Gifts
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August 2015
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October 2015

September 2015

The Highest Calling

ScripturesFix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.

~Deuteronomy 11:18-21

When Jesus ascended into Heaven, He left us with one command, 'Go make disciples of all nations'. We aren't supposed to be undercover Christians, or keep silent about our faith. How could we anyway? If we believe the Truth that Jesus is the only way to restore our relationship with the Loving God and to release us from the burden of sin and guilt, why wouldn't we want to share that with everyone we meet? For it truly IS The Good News! 

Still, we don't have to stand on a street corner or travel to an exotic jungle or desert to share this Good News. For many of us, there isn't much opportunity to meet new people or groups of unchurched people. God hasn't given you a pass. In fact, He may have given you the toughest, most important assignment of all -- teaching children, and particularly, your own. Our society places a high value on education. We expect our kids to be at school every day for 180 days per year, but how much time do we spend teaching them the Words of Life that will affect their souls eternally?

When our children are young, it's easy to teach them Bible stories. There are plenty of picture books of Noah, Joseph, Jonah or Adam and Eve. It's tempting to think of these like Cinderella or Goldilocks, but beware of trivializing the deep issues and lessons contained therein. My kids wasted no time cutting to the difficult parts of all those stories and I found myself discussing deep topics like sin, punishment and death much soon than I thought I would have to. But kids want to know the Truth, and because they have faith in you, they will believe what you tell them IS the truth. But be sure to emphasize that what you teach them is from God's Word. Establish that God is the ultimate authority, because the day will come when your child will realize that you are a fallible sinner just like them, and they will no longer automatically accept what you tell them as the truth.  In fact, the day will come when they challenge every deeply held belief that you have, so be sure you can defend those beliefs on the firm foundation of God's Word.

Shepherding a child's faith from birth to adulthood is a sacred duty, and a difficult one. It takes a lot of patience and faith. Reciting the Sinner's Prayer is easy, but truly developing a deep faith that can stand up and last against the persistent tide of culture, peer pressure and skepticism is a real challenge. In the end, we sow the seeds of faith that we trust God will grow into the wisdom to receive salvation by trusting in Christ Jesus. As the days get darker, nothing in this world could be as important as reaching children's hearts and souls with the life-giving Word of God and the faith to overcome darkness. 

 

 

And we win the victory over the world by means of our faith. Who can defeat the world? Only the person who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

~1 John 5:4-5

 


All the Flavors

Flavor Cone textSo in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. ~Galatians 3:26-28

Jesus warned us in Matthew 24:12 that 'because of people breaking the laws and sin being everywhere, the love in the hearts of many people will become cold.' I suppose that day has come. From the migrant crisis in Europe and Asia, to the immigration debates and racial tension in the US, it is clear from the news that many hearts have become cold.

Although it makes me sad, I've come to expect it from the 'world'. However, it deeply troubles me the number of people claiming to be Christians who seem not to have read Jesus' teachings on foreigners and neighbors and love. How can they look at another brother or sister and feel anything but compassion?

Here's a little refresher course for cold hearts (please share!):

  • ‘You must love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ Matthew 22:39

  • “‘When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God. Leviticus 19:33

  • "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35

  • 'For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Matthew 35:26

  • Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27

  • The Samaritan woman, taken aback, asked, “How come you, a Jew, are asking me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” (Jews in those days wouldn’t be caught dead talking to Samaritans.) John 4:9
  • The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

  • Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2:3-4
  • Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 1 Peter 3:8-9

Red or yellow, black or white, ALL are precious in His sight. God made us all, and He desperately wants us all to accept His invitation to become children of God through the acceptance of Jesus' sacrifice for our salvation.  That makes us all brothers and sisters -- and in a deeper way than blood relations. We will be spending eternity together.

Diversity is wonderful. It challenges us to hear new ideas, learn new languages, try new foods, appreciate new music, explore new cultures. Roses are beautiful, but it would be a boring world if there were ONLY roses. In the same way, we'd get tired of a shop that only sold vanilla ice cream. All the flavors are wonderful in their own way.

There is no need for divisiveness. We are all members of one race - the HUMAN race, and citizens of one world. We all need love and kindness. We all struggle to protect and provide for our families. We all flourish when justice and security prevail - we all suffer when injustice and cruelty oppress. Because life is hard, we really need to work together. So whenever you have the opportunity: choose kindness, choose compassion, choose Love.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

~1 John 4:8-9