Posts Tagged With: Jesus

Hearing of the Soul

Discerning Thought Voices

 

 

Benefits

  1. Recognition of God’s Voice  
  2. Distinguish Nefarious Thought Suggestions  
  3. Better Self-control  

 

Tell a psychiatrist here in the western world that you’re hearing voices in your head and there’s a high probability you’ll be assessed for some type of mental disorder, like schizophrenia. According to the Mental Health Foundation, staticians estimate that from 5 to 28% of the population hear voices others do not, or are not able to hear. (1)

 

But doctors are now aware of a small percentage of people who simply have an amplified version of what all of us experience in our minds.

 

On the other side of the globe, in India, the concept of silent inner voices is well accepted. They refer to these as angles, with good angles being the conscience, and bad angles are that which encourage us to ignore it. The bad keeps our minds zeroed in on materialism, and includes things like lust for power and wealth. A high level of awareness in this regard is referred to as a type of inner sight, or an inner eye. We’re familiar with the symbol of the all-seeing eye in the forehead. Mankind is capable of coming up with all sorts of creative imaginings to explain away things in the spiritual realm using anything but the truth.

 

It is my assertion that we all have various silent voices that sound from within us, and while it’s certainly interesting to hear the beliefs of those who love to mystify the spiritual, those are simply manifestations of human pride. It’s very similar to the Gnostics of Apostle Paul’s day. They loved to set themselves up as gurus—mystics who possessed some secret knowledge to impart to their disciples. And some tried to mix this with Christianity, giving rise to the gnostic heresies. Today Gnosticism is alive and well, yet has taken on many different faces; that’s a topic for another time.

 

After reading medical journal articles about people who do not have a mental disorder, yet still hear voices in their heads, I was intrigued. Later the same day while studying the bible, I connected some stuff God had already taught me with what the psychiatrists, psychologists and other researchers have avowed. Thank the Lord! He’s helped me sift through the falsehoods espoused by those in psychiatric feilds who do not hold with a Christian view. That’s not to say they don’t get many things right.

 

I’d heard it often: Christians who say, “God told me such and such…” I remember dismissing them without a second thought, but I was wrong to do that. Allowing God to educate me on how to be more gracious, I now understand what those believers meant. God does speak to His own. The bible often refers to heeding the voice of the Lord. It is in the way God goes about speaking to us that we sometimes get confused.

 

The fact is, all of us hear voices inside our heads, we simply don’t hear them with our ears. We think in words, and technically we can hear ourselves think. As we read this sentence right now, we can hear ourselves reading in our minds. Everyone has hearing of the mind, or what most theologians refer to as the soul. To each of us it sounds a lot like ourselves, because it’s our own inner voice. Yet, we hear these thought voices at various levels of amplification. If these were external sounds we could measure the volume in decibels. About now, some might hear the voice of their thoughts asking, Where the heck is this guy going with this? 

 

Let’s just say that I am convinced—some of us are able to distinguish voices from within, which are not our own, in the same manner that you hear your own thoughts. How distinct and loud these thought voices sound to us, is in proportion to each person’s level of awareness, combined with practice—learning the requisite discipline. Yes, this ability can be developed. Again, it’s louder and more pronounced for some folks than for others. In fact, before we’re through I hope we’ll note the benefit of fine tuning our capacity for distinction in this type of inner hearing. It’s my prayer that if we haven’t already, each of us will learn to differentiate between inner voices, but especially to recognize the voice of the Lord. And yes, I am connoting that we all hear silent voices in our minds, some that are our own thoughts, and some that are not, but sound like they are.

 

The importance, then, of knowing whose voice said what becomes vital. Aware of it or not, we have bad thought influencers that sound from inside us, which often come as suggestions, yet they masquerade as having come from ourselves. And then we have the voice of the Lord. If you’re keeping track that’s three sources, or voices, contributing to our thoughts: our own, the forces of darkness, and God. The Holy Spirit will often prick our consciences, which then actually does become our own inner voice, influenced by God’s goodness.

 

With my interest peaked, I sought whatever secular resources I could dig up on the subject of inner voices. Then I went to the bible in hopes of discovering if there were any scriptures which might pertain to the same. After all, if I’m being deceived into believing every single thought in my mind originated from myself, when in fact it did not, I need to know about it. It’s my mind and I don’t need some nefarious influence deceiving my thought processes. I’m quite capable of thinking wrong thoughts all by myself. If someone, or something is suggesting corrupt thoughts and fooling me into thinking they are from my own mind, that could prove to be catastrophic.

 

My substantiation for this post is God’s word. I believe the entire bible to be the infallible word of Almighty God, inspired by the Holy Spirit of God. That’s why I’m citing the bible as my corroboration of these things, for the purpose of validating the existence of various inner voices that speak to our minds. And the necessity of recognizing whose voice said what.

