Wednesday, December 9, 2009
I dare not believe that everyone that lays eyes on my writings has accepted Christ as LORD and are Christian by faith. Therefore, it is my goal to understand how to witness to all, even those who are not of the household of faith. In my prayers for Tiger, I have considered his faith as a Buddhist and the reality of his life since his confession of adultery. The word of God admonishes that it rains on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45), therefore I keep in perspective the present circumstances of his life and have been trying to see what my part as a Christian is in a situation like this. I began my meditation on Galatians 5&6. It is here Paul details the workings of the flesh and the Spirit.
Let’s begin with the flesh: “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envying, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5.20-21
Now let’s consider the Spirit: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” Galatians 5.22-25
For the sake of context, I would like to highlight one working fruit from each section: Adultery and Longsuffering. Neither to exclude any working of flesh or Spirit; nor to preclude one is more important than the other, I do suggest that the augmented dilemma in this case is adultery, and the most adequately corresponding fruit of the Spirit is longsuffering, in that suffering is elongated after revelation of such sin as adultery. My question to us, the Body of Christ, is can we administer fruits of long suffering to a billionaire, Buddhist, golfer? Most of us do not relate to wealth, Buddhism or golf, yet we see in Galatians 6.1-2 Paul reminding the people of God: “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit or meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” The law of Christ which is above all is loving God first and then your neighbor second as yourself. (Matthew 22.37-40) Longsuffering (due to the nature of the sin) + Meekness (for the approach to the sin) = Restoration (begins the healing from the sin). The means of admonishment, scolding, and wrath are only as good as they justify restoration, which they usually do not.
Finally, I would like to introduce one last thought. Paul declares in Galatians 6.3 “For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.” Let’s step away from the life of Tiger for a moment. Shall we consider the last time we believed something in and of our own selves so much so we were deceived? Deception is horrible trick of the enemy. Imagine (those of us who do know Christ) not knowing the gracious mercy of God. On top of that, imagine being gifted beyond measure in both profession and sport. Consider if you will the cravings of the flesh that we still experience with Christ. Now, rethink the law of Christ as it works in your thoughts, your opinions of others, your understanding of yourself. Imagine that the reason God has allowed for such a season to arise in the Woods family is for us to pray for his salvation and the salvation of his entire family. Let’s believe God that he saves both the least and those with abundance alike. Saved or not. Christian or Buddhist.
Please, do not get my heart for Tiger confused with what I know to be true. For I know well to “Be not deceived: God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” Galatians 6.7 My encouragement is to keep working those Spiritual fruits out in daily life. It may make the difference to someone else.
My husband, as many already know, is a diehard golf fan. His favorite is none other than the great Tiger Woods. From Thursday until Sunday, from January to January, there is one thing I warn all to not do; and that is stand in the way of John watching Tiger play. Over the past three years, I have gotten to know the sport of golf and the life of Tiger very well. I have even seen his family grow and watch as he, hole after hole and tournament after tournament never ceases to amaze with skill and precision, beating all odds each time. He appears to be a quiet man, at least publically. He does a head nod or cap wave when completing a hole, and makes a brief statement after winning yet another million dollar cup. His reservation, his poise, his frankness and his discipline remind me of the hope of being great at one thing in this life would be worth all the agony and pain that makes the great-great!
Of course, resent events in Tiger’s life have positioned him on the horrible side of fame that always seems to rear its head at the most inopportune times. During this season in the life of the best golfer who ever lived, I’d like to give a word of accountability. In the words of my pastor Craig Oliver, “If you can’t be with me when I’m down, I don’t need you when I’m up!” These words have changed the way I view every relationship in my life. Every person I revere and every person I admire has now gone under the scrutinized lens of my heart to really test where my loyalty truly lies. If they make a mistake, can I love them? If they turn away from what they know to be right, can I forgive them? You know, the truth is, people should be ashamed to allow the words of judgment to escape their hypocritical lips, knowing that if it were them, they would pray for grace to abound. Condoning a stars indiscretion is far different from condemnation of their life.
