Share Your World With Cee Cee Pt. 28

Happy birthday week Cee and Chris! I loved the questions this week!

  • How many rings before you answer the phone? It really depends where I am. At the office I usually pick up as soon as I am paged. When I am at home,especially when I am on supper break,I will often let the answering machine pick up. I very seldom pick up the cell quickly as I usually have to fish it out of some secret pocket in my computer case…once I realize it is my phone ringing. ūüôā
  • If you were to be on a reality TV show which one would you be on and why? I would love to be on the Amazing Race. How much fun would it be to globetrek like that?I don’t think I would probably be on long though…a little to strenuous.
  • What‚Äôs your middle name?¬† Why? My middle name is Elon. Why? because the Lillie family 8¬†generations¬†ago thought that Elon¬†was a cool name. I bet there were tons of Elons during the Revolution. As a kid I would¬† have done anything to be Allen or Mike but over the years I have grown into the name.
  • Is the glass half empty or half full? What is in the glass? Oh most definitely half full and naturally it is filled with coffee.

YUM!

 

 

 

Gotta Stand Pt. 10

     Today we are going to finish up our study in Ephesians Chapters 4 through 6. Paul writes:

¬†¬†¬†¬† ‚ÄúA final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we¬† are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly placesTherefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.‚ÄĚ

¬†¬†¬† We discussed yesterday how living for God was only possible through trusting God. It is God who truly changes our behavior not us. But behavior, important as it is, ¬†is not the fix either. Good¬†behavior¬†doesn’t¬†destroy storms. Only God can do that; But God will flow through our lives more and more as we begin to live right for Him, shutting down storms as He goes.

     As we live for God we have to take one more step if we want to stand through our storms effectively. We have to put on His armor. We have to call forth the supernatural power of God into our lives. We have to ask him for miracles. When the answers of man will not make the grade then the miracles of God are needed. The miracles of divine truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, and rhema word are needed in our situations today. They will be needed even more in the days ahead.

So church what are we going to do? We’ve gotta stand!

Gotta Stand Pt. 9

¬†¬†¬†¬† Yesterday we concluded with a question. “How do we begin to live right for God?”

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Practically: If I’m a thief how do I stop stealing? If I’m angry how do I calm down? If I lie every time I open my big yap how do I quit it?What if I’m a fornicator?A nag? Abusive? Frustrating? Lazy? A slave-driver? In short, how do I go about changing all the negative ca-ca that is in my life?

¬†¬†¬†¬† Some people would tell you that true change will only come by trying really, really hard. It’s¬†the old Franklin philosophy, “God helps those who help themselves”.

¬†¬†¬†¬† Others will tell you. “You can’t do anything. It’s all God’s work. Just wait and one day you will magically be ‘poofed’ into goodness.”

    So which is it? Neither answer is completely correct. They are both extremes; And extremes usually hold a smidgen of the truth and a whole lot of hot air.

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†Let’s ¬†skip out on the book of Ephesians for a¬†post and turn to another of Paul’s writings, Galatians. The church at Galatia was a church Ben F. would have liked, a real work hard¬†¬†kind of church. They believed that salvation could only be¬†achieved by accepting Jesus and then DOING¬† everything the Jewish law required.

¬†¬†¬†¬† Paul writes, “Oh, foolish Galatians! Who has cast an evil spell on you?¬†…. Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ. How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? ” Gal 3:1-3 NLT

¬†¬†¬† Paul indicates that not only is forgiveness of sins God’s work, so is making a person perfect. Does that mean we sit around and wait for God to ‘poof’ us? No! Just as God has a work in helping us to live for Him, the Christian has a part to play as well.

¬†¬†¬† Paul continues to the Galatians, “So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. ” Gal: 5:16 NLT

¬†¬†¬† To¬†the church in Rome he writes the same thing another way, “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice‚ÄĒthe kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.¬† Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. ” Romans 12:1,2 NLT

¬†If we are to stand in victory, our part is to trust God and give ourselves to Him. God’s part is to work the change.

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Gotta Stand Pt. 8

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†If you have been tracking with us through the “Gotta Stand” blogs, right now¬†you are probably in¬†one of three places:¬†

¬†¬†¬†¬†You might be saying “Oh so that‚Äôs what I‚Äôm doing wrong!¬† Hallelujah! I know what needs to be fixed!”