 

Silent Prayer 

Do we pray? Do we expect an answer to our prayers? More precisely, do we expect to hear an audible voice in response to our prayer? No? Then why did we ask a question in prayer, if we did not expect an audible answer? That’s right, God utilizes many different means of communicating with us. We hear mentally audible answers far less than we’d like. Nothing worthwhile ever seems to be easy. But then, thousands of believers testify that they sometimes hear God’s voice, usually in the mind. There are also some who believe they’ve heard God’s voice with their external ears. I believe it just happened to be louder than usual in their minds, and so they thought they heard it with their ears.

 

Pandemic difficulties arise when we do not distinguish God speaking through our thoughts, speaking to our hearts.

Many true Believers are not aware of ever having heard the voice of God inside them at all. But the fact is, they have! They’ve heard it, and not realized it. More often than not, they attributed what they heard to their own thoughts.

 

Peppered throughout Scripture we find references to heeding, hearing, listening, obeying, and following God. We have Jesus the Son, God the Father and His Holy Spirit—AKA: Spirit of Christ. When a believer is walking in the Spirit, they are fully capable of hearing an actual voice from within: the voice of the Spirit.

 

In John 10, Jesus reveals Himself as the Good Shepherd who gives His life for the sheep.

 

Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me…” John 10:27. If we follow Jesus then we are His sheep. He said we hear His voice. I want to make certain I always recognize the voice of the Spirit of Christ. That’s why I practice and exercise this ability, and every believer can do the same.

 

Was Jesus talking only metaphorically about hearing (in modern translations it’s listening), or did He mean it in a more literal sense? I believe it to be literal as to Him speaking in our minds. But yes, He also means paying attention to Him — obeying Him.

 

God’s voice has a primary means of speaking—it’s called the bible. It saddens me to hear Christians say they’ve never heard God’s voice, when they’ve never read the bible all the way through, even once.

 

A little earlier in John 10:4, Jesus had said, And when he (the Good Shepherd) puts forth his own sheep, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.” Jesus says that we who follow Him will recognize His voice leading us. He leads us both from within, and from without. This connotes God’s word (the bible) and an audible inner, or “thought” voice from His Spirit. Both are paramount.

 

Verse 5 saysBut they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will flee from him because they do not recognize his voice.”

 

Anyone pretending to be Christ is an anti-Christ, a false shepherd and is of the evil one. The bible warns us about our powerful adversary, the devil. He is quite capable of suggesting thoughts to us, often about another person. He employs our weaknesses of the flesh against us, especially our pride, or lust, or greed, or self-centeredness. He offers thoughts that fit right into our flesh’s view of things—and makes it feel good. But because something feels good does not make it right.

 

Recognizing Christ’s voice, here in John ten, I believe indicates both determinates. We gauge the source of each thought by what was said, and by the actual sound of the voice. Optimal results are gained by using both measures concomitantly.

 

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21

 

The primary way we distinguish the Lord’s voice requires knowing Him through His word. The Spirit speaks to us as we read and study the bible to help our understanding of what we’re reading. But we can benefit from this ONLY when our minds are yielded to Him. Everyone has preconceived ideas of what the bible means before they open it the first time.  Some preachers may tell us to leave those notions outside the door. Yet what we really need to leave outside the door is our pride—what we think we know. One must diligently guard against confirmation bias!—truly allow God to lead our thinking.  I’ve found that often the Lord will use the false notions we had, and show us how ludicrous they are. As He straightens out our false beliefs we can say, “But Lord I thought such and such was true.” He can then show us how what we had thought was wrong, and the light of His truth will bring the greatest clarity, with joy, to our hearts and minds.

 

Once we understand theological truth better—when we know what God says in His word, about Himself and about mankind, and we know the accurate meaning of His words (hermeneutically), the Spirit can then bring those truths to our remembrance when we need it. I recall a time when I was all set to give in to a particular temptation, which I’d done periodically (a sin in my thoughts accompanied by a physical action). I knew it was wrong, but just couldn’t seem to overcome it. Well, I was getting ready to do it again.

 

I heard the Lord very loud in my thoughts, speaking a bible verse that I had known well.  But I hadn’t read it in several years. It sounded a bit like my own thoughts, but was different. Trust me when I say, at that moment my thoughts were as far away from the bible as they could be, and from God. It rang like an ultimatum: “Choose you this day whom you will serve!” (Joshua 24:15)

 

I was terrified, trembling like a leaf in the wind, and almost soiled myself. It was suddenly a whole lot easier to resist that temptation! What I heard that day was definitely NOT my own thoughts. It was so loud that, at first, I believed I’d heard it externally.

 

 Knowing the Lord and understanding His word will insulate us in the truth.  

 

Knowing God intimately also empowers us to instantly detect false teaching or preaching. And can set off alarm signals when the evil one suggests wrong thoughts to our minds. When a demon suggests a thought that goes against what we know God has said, we automatically know it is not the voice of our Lord. Remember the devil is an imitator and he’s extremely good at it. He does thought-voice impersonations—both our own, and God’s.  We do not heed, or listen to that voice. Instead, we resist that thought/voice, and the evil influence will flee at the mention of Jesus’ name (if we are in fact in Christ).

