Seek the Light- Take Your Faith With You

In our daily lives we are surrounded by messages of temptations, judgements and propaganda telling us what we should think, what we need to do, what brand of this or that, that a ‘sensible’ person uses. In the era of social media it has evolved into pop-up ads and notifications within streams of other information. […]

via Seek The Light — Take Your Faith With You

Re-Post from Jason Neil Soto

Preached at the San Diego Rescue Mission on Wednesday morning, October 18, 2017. I was reading a quote this week that said, “Change requires energy.” We want change, but doing what it takes to change is hard. We try to change our diet, but having to walk by those cakes and cookies every day? Hard! […]

via Jesus Changes Lives (1 John 3:4-15) — Jason Neil Soto

Is The Word Of God “Hate Speech?”

                      What Is Hate Speech?

 the media repeatedly uses The expression, hate speech, but what is hate speech?  One explanation states; Speech that attacks, threatens, or insults a person or group based on national origin, ethnicity, color, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability. However, I would go one step further. When political leaders, news commentators or celebrities, get into name-calling, criticizing someone’s character, the way they look, dress, or their mannerisms, this is also hateful speech.
 Are you aware our biblical worldview is hate speech according to unbelievers? Scripture defines marriage between a man and a woman. It was God who created marriage. However, by supporting what God established, we are homophobic.
 Society demands tolerance. However, these same individuals do not listen to the alternative position of the argument. They identify those of us that have differing views from non-believers as hate mongers, bigots, homophobes, and many other unattractive labels. They expect us to put our theological beliefs aside in businesses such as bakeries and wedding chapels. “Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you or to Him?” (Acts 4:18-19). So ask yourself, do you want the approval of society (friends, peers, etc.) or do you seek approval from God?   2 Timothy 2:23-26 reminds us, “Have nothing to do with foolish arguments because you know they produce quarrels.”  Don’t fight like the devil for the word of God. “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always prepare to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” (1Peter 3:15) Our God can change us. Remember to always portray the heart of God and the fruit of the spirit.

You are Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

You are incredible! Did you know that?  The scriptures reinforce what I’m telling you. “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful. I know that full well” (Psalm 139:14). The media, the food and diet industry all want you to believe there is something wrong with you. They say you-you lack willpower, you have bad genetics, your nose is too big/too small. “Enlarge your breasts, get rid of those lines and wrinkles.  You will never be enough the way you are.” They bombard us with advertisers telling us what’s wrong with us.  But I am here to tell you that God is not a liar. God made you the way you are.  Now, wait, before you decide that “if God wanted me to be thin, He would have given me a better metabolism.”   Let’s be real.  If you have an obesity problem, don’t blame God.  I have battled weight since I was a teenager and I used to blame God too.  The primary reason most Americans are obese has to do with their diet. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys have been charting obesity rates since the 1980s. Their findings point to Americans eating out more, eating more fast foods, drinking more sugary drinks (yes, this includes the fancy coffee drinks) and not practicing portion control.  The unhealthiest foods taste good, they’re cheaper, they serve larger portions and they are easily available.  

God did not create fast food. Man did.  It wasn’t until I was ready to surrender the control of my eating to God that I found successful weight loss. I reminded myself that Satan is a liar and a murderer. He loves nothing more than to hit us with our weakness, mine being sugar. For over 50 years, I ate sugar like an alcoholic drinks liquor.  I spent all my allowance money on candy, I would hide it, lie about it, and I hate to admit this, but I would even steal sweets out of the student’s lunch boxes.  

Satan made me believe I was weak and had no self-control.  I had avoided becoming an alcoholic like my parents.  At 31 years old, I developed type 2 diabetes and had high cholesterol. This was not how God had made me. At 40, I underwent gastric banding and lost 100lbs, but within five years, I had gained 80 of the 100 pounds back.  As I grew in Christ and studied scripture, I discovered that I had to surrender my control of eating to God. When we begin to trust him, we can accomplish so much more than trying to do it ourselves. (Eph. 3:20).  God is the source of our health and healing.  “Do you not know your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own.” (1 Corinthians 6:19)  

I have no control over the natural aging process. I’m getting more wrinkles, my hair is turning white (which until recently I was buying color from a bottle), my eyesight nor my hearing isn’t as good as it was, but I still believe God made me and, in His eyes, I’m beautiful.   

 

Fake News Began in the Bible

 

We hear a lot about “fake news” these days. It has developed into a prominent term for the past three years, but “fake news” is not a unique phenomenon. What precisely does fake news mean? Fake news implies that someone has taken selected facts and misrepresented them by including or withholding information to make you accept their idea of reasoning. Why should we be concerned? The world is seeking to move us toward a way of believing and a way of acting. Their goal is to move use toward their agenda.

