Pastor’s Corner — Gunfire vs. The Gospel

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Gunfire vs. The Gospel

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A Prayer for Broken Hearts

As a believing mother, my greatest desire for my children is that they be brought to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. That they learn of God’s love for them and put their faith and trust completely in Him, and that they learn what it means to live a life that is glorifying and pleasing to Christ. As their mother, I have a responsibility to teach them about Christ, to reflect Christ in my own life, and to pray for them.

When it comes to prayer, it is easy to pray that my children live full, successful lives. It is easy to pray that God protect my children. It is easy to pray for my children to marry godly spouses and to raise respectful children in a home overflowing with love. It is easy to pray that God draw my children to Himself and that they receive His gift of salvation. It is also easy to overlook one of the most important aspects of that salvation — repentance. Repentance is the act of realizing that we have done wrong things (sinned against God), and realizing that we need to turn from our ways (2 Chronicles 7:14). When one is brought to true godly repentance, he has realized that he is fallible, that he is wretched, that he is imperfect and that nothing he does apart from Christ will ever be good enough to enter into the perfect kingdom of God (2 Corinthians 7:10). When one is brought to repentance, his heart is broken. In order for one to receive God’s gift of salvation, he must first be brought to repentance (Luke 13:3, 1 John 1:9).

While it is fine to pray for the safety, happiness and success of our children, we must also remember that God uses the trials and turmoils of our lives to draw us closer to Him (James 1:2, Romans 8:28). The most important prayer for our children is also the most difficult. We must pray that our children be brought to repentance, that they realize that they are imperfect, wretched sinners who are in need of a Savior. We must pray for broken hearts.

“And it will mean that my children have to see that they have sinned against a holy God and that it is only through the grace and sacrifice of his Son that they can be forgiven. Jesus said that those who have been forgiven little will love little (Luke 7:47). My children need to know what that means. They have to see the utter depths of their sinfulness and that without Jesus, they are without hope. And they have to trust in Jesus as their only source of hope and righteousness. Only as they acknowledge their need for him and his forgiveness will they grow to love God in the way I most want for them. The path could be hard, and praying for this can be frightening, but there really is nothing more important. . . . Father, give my children more of you.” *

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*Quote taken from here

The Tolerance Buzzsaw

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As believers, we are ridiculed for many things and accused of many things: hypocrisy, not being loving, too judgmental, and the list goes on. Perhaps one of the biggest things we receive criticism for is our lack of tolerance. As a follower of Christ, I do my very best to follow what the Word of God says and I am very outspoken on what those beliefs are: I am pro-life, I am against homosexuality, I am against murder, lying, cheating, stealing, divorce. All of these things I believe are wrong and I believe that because that is what God has revealed to me through His Word, and in no way do I feel that we should tolerate any of these sins, or the many others that I haven’t even began to mention.

Because of my beliefs, I have encountered quite a bit of resistance. Why? Because in today’s society intolerance is simply intolerable. This is because one of the biggest misconceptions in today’s society is that without acceptance there is no love. People have this idea in their head that if you choose not to accept someone’s behavior or lifestyle then you are choosing not to love them, therefore, that makes you a hypocrite because God commands Christians to love. So, let’s say my son (whom I love dearly) decides that he wants to throw a fit and scream and hit and yell. As a parent, I of course cannot accept his behavior and (if I want his behavior improve) must show him this through whatever form of discipline my husband and I feel is appropriate. We have shown our son that his behavior is unacceptable and we will not tolerate it. Using this logic, by showing our son we do not accept or tolerate his behavior, we are showing him that we do not love him. This could not be further from the truth! In fact I would even argue that we are demonstrating our love for him by showing our disapproval and teaching him what we believe is right. Or how about if my husband (whom I love deeply) decides he wants to go out and murder someone who threatens our family? Of course I cannot accept his behavior (justified or not), but I absolutely do not stop loving him. If you’re willing to say that not accepting a person’s behavior is the same as not loving them, then this logic needs to be applied to every situation — you can’t just pick and choose.

Tolerance today is being treated as a virtue. In the bible tolerance is never mentioned as a virtue, except in the sense of patience, forbearance, and longsuffering. In fact, the contemporary notion of tolerance is a pathetically feeble concept compared to the love Scripture commands Christians to show even to their enemies.*

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”

— Ephesians 4:2

27 ‘But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.'”