 

“But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” John 14:26

 

The enemy, Satan, is also capable of making suggestions to our minds. He’s very good at imitating the sound of our own inner voices, and every so often, he tries to imitate the voice of the Lord. But to the astute listener, subtle, yet distinct differences are detectable between the actual sound of a demon’s voice, their own thoughts, and the voice of Christ. The difference in the sound, however, is the secondary manner in which to distinguish who said what. The best and primary determining factor of whether or not to heed the voices inside our heads (thoughts) is comparing what’s said with what God’s word says.

 

The Spirit and the Bible will always be in perfect harmony.

 

The Spirit will NEVER contradict, or go against what the bible says, but the enemy, of course, will. Ideally, God’s word and His Holy Spirit, should have complete rule over both: our words and actions. After spending much time being obedient, our thoughts are also trained in righteousness, and when that’s the case, we are extremely difficult to fool! Allow me to restate this—The Spirit and the bible will always be in perfect harmony. They are the double check, to be certain we are doing and saying the right things in the right way. It is learning to discern the Lord’s voice and comparing what we hear with God’s word, these are the two fail safes that victorious Christians employ.

 

There is a ton of information I want to share here, but this post is too long already, so I’ll drive in a peg right here until next time.

 

The following is a link to great post to edify and further prep our minds.  https://www.allaboutprayer.org/hearing-gods-voice.htm

 

  1. https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/h/hearing-voices

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Categories: Bible, Christian Living, Faith, Growing in Faith, LIstening to God, Research, Self Improvement, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Heart Auction

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I’d actully forgotten about this draft for a post, written…who knows how long ago? Right now I’m living my next instructive post. It’s something I do before-hand, to make certain it’s what God wants me to say and share. When He teaches me something I have to really taste it first—kick the tires, if you will. I have no special connection to the Almighty that’s not available to each of us, I simply do a lot of heart & soul searching and spend lots of time in prayer. It always seems to begin with me being really sad and mourning over my mistakes and sins. But God is such a loving Father and always transforms my sorrow into the most awesome joy! It’s difficult to describe what happens in the Spirit—that’s something everyone simply has to experience for themselves. I pray that each one reading here knows Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. There’s just no other way.

 

Heart Auction

 

The loneliest heart sits throbbing in ice

Flotsam in vast sea—I paid love’s huge price,

As crowds press from every side to hear,

The auctioneer taking bids for me, dear.

A bared soul before the gawking masses,

Their love appears as frozen molasses,

Every hand outstretched to receive,

Bidding “Ten for the slave-heart so naïve.”

 

With beet reddened face hung low as can be

I know there are none who want me, as me.

 

From clear blue skies thunder voice crashes,

Hushes all, and all other bids smashes.

“For this beautiful heart I give my life,”

“I’ll sanctify her and make her my wife.”

 

The voice, the Savior’s, sweet Jesus my King,

He gave me His joy and makes me to sing,

Forever He’s now my everything.

 

Inviting He calls, “All who are teary,”

“Come unto me, all you who are weary,”

“All who are sore, heavy heart burdened,”

“Believe I arose, am God, my words and,”

“The life I give is free and abundant.”

 

Your price has been paid, in white you’ll be dressed,

Come taste of His love and He’ll give you rest.

 

This heart is still bare, its beauty to share,

Transformed by the Master with hands that care.

He heals hurting hearts who simply believe,

Soon He is coming, His bride to receive.

 

 

 

Categories: Christian Living, Faith, Love, Poem, Poetry, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Trust & Obey

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All people have short comings—we are fallible beings, and that’s why it’s sometimes difficult to trust those who may have rule over us. But with God it is much different. He never makes a mistake. The Lord is perfect, holy and filled with love. 

 

“O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children forever!” (Deuteronomy 5:29 KJV) 

 

What have I gotten myself into?  That was the predominant thought in my mind at basic-training for the Army. A drill-instructor was demonstrating his control over the men under him. On the roof of a three-story barracks, the drill-sargent ordered a young private to dive head first onto the rocky ground below.  

 

Without hesitation, the trusting soldier took two steps towards the edge, bent his legs for the leap, and sprang up and out to his certain death. Swiftly the Sargent reached out and grabbed the back of the private’s breeches and belt, catching the soldier just in time. 

 

My second thought: There’s no way Id obey such a futile and dangerous order. Observing the imperfections and failings of superior officers stimulated the rebel in me. I didn’t follow every order I was given as a soldier.  

 

Yet, years later I grew very close to my first love. He’s now my Commander in-Chief: Jesus Christ. It wasn’t always easy to trust Him the way that Private trusted his drill-instructor. I have learned, however, of God’s perfect love for me, and of His all-knowing and all-powerful nature. I can trust my life to Him. He’s not a man, who might make a mistake, or tell me to do something futile or foolish.  

 

There are times I don’t understand the Why of a command from God. But I can obey with confidence, knowing He has my best interest at heart. His purposes are flawless.  