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Maybe you are saying ” God wants me to do…What!¬†I can‚Äôt do all that! This is crazy!”

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†If that’s you let me encourage you to take a deep breath and¬†trust Christ¬†to do the work for you. Bit by bit you will see the change. Rome wasn‚Äôt built in a day and neither is a mature Christian.¬†Remember our job in all this is to see what needs to be changed and to ask¬†Jesus to change it.¬†His job is to do the changing!

¬† ¬†¬†¬†¬† Finally someone out there might be saying, ‚ÄúI am doing this stuff pastor to the best of my ability and I am still falling down in the midst of this storm.‚Ä̬†

¬†¬†¬†¬† It is to you Paul speaks when he says, ”

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† ‚ÄúA final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we¬† are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.¬† In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.”¬† Ephesians 6: 10-18 NLT

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†Sometimes¬†I¬†fall into the trap of believing behavior is the solution. I think¬†“If¬†I just act right everything will be all right. If I am good then life will straighten out.”

    Anyone who has tried this approach to life knows it doesn’t work. Sometimes you can keep doing the right things and things just get worse. Why? Because we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies. we are fighting against devils who hate us and who want to ruin us. Being polite and proper does not impress them into being nice.

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Christian behavior¬†keeps¬†us clean so that God can move into our lives and bring¬† supernatural answers that push back against the devil’s supernatural attacks. Our behavior won‚Äôt fix the storm. Only God can do that. But God will flow through our lives more and more as we begin to live right for Him.

So how do we do that? More tomorrow!

Gotta Stand Pt. 7

¬†¬†¬†¬† ‚ÄúAnd further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church…. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything. For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean…. In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself….¬† So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord,¬† for this is the right thing to do. “Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.”¬†Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord. Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ. Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. As slaves of Christ, do the will of God with all your heart. Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.¬† Remember that the Lord will reward each one of us for the good we do, whether we are slaves or free.¬† Masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Don’t threaten them; remember, you both have the same Master in heaven, and he has no favorites. A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.¬† ‚Äú Ephesians 5:21-6:10 NLT

¬†¬†¬†¬† I suppose I hardly qualify as a relationship expert here. I’m divorced. I have one adopted son who doesn’t even speak to me. If you asked me where I went wrong I’m not even¬†sure where I’d begin. My faults are many.¬†That’s just being honest.

¬†¬†¬†¬† What I do know, though, is that Christians are supposed to¬†relate differently¬†than non-Christians. Our motto in every relationship is supposed to be love and submission, grace and sacrifice. Those concepts aren’t just fluffy theology; They are hard-nosed, practical applications. A lot of everyday life is stuffed into the middle of¬†Eph.5:21¬†and Ephesians 6:10:¬†dishes, carpools, date nights and daily devotionals, dead-lines, chore charts, discipline and double shifts. In all these relationship driven items we are called to act out of love and submission, grace and sacrifice.

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†If we are going to stand in the now¬†we need to begin to live Christian in our relationships now. Our¬†past can not be allowed to dictate how we relate in the present. Also,¬†love and submission, grace and sacrifice have nothing to do with changing our relationships.¬†Relating right is not about winning other people over; It’s about reverencing Christ. We don’t change our behavior to fix our lives.¬†We change our behavior to please God. Then God fixes our lives to whatever degree He feels necessary.

We’ve gotta stand!¬†What do you think is the greatest hindrance to Christian relationship?

Gotta Stand Pt. 6

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Lights in the darkness! That’s what we are called to be!

¬†¬†¬†¬† ‚Äú¬† Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us¬† and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God. Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes‚ÄĒthese are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God….¬† once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light!¬†… Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.‚ÄĚ Eph. 5:1-20 NLT

      Paul admonishes us that the time has come for the church to step up its atmosphere of sexual purity.  If we want to stand through the storms of life God insists we be sexually pure.

     We live in an oversexed culture and God calls us to come away from it. It’s time to shut off the bedroom scenes on the television, it’s time to stop listening to and telling off-color jokes. It’s time to shut down the internet porn. It’s time to make a covenant with our eyes that we will stop looking with lust at other people. It’s time to leave off sex outside of marriage.

