8 Signs That You Are Born Again

As I was reminiscing with my husband about how much our lives have changed over the almost 39 years of our marriage, the Lord brought to my remembrance that this is the year of my 25th birthday! You may question my sanity or my math when I say that I’ve been married almost 39 years and yet I’ll be celebrating only my 25th birthday: How is that possible? It’s because it wasn’t until 25 years ago that I was ‘born again’, which is when I experienced a ‘new birth’ and truly began to live the life for which I was created!

You may have heard the words ‘born again’ and wondered, “What does that really mean?” The phrase comes from John 3:3-6:

Jesus answered him, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, unless a person is born again [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, sanctified], he cannot [ever] see and experience the kingdom of God.”

 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter his mother’s womb a second time and be born, can he?”  Jesus answered, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot [ever] enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh [the physical is merely physical], and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. AMP

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It is clear from this passage that it is critically important that we know what it means to be ‘born again’-- as well as assured that we have been-- if we desire to see and experience the kingdom of God.

How did I know that I was indeed ‘born again’? When I humbled myself, put my faith in Jesus, and turned my life over to Him, I immediately experienced a freedom, peace, and joy that I had never known before, and that is still with me today! I look back over my life and see that although my personality may be the same as it was before, so much of my life has changed—and ALL for the better-- since that day in November of 1993 when I released my hold on my life and gave it back to God, its rightful ‘owner’ (1 Corinthians 6:20). ‘Who I am’ was transformed when I realized ‘Whose I was’.

 Scripture tells us that when we place our faith in Jesus as our personal Savior, we actually become joined together with Him; we are ‘born of the Spirit’ and become a ‘new creature’. With His Spirit living and at work in us, …’the old things’ pass away, and ‘new things’ come.

Therefore if anyone is in Christ [that is, grafted in, joined to Him by faith in Him as Savior], he is a new creature [reborn and renewed by the Holy Spirit]; the old things [the previous moral and spiritual condition] have passed away. Behold, new things have come [because spiritual awakening brings a new life]. 2nd Corinthians 5:17 AMP

By God’s grace, I can testify that I have experienced all of the changes listed below. Are you able to testify to these changes in your own life?

8 Signs that You Have Been Born Again:

1. Your desires change: You no longer ‘crave’ the things this world values, instead, your desire is to live for God’s glory and His pleasure (Isaiah 43:7). You long to please God and to demonstrate your love for Him by obeying His commands and doing the works He created you to do (John 14:15; Ephesians 2:10). You desire to honor Him in thought, word, and deed and to make Him known to others who also are in need of the peace, joy, love, and freedom that only He can provide. Seeking God and His kingdom and 'walking by His Spirit' becomes your priority instead of living to satisfy the desires of your flesh.  (Matthew 6:33; Galatians 5:16)

2.  Your vision changes: Your eyes become fixed upon what is unseen rather than upon what is seen, or in others words upon what is eternal rather than temporal. (2nd Corinthians 4:18) You gain a ‘God-view’ versus ‘man’s view’ of the world, which provides you with revelation, understanding and wisdom. You look at people and situations through the lens of scripture, no longer focusing your attention upon outward appearances, but instead looking at the hearts of people (1 Samuel 16:7). You realize that God can be trusted with your personal life-- as well as the world situation--because you ‘see’ God ruling and reigning over all of the earth! (Colossians 1:15-17; Romans 8:29-31;Psalm 47:8; Psalm 103:19)

3. Your mind changes: You are given a new mind, the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:16)  Your mind is renewed as you read His Word that reveals His Character and His ways, and enables you to discern what is the ‘good, pleasing, perfect will of God’. (Romans 12:2) Instead of the rebellious, self-focused, worldly thoughts you had before knowing God, His thoughts will become your thoughts, and His ways your ways! (Isaiah 55: 8-9; Philippians 2:5)

4.  Your heart changes: You are also given a new heart. (Ezekiel 36:26). The heart is the seat of emotions, and you will find that you will love what God loves, and you will hate what God hates. He loves righteousness, and He gave us His commandments for our good so that we can live righteous lives that are filled with freedom from every bondage, peace, and joy. He also hates what is evil-- which is rebellion against His perfect will-- because He knows rebellion, which is sin, always leads to death and destruction and He is the Giver and Sustainer of Life. (Luke 10:27; Amos 5:15; Psalm 97:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:15; Matthew 5:43-44) God loves all of His creation, and as your heart becomes more and more like His heart, you too will love others ‘as Christ has loved you’, even those who persecute you and are your enemies. (Matthew 5:43-44)