 

Thank you, Lord, for your wise leadership. In hindsight we’ll always see the wisdom of trusting and obeying you in all things. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

 

Categories: Christian Living, Devotional, Faith, Military, Self Improvement, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

What You Need To Know

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An insidious influence of wickedness has been embraced by our society, as evidenced by the fact that it is legal. Ted Bundy, a name that invokes horror, and before he was apprehended, terror, into the hearts and minds of Americans, testified about this disease that America seems to love. He told of the affect it had upon him, and how addicted he became to it, until he began acting out the sexual violence that this pandemic invariably produces in those who partake of it. Bundy raped and killed 30 young women and girls.

 

Ted Bundy, however, is far from the only person to have had his moral and ethical restraint enervated by pornography. In his final interview just hours before his execution, he speaks of his many years in prison and the myriad of other men who testify of how pornography had so corrupted their thinking that they too had reacted violently in the perpetration of sexual crimes and murder. Invariably, these men point to the exact same underlying socially accepted evil that led to their crimes: pornography.

 

There have been scores of underdogs who have championed the cause of eradicating pornography, at least displace it from resting under the flags of legitimacy with some groups hoping to make even soft porn a crime. Many of these people operate under the banner of halting the objectification of women. But porn did not stop with women. Today it does not discriminate, and men too are painted as objects to be used and abused for the satiation of unnatural sexual gratification.

 

It is human life that is devalued, degraded, and cheapened by the inundation of sexual stimulus throughout the entire spectrum of the entertainment industry. Television shows, commercials, movies, magazines, music—it has hijacked every form of stimulus that comes into our homes. Everywhere we look we see and hear SEX, SEX, SEX! America is preoccupied with sex. We’ve created the market for pornography by our rebellious demand for the legalization of everything that we think will bring pleasure. We are a hedonistic society and have gone absolutely mad with pleasure seeking. Monogamy has become an outdated concept. Never mind how well the biblical model of marriage works, and how much better a society of monogamists get along together.

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Freedom of speech and freedom of expression have been used as licenses to do anything our little hearts may desire. As a nation, under the laws established to make us free to worship God, we now worship Satan, the nemesis of God, who is blatantly anti-God, antichrist and is in fact the father of disorder and chaos. Teens wear the anarchist symbol hoping for freedom from all restraint, without having the faintest idea of what anarchy is, nor the results of such a chaotic society. But we can clearly see the results. Rebelling against God has never brought the freedom we expected. Lucifer approached Eve in the Garden of Eden, convincing her that rebelling against God she could be like God, having to answer to nobody but herself, and Adam went along with it. He was deceived too. Instead of becoming free, they were enslaved to sin, depravity, sickness disease and death. Even the earth itself became cursed. It’s the very same temptations facing the world today.

 

Freedom from the restraint of God’s laws enslaves us to everything that is harming us, everything against God, against peace, harmony, order, safety, blessing, and love, against everything that is good. Our sins have separated us from our God, and He is the One we need to turn back to, if we hope to be truly free. “He whom Christ sets free is free indeed!” Free from what? Free from the powerful and negative and addictive sins that have made our world a place that is totally unfit for human habitation.

 

The war of the ages will come to a climax, and we call this the apocalypse, the end of days, just before Christ’s return. You will either be in Christ, and fully for Him, or you will be against Him. He is the winner in the end, and if you hope to be on the winning side, you’d best get right with God by placing your faith in His Son, Jesus the Christ. The first time Jesus came it was as a suffering servant, the meek lamb, so that He could redeem mankind back to God, to reconcile us to Him. The next time Jesus comes He will come with His Saints as the Lion of Judah, in great power and glory.

 

We have the testimony of Enoch telling us in Jude verses 14 &15, “Enoch, the seventh from Adam, also prophesied about them: “Behold, the Lord is coming with myriads of His holy ones to execute judgment on everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of every ungodly act of wickedness and every harsh word spoken against Him by ungodly sinners.”

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Image from rikberry.com

 

But addressing again the nefarious evil influences upon the world…  We know that the prince of the power of the air, the god of this world (Satan) is behind all of the evil things perpetrated upon the earth. But there are also his human servants, many of whom are organized groups motivated by huge money, power and sex. Hollywood and the major media outlets are nothing but puppets of those who truly hold the strings of power and control all major industries, high ranking political and military offices, including banking.

 

It’s not as if Spirit led Christians have ever been unaware of what is happening, or why—nothing has caught them unawares. God’s word has prophesied most of this, and the Spirit gives insight and discernment into the remainder.

 

So what is the point of this message? Why do I open myself up to ridicule and persecution by speaking the truth? I assure you, this is not a segway into any form of retaliation, or motivated by hatred, bitterness or pride. This is a call to safeguard your children from participating in the things of this world that are against God and the bible and human decency.

 

Please speak to your children about the dangers of pornography. Talk to them about the beauty of sex in the home between a man and his wife, as an intimate expression of real love, not lust.

 

One man and one woman, living under the authority of our Creator, reconciled to Him through a relationship with Christ Jesus who bore the penalty for all sins.

 

If you’ve not yet done so, cry out to the Lord—humble yourself before Him and agree with what the bible says about all of mankind: we are all sinners in need of a Savior. God has provided that Savior for us: Jesus, God’s only begotten Son died for you and me, and all who will place their faith and trust in Him. For by grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God and not of works that nobody can boast” Ephesians 2:8-9. God loves you!

 

He demonstrates his love for us in this, that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

 

He has made a way for us to escape condemnation, simply by placing our faith in Jesus and in His finished work at the cross and at the grave in rising from the dead on the third day, according to the scriptures.

 

“”Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved–you and your household.” Acts 16:31

 

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. Romans 10:9&10

 

I would not wish eternal torment upon anyone. My heart aches in the knowledge that out of the quintillions of people who have ever lived, a small percentage shall be saved. That’s what Jesus indicates in His teaching.

 

Please! Be one of the few, the godly, the loving, the saved. ♥

 

 

 

Categories: Addictions & Suicides, Current Event, Salvation, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Love is Powerful

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The Everly Brothers hit the music charts with a wildly popular song titled LOVE HURTS. That was back in 1960. The haunting lyrics were first written in 1957 by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant.

 

A year later Roy Orbison remade the song in his own distinct and endearing sound, bringing it into the top five on the Australian Single Play.

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Then in 1975 the heavy metal band Nazareth re-popularized: Love Hurts. The song moans out words that expound the hazards a heart in love may encounter: Love hurts—Love scars—Love wounds and marks—Any heart not tough or strong enough to take a lot of pain… And so on.

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Country artist Emmy Lou Harris also included it in her repertoire. The song Love Hurts has always resonated with us, because most everyone has at one time or another experienced the pain that love has the capacity to inflict.

 

This leads us to one irrefutable truth concerning love:  It wields tremendous power. It has the power to heal or to hurt, to sway, or to bring us in line—to kill, or to save. And it possesses many other dynamics as well. Of course there are also lots of other songs that elucidate Love’s dynamics, like The Power of Love by Huey Lewis and the News.

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While most folks equate these facts only with a romantic type of love, it is true of all kinds of love, such as paternal love, and even brotherly and social love. Who would be foolish enough to argue that the love of a mother is not scary powerful? The nature of paternal love can quickly become a protective juggernaut that is not to be taken lightly.

 

See the links at the end of this short piece for some exciting true stories of heroic mothers protecting their children.

 

Love has been the cause of many notorious actions, and notable deeds.

 

But there is absolutely nothing that can measure the lengths that a Father will go to in protecting his children.  You will also find the amazing story of a father’s love included in the links below.

Try to wrap your head around the fact that you and I have a Heavenly Father who feels more strongly for us that any human parent is capable. His love is exceedingly great. Imagine that every soul who has ever lived, all throughout history is your child! That’s the burden our Heavenly Father carries.

Oh, how many have turned their backs on our Heavenly Father and rebelled against Him? A rebellious child always brings deep, indescribable pain to their parents’ hearts. What about when one of our children is struck by a car and is killed? Or is diagnosed with cancer? Sent to prison? What if someone were to deliberately injure our child? Just think of the intensely strong feelings that would produce in us, and then multiply it by several billion. Actually, even that would not come close to the monolithic ache and power of God’s awesome love.

 

God’s love is pure and much higher than ours, and likewise the pain that His love produces in His own heart is greater than anything we could possibly fathom. It was this same paternal love that caused Father God to send His only begotten Son to die in our behalf—so that His created children could be saved.

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 1st John 4:9

 

The Author of Life willingly gave His life to save ours. In John 15:13 Jesus said, Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Not long after teaching this profound truth, Jesus stretched out His hands to be nailed to a cross beam and brutally suffered a horrendous death. He had the power to stop it—He could have wiped all mankind off the face of the earth and started over, with just a single word from His lips. But the power of His love held Him up on that cross. He endured it all. Besides, He knew He was going to rise again, and usher in a new path for you and I, that we may live forever with our awesome God in His new world of mansions, where even the streets are made of gold. Love has made a way.

 

Motherly Protection                                 A Father’s Love

 

Notation: For those waiting for the Bible Origins Series to continue I extend my apolgies for taking so long. I’m not going to offer excuses, but please know that God is working, and His timing is always right. Blessings!

 

Categories: Christian Living, Community, People, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

In the Custody of Humans

 

Gracie

Pictured is Gracie

The righteous care for the needs of their animals, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel. Proverbs 12:10

It is crucial for those who are seeking a pet to understand the commitment that they are making before taking on such an enduring responsibility.

Responsible pet care begins with a commitment that extends throughout the animal’s lifetime. If you are no longer able to provide proper care for your pet, often, putting the animal up for adoption and fully vetting each inquiry, is the best route to take. Abandoning your pet, and or surrendering their life to an Animal Control agency, is both heinous and cruel.

When caring for a pet, in addition to their physical health, we also have their emotional and psychological health to consider—similar to people.

For a moment, set your thinker on the psychological and emotional trauma of children whose parents have died. The damage is even worse when the child is simply unwanted, unloved, and given away. Those scars will endure a lifetime. The same holds true for dogs and cats and many other furry critters we love. They become attached to those whom they’ve grown dependent upon. Most creatures natural inclinations are to form family bonds. You are their family. For a dog, the family is the pack. Cats too, are more comfortable and at ease in a clowder. Groups of feral cats have been jokingly called prides, but that term still seems to stick in certain regions.

A very smart Golden Retriever named Harvey had a people daddy who was known as Ronnie March. The two would spend most of their days and nights together. After their daily, morning jog they would enjoy breakfast together in their dine-in kitchen. Then together, they would travel to Ronnie’s YouTube film set. Most evenings were spent snuggled up on a couch, watching television. The two were inseparable.

When Ronnie was killed in a car crash, Harvey was injured too. His master was gone, and Harvey understood that Ronnie was dead. They’d been together when it happened. Finally, Harvey’s two broken legs and two broken ribs healed. But this faithful golden retriever had other wounds of the heart that were much more severe than his physical injuries. Harvey exhibited such depression that he would refuse to eat, and he moaned and whined incessantly. He was a highly intelligent dog, and expertly street-wise. On the pair’s early morning jogs their normal route had crossed over a busy highway so that they could access a nearby park. During the four months after Ronnie passed, poor Harvey was so heavyhearted that he would go and stand in the middle of that same highway, as if he were attempting suicide. After those four months, Harvey died too. There was no reason found for Harvey’s death, but most people are convinced: He died from a broken heart.

Yet, animals are distinctly different creatures than people are. People were made in the very image of Creator God, and were given by God the responsibility to care for all of the earth and its many denizens.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, “Animal welfare is the ethical responsibility of ensuring animal well-being.” Animal well-being is the condition in which animals experience good health, are able to effectively cope with their environment, and are able to express a diversity of specie-typical behaviors.”—Dogs Naturally Magazine

It is my belief that animals also need a sense of belonging and lots of love.

Please! If you are having difficulty with offering proper care to your animals, there are lots of us out here who are willing to help. Be kind to animals.

Wait! I’ve heard a number of good people talking about how they love their pets more than they love people. It’s possible I may have said something similar in the past. But we definitely should not harbor, nor feed that attitude. Human life is above animal life, no matter how we may feel. Yes, people are often much more difficult to love, but that in no way negates God’s commands. Truth is never based upon feelings, but upon what God says. Continue to love your pets, but we must learn to love each other too.

There are many great reasons to get an animal companion as most already know, so I’m not going to bother listing them. There are also wrong reasons to obtain an animal, and I want to address just one. My apologies beforehand to my animal loving friends, but for just a moment I need to directly address some rather unscrupulous types.

To those who are involved with dog fighting, for fun, or for money, or for any other reason… Well, let me put it this way: “If I can’t whoop you myself, there’s plenty of others out here who will jump in to help me put you where you belong: Behind bars. Because we feel very strongly about this, and we will no longer tolerate your cruelty.”

To everyone else I say, let’s continue to be kind to animals, love them and especially love one another, just as Jesus commands.

My little Maltese Yorkie “Gracie” has a shirt that says, “I’m not French, I just kiss that way.”

Until next time, blessings, and wet slobbery kisses to you from our furry friends!

Categories: Animal Companions--Pets, Christian Living, Community, People, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Creating Community

canal

During my bicycle commute to downtown Indianapolis I have time to reflect on the things God teaches us. The thoughts He brought to mind were of a good life and the importance of being good neighbors who care about making the place they live the safest, most vibrant and economically healthy Community possible. It always begins with a sense of camaraderie and working together. In a word it is unity. This was a lesson the Lord was teaching during that peaceful respite from my labors.

bike

White River State Park is about a mile from our Indianapolis home; I cross over the river itself, which is a tributary to the Wabash River, and stretches for 362 miles. I pause often on the bridge to bask in the beauty of its verdant waterway. The park, too, is a delight. Riding a bicycle enables me to experience the outdoors and the people as I pass through it on my way to do business downtown. Along the canal winding through the park, puppies frolic and excited dogs tug on their leashes, as children laugh. And even the joggers smile.  Ducks eye you closely for any sign of a bread bag while the squirrels display their acrobatic prowess in the surrounding trees. When people are there, they are at their friendliest. By your fifth greeting or so, you are caught up in the vortex of souls longing for community—community unity demanding to remain intact. It’s an assuring feeling to know your neighbors hope for the same kind of world that you do.

There are some things that every descent citizen hopes for: things such as world peace, old fashioned hospitality and charity, safety, prosperity, community mindedness. The need for togetherness is evident, in order to build such a home. How do we achieve the utopian lives we envision for ourselves?

museum

Nearly two thousand years ago God’s Son became a man. He taught and demonstrated the singular path to the kind of life for which every sane soul longs. His name is Jesus.

What is the first step towards the abundant life Jesus came to give us? If a soul is to manifest the dynamic of God’s Spirit indwelling them, where would they begin, and how? Assuming a person has placed their faith in Christ and is saved, they must possess particular knowledge if they are to learn God’s truths and mature in that faith. Most important is belief in who God is, and what He is like. This is the foundation of theology and of biblical Christianity.

