Friday, July 29, 2011

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Syncretism is a new word that I learned recently, though the purpose of its use is as old as Satan himself. In short, it is an effort to create a new “buffet style” religion that could be used to make a one world all inclusive religion. This man made creation, could include all the elements from any and all religions that could give man the “one religion” that all could practice, and thus eliminate any differences that could possibly cause controversy or division. Diversity of any kind would then be disallowed, and eventually freedom of religion would not only be a thing of the past, but even illegal. The “new Christianity” would be characterized by a Jesus that was no longer the one and only way to God, His death on the cross would be meaningless, and He would be reduced to the position of a good man, maybe even a respected prophet, but no longer God the Son.

As one denomination has already asserted, the Biblical Trinity of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit might possibly be replaced with concepts of the “new Trinity” consisting of Compassionate Mother, Beloved Child, and Life-Giving Womb. I would like to direct your attention to a web site and article that you may find very enlightening and eye opening as to what is going on even within some of our evangelical churches. Please feel free to do your own homework, and don’t take my word alone. The website is: Per-Version. The title of the article is, “The Bible Per-Version” by Mike Becerra. Read it and make your own decision.

Syncretism is a “feel good” religion that truly fits the description given by the Scriptures: “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. And they shall turn away from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” (II Timothy 4: 3, 4)
I call this a “buffet religion” because a person can approach the buffet and pick and choose to believe in accordance with his own opinion and what is easy and comfortable. At this buffet, one is not restricted by minor details about what is really truth, for everything is relative and there is no absolute right and wrong. There is no longer a need for commitment to one God who requires faith and trust in Him and in His Word. This is a religion that gives the appearance of religion with its traditions, but no longer has any transforming and eternal power.

“Having a form of godliness, but lacking the power thereof: from such turn away.”(II Tim 3:5) Like a child, selecting his food and choosing all the sweets and neglecting all of the vegetables, this ‘believer’ can choose a dab of Hinduism, a pinch of Buddhism, a smattering of Christianity, perhaps a dollop of Islam (Chrislamism), and an extra large portion of ‘Me-ism.’

I heard a statement recently that I thought was oh so true. I don’t remember it word for word, but I think the following gives the gist of it: People want a Savior to save them, but they don’t want a Savior to tell them how to live. That’s kind of like children who want all the protection and benefits of love and security that their parents have to offer them, but when it comes to obedience to their authority, they will have none of it.

There in lies the predicament. That’s how we are so often with God. We want large portions of His love and blessings, but we want to shove the portions of obedience aside. Refusing to recognize my sins, repent, and ask His forgiveness can only leave me subject to judgment. That means I brought the curses upon myself. He provided the payment; I’m the one who rejected what He did for me. Yet, when the consequences of that rejection are manifested in my life, my first reaction may be to respond with these very questions: “Who do you think you are to tell me what to do? Why should I even listen to you, much less obey you?” Then, after having made the choice to do things my own way, something drastic happens and I have the nerve to blame God and demand to know, “Why me Lord? Why did you let this happen to me?”

God is a loving God, but He is also a just God. All too often we wish to do our own thing and dine at the altar of strange gods. Then when we suffer the consequences of doing so, instead of taking responsibility for our own sinful actions, we place the blame on God. God says that we are to have no other gods before Him. Why; because He knows that these ‘strange gods’ can only lead to spiritual corruption and even eternal death and damnation. Syncretism, pulling a bit from here and there and then still trying to call it Christianity, is the same as going after strange gods in the eyes of God. Do not be deceived, God will not be mocked! If we are going to choose to make up our own religion, we will also have to invent our own heaven. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I could manage to do the latter even if I accomplished the former. There is but one Gospel and that is salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.

“But be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.”
(James 1:22)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

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          All people are religious in one way or another.  Christians worship the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit who is the One True and Living God.  Other, misguided people, worship false gods like, Allah, Buddha, Baal and Secular Humanism.  There are others who worship the creation, rather than the Creator.  There are some who don’t know what they believe and still others who have set themselves as god in their own minds.  There will, however, come a day when everyone (yes that means you) will bow and acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus who was the only one to suffer and die to deliver you from the bondage of sin.  The only real question is – were you worth it?  He thought so, or He wouldn’t have done it.  There is only one decision to make – will you believe in Him before or after you die.  You are going to live forever; like it or not.  Heaven or Hell is where you will live, whether you choose consciously or by default. 

          The question is not, “Is God what you want Him to be”, but rather “Are you what God wants you to be”?  He is the one who gives you the right to have choices and a free will.  Life would have been so much easier for us all if He had simply installed a belief in Him.  He, however, wants us to come to Him (some say her, but they are pathetic) willingly rather than through coercion.  He, in His infinite wisdom, has set up the way to know Him.  He has said that He would reveal Himself to anyone who seeks Him.

