Dealing with Anxiety

Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved. – Psalm 55:22 (KJV) Like many Christians, I have been doing battle with anxiety and asking God for the faith to combat it. Living in ‘quarantine’ provides an excellent opportunity to get into the Word and mine some of the precious gems that are there for us as Christians. However, like many or most of us, I find myself deterred by worry about things like health and our financial condition as we weather this storm. It is easy to watch the news and get depressed or angry at people — wanting to lash out and blame them for this when, in reality, the blame goes all the way back to Adam and Eve in the days of Genesis. What does all that negativity do, except to cause physical and emotional distress to our bodies and render us less effective for Christ?

When I stop to think and open the pages of His Word, i realize that He has this. He has His purpose in all of this as Sovereign God. I have some, advice for the reader (if not already doing so, use some of the extra time you may find yourself with to open the Bible and study it. There are a wealth of resources in this digital age to aid the Christian in their walk with the Lord. One of the most popular [and something I use daily] is the YouVersion app. It is freely available for Android and iPhones at no cost. It has a number of short daily devotions one can avail themselves of, bringing reminders of who we are in Christ and the manifold blessings that entail as a result. Those blessings include the innermost knowledge that we are safe in the Lord and able to receive with gladness all that such a relationship affords. Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad. -Proverbs 12:25 (ESV).

Isaiah 41:10 (ESV): fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Happy Resurrection Day!

For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. -1 Corinthians 15:21. While this may be the strangest Resurrection Day (Easter Sunday) ever celebrated by the family of God, it is [nonetheless] a day to commemorate the morning that the empty tomb was discovered and the obvious fact that Jesus had risen from the dead was made plain. I hope and pray that, as we deal with a world full of fear over a virus that has claimed many lives, we may reflect on the One who has a way to turn death into life. Eternal Life. Happy Resurrection Day!

Grace, Grace and More Grace.

and then sin will no longer have any power over you — you are living not under law, but under grace. -Romans 6:14 (NJB)

But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace. – Romans 11:6 (ESV)

Recently, I have begun re-reading Brennan Manning’s book The Ragamuffin Gospel. While I recognize that this book and some of its ideas may be controversial in some circles, I think it makes some good points about the believer and their relationship to God through Christ. The simple fact that Brennan was formerly in the Catholic priesthood is enough to send some into a tailspin and accuse me of promoting heresy. However, from my viewpoint, his life experience cements his credentials as someone who examined the issue in detail from more than one point of view and has a more informed perspective as a result.

Let me get some things out of the way at the outset of this post. I do read some Catholic literature and refer to Catholic Bibles on occasion in my studies of God’s Word. One Bible I enjoy making use of [among others] is the New Jerusalem Bible. I even at times read the Apocrypha and can get a lot out of it. I believe in the “invisible church” — the body of believers who really ‘get it’ and whose Lord and Savior is Jesus. I think the invisible church can be found within the walls of many different types of churches… regardless of the name that may be over the door.

When I was called by God, I was dead in my trespasses and sins and needed to be made alive again by Him (regenerated). It was not because of some theology I expounded or great deeds done, nor was it the result of some magnificent penance I performed. It was simply because of God’s incomprehensible love for me and through His grace that I have been saved. Nothing more than that. I must be careful to reflect on that love and grace each and every day, so I don’t think myself too terrible to save without having to do some extra work. I have nothing to bargain with God over. I am completely dependent on His grace.

Having stated my beliefs and opinions above, let me also say this clearly: I am not Roman Catholic. I am not Baptist, Lutheran or Methodist. I am simply a Christian. In fact, even the church I attend does not have a denominational affiliation attached to it. Let me also state plainly that I suspect that many Roman Catholics are true Christians, and would say the same about many others of Protestant persuasion. It is God who sees the heart, not me. Not you. God. Many protestants like to point the finger at Catholics, accusing them of following a works-based religion and discounting the Grace of God. The reverse is also true, where many Catholics see Protestants as doomed. It is sad that so many don’t get it. Jesus is everywhere He needs to be and will meet us when we call for Him.

I think that Bible study is very, very important. From its pages, I can discover true doctrine. But I also think that we often tend (as believers) to place too much emphasis on some things that God may deem of lesser importance and allow them to divide us, therefore rendering us ineffective in spreading the message of the Kingdom: the message of love and grace. And more love, and more grace.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. – Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV) The message of grace can all too easily become obscured in theology, which means we miss the whole point of the Gospel. I have spent much time mouthing the word “grace” without the slightest comprehension of what it really means -and how much God has really done for me. It is too easy to think that I have to perform some sort of ‘works’ to compensate for the extra sinful nature that I sadly possess as a human. For some of us maybe it’s some Sunday morning duty we perform at Church that we would rather not be doing -or perhaps it is tithing when we begrudge the money to the church, but fear God’s disapproval.