5.  Your words change: “Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks’ (Luke 6:45); so since you gain a new heart when you are ‘born again’, what comes out of your mouth changes too.  Blessings rather than curses will pour forth from your mouth! You will sing praises to God, and offer up prayers to Him and for His people. (Psalm 7:17; 35:28; 71:15; 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18; Romans 12:12; Ephesians 6:18) ‘Rivers of living water’, wise, and just words will pour forth from your mouth that will be a fountain of life to others! (John 7:38; Proverbs 10:11; 21;Psalm 37:30)

6. Your hearing changes: You will have ‘ears to hear’ and know the voice of Jesus Your shepherd Who will protect, lead, and guide you into ‘paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake’. (Psalm 23; John 10:4; 14; 16; 27) You will hear the convicting as well as comforting and encouraging voice of the Holy Spirit Who will lead you into all truth; (John 14:26; John 16: 7-11; 13) and you will be able to hear the voice of the Father as He pronounces His words of love over you. (Zephaniah 3:17)

7.  Your family and friendships change:  You are born into a ‘new family’, the family of God-- made up of other believers in Jesus from 'every tongue, tribe and nation' from all over the world and throughout history. That doesn’t mean you are to ‘discard’ your family of origin, but that you have also been given the gift of a new family who shares your love for the Lord--something your family of origin may or may not share—who can come alongside you and encourage you to grow in your knowledge, understanding, and love for the Lord! It is important that you surround yourself with fellow believers who can ‘spur’ you on to ‘love and good deeds’ (Hebrews 10:24), and who can encourage you, especially as you see the Day of Christ’s return approaching. (Hebrews 10:25) In addition, although you will pray for and share the gospel with former friends who are living in rebellion toward God, you will limit your interactions with them in order to be careful not to do as they do, knowing that ‘bad company ruins good morals’. (1 Corinthians 15:33 ESV)

8. Your actions and attitudes change: You will ‘bring forth the fruit that is keeping with your repentance’ (Matthew 3:8). You will be a ‘doer of the Word’ who proves that your faith is indeed alive (James 1:22; 2:17, 26). It will become apparent that it is ‘no longer you who lives, but Christ who lives in you by faith’ (Galatians 2:20) and that He empowers you to do the will of the Father, even when ‘your flesh’ doesn’t ‘feel like’ obeying God. You will bear the fruit of the Spirit that is at work and living inside you: you will operate in His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23) You will help those who are in need (Isaiah 1:17); you will go and share the gospel and make disciples (Matthew 28:19); and in general, you will ‘offer your body as a living sacrifice’ (Romans 12:2) in imitation of Christ Who offered up His life for your sake. (Philippians 2:1-11; Ephesians 5:1-2) Even in the face of death you can have peace, knowing that the same Spirit that overcame death is alive in you, and therefore death has lost its 'sting' and 'has been swallowed up in victory'!(1 Corinthians 15:54)

Have you truly been ‘born again’? Are you experiencing the victorious life that Jesus promises when you entrust your life to Him and allow His Spirit to live through you? If not, you can by confessing your sin to God and by asking Him to come in and completely take over your life! I can assure you that He will be faithful to give you all of the above—and so much more!

Written by Julie Van Gorp

 

 

Happy Mother's Day & 6 Things to do if it's not 'Happy'

Happy Mother’s Day: 6 things to do when your Mother’s Day is not ‘happy’

For many women Mother’s Day is a time of joy and celebration, but for some, Mother’s Day can be painful.  Perhaps your mother was not loving or kind.  Maybe like my friend, your mother disowned you and the two of you do not talk anymore.  For others, Mother’s Day is a reminder that your mother is no longer here and you still have a deep longing for just one more phone call or lunch with her.  I know my own mother struggled with Mother’s Day because my brother (only 2.5 yrs. old) died just a few days before and that memory every year made Mother’s Day hard.  To my many friends who have had miscarriages, struggled with infertility, or simply have not married yet and are wondering if you will ever be a mom, Mother’s Day can be challenging.  Lastly, Mother’s Day may be a day of unfulfilled expectations as some mothers expect that somehow their family is going to fulfill something deep within our hearts that only Jesus can truly fulfill.  Maybe your family did not do something in the way in which you expected.

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If Mother’s Day is challenging for you, here are several things you can do:

Serve: Focus on serving someone else.  Write a card, deliver flowers, cook a meal for a single mom with young kids, or someone that is going through a rough situation. Whenever we take our pain and use it to help others we are blessed.  “In everything I showed you [by example] that by working hard in this way you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed [and brings greater joy] to give than to receive.’”  Acts 20:35 AMP

Write: Write a journal entry about the things that you learned from your mother and how they are living-on in your life, so future generations can know your mother’s legacy and how she impacted you.