          Why, for example, has our country slipped so far away from our godly foundations?  It is my observation that many Christians are meek, namby-pamby apologists.  They deny, by their lack of standing up for their beliefs, the true and overwhelming worth of the Bible.  In order to save face and be socially acceptable, they hide their light under a bushel.  How can we enlighten the world with our salt, if it has lost its flavor?  Those who claim to be Christian, and have not been ‘born again’, dilute the message we should be spreading.  These counterfeit Christians will be swimming in spittle when Jesus spews them out of His mouth.  John Calvin said: “the task of the church is to make the invisible reign of Christ visible”.  Dr. D James Kennedy said: “Unless we risk offending, we cannot uphold our duty to God.  As we submit to His reign more and more in our lives, and we compromise less and less with the world, we will see powerful results in our land”. 

          Our laws are what we control our lives by.  God’s laws are controlled by our conscience, and our knowledge of His word.  Man’s laws are controlled by the sword.  If you have a bigger sword or a larger number of swords you can control what is law.  If we are controlled by man’s laws, which can be overturned at any time by another sword, we have no real law. 

          There are those who say that we Christian’s shouldn’t impose our morals on anyone.  These are the people who are trying to impose their morals on Christians.  Again, we are back to choices.  Should we live by the laws of God, or some sinner in government?  “We must remember that every time a legislature enacts legislation, it is always an imposition of morality.  It is ignorant to suggest that the law of the land must be morality free.”[1]
          Many of the writings of our founding fathers could be banned from our schools, because they state that their religion is the foundation of the country.  The Declaration of Independence is in violation of the fundamental belief system of the religion of Secular Humanism[2]. 

          The prosperity of our nation grows and declines in direct relationship to our national relationship with God.  Again, we see choices.  Do we want a godly nation or one controlled by the morality of man?  If by man: which man?  I choose the man Jesus, and I will vote for any truly ‘born again’ Christian whom I think is qualified to fill the office they seek.  I will in turn, vote against Secular Humanist, qualified or not, because their thought processes are distorted by their beliefs.  If, someone does not believe in God, their legislative tendencies would necessarily be in conflict with those which form the very basis of our nation. 

[1] Dr. D. James Kennedy
[2] Torcaso v. Watkins, Supreme Court of the United States, 1961, established Secular Humanism as a religion.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

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Why Expose False Teaching?

        It’s not just false Christ’s we are to look out for, it is also false Christians, such as the World Council of Churches.  The anti-Christian tells the Bible what it means, instead of the Bible being the supreme authority.  For the most part this is used by false teachers; by taking scriptures out of context.  The full council of the word of God must be used instead of picking out what tickles your ears. If you claim to be a Christian and are not ‘born again’ you are perpetrating a fraud and blasphemy.  The only way to become a Christian is to be ‘born again’.  A true Christian is not someone who simply says that they are saved, but rather a true Christian possesses salvation.

           Many will come in the name of Christ that could deceive even the elect (the elect are those chosen by God).  Not that the elect will loose their salvation but rather their reward (their honor in Heaven).  The Bible says that many of the elect will stand ashamed at the judgment seat of Christ.  This, to my understanding, means that false teaching had robbed them of their crowns (their rewards for doing what is right and good).

          I have searched through the Bible for warnings about false teachers and false prophets.  The following sited verses are only the ones from the New Testament: Matt 7: 15 and 21-28, Matt 12:43-45, Matt 13: 3-30, Matt 16:6-12, Matt 23:13-36, Matt 24:4-5, Matt 24:11-13, Matt 24: 23-26, Matt 24: 45-51,John 7, John 15 9-10, Acts 13: 6-8, Acts 20:29,2 Cor 11: 3-4, 2 Cor 11: 13-15, Gal 2: 4-5. Gal 4:17, 2 Peter 2: 1-3 1 Tim 1:3, 1 Tim 1:20, 1 Tim 4, 1 Tim 6:3-10, 2 Tim 3:1-9, 2 Tim 2:8, 2 Tim 2:17-18, 2 Tim 3:13, 2 Tim 4:3-4, Titus 1: 10-16, Titus 3: 10-11, 2 Peter 2, 1  John 4: 13, 2 John 1: 7-11, Jude 1: 3-16, Gal 2:4-16, Rom 6: 1-23, 1 Cor 5: 11-13, Rev 2:2, Rev 2:9, Rev 2:15, Rev 2:20 and there are others.