What shall we say, then? Should we continue to live in sin so that God’s grace will increase? Certainly not! We have died to sin—how then can we go on living in it? -Romans 6:1-2 (GNT) I write none of this as an excuse to sin in a conscience-free religious environment with an idea of a God who simply says “don’t worry about it” when I choose to indulge in sinful behavior which is clearly, if nothing else, self-destructive or harmful to those around me. Because I truly get the idea that God loves me in my broken, sinful state enough for Jesus to go to the cross for me, then it is natural for me to want to obey Him and live in a way that pleases Him — not to indulge myself even more in destructive, offensive behavior whose end is death.

Lastly, let me say a couple of words about “ecumenism.” Many fundamentalists and evangelicals cringe when they hear the word because of the connotations it often carries. Many see it as a way to erode doctrine and adapt some sort of “everything goes” way of looking at the Christian life. I know this is true for many instances. I try to boil it down to what it is supposed to mean and apply it to my life in that manner (thinking of the term when I ponder my relationship to other Christians): the principle or aim of promoting unity among the world’s Christian Churches. I am not referring to liberal, “anything goes” churches that aim to change with the times and please the world at the drop of a dime. I am talking of those who preach that Jesus is the Son of God and the only way to God and life everlasting. I am talking of those who take the Bible seriously as God’s inerrant word to us.

I believe firmly in doctrine. At the same time, I must allow that there are believers in other denominations [and in Catholicism] who are truly saved because they get what Jesus did for them and have placed their trust in Him. Many realize that combining faith with any form of work diminishes the true meaning of the Gospel and attempts to unseat God’s grace as the only thing that can save us. One need simply spend time reading, praying and meditating over the words in Hebrews 11 to come to a full realization of what it is that truly saves.

I am sorry to offend anyone who may be Catholic or Orthodox or any other form of religion that likes to work in some ‘tasks’ in combination with salvation, but I must speak what I know to be the truth as revealed in God’s word. That truth is GRACE.

THE STRONGHOLD

The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; he is their stronghold in the time of trouble.The Lord helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in him. – Psalm 37:39-40 (ESV)

I think it is important to remember in this time of global concern over the spread of deadly viruses and such that our faith must first and foremost be in God. In the United States of America, the President will be addressing the public tonight at 6 PM EST in an attempt to assuage fears resulting from the spread of coronavirus to our continent. While this pandemic is not to be taken lightly, it is important to always remember that there is nothing man can do that God cannot do, but there is plenty that our LORD can do that man cannot. Prayer should always be the first thing we engage in, not a last resort.

It’s been a while…

So I am sitting here in front of my Chromebook, trying to decide what to write a post on — just for the sake of posting something! Hardly fair to any passerby who might stop to read it. Albeit, there are several topics of interest — particularly given the current political crisis in the United States with the election of a socialist a possibility and also the growing corona-virus epidemic globally. There is much someone with a biblical worldview might offer on either topic. But… I’ll stick to just one.

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
-Colossians 3:2 (ESV). The verse I have chosen to comment on would apply to either topic mentioned above. However, I will stick to the topic of the upcoming election for now. There are some that are very upset when they even consider the possibility of someone like Sen. Sanders becoming president, due to his many socialist views. To those with such concerns, let’s remember who it is that appoints rulers — and that they should focus on Him, not man’s feeble attempts to solve his own social problems. Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. -Romans 13:1 (ESV). Here is more on the topic from Peter: Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme,or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. – 1 Peter 2:13-17 (ESV).

There is a certain comfort when one realizes they are not in control and things rest in the ever-capable hands of Almighty God. Wouldn’t you agree?

How Much Does He Know?

O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. -Psalm 139:1-5 (ESV)

I cannot help but be overwhelmed when I ponder the way God loves us. When I think about my life as it has been, the priorities I have chased that are so often contrary to God’s will for me, it is hard not to be overcome with amazement at His grace. Can you make the same claim? Does He know you as His own in Christ? Can you feel His hand on you? I hope you can say unreservedly yes! It is as simple to begin as it could be: acknowledge that He loves you and died for you on the Cross and ask Him to be Lord and Savior of your life. In prayer, ask God to guide you to a Bible-believing Church that teaches the Scripture. you will embark upon a new life beyond your wildest dreams as you get to know the God of the universe as your very own Father! What better Christmas present could anyone ever receive?

What really matters.

A pretentious, showy life is an empty life; a plain and simple life is a full life. -Proverbs 13:7 (MSG) So often we spend much in resources to impress others, as if in some way that improves our life or gives it meaning. Each of us is here for such a short time that it makes no sense to waste it on acquiring and exhibiting that which is very temporary in itself.

I give up; I am tired of living. Leave me alone. My life makes no sense. -Job 7:16 (GNT) Apart from a life spent with God, there is no sense to be made of anything. He alone gives us true purpose and meaning in our lives.