Pray: Spend time in prayer asking the Lord to search your heart and help you to have gratitude for all that He is in your life.  “For this reason I am telling you, whatever things you ask for in prayer [in accordance with God’s will], believe [with confident trust] that you have received them, and they will be given to you.”  Mark 11:24 AMP

Share the Gospel: If you have never had children or are finding that pursuit to be unfruitful at the moment, praise God that you are able to bring forth life in other ways by sharing the gospel and knowing that you can be sharing the truth which ultimately brings forth everlasting life to others!  “For God so [greatly] loved and dearly prized the world, that He [even] gave His [One and] only begotten Son, so that whoever believes and trusts in Him [as Savior] shall not perish, but have eternal life.”  John 3:16 AMP

Praise God:  When we worship God for all He has done and IS doing for us everyday we will find that through our praise we find joy.  [ Come to Me ] At that time Jesus said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth [I openly and joyfully acknowledge Your great wisdom], that You have hidden these things [these spiritual truths] from the wise and intelligent and revealed them to infants [to new believers, to those seeking God’s will and purpose].  Matthew 11:25 AMP

Show Gratitude: Thank God for your children and find ways to show your children what            you are thankful for about each one of them.  I’m writing each of my children a short letter letting them know the positive character traits that I see and appreciate in each of themand that I’m thankful to be their mom.  Let there be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse [obscene or vulgar] joking, because such things are not appropriate [for believers]; but instead speak of your thankfulness [to God].  Ephesians 5:4 AMP

This year I’m choosing to celebrate motherhood differently.  I want to be intentional and be grateful for all the work it entails and that I am capable of doing it.  To my friends that are hurting on Mother’s Day, you are in my prayers and I’m praying that God meets your every need in a way that only He can.

With Love,

Jamie Shaver

Assumption and the 3 Things You Could Miss Out On

For those of you that enjoy hockey then you know it’s playoff time and I have another hockey story for you!  

My son Tyler (13 yrs. old) comes off the ice laughing and has a huge smile on his face. The first night of hockey tryouts was finished.   He then exclaims “it was so funny, Jason (named changed) told me he wasn’t going to lose his spot on the team to me, and I told him, ‘Oh yeah, well I’m coming for your spot, so you better watch out!’  It was so hilarious, then did you see how hard we battled all through the tryout?”

Me: “yeah, I did notice that.”

Before I had a moment to think about what I had just heard we ran into Jason’s dad and Tyler thought this was such a good story that he quickly fills Jason’s dad in on how he told his son that he was coming for his spot! 

Why was my child threatening to take another boy’s spot and kick him off the team when there are two OPEN spots that are available?  He didn’t need to kick anyone off to meet his goal!  

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Racing through my mind were the many conversations we have had about ‘treating others as you would want to be treated’.  Then came the judgements and frustration as I thought about how prideful, uncaring and rude my son was being. 

Later I told him, “I don’t like that you threatened Jason and told him you are coming for his spot, that is not kind or even true, there are two open spots.  When you see him tonight you should say something like, ‘I’m coming for a spot, and it’ll be good to be teammates next year’.

That’s so much more encouraging, and I think what you said to him and his DAD was very rude.

Tyler looked at me with total confusion on his face and asked “Why would I do that?  That’s lame and not motivating at all.  When I told him I was coming for his spot he worked so much harder which gives him a better chance to be on the team.  Didn’t you see how hard we were battling?  It was awesome, what I said made us both play better…”  So in the end, he had treated others like he would want to be treated.

He who answers before he hears [the facts]—It is folly and shame to him. Proverbs 18:13 (AMP)

I have made judgments about people in my life only to later find out I was so wrong!  I’m beyond grateful that God does not judge like we do.  He cares about the intent of our hearts and I had to learn a little bit about “competitive 13 yr. old boy language”!  

When we assume or make judgments before we have the facts here are a few things that we can miss out on:

1) Do Not Learn the Truth                                                                                                                

10 Now they were Mary Magdalene and Joanna [the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward] and Mary the mother of James; also the other women with them were telling these things to the apostles. 11 But their report seemed to them like idle talk and nonsense, and they would not believe them. 12 But Peter got up and ran to the tomb. Stooping [at the small entrance] and looking in, he saw only the linen [a]wrappings; and he went away, wondering about what had happened.  Luke 24:10-12 Amplified Bible (AMP)  (Peter did not assume it was idle talk, he got up to check it out and learned the truth).

2)  Do Not Gain Understanding & Look Stupid A [closed-minded] fool does not delight in understanding,  But only in revealing his personal opinions [unwittingly displaying his self-indulgence and his stupidity]. Proverbs 18:2 Amplified Bible (AMP)  

3) Do Not Go to Heaven: you could miss out on salvation by assuming you are saved, when in fact you are not.

“Many will say to Me on that day [when I judge them], ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, and driven out demons in Your name, and done many miracles in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them publicly, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me [you are banished from My presence], you who act wickedly [disregarding My commands].’    Matthew 7:22-24 Amplified Bible (AMP)  Connect with us here if you have questions about salvation.