— Luke 6:27-28

In today’s society, it is politically incorrect to label anyone’s beliefs as wrong. We can believe what we want but how dare we question that any other opinion is wrong. “Just about the only remaining taboo is the naive and politically incorrect notion that another person’s ‘alternative lifestyle,’ religion, or different perspective is wrong.”* The only exception to this rule is that it’s okay for people to be intolerant of those who claim to know the truth of God’s Word. Why is that? John MacArthur says it so eloquently:

“It is because the truth-claims of Scripture — and particularly Jesus’ claim to be the only way to God — are diametrically opposed to the fundamental presuppositions of the post-modern mind. The Christian message represents a death blow to the post-modernist worldview.”*

Believers, I urge you to stand strong in the faith. Stand strong in God’s Word and do not be intimidated by our post-modern society and the growing desire for the acceptance of sinful practices (whether it be abortion, homosexuality, lying, cheating, stealing, divorce, etc). Be bold in speaking against what is wrong and be compassionate and loving in a world that so desperately needs Christ. It is only then, when we are planted firmly in God’s Word and trusting fully in Him, that we will have the boldness to speak up for what is right, and against the sin that so easily pulls us down. 

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

— Hebrews 12: 1-3

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* Taken from here

Right here, right now

this was REALLY good! a great reminder!

A Pendulum World

I recently signed up for Instagram. Yeah, I’m kinda late catching the wave on that one. But, since getting on Instagram, it seems like my mind is always turning. I am constantly looking for a picture that is just right to share with my followers. Is that “Instagram worthy?” “P is so cute right now, I better run and get my phone!” So when this next moment happened, I feel I learned a lesson.

Last night there was a big thunderstorm that rolled in about 8pm. I was about to put P to bed, but he was so intrigued by the thunder that we went outside. Daddy was gone, so it was just me and him. I was sitting on the driveway; P nestled in my lap. We sat there in relative silence, except for P’s outbursts of excitement as we saw the lightning light up the sky and…

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A Name Called “Mommy”

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I saw this picture yesterday and absolutely loved it — why? Because it is 100% true! When our son was born my heart grew tremendously, to the point that I wasn’t sure if I had anymore love to give. And then God graciously blessed us with our sweet Abi. Now my heart is overflowing with love and thankfulness (and there’s still room for more!)!!

I love my kids and my family more than anything (apart from Christ). I am so thankful that God chose to bless me with the wonderful gift of motherhood. But, unfortunately, despite how much I love my children, sometimes I forget to slow down and enjoy them. I get so distracted with cleaning the dishes, folding the laundry, or making the beds that I don’t always pay attention to the new skill that my daughter learned or to the new piece of artwork my son created. Sure, I keep the house tidy, the chores done and the kids safe, but did I give them the attention they deserved?

Since I was young my dream job was always to be a stay-at-home-mom, and now that I have that opportunity I couldn’t be more thrilled. But it is so easy to get caught up in doing other “wifey” and “motherly” things that we forget the most important part — actually being a mom to our kids. Now, it is true that making the beds and preparing lunch and cleaning the laundry is all part of being a mom and a wife, but there’s also the playing, and the coloring, and the pretending, and the reading, and the teaching and the sitting next to our kids simply because they ask us to even though we’re bored out of our minds.

Every age has its difficulties — there’s the 3 a.m. feedings with newborns, the getting-into-everything stage with one-year-olds, the tantrums and testing the limits stage with two and three year-olds and on and on and on (we haven’t even reached the teenage years yet :S). While this may be true, it’s important to remember that they are only that age for 365 days, and then it’s gone. And boy do they go by fast!!

As mothers, our kids are our most important mission field. Housework is important, and there is most definitely a need for clean dishes, clean laundry, teeth brushing and beds that are made. But even more, there is a need for full bellies, extra snuggles, pajama days, blanket forts in the living room, stimulated minds, bible stories, and hearts full of love and joy. You may go to bed with a messy house, a sink full of dishes and wearing the same clothes you woke up in this morning, but you can rest peacefully knowing your kids are safe, their bellies full and their needs provided for.

Enjoy your kids today. They’ll be a whole day older tomorrow.

The Truth About Heaven

I have had several friends (some believers, some not) tell me about the book Heaven Is For Real by Todd Burpo and who have recommended it to me as a great read or a great description of heaven. There are several books on the market that talk about a person’s near death experience and their visit to heaven (or hell) and back and what they saw or experienced. I realize that this book is several years old, but I do my best to stay away from these stories and I would like to share with you a few reasons why you should as well.

 

#1. Our views on heaven and hell should not be based on the words of a sinful, mortal, and fallible human being. 

No matter how old they are, how “innocent” they are, what their experiences have been or whether or not they confess to being a bible-believing Christian, there is not a human being on earth with the imagination great enough to picture what the kingdom of God is like. 

But as it is written: “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.”

— 1 Corinthians 2:9

(21st Century KJV)

The New Testament adds much to our understanding of heaven (and hell) but we are still not permitted to add our own subjective ideas and experience-based conclusions to what God has specifically revealed through his inerrant Word. Indeed, we are forbidden in all spiritual matters to go beyond what is written.**

Now, brothers and sisters, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, ‘Do not go beyond what is written.’ Then you will not be puffed up in being a follower of one of us over against the other.”

— 1 Corinthians 4:6

#2. We know (according to Scripture) of only a few who entered into the realms of glory and returned, and even they are reluctant to speak of it.