The loose-lipness of our culture demonstrates how necessary and relevant the work of the Body of Christ is to the world. Shall Tiger bear his cross alone? Don’t all that love and know him have a duty to share in the healing of his infirmities and exercise benevolent grace and mercy? Oh, I know we think the first billionaire athlete doesn’t really need the support of us mere fans, but money cannot buy peace and hope of forgiveness. CNN, MSNBC, ESPN and Fox will run this man’s life into the ground- his marriage and the future of his children right along with it. He cannot live on bread alone, but on every word that we speak out of our mouths concerning his life. Be a real fan of your hero’s. They may never know you or understand your appreciation of them, but God will. He will judge Tiger Woods, and he will judge us too. How you treat Tiger may be a foresight of your own life to come. All of us without sin, please be my guest and cast the first stone. Take inventory of your loyalty to God and your loyalty to his children. Believe me when I say, the fair-weather won’t last always!
Monday, November 23, 2009
God or Google: Big G or Little g?
"You shall have no other gods before me."
In our quest for information in today's society, search engines like Bing and Google have become our best friends. Facebook and Twitter are how we keep up with our friends, family, and colleagues. Amazon and E-bay are how we make many of our purchases and business transactions. These conveniences can even allow us to go an entire day without speaking to a single soul, yet completing our work, cultivating our social life, and creating our recreation.
I have found as a Christian, it is easy to stray away from the faith considering such conveniences in my own life. It is one thing to look up a Bible verse on biblegateway.com or read a devotional from Dailybread.com or even listen to a sermon on streamingfaith.com. But it is another thing entirely to grow in the word of the Lord, fellowship with others and get the real insight needed to encounter life transformation.
For instance, I could put in a topic like, "failure to launch" and receive numerous articles on the subject. I may even find Christian literature to read on this matter. However, everyone's life is different and not transferable to my situation. It is not going to give me the answers to the real questions I need addressed. Why am I here? What brought me to this place? How can I get there? Is a deferment a failure? After all this, does God still have a purpose for my life?
These are real concerns, but the truth is, Google, Bing and Yahoo cannot respond as needed. It is the God of lights that knows all and sees all. Those engines may attempt to be a temporary god, but their fulfillment is easy and takes no real meditation on the word of God.
Before visiting my alma mater this past weekend, I prayed that God would use me in some way. Teach me as He had on this beloved campus. Illuminate Fisk in my eyes like I have never experienced. He is a God of His word, and as my husband and I wandered about the grounds, He did just that. There were so many I connected with from college who seemed to be grasping for air, trying to obtain understanding concerning their present disposition. Not where they want to be and needing hope, like myself. Needing encouragement once again, like myself. The truth is none of the afore mentioned sites could obviously reach those needs adequately. Oh, I hear what you're saying. "I know googling my troubles won't really help me." And I believe you know that too. I just believe we would try anything when we can't see our way. I just wanted to remind everyone reading this that the true and living God is still imparting great truths regarding our lives. He knows your disappointment and has a message for you. Put no God before Him, ever!
N0 matter how lonely you are, jobless you are, broken you are, hopeless you feel, damaged you seem, under qualified, overqualified, spouseless, childless, or even faithless, God will restore you. Spend more time on God. No matter how big the "g" gets in Google, it will never be as big as the "G" in God! Allow Him to be your favorite search engine again. You'll be surprised at what you already know!
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
"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." I Corinthians 11:3
It is so unfortunate in these days that we have such a lack of respect for authority. More often than not, it is because we want all the authority. God told us a long time ago what would happen to authority after the fall of man. Then Jesus comes along and brings new meaning through salvation to authority.
"Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. And unto Adam he said, because thou has hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, though shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life."
It doesn't matter if it is at work, church or home. We buck against authority. God explains in the above verse that as a result of sin entering in the world, there will be consequences. In the book Families Where Grace Is Place by Jeff VanVonderen, he makes mention of these consequences and the reason why God places man as the head. The truth is...someone had to be! Man was made in the image of God and woman was made as a companion, helper, second self to man. God knew that two visions, two plans, two heads would never work. It does not work that way in His kingdom; therefore, it can not work that way with His people.