If we revert to the garden of Eden, we learn of an enemy who twisted the facts to persuade Eve to eat from the tree rather than following the word of God.   Will you listen to the truth from God or other forces in the world?  Here exists the spiritual battle.  When you believe fake news, you experience the repercussions. There is such a thing as truth.  Jesus declares, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14”6). For other non-Christian believers,  they believe in their truth.  “What’s right for me is right for me and what’s right for you is right for you” and,  Oprah Winfrey has said, “there are many paths to what you call God” and has endorsed new age gurus,  Deepak Chopra, and Eckhart Tolle.

When we present a false narrative, it determines and changes one’s convictions. Fake news impacts your worldview. The scriptures state “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through God, all things were made; In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. (John 1:1-4). Whenever I hear non-believers come up with their own beliefs, I must remind myself that when Jesus was living on earth, He revealed to all who he was, many still denied him even though they had witnessed his miracles.

2 Timothy 3:1-17 warns us of turbulent times ahead. People will not love God or each other, but only themselves. These people oppose the truth other than their own. These are false teachers who claim there is no God. We find many of these teachers in our public schools and universities. Where did they come from? We know where Jesus came from. We know he’s the truth. All Paul (or any of the disciples) had to do was deny Jesus to save their life. They all died for the truth. Galatians 1:8 warns us about angels from heaven preaching a gospel other than the one we have been given. Lucifer was an angel.  An angel that the other religions were incorrect told Mormon “prophet” Joseph Smith and Muslim “prophet” Mohammad. Scripture is how you know the truth, right from wrong, what is fake news. 1 John 4: 1-6 Don’t believe false prophets that are being led by false spirits. How do you know if they are false? If the spirit does not speak of Jesus that came into the flesh and was the God’s son, be leary. How do you know if a person is telling you the truth? Test it by the word of God. It is possible the world will trick some of us because we don’t know what the bible says. Therefore, it is important that as Christians, we study the word. “Fake news” from Satan is leading some to suicide. It leads to brokenness, emptiness, hopelessness. Satan convinces you you’re worthless. God wants to counter the fake news with his son Jesus Christ. Satan is the father of lies.  What does Jesus want for you? For more information about the truth look to John 14:5-7,   John 17:13-19,   2 Timothy 4: 2-5, 1 John 1:1-4,  1 John 4:1-6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who Are The Unloveables In Your Life?

Last night was our church’s small home group. Each week our group will discuss the sermon from Sunday, or chose a story from the bible to study. Our leader chose the book of Jonah for the next eight weeks. All I knew about Jonah was he was swallowed by a whale. I did not understand why and had never read the story. Here is what I learned last night.

God asked Jonah to go to Assyria and call the people to repentance.  Assyria was an evil empire known for brutal murders. Jonah hated the Assyrians and only wanted vengeance rather than forgiveness for the people, so  Jonah was disobedient and run away from God. Here we learn that Jonah had a selfish heart, wanting nothing to do with the “unlovable” people.  He did not want the Assyrians to receive God’s mercy. In Jonah’s mind, they did not deserve forgiveness.

The question from the study asks us, who are the, “un-lovables” in our lives?  Who do we feel uncomfortable to be around and share the word of God? All of us seemed to agree on particular groups of people; drug and alcohol abusers, homeless people and those of other non-Christian beliefs.  I was reminded of a situation years ago that I knew I had to share.

While living in Oregon, I often asked God about the people I’d see on the streets begging for money, doing drugs, and causing havoc in the city. These were also God’s children, but could He expect Christians to feel the same way he did toward these people?  This question had been on my heart for months.   Most of us would be terrified to be anywhere near these people, which is why I avoided certain areas of downtown Portland.  The famous, “Burnside Bridge” area was known as skid row.  That was where the shelters were. Any day you could drive through the area and see dirty drunks, drug addicts, and undesirables just sitting on the sidewalks or mulling around begging for change.

It was an early Saturday morning when I woke up and heard God speak. “I want you to go down to Burnside and get the answers to the questions you pose. Remove all your jewelry and go as you are. Take your dog and do not be afraid, for I will be with you.”  Like Jonah, I wanted to run the other direction.  Was He trying to get me killed?  That area is dangerous place, for a woman alone.  However, God was persistent. I put on an old pair of thongs and a dirty pair of jeans and a ripped up, paint spattered T-shirt. I didn’t bother to brush my hair or my teeth.  My 70 pound lab was excited to go for a ride. I was trembling as I neared the area. “Really God?” I asked.  “Are you still with me? What do you want me to do?”  ‘Just go’ is what came back in my head.  “Trust in the lord your God and do not depend on your own understanding.”  ~Proverbs 3:5.