Ask the Lord to reveal to you if you have made any assumptions that need to be investigated in your life.  Ask; don’t assume.

Written by Jamie Shaver

Planned Adversity

My youngest son is a big hockey fan and loves to play as well.  Last weekend he finished four days of very intense tryouts.  Initially there were only four coaches evaluating and everyday more and more coaches would arrive to evaluate the players, until the last day when there were ten evaluators.  Additional evaluators often led to additional stress.
In addition to the added evaluators; the last two days the organization covered all the windows to the rink and no spectators were allowed in, there was no father to give an approving nod, or mother to motion in “hockey sign-language” to ‘move your feet', instead, it was only the players and evaluators.

A typical ‘shift’ in hockey lasts approximately 40 seconds and then you’re back on the bench recovering, and players rotate seamlessly into and out of the game.  Tyler came home and shared that they were forcing each line to stay out for 4 minute shifts instead of 40 seconds; he talked about how bad his legs were burning, how a lot of kids were ‘giving up’, throwing-up or just gliding around on the ice.  I thought that was an amazing technique to use in tryouts to learn who will give-up early; who is in the best physical and cardiovascular condition; and who may have a negative attitude in difficult situations.  

The next day after Tyler had learned he made the team we ran into the coach, and that’s when he shared that ‘planned adversity’ will be a theme of this upcoming hockey season.  He went on to say that they are looking to develop the most elite hockey players in the world and that goal requires hockey skill along with mental and physical strength.  

What do you think?  Is ‘planned adversity’ a good thing for growth and development?  Is there a better way to make mentally and physically strong people?

Here are some Scriptures to ponder as it relates to this:

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James 1:2-4, 12 AMP
“Consider it nothing but joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you fall into various trials. Be assured that the testing of your faith [through experience] produces endurance [leading to spiritual maturity, and inner peace].  And let endurance have its perfect result and do a thorough work, so that you may be perfect and completely developed [in your faith], lacking in nothing”… “Blessed [happy, spiritually prosperous, favored by God] is the man who is steadfast under trial and perseveres when tempted; for when he has passed the test and been approved, he will receive the [victor’s] crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”

Here are 3 simple things you can do to plan adversity into your child's life depending on their age:
1) Don't bail them out of consequences and situations that they caused by poor choices
2) Make them wake-up for school on their own
3) Have them do chores that are more difficult or time-consuming than he/she may think they can handle
After all I want my kids to be 'lacking in nothing!'

This verse also talks about ‘persevering when tempted’ and I realized that when I have had adversity I was often tempted to give up, or to lie (that I wasn’t really trying or didn’t really want it anyway.)  The times I have had success is when I expected adversity and saw that adversity as a learning experience to become stronger, to exercise my beliefs, to become an “elite” warrior for the Lord and for those lost or less spiritually mature around me.   

Has adversity in your life made you stronger?  Do you currently plan adversity into your life in any way?  

Written by Jamie Shaver

What We Christians Must Do: Final Blog in series 'America: The Cause of Our Decline and a Clarion Call for Christians'

As Christians in today’s America we are living in the midst of an unbelieving, perverted culture. So, what should we do? Head to the hills and hide? Wave the white flag and give in to the culture’s toxic influence? By no means! Each one of us has been created ‘for such a time as this’, and God’s word gives us our marching orders for how we can be used by Him to impact the culture for His kingdom purposes. These are days of great opportunity for those who are kingdom-minded to shine forth as bright lights in the midst of the darkness and to be used to draw others to Jesus, the Source of our Light and Life!

To live victoriously in these latter days, however, it is essential that we set our eyes, hearts, and minds upon Jesus and ‘things above’ to ensure that we are focused upon what is ‘truly real’, eternally significant, and so we will remain steadfast in our faith in a culture that opposes our Christian beliefs.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV (emphasis added)

 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.  Colossians 3:1-2 ESV (emphasis added)

 It is easy to get distracted by and  ‘sucked into’ the things that our culture esteems unless we intentionally make it a priority to keep God the focus of our lives. Knowing about Jesus is not enough to empower us to remain steadfast in the days ahead; we must know Him and worship Him ‘in spirit and in truth’ (John 4:24), which we do by spending time in His Presence through reading His Word; communing with Him in prayer; and gathering together with other believers. It is in His Presence that there truly is ‘fullness of joy’ (Psalm 16:11)-- the kind of joy that will serve as our strength in the storms and sorrows of this life (Nehemiah 8:10). Yes, we are to be like the Sons of Issachar who understand the times in which we are living (1 Chronicles 12:32), but we also must be careful to guard and protect our hearts and minds so that the moral decline in a world that increasingly rejects God does not rob us of our joy or cause unbelief in us.