So often, we don't want to talk about it. We are afraid of such truths and the reality of what it means. It did not happen over night (as God warned it would not be easy) but the fact is that although I contribute equally to my marriage, my husband is ultimately confirms the final answer regarding the plan for our life. We would never get any rest if I constantly resisted his headship or if he expected me to assume the role for him. This could be an even bigger issue for us if Christ was not the head of our lives. But, some time ago I took advice concerning my role from little children.
When I worked with preschoolers, I noticed something right away. Everyone wants to be the helper. "Ms. Caarne, can I get the juice, the snack, the toys out ...etc." All day, every activity had to have a special helper. What pride they take in being the helper! It is the first thing the children report to mommy and daddy when picked up. "I helped Ms. Caarne do this or that...”
What happens to us as we grown up? We get one whiff of leadership, next thing you know we want to be wife and husband, father and mother, sister and brother, pastor and pew. Remember, we can only get out the door one at a time. If we all stood beside each other, no one would ever get out. Men be strong today. Protect your families and go out the doors first. Women be strong today. Sustain your families by your example as helper. Everyone, keep their eyes on Christ. He is the head of all. We all play a significant role. Be blessed!
Monday, November 16, 2009
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
This weekend was my husband's birthday. To celebrate, we went to see the movie 2012. Nothing like an action-packed-end-of-the-world saga to get his blood pumping. The movie was awesome. However, aside from all the action was the ultimate humanitarian thrust that comes through at the end of all thrillers as this one. In the end, God gave us each other, therefore we have been mandated by Christ to love.
36"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" 37Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'[b] 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'[c] 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."
There would have been a zero survival rate in this film had it not been for the outreach to one another. Not just mother, father, sister, brother- but neighbor. But the strangest thing happened in the middle of the movie.
John and I sat next to a group of gentlemen of eastern decent. They seemed to be having a great time, going back and forth between their home language and english. Suddenly, I dropped my glasses under the chair in front of us. Now you know how horrible theater floors can be. Nasty, sticky and God knows what else. John held the light of his phone down and I tried to reach it but could not. The stranger next to me then held the light of his phone down for better clarity, but because of John's position, although his arms are long, he could not reach it. Then the gentlemen gave his phone to John and said "hold my phone". His light was slightly brighter and the glasses slightly closer to him. After much reaching and bending, he grabbed them. Right in the middle of a terribly suspenseful movie, he stopped to do what we could not do. When we all sat up, I told him, "When the end comes, Iwant him on my ship!"
I think that gentleman for bringing sight to my sight, hallelujah, with his light! Bearing our burdens and fulfilling the law of Christ. Burdens are a shared venture on earth. Although we ultimately shift them to Christ, the first shift is off the back of our brother and sister. It takes a selfless act to bear the troubles of others while carrying our own, but if we all had such a spirit, the load woudn't be so heavy! I feel lighter just thinking about it!
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
James 1:1-8 NKJV
1 James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings. 2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
Today, we use our phones, e-mail accounts and i-pods to stay organized. Time management and dependability, or lack thereof, we often blame on the functionality of such mechanisms. The value we place on each is remarkable to me. I will be the first to confess, I have missed a number of meetings in the name of dysfunctional technology. However, at the end of the day, the truth is we really cannot blame our unstable schedules on technology. Instability is a faith issue. The bible says that faith keeps you from being tossed and driven by the wind like a wave of the sea, not your organizer. We often think we can organize our way into a righteous life. It doesn’t matter how skilled you are in multi-tasking. If the agenda does not reflect the fruit of the Spirit: Patience, you will still feel like a rocking boat on a turbulent sea of life. If you still feel out of sorts, even with the company of your personal assistant at your finger tips, this is a word for you. Evaluate what you are doing and why you are doing it in the stead of how much of it you can do in a day. You might see after your evaluation, you are wrecking your own nerves and inadvertently trying your own patience.