We know from Scripture that Paul had an experience of Heaven that was so real to Him. He mentions the experience only once (reluctantly), and even then it was fourteen years after the fact. And when he does mention it, he is quite vague on many details because he said that these were things that man is not capable to utter. He was forbidden to discuss what he saw and heard in paradise.

I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell. I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.”

— 2 Corinthians 12:2-7

We also know some who died and were raised back to life. Take Lazarus for example. He was in the grave four days before Christ raised him from the dead and not even once do we hear of what happened between the time he was dead to the time of his resurrection.

#3. God has given us in His word everything we need to know about heaven and hell.

theres-already-a-book-that-proves-heaven-is-for-real

Everything we know about heaven and hell has been revealed by God in His Word. It has been revealed in the ways which he wanted it to be revealed. While he may have used imperfect, sinful people to do so, we can be confident that what the bible says is true because we know it is from God himself.

Why would it have been unlawful for Paul to describe what he heard in heaven? After all, Ezekiel, Isaiah, and the apostle John each had visions of the very throne room of heaven and wrote about what they saw and heard. Their accounts are even part of inspired Scripture. That is precisely the point. Those in the Bible who wrote about seeing heaven were expressly commanded by God to do so and were carried along by the Spirit of God as they wrote (2 Peter 1:21). The relatively brief accounts they each gave are part of the God-breathed text. The Al­mighty Himself had those men record that information for our benefit in the precise words that He chose. No extrabiblical account of heaven can legitimately make that claim.**

19 We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

— 2 Peter 1:19-21

I leave you with a quote and short video from John MacArthur on this subject:

“It may be quite fascinating to read these intricately detailed ac­counts of people who claim to have come back from heaven, but that hobby is as dangerous as it is seductive. Readers not only get a twisted, unbiblical picture of heaven from these tall tales; they also imbibe a subjective, superstitious, shallow brand of spirituality. There is no rea­son to believe anyone who claims to have gone to heaven and returned (John 3:13; 1:18). Studying mystical accounts of supposed journeys into the afterlife yields nothing but confusion, contradiction, false hope, bad doctrine, and a host of similar evils. … What God has revealed in Scripture is the only legitimate place to get a clear understanding of the heavenly kingdom. … The Bible is our only reliable source of information about heaven. … it is misleading and dangerous to probe and dissect people’s near-death experiences, as if they could give us some important truth about the afterlife that we are lacking from Scripture.”*

 

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**Quote taken from here

*Quote taken from here

 

On ‘Mommy Wars’

First, I want to update everyone on our little Abi. We went in at the end of last month to get her prosthesis made and put in and it looks great! While she was a little annoyed (understandably) at having people poke around at her eye, she did remarkably well through the whole process and, as usual, is taking everything in stride. While she was beautiful before, we are thankful for her new look and continue to be thankful for her overall health and development.

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Now, onto business. Today’s blog post was inspired by some chapters in the book, “Mom Enough” which was written by several authors and was put out by John Piper’s “Desiring God” organization. This is (so far) a wonderful book and I would encourage all ladies (mom’s or not) to read it. I have just this week started reading the book and while I am only on the 11th chapter, it has thus far proven to be very encouraging while at the same time very humbling and, dare I say it, even convicting.

full_mom-enough

My topic today is on the ‘mommy wars.’ We’ve all been there — moms comparing themselves to other moms, parents thinking their way is best and judging others for doing things differently, etc. etc. I can honestly say that I have never seen a more judgmental group of people than that of moms towards other moms. How sad this is. Many of us have been on both sides of the spectrum. When our son was born my desire was to breastfeed, unfortunately, there were various reasons why this just didn’t work out for our oldest and he was put exclusively on formula around 2-3 weeks of age. This was a very hard decision for me and I cannot tell you how much criticism I received for this decision, most of which came from people who, to this day, have still never met our son. This was very frustrating and very hurtful to me as a new mother. I have also received judgment from family members who we are very close to regarding some of our parenting styles which are different than theirs, causing me to be self-conscious and at times bitter and resentful. On the other hand, I myself have been known to be judgmental towards mothers who do things in a way that I would never do — co-sleeping, not vaccinating their children, giving their children pacifiers well into their school age years. The worst part of all this is that I know I am not the only one who falls into the comparison trap, whether as the victim or the judge. Friends, this is a terrible shame.

It is true that there are many different parenting styles practiced today with which many of us may not agree. But our focus should not be on what others parents are doing that we disagree with, rather our focus should be are these parents living the gospel to their children. I have many friends who are parents and who do things that I disagree with or that I don’t like. This does not, by any means, make them bad parents. The fact that another parent does something differently than I does not mean that they love their children any less than I love mine. The important thing is that these parents are raising children who love the Lord and who desire to follow Him. As Christian parents who love the Lord, our biggest mission field is to our children. The moment we take our eyes of the cross is the moment we lose sight of what it means to be a parent.

What’s your focus today?