Keeper of His Home

by Chelsea McCafferty

613 Steps to Becoming a Holier You

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As I typed in the title to this blog, I had to have a momentary giggle at myself. Of course the title is ridiculous, but only because it is written that way. As Christians, we read those words and think, “yeah right! Thank God we don’t have to be bound by that extensive and harsh old covenant law.” Yet, even as those words spill out of our mouths, in many of our hearts we still live our Christian life this way. While our minds know we are saved by grace through faith in Christ Jesus alone, we tend to get confused about how we become holy and what that means. What do I have to do to be holy?

I heard a pastor recently say, “the only way to be holy is to live our life exactly the way God says.” While I agree that God wants us to live our lives according to His Word (absolutely!), I think that the definition of “holiness” and what it means to us today is getting confused. This confusion can lead to a works-based, legalistic type faith, and it can be dangerous. To understand being “holy”, one must look at the Old Testament and the New Testament to get a well-rounded view of the issue. By doing so, you see that there is a big change that happens following the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. It’s actually quite fascinating. Let’s talk etymology.

Old Testament “Be Holy”

In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word used most frequently in occurrences where God told his people to “be holy” is “qodesh” and it occurs some 468 times in the OT. It can be translated, “apartness, holiness, sacredness, separateness.” Sometimes that is in reference to people and other times to places, objects, etc. It is an adjective that describes someone or something that is set apart for God. It is sacred. It is untainted by sin and stain. Like a bride rightfully wearing white on her wedding day, it has been kept pure and separate for the bridegroom.

The word is used over and over in the OT. It is used many times throughout Exodus and Leviticus, where the law is being revealed and taught to the children of Israel. There are 613 commandments in the Torah. Before Jesus came to earth to die for our sins, the people of God had to work hard to live by the commandments, offering animal sacrifices when they inevitably failed. They really had to work to be holy and set apart for God. Their lifestyle in following the commandments was what set them apart (made them holy) before God and men. Along with circumcision, this was their mark that they were, in fact, God’s people.

After a long list of animals that could and could not be consumed, God said, “For I am the LORD that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.” Leviticus 11:45

The word for “holy” here is slightly different because it is made more personified to mean “holy one, saint, person set apart.” It has the same root meaning as qodesh. God tells His people that they must follow these rules to be holy, set apart for Him, because He is holy. So, in other words, in order for them to be connected to God, related to Him and set apart for Him, they had to follow the Law precisely. It was the only way they could be connected to God.

New Testament “Be Holy”

A search of NT references to “being holy” reveals that it is mentioned only a handful of times. This was interesting to me, because we view the NT gospels and epistles as something of a guidebook of how we Christians are to live today. While every verse of the OT and NT is profitable to us and important for us to study, we can relate more closely to the saints of the NT and how they built the church as models for what we should do today. The NT is filled with encouragements, commandments and teachings on how to live. We learn what we should and shouldn’t do as believers, and how to honor God in our lives. Yet, they don’t often talk about the need to “be holy”…not compared to the OT books.

“According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love…” Ephesians 1:4

The Greek word for “holy” here is the word “hagios.” It is the closest related word to the Hebrew qodesh, but the difference is that this word means: “most holy thing, a saint.” It is not talking, necessarily, about being set apart for God. In fact, the word is also used in the NT to describe the Holy Spirit, Father God and Jesus Christ. In other words, this particular word is used to describe something or someone who is, not in the process of being made holy and separate (or keeping one separate until that day comes), but rather someone who has already been transformed into a holy being/saint.

It’s like that spotless bride on her wedding day. This bride has kept herself pure and set apart for her groom. She arrives, they say their vows and are wed. Her name is changed to His. She is flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone. They are one. In the same way, when we come to Christ, we are transformed. We become holy because we are in Him and He is holy.

The context of the following verse is regarding the people of Israel. Paul is explaining the mystery of how the gospel came to the gentiles because of the rejection of the Jews, but there is still a plan for the salvation of the Jews. The Jewish people are called the natural branches, while the gentiles are branches that have been grafted in, blessed to be able to included in the master plan. Since we are grafted in, this is applicable directly to Christians.

“For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches.” Romans 11:16

Do you see it? If the root is holy, so ARE the branches. Christian, we are not holy today because of anything we have done except for one thing: we have attached ourselves to the root – Jesus Christ. We are holy because we are attached and dwelling in the Holy One of God. Because Jesus is holy, so are we holy in Him. Notice the Word says “are” and not “will be” or “working towards” or “getting there.” The branches are holy because they are connected to the holy root. If we have given our lives to Jesus and been sealed by the Holy Spirit, we are holy because He is holy. It’s finished.