It is imperative that we daily renew our minds by reading and meditating upon God’s Word, which is the truth. His Word will give us the knowledge, understanding, guidance, and encouragement that are vital for living in these ‘latter days’. It is also essential that we set aside time every day for prayer. Prayer is our lifeline to God and what allows us to be intimately connected to Him. During our prayer time we have the opportunity to ‘pour our hearts out before the Lord’ (Psalm 62:8), to get our eyes fixed upon Him as we worship Him for Who He is, as we thank Him for all that He has done for us, and very importantly—for us to hear His voice speaking words over us that calm us because of His amazing love (Zephaniah 3:17). Another important thing we must do for victorious living in these days is to gather together with other believers (Hebrews 10:25) so that we can worship the Lord together, and teach, admonish, and encourage one another (Colossians 3:17) to ‘hold fast to our confession of faith’ (Hebrews 10-23).

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In order to keep our eyes on Jesus we also may need to eliminate from our lives those things that cause us to take our gaze off of Jesus. For example, we must be willing to stop watching the nightly news if it instills debilitating fear in us; or to get rid of a hobby-- or even quit our job—if they consume our time to the point of being our ‘first love’; or discontinue a friendships that has a negative impact upon our relationship with Jesus.

When we set our eyes on ‘things above’ we will be in a better position to understand that the real enemy at work in our culture is Satan, who is always at work to ‘rob, steal, kill and destroy’ (John 10:10), and that as the ‘father of lies’ (John 8:44) he often comes ‘disguised as an angel of light’ (2nd Corinthians 11:14). We are not to be ignorant of Satan’s schemes, but to expose them. Keeping our focus on Jesus will remind us that our battle is not against flesh and blood, but it is “against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:11), and we will realize that for victorious living we must ‘dress’ like Jesus, putting on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:12-17) and praying on all occasions.

Keeping our eyes on Jesus also will encourage us to know that the victory has already been won at the cross! Satan is a defeated foe, and we have everything we need for victorious living because we have the Holy Spirit living in us-- the very same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead! In other words, we have ‘resurrection power’ to sustain us in these days. And just like on the first Good Friday, it may appear that Satan is winning in our culture, but we can know that things are not as they appear---they aren’t ‘falling apart, they are coming together’ according to God’s perfect will!

Keeping our focus on Jesus is also necessary if we are to remain faithful and persevere to the end. God encourages us not to grow weary in well doing (Galatians 6:9), and to be full of courage, knowing that God is for us, with us, and mighty to save (Joshua 1:9)! Jesus was able to endure the cross for our sake because He kept His focus upon His Heavenly Father and doing His will; He calls and commands us to do the same.

And the will of our Heavenly Father is that those who are living rebellious, perverted lives in this ‘wicked and perverse’ generation would come to know and believe in Jesus, the only One Who can save and deliver them out of the ‘pit’ they are in that leads to death and destruction. When God is our focus—our very life—His desires will become our desires; and He is “not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance”(2nd Peter 3:9). He has called us to be ‘ambassadors of reconciliation’ (2nd Corinthians 5:20) who will proclaim His praises (1st Peter 2:9) and who will ‘go and make disciples’ (Matthew 28:19-20) by speaking His truth in love, calling unbelievers ‘to repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand’. (Matthew 3:2) Now is the not the time to throw in the towel or to head for the hills—now is the perfect time for us to share the good news of the gospel because it is more evident than ever that people are desperate for the hope that can be found in Christ alone!

Like Jonah before us, we may recoil at sharing the message of repentance with those in our world who have scorned the Lord, but if we keep our focus on Jesus, we will realize afresh that we too were once lost and have been saved only because of God’s loving kindness that He demonstrated to us ‘while we were yet sinners’ (Romans 5:8). We are to respond to the  ‘sinners’ in our culture as Jesus did to those who nailed Him to the cross. He did not revile His enemies but instead He loved, prayed for, and forgave them. It is only by the power of the Holy Spirit at work in us and by keeping our focus on Our Lord that we will be able to respond in the same way to our enemies, and to remain faithful to Him when we are persecuted for being aligned with Him and His will. By fixing our eyes upon Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, I believe we even will be able to rejoice when the world hates us, knowing that Jesus, Who is ‘Faithful and True’ and cannot lie, promised us that we are blessed and ‘great will be your reward in heaven’ when you suffer for the sake of righteousness. May you and I-- and all who come behind us-- be found faithful to the glory of His Great Name for He is worthy of ‘our all’ and ‘utmost’!

