March 26, 2010

Know Who You Believe IN - CANCELLED forever. I owe everyone an apology, explanation, and a new idea...


Alright everyone, I apologize, but I am not going to continue the "Know Who You Believe In". I thought I could commit myself to a chapter for two Saturdays, but I've been committed to other things and school and lots of places to go.
ANYWHO, I hope you all enjoyed the two posts I did on it. I'm REALLY sorry for those who were reading my posts. Read the book-- it's better than my input and posts (for real, guys :P).
BUT this DOES NOT quit my blogging whatsoever. You guys are still stuck with me forever! :P

God bless-- and keep reading :)
~Maiden Of Emmanuel

March 13, 2010

"Know Who You Believe" Eight Bottom Line Truths/Truth One: Inner Direction Needed [Paul E. Little] **PART TWO**

NOTE: The words in italics are taken straight out from the book "Know Who You Believe". They belong to Paul E. Little. :)

"This is what the LORD says, he who made the earth, the LORD who formed it and established it—the LORD is his name: 'Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.'" [Jeremiah 33:2-3]

"I need Your divine direction, Lord God." That would be the best way to ask God for His everlasting love. The call from God today has not changed. To each of us He says, "Wehre are you?" He initiates the call, He offers help to fill the "hole in our souls". This is the magnificent connection-- you can actually know personally the only true God in whom you believe!

"My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest." [Exodus 33:14]
"I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness." [Jeremiah 31:3]

What is God like?

If praying (talking to God) is new to us, we would naturally want to know who God is. Without a clear description, our alternative would be a God of our own construction or imagination. There's are a LOT of people who think God differently than who He. Several are imageries of what would most likely expect from a very confused person. But He's not those at all.

God is a person

We can talk to Him. God is not a ghost or a puff of smoke. He has personality, mind, heart, and Spirit. As human beings, He created us in His image with individual personality, mind, heart, and spirit.
"The Lord will guide you always" [Isaiah 58:11]
"Come to me ... for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls" [Matthew 11:28]

God reveals Himself

God has revealed Himself to us in numerous ways. He's shown Himself in His "self-revelation" by His creation. I [also] marvel at the structure of my thumb and four fingers, telling me Someone engenious designed them. God revealed Himself specifically to the biblical writers and told them what to write and they recorded God's thoughts. He told them He had plans for their lives, "plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" [Jeremiah 29:11]. He unveiled His character and His will for them. The entire message of the Bible, gives numerous details of God's regularly interacting with people. He sough them out, spoke to them directly, taught them, comforted them, and brought lght to their lives.
God directed individuals. He brought Elijah to full-blown victory when enemies challenged the nation's faith in God. He gave Job strong fortitude and deep spiritual insights when trouble hit him. In the New Testament, God spoke to a Christian named Ananias and told him to go to a Hebrew-trained man named Saul, who was praying. This Saul was transformed into the vibrant apostle Paul [Acts 8:11].

"God shows Himself not only in the Bible... but also in the trees, flowers, clouds, stars." Martin Luther

Then we see God's love expressed in His sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to earth to communicate to us. In this act, He gave the fullest expression of His love., showing His desire to keep a close connection between Him and us. "This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him." [1 John 4:9].
"In all their distress he too was distressed,
and the angel of his presence saved them.
In his love and mercy he redeemed them;
he lifted them up and carried them
all the days of old." [Isaiah 63:9]

God is love

He loves each of us personally. Motivated by love, He values what we do with our lives. Jesus tells us God numbers the hairs on our head and cares for our deepest needs. The Bible also tells us His love endures forever. He will not leave us when we face temptation. His love draws us irresistably to Himself. "His steadfast love never ceases, His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning." [Lamentations 3:22-23]
His love is shown unmistakably in His actions. "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son..." [John 3:16]. That was God's Son! This was love that gave!
Through the Son, God made the universe.
The Son is the radiance of God's glory.
He is the exact representation of God's being.
He sustains all things by His powerful word [Hebrews 1:2-3].
He is the One and Only, who has made God known [John 1:18].
"God's love is stronger than fire and destruction, and even in the hands valleys of deepest darkness, His rod and staff are put into our hands and bridges are thrown across the abyss." This was the moving declaration of German theologian Helmut Thielicke.

God is holy

God's natue is inherently without flaw. His instructions--His law-- are for our benefit, solely for our good.
It is not easy to fully comprehend God's holiness. Our world is shattered by senseless and vicious acts of evil that defy explanation. "God, why?" we ask. A simple answer is that God has given each of us the dignity of choice: choose to follow His path or choose to evil and defy the Lord who made us. (I have chosen to follow God's path!)
Our own standards tell us to judge and punish madd murderers and terrorists and to feel justified in it. The little white lies or cheating on taxes we might forgive and feel no guilt about them. But down deep we know little sings become big ones and a second lie is often needed to cover up a first lie. Before we know it, lying becomes a habit. All of us want the other person to be honest. The fact is, Jesus said, all of us need to learn God's standards of holiness and we need forgiveness. ANY sin separates us from our holy God. And His holiness is for our benefit.
Children feel hurt if we see them playing with a box of colored pushpins and we take the pins away. Is that fair? The child might wail and object, but you know it's right. Your desire is to protect the child. Likewise, God could not have slide-rule holiness. He knows where to draw the line.
God's standard is logical. Would God's presence and practice in heaven allow us to vote on our preference: shall we allow white lies or not? (We should NOT allow white lies!) Imagine for a moment if God God would allow even little lies into His presence in heaven. It would be certain to cause arguments, don't you think? God is %100 perfect. He is completely without evil in thought, word, or deed.
God's holiness is far above ours--total, unflawed goodness, a fixed incompatibility with inner or outer evil. His holiness is a comfort! Anything less than perfection would not be God; it would be an imperfect human.
Would God--or could God--make a difference?
"Tell everyone about Jesus Christ, God's Son, He's the best option of all!" (a friend of Little)

Where we are in our journey matters to God. He is calling to each one of us, "Where are you?" We will find His open arms and unparalleled love waiting for us.

"Joy is the gigantic secret of the Christian." --G.K. Chesterson.

"You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." [Jeremiah 29:13]


The end of Truth One (chapter one). Hope you all enjoyed!

God bless,
~Maiden Of Emmanuel

March 6, 2010

"Know Who You Believe" Eight Bottom Line Truths/Truth One: Inner Direction Needed. [Paul E. Little] **PART ONE**

NOTE: The words in italics are taken straight out from the book "Know Who You Believe". They belong to Paul E. Little. :)

"Ask any ten people what makes a person a Christian and you'll get ten different answers."

Some ideas may have a grain of truth; others give a far-from-accurate picture. People have several different ideas of Christianity. A lot of it is very far from the truth. Some reasons:
1. A Gentile: anyone not Jewish or an adherent of one of the world's major religions.
(Would an atheist like Madeleine Murray O'Hare want to be called a Christian?
--O.O No.)
2. Someone who was born and raised in a Christian in a Christian home or country, or who inherited their faith.
(Can faith be passed on through childbirth?
3. A person who goes to church.
(Does going into a garage make you a car?
4. Someone who practices rituals such as baptism, Communion, and/or Bible-reading.
(These activites may have value, but is the all-wise, personal God in the picture?
5. One who follows the Golden Rule, and leads a moral life.
(Many good, moral people try to live by the Golden Rule yet make no claims to be Christians. Does merely following the teachings of Jesus give us a one-on-one connection with Him?
6. A person who abstains from specific external, so-called "worldly" practices.
(A long list of "don'ts" or prohibitions might be seen as characteristic of some Christians. How does an emphasis on negatives fit in with Jesus Christ's message, "...I have come, that they may have life, and have it to the full." [John 10:10]?
7. Someone who gives casual intellectual assent to a certain list of beliefs.
(This could be a casual assent to the idea of God and Jesus Christ, like saying, "Oh yes, I believe all that I heard in church." Is belief a tentative list of ideas without a personal interchange or connection between the individual and God?

#1 is pathetic. #2 and #3 are linked together in the sense of: there are a LOT of people who think that. #3, #4, and #5 are linked in the sense of: they both re religious "rituals" people believe that will save them.
~So then we all ask the question:

What makes a person a Christian?

(*=Little's stories-->) *Some time ago I gave a talk and Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, on the reasonableness of Christianity. At the end, I opened the floor for discussion. A heavily bearded graduate student stood up, took his pipe out of his mouth, and asked, "Why do you Christians bother?" His underlying complaint of irrelevance went far beyond his words. I was riveted by the young man's honesty. Christian "bother" because truth is at stake.* None of the definitions above give the full picture of the Christian message. Our understanding of the truth is what we believe and trust.

We need direction.

Our firsty bottom-line truth is "Inner Direction Needed". "Are you so dull?" he asked. "Don't you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him 'unclean'?" [Mark 7:18] That was Jesus speaking the people. Who we are on the inside was (and is!) of utmost importance to Him. It is to us also. A lot--Christian & secular songs-- have a very vast amount of lyrics that have to do with a person's heart.
All of us have questions about Jesus. Several wondering what He has to do with our everyday lives. Does anything matter? Is it even true we can have a personal relationship with Him? Is there anyone we can trust?

"Is Anybody There?" by John Hiatt, 'Well, I'm out here on my own, Followin' a star, Asking on my knees, for some direction, please. And, God, You know that's hard.' If God doesn't care, who does?

God's love is more than you think.

St. Augustine described our life as our "God-shaped vacuum that only God can fill."

Asking questions defines us as humans. We feel we need help from someone outside of ourselves, but (unfortunately) too often, seeking God and praying become our last and feeblest resort.
There is hope.

Throughout the Bible we see our Creator God directing, guiding, encouraging the people He created. He intended us to be in close relationship with Him. From he beginning, He desired a "family" relationship. (Hence, the beginning of the Bible-- Genesis-- God first created a family. The beginning of our lives.) "...Where are you?" [Gen. 3:9] God didn't want to be seperated. He calls to every one of us, whom He created. "Come to me, and I will give you rest..." [Matt. 11:28]

Does a car need a driver?

We human beings were made to be directed and led in life's path in close connection with our Maker. We function best when we get our cues from God. Unfortunately, each of us has indiviudally shoved God out of the driver's seat of our livess. We continue to ratify decision and handle our lives without reference to God. Trying to live life without God, our incredibly wise Creator, is really as silly as being upset because we are dependent on air to breathe-- and then holding out breath in rebeliion! Cutting ourselves from the one available Source of divine, nurturing power is like a tree cutting off its roots. We need God. God changes our dead lives into living ones. Period!

I hope you guys enjoyed that first half of chapter one.

EDIT: I realized the whole chapter was way too big for one teeny blog post. :P No one would read it at a time. So I decided that instead of three months, this devotions thing will take six months, because the chapters will be split in TWO.

Anyway, I've been loving this book so far. :D

God bless,