Praise the Lord, saint! We don’t have to work to be holy. We don’t have to worry that we’ll never get there. God has made us holy through Jesus, and we have a new mark. Before Christ, the people of Israel had to labor at keeping the law as their mark of holiness. Our mark of holiness is the Holy Spirit in us. We are marked and sealed by the Spirit showing that we are His. Hallelujah!

But wait a minute…should we use this liberty to sin? Are we still to be kept “holy” as in separate from the world and sin? Paul had an answer for that question too.

“What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.” Romans 6:15-18

There’s no question about it…we are to live our lives in a way that glorifies God. We are STILL to live in an OT “holy”, setting ourselves apart way. We don’t do this to earn salvation, and we don’t do it to earn holiness. We are already holy in Christ. The works that follow a transformed life are merely the evidence that we are already in Christ. Will we sin and fall short? Yes. 1 John says we lie if we say we have no sin, but it also says if we live in unrepentant sin, but claim to know Jesus, we are deceiving ourselves. The fruit we bear tells us whether we are branches on the good and holy root, or not.

“Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit.” Matthew 12:33

Are we holy? Yes. Right now, if you are in Christ Jesus, you are holy. How do you know if you are in Christ Jesus? There should be good fruit in your life. You should be walking in a way that honors God….not a slave to sin but a servant to Christ. Set apart not to “become holy” but because you ARE HOLY. Amen!

It’s like that beautiful bride. She says her vows, takes His name and becomes one with her groom. Then the groom must go away for a while to prepare a beautiful new home for his bride. While he is away, will she honor him still? Will she keep herself pure and undefiled? Will she live in a way that brings honor to the name of her groom for everyone around her to see? Yes, she will, because she is His bride. How lovely.

Be blessed, you bride of the Most Holy One. You are His. You are holy in Him. Now go and live like it bringing honor to His name!

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CLANG! CLANG! CLANG! Where’s the Love Brethren?

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Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned but have not love, it profits me nothing.”1 Corinthians 13:1-3

I’m not going to lie. I’ve found myself as of late being disappointed in the state of the “church” in general here in America. While I see God working in some wonderful ways, and while I love my brothers and sisters in the Lord earnestly, I find that as a body we are losing one of the key ingredients in the building of the church and God’s Kingdom….LOVE.

The church was built on Jesus Christ, the Chief Cornerstone. The foundation that He laid for His people was and is love. He is the author and perfecter of love. He is the beginning and total fulfillment of love. He demonstrated the greatest love of all as Jesus spread wide his arms and bore the agony of our sin and our death upon Himself. He loved us first. He loved us while we were yet sinners. His love sustains us and His love endures forever. God is love. God and love cannot be separated…as His followers we are called to a higher, deeper and unconditional agape love. That love is what astounds the world, draws in the lost and softens the hardest of hearts.

And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world.” 1 John 4:16-17

CLANG! CLANG! CLANG!

Here they come! The pharisees. The sadducees. The scribes. The religiously pious, They come with their knowledge and understanding, ready to enlighten us all. They come with their rules and legalism, ready to bind us with rusty chains of the law. They come to debate, to argue and to spiritually dominate. I know them all too well because, sadly, I’ve been one from time to time in my life. Yes, it’s true. I’ve been the person who is so into head knowledge and yet so lacking in love and grace. I’ve gone through times of such loveless, merciless intellectual assassination that I have probably done more harm than good, even as I wielded the Bible. I confess. I repent.

You see, I love to study the Word of God, which is good. There’s nothing wrong with knowing and understanding the Bible. That’s something we should all want and work towards. There’s nothing wrong with sharing the Word, teaching, encouraging and even correcting. These are all practices of the New Testament church. Yet there is often a problem, and it’s a problem of the heart.

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned but have not love, it profits me nothing.”

There it is. There’s the problem. It’s a heart disease. It’s heart failure. It’s a lack of love. Where’s the love? Where’s the love in your words? Where’s the love in your good works? If love isn’t the motive, the means and the result, than your many words are nothing but wasted breath. Your intellect might as well be a garbled mess. Your eloquent and rehearsed speech might as well be the stuttering of a fool. Even your God-given gifts are wasted without love.

Your knowledge… FAIL

Your spiritual gifts….FAIL

Your faith….FAIL

Your generosity….FAIL

Every good work…FAIL

Without love, you’re nothing but a clanging cymbal. I’m so tired of clanging cymbals!!! Maybe it’s because I’m a music teacher? When I see believers bickering with meanness, rudeness and complete indifference to their brothers and sisters in the Lord, I feel like covering my ears with my hands and running for cover. Oh dear ones…don’t you see it? Don’t you get it? Don’t you realize that God gave you your gifts, your intelligence, your understanding and the Holy Spirit so that you could walk in love? He is calling you to love. He says in His Word, clear as day, that love is more important than winning a debate or getting the last word in. It’s about love.

I’ve been there, my friends. I’m not saying you can’t discuss theological differences, share words of correction (when you have an appropriate relationship to do that) and speak the truth with boldness. There just needs to be love. Each motive and word should be marinated and dripping with love and grace. That usually means letting go of pride. It means not needing the last word. It means that you are more interested in the well-being of the other person than proving you are right.

Not sure if you’re speaking in love? Read on in 1 Corinthians 13:

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”

So here’s your test. Ask yourself this…

Is what I’m saying patient and kind?

Am I motivated by envy or boasting in pridefulness?

Are my words flavored by arrogance and rude tones?

Do I have to have it my way?

Am I irritated at this person or resentful?

Am I happy if I see him/her fail?

Am I truly happy for him/her in success?

Am I willing to bear ALL things this person does and says? 

Do I believe this person in faith?

Do I hope nothing but the best for this person and our relationship?

Am I willing to put up with anything to show love and grace and friendship?

Does my love have limits? 

DO I LOVE THIS PERSON?

I pray that we can answer these honestly and be willing to confront ourselves. No doubt we have all failed in some way. I know that I have. I’ve utterly failed. Let us return to love. Let us inspire love and rebuild this church on Christ’s love. That’s what He wants. He makes it abundantly clear. It’s time to let go of our need to be right, our selfish motives, our pride and self-righteousness and let us LOVE ONE ANOTHER!

In Christ’s abundant, unmatchable, radical, deep, unconditional and everlasting love I leave you to it.

 

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Burdened for the Lost

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“Jesus died Mommy,” said my darling little five year-old Princess, having just returned from VBS last night.

“That’s true,” I replied. “And why did He die?”

“He saved us,” she answered. “He saved me, and my friends, and you!”

“Yes He did,” I said, blessed in my heart that she understood this concept. “And is that why we love Him so much?”

“At VBS I got to pet a chicken and a horsey and a turtle!”

Ah well! haha Lovely fleeting moment!

When I think about the cross, I’m reminded of my sin and how much it cost my Savior. I’m reminded that He paid a hefty price for my soul. He gave everything to redeem me. He saved me with His very life. It’s an overwhelming thought and one that always fills me with awe, gratitude and love for my Jesus.

There’s another emotion that always follows when I meditate on Christ’s death on the cross… it’s a feeling of burden. That may seem strange to you. After all, didn’t Christ die to free us from burden? Absolutely! We were freed from the chains of sin and death. Those burdens have been cast off and crushed by the death and resurrection of our Mighty God. Amen!

So what is this burden I feel?

It’s a burden for the lost. it’s a deep yearning for those who don’t know Jesus to open their hearts to Him. It’s a holy calling to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others. It’s a need to fulfill that great commission and it breeds in me a commitment to follow Christ where ever He may lead me to bring the good news of His grace and mercy and love to the world. That’s the burden I feel.

When I look at this world, I see such darkness and devastation. We see addiction and depression. We hear of war and ruin. There is evil and despair and hopelessness lurking everywhere. Divorce is running rampant. Children are being seduced and abused. They are witnessing atrocities on the television and even worse in their homes. Sickness is growing and mutating. Lives are being ruined by sex trafficking, violence, abuse, drugs and alcohol, and every evil tool of the enemy and man’s wicked heart. it’s getting bad folks. This world needs Jesus now.

He saved us! My daughter said it so perfectly last night. He saved us from it all. He saved us from our sin…ourselves. So now that we’re saved, do we go on living as selfish, self-centered people? Wait a minute! That’s what we were before! We were selfish people who sinned to feed our greed and our lusts for the things of this world. So we give our lives to Christ and He changes our desires. We turn from sin and love not the ways of the world. Yet, so many Christians still maintain that selfish way of thinking, and it makes them ineffective in fulfilling the call of God to make disciples.

If you missed what I was trying to express there, let me put it another way: if you are a Christian, you should have a burden for the lost. You should feel called to share the gospel, disciple younger believers (in the Lord) and to go where God sends you. Being a Christian is not about receiving salvation and then building our own little heaven on earth. It’s not about keeping it to ourselves. If you are a Christian, you should be sharing the gospel. You should be discipling others. If you arent, you’re missing the mark, dear one. You’re missing half of the equation. You’re saved but you haven’t adopted the heart of Jesus. His heart was to saved His children. Your heart should be to take that message to the world!