          If a new convert is ‘born again’ and is not instructed properly in humbly growing as a servant of the Lord, he could be worse off than before he saw the truth[1].  The teacher in this case will be subject to even more condemnation for having misled the new convert.  “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the sidewalk, and the birds came and ate it up (conversion was not real). Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root (conversion was stunted due to lack of Bible instruction). Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants (due to false teaching). Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. He who has ears, let him hear.”[2] “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in people’s hearts.  But while everyone was spiritually sleeping, the enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away.” Isn’t this what false teachers do?  The difference in the soils defines the difference between spiritual growth and spiritual death.  Anyone who is truly ‘born again’ will make it into heaven; however, false teaching can rob them of their heavenly rewards.  I heard the other day that 80% of new converts are not attending church a year later.  Dr. David Jeremiah said, one of the most discouraging things a pastor can face is that a new convert be seduced into one of the ‘Christian’ cults. This is not a condemnation of the convert, but rather the church.  We, as the ‘body of Christ’ (the church) have a responsibility to recent converts to establish them in the Bible as the way they should go.  We also have a responsibility to our fellow Christians to aid them in their walk and shield them from danger.  This is what I am attempting to do here. 

          Just as in the Old and New Testaments, if we accept what God has for us we will prosper, but if we reject God we will be destroyed.  This, know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, high minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly people laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds reprobate concerning the faith. But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was.”[3]

          If it turns out that my teachings are thought to be false, I fully submit to the authority of the Bible for correction[4].  False teaching and false prophecy are definitely to be categorized as sin.  1 Cor 6 9-11 states that we shouldn’t judge the person because they might be saved from their sin just like we were, however, we are told in 1 Cor 5: 11-13 to ostracize an evil person and remove them from our presence, if they knowingly continue in the practice of sin.   

          There are things in this life that you just don’t do.  “You don’t ‘spit into the wind, Pull the mask off the old Lone Ranger, and you don’t mess around with Him”[5].  Accept what God freely gives you, and you are saved.  Mock God and you are left to your own abilities.  Unless you are as self absorbed as Satan, you will take the former. 

          If you came to me hungry and thirsty and I offered you a sandwich and a drink at no cost, would it be my fault if you refused to eat and drink?  Would you scoff at me and deny my existence?  If I put the offer in writing, complete with witnesses, would you still refuse to believe it?  If you do accept my offer, we can discuss your table manners later.  In the same way, Jesus is waiting for you in your hour of need.  Whether you recognize it or not, this is that hour.  If you accept what He offers, He will work with you as you grow in the faith. 

[1] Matthew 12: 43-45
[2] Matthew 13: 3-9
[3] 2 Timothy 3:1-9
[4] 2 Timothy 3:16-17
[5] Jim Croche  (modified)

Friday, July 22, 2011

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There's A Lady Present

Desensitization, Heaven, Hell, religiosity, unrighteousness, vulgarity, decadence, profanity, false pride, the law of God, righteousness, humility, ladylike, gentlemanly, are but a few of the words that swam around in my head and in my heart tonight. I lay in bed still awake at one AM in the morning. Another sleepless night, and yet this night was somehow different. Recently, the Lord has been laying on my heart thoughts that, at first glance, may seem to be so unrelated. Yet they are all tied together by a basic element that seems to me to be the cause and effect of the present apathy, indifference, and yes, even complete neglect of love for God, that is, the one true living God of the Bible. The effects of this neglect, or even outright rejection, in our society today can be compared to an apple that looks beautiful on the outside, but the insides are rotten to the core. Because of this neglect, our families, churches, communities, states, country and the world are steadily becoming a darker and increasingly more sinister place to live. It’s getting harder and harder to find the loving people and world that God purposed us to be as individuals, nations, and the world. We are headed down the road towards a “new world order” just as fast as we can go. And yet, as we leave God and His ways behind to go our own way, we are quickly becoming less and less a reflection of the “image of God”, and more and more of the corruptible “image of Godless creatures,” seeking our own pleasures and vain imaginations.

Over my almost sixty nine years of life now, I have witnessed an increasingly decaying and corruption of our culture and society as we have stood by, often silently and without a will to stand up and fight back, as we are not so slowly but absolutely and surely being robbed of the blessings that can only come when we are truly willing to serve and trust in the only Savior that bled and died for us that we may know the true meaning of love, freedom, and all that is good and right. We have become a nation of lovers of ourselves rather than lovers of God. We have allowed ourselves to be directed by man’s own vain imaginations, trusting in “tolerance” and substituting God’s truth of right and wrong with the idea that there is no right or wrong, but whatever we choose to make “relative” to our own opinions of what we think is right or wrong in our own eyes.