Question: How do you think our use of technology and the internet influences our understanding of the simplicity of Christ? (II Corinthians 11:2-4)
Monday, October 5, 2009
Etiquette is doing the right thing when the wrong is ever present. What does etiquette have to do with scripture? Well, etiquette is the way to do something according to a set standard. It is more difficult to obey the standard set than to do it the individual way. The same is with the word of God. It is much easier to set our own way of life than the way God has set for us. Let us assume we ignored the basic standards of dining etiquette as we do the standards God has set for us. Imagine there were no forks at the table and everyday was like pizza day. Using your fingers to eat spaghetti and soup in the stead of a knife and spoon. Oh, yeah, no need for napkins. Just wipe that gooey stuff right on your clothes. Drink right out of the pitcher and reach over the plates of others to get what you need. How awful. Well, seemingly, that is how we treat the word- like a dinner with no etiquette. No respect for basic requests God makes of us, such as honor thy neighbor as thyself. Love your wife as Christ loves the church. Be obedient to your parents. Do not let the sun go down on your anger and serve the LORD your God with all your heart, mind and soul. Just the basics ignored lead to a sloppy life. Fingers filled with the grime of the world- hearts no purer than the bottom of a shoe. Well, I suppose that is why I am so passionate about etiquette. My mantra still stands: A person with no etiquette is as a pencil with no point- they both have endless possibilities when sharpened. Press toward the mark today. Be polite and obedient. God bless.
Friday, September 25, 2009
Sovereign, SovereignThe Lord my God is Sovereign He can do whatever He wants to do He can do whatever He wants to doWhen He wants toGod can do whatever He wants to do, How He wants toBecause He's sovereign, God is God
2 Samuel 7:18[ David's Prayer ] Then King David went in and sat before the LORD, and he said: "Who am I, O Sovereign LORD, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? NKJV
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Friday, August 7, 2009
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Galatians 5:22-23 (New International Version)
22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
What kind of seed produces self control? Getting fruit takes a long process. I mean, I’m no farmer. Not one green thumb. But even I know you have to plant a certain kind of seed to get a certain kind of fruit. For instance, my mother-in-law has mastered the art of growing her own tomatoes. She knew that only tomato seeds would grow tomatoes. So when it comes to fruits of the Spirit, it seems the same rule applies. But how do you plant a self control seed? Okay, without belaboring you with analogy, let me get to the point.
If there were little packets of self control on the grocery shelf and it only required dirt and water for growth, our uncontrollable ways would be under submission and we would be conquering more challenging battles. However, it’s not that simple. Many of us have been trying to get our sensually eroded thought life under control since we were 14. Others want to be grateful, but are in torment with our severe discontent with every crevice of life. See self control is more than just an idea. It can really happen. The Bible is true. Fruit is produced by its seed. The seed of self-control takes a concentration of seeds for a great harvest of transformation. It takes more than one finger to steer a vehicle. So we need to get rid of our old efforts to gain control of our lives.
If self control is a fruit of the spirit, then we must sow much discipline in our spirit. Desire may initiate the change, but prayer, meditation, fasting and study will take it around the corner and in a different direction. Prayer, meditation, fasting and study are disciplines that create the housing in which self control can live and thrive. Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth by Richard J. Foster is a book I read at least once a year. This book has helped me time and time again to put in perspective what a real connection to the Spirit of Christ is- it guides me on how to make the disciplines a real, deep, intimate and an engrafted reality in my life.
Discipline is the difference between a loss and a win. Discipline is the difference between a hobby and a profession. Discipline allows God’s gifts an opportunity to be the best in us and faith allows for what God supernaturally wants us to have come forth. Faith plus discipline is the ultimate way to make an earnest desire a reality. Faith is usually not the issue. Discipline is. We believe a change can come, but we lack the real sweat equity to make it happen. My mother-in-law’s tomato plant grows not because of the water and protection around it alone. She checks on it religiously. Every time she thinks of it. Before work, after work, on the weekends and at night before bed. She wants so much for the tomatoes to grow. Not just so we can enjoy the fruit of her labor some day, but because she wants to be assured that she can complete and care for the process.
I could have chosen any fruit of the spirit, but I chose self control, for it takes real transformation to embody. Sermons, devotionals and blogs are great. But nothing will replace the spiritual disciplines that really bring about change. Just try it. Take one area of your life and exercise each discipline on that area. Bum-rush that thing with biblical prayer, meditation, fasting and study!