I parked the car, and my dog and I walked toward the area where all the people hung out.  It was still early so I rationalized that most of them would still be sleeping.  I saw a man standing along- side the street with a sign asking for change. I asked him where the woman’s shelter was (I didn’t even know if there was one). He was very polite. He asked to pet my dog. He gave me directions to the shelter and asked me, “Do you need money miss? I only have 75 cents, but if you’re in need?”

I was touched by his generosity. I politely refused by saying, “God bless you, but I’m fine.”  I continued my journey until I arrived at the destination.  Tears filled my eyes at what I saw. There before me, stood twenty or more people, smoking cigarettes, drinking coffee and socializing with each other.  I felt God’s presence and no longer felt fear. The questions I had began to fill my head. I was overwhelmed with emotion and suddenly, the tears were streaming down my face. A middle aged woman saw me as she passed by. She quickly turned around and asked me if I was ok. I explained that I wasn’t sure why I was here, but that God sent me. She smiled and said, “God sends most of us here. This is where we find refuge. You’re welcome to go inside and get a cup of hot coffee, tea or hot chocolate and some breakfast.”  Again, I was touched by a generous heart.  She obviously sensed how fearful and uncomfortable I was, so she asked me to wait for her. She went into the shelter and came back with a cup of hot coffee and some pamphlets of services to help the homeless.  I never knew such places existed.  They had places to get clothes for little or no money, health care, haircuts, food, churches that welcome those in need, medications and services to get people signed up for food stamps and low income housing. It was another world.

The woman’s name was Jean and she introduced me to her close friend Marie. They both wanted to know my story, but I was just as interested in theirs. (I couldn’t reveal that I was not,  ‘one of them’ so I listened). They had both been meth users.  They had lived on the street for two years. The questions came pouring out of my mouth with such compassion and non-judgment,  I knew it was God using me to help resolve the issues I had had in my heart. “Do you believe in God?” I asked. They both lit up with enthusiasm,  “Yes” they answered. I posed an even more personal question,  “Do you blame God for your situation?  Don’t you think that  God should help you?”  What I heard next revealed to me what God wanted me to learn. Jean responded, “God has, and is helping me. It’s not His fault I’m an alcoholic and meth addict. Those were my decisions. Though it all, God kept me safe. He brought me to the shelter and is helping me get clean. We have our name’s on the low income housing list and are waiting for our own apartment.  In the meantime, we meet with our sponsor, attend AA meetings two or three times a day sometimes, we have a roof over our head, food in our bellies and the holy spirit in our hearts.” She then pointed up toward “Snob Hill” where all the rich people live.  “See those people?  Those are the people I don’t want to become. They have huge mortgages, expensive toys, clothes, cars,  and are stressed out all day, every day. Most don’t even know God or give thanks. They just go about their lives feeling entitled and look at those of us here as an eye sore, but I pray for them anyway. I pray they will find the Lord and have compassion for those of us that were less fortunate than they were.”

I felt the guilt swell up in me. I was one of those people she was referring to.  And she was right, by most accounts, I did feel entitled.  I had worked hard to get where I was.  I believed in the Lord and I gave thanks, but there was something I had missed.  How could I be more like Jesus?  Marie then added,  “And Jesus used to eat with the undesirable people in the community. He said they needed him more than the rich people thought they did, and he gave his love and blessings on them.”

Since that day, I have looked upon the homeless and the downtrodden differently.  I realized than many of them are more obedient to God than those who play “Christian” on Sundays.  I have been eternally grateful that God gave me this experience, and I felt His presence with me the entire time. I never felt in danger.  He removed the fear and replaced it with curiosity and compassion.  Thank you Lord Jesus.  This was truly a leap in faith for me.

Time. How Do You Spend It?

I realized my mortality last week. I looked up a friend I hadn’t seen or communicated with since we moved to Idaho. When I searched her name, I saw a picture of her with that sweet smile and funky looking hairstyle. I snickered at first until I noticed it was her obituary. My friend had passed away two months ago. Devastated I searched the story to discover there was no mention of the cause of death, but since the family asked for donations to go to the American Cancer Society, I put two and two together.

She was only three years older than I, and it had been four years since I last saw her. Where had the time gone? I had traveled to Oregon a half dozen times since we’d moved, and not once did I take the time to stop in and say hi. I realized that it could be me in four years, next month, or today. For,  “Each man’s life is but a breath”.~ Psalm 39:5.  We are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. ~James 4:14.