Rick, my husband, and I started dating when he was only fifteen. I, of course, being of the ripe old age or sixteen, eventually became his “old woman” as he has lovingly called me for seven months out of each year because I am older than he. I reflect over a moment in time when we had been dating for about two years. By that time, I was almost nineteen. We were out for the evening, “cruising” around a popular teenage hang out, called Champs in Baltimore, Maryland. It was a restaurant similar to the Sonics of today. Cars would park, place an order over the speakers, and eventually your order would be brought out on a tray and attached to the area of the driver’s car window ledge. Often though, we would just drive around and around in circles, stopping only for a minute here or there to talk with other friends that were doing the same as we were. Upon one of these occasions, an acquaintance of Rick’s came up to the side of our car. While he was talking he did not hesitate to use some rather unpleasant language. In a stern, but not unkind tone of voice, Rick calmly said, “Watch your mouth please. There’s a lady present.” It’s not that I hadn’t heard such language before. Yet, without a word of complaint from me, he showed that he cared and valued me, and was willing to stand up for me to protect me and my honor. It wasn’t just that he cherished me as a young lady, though that was truly a precious treasure in itself, but in so doing, he rose in my admiration of him as he demonstrated by his actions what it was to behave as a gentleman.

In today’s world, the idea of behaving like a lady or gentleman is often now characterized as something that should be frowned upon and even unpopular, while behaving as crudely as one can seems to place one in the “popular” crowd. Females and males, young and old alike, seem to think it is cool to use the crudest and vilest vocabulary that they can think of at any time in any place. There is often little or no regard for the simple courtesy of showing respect for anyone; it’s just the acceptable thing to open one’s mouth and let the ugliness flow out profusely like a flood. Sometimes it’s in the form of profanity, while at other times it’s just plain inconsiderate, self- centered, and insensitive communication just flying out of our mouths to pollute the area around us and offending the ears of anyone within listening distance. All too frequently, there’s no self discipline or the slightest effort to practice simple consideration of others. So often we use our corrupt tongues to express any and every thought that comes to mind whether it is worthy of being spoken or not.

I don’t tell you this as one who is so perfect and free of committing these same sins myself. I have often been exposed to having to hear this kind of language. I thoroughly understand how one can be pulled into the very trap that we say we hate. Something rubs us wrong, and before we know it, we find ourselves engaging in that very same behavior. I’ll relay a true event that really happened in my own life just to give you an example of how easy it is to slip into the same mold that you see and hear from others. Yet, I can’t blame others for my own short comings, as everyone has a choice about what they will or will not accept into their own lives. I taught sixth grade geography for several years. The group of three teachers with whom I worked closely, were really wonderful and loving ladies. For the most part, they were very thoughtful about the language they used. However, over time I was hearing the word ‘a_ _’ quite frequently. Before I knew it, that very same word started coming out of my very own mouth, until eventually I became so desensitized to hearing and using it that I no longer felt any qualms about using it more and more profusely. Well, I used it long enough that, with practice, it became natural to just open my mouth and let it fly out. Then one day, the practice of its use came right out at a most inconvenient time, much to my own astonishment and embarrassment. I was in class. One of my students was making a real nuisance of himself, not only to me, but to his fellow students. I told him to get up and move to another location. He started talking back to me, and that’s when it happened. I said, “Sit where I told you to, and stop acting like a smart ‘a_ _!’ I had meant to say smart-aleck, but instead the other word came out right there in front of all my students. I felt absolutely horrified. Immediately, I realized what I had said, and began to profusely apologize and beg their forgiveness. What we practice, or allow in our lives, can so quickly become a habit that it enslaves us. Once we have allowed it to become a comfortable and acceptable thing in our lives, it is then very hard to break its hold over us. It takes a conscious effort, much prayer, to ask for God’s forgiveness and help in removing the ugly thing in order to break its hold and set us free.

But you see, that is but a small example of how quickly and easily we can let our own beliefs become so watered down that they no longer hold a position of importance in the shaping of our character. It is a perfect example of why the Lord tells us to “give no place to the devil,” and “give no appearance of evil.” His law and Word are not meant to be a bunch of rules or merely a list of do’s and don’ts. His Word is not meant to be used as a legalistic set of rules that He is then going to use as a tool to hit us over the head like a domineering, controlling tyrant. Instead, His Word reveals to us what is not pleasing in His sight because He knows what will bring harm and hurt into our lives, and what will bring blessings into our lives. His law and promises are meant to enable us to recognize sin in order for us to realize that we need to repent, turn away from them, and turn to Him that we may become the persons He has purposed us to be. If we refuse to obey Him, we then allow Satan the right to come in like a lion and seek to devour and destroy us as he wishes. God is the only “parent” that really and truly fulfills the requirements that are necessary to make the statement of “Father Knows Best” true and valid. He wants us to obey Him, not so He can control us, but because He loves us so very much and wants to protect us and shield us from the “fiery darts of the enemy,” whether those darts are from the weakness of our own flesh, the pride of life, or Satan himself.

