5 Things To Remember When Life is 'Not Fair'

Growing up I recall thinking and/or saying the phrase “it’s not fair" on a regular basis.  I distinctly remember my sister receiving an elaborate art kit for Christmas that was so big, beautiful and full of amazing colors, while I got a sweater…filled with envy, believing her gift was far more valuable than mine and brought far more attention, I thought, “it’s not fair!”  As I grew older it seemed totally unfair that I had to study so much to get an A on my schoolwork, while some of my friends seemed to get excellent grades with no effort at all…I was convinced this was dishonest gain; my friends were not even working for their excellent grades, “it’s not fair!"  Then, some of my friends had later curfews and that wasn’t ‘fair’ under the ‘proper’ rules for teens, by that I mean: the rules that were being applied to me in my house.  Later, when I was not selected to be in the sorority I thought I should be in…I became angry and thought about the biases that were probably stacked against me and proclaimed "it’s not fair!" A few other things that I deemed ‘not fair’ include: the death of a loved one, being in an abusive relationship, not getting a promotion I felt I had earned, the due date for my first baby being changed to a much later date (hello?!  the nursery was ready to go, I already told everyone the first due date and I WANT TO MEET THIS BABY!), not being invited to a certain function, my children being excluded from something, my husband being hurt, and the list could go on and on.  As I look back on my life, some of my largest and smallest disappointments and unfulfilled expectations have made me want to whisper, scream, or cry the words ‘it’s not fair!’ and every time I did that…I made God a liar, and myself and often my sinful desires an idol.  Over the years God has helped me to see that I wanted my desire over His.  I wanted my timing, my plan, my gain, my pleasure, and my way.  God wanted me to be patient and wait on His timing; trust in His plan; desire His pleasure and do things His way.  So now when I’m tempted to think or say “it’s not fair!” I remind myself of these 5 things.  

Life is Not Fair Art Kit

 

  1. God is fair.  He is not biased and does not have favorites.  God knows all, sees all and is perfect & holy. “For God does not show favoritism.” Romans 2:11 NLT
  2. God is honest and just.  Everything God does is proper and right.   “God is an honest judge. He is angry with the wicked every day.” Psalm 7:11 NLT
  3. God is enough. “And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 NLT
  4. God can make all things good (even the most ‘unfair’ circumstances) for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes. (Romans 8:28 NLT)
  5. Finally, what is really ‘unfair’ is that a sinner like me whom God said deserved death,  received full forgiveness of sin and my death penalty for that sin has been removed.   I am able to enjoy the presence of God both on Earth now and while living for all eternity in Heaven because of Jesus' willingness to trust His Father's timing and plan; and to do things His Father's way.   I'm so grateful Jesus never uttered "it's not fair!" (to learn more about how to have and grow in a relationship with Jesus click here)

Is there anything happening in your life right now that you think is “unfair?”  Trust the man that died for you with it; rest in His perfect peace, trust His righteous judgement, believe that He will provide and watch as He makes something good come from it.  He loves you; put your faith, hope and trust in Jesus.  He is trustworthy.  

 In His Love~ 

Jamie Shaver

Should We ‘Unhitch’ the Old Testament from Our Faith in Jesus?

Since the Garden of Eden, Satan has used the same strategy to separate man from God: he creates doubt in the mind of mankind regarding whether God really said what He did, whether His Word is trustworthy, and whether God is truly good. Satan longs for us to question—and ultimately to disavow and disobey--God’s life-giving Word. He appeals to our pride that leads us to think that we, the creation, know more or better than God, our Creator. Satan would have us believe that if we don’t understand or don’t agree with what is in God’s Word, then the fault must lie with God rather than in our inability to comprehend His thoughts and His ways, which are so much higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9). The truth is that if we have a problem believing in God’s Word or juxtaposing it with His Loving Character, the problem lies with us, not with God.

We expect skepticism regarding God’s Word, His Sovereignty, and His goodness from those outside of the Church; however, increasingly doubt is being stirred up from within the Church regarding whether we can really trust the reliability of all of Scripture. Recently, and regrettably, well-known and influential pastor Andy Stanley of North Point Ministries, the second largest church in the United States, preached a three sermon series called ‘Aftermath’ that casts doubt regarding the validity and power of God’s Word. It also elevates his opinion above the Word of God. Most notably, Andy states in the series that we must “unhitch the Old Testament from our faith in Jesus”. He stated further: “[First century] Church leaders unhitched the church from the worldview, value system, and regulations of the Jewish scriptures…Peter, James, Paul elected to unhitch the Christian faith from their Jewish scriptures, and my friends, we must as well."