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†Paul wrote to the Corinthians ‚Äúevery other sin a man sins is done outside himself but he who sins sexually sins against his own body‚ÄĚ I Cor. Chapter 6.

     When we sin sexually we weaken ourselves and our ability to stand through the storms.

      I will tell you, victory is not going to be had in resisting temptation; Victory will only come when we learn to flee it! Too many of us end up trapped by sin because we try to resist sinful urges. The Bible tells us the key to overcoming sexual temptation is not fight but flight into the arms of Jesus; So when tempted don’t resist Praise!

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† ‚ÄúSing songs hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves and make music in your heart to the Lord and give thanks for everything to God.‚ÄĚ Eph.5:20¬†

Praise is powerful! We’ve Gotta stand!

Gotta Stand Pt. 5

…”¬†If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need.”¬† Eph. 4:28 NLT

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† I just looked at America’s national debt clock. We are currently $14,272.208,…,… in¬†debt. We are spending¬† about $1,301,087,950,… more a year than we take in. The dots stand for numbers changing too quickly to write down.

      If we are going to stand through the storms coming on the world, we are going to have to change some things individually. If we want our country to stand through those same storms, we are going to have to change some things culturally.

¬†¬†¬†¬† Paul says “stop stealing!”

¬†¬†¬†¬† ¬†Right up front that means, “If you’re breaking and entering CUT IT OUT!”¬†

¬†¬†¬†¬† I do trust, however, that most of my readers¬†are not moon-lighting as cat burglars. That doesn’t mean this verse has nothing to say to us.¬†Culturally we have issues with¬†wanting things that don‚Äôt belong to us… that is things God never intended for us to have.¬†We spend more than¬†we earn and think this is somehow O.K. with the Lord.¬†A mindset exists which says¬† “surely God would not deny me anything I want.”

¬†¬†¬†¬† ¬†I challenge you to¬†find that in the Bible.¬†What you will find is this : “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.” Psalm 23:1 NIV

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†David puts the onus on us. God shepherds. God provides. Therefore¬†we will not allow ourselves to be wanting what He¬†hasn’t provided.¬†Wanting to¬†acquire things¬†outside of God’s provision is coveting. Taking things that God has not provided¬†so easily turns into¬†stealing.

¬†¬†¬†¬† I know what I’m talking about here,¬†because I’ve lived beyond my means to the brink of financial ruin. I nearly took my whole family down with me. The recovery process¬†has been¬†slow and painful but necessary, if I am to stand through what lies ahead.

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Tolstoy said “Wealth is knowing what you can live without.”¬†

¬†¬†¬†¬† ¬†I am in the process of learning just that. Like so many of my fellow Americans I have a problem with self-control; Self-control, is a fruit of the Spirit according to Galatians 5:22.¬†It’s not something I can produce in great¬†quantities naturally. However God can!

     In the verse above, Paul is very clear about what we must do in order to stop a stealing spirit from inhabiting our hearts. When we work hard at honest labor and when we give generously to others, the Holy Spirit is given a door way into our lives which allows Him to come in and create self-control.

¬†¬†¬†¬† In the hour it has taken me to type this blog our national debt has increased to $14,727,327,…,…!¬†It’s up to us to change. No one else can do it for us.

We’ve gotta stand!

Gotta Stand Pt.4

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Angela from Meetingintheclouds.wordpress.com had this to say in response to one of the posts in this series. “When I became a Christian my life changed COMPLETELY ‚Äď (thankfully!)
_I_ didn‚Äôt change. I had no part in it. HE changed me: His life IN me changed me.”

     She brings out a powerful truth about life with her comment. We can all acknowledge the need to change certain things about our lives. But without Jesus actively working in our lives, lasting change is not possible. In the end what I will achieve in this life will be a reflection of His work in me not an evaluation of my work (Eph. 2:10). In short, I achieve more when I trust than when I strive.

     That said Paul gives us benchmarks to trust for in Ephesians chapter 4.

“don’t sin by letting anger control you. Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil….. Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.‚Ä̬† Ephesians 4:26,27,29-32 NLT

             Paul encourages us to stop letting anger control our lives.  Specifically he lets us know that God would have us: stop swearing, stop being hard or cruel in our dealings, and stop complaining about people behind their backs even if what we have to say is true!  Instead we are to pray for the spirit of love, joy and kindness to reign over us.