In a small way, that night when Rick told the boy to watch his language, his actions were a reflection of the love and care that our heavenly Father has for each of us. It also made me want to behave even more like the young lady that Rick believed me to be, not because I had to, but because I cared for him and wanted to please him. How much more then should I desire to strive to obey and serve my Lord? How much more should I seek to learn from His Word that I may know and practice to do that which is pleasing in His sight? Obedience to the Lord is not done as an effort on my part to earn me a place in heaven. Eternal life is not earned, but a gift from God because of His mercy and grace towards me and anyone who will choose to trust in, believe in, and obey His Son, Jesus Christ who took upon Himself all of my sins, that I may be redeemed and become a joint heir with Him.

How can we bear to live our lives as if He doesn’t exist? How can we bear to give Him recognition for who He is, but never give Him our hearts? The harm it causes to us as individuals, and as the peoples of this world, is strikingly more and more evident as we choose to follow the wide path to total separation from the protection of the one and only true and loving God. In the here and now, shouldn’t we choose to live our lives that through His Holy Spirit within us, we may seek to let Him live in and through us? That can only be when we love him so much that we put Him first in our lives and say, “Not my will, but Thine be done in my life.” He will guide us and lead us into all truth. It’s up to us to choose to believe, repent, obey, and love Him. He first loved us.

As my Sweetheart said that night, “There is a lady present;” It is my greatest desire, to so please and give glory and honor to my Lord, that one day I may hear Him say, “Welcome home my child, the lady I meant you to be is now completed through Me in you. Yes, there is a lady present!” With God all things are possible.

Ginger Rahn

Monday, July 11, 2011

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America And The Bible

          When I say God, those who know me know I mean God the Father, God the son and God the Holy Spirit.  When our founding fathers said, God, our Creator, Providence and other terms, everyone knew which God they were referring to.  In those days, faith and Bible knowledge were part of every day life. 

          Just as ignorance of the law is no excuse, ignorance of our heritage is no excuse.  The truth of our heritage is available to anyone who cares to seek it.  Not the revionist history that our children are taught in the government indoctrination centers known as public school, but history based on the original documents.  The secular humanists have been drilling holes, in the mythological wall of separation between the church and state, for many years.  This separation exists, and in its original form, was meant to keep the federal government from interfering with the free practice of religion at any time and any place (except for the adoption a single Christian denomination as the official government religion).  This impregnable separation has been so whittled down that its original meaning has been obscured.  Today’s perverted meaning would have been a call to arms for our founding fathers. 

          The Bible was presupposed to be the document most revered by our founders.  The Bible was the book that was read by anyone who could read and the founding of our school system was for the ability of our citizens to be able to read and study it.  We can see from the early writings that biblical reference was an everyday occurrence in conversation and literature, even the deists of the day spoke of the Bible in reference to government as well as daily life.  To not have the Bible taught in school is a slap in the face of our founders; both the religious and those who were not.  The Continental Congress, in 1777, directed the Committee of Congress to import twenty thousand copies of the Bible, ”the great textbook of patriots”[1]

          I have been told, by some whom I respect, that we shouldn’t have a Christian president because it causes the church to relax its efforts in evangelism.  This flies in the face of the founding fathers.  The early presidents of our country were nearly all Christian.  

          Anyone who cares to research the facts will find that the Bible, and Christianity, was the foundation of our nation as well as our schools.  Just as the Israeli’s wandered from God on a regular basis, we in the United States have done the same thing, although it took somewhat longer.  Each time the Israeli’s were restored to good standing with God when they repented.  We in the United Stated are in great need of repentance because of our separation from God.[2]  We have what we have because of the God of the Bible, but we won’t retain it without Him. 

[1] Christian History Of Constitution, pg.375
[2] 2 Chronicles 7:14, Jeremiah 23:22, Nehemiah 1:9

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

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He Giveth More Grace

He Giveth More Grace
He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase;
To added affliction He addeth His mercy;
To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.
When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,
Our Father's full giving is only begun.
Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision,
Our God ever yearns His resources to share;
Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing;
The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.
His love has no limit; His grace has no measure.
His pow'r has no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus, He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again!
- Annie Johnson Flint

This is a song written by Annie Johnson Flint who went to be with the Lord in 1932 after many years of suffering from the constant pain and affliction of the crippling disease of rheumatoid arthritis. Her last words were “It’s all right.” I heard a brief part of her story one day while listening to TV. It was told that in her last days, she was so crippled up that she could not even sit up. Yet, even in that state, she would continue to write poems and songs on a board above her while holding a large pencil, or other writing tool, between two curled up fingers. Not one word of her work was written in bitterness, resentment, complaining, or moaning, but rather characterized by glowing reverence and praise for Jesus, her Savior and Lord, whom she loved with all her being.