I pray that we are never too busy to do that most important mission on earth…. to make Christ known and to make disciples. People are hurting. They need Him. We are called to do something about that!

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The Pain of this Life

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Most of my blogs center around a subject that I feel convicted about, study thoroughly and feel led by the Spirit to write. They are topics I am passionate about and I tend to try to leave my own emotional response or opinions on the sidelines. Tonight, I just feel like speaking from the heart.

The truth is, my little family has been going through so much lately in terms of trials and spiritual attack. As a friend and sister in the Lord reminded me, not all trials are specifically attacks of the enemy, although all are no doubt the result of sin and fallen man. Some of the problems we face are just part of life in a broken down and dying world. Others are direct assaults from the father of lies. The point is, we suffer here. Some more than others. Some much more.

This world. Sigh. This decaying, broken down, full of sickness and pain world. How I tire of the endless disappointment, heartache and despair I see in the faces of suffering people. How it wears me down to hear of children battling cancer and terrorists using the elderly and children as human shields! This world! It’s falling apart at the seams. The Bible says it’s groaning as it longs for redemption.

There are so many heartaches. So much pain. So much evil and darkness. So much sickness. Everything, even our bodies, are failing. They are growing weaker by the day. More cancer. More diabetes. More chronic pain and diseases that are progressive and misunderstood. We are eating food that isn’t food and our bodies are crying out for relief. We are filling our homes with violence and divorce and our children are bearing witness. We are flocking to therapists and psychologists and holistic healers to try and heal the brokenness and make sense of the pain. Well, it does make sense. When we look around us, we see darkness, pain and hurt everywhere….both inside and outside the church.

So what’s the deal then for us Christians? I can tell you that more than once have I wrestled with how to maintain hope and joy in the midst of heartache and trouble. As I write this, I am battling it now. I am battling the pain. I’m fighting the despair. I know God is in control and that He will never leave me. I know that I’m blessed in many ways. I know that He will get me through this too. I’m just tired, my friends. So tired. So ready for the next part of God’s plan. Like the earth, I’m groaning inwardly awaiting the return of my Savior. I’ll not cling to this world. I’ll cling to Him with every ounce of my strength. Amen!

What to do now about pain? I think there’s nothing to do but a daily surrender. We need to place every care and concern and hurt and disappointment and pain into the capable and powerful and loving hands of the Father, and leave them there. For me, I have to do this every day because, as He is my witness, it seems we have a new trial every single day as of late. Every day I wake up, give my trouble to the Lord, receive new burdens, and have to hand them over too. It feels like I’m a hamster on a wheel sometimes. Feels like it will never end. Yet I know it will. He is coming back friends! He is coming soon! Of that I have no doubt.

In the beginning of this blog I mentioned that some suffer more than others. That’s truth. There are some that have it way worse than we do and some who suffer far less. There are times and seasons where the trials are more abundant, and there are times of refreshing quiet. The truth is, it doesn’t matter. We can focus on who has it easier than we do, but what good comes of that? Is there a reason we suffer while others don’t? Sure. I’m sure God’s got a reason. He is sovereign. He could take our troubles away, but for some reason He is allowing them. Maybe it’s for our good. Maybe it’s for someone else. Perhaps it’s to give us a witness or to test our resolve. Whatever the reason, we have to hold fast to the promise that these present sufferings are not worthy to be compared to the glory that is to come. We have to believe it! We have to cling to it!

I have many troubles. I have many cares. I don’t know why God is allowing it, but I will choose day by day to trust Him. It’s all I can do. I will hold onto the hope. I will hold fast to His promises. I will not be moved. When my heart fails, God is greater than my heart. When my emotions deceive, the Word of Truth will bring me back to reality. When the enemy attacks, I take up the armor of God and fight. I’ll fight to the death, because I know that God has already won the battle. I know where I’m going. I know that there is glory to come.

If you are suffering right now, you’re not alone. There are many Christians who are suffering. Sometimes we’re afraid to admit it because we think people will look down on us. We aren’t perfect? Honestly? We know there is pain, so why put on a fake smile and pretend? I pray that you would be able to share your suffering with brothers and sisters in the Lord. Be real and be honest with someone you trust. Ask for help and prayer. I pray that you would find hope and encouragement in the Word. Believe those promises and grasp them firmly with both hands. You can make it through. With Jesus, you will. He will carry you through this and someday it’ll all be worth it. It’ll be worth every tear.