My Prayer: May you experience a ripe change and vine of long term success!
Proverbs 25:28 (New International Version)
28 Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
But a false witness will utter lies.
What happened to Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. happened to my husband. Several months back, John was doing some work around the house and ended up locking himself out. He then proceeded to use other means to enter. As a result, a neighbor called the police. Once they arrived they handcuffed John and held him face down on our concrete driveway. He was explaining to the officers his dilemma and said he had ID to prove this was his residence. They were reluctant in allowing him do so. When they finally did, they were not pleased with what he presented and asked for more evidence. It was a terrible experience, but was eventually resolved. He was hurt and disgusted. Two things were evident: we lack relationship with our neighbors and regardless of the law you are guilty until proven innocent.
My husband’s incident and the incident with Professor Gates should make us all mindful of both our citizen and Christian witness. Of course we understood the urgency of stopping a person breaking and entering our home. We appreciate our local police department’s ability to act fast, especially since we live in a rural county. It could have been life or death for John if someone was attempting an attack while he was at home. However, there were children watching. The situation attracted a crowd of witnesses. Witnesses are around us everyday. At work, school and yes even watching our front porch. They are there when we think no one is watching, and the same goes for when we are watching and others don’t know.
Often times, Christians view witnessing as sharing the Gospel of Christ only. It is truly so much more. A faithful witness is the truth to an otherwise unknown and misunderstood situation. When our witness is off or wrong, we should immediately correct how we formerly understood. If we don’t we become a victim to pride and lies. False witness is against the commandments of God. We can start by talking less about people and things we don’t know and sharing without wavering in the unadulterated truth we do. The impetuosity of this culture is dangerous, and unfortunately the children of God react just as rash as anyone. We should stand out and be an example. Discipline our mouths to speak truth and our ears to accept it.
I live by this scripture when I even consider anything but the truth as it stands:
“There is a way that seems right to man, but its end is the way of death.” So just because we think its right, that does not mean it is. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life! It is the truth that set’s us free.
So let us take inventory. How do you feel about your citizen and Christian witness? How can we become honest witnesses and humble when our witness is wrong?
Make your comments and check out the previous blogs!
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
There is a song both made by Beyoncé Knowles and Jasmine Sullivan called “Resentment”. Beyoncé performs it in these words:
Just can't seem to get over the way you hurt me
Don't know how you gave another who didn't mean a thing, no
The very thing you gave to me
I thought I could forgive you and
I know you've changed
As much as I wanna trust you I know it ain't the same
And it's all because you lied
I only give you a hard time
'Cause I can't go on and pretend like
I haven't tried to forget this
But I'm much too full of resentment
It is a lyrical, terribly poetic song. How does a person get to the place where they not only have a bit of indignation toward another, but they are full of resentment. Not a little, not half, but full. Full love, full hope, full faith, full just about anything comes over time. When an action is done against you and it is manifest in your heart, without immediate forgiveness, there inevitably develops resentment. No one intends to brew a pot of unadulterated, maxed capacity resentment, but it happens. When you think about it, sleep on it, and just go on without forgiving. This is dangerous and must be taken seriously.
Often we feel we can not address a problem because it has become bigger than us. Now we know forgiveness is not so the other person feels better. It is for you, because the personal repercussion for not administering forgiveness immediately is resentment in the heart. Resentment turns into something that is hard, unwilling, unloving, and ultimately puts God’s forgiveness of you in jeopardy.
As Jesus was teaching this principle to the multitudes, I can imagine Him discerning the wickedness in the hearts of the people. There was wickedness in their hearts as a result of grudge holding and unwillingness to let go and move on. Here it is Jesus, teaching the people the essence of why He came and died for our sins. He came to forgive our sin and throw it into a see of forgetfulness. Now if He can do it, certainly we can too.
Share your testimony on getting through a forgiveness process and how you won the war against resentment. Or, if you need help, prayer, or deliverance regarding resentment, share that too. You don’t have to do it alone. God is with you.