With this powerful vision looming in my mind and heart, I was overwhelmed with the desire to understand more fully myself, and also to impart to others this precious gift of mercy and grace that is only found in Christ our Lord. So often when suffering comes into ones life, it is hard to fathom the difference that it makes within each person’s life. I am struck by the realization that it is our response to suffering that creates two diametrically opposing outcomes within each person. One person responds with an attitude of blaming God, resulting in a life filled with bitterness and resentment. The legacy of such a life is to spread that same bitterness to all with whom they come into contact. Their lives are filled with misery and discontent. Then there are those, as exemplified by the life of Annie. Throughout her life, no matter how painful and debilitating her life became, she remained so focused on the love of Christ in her life, that anyone who had the privilege of spending time with her came away changed and encouraged themselves. O that more of us could capture that same spirit within ourselves as adversities bring suffering and trials into our own lives. If only we could see and understand that that same wonderful peace and comfort is available to all through the power of the Holy Spirit as we seek to ‘be being filled’ within by Him. It’s the Holy Spirit and His prevailing power that makes all the difference in how we will respond to each trial that is brought into our lives.

One evening recently, Rick and I were out on our porch enjoying the sounds of the rain and the beauty of the birds as they flitted gleefully from one birdfeeder to another. Our conversation gravitated to earlier days in our walk with the Lord when we had personal experiences of direct and instant healing of the Lord through prayer and the laying on of hands, just as in the days when Jesus and His disciples walked on the earth. Upon one occasion, Rick had sneezed and as a result slipped a disk. He had been flat on his back unable to walk for two days. Not getting better, he chose to call for prayer. Our pastor and an elder came to our house. After they laid hands on him and prayed, he was immediately healed and was able to rise and walk upright without any pain. I witnessed this and saw first hand that Jesus is still willing and able to perform miracles today.

At the same time, we had been caught up in the false teaching of health and wealth that some teachers did, and still do, proclaim. According to these teachers, if one’s faith is strong enough, a Christian should never endure sickness, and wealth was ours and a deserved right just by the asking.
Confess it, visualize it and possess it was the mantra of the day. I don’t deny that healing, health, and even material wealth can be a by product of faith in the Lord. But, through a deeper walk with the Lord, Rick and I have come to understand the deceitfulness of that kind of “see it, speak it, and receive it” teaching that has caused many young and immature Christians to fall by the wayside. They have been sold a bill of goods that could only lead to doubt and unbelief. If believers are rooted and grounded in the Word of God, they will learn from the author of our faith that being a Christian does not guarantee a life free of trials and tribulations. Look to the life of Jesus Himself. His sufferings, and a life of serving others, were never an example of earthly riches. His treasures were not of earthly goods which are temporary and fading, but of the eternal and incorruptible kind that are stored up in the Kingdom of Heaven with eternal value that will never fade. The lives of His disciples set forth that same example. The idea that a Christian should always experience a mountain top life with no valleys is more than bunk. It’s a lie straight from the devil that has caused hurt and harm to many, causing them to doubt and even turn away from God.

As our conversation deepened that evening, we began to ponder, which is the greater miracle – the one where one is miraculously healed by the laying on of hands for example, or the miracle of God’s grace and mercy as He holds your hand and carries you through each and every adversity that is brought into your life, all the while giving you the “peace that passes understanding” as you trust in Him to “work all things out” for your good. I contend that both are equally wondrous and miraculous, and that submission to the will of God, no matter what the case, is always of greater benefit to our lives. It is not what happens to us that is of importance, but rather our response to what happens to us. Look at what happened to some of those that were miraculously healed by Jesus. Some went praising and thanking the Lord, and couldn’t stop telling others of the wondrous things God had done for them. Yet there were others who, after being healed, just walked away and never so much as even gave thanks much less praise.

I consider the life of people like Joni Erickson Tada and Annie Johnson Flint to be an inspiration to all of us. Joni became a quadriplegic just two weeks before she was to enter her first year of college.
Annie was well on her way of reaching her goal to become a concert pianist, when she was struck with rheumatoid arthritis and suffered many years of pain from that dreaded crippling disease. The lives of both of these women provide examples of how God gives us strength to live our lives to overcome our circumstances rather than being victimized by them. They certainly make the Word come alive-
“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” I don’t say that God caused them to suffer. We live in a corrupt world where good and bad things happen to believers and unbelievers alike. I do proclaim that what Satan has meant for our harm, God can turn it around for His purposes to be worked out in and through us for our good. When adversity comes our way we have two choices: (1) open the door and invite bitterness, regret, and resentment to come in and set up residence within, or (2) ask Jesus to go to the door and welcome in His peace and joy to reside within you that you may give glory to God no matter what kind of “fiery darts” the enemy may try to send your way.