After listening intently to all three of the sermons in the series I was deeply grieved because of my love for the Lord and His Word, which God says is to be exalted along with His name and above all things (Psalm 138:2). I recognize that Andy has a large following not only in the Atlanta area, but across our nation, and even worldwide.  I have spent much time in prayer for Him as well as for those who are influenced by his teaching. I pray that the eyes of their hearts may be opened to comprehend the treasure that is found in ALL of God's Word!  In this post I am going to give a brief synopsis of the sermon series, and then focus on why the Old Testament is God’s reliable Word and  therefore important to our faith as Christians. In future posts, I will address other statements that Andy made during the series and why they also do not align with the teaching of Scripture.

The basic premise of Andy’s series is that the Church needs to move away from the belief in ‘sola Scriptura’—the belief since the Protestant Reformation that Scriptures are authoritative and the basis for our faith-- because there are those who find the Scriptures, especially the Old Testament, to be a stumbling block to belief in Jesus. He builds the case for making the foundation of our faith an event, the resurrection of Jesus, because there were eyewitnesses to it. Because of those eyewitnesses, he maintains that the resurrection is indisputable, whereas he seems to believe the Scriptures are not defendable as the inspired Word of God. He further rationalizes his contention that we move away from the authority of Scripture as the foundation of our faith because people now have the ability to go onto the Internet where they can be exposed to persuasive arguments against the validity of Scriptures, and those arguments will deter people from believing in Jesus. In fact, Andy stated that “the ‘Achilles heel of our modern faith is the bible.” He further stated:

Because many have lost faith…many have lost faith… because of something about the Bible, or in the Bible, the Old Testament in particular, once they can no longer accept all the historicity of the Old Testament, once they couldn’t go along with all of the miracles, once somebody poked a hole in the Genesis creation, you know myth… once all that went away, suddenly their house of cards faith came tumbling down. Because they were taught it’s all true, it’s all God’s Word, and if you find one part that’s not true, ‘Ough-oh’, the whole thing comes tumbling down. Not Christianity.  The Bible did not create Christianity. The resurrection of Jesus created and launched Christianity. Your whole house of Old Testament cards can come tumbling down. The question is: Did Jesus rise from the dead? And eyewitnesses said he did.” Andy Stanley, from the ‘Aftermath’ series, April 2018

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I treasure ALL of God’s Word which has been life changing for me! I have been in church virtually my entire life, but my faith and intimacy with the Lord did not grow and mature until I became a student of His Word, because ‘faith comes from hearing, and hearing from the word of God’ (Romans 10:17). I have read the Bible daily and cover- to- cover for the past 22 years, as well as taken and written many in-depth Bible studies; His Word has 'cleansed' and 'renewed' my mind as it states it will do. (Ephesians 5:27; Romans 12:2) I have found what David describes in Psalm 119:104-105 to be true:

Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. ESV

I believe that the entirety of the Bible, including the Old Testament, is the inspired, infallible Word of God and is therefore essential for teaching righteousness, truth, purposeful living as well as instruction regarding the character and ways of God. As critical as the resurrection is to our faith-- which we learn about through reading the very Scriptures whose reliability Andy questions-- neither it, nor even the written word alone is the foundation of our faith. The foundation of our faith is the ‘Word that became flesh’ (John 1:14), the person of Jesus Christ.

For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 3:11 ESV

Even more specifically, Jesus is the Cornerstone of the Foundation, a foundation that we learn is also comprised of the apostles and prophets.

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. Ephesians 2:19-22 ESV

We come to know Jesus, the Cornerstone and Foundation of our Faith, through the inspired words of the prophets written down in the Old Testament, as well as the writings of the apostles recorded in the New Testament. Since we know from Scripture that God and Jesus are one and were together since the beginning (John 1:1-2; John 10:30), we can trust that the Old Testament as well as the New Testament gives us knowledge of Jesus Who is ‘the Way, the Truth, and the Life’ (John 14:6). We come to know the Truth, the Way, and to receive abundant and eternal Life through a relationship with Jesus, the Living Word, Who is revealed to us through the written word in both the Old and New Testaments, as well as through the work of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:10; John 6:44-45)

On the road to Emmaus, while walking alongside two men who were grieved because of his death and the empty tomb, Jesus explained that the scriptures—the part we know as the Old Testament--referred to Himself, the Christ. It seems clear that he expected them to know the scriptures, which Jewish men-- and even women—in that day learned from the time they were young because they were taught in the synagogue to read, to write, and to memorize the Old Testament writings, especially the Pentateuch. Scriptures were interwoven into discussions that were held in every Jewish home and within the greater community. That is also in contrast to a statement that Andy made in his series that the disciples were ignorant of the Old Testament writings because they were fishermen and did not have a copy of the Bible in their homes; the disciples--like the two walking to Emmaus--would have known the scriptures well. Jesus made it clear to the two men with whom He walked on the road to Emmaus that the Old Testament testified to Who He was.