¬†¬†¬†¬† I am always amazed at how practical God can get with¬†our lives.¬† Christianity is not some nebulous philosophy that leaves people doing whatever seems good to them. It’s a relationship with a Father who runs His household after a fashion He has established. He wants His world to be a certain way. He wants His people to live in harmony with that way even though it is not the current “way of the world”.

¬†¬†¬†¬† With the whole world stacked against us, living Christian is not only difficult it’s impossible; That’s why Christ died. His death not only purchases us forgiveness but releases into us a new life that overcomes the world. John 16:33

    Going back to the anger thing, we live in an angry society that is constantly pushing us to react in rage. Our only ability to hold  peace comes from the fact that Jesus in us calms the storm when we turn our attentions away from this exacerbating world and look to Him who has overcome it.

Have you overcome anger? How did Jesus help you?

Gotta Stand Pt. 3

     As a gardener I am often called to take a plant from one location and move it to another. The task of transplanting is a necessary and painstaking ritual for the husbandman who wants to bring about a rich harvest.

     Simply put transplanting means taking a plant rooted in one place and causing it to take root in another. The danger of course is that in the process of transplanting the gardener runs the risk of harming the exposed root and losing his fruit or perhaps even the entire plant.    

     Paul paints us a picture of the Christian being transplanted and what the soil of our new life should produce in Ephesians Chapter 4.

“throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God‚ÄĒtruly righteous and holy. So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body.¬† Ephesians 4:22-25NLT

¬†¬†¬†¬† Paul¬†says throwing off our old way of life means to¬†stop being a deceiver.¬† Now we made the point yesterday that throwing off the old self or transplanting the roots of our lives starts with attitude and then leads to action.¬†A problem with lying is rooted in¬†a problem with fear.¬†When we lie what we actually communicate is that we are¬†afraid, if¬†we tell the truth¬†we will be hurt. The¬†truth is, of course, sometimes we will be. But that doesn’t excuse lying. What God requires is that we address the world out of perfect love. As the¬†Word says: ”¬†There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth¬†is not made perfect in love.” I John 4:18 KJV

¬†¬†¬†¬† I saw an episode of “Bones” the other night. The characters were involved in a group that espoused “radical honesty”which is, “a tell the truth no matter what it does to the other person” policy. throughout the episode, people cavorted across the screen insulting and denigrating others in the name of “truth”. This is not what Paul was talking about.

     The Christian who seeks to come out of the soil of falsehood needs to be transplanted first in the soil of love not the soil of confession. If a Christian struggles with lying his first step is not to become a radical confessor but a radical lover of God and man. When love is established trust will bloom, fear will wither and lying will stop. Confession in this atmosphere becomes safe, wholesome and redeeming.

    If we are going to stand through the upcoming storms we must be transplanted in truth surrounded by the soil of love. Then we will bring forth a great harvest!

 Ask Jesus to transplant you in the soil of perfect love.

Gotta Stand Pt. 2

¬†¬†¬†¬† The tree was huge, in full leaf. It certainly wasn’t¬†the one I picked as a potential fall risk during the hurricane. It still fell.¬†It wasn’t that the tree wasn’t strong. It’s roots were just in a bad place. It had grown along the muddy bank of our vernal brook and when that began to wash away in the flood…well there just wasn’t anything left to hold onto. Strength means nothing if what your hanging onto has no substance.

“that isn’t what you learned about Christ. Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God‚ÄĒtruly righteous and holy. So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.”¬† Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil. If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need. Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own,¬† guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.‚ÄĚ Ephesians 4:20-32 NLT

     Paul gets specific here. He doesn’t pull any punches.  If we want to have God’s power to stand through the storms of life we need to change specific things we used to do before we were born again. In other words we have to find a new place to put our roots.

     Before we were  Christians we couldn’t help the way we lived. We were  sinners and sinners by definition sin. But Christians aren’t sinners; We are saints, people who have the power to stop sinning and who are learning to use that power.

    Just a note, God doesn’t expect us to be perfect. He knows we won’t be; But He does expect us to start using the strength He has put inside to start changing who we are.  He says here in these verses it starts with thoughts and attitudes not just actions. If we change the way we think, the way we behave will take care of itself.

Tomorrow we get down to the nitty-gritty! Are you ready to do some spiritual root transplanting?