Joni Erickson Tada, when asked if she would rather have the Lord heal her, responded that she would in the natural love to have the use of her
body. However, knowing all that God has done in her life, she would always choose that His will and purpose for her life be fulfilled. Through her weakness, she has lived a life that demonstrates the love and strength of God, and many other lives have been touched and changed because of God in her. She may be the only “Bible” that some have ever seen. How much more meaningful and successful would each of our lives be if we truly learned to live it with the attitude of “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven. When good things happen to us do we fret then and wonder why God allowed those circumstances to come into our lives? So when the unexpected and painful circumstances of life come in like a flood, instead of dwelling upon “Why me Lord? Why did you let this happen to me?” try focusing upon, “Okay Lord, what do you want me to learn in and through all of this? Whether it is your will to take me out of this or walk with me through it, may You have Your way, and work all things out within me that I may glorify you in all my ways in thought, word, and deed.” Look at the words of King David when he was experiencing one of the valleys in his life. “Save me, O God; for the waters are come in unto my soul. I sink in deep mire, where is no standing: I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me. I am weary of my crying: my throat is dried: mine eyes fail while I wait for my God.” (Psalm 69: 1 – 3) He does not try to hide his true feelings, but is honest with the Lord. He does not try to act like something that he is not, but acknowledges his problem and his need for the Lord in his life. However, he does not stay helpless and hopeless, but calls upon the Lord for he knows he serves the almighty living God who is able to deliver him. “Hear me, O Lord; for thy loving kindness is good: turn unto me according to the multitude of thy tender mercies.” (Psalm 69: 16) Because of who He is, we can endure, for He is our strength and our salvation.

God has forewarned us that we will have trials and tribulations in this world. Jesus said, ”These things have I spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) Knowing He is the Potter and we are but the clay, shouldn’t we trust that He alone is able to melt us and mold us that we may become the persons He has purposed us to be? “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience: and experience, hope: and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” (Romans 5: 3-5) Instead of being destroyed by the fiery darts of the enemy, Satan, or by our own flesh or the pride of life, thinking more highly of ourselves and our own opinions, submit ourselves to the Refiner’s fire having faith that He who has created us is also able to perfect us.

The following is a comparison between the refining of metals and the refining of our character by God as given in the Life Application Study Bible (relative to Mal.3: 3) “In the process of refining metals, the raw metal is heated with fire until it melts. The impurities separate from it and rise to the surface. They are then skimmed off, leaving the pure metal. Without this heating and melting, there could be no purifying. As impurities are skimmed off the top, the reflection of the worker appears in the smooth, pure surface.

Similarly, as we are purified by God, His reflection in our lives will become more and more clear to us and those around us.” Since God knows the beginning from the end, even though the purifying process may be hard and even painful at times, doesn’t it make sense to trust in Him? He has promised to be with us and never leave us. He has also given us this assurance: “being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Phil. 1: 6) He began His work for us on the cross. He began His work in us when we repented and believed in Him as Savior and Lord. He continues His work in and through us by the power of His Holy Spirit who lives within us and leads and guides us into all truth until the day we meet our Lord face to face in Heaven. Therefore, we are encouraged to “count it all joy when ye fall into diverse temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” (James 1: 3, 4) God, in His infinite wisdom, is merely providing another opportunity for us grow stronger in our faith and closer in our relationship with Him.

There is nothing that we can suffer on earth that Jesus has not known or suffered Himself. He is fully acquainted with all our circumstances of life. Through the scriptures we can learn to be content no matter what our circumstances may be. Our happiness does not depend upon our circumstances, for we have the joy of the Lord to be our strength. We have His peace – not as the world gives, but the kind of peace that passes all understanding. Because we are but humans, we are going to experience times of depression and periods of time when we feel we are trapped in a tunnel that has no beginning or ending. Perhaps even these times are a part of the refining process during which we must explore our feelings and come to the realization that we have a problem that must be recognized and dealt with. We are encouraged to bring all things out into the ‘light’ that the ‘darkness’ can be dispelled. Shoving things under the rug, acting like they don’t exist, never accomplished anything. Pity parties become detrimental to us when we let them consume us to the point that we wallow in them. The times when we are walking through the valleys of life can become valuable life lessons during which we can learn how to work through them, with the help of the Lord, in order to become stronger and better equipped to live through future trials in life that will surely come. When we do fall into the pit of self pity, we have the encouragement of the Holy Spirit and the power of His word to remind us that ‘this too shall pass’ and is only temporary and for a moment in time. Romans 8 is filled with encouragement from our Lord to help sustain and strengthen us throughout times of trouble and suffering, I single out the following: (Romans 8: 18, 26, 27) “For I reckon the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to us.” “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit Himself maketh intercession for us with groanings that can not be uttered. And He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”

The following scriptures express so well the overcoming power of the Lord. “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying or the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.” “Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus, shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you.”
“For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet our inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things that are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things that are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.(II Cor. 8 – 11, 14, 16 – 18) “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” (II Cor. 5: 1) Reflect once again upon the words of any ‘light affliction’ that we might bear in the here and now and recognize how it does pale in the light of the glory which is to come.