Written by Julie Van Gorp

To read the first 3 blogs in the series entitled ‘America: Cause of Our Decline and a Clarion Call to Christians’ go to https://www.trueviewministries.org/blog/

 

 

What We Who Know Jesus Can Have In the Midst of Today's America: Part 3 in the series 'America: Cause for our Decline and a Clarion Call for Christians'

For those of us who know God and His life-giving Word, the moral decline in our nation should not surprise us. We know that Jesus is ‘the Way, the Truth, and the Life’ (John 14:6); abundant life, as well as eternal life, is found in Him, and in Him alone. Therefore, when we-- as individuals or as a nation-- forsake Him, we will lose our way; we will fall into the trap of deception; and we will reap destruction and death. If bible reading was the centerpiece of family life and still allowed in our public schools as previously was the case in our nation’s history, there might be a greater understanding that what we are experiencing today as a nation can be summed up in this verse from Isaiah 59:14:

Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands far away; for truth has stumbled in the public squares, and uprightness cannot enter.”  ESV

We can be assured that what is going on in our culture has not caught God by surprise. He is still Sovereign, and He is still full of love for us whom He created and gave His life to save! Yes, our rebellion against Him and His perfect ways grieves Him, but it does not surprise Him. He warns us over and over again in His Word of what will happen when we choose to forsake Him and choose to ‘do what is right in our own eyes’ instead of following the commands He gave to us for our good. The consequences of our sin of going against God and His will are designed to cause us to despair so we will realize our depravity without Him, and return to Him Who alone is able to deliver us out of our misery.

Like a loving earthly father who first instructs, then repeatedly warns his disobedient child, and finally takes an ‘arms off’ approach to his child’s rebellion in hopes that the child will come to his senses because of the misery he creates for himself, God allows us to experience the consequences of our sin and rebellion, wanting us to repent—to change our ways. God promises to heal our land IF we who are His children will humble ourselves; seek after Him; pray; and turn away from our sin and follow in His way.

“…if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2nd Chronicles 7:14 ESV

The good news is that in the midst of the chaos that we have created for ourselves, we who know Jesus can have understanding, peace, hope, and joy.

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Understanding:

God’s word tells us over and over again what will happen to the nation that turns away from God, which is exactly what America has done. We can know that we are reaping what we have sown (Galatians 6:7-8), and we can understand not only the root cause of our nation’s problem—but know that the remedy is to be found only in our returning to Him.

For instance, we can know that choosing to deny the truth that God created us in His image is at the root of why so many Americans lead purposeless, despairing lives. When we as a nation chose to replace the teaching of creationism with the theory of evolution, we chose to ignore the truth that our life has meaning and purpose that has been given to us by God, the One Who created us in His image. Our purpose is derived from our relationship with God and it is for His pleasure and glory that we were created (Isaiah 43:7). The epidemic number of people experiencing confusion, anxiety, and depression; drug, alcohol, pornography and other forms of addiction; as well as the increasing number of people—especially youth—committing suicide is directly correlated with people not understanding that they are ‘uniquely and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14) with a divine purpose.  We have been deceived into thinking our lives have no intrinsic value, are our own, and that we can make our own rules for living without being held accountable to Our Creator, a holy and loving God, for our choices.

However, we who have become His children by putting our faith in Him can know that our lives are significant and of immeasurable value to God; God loved us so much that He gave His beloved Son Jesus to die the death we deserved. When we doubt whether our life is valuable or special, we can consider Jesus' outstretched arms on the cross and we will be reminded that Jesus loved us so much that He gave His very life for us! We also can delight in knowing that God has a plan and a purpose for all of His creation and that He is in control, even when things around us appear to be spinning out of control. As it has been said, things are not falling apart, they are coming together just as God foretold in His Word. We can understand that what is transpiring in the world today is precisely what God warns is going to happen during the latter days.

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.  For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God…2nd Timothy3: 1-4 ESV

 We also know from God’s Word that God’s wrath will be made manifest when we choose to walk in deception rather than choose to believe what God has clearly revealed to us through His creation all around us, through His Word, and by His sending us His Son—the Living Word—to atone for our sin.For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.  For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.  For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Claiming to be wise, they became fools…Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves,  because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. Romans 1:18-23a; 24-25 ESV

So what is going on in America today should not surprise us, but it most definitely should grieve us! We are bearing the fruit of our sin as a nation that has turned away from God, and the fruit of the sin of God’s Church Body that has been more influenced by our culture than it has been an influence to transform our culture. We can also have understanding regarding what our role as His children is in this ‘wicked and perverse generation’. We have been called-- and through the power of the Holy Spirit equipped—to be ‘salt and light’, to ‘let our light so shine before men so that they will see our good deeds and give gory to our Father in heaven’, and to declare His praises. (Matthew 5:13-14; 1st Peter 2:9)

Peace, Hope and Joy

For those of us who are His children (John 1:12), we can have hope and joy in the midst of the trials and tribulations in this world.

Jesus told us:

I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace. In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.” [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.] John 16:33 AMP

Since God foretold that these days would be upon us, we can also rejoice, knowing that everything that is going on proves the validity of God’s Word and reaffirms that He is ‘the ‘Alpha and Omega’ Who knew these days would come upon us. (Revelation 22:13) He Who has spoken the truth to us about these days has also promised that He will come again in all of His glory to take home to Heaven all of those who have put their faith in Him! May we all be found faithful until we see Him ‘face to face’!