If you aren’t a Christian, this suffering will only lead to a worse ending. Eternal suffering is what awaits the man or woman who dies without being reconciled to Christ. There is hope in Jesus. He knows you, loves you and wants to have a relationship with you. Cry out to Jesus. Repent of your sins. Ask Him to change your heart.

As for the McCafferty family, we pray that the days ahead get easier and we ask the Lord to deliver us from these present troubles, if it is His will. Still, if the troubles keep going, we will stand firm. Our faith won’t die. We will praise the Lord through our tears and heartache. We will trust Him and continue to hand over our troubles. We will find hope in the Author of hope and find rest in the easy yoke of Jesus. I pray the same for you dear saint.

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” Revelation 21:4

Thanks for letting me share my heart. God bless you!

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Family Vacation One Way or Another

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I pray that you are all having a wonderful summer vacation. As I peruse Facebook, I see many people enjoying vacations and holidays away from home with the family. It’s so pleasant to take advantage of the time off together. Some families have the resources to go away on trips, visit resorts and theme parks and ever visit other countries. For many, vacation is perfected by a few days away at the beach, soaking up the sun and building sand castles. This time together as a family is so important, and the truth is it can look different to every family.

Those who do not have the funds to travel can still make the most of their time off together, and they should. There are so many activities to enjoy together, bringing the family closer together. Take a hike up to the mountains or picnic in the park. Vacation at home by playing games, doing crafts with the kids, taking on fun family projects, etc. Visit family members you don’t often see or invite people to come and visit. There are just so many ways to spend quality time together, even on a very tight budget.

We will be going on a short family vacation soon and I’ll be sharing a write-up of our trip, what we did together as a family and a review of some of the places we’ll visit. Be ready for pictures! I’d love to hear about your family vacations as well! As the summer winds down, make sure to make the most of this precious time you have together and have a great time!

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Being Real with Your Church Family

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“How are you today?”

“Fine, thanks. You?”

“Fine. Thank you. Alright, have a good day.”

“You too. God bless.”

“God bless.”

……..next person walks up.

“How are you?”

 

Hmmmm……in a world full of suffering, pain, loss, temptation, sin, struggle, abandonment, divorce, rebellion, war, financial turmoil and sickness, it’s amazing that so many people in the church today are “fine, thanks.” Really? Are you really? Maybe you are! Maybe things are great with you this Sunday and next, but someday, something is going to rock you. I hope on that day you are willing to be something deeper than just “fine” with your church family, friends and mentors.

We are missing out on a big part of the blessing of having a church family in the first place. Listen, folks, we were never meant to walk this life alone. If you study the New Testament church, you’ll see how close and real the people were. They confessed sins to one another, confronted one another, wept with one another and helped one another in times of need. Get the picture? ONE ANOTHER! You’re here for me and I’m here for you, and in that way of living we are both blessed.

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2

I want to fulfill the law of Christ. This is not the law of the OT, by the way. The law of Christ was for His people to love God with all their heart and love one another as themselves. To fulfill this great law of Christ, what must I do? What must you do? What must WE do? Bear one another’s burdens. Okay! I’m ready! Ready to do this and be blessed in fulfilling the law of Christ!

Only….how can you bear one another’s burdens if they don’t share their burdens? How can you help them with their heavy load if they refuse to let you? How can you minister if they are always just “fine”? The house is falling apart, the marriage is breaking up, there’s no money for food…but they are “fine”? Maybe it’s not so dramatic. Maybe a sister is just a tired mama in need of some time off and a willing babysitter? Maybe a brother is in need of some encouragement because his job isn’t going the right way? Maybe a family needs some help with a move or could use meals for a while as they battle illness?

We aren’t always fine. We are ALWAYS blessed because of Jesus, but this life is tough. No matter how perfect a person’s life may seem on the surface, times of trouble will come. We need to be willing to both bear one another’s burdens and also willing to let others bear ours. That’s the way it works!

I see three big issues that keep us from being real with our church family when it comes to sharing about real life struggles and pain:

1. Pride. Pride lies to us and tells us we shouldn’t let anyone know we are struggling. We want them to think we have it all together. We want them to admire our lives and fear judgement. We are too proud to ask for help.

2. Lack of Relationships. It’s hard to open up about our struggles when we don’t really know someone. We all need a few people in our lives that we feel comfortable sharing with and being accountable to, so build those relationships. Also, make sure no one in the body is left out of having a relationship like this. Pray about who might need your friendship. Don’t just choose those with whom you have a lot in common.