Then Jesus said to them, “O foolish men, and slow of heart to trust and believe in everything that the prophets have spoken!  Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and [only then to] enter His glory?” 27 Then beginning with Moses and [throughout] all the [writings of the] prophets, He explained and interpreted for them the things referring to Himself [found] in all the Scriptures. Luke 24:25-27 AMP

Maybe he started by explaining to them that He was the promised seed of woman that would destroy the Serpent, as taught in Genesis, or that just as Adam was the first of the human race, so He was the first of those who would be raised from the dead to eternal life.   I imagine He would have talked about how in the book of Exodus the Passover lamb foreshadowed Him, the Unblemished Lamb of God Whose blood would atone once and for all time for the sin of man and destroy the power of sin and its penalty, death. Maybe He explained how the Levitical priests are a picture of Him, our High Priest Who sacrifices on our behalf and makes intercession for us. Or that Boaz in the book of Ruth is a picture of Christ, our Kinsman Redeemer. Or that Jonah's 3 days in the belly of the fish foreshadowed Jesus' being in the grave for 3 days. Maybe He explained that due to His crucifixion He is the 'Man of Sorrows and Acquainted with Grief', as foretold in Isaiah 53, yet, their hope in Him was not in vain because He was also the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace of Isaiah 6:9. Or maybe He showed them that He is the Judge of all Nations as mentioned in the book of Amos. Or perhaps Jesus referenced one or more of the Messianic Psalms that foretold and referred to Him. (Psalms 2, 8, 16, 22, 23, 24, 40, 41, 45, 68,69, 87,89, 102, 110, 118) I am sure that their minds and hearts were spellbound as Jesus illuminated the scriptures to them, for EVERY book in the Old Testament--as well as those in the New Testament which would be written after His ascension-- testifies to and points to Jesus! After listening to Jesus share, I think the two men would have readily agreed with Bible scholar and teacher Chuck Missler's often repeated phrase, ‘The New Testament is in the Old Testament concealed; the Old Testament is in the New Testament revealed.

We may not know exactly what Jesus shared along the Emmaus Road, but His life and ministry made it clear that He treasured and knew the power of the Old Testament Scriptures. When led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness following His baptism and tempted by Satan, Jesus did not offer His opinion nor did He flee in fear when Satan twisted and misconstrued the Word of God. He deftly used the Word of God from the Old Testament as the powerful sword that it is, and defeated Satan’s best attempt to tempt Him! (Matthew 4:1-11; Hebrews 4:12: Ephesians 6:17)

On numerous occasions (see also Matthew 8:1712:40-42Luke. 4:18-2110:25-2815:29-3117:3224:25-45John. 5:39-47 ), Jesus substantiated the divine authority of the Old Testament, for instance when He stated the following recorded in Matthew 5:17-18: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. ESV

Jesus also affirmed the Genesis account of Creation—which Andy references as a ‘myth’-- when He said, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? (Matthew 19:4-6; Mark 10:6; Genesis 1:27; 5:2) Jesus directly quoted 78 times from the Old Testament—including 26 times from the Pentateuch, the first five books. He also quoted from Psalms, Proverbs, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Amos, Jonah, Micah, and Malachi. Countless other times he made allusions to scriptures with which He knew His audience would be familiar. He referred to Old Testament writings as “The Scriptures,” “the Word of God,” and “the wisdom of God.”

Jesus chastised the false religious teachers of his day, the Pharisees, with these words:

You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me…For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of meBut if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words? John 5: 39,46-47 ESV (Boldness added)

My question to Andy and to anyone who thinks we can separate our Christian faith from the Old Testament is this: How can you believe the words of Jesus-- or the words of the eyewitnesses to the resurrection that we know about because they are recorded in the Bible-- if you do not believe Moses’ writings?

Based upon Jesus’ Words, do you think that Jesus would agree with Andy that we should ‘unhitch' the Old Testament from our faith in Jesus?

Andy said in his series that, “Peter, James, Paul elected to unhitch the Christian faith from their Jewish scriptures, and my friends, we must as well." But is that statement true? Can it be substantiated?

The apostles quoted 209 times from the Old Testament and considered Old Testament writings to be “the oracles of God.” (Romans 3:2; Hebrews 5:12; 1 Peter 4:11) In fact, at least 25% of the New Testament writings are quotations from the Old Testament.

The apostle Paul, who was inspired by God to write the majority of the epistles found in the New Testament, wrote the following words to encourage his disciple Timothy. These words underscore the value he placed on studying the Scriptures, which at the time only included and referred to the Old Testament:

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2nd Timothy 3:16-17 ESV

Or what about Peter? Do you think he would agree that we should ‘unhitch’ the Old Testament from our faith since he clearly stated that the prophets spoke the Word of God?

…that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. 2 Peter 1:20b-21 ESV

Besides the reasons Paul details to Timothy for studying Scripture, in his letter to the Romans he gives us another reason for us to study and to know the Old Testament: so that we might be encouraged and have hope.