Once again, I contend that whether we are healed or delivered instantly, or by holding the hand of God as He takes us through the illness or trial; either way we do forever have His comfort to turn our sadness into joy as He gives us the spirit of praise to deliver us from the spirit of heaviness.
Therefore, the one is as miraculous as the other. The success in our lives, or greatness of our faith, is not based on how many or few trials and tribulations we experience, but rather how obedient we are to the Lord as we endure them, and continue to stand in faith to the end. Whenever you and I may feel that we are sinking into the mire, let us think of people like Joni Erickson Tada and Annie Johnson Flint, and understand how rejoicing in the Lord has helped them overcome their circumstances, rather than being overcome or destroyed as a victim of circumstances. All things are possible with God. God is great and forever and always worthy of honor and praise. Knowing this, joy and gladness can fill our hearts to dispel the darkness that would try to overcome our souls. As the Scriptures say, may our hearts sing now and forever, “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, Rejoice!”

Ginger Rahn
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Truth And Distortion

           A distortion of the truth is harder to recognize than an outright lie.  For example: some groups teach that Christians are to be wealthy and in perfect health and that anyone who is not wealthy and in perfect health is not in right relationship with God.  They distort the Word of God by teaching about formulas that will force God to do the things they want.  We read in the Bible that even the apostles had daily challenges such as thorns in the flesh, suffering for Christ, persecution, illness, lack of wealth and sometime lack of basic needs[1].   Paul said that these things strengthen us in the faith.  The Bible doesn’t tell us that we will be free from affliction, but rather that God would help us in our times of trouble and need. 
          We see in the early church that there were rich Christians and poor Christians.  We also see many who, today, we would call middle class.  We also see that even the apostles had to put up with a lot that was wrong and had to be overcome.  I believe the best explanation I have heard came from a bible teacher who said that we get sick because of sin, and also because there are germs in the air.  We will not live in a perfect world until after the return of Jesus. 
          The curse of God will come to anyone who distorts what the Bible teaches, even an angel from Heaven.  Does this mean that we should distrust any and all messages we receive?  Yes and no!  We should be open to things we do not know while we study the Word to show ourselves approved.  We should compare anything we are told to what the Bible teaches.  I am reminded of an old saying, attributed to Abraham, while talking to his father about the idols his father made his living making.  When his father was gone, he took an axe out of the hands of the largest idol in the shop, and destroyed the others with it.  He then placed the axe back into the hands of the biggest idol.  Upon his father’s return, he asked Abraham what had happened and Abraham told him the large idol destroyed the rest.  The father was irate with him as he shouted that that was impossible because the idols couldn’t do anything.  Abraham then asked his father, “Have your ears heard what your mouth has spoken?”  There are many teachers who should ask themselves that question today.
          Anyone who is not ‘Born Again’ is subject to the law; Jew and gentile alike.  Those who are ‘Born Again’ are subject to Grace.  Grace relieves us from following the exacting nature of the law.  Christians live by faith in the knowledge that Jesus paid the price for us to be delivered from the impossibility of following the law. 
          The sons of Isaac were given the inheritance from Abraham, and later his seed was given the Law as a guide to living up to that inheritance.  The sons of Ishmael were not given any inheritance from Abraham, but since there is only one God, they were still subject to the Law.  Therein is the age old conflict between the sons of Isaac and the sons of Ishmael.  Either way, we are all subject to the Law in the same way that we are now all welcomed into the family of God through the salvation of Jesus, once we accept Him.    
          Today, just as in the time of Jesus and the early church, there are teachers (like the Pharisees and Sadducees) that add extra regulations to the Law and those who subtracted from the Law by saying we were free to do as we please[2].  Jesus and the apostles warned us about those people.  Those who distort the basic tenants of the Gospel such as denying the virgin birth, removing the necessity of the cross, and watering down the Gospel message, are subject to the Lord’s vengeance for misleading His people.  Adding to the Gospel, by precept or regulation, is subject to the same condemnation.  Study your Bible so you won’t be susceptible to being led astray by false prophets and false teaching.  “Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you an automobile.”[3]  In the same way, false teachers who will say they are Christian and speaking for God: ‘it ain’t necessarily so’.  The Bible tells us not to associate with people who claim to be believers and indulge in practicing sin.  We are told to remove those people from among us[4].  We are also told not to judge the person, because they might be saved from their sin like we were.  There is a need, and an obligation, for us to judge good from evil.  Paul says that correction is needed at times for the body of Christ.  This is not the same as judging, or condemning others, as some would have us believe. 

[1] Galatians 4:13, Deuteronomy 15:7-11
[2] Galatians 1:6-9
[3] Billy Sunday
[4] 1 Corinthians 5:11-13