3. False Perfect Atmosphere. Some churches present an atmosphere in which people think their lives should be perfect, and if they aren’t perfect, then they must be doing something wrong or in sin. There are churches that spread the lie that struggle means you are in sin and that every Christian should live a life of luxury, perfect health and other earthly blessings. As we study the Word we see that’s just not true at all. Suffering on earth is part of our inheritance of the cross. We aren’t promised worldly pleasures or even health here. This is the world of fallen man, sin and disease. We are promised treasures in heaven and an eternity with God, which helps us get through the present trials. If your church makes you feel bad for having struggles, LEAVE IMMEDIATELY! Find another church that actually teaches the Bible and has compassion.

It’s time to get real with people. You don’t have to share your sad stories with every person you talk to on Sunday morning, but you should definitely be able to share more than just “fine” with each person. If you’re not “fine”, tell someone! Reach out! Get help! That’s what the church family is there for. Let go of pride and anxiety and just be real. You will be blessed and that person will also be blessed that they get to fulfill the law of Christ by helping to bear your burdens. Don’t defraud them of that!

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Teaching Your Kids to Look Down on Others

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Being a parent is such a huge responsibility. I can say with confidence that teaching my daughter to love and follow the Lord are at the top of my priority list as a mother. Preserving her purity and training her up in the Word are of the utmost importance. I want to instill in her a love for the things that God finds beautiful in a woman – purity, meekness (power under control), prudence, patience, modesty, kindness, gentleness, forgiveness, grace and mercy. These are virtues that I long to see her grow into as a young woman someday.

In order to instill those virtues, I teach her God’s Word, pray over her and give her real life examples. Those examples may be good and bad examples….what TO do and what NOT to do. However, I think it’s very important that in giving her examples, I am not teaching her that it is in any way okay for her to look down upon, condescend, despise or judge those brothers and sisters who are not convicted in the same way that we are on these issues. In other words, I do not want to raise a snotty young woman who is quick to offer disapproval to anyone who isn’t like her.

When I use the dreaded word “Judge”, by the way, I understand that some will confuse what that means. The Word talks a lot about judging. The Bible doesn’t tell us not to “judge’ in terms of identifying sin. We judge all the time. We judge what is right and wrong. We are to judge rightly. However, we are not to judge in the sense of passing a judgement or sentence, and we are not to condemn or despise someone, looking down on them. That’s the judgement both I and God’s Word forbids.

Here’s an example. The Smith Family are great. They are Christians and seek to follow the Lord in all they do. In the Smith Family, the girls have decided that they led to wear skirts or dresses everyday because they truly feel that God is honored in it. There’s nothing wrong with that. What is wrong is how the 12 year-old Fanny Smith reacts when a new girl her age comes to church wearing jeans and a t-shirt. She wears a look of shock and distaste on her face. She refuses to make eye contact. She immediately sees herself as a “better” Christian and labels the other girl as being “carnal.”

Or maybe it’s the other way around. Maybe after years of wearing skirts the Smith Family suddenly feels the Lord put on their hearts that they don’t need to dress that way all of the time and they discover a new liberty in Christ. Will others who continue to wear dresses and skirts teach their children to look down on them? Will the Smiths judge the skirt-wearers for being stuck in “legalism”? Where will the judgement end????

There are plenty of other examples. Parents who emphasize healthy eating may inadvertently teach their children to look down on overweight brothers and sisters. Perhaps the parents look down on them too? Homeschoolers may teach their kids to look down upon public schoolers and vice versa. Sigh

You know, when I aim to raise my daughter in the Lord, my number one lesson to her is not whether or not the Bible teaches that women should wear skirts or headcoverings or eat only organic or homeschool. You see, those are secondary issues. They are dead end issues. I want my daughter to be used by the Lord for wonderful and awesome things. I want her to be a light in this world to a lost and dying population. I want her to shine forth the love and grace of the Lord Jesus to all who come in contact with her. I do not want her to be an uppity, antisocial child-young person-adult, who looks down her nose at anyone who isn’t just like her. Where’s the love of God in that? Where’s the graceful heart of the Lord in that?

So do we stop teaching our kids to walk in their convictions? Absolutely not! I know the standards I want to set for my daughter, and I pray that they are a blessing to her as they guide her into adulthood someday. However, I want to teach her at the same time that we are called to love one another and to accept one another the way Jesus does. We are called to friendship with other believers. We aren’t to stand in a corner or with a small group of like-minded friends and just watch as other young people stand alone or leave. We aren’t supposed to be so heavenly minded that we are no good to the people here on earth. We learn from Jesus, whose own disciples questioned Him for eating with and ministering to sinners. Jesus showed them a love and acceptance they couldn’t resist and they were changed.