We often fill time with things that don’t matter. Phone calls, texting, emails, social media, TV, video games, the internet. *Adults in the United States spend over five hours each day on “non-voice mobile activities,” including Internet use on phones and tablets, and about four-and-a-half hours watching television according to a study released by e-Marketer. *(www.huffingtonpost.com/2013)

Have you heard, “The jar of life — Rocks, Pebbles, and Sand” story?  In this metaphor,  the sand represents the small things such as email, texting, phone calls, and non-essential material possessions. The pebbles represent the other things that matter in your life, such as your job, your education, and your home. The rocks are equivalent to the most important things in your life, such as family, health, and relationships. By filling the jar with all the sand first, there is still room for the pebbles, but many of the large rocks don’t fit, so they get left out. When we fill our time with little things that don’t matter, we have little time for the things that truly matter.

How much of your life is built on sand rather than rock? As we allow the physical things to dictate rather than the spiritual things, we feel empty.  Real life does not comprise your earthly possessions. God created us with a hole in our heart that only He can fill. Worldly priorities will never satisfy. Know how you spend your time.  Always remember, the Lord comes first.

 

How Will You Glorify God in 2019?

As 2018 draws to an end, we look to the beginning of a new year (As a teacher, the ” New Year” always began Labor Day, but I digress).  When the subject of New Year Resolutions comes up, I tend to remind myself of Romans 12:2;  “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Rather than stressing myself out with the same old “resolutions” year after year, I enjoy sitting in my big walk-in closet with a single candle burning, focus on the Lord, then humbly ask, “How can I best serve you in this coming year? How can I best glorify your name?” Since He was the one who made me, it seems only right I ask my creator what areas I need to improve on, how I should be spending my time, my money and sharing my gifts to those who would greatly benefit from them.  By spending time with the Lord and in the word, becoming depressed, unmotivated, and lethargic is kept at bay. While the secular world focuses on themselves and believing material goods can bring them happiness, my physical and spiritual health is far more important.  Jesus reminds us in Matthew 6:19; “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven where moth and rust do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will also be.”  For me to represent the Lord, in the best possible light, I have been working on two scriptures;  1 Corinthians  6:19-20 “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”  And Romans 12:1 “I appeal to you, therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” Since the age of eight, I have had a weight problem. I loved food more than anything else. Sugar was my god.

As I have matured to trust the Lord,  I begun to ask Him how to deal with the demons that have taken over my body, have caused decay and disease and brought me to the depths of despair.  Over my entire adult life, I’d spent thousands of dollars on diets and counseling.  The results were minimal as well as temporary.  After hitting rock bottom in August, I decided to turn to the Lord and ask how He could help rid me from the grip sugar had.  He put Proverbs 3:5-6 on my heart. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”  That was thirty pounds ago.  I have sixty more to go.

How will you glorify God in 2019?

It’s Over. I survived another Christmas

I won’t lie, December 24th and 25th are difficult days for me.  As a Christian, I know it’s about the birth of our Lord and Savior, but it hurts every year when Christmas Eve and Christmas Day come and my husband and I have no family to spend the holidays.  His grown children disowned him when he married me.  My nephews have moved across the country with families of their own. This year, I lost my ex-brother-in-law to cancer back in May. I lost my God-parents three years ago and Three years ago next week, one of my close friends committed suicide.  Those were the few people we shared Christmas.

Don’t get me wrong,  I love the season.  Working in a private school, the children are still allowed to sing Christmas carols, make gifts for their parents, and decorate the huge  Christmas tree that stands in the hallway.  The staff does “Secret Santa” and every year we have a staff Christmas party hosted by our boss. I love to entertain, so I decorate the house and host our bible study group one night in December. But those two days are reminders that it’s just the two of us with no fellowship with others. However, there is a silver lining in all of this.

Back in August, my husband and I began following the Ketosis diet.  We splurged tonight and had shared a baked potato with our ham and green beans. What a treat that was. No candy, cookies, pies or specialty desserts this year.  We are grateful we won’t fight the five or more pounds we gain between Thanksgiving and New Years Day. We also didn’t max out our credit cards on gifts.

Yesterday,  I kept my mind on the birth of Jesus and gave thanks to God for giving us the best gift ever. I also lit a candle and said a prayer for those who are no longer with us, and for all others who have no homes due to the Campfire in California.

Today, the tree came down and the decorations have been put away for another year. December 26th is a regular day.  I don’t return to work until the 7th of January, so I will continue to listen and follow Jesus on this new adventure He has started with me.  Jesus comforts our soul and eases our pain. I am grateful for the wonderful husband I have, our home, our community and our church.  Happy New Year!