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Romans 15:4 ESV

I am full of hope knowing that since God accurately foretold in the Old Testament the  birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus, that I can trust His promises written in the Old Testament--as well as those in the New Testament-- that tell of the second coming of Christ when He will judge and rule the nations, and assume His rightful position as ‘King of Kings and Lord of Lords’! 

So, how important is all of God’s Word, including the Old Testament? God tells us His Word is equal to His Name, and along with His Name, to be exalted above all things!

 I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word. Psalm 138:2 ESV (highlight added for emphasis)

I agree with Chuck Missler who said: “Believing in Jesus Christ as the Messianic Saviour, as Christians do, is absurd without the foundation of the Old Testament.” I hope that the Word of God you have read in this post has convinced you of that as well.

I believe that all those who are willing to read through the entire Bible, including the Old Testament, and to study it, and most importantly of all to ask for the Holy Spirit to illuminate it, will come to know Jesus--the Cornerstone of our faith--more intimately, and it is in knowing Him that we have eternal life! (John 17:3)

Written by Julie Van Gorp

Death is Inevitable, but You've Been Given a Choice: Choose Wisely!

Although I had the blessing of going away on vacation and being with my husband as well as with many dear friends, in many ways July was a tough month. I found out a relative of mine has fallen prey to the ever-increasing drug epidemic that is sweeping our country and her life is in danger. Another beloved family member who’d been diagnosed with cancer about five years ago discovered the cancer has spread to another part of her body. My father-in-law was in great pain and hospitalized several times throughout the month, and the doctors couldn't seem to find the source of his problem. I came home to the news that some friends had tragically lost their 19- year old son in a fatal car accident, and on the heels of that, found out another friend’s 26 year old son had died from an accidental drug overdose. The reality is that blessings and tragedies make up all of our lives. As much as we love to focus upon all of the blessings, we have to admit that sin-- and the ultimate consequence of sin, which is death-- is part of living in this world. The death of our physical bodies is inescapable for all of us unless we are raptured by the Lord.

 As I heard about each of these situations, I felt an overwhelming sorrow, coupled with anger at Satan who is always afoot to rob, steal, kill and destroy. My heart hurts for the victims of these situations and their families. The reality that sin and death are a part of life doesn’t keep me from deeply grieving when I see its impact upon those I love and those suffering in this world.

I know that many people cannot juxtapose how a good God can allow so much pain, suffering and death, especially death like my friends’ sons. I heard comments to the effect that,  ‘It’s so unfair that they died so young!’ Statements like that imply that if we were ‘in charge’, we would do something much different—and ‘better’-- than God. I know that only God is good, and His ways are not only so much wiser than mine, but His ways are always righteous and designed for our good.

In the midst of my grief, the Lord clearly spoke to my sorrowful heart: People may have no choice regarding what brings about or the timing of their death, but everyone has been given a choice regarding their death. Will it be the entrance to heaven and an eternity spent experiencing intimacy with and true joy that can only be found in the Presence of God, or the gateway to an eternity of torment and suffering in hell?

When people cry out that someone’s death isn’t ‘fair’, what rises up in me is that none of us really want what is ‘fair’. For ‘fairness’ would require that all of mankind would be doomed to death, hell and damnation for the penalty of our sin-- something each of us is guilty of because we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Roman 6:23; James 1:5; Matthew 25:46; Romans 3:23). We may try to convince ourselves that it’s not ‘fair’ that we were put under the curse of death because of the choice made by Adam and Eve, but like them, we all have chosen to disobey and disregard the Word of God. Disobedience and rebellion against His Word is sin, and the penalty of sin is pain, suffering, and death (Romans 6:23) What isn’t fair is this: Jesus, the only sinless person ever born, gave up the glories of Heaven to come to earth where He experienced rejection, abandonment, betrayal, and ultimately a horrible death on a cross so that all who choose to put their trust in Jesus’ atoning death-- which alone is able to pay the debt for their sin-- would be set free from the curse of death, become partakers in His resurrection, and able to experience unbroken fellowship and eternal life with the Lord in Heaven. We have been given God's Word that in Heaven “…death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain…” Revelation 21: 4 ESV. That makes my heart rejoice! In the midst of our sorrows over sin and the loss and sorrow that accompanies it, how encouraging it is to know that this life's momentary pain and suffering cannot be compared to the eternal glory that awaits all of us who put our trust in Jesus! (2 Corinthians 4:17)

God has set before each of us a choice: the question is, “Will we choose to receive His free gift of salvation bought with the blood of Jesus and spend eternity with Him, or will we choose to reject His gift, and therefore die in our sin, and spend eternity in hell?”

What indescribable joy there is in knowing that death has lost its sting for all of us who have put our hope and faith in Jesus! What about you? Have you put your trust in Jesus and in His finished work on the cross on your behalf? If you truly believe that He died for your sake and in your place, are you living for His pleasure and for His glory—which is to make His Name known so that others will also come to know that salvation from sin and victory over death is found in Jesus, and in Him alone?