Our worship leaders at West Park church in Indianapolis have made a habit of proclaiming one of God’s glorious attributes at the beginning of each service. We hear it often and in many congregations around the world. It began as “God is good!” And the congregation responds with “All the time!” That is the primary belief we must have if we are to trust Him with our lives. Is this simply a slogan, or a platitude to make us feel spiritual? Often I feel we do not dwell upon the depth of meaning those words carry. It’s a hazard any time we over use any statement. I like the fact that our congregation changes it up to include many of God’s other attributes. “God is faithful all the time,” or “God is love all the time.” God is all-knowing, almighty and holy all the time. The list goes on and on.

meerkats

It jolted me when the Lord brought the words, “God is good” to mind during a moment of my weakness. A decision was required of me to either speak out to vindicate myself against a false accusation, or heed the Spirit’s instruction to remain silent. My reputation and honor were at stake.

Thankfully, in this instance, I did the right thing and kept my flapper shut. But in order to do so, I had to trust that God is good and faithful. For obedience to occur it is absolutely essential that we are fully convinced of God’s goodness and His faithfulness. The Lord did vindicate me! And the truth came out in a way that had everyone involved hugging each other with joyful tears of Christian love and unity. It was a beautiful moment—one that is cherished.  God’s power was released into that situation because I believed and then acted upon that belief. I’m convinced that taking the matter into my own hands would have precipitated hard feelings on both sides, along with pain and deep regret.

Then, I realized that every temptation at its root was the same temptation. It’s what the enemy suggested to Eve in the garden. Satan tried to get her to doubt God’s goodness and His faithfulness. Will He act for my best interest? He will if He is faithful. The question is, can we trust God in every area of our lives and be obedient to Him all the time, especially when we don’t understand His reasoning? Is He good and faithful all the time as we say? Do we believe that he will satisfy us when we release the things He tells us to let go of? Will I be happy if I obey? Will all of my needs be met? If God is faithful the answer is a resounding “Yes!”

The clearer God’s revelations of Himself become to us the greater our power will be to enter into that life of work that brings rest and peace. We find ourselves possessing joy and finding deep fulfillment. The hope received offers a view of holiness upon which to focus, as love permeates and motivates our works, our words, and our lives together. I pray that you too are a member of this heavenly community that is forming down here regardless of the dirtiness and ugliness in the world, and amidst hardship and pain. The kingdom of God is in you and me, and you and you and you who are in Christ.

Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.—Jesus    (John 13:35 NLT)

You and I have a great responsibility to reflect the righteousness of Christ to the world through the lives we live, and in the love we share. After all, our community is actually a kingdom. Soon, you and I shall reign with our glorious King, Christ Jesus, and we too shall shine with glory as priests and kings. This world is rough, but a Christian is tough. And it’s more than worth the short lived suffering we may face. Paul declares in Romans 8, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not even worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”

Come and be one of those who have overcome the world through faith in Christ and through the word of your testimony— and we’ll do it in love.  

Categories: Christian Living, Community, Growing in Faith, People, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hearing God’s Voice

This painting by Winslow Homer stirs up some great memories. Homer was a man who like me was enamored with all things outdoors.

rapids

Whether rappelling off cliffs, shooting rapids in a canoe, or performing perilous covert missions, I’ve tasted adrenaline more times than I can count.  But there’s no doubt as to the one activity that remains the grandest and most exciting adventure that continues to enrich me. Call me a thrill seeker, an adrenaline junkie or simply an adventurer, the labels do not matter to me.

So far I’ve had a life filled with wild, wonderful and inspiring adventures, and have traveled considerably. Some of the sights would scare the fleas right off of a hound dog, such as staring down the wrong end of a high caliber gun, or chasing a gang of robbers through the back alleys of Dongducheon Korea. Then there were the vistas where you feel privileged just to be there and take it all in. At times I was melted into a humble state of awe at the genius of God’s creative handiwork. One of my favorite discoveries was an underground river in Utah shooting out of the side of a horseshoe shaped canyon to form an above ground river far below.

But beyond question, the experience that was the most sensational for me came for the first time 29 years ago. It was quite unexpected how that simply communicating with God would be such a transformative and powerful thing. And it has been copiously repeated ever since then. Oh I had talked to God before then, but never felt I had the connection to really hear from Him. Yet, all it took was a full surrender to the Lord, and to capitulate with all my heart. That may sound like a cliché Christianese statement. But it’s not always as easy as it sounds. Yes, life is complicated.

There is one point that I hope to stress, and that is: If you’ve never been absolutely certain that God was talking to you—intimately interacting with you, then you simply have not yet lived. It’s still difficult for me to get my head around the fact that the Creator of this vast universe cares enough about every little individual person that He wants to have a close relationship with us. He gives life to the fullest!

Jesus said it in these words: “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” John 10:10b (KJV).

The New Living Translation puts it in today’s language: “My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”

Ninety percent of the time God communicates to us He speaks through His word, the bible. But then He confirms our understanding of His answers, through circumstances, and often through others. Whenever I’m truly in tune with God’s will, the answer comes in all three ways: first through the bible, then things happen in a way that illustrates that truth, and then some person actually speaks that truth without me saying anything to them about it.

