me to give up a habit that is getting in the way of my submission, devotion and relation to Him.

“Teach me how to pray, Lord.” I said. He never said it would be easy.

And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” Peter began to say to him, “See, we have left everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” - Mark 10:23-31

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Prayer and Procrastination

Prayer is a difficult thing.

Setting a time out of my morning, day or evening can be nearly an impossible task. So many distractions here, there, over in the corner.

“But this project is important!”
“I'm too tired to get up this early!”
“Maybe in an hour or so.”

But procrastination only serves to make any amount of personal prayer time even more unattainable. If I don't do it when I feel led to, when I know I have the time, when I have set aside the time in the morning... then I will end up not doing it at all.

Procrastination is one of the main scourges of my current existence. It is so easy to say “not now,” far easier than saying “now or never.”

Self-discipline is so important. And excessively difficult.

It's deciding that prayer and fasting is more important than the dinner laid out for everyone else in the home. It's deciding that that extra hour spent with the Lord is more important than the project I'm working on, or hanging out with my family, or reading that novel. It's deciding that fasting for a few days to focus on prayer for a specific issue is more important than any amount of food, snacks, treats or meals that I might encounter during that time.

It's making these decisions, and then acting on them.

Then once I begin acting on them, there's a whole other part that comes into play: Faith. This can sometimes be the clincher. It is easier to believe God CAN do anything, but may not and so base my prayers on “if it is your will”, than it is to believe God CAN and WILL do anything, and so pray with that conviction and belief.

God doesn't want wishy-washy prayers. God doesn't want prayers based on a “plan B” – “well if God doesn't answer this prayer, I will just have this as a fallback plan.” Of course, He will not answer prayers outside of His will or character, but too often we pray prayers that we KNOW are His will, and yet begin with the premise that He most likely will not answer them!

God desires to provide for His children, to prove His might and power and glory through their lives, and through their prayers. It is just up to me to make the time, make the sacrifices, and to trust – to build my faith.

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. - John 14:12-14

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

On Equality

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28

I've been thinking a lot about this verse lately. The general interpretation of that verse is a knee-jerk response to some Christians saying “see, this states in Christ men and women are equal in every way, same rights, same abilities, same anointing.”, so the general interpretation is “Well, that verse is talking about salvation. It's saying men and women can get saved equally.”

Ok, so say that is the only explanation of that verse. Shouldn't it also be true then, that God really does see a division between people who are slaves and those who are masters, and also divisions between nationalities? Sure, they can all get saved the same! When slavery was “acceptable”, does that mean that God really DIDN'T anoint any black people, didn't call them to be preachers, pastors, leaders or otherwise in any position of authority, simply based on the color of their skin?

Does that mean that there really are lines of division between nations? That those who are truly descendants of Abraham in the worldly sense are more able to hear from God, better equipped to spread the gospel, or the only ones able to handle a position of leadership?

Of course not, that would be ridiculous.

Yet, that is exactly what slave owners DID say. And that is exactly what the Jewish converts were saying when Paul wrote that.

Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all. Colossians 3:11

The Christian slave owners of not-so-long-ago were no different than the church at large today. Cherry-picking a few verses stating “slaves obey your masters”, and taking it to mean slavery is okay, God's will, even. Do those verses mean that the black people were wrong to be discontent with their life circumstances, to believe that they should be on equal standing with the white people?

If the slaves are – and should be recognized as – equal to whoever tries to master them, and if all nations are – and should be recognized as – equal to all other nations regardless of bloodline, so then should not women be recognized as equal to men, and not told to sit on the gifts that the spirit has given them simply because she's a woman and “can't preach, teach, be a missionary on her own, or be the spiritual leader of any man.”

For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. - 1 Corinthians 12:13

Isn't this what Christ came to abolish, the divisions between people? We are living now in His glory, His promises, and abiding with the Holy Spirit! Shouldn't it be “on earth as it is in heaven”. In heaven, do you suppose there will be divisions there between men and women? Will men and women not be viewed as equal still to some degree, simply based on the gender God gave them on earth?

God anoints women just as He anoints men. Just look in the history of women who started ministries, became missionaries, were preachers, pastors or teachers. There is no way one could look at that and state “Oh, it's just Satan masquerading as an angel of light.” How much sense does that make? And how insulting to these great women who risked their very lives to follow their savior, and now it's said they were just deceived by Satan into doing deeds that God somehow managed to turn in His favor.

God will work through whoever is willing and able, regardless of the limitations we humans long to put on each other. God's spirit is not bound by this physical world or our limited view of His power.