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I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.  Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.  When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58 ESV

 Written by Julie Van Gorp

 

4 Signs That Fear is Ruling Your Life and How to Overcome It

 

  1. You lack peace:   (Ex. you lie awake at night and cannot fall asleep due to thoughts that are running wild)  God gives us the solution when He says in Isaiah 26:3 AMP “You will keep in perfect and constant peace the one whose mind is steadfast [that is, committed and focused on You—in both inclination and character], Because he trusts and takes refuge in You [with hope and confident expectation].” Here are a few ways you can keep your eyes “fixed” on God.
    1. Read the Bible and think about His truth therein
    2. Pray and talk to God
    3. Ask for His perfect peace in the midst of your circumstances
    4. Listen to Christian worship music in your car
  2. You lack faith, and may even be angry at God:  The words you speak lack faith and are negative and reveal that you expect the worst out of a situation.  Instead, remember that God is the only person Who can accurately predict the future, let Him do His job and you do yours.  God tells us that our one job is to ‘believe Him.’  John 6:29 (ESV) “Jesus answered them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.’”  God is clear in Scripture as to who our enemies are and it is never Him.  He is all we need.
  3. You lack confidence and worry about what other people think of you or your actions: We become concerned about what other people think when we are putting ourselves as the main character in the story instead of God.  Next time you wonder about what a person thinks of you, replace that person with Jesus in the same scenario and determine to only concern yourself with what He would think. Philippians 2:13 (AMP) “For it is [not your strength, but it is] God who is effectively at work in you, both to will and to work [that is, strengthening, energizing, and creating in you the longing and the ability to fulfill your purpose] for His good pleasure.”
  4. You lack sound thinking and self-control: which causes you to make decisions based on emotions v. wisdom and prayer.  Fear distorts reality and can cause us to act irrationally and become driven by our emotions instead of led by the Spirit.  Romans 8:14 AMP “For all who are allowing themselves to be led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”
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When we see the outcome of what can occur when we act in fear (which is always sin of some sort) and not faith it is easy to understand why God, in His great love for us, would tell us so many times in His Word to have no fear!

Written by Jamie Shaver

 

 

7 Secrets to Experiencing More Freedom in Your Life

God sent His Son Jesus to die for our sins and to make us free from the power and penalty of sin in our lives.  God wants us to have an abundant life free from fear and doubt.  God also wants us to be free from:

  • worrying about what other people think
  • anger, bitterness and envy
  • greed, pride, doubt and many other human “ailments” that keep us from enjoying life to the fullest.

God wants us to have great faith and to obey His Word.

Faith + Obedience = Freedom and the first key of the equation to have more freedom is to have faith and believe God.  Obedience is the second half of the equation and is really where we get to exercise our faith.  Our faith leads to obedience and obedience brings freedom and peace.  In Colossians 3:1-20 (AMP) we are given some instructions on how to obey God and I’ve underlined them below

Colossians 3:1-10 Amplified Bible (AMP)  Put On the New Self

3 Therefore if you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, sharing in His resurrection from the dead], keep seeking the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 

2 Set your mind and keep focused habitually on the things above [the heavenly things], not on things that are on the earth [which have only temporal value]. 

3 For you died [to this world], and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.

5 So put to death and deprive of power the evil longings of your earthly body [with its sensual, self-centered instincts] immorality, impurity, sinful passion, evil desire, and greed, which is [a kind of] idolatry [because it replaces your devotion to God]. 

6 Because of these [sinful] things the [divine] wrath of God is coming [b]on the sons of disobedience [those who fail to listen and who routinely and obstinately disregard God’s precepts], 

7 and in these [sinful things] you also once walked, when you were habitually living in them [without the knowledge of Christ]. 

8 But now rid yourselves [completely] of all these things: anger, rage, malice, slander, and obscene (abusive, filthy, vulgar) language from your mouth. 

9 Do not lie to one another, for you have stripped off the old self with its evil practices,

10 and have put on the new [spiritual] self who is being continually renewed in true knowledge in the image of Him who created the new self—

 How do you put to death that which is earthly in you (or in other words “get over yourself”) and experience greater freedom in your life?  We put on our ‘new self’ in Christ by doing the following:

    1. Seek things that are above - the approval of man is not things that are above - psychologist have noted that everyone has a box in our minds that they label the ‘generalized other’ and the people in the box are the people to whom we GIVE the power to determine whether who we are or what we do has value.  When we are not set on the things above we are likely trapped in approval seeking or approval addiction.  Constantly trying to explain ourselves & manage the ‘others’ views of us or what we THINK their views are and seeking for them to agree with us or think a certain way about us; perhaps that we are very well connected so we become perpetual name droppers, that we are not wasting time watching television we may add a disclaimer such as “I don’t watch a lot of tv but the other day I saw something…” or giving reasons and excuses as to why something was not done as promised so the others will understand, agree & ultimately APPROVE of how you handled things.  People pleasing and approval addiction is not FREEDOM.  