Final Thoughts for the Holidays

Here are thoughts as we get closer to Christmas Day. Remember that not everyone is looking forward to Christmas since they may not have loving and supportive families. Some people have problems during the holidays. Great sadness plague those remembering the loved ones no longer with them. For many, it is their first Christmas without a particular loved one; many others lost loved ones at Christmas time. Many people have no one to spend these times and are lonely. We all need caring, loving thoughts right now. Pray for all those who have family issues, health problems, job struggles, or worries of any kind. They need to know someone cares. Pray for our military families, those who lay terminally ill in hospital beds, those who are in prison, as they are all someone’s son or daughter, spouse, parent or friend too.

I recall breathing a sigh of relief on December 26th. It was over, and I could get back to a “normal” life. When I was a young, single woman, my next concern was not having a date for New Years’ Eve.  I’m grateful those days have passed. Now I have more important matters that consume me such as filing taxes. I have stopped making New years resolutions as I am still trying to fulfill the ones I made back in 1995!  Instead, I  make short and long-term goals. For 2019, I want to become a disciple maker for the Lord Jesus Christ. I will volunteer where I am needed at my church and my community. I will continue to grow my blog followers and offer more personal support to the women in need.  Finally, I will give thanks every day to the Lord who created me to do His work and will do it with a loving heart.

This Is What Christmas Is Really About

The Christmas season was not always a happy time for me.  During the early childhood years, I believed I had traditional Christmases.  I remember my mom stressing out over my grandparents and aunt and uncle coming to visit from other states and staying an entire week.  Mom would often invite one of her closest friends who was a widow and no children or family to join us. We had a house full of people and I being the youngest was spoiled with every imaginable toy, new clothes, and the richest cookies and candies from across the world.

When I was in my teenage years, Christmas holidays were not so enjoyable anymore.  Grandpa and my uncle had gone home to be with the Lord, my grandmother had moved in with us,  my sister was married with her own family, and I became savvy about how much my mother and grandmother drank, especially at Christmas.

When my sister, husband, and children would arrive, they were often late for Christmas dinner, causing my mother further stress and anger. She would then drink more.  My mother was not a doting grandmother either. Children annoyed her. Knowing when the grandsons were coming, she would spend a couple of hours “Childproofing” the house.  I always enjoyed playing with my three nephews (It became my responsibility to keep the boys entertained), and they were a nice distraction from the drunken fighting and arguing that often took place.

Then, at age 23, my life and holidays would be changed forever. My sister and her husband had divorced,   and, my mother passed away two weeks into the new year. That was when I became angry with God and turned away from Him for many years. I no longer had a “home.” My grandmother moved in with my sister, and we had to put the house on the market.  When Christmas rolled around, I spent a couple of them at my sister’s, but there was a new man in the picture who was an alcoholic, as were his parents. He also had six children. Her small house wasn’t large enough for everyone to sit together and so we all found places on the floor, fireplace hearth,  and steps to have dinner. There was so much drinking and arguing; I couldn’t stand going another year. For several Christmases, I spent alone in my new home. I remember feeling so resentful and depressed — no presents, no Christmas dinner, and no family. I was alone. It was difficult, and I hated Christmas.

When I gave my life to the Lord in 2004, my life and my views completely changed. It was time to make new traditions with my husband.  We’d sometimes go camping over Christmas, go to a nice lodge, or stay home and watch Christmas movies. We have the Lord and each other.  We feel blessed that we no longer have to deal with the expense and stress of Christmas gifts for each other and family.  We prefer to set a budget that we would spend on gifts for ourselves and others and donate that money to a family in need. I still decorate the house and put up a Christmas tree, but next year, I would like to do something different.

The season is really about Jesus’ birth. As I’ve grown in Christ, I am moving away from the secular celebration of Christmas in this country. Santa, reindeer, snowmen, Christmas trees have absolutely nothing to do with the true meaning of Christmas.  I have heard the Christmas story many times from many different pastors this year, and they all have opened my eyes. Instead of a huge Christmas tree that takes up a good portion of the living room, I would like my husband to build a manger scene similar to what we would imagine it looked like on the day Jesus was born (not the sanitized secular type version).  I believe this would help both of us to keep our heart on the true meaning of Christmas and not get caught up in the secular traditions or the sadness of not having our family members to celebrate together.  Knowing what Jesus was born to do for us is the greatest gift any of us could receive.  The best gift we could give Jesus in return would be to follow Him and go out and make disciples.   May you all keep the true meaning of Christmas, not just during the season, but through the entire year.