Teach your young ones that, in order to minister to someone, we must first be willing to love them unconditionally. We must pray and work to empty our hearts of this type of judgement. We need to reach out with open arms, regardless of the way another looks, talks, dresses, eats, smells…haha…whatever! Teach our kids to be like Jesus, who didn’t sin but loved sinners. Amen?

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” Colossians 3:12-14

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Who’s Kingdom Are We Building Anyway? God’s or Ours?

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The gospel message is for you. It’s for me and my family. It’s for the members of our church, and God wants it to be lovingly spoken into every ear around the world. Jesus told the apostles to go back disciples. it is the great commission, and the pattern we see as we study the New Testament church. Go! Share the gospel! Make disciples! That is building the kingdom of God. Yet….

Sometimes here in America, the church loses sight of that calling. You see, they forget that the apostles walked away from their lives, left their nets in the boat, said farewell to their families and followed Jesus. When Jesus had ascended into heaven after the resurrection, they waited for the Holy Spirit to fall on them and empower them. After that, there was no stopping them. They preached the gospel and made disciples until most were martyred. They were building the kingdom of God.

You see the problem with the American church is that so often, even under the best intentions, we are not focused on building the kingdom of God, but rather building “our” kingdom “in” God. What does that mean? It means we are Christians who love the Lord and study His Word. We apply His Word to our lives and live more lifestyles through the power of the Holy Spirit. We build happy homes based on God’s Word. We raise God-fearing children and train them up to love and serve Jesus. We build strong churches, teaching the Word with diligence and fellowshipping one with another in one accord.

That sounds great, doesn’t it? So, what’s the problem?

There’s nothing wrong with what this church is doing. What’s wrong is what they aren’t doing. When a church grows to maturity, we should be seeing a reflection of what the New Testament church modeled for us. We should see people being saved, discipled, trained up to maturity and then we should see people being sent out to missions or church planting or to serve on a team in that capacity. That’s the goal. A healthy church is raising up preachers and sending them out. If we aren’t doing that, something is wrong.

Not everyone in the body of Christ has the same calling. Not all are called to be teachers, elders, ministry leaders, etc. We are, however, all called to be sharing the gospel and making disciples. We are ALL called to be unattached to this world, so that when the Spirit moves us to go, we are not too tied down in our own “kingdom” to follow. A spiritually healthy church is sending out teams of servants to plant churches, whether locally or on foreign ground. A church that isn’t doing this, is not fulfilling the great commission and missing out on the blessings that come from building the kingdom of God.

We build our own kingdoms in God. We establish our own footings. We have our jobs, our homes, our commitments, our community, our safety zone and our church. We have no intention of uprooting any of it. We just build up our own families and our own church. We just focus inwardly. We just are constantly focused on making ourselves better Christians. We are just missing the mark. We are missing the point.

Oh Lord, I pray that we be ready to move when you send us! Whether it be to help plant a church in another town, or another country, let us never be too comfortable and too settled in that we are too busy building our own kingdom and not obedient to Your call to go and make disciples for Your kingdom. Help us to see where we are missing the mark.

I encourage each of us to examine our hearts. Have we been building our own kingdom in God and not building God’s kingdom by raising up and sending out, or going ourselves? You know, not everyone who goes it is going to be a pastor/teacher. A church plant has many needs: administrator, youth leaders, elders, worship leaders, teachers, etc. You may not be called to be a pastor, but maybe you’re called to come alongside a teacher to help with a church plant? Are you willing to ask God if He wants to send you? Or are you too tied down? Pray for God to show you, and He will. He will lead us out.

“For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?fn And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!””Romans 10:13-15

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It’s Easy Not to Nag When There’s Nothing to Nag About

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A continual dripping on a rainy day and a quarrelsome wife are alike; to restrain her is to restrain the wind or to grasp oil in one’s right hand.” Proverbs 27:15-16

Oh the nagging wife of proverbs. She’s so quarrelsome. Always looking for trouble. Never satisfied. High maintenance. You know, there are a lot of nagging wives out there. They are like a dripping faucet, just moaning and groaning and never happy. Their husbands linger at the front door before coming in for fear of what they are going to hear. These men grind their teeth with every criticizing word and rebuke. They rarely know a word of edification or encouragement.

There are those kind of nagging wives, and then there are what we could call the moderate naggers. Those moderates may not be quite as annoying as the extreme naggers, but they have a harder time recognizing their problem because it is often masked in good intentions and human logic. You might here them make remarks such as:

“Oh, I’m not a nagging wife! haha Feel so bad for all those other ladies who struggle with nagging! Yeah, I feel bad for their husbands! My husband’s so lucky to have me! I don’t need to nag him because I’ve got him so well-trained that he always does what I tell him to!”

