Cookie cutter Christians


Everything in life molds us.  Our trials, our day-to-day life … our ups and downs.  As Christians what we learn as we go through life, and what we do with what we learn, is important.  Sometimes though, we take life and “cookie cut”, or stamp out the result instead of allowing God to work His truths out in our life.  We repeat “ism” statements without ever really thinking through what we are saying and fully understanding the application.

I know people who can quote whole sections of the Bible, but their lives are not evidence of the truths they quote.    Hitler was raised with the Bible and had portions memorized.  Even satan* knows the scriptures.  I also know people who can tell you that “Spurgeon says, Chambers says, Piper says, Warren says, Graham says …”.  But it should be all about what the Bible says to US and how we live according to His word.   There is nothing wrong with reading all the commentaries and books out there but when the bottom line is drawn are you somebody’s cookie cutter version of Christ, or are you a hand molded version He has made.

In the past five years my husband lost his job and was unemployed for over four years; my mother fell and broke her hip, had surgery and ultimately went home to be with her Lord; our daughter was buried in a building during an E4 tornado; I have injured my spine with two bulging discs; our home is in foreclosure and the bank is refusing to work with us (still); we had one wedding and two grandchildren born.  I am currently in a wrist/thumb brace from a fall last September.   It has been one  roller-coaster year after another.  Even my precious cat died.  Sometimes it seems like it never ends.  I can look further back in my life to when both my parents had open heart surgery four weeks apart, dad had a stroke on the operating table and was in the hospital  seven months prior to his death.  And to  when my oldest brother was in the car wreck that put him in the hospital for five months.  It is still affecting his life 2o+ years later.  His son died of a brain tumor a few years after his car wreck.   Why so much strife and tragedy?   Why did my middle brother have to be killed in a plane crash?  Why did we lose three children?  Why this, or that?  Why Lord?  Is all life to be bad?  No.  But, satan* would believe it’s because we are out of God’s care, that  He does not care.  The truth is, we have had so many blessings along the way as well.  Unfortunately, we get caught up in the bad and what it is suppose to mean in our lives.  (Odd how we never ask what a blessing is suppose to mean … like we were due one.)

It is easy to get off track.  People ask, “what have you learned?”   Or say things like, “maybe the Lord’s trying to teach you ….”.  So when we reflect it is easy to get our mind all muddled up in these questions.  If you look around at all your friends and what they are going through in their lives, you realize that, although many of your trials may be similar (economic, emotional, spiritual battles), each of us have very specific details to our lives.  Some have smooth sailing, but most of us have ups and downs.  Some have more downs and I wonder if some of that is because it is a harder lesson to be learned (or is it just that life is hard).  Whatever the case, we need to always seek His face and His peace over our life.  Life happens.  We live in a world governed by sin and evil man.  What they do creates a rippling effect that affects our lives, mostly for the bad.  God’s not sending us punishment every time something bad happens.  He allows life to happen, pure and simple and helps us get through it and grow.  Bad things are going to happen.

So as your life of dough is spread over the coming days are you going to let it get you down?  Are you going to let others tell you how to handle life?  Or  will you be hand rolled and shaped by Him instead of a cookie cutter shaped Christian with all the “right” answers?

Jeremiah 18:6 (HCSB)

6 “House of Israel, can I not treat you as this potter treats his clay?”—this is the LORD’s declaration. “Just like clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, house of Israel.

God allows everything that comes into your life and if you allow Him, He will use everything you face (good and bad) to shape you into the woman/man of God He wants you to be. That way He can use you in others’  lives.

James 1:2-4 (HCSB)

2 Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 But endurance must do its complete work,  so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.”

2 Corinthians 1:4 (HCSB)

“He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

*satan – I know people capitalize the “S” but, I don’t.  I refuse to give him any status of importance.  He’s a snake, so satan, devil, etc. are lower case, as he is one.

“A little dab a do ya!”


HAPPY NEW YEAR! 
Got resolutions? 
Broke any yet?
 

I have watched so many over the holidays trying to “cram in” all they did not get done in 2011.  One thing in particular I noticed was God.  People were running around stores looking for symbols of their faith to show others they “got Christ”.  Unfortunately, many get by with “a little dab a do ya”.  Now I know I have dated myself because most of you reading this blog have no idea what product had that slogan.  Brylcreem … a little dab a do you.  (Click on Brylcreem for a good laugh).  Many Christians treat God that way, “a little dab a do ya”.

Wearing a cross, a fish on the car … a service a week; this is how we treat God.  Daily reading of His word?  Praying more than grace, or “fix this Lord”?  At the end of the year with all the commercialization Christians get that guilt complex.  When looking around you see that the children and grandchildren are wrapped up in the holidays as portrayed by the world and not as portrayed by His word.  Why is it every December all the Christians are wearing buttons that say, “Keep Christ in Christmas” or “Jesus is the Reason” ? Only in December are their cars and homes  depicting the Nativity and other Christian symbols .  What about the other 11 months?  What are we Christians saying?  Sadly, “a little God will do us”.

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION:  Keeping Christ in everyday. You cannot do this in your own strength.  You will need His.  So rise early to read His word and pray.    You make time for other things in your day.  Can you find more then “a little dab” of time for Him?   Unlike other religions, our FAITH allows us to pray unceasingly … anytime, anywhere.  It is a symptom of our heart’s condition.  Walking with Him by our side talking anytime, any where, any how.  Make your relationship with Him by faith.  Not a religious practice.  Then, the other 11 months of the year, people are SEEING you keep CHRIST in the whole year by how you keep Him in your life daily.

By God’s grace and strength this year I will:

Romans 12
” 1 Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. 2Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.  3 For by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one. 4 Now as we have many parts in one body, and all the parts do not have the same function, 5 in the same way we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another. 6According to the grace given to us, we have different gifts: If prophecy, use it according to the standard of one’s faith; 7 if service, in service; if teaching, in teaching; 8 if exhorting, in exhortation; giving, with generosity; leading, with diligence; showing mercy, with cheerfulness. 9 Love must be without hypocrisy. Detest evil; cling to what is good. 10 Show family affection to one another with brotherly love. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not lack diligence; be fervent in spirit; serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer. 13 Share with the saints in their needs; pursue hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep. 16 Be in agreement with one another. Do not be proud; instead, associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own estimation. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Try to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes. 18 If possible, on your part, live at peace with everyone. 19 Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for His wrath. For it is written: Vengeance belongs to Me; I will repay, says the Lord. 20But, if your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink.  For in so doing you will be heaping fiery coals on his head.21 Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good.” (HCSB)
 

You may be the only Christ some people see; the only Bible they will ever read.

Happy New Year … May You Feel Jesus Near, Every Day Of  This Year!

“A Baby Changes Everything”


A Baby Changes EVERYTHING

WOW.  Where did the year go?  Things are pretty hectic here with work and all the family heading into town.  I have so many notes of things I would like to write and I promise this will be the last ‘repost’.  (I hope) This one is from December 2010 and I have updated it for the repost.  Enjoy.

Faith Hill sings the song “A Baby Changes Everything*”, the story of Jesus’ who came to Earth and changed the world.   If you have not seen the video or heard the song, click on the title above.

A year ago I had just returned from Montana.  God had perfect timing in our lives.  I am in retail and could only get away for a few days.  My youngest daughter was due to give birth Christmas Eve.  However, as I landed on the 10th she was already in the hospital in labor.  I was able to be there for the birth of her first child and our first grandson.  I was able to be there for my oldest at the birth of her oldest daughter, our first grandchild.  God knew my grandmother’s heart and has allowed me to be at the hospital for my daughters.

I often say that God provides minuscule pictures on earth of the ‘big picture’.  Both of my daughters lives have been changed forever by the birth of their children, as mine was with each of their births.  Nothing is the same, everything is different.  Circumstances, challenges, life … day by day a mother handles what is handed her.  What a difference a child makes.

As we come together to celebrate Christmas, let us not forget that a Baby changed everything.  Circumstances, challenges, life … day by day each of us handle what is handed to us … either WITH or withOUT the difference the CHILD of God made when He came to earth as a new-born child, to a mother who had no mother to be there for her.  What a sacrifice He made in leaving Heaven to come to a stable.  What a difference He made.

We often get frazzled by the season’s hustle and bustle, plans, and traveling.  Let us not forget that Jesus is the Reason for the Season and YOU may be the only witness that person sees that “A Baby Changes Everything”.

Will He make a difference in your CHRISTmas celebrations this year?

Have a BLESSED CHRISTMAS! ~ Renee’

*A Baby Changes Everything Warner-tamerlane Publishing Corp

” O be careful little mouth what you say…”


 
O be careful little mouth what you say
O be careful little mouth what you say
There’s a Father up above

Pretty is as pretty does

And He’s looking down in love
So, be careful little mouth what you say
 

I was walking in the parking lot and I heard the most profane comments, including the Lord’s name linked to profanity.  The voice was young.  I stopped and turned around.  Three girls and a boy were  walking behind me; none over 15 years of age.  I looked at the girl with profanity flying off her lips and wanted to tell her how pretty she was … until she opened her mouth.  Her words made her ugly.  Not cool, cute or popular.  They made her ugly.  You can dress up like a princess all day long, but one flow of inappropriate words will destroy that image.

The woman pushing the cart in front of me was on her phone talking loudly.  “Now this is between just you and me.  But, she ….”.   Really?  There were about ten others in earshot listening to her gossip.  If she had been quietly shopping others would have thought her to be a diligent mom out shopping to feed her family.  Her words made her a gossip and she spewed hurt and shame on an unsuspecting audience that may or may not know her victim.

I hear so many words coming out of mouths that grieve the spirit within me.  Parents to children; children to other children.  People lying, calling others names.  Gossiping, half-truths … words, words, words.    I think Christians need to be very cautious in this area and not fall into the world’s standard of speech.  God’s word has a lot to say about our words:
James 1:19 
“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;”

James 1:26
“Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.”