    2. Set your minds on things that are above - your reason for being here is much bigger than the things the ‘world’ complains about and sets their mind on.  This also helps us with our pride because when we are focused on the Lord above, we won’t be looking down on others.  (*my son wrestles and one of the first things your taught is to go for your opponents head…because the body always follows)

    3. Put to death & deprive of power that which is earthy in you - I want to get over my ego, my need to be liked by people I meet - my need to look successful, my need to be right, my need to be in control…how much of your life are those things running?  Part of putting off the old self is to give up the ‘right’ to being ‘right’.  I once heard that people will work harder to be right than to be successful.  What are you trying to be right about?  Write it down right now.

Have you decided that your child, spouse, mother-in-law or someone else in your life will “never change”? Where’s the faith in that statement, where is the expectation? Are you working harder to be right or to be in right relationship with God by believing that “all things are possible with God” and obeying His commands?  In order to correct this type of thinking we must die to ourselves, our understanding and experiences with people or situations doesn’t make us God and determine that we know a person will never change.  “Lean not on your own understanding and in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.”  Ps. 3:5

    4. Rid yourselves completely of - anger, rage, malice, slander, and obscene (abusive, filthy, vulgar) language from your mouth.

    5. Do not lie to one another - remember the truth sets you free

John 8:32

 

    6. Put off the old self - Scripture shows us a city that burned all their magic books once they came to know Christ.  Is there anything you need to ‘burn’ or completely get rid of so that you may be in right relationship with God? 

    7. Put on the new self which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. (God’s Word brings a supernatural cleansing that washes your mind and emotions from the contamination of the world, the memories of past experiences, and the lies that the enemy has tried to sow into your brain.  When you make it a priority to fill your mind with truth from God’s Word, your mind is renewed and you become inwardly strengthened and very hard to deceive.)  You know Francis Frangipane writes in his book ‘In Christ’s Image Training’ “a Christian is not just a person going to Heaven.  Shouldn’t a Christian also be a person coming from Heaven, with the goods, power and virtue of Heaven?”  When we put on the new self that is exactly what we are doing, we are bringing things from Heaven, including our freedom in Christ into our current situation.

In what areas of your life would you like to experience more freedom?  

Written by Jamie Shaver

Violated by a Drone

Have you ever had a bad ‘feeling’ about someone or something? 

     My teenage daughter and I were at a beautiful resort in northern Minnesota last week paddle boarding on the lake wearing our bathing suits.  When we were approximately 20 yards from the shoreline we were approached by a drone.  Suddenly this drone was flying very close to my daughter’s face, then going up and down as if it was scanning her body.  This activity went on for about two minutes.  It was far enough away that she couldn’t swat it down with the paddle, but close enough to feel very violated.  

    Obviously uncomfortable my daughter asked another teen girl passing by on her paddle board, “What is this thing doing?” because it was not moving out from in front of her.  

    The young woman responded “Oh, I asked too because it was happening to me, but someone said it’s just a dad filming his wife and kids, so you have nothing to worry about, it’s not some creepy guy.”   

    “Oh good” my daughter laughed, and the drone quickly flew away.  

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    I had a sick feeling inside.  I felt like I just watched my daughter being recorded from a distance and I could do nothing about it.  I don’t know when exactly the drone flew off because I was looking for the ‘wife and kids’ which were nowhere to be seen.  Deep inside I wanted to believe I was overreacting, besides I didn’t really know if this person was taking pictures or recording my daughter in her bathing suit from multiple angles without my consent.  That’s when I realized ‘I really have no proof’ and maybe this person is allowed to fly the drone here, seems strange to me, but maybe.  I hate to admit this next part…I DID NOTHING, I SAID NOTHING.  Seriously, what person does this?  If you were telling me that this happened to you I would have had a list in my mind about what ‘I would do’ in this situation, yet here I was in it, feeling oddly paralyzed.  This occurred on a Wednesday afternoon, and by Friday morning at 3 a.m. I had lost nearly a full night of rest thinking about this situation because of how violating it felt to be totally helpless and that ‘bad sense’ was only getting stronger.  Why didn’t I ask people on the beach who owned the drone?  It is truly amazing how many good ideas I had about what I ‘could have...should have’ done at 3 a.m. 

    Later that morning I made a few calls to people who I thought may have some knowledge and learned that this person regardless if he was recording and taking pictures with the drone; did not have permission by law to fly it so close to people, due to wind gusts that could make it quickly become a flying object that could cause harm.  Next, I learned it was illegal to fly it on a private beach without written permission.  I filed a report with the hotel and local police department.  My daughter, I learned had watched the drone fly back to its owner and had a physical description of the man which we provided to both the resort and authorities.  

    Unfortunately, the resort and the police do not have the name of the guest that was using this drone on the beach.  Had I acted immediately things may have ended differently.  I hope that you are never put in an awkward situation, but if you are here are some verses to apply.