Yet, despite their high opinions of themselves as wives, these moderate naggers may not be as fabulous as they think. I think most of us average-type wives could struggle with moderate nagging. It’s the type of nagging that comes from frustrations and perhaps real concerns.

You see, it’s okay for a woman to be frustrated when her man isn’t living up to his side of the marital bargain. It’s okay for her to have feelings of frustration and even anger. When the grass is knee-high before it gets mowed, or the house is falling apart because of lack of repairs, or when her hubby never remembers their anniversary but always remembers when draft day is coming up….those are good reasons to be frustrated. Still, there is never a good enough excuse to give into nagging one’s husband. Why? Because our behaviors as wives should not be based upon what our husbands do (or don’t do), but rather on how committed we are to serving the Lord. He told wives not to nag their husbands. He told us not to be contentious. So when we cause strife and conflict with our nagging words, God is not honored.

Dear wife, if you have a legitimate reason to be concerned or frustrated, there are steps you can take. First, pray. Pray  good and hard before doing anything. Second, go to your husband in respect and love, without that nagging and condescending tone, and share your concerns. Ask your husband to pray about it. Then, leave it alone. Don’t bring it up again. Let the Holy Spirit work on him, and continue to pray. If the issue is something you think you can take care of, do it. Do your best and perhaps your husband will feel convicted, but don’t talk about it again.

I have to warn you that not everyone will support you in this approach to being a godly wife. Some will encourage you to “whip that man into shape” or “let him have it” when he is doing something wrong. “Just tell him to get to work,” they may say. They usually have good intentions too and don’t see this as nagging. However, what matters is how you and your husband are in your home. That’s all that matters. It matters more than the chores he’s not doing or the grass that’s not mowed. It matters more than the veggies he won’t eat or the amount of time he spends watching TV.

Praying sisters that we will continue to seek the Lord, and to be willing to sacrifice our own desires, pleasures, preferences and so forth to serve God as we know we should. God bless you and keep you dear keepers of the home!

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Why Do I Love Jesus?

 Jesus. Name above all names. Just to say His name is to bring hope, healing and peace. Jesus. I love Him. Some may wonder why. Why do I love Jesus?

I love Jesus….

Because of who He is. Creator of the universe. Maker of all things. The first in authority over all the earth. The Son of God and God in the flesh. The Lamb who takes away the sin of the world. Jesus is amazing! He loves deeply and unconditionally. His love and mercy have no limits. He was gentle as He ministered to the lost and broken, and yet He was strong enough to go through the pain and humiliation of beating and crucifixion. Jesus is the definition of awesomeness. Full of love, compassion and beauty. How could you not love Him?

I love Jesus….

Because of what He did. Jesus left His place of glory and praise, motivated by love, and came to this world that He Himself created to save sinners like me. He served with startling humility. He loved with abandon and without concern for how others viewed Him. He washed the feet of His disciples, and even washed the feet of His betrayer. He choose to die on the cross, taking upon Himself the punishment for your sins and mine. He suffered for me. Bled for me. Died for me. He did it for you too. He did it so that we could have forgiveness for our sins and spend eternity with Him in Paradise. How could you not love Him?

I love Jesus….

Because He loved me first. While I was still a sinner, lost and filthy, this King of Glory looked down upon me and loved me. He saw me and decided I was worth it. I was worth stepping down from His throne to die in my place. He touched me when no one else would. He loved me when everyone else abandoned me. Jesus loves you too. He loves you whether or not you love Him. He loves you whether or not you believe in Him. It makes no difference. He hates our sin, but He loves our souls and desires that none should perish, but that we should all come to know Him. He loves you so very much. How could you not love Him?

I love Jesus….more than anything else. I love Him more than I can even understand. There is none like Him in heaven or on earth. There is no one that deserves our love and adoration more than Jesus. Mostly I love Him because He has never, ever given up on me. When I fall (which is often), He picks me back up. When I’m feeling alone and scared, He embraces me and reminds me that I’m special to Him.

I love Jesus, and loving Jesus is the most important part of my life. Another important part is sharing Jesus with others so that they might love Him too. If you don’t love Jesus, it’s because you don’t know Him. When you get to know Him, your heart will soften and you’ll realize that He is what you’ve been searching for and haven’t been able to find anywhere else. You’ll see that He is what you need. He brings healing and hope. He brings forgiveness and love. He brings salvation. He loves you. Get to know Jesus and give your heart to Him. It’ll be the best choice you ever made.

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