James 3:6
“The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.”  (You should read all of James 3:1-9).

Ephesians 4:29 
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

God expects us as parents to make sure our children hear the correct things to say.   The shows, video games, computer games that they watch, influence their speech.  In our house I did not allow my girls to call each other stupid, idiot, jerk or other demeaning terms.  We do not say shut up.  Speech is important to developing a Godly character.  Sadly, some parents think it is not anything to worry about.  However, speech is a sign of respect.  God thinks a lot about the words we say.  The verses above are only a sampling of how He wants us to guard our speech.

If we are not guarding our speech then we are not guarding their speech; we are not guarding their minds.  If we are not guarding their minds, we are not guarding their souls.   What they think to say becomes their speech.  Their speech reflects in their actions, their actions in their character.  It all starts with a word … then more words.

“O be careful little mouth what you say …”

Just What Is A Miracle Anyway?


mir·a·cle [mir-uh-kuhl] noun

1.an effect or extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause.
2.such an effect or event manifesting or considered as a work of God.
3.a wonder; marvel. (Dictionary.com)

Origin of MIRACLE

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin miraculum, from Latin, a wonder, marvel, from mirarito wonder at.  First Known Use: 12th century http://www.merriam-webster.com
What is a miracle to you?  We pray for them.  Some times we pray for a big miracle … and some say,  “I just need a little miracle”.   I think many times we want a quick solution, in a hurry … in the nick of time.  We throw the word miracle around a lot in today’s world.
  • Miracle Whip
  • Miracle Team
  • Children’s Miracle Network
  • Miracle Baby
  • Miracle Mile
  • Miracle Strip
  • Miracle …this and that

And yet on the flip side of the coin some wonder … DO MIRACLES STILL HAPPEN?

I believe:


I think that the times have changed and we do not see  as many of  what some call the ‘fanfare’ type of miracles  recorded in the Bible.  I believe they still happen that way sometimes, but more often than not miracles are quiet and leave us with a sense of awe.  Why?  Because as a whole we do not NEED them like was needed in the times of Christ.  Over two thousand years since Christ arose and people still turn to Him in simple faith, not because they saw the lame walk, the blind see, etc.  We do not need miracles to believe and spread His message.  We need faith.  Miracles still happen.  The fact that today God uses Doctors and technology that He has allowed mankind to develop  is no less miraculous.    I think sometimes we belittle His hand in our lives because of the lack of fanfare in an event.  I do not think there are big and little miracles.  I think it is, or it isn’t.  (Kinda like lies, it is or it isn’t … or Love, you are either in love or you or not).  I think the problem is in our recognizing God’s hand in our life.  We need faith to make it through our lives.  Not huge displays of fanfare of God’s intervention.  We need faith to see the miracles all around us.  God is always at work in our lives.  That is a miracle.

As a Christian you are in the palm of His hand.  Now that is a miracle.  Think about it … He cares about every little detail.  When you look at something you are holding in your hand do you not see every detail?

He sees every little detail as He holds the world in His hands.

For the Jews waiting for the Messiah, a baby born in a stable was not a miracle.  They wanted a BIG miracle, a King on a throne with lots of fanfare. Yet, hundreds of  kings and queens have lived,  have come and gone, and you would have trouble naming most of them.  They were not miracles.  A birth of a baby 2000 years ago in a stable is still the most recognizable name on earth.  Jesus is a miracle.

Bringing these thoughts into prospective (what got me thinking on all of this), for over three years we were praying for a miracle for my husband, a job.  One that would instantly solve our financial woes.  Phil now has a job (PTL and PTA*).  God answered our prayer, He gave us a miracle because in today’s society people over 40 years old who have too much education and experience are not recognized as valuable.  Some have said, “well, you know it’s not what you were praying for and it’s probably not what he wanted, but  it is a job.”  True.  But, it was what he needed.  We were praying for God’s will.  We long since passed the time of telling God what we needed in the way of a job because only God knows what we need to fulfill His plan and our wants seldom have anything to do with that.  Does that mean this job is not a miracle, or it’s a little miracle?  Of course not.  After 3-1/2 years of looking for work he has a job, THAT IS A MIRACLE.  Why?  Because every time God intervenes in our lives through His love for us it is a miracle.  It’s a miracle of love.  We wait expectantly, hoping to apply all that we have learned in the past 3-4 years as we move forward with Him.

Are you overlooking the miracles in your life today?  Do you consider them too small to be a miracle?  Were they not what you wanted?  Maybe we need to look for those miracles we wanted by looking  a little closer at what God places in our hands; at what God knows we needed.

*PTL and PTA: A Southern-ism for Praise the Lord, and Pass the Ammunition.  Or, in other words, the battle is won, the war is still to be fought.  That is life.  The devil rules in this world and evil is prevalent everywhere because mankind chose for him to be here.  God gives us the battle and He has won the war … the devil will surrender.