  1. - Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  Proverbs 3:5 ESV If you have a ‘bad’ feeling or ‘sick’ feeling put your trust in the Lord, pray to Him, that “feeling” is often His Spirit warning you and making you aware that something is not right. 
  2. - If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.  James 1:5 ESV.  Ask God immediately ‘what should I do about this?’ 
  3. -An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge. Proverbs 18:15 ESV  Take the time to learn what the laws are or what other opportunities may be available for you to protect yourself or others in the future.  

I’m happy to report that the resort is putting in place a protocol for employees to follow to address any future use of personal drones on the property.  The resort is making it clear that drone use is prohibited and wants to ensure that this does not happen to anyone else in the future.  

When you speak out you do not know how many others you may have spared a similar disturbing experience.  Is there anything you need to speak out about? 

Written by Jamie Shaver

What's The Role of Parents of Adult Children? Part 2

The greatest need your adult children have is the need for an intimate relationship with the Lord and His Presence in their lives. They need Him more than they need you. Keep in mind that if you really love them, you will not seek to be their ‘savior’, but you will always point them to the One Who is their Savior—the One Who will never leave or forsake them, Who loves them perfectly, and Who knows them best and loves them the most!

Model to your adult children what it means to have a close, personal relationship with God. In order to model such a relationship with God, you must have such a relationship, which is only gained by spending time with Him. Time studying and meditating upon His Word, time in prayer with Him, and time in fellowship with others who encourage you in your faith. ‘You can’t give away what you don’t have’. We as parents of children of all ages must put the Lord above every other relationship we have—otherwise those other relationships are idols in our lives. I often see parents who put their relationship with their children above their relationship with the Lord, and when they do, they not only dishonor God, but they also are modeling idolatry to them. The best thing you can do if you love your children is to first love the Lord with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength, for it is only then that you truly will be able to love your children unselfishly and as they need to be loved by you.

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Below are some things you also should do if you love your adult children:

1) Pray! First, pray that God will give you the grace and wisdom to parent your adult children in the way that He desires and to put on your heart what He wants you to pray for them. Secondly, diligently pray for them, regardless of whether they are walking with the Lord or not.  Either way, they need Him and His Presence in their lives! Some things you may wish to pray for them include: praying that they will live for God’s glory and pleasure by walking by the Spirit so they will not gratify the desires of their flesh (Isaiah 43:7; Galatians 5:16); pray that God would give them the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Who He is, that the eyes of their hearts would be enlightened so they would know the hope to which He has called them, and know the riches of His glorious inheritance and the immeasurable greatness of his power toward those who believe (Ephesians 1: 17-19); and pray that they would have the faith to comprehend how high, wide, deep and long is their Heavenly Father’s love for them, and that they be filled with the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 3:14-19).  Do not ‘worry’ about them, but ‘cast all of your cares upon the Lord’. (Psalm 55: 22; 1st Peter 5:7)

2) Trust the Lord with your children’s care. Remember, although entrusted to you for their care, your children are first and foremost ‘God’s’.  You can ‘trust the Man Who died for them’ with their lives (Romans 8:32). As you ‘release them to Him’, BELIEVE that He is able to do ‘exceedingly and abundantly beyond what you could hope or imagine’ with them (Ephesians 3:20). Praise God that He has them in His hands and look to see Him at work in their lives as you truly surrender them to Him. I often derive comfort from knowing that not only does God love my children because they are His, but I also am confident that His love for me extends to my children-- since I am precious to Him and they are precious to me-- they also are precious to Him! I derive comfort from the scriptures that tell us that God’s faithfulness, covenant and steadfast love extends to those who love Him and keep His commandments, to a thousand generations. (Deuteronomy 7:9; Exodus 20:6; 34:7)

3) Confess your sins before your children. If you have been convicted that you did not parent in the way that God’s word commands when your children were young—whether you were too harsh and unloving in your disciplining of them, or too permissive and failed to instruct them and mete out consequences for their disobedience-- then I strongly encourage you to not only confess your sin before the Lord, but to go before your adult children and humbly confess your sin to them. Share the insights you have gained from God’s word, that you wish you had known and applied that truth when you were raising them. Your children need to see authentic Christianity demonstrated by you; that alone can open the door to you having a closer relationship with them, and more importantly, help them to see that God is merciful and willing to forgive sins when we choose to humble ourselves and confess our sin (1 John 1:9). Share with them that He longs for us to walk in truth and righteousness for our sake, and that every command He has given is not to restrict our freedo, but to ensure our freedom from the bondage of sin. The recently released movie and true story ‘I Can Only Imagine’ is a great example of how God can restore a fractured parent-child relationship when a father confesses his sin to his son and asks for his forgiveness. We should always model true Christianity by being willing to humble ourselves and seek forgiveness from our children when we have misrepresented their Heavenly Father to them.