 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! Revelation 22:20

 

'America: The Cause of Our Decline and a Clarion Call for Christians' Part 2

America has been the envy of the world’s population for most of its history because of the freedoms it guarantees its citizens through its constitution, freedoms derived because of our founding father’s recognition that we were created with inalienable rights given to us by our Creator God.

Many have compared America to a second Israel, and for good reason because like Israel, we are the only other nation that has looked to God with reverence for guidance and direction and based our laws upon His Word. Moses shared with the people of Israel what made them a great nation:

 Look, I have taught you statutes and judgments just as the Lord my God has commanded me, so that you may do them in the land which you are entering to possess. So keep and do them, for that is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’  For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the Lord our God [is to us] whenever we call on Him? Or what great nation has statutes and judgments so righteous (upright, just) as this whole law which I am placing before you today? Deuteronomy 4:5-8 AMP

Like Israel, the world recognized America’s greatness was due to its relationship with God, as evidenced by the quote below from Alexis de Tocqueville, the French diplomat and historian who toured America in the 1830’s and wrote the following in his famed ‘Democracy in America’:

“I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers – and it was not there . . . in her fertile fields and boundless forests and it was not there . . . in her rich mines and her vast world commerce – and it was not there . . . in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution – and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.” 
― Alexis de TocquevilleDemocracy in America

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The Lord through Moses warned the people of Israel that they not forget Him, the source of their greatness and goodness. He gave the Israelites the following instructions; wise words of counsel and warning that are applicable for us in America today:

“Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one [the only God]! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and mind and with all your soul and with all your strength [your entire being]. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be [written] on your heart and mind. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children [impressing God’s precepts on their minds and penetrating their hearts with His truths] and shall speak of them when you sit in your house and when you walk on the road and when you lie down and when you get up. Deuteronomy 6:4-7 AMP (See also Deuteronomy 4:9)

America’s decline is because we have forgotten God, the Source of our greatness, and we have failed to instruct the next generation in the truth of His commands. God warns us that the nation that forsakes Him, He will in turn forsake. (Isaiah 1:28; 2 Chronicles 24:18  Ezekiel 14:13-14  Judges 10:13

 Our forsaking God is the reason we are experiencing the internal decline in our nation, as well as why we are losing the world’s respect that we enjoyed when we operated under the rule of God-inspired laws rather than laws based upon the dictates of man.

Not only was Israel’s eventual decline and the scattering of its people due to their forgetting God and His faithfulness, but it was also due to its embracing idolatry in place of God. Like Israel, we have committed two evils: we have turned our back on God and His commands, and we have embraced a false belief system that posits that man can control his own destiny apart from God. These words God spoke to Israel are true for us in America today:

 “…for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.” Jeremiah 2:13 ESV

Yes, there have been and are grave consequences for our removal of prayer and Biblical teaching from our public schools, the institutions where the majority of the next generation is being educated. And there are also grave consequences for teaching a false belief system —Humanism—that we have substituted in place of God’s truth.  Humanism (also known as secular humanism) assumes that there is no God, no spiritual dimension to life, and therefore no revealed absolute truth or moral code. It posits that human beings are capable of being ethical and moral without religion or God; that man is capable of determining what is good based upon his own judgment; and that scientific and technological advancements will enable mankind to make wiser decisions that will improve the conditions for humanity.

“Humanism is a democratic and ethical life stance, which affirms that human beings have the right and responsibility to give meaning and shape to their own lives. It stands for the building of a more humane society through an ethic based on human and other natural values in the spirit of reason and free inquiry through human capabilities. It is not theistic, and it does not accept supernatural views of reality. “ The Minimum Statement on Humanism from the Amsterdam Declaration 2002 that represents the official defining statement of World Humanism

Since it does not accept that there is a God, it obviously opposes Creationism and embraces the teaching of evolution. The following is taken from a statement made by the 1977 manifesto of the American Humanist Association:

There are no alternatives to the principle of evolution, with its "tree of life" pattern, that any competent biologist of today takes seriously....Evolution is therefore the only view that should be expounded in public-school courses on science.*

The removal of the teaching of Creationism and the widespread teaching of the theory of evolution has dramatically impacted the beliefs of the citizens of our nation. Creationism lets students know that they are uniquely designed by their Creator; each person has significance, purpose, and is accountable to his Creator for what he does with his life. Evolutionary theory does not provide the same sense of meaning, direction, or accountability nor does it give the same hope in an afterlife to the adherents of its belief system.  

Just a few of the secular humanists that have influenced our educational system and culture include:

  • Mary Calderone: American physician and a public health advocate for sexual education
  • Richard Dawkins: ethologist, evolutionary biologist and author
  • John Dewey: leading psychologist of the 20th century and educational reformer
  • Joseph Fletcher: American professor who founded the theory of situational ethics in the 1960s; leading academic involved in the topic of abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, eugenics and cloning
  • Sigmund Freud: Austrian neurologist who founded the discipline of psychoanalysis.
  • Betty Friedan:  American writer, activist, and feminist. A leading figure in the Women's Movement in the United States
  • Aldous Huxley: English writer best known for his novel Brave New World
  • Abraham Maslow: American professor of psychology who created Maslow's hierarchy of needs
  • Bill Nye: American science educator
  • Carl Rogers: American psychologist and among the founders of the humanistic approach to psychology
  • Margaret Sanger: American sex educator, nurse, and birth control activist who established Planned Parenthood 
  • B. F. Skinner: American behaviorist, author, inventor, social philosopher and poet 
  • Benjamin Spock: American pediatrician whose book Baby and Child Care, published in 1946, is one of the biggest best-sellers of all time and hugely influenced child-rearing
  • Gloria Steinem: feminist, journalist, social activist and spokeswoman for the feminist movement
  • Gore Vidal: American author, playwright, essayist, screenwriter, and political activist
  • Kurt Vonnegut: American author and satirist 
  • Walt Whitman: American poet, essayist and journalist

Secular humanism beliefs infiltrated our educational system in the 1930’s and now permeate our public educational system and our culture as a whole. Through our public schools, our nation’s children are being indoctrinated in a set of beliefs, values, and behaviors that are sharply contrary to the teachings of the Bible. As God warns us in His Word, there are consequences for forsaking the truth and embracing false teaching. We are, as God’s Word instructs us, reaping what we have sown.

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked [He will not allow Himself to be ridiculed, nor treated with contempt nor allow His precepts to be scornfully set aside]; for whatever a man sows, this and this only is what he will reap. For the one who sows to his flesh [his sinful capacity, his worldliness, his disgraceful impulses] will reap from the flesh ruin and destruction, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Galatians 6:7-8 AMP

If we liken our children’s minds to fertile soil, our schools have removed the ‘good seed’ that was being sown—Biblical truth-- and replaced it with ‘bad seed’—secular humanism. The bad seed, like weeds, has taken over and ‘invaded’ the minds of our vulnerable children. We as a nation have been deceived into thinking that we will not pay the consequences for what we have been teaching our children for almost the past century. Over the years, students trained in our schools have risen to positions of influence in journalism, social media, entertainment, politics, government, the military, businesses, institutions of higher learning—including many seminaries—as well as parents in our homes—and they in turn are teaching the next generation the secular humanism worldview they were taught. Christians and non-Christians alike are commenting that our nation seems to be ‘going to hell in a hand basket’. School shootings; students consumed with ‘doing whatever feels good’ without regard to others; rampant promiscuity, homosexuality, and gender identity confusion; a lack of respect for authority; and epidemic drug addiction, depression and suicides are just some of the ‘fruit’ produced by our nation’s forsaking God and His laws and embracing secular humanism.

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In general, our educational system-- which used to be based upon absolute truths derived from a biblical worldview, is now teaching that truth and morals are relative and can be determined by man, which clearly impacts how one looks at everything-- from math problems, to social issues, to even one’s gender.

Why is it essential that we know this influence in our culture? Because there is a consequence for our lack of knowledge.

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge [of My law, where I reveal My will].
Because you [the priestly nation] have rejected knowledge,
I will also reject you from being My priest.
Since you have forgotten the law of your God,
I will also forget your children. Hosea 6:4 AMP

What we fill our minds with is important because our thoughts influence our beliefs; our beliefs impact our actions and shape our character; and they ultimately affect our eternity.

For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he…” Proverbs 23:7 KJV

Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” John 6:28-29

 When I think of Humanism which assumes that man alone apart from God has the answers to the big questions of life—the following verse comes to my mind:

 There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. Proverbs 14:12 ESV

God instructs us on how to keep away from self-deception:

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2 ESV

May we be found faithful to renew our minds by studying God’s Word and spending time in prayer and communion with Jesus, the Living Word, so that we will know the Truth that alone can set us free from deception, sin, and death, and free to enjoy the abundant and eternal life He offers! (John 8:32)

*American Humanist Association, "A Statement Affirming Evolution as a Principle of Science," The Humanist, January-February 1977, Vol. XXXVII, p. 4

This is Part 2 in a series on America: The Cause of Our Decline and a Clarion Call for Christians

There will be additional articles posted in this series; to read Part 1: go to https://www.trueviewministries.org/blog/2018/3/15/america-the-cause-of-our-decline-and-a-clarion-call-for-christians-part-1

Written by Julie Van Gorp