Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Road to Deception: idols

Psalm 135:15-18

"The idols of the nations are silver and gold, the work of men's hands. They have mouths, but they do not speak; They have ears, but they do not hear; Nor is their any breath (life) in their mouths. Those who make them are like them; So is everyone who trusts in them."
The writer of this psalm referred to "our God", "our Lord above all gods". The Jewish people spoke of "our God" to form the seperation from the false gods of the nations around them.
Our people today, no matter what nation, have been so blinded by this one. This could be one of the biggest forms of deception because we just aren't seeing it (that's what deception is).  We have confused the fast paced, progressive, techno- savy world of modernization with our basic needs.
We can not see the comparison of a "golden cow" that people made with their own hands to something of today.  I mean we would never walk around and around a cow and put our faith in it. We can not relate to crying out to a form of something, giving our blood, sweat and tears to see something change, that it physically effects us (as in the prophets of Baal on mount carmel) Oh no, we would NEVER do that (sarcasam).
If something consumes you more than God himself does, it's an idol. This is where it gets tricky because we don't THINK it consumes us. Let me ask you this, if something tragic happened and it was taken from you, would you change as a person? Would you make an adjustment and continue walking in His steps and not miss a beat? I'm gonna let you stop and think on this...stop reading and write some thoughts down......

I'm going to list a few just to get you thinking, this list could be never ending:
Physical fitness
Power (leadership) (ways to dominate others)
Social media
Cleanliness (to an obsession)

Is Christ our center? Is He our source? Is everything else just extra? Can you go a week or month without becoming depressed, having anxiety or constantly thinking of it?
From the words of Billy Graham,  in Approaching Hoofbeats, " you don't have to practice vodoo or be a follower of a strange cult to be deceived, anything that entices you away from a wholehearted commitment to Christ, is being used by Satan to deceive you".

What does God say about idols? It must have been a big deal even from the beginning to be in the "top ten".
Exodus 20:3 " you shall have no other gods (little g) before me".
The bible says He is a jealous God. He is not going to compete for your affection. When your heart is divided, you are ineffective. The bible says you are neither hot nor cold but lukewarm, and He will vomit you out of His mouth.
I know that people who don't know the Lord may think that sounds harsh but He's a just God not a pushover. He has expectations because He loves you and wants the best for you as He already knows the plans He has for you, and what deception can do to mess those plans up.

Take a moment of self-reflection. Anything other than the Lord should be extra, you could take it or leave it.  Remember, that's a tough question for our culture today.

The Mrs. Pastor

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Road to Deception- Justification

1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 (God's Word Translation)
"Don't put out the Spirit's fire. Don't despise what God has revealed. Instead, test everything, hold on to what is good. Keep away from every kind of evil"

Today's road sign is "justification".  This has blinded so many of us because no one likes conviction.  Matter of fact, we avoid it.  We would rather feel warm and fuzzy, having people giving us praise and flattery. (that's another deception we can talk about later)
HEY, WAIT A MINUTE, you might say.  The bible says there is no condemnation for those in Christ.  You are absolutely correct.  There is a difference between condemning and conviction.  Condemnation brings nothing but guilt while conviction  brings confession of sin and change to be in the likeness of Christ.  It brings freedom and life.  All of which is a huge threat to our enemy.
Why do we see so many situations that seem hopeless?  It's because the enemy has made a big yellow road sign that says: JUSTIFICATION.  My friend, your God has a bigger symbol that pictures the cross.  This symbol represents forgiveness, change, new beginnings, death of self and risen in a new spirit.
On this Easter morning, I can't help but think of the people involved in the most cruel death of Jesus.  The same people who were praising him one minute are so easily swayed by some insecure, jealous religious leaders that they can turn so quickly.  Yes, I understand  that Jesus had to be the sacrifice for all man's sin, but to see it unfold in that manner is disturbing.  It shows us all how ugly sin is and why God can have no part of it.  It shows us what mankind is capable of without Christ.  Let's look at how easy it can be to justify our actions:
Judas: handed Christ over for some extra cash
Peter: denied knowing him because of fear
Pilate: stuck to Roman law that denied Jesus' release because he refused to defend himself (knowing he did no wrong)
Samson: touched and ate things he was instructed not to and had relations with one he should have been far from  (oh, this one could preach)
Jonah: found his plan more appropriate than God's plan  (how did that work for him?)
Abram: couldn't wait on God's time schedule, so he took matters in his own hands and made it work
David: liked what he saw and had his men do his dirty work....because "technically" he didn't kill Bathsheba's husband
Uzzah: when the ox stumbled and the arc of God started to fall, he reached out and took a hold of it.  Now this one is tough because most people are, kinda harsh to be struck dead when he was just trying to help, BUT the bible explains that they were irreverent.  They forgot and took for granted the holiness.  It should have never been transported that way.

There are so many other examples I can use but I think you get the picture.  I want to remind you that when you are led by the spirit of God you have less temptation to walk in your flesh and take this road called justification.  For example, Joseph could have easily justified torturing his brothers as they tortured him.  He could have never revealed himself  or welcome them in as family.  Instead though, he clothed himself in God's spirit,  revealing the character of the one who changed him.  I'm sure he recognized that he held himself and spoke out as a young boy but had grown as a man after God's heart.
So, my point is sin is sin.  I hope we don't go there....but if you do, know that conviction leads to repentance and repentance to forgiveness and forgiveness to freedom and freedom to an abundant life that those without Christ will never understand until they experience it for themselves.  Today, make your life inviting for others.  Even in the mistakes and repenting, your life can be inviting (probably even more so because you put to death your pride and demonstrate humility).