4) Listen to the Holy Spirit and follow His leading regarding how you can interact with your children to foster a closer relationship with them, and how you can help to foster their relationship with the Lord. Demonstrate your love for your children by truly listening to them and responding to them in a way that reveals God’s truth as well as His heart of love for them. For your adult children who do love the Lord and walk in His truth, your role is to continue to disciple them in the knowledge of God's truth and to encourage them in their faith and 'spur them on to love and good deeds'.(Hebrews 10:24) If your children are not walking with the Lord, you  certainly cannot force them to have a relationship with Him. However, you can be a stumbling block to them wanting to have such a relationship by: never or rarely saying anything positive about the Lord and what He means to you; by leading a hypocritical life before them; or ‘by shoving Him down their throats’. Jesus never forces anyone to be His disciple; He always gives us a choice regarding whether we will choose to follow Him. He lets us know what it costs to follow Him, and what it costs not to choose Him. If your children are not walking with the Lord, in a Spirit of love and humility you should let them know that you respect that is their choice—but also let them know that there is a cost both here on earth and for all eternity for not choosing Him. You can show love for your children without condoning their poor or sinful choices. Reach out and give them a word of encouragement when you can sincerely do so, express interest in them and their lives, and engage them in meaningful conversations about the purpose of life, their relationships, and their work in which you ask them questions without putting them on the defensive. Do not be afraid to ask them why they believe what they profess to believe if it is contrary to your belief in Jesus, and ask them what caused them to fall away from the faith if they once professed to be a believer. As you respectfully listen to them—even when their views differ from yours and God’s word, you earn the right to speak truth into their lives.  Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit regarding what to say, how to say it, and when to say it. And, be obedient to Him when He does tell you to speak.

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5) Confront your child in truth and in love if he or she is choosing a lifestyle of sin. I am heartbroken every time I read through the bible and come to the part where Eli the priest did not rebuke his adult sons, and he and they suffered the consequences of their sin, as did generations to come. King David failed to admonish his sons Amnon, Absalom, and Adonijah, which led to rape, murder, and the bloodshed of many ‘innocents’. Both Eli and David enabled the sinful behavior of their sons by remaining silent. Do you know of anyone who is enabling his or her adult children’s sinful lifestyle by saying nothing, or even indicating approval of their sinful behavior? I am heartbroken when I hear parents who state they can’t ‘do anything’ because their child is an adult, and yet, they have remained silent about their child's sinful choices. For example, I know of many parents who have a child who is living with someone outside of marriage and they say, “There’s nothing I can do about it.”  And when I ask them if they have said anything to the child they most often say, “No, it wouldn’t do any good to say anything because they’re going to do what they want to do anyway.” It may or may not change their adult child’s heart or their behavior. But you cannot remain silent because what is at stake is too great—it is the life of your child that has been entrusted to you! If we as parents humbly speak to our adult children and confront them with their sin in love, and the child continues in the sin, then the sin is ‘on their head’. If we, however, disregard our parental role of warning our children of their sin and its consequences, then we are sinning by omission and failing in our parental duty. You cannot force your adult child to do what is right, but you are to share the truth in a spirit of humility and love and to sound the warning that sin—unchecked and un-confessed-- always has negative consequences.   If we truly love our children as Christ—Who is ‘Truth’---has loved us, we will confront them with the truth of God’s Word regarding their specific sin, assuring them of our and God’s love, yet letting them know because of our love for them that we cannot condone their sin. If we really understand the nature of sin, we will know that it always is destructive by its very nature; if we love our children, why would we allow them to be on the path of destruction? There’s two reasons and both stem from self-love: we love ourselves more than we love God, for we fear our children’s rejection more than we revere God and His Word; and we love ourselves more than we love our children or we would be willing to risk their rejection in order to keep them from harm. God tells us clearly that if we love anything more than we love Him —including our family members and ourselves-- we are not fit to be His disciples (Matthew 10:37; Luke 14:26). We have been called to rebuke and admonish our brothers and sisters in Christ when appropriate for their sake. Should we not be even more willing to rebuke and admonish our own children whose care has been entrusted to us, and for whom our love should be so great that we will always desire that they know and live by 'the truth that saves'? (Matthew 18:15; Colossians 3:16; 1Thessalonians 5:14; 2 Thessalonians 3:15) There’s an expression you may have heard, ‘if you care, you have to share’, and that is certainly applicable when it comes to a parent sharing the truth of God’s Word with their adult children who are choosing to live a lifestyle of sin.

Lord, I am completely inadequate on my own to be a parent, and I ask you to give me the grace, strength, courage, boldness and wisdom to parent my children in righteousness, truth, and love, as You parent me! Amen

Written by Julie Van Gorp

You may also wish to read What's the Role of Parents of Adult Children? Part 1 https://www.trueviewministries.org/blog/2018/6/15/whats-the-role-of-parents-of-adult-children