Few are the times I have actually heard God’s voice in my heart and mind—twice for sure. But that was not so pleasant, because both of those times were in a negative. The first time was an ultimatum that literally scared me straight. My whole body was quaking. I was all set to commit an embarrassing sin when I heard the Spirit speak a bible verse. The words could not have come any more clearly: “Choose ye this day whom you shall serve.” I hadn’t read that verse in years, but was familiar with it as words God had spoken to Israel through Joshua. Another time it was simply one word: “Stop!”

I had planned to do my best to describe those moments spent with the Master, and how spectacular communicating with God can be, and how wonderful and loved it makes me feel. But there is no describing it. You’ll just have to experience that for yourself.

Allow me to caution you, however, that Christ is the sweetest addiction. It is strange though, how easy it is to get out of the habit of meeting with Jesus everyday for that fix. And the reason is that there are spiritual forces of wickedness at work. They hope to break our good daily habit of spending intimate times with God. When I skip just one day, the following day I seem to forget how awesome it is, and before I know it, it’s been a week. The power, joy and peace we gain by being filled with the Spirit every day can disappear in a flash, like a soap bubble in the sun, as soon as there’s a break in that habit.

Jesus said, “I am the bread of life.” We feed on Him. Just as we must feed our bodies every day we must also feed our spirits, lest they atrophy and starve to death. Christ is our spiritual sustenance, and we cannot benefit from a relationship with Jesus unless we are constantly nurturing our intimacy with Him.

Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

Instantly, as soon as I cease relying on Him, and I don’t consult Him on every decision, that’s precisely what I produce: “Nothing”.  That is, nothing of eternal value. We must remain in Him and the only way to do that is to maintain an attitude of prayer—maintain an open line of communication and fellowship with the Lord. We talk about meeting with Him in the mornings. But we are a part of Him and should not have to MEET with Him, as we’ve never left His presence! As for coming to Him in the mornings, this is to search for sins of the previous day, and confess them in order to cleanse our consciences, and keep our relationship good and strong. And this morning tryst is also for checking in with the boss for specific works He has for us to do each day. Perhaps there’s something we need an extra jolt of power for that day. But most importantly it is to ensure that we remain in a state of constant surrender and submission to our glorious benefactor and God.

Jesus said, “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” John 7:38

I hope you can see what makes life such an exciting and never ending adventure. It is remaining in Christ and having our spiritual senses awakened to perceive the Lord’s communication to us as individuals. But He also speaks to us corporately.  “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21

Categories: Christian Living, Faith, Testimony, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Follow the Spiritual Leader

A Post For Christian Leaders

For a Christian, it may be difficult to explain their words and actions to the world using the pure truth of the matter. It might sound a bit ego-driven. That’s because the redeemed are being transformed and conformed to be like the holy Son of God: Jesus.

“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.” Romans 8:29 NIV

In answer to accusing taunts from Jewish religious leaders who felt Jesus’ claims were pompous, Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” John 5:19b NIV

Christian souls seek to mirror the holy character of Jesus. They don’t simply ask, “What would Jesus do?” They strive with all of their being to do what He does. You may remember playing the game as a child: Follow the leader.

I never really liked the game, wanting to do my own thing, not what somebody else was doing. Being a small boy, I was often ignored, which left me feeling invisible. Then, one day in the fourth grade I was chosen to be the leader for the game, and I thought: That’s more like it—I’ll show them.

A dozen little pairs of legs trailed behind me, our steps quickening as we headed toward the playground. The swing set made a good obstacle course as we darted back and forth between swings, like trained dogs navigating cones on a course. Other obstacles followed, each one distancing me further from my feeble followers. There was the run across a big log, and then hurdling back and forth across a low fence. I was purposefully leaving my followers far behind. Sprinting, I flew towards my grand finale. Nobody knew that my usual playground was the forest, and that my light weight and natural strength made it easy to scurry up the big old Oak tree in the school yard. My classmates wondered if I had simply disappeared, until my taunting laughs resounded from the tree top.

Oh there was much I had to learn, if I was to ever become a servant-leader, like Jesus.

Though I did gain a couple admirers that day, for the most part I acted like an anti-social jerk. However, praise God, today I follow Jesus, and He is the greatest leader of all time. I am fairly fast, yet, it’s as nothing compared to Jesus soaring faster than the speed of light. Now, however, as we fly through life together, Jesus reduces His speed to soar at my pace. That’s what love does.

You and I follow Jesus. He knows the precise amount of difficulty each of us need in our challenges, so that we may continue growing through each stage of our spiritual development. God teaches us how to serve those who follow us. Jesus leads, while all together we navigate life’s obstacles. When you or I stumble, He is there to steady us. When we fall, He lifts us back up. Daily we practice His arts, gaining the skills of servant-leadership along the way.

I need to lead in the same manner the Son of God leads. If I’m way out front, up on an ivory pedestal, how can I help steady or lift up those who look to me for guidance?  I must come alongside my brothers and sisters in Christ. Besides, I’m not Jesus—I never know when, I too, may need a strong hand here on earth to steady me.

“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.” I Peter 5:6 KJV

 

 

 

 

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