May God continue to reveal himself to you where you can easily recognize deception.

NEXT BLOG:  Idols......

The Mrs. Pastor

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Road to Deception-hard hearts

This blog will be the first of many in a series regarding deception.  It has been a topic that the Lord is bringing up in every quiet moment that I've been having with Him lately.  God's people need to wake up and realize that the enemy (the devil) is sly and skillful in getting the upper hand in people's lives.  I have become so aware of it that I have noticed my flesh falling for it.  If not for the Lord making me more aware, I can sadly say I would fall prey to this also. Our first road sign will be hard hearts.
"Happy is the man who is always reverent, But he who hardens his heart will fall into calamity." Proverbs 28:14
The enemy has used people's little imperfections (hey, none of us are perfect...remember that the next time you want to throw a stone so easily), people's hurtful or offensive words, people's actions, decisions that have been made that you disagree with,...and on and on. 
You know what I'm talking about!  You know someone right now that wants nothing to do with God or the church because of an offense of someone. Every person is a hypocrite.  Every pastor talks about money. Everyone...everyone...everyone.  For those of us in ministry, we have to fight against this harden heart often.  There are many that take advantage of the generosity of the church and when we have to say "I'm sorry we can't help on this one"...we are ungodly, unloving, hypocrites, prejudice, etc...When we have policies in place and people don't agree with it, we become the church that doesn't care.  When we put on an event and something happens that was out of our control, we are criticized for it and the focus of the entire event is on that one flaw rather than all the good that took place.  CAN ANYONE SEE THE ENEMY!   Can we see his distraction tool and the result is someone is going to get a hard heart. 
Christian, wake up!  Let it not be us.  That verse in proverbs says, those who are reverent are happy, meaning you are deeply respectful of God and His word and ways that it just becomes a natural part of your life and character.   Yet, on the other hand, those who allow this hard heart will fall into calamity. The definition for calamity: a great misfortune or disaster; catastrophe; grievous affliction; misery. 
Enough said.  Who wants that on themselves, their family, their job, their church, their community?
One of the many quotes that I have hanging in my classroom is, "seek to change and improve myself first".  It begins with us first.  We must see the enemy but then have the wisdom to handle it according to God's way.  According to my 17 year old, "but it's hard mom!".  Well, ya.  If it was easy, everyone would do it.  I tell her to practice God's word like she practices her shots in basketball.  You do it over and over and over again.  You get better and it becomes easier.

Think about people or situations that you have allowed to harden your heart and LET IT GO TODAY.  Don't go down that road.  The end result is not good.

Next blog on deception....coming soon!
The Mrs. Pastor  

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Circle of Relationships

It is inevitable that you will have relationships in your christian walk (or should....I mean,  how can you share the gospel without people?) One might say we have a great social media network that can accomplish that.  To that I say, yes... to a degree.  People still need people to help in the training and discipling (that's the application part). 
There are several opinions and philosophies on what relationships should look like.  In my experience, I see three key factors that should be seen in all of our circles. 
1. People you mentor
2. People who walk beside you: growing, encouraging, and sharpening each other
3. People who mentor you 
*I want to make a note that there are so many other relationships, just not in your close circle.  For all you people out there that want to be negative and call this a "click" well....let me remind you that Jesus had a close circle he called his "disciples".  Just because someone isn't in your close circle doesn't mean you don't walk in Christian love and character with them or beside them....I mean there is a billion people on this planet.  
I have discovered so much of this from stories that I have read in the Bible.  I loved watching the relationship with Elijah and Elisha.  One just being who God has called him to be and the other walking in his steps wanting to learn and grow as much as possible.  Then there is Paul who strongly believed in mentorship as he guided young Timothy.  Both Paul and Timothy understood their role and walked in it with great responsibility. 
I love the words from John Maxwell, "You can't divorce leadership from relationships".  And let's not forget the people who  walk beside us that sharpen us daily.  This is validated with the scripture  "As iron sharpens iron, let one man sharpen the other" Proverbs 27:17
I write this with great conviction.  I believe it is this circle of relationships that has developed me to the place I am today.  It has prepared me for things personally, professionally, and spiritually that I never could have imagined in my own thinking. 
Let me add that I had to hold true to His voice in my life when following this circle. There are all kinds of voices trying to guide your thinking and influence your philosophy.  Some would say, "you can't have good friends in ministry" and others "we just see clicks".  I say to all, I hear the voice of the good shepherd! 
I believe in quality over quantity.  I have a busy life.  I rarely have a moment to spend a large amount of time with friends (even at work...we are busy little bees) BUT the moments I have, I make the most of that opportunity.  
So, to my people I mentor: I pray I have made the pathway a little clearer and easier to see.  That I have inspired you to be better today and even better tomorrow.
To my "iron sharpening" buddies: I don't tell you enough how much I love and appreciate you. You make me better.
Finally, to the people who I have looked up to and held on to your words and actions have given more than I have ever deserved! 

Be intentional!
The Mrs. Pastor