The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7

Monday, July 2, 2012

How To Pray

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

How to pray.

I'm sure there are many multiples of books on how to pray. In fact, I have read quite a few of them. It is good to read books, to get that inspiration, that motivation.

But it's the daily “grind.” The hashing it out for perhaps hours or days at a time. The perseverance and faith for an answer when it seems there is none to be found. This is when the truth is revealed and your mettle is tested against the harshness of the battle we are facing.

“Teach me to pray.” I said. “Lord... teach me to pray!”

Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. - John 14:13-14

He's taken me up on it.

I'm tired of my halfhearted “Lord, please help me, if it's your will,” unsure if what I'm praying even IS His will. I'm tired of the wavering between “yes, God will do this!” and “ugh, God will you really do this?”

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. Mark 11:24
I am ready to step out into living a prayer life in the power God works through me by the blood of Jesus and the working of His Holy Spirit! Ready to move into a life of submission to God's will and move, in me. Through me.

How to pray.

Ask, and it will be given to you seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. - Matthew 7:7
It's the times I don't want to get up early and would rather lay in bed an extra hour. Will I give in to my momentary desire for rest I don't need? It's the times I would rather be working on something, or visiting with friends and family, or really anything else but pray... but will I keep the commitment? It's all the times I am too busy, or too tired, or too hungry, or too distracted, or too much of everything else!

Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, - Ephesians 6:18

Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another,that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:14-16
It's intercession and the breaking down of strongholds. God has called me to be a warrior in His name, in His power. Prayer is only one of His battle strategies, but I personally believe the single most important.

Without being built on the basis of prayer, how will we stand strong in the midst of the war? Without the encouragement of prayer, how will we walk through each day in the Light of the Lord? Without intercession, how will we learn to love those who hate us?

How will I?

And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith. Matthew 21:22

Not Lesser But "Different"

“Women are not lesser, or below men, but they are just different.”

And yet... is it not considered lesser to say God does not speak to me as clearly simply because I look physically different from you? Is it not considered lesser to state that I, as a woman, am not really created in God's image, but in man's image? Is it not considered lesser to say that I, as a woman, can't have truly heard a word from the Lord because it doesn't fit your preconceived ideal?

Who am I to say that based on my personal view of the what the Bible says, God couldn't speak to someone else in a different way? We are simply talking about lifestyle choices here, and ministerial outreach, and I don't recall God saying that if a woman hears from Him that she should be a missionary instead of get married and raise a family, that is a sin. I don't recall God saying it's a sin for a woman to have a job outside the home, or to wear culturally-defined women's clothes, or to feel His spirit move in her to preach or teach or bring the gospel to a forgotten tribe in Africa.

Abigail went directly against the wishes (perhaps even command) of her husband by providing David with everything he needed when her husband foolishly refused it. She was blessed by God for that very action, and I don't recall any punishment was given for her apparent complete disregard for her husband's wishes in regard to his property. She did what God moved her to do, and was blessed. - 1 Samuel 25:1-42

Joanna, the wife of Chuza the manager of Herod's household, LEFT her husband's home for presumably hours at a time, just following Jesus and providing for their needs out of her own means. I don't recall Jesus calling her out on her obvious neglect of her own household when she “should have been home”, instead of out ministering with the men. - Luke 8:1-3... Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod's household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means.

Mary, instead of doing the women's work with Martha, chose instead to place herself on the same level as the men, at the feet of Jesus as her teacher – unheard of. Yet what did Jesus say? “Mary has chosen the better thing.” Isn't that right there an example of a woman deciding to step out of the gender roles of her day because she recognized a word from the Lord, and God acknowledged that as the better thing? - Luke 10:38-42 Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

It will not be taken away from her.

Martha would have taken away Mary's closer walk with the Lord, and the teaching Mary would receive, based on her view of gender roles and her sense of “fairness”. Who am I to take the Word of the Lord away from someone He has spoken to, and called, and equipped?

God is not bound by our earthly view of things, by our clouded and finite view of His infinite Being and everlasting Truth. He is not bound by the rigid gender roles we want to read into His word by cherry-picking a few verses and fitting them to our preconceived mindset.

God calls, gifts, and equips women equally and to the same extent as he does the men. It does not make any sense to cut off the spiritual power of over half the Christian population based on our biased view of “gender roles”. Yes, men and women ARE different. Physically they are different. Sexually they are different.

But we all have the same Spirit of God, and that Spirit does not play favorites or distinguish between the genders when passing out gifts and equipping us for the battle. We all are in a massive battle of spiritual warfare... why would you want to immobilize half the troops?

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. Galatians 3:26-29