The End Is Coming!

“The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer. Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaint. As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” – 1 PETER 4:7‭-‬11 NASB

How many times has the end of the world been predicted? Hundreds, thousands, hundreds of thousands? Over the centuries, many leaders have convinced their followers that Jesus is returning at a certain time and a certain date. The Jehovah Witnesses have predicted at least 5 different dates, and we are still here. Nostradamus predicted 1999 (Still here). Google “end-of-the-world predictions” – it’s interesting to me that so many people seem to want the world to simply go away. Matthew, Luke, and John all recorded Jesus saying that no one would know when He was to return.

“Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. …. For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.” – MATTHEW 24:42‭, ‬44 NASB

Peter wrote 1 Peter 4 as a guide of how to live in the end times; to live in the knowledge that our Lord is coming to see us at some point, and to take care of His people as if we expect Him now. In the Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, by C.S. Lewis, as Aslan prepares to leave Lucy he tells her he will return soon. I love her reply, because it is what we all want to ask: “What do you call “soon”?”

Are we living our lives like Jesus will return “soon”? Like there is no tomorrow? It is especially important as Christians to keep sound judgement and a clear head – don’t succumb to the panic of the end times. (Remember Y2K?) One way to avoid the panic is through a dedicated prayer life – sustained and energized, aware of the immenence of Christ. We have the only Love that can be stretched and strained to the max, but will never reach a breaking point, because it is a unique Love that comes only from the Father.

We need to be more fervent in our love of others, and let our love cover their sins…. not condoning the sins, but not broadcasting or highlighting and exposing them. We can be gracious putting up with other’s weaknesses – because we have so many weaknesses ourselves! Less isolation of ourselves, because hospitality is sharing the message that “you matter to me.” Finally, using our spiritual gifts shouldn’t be hard for us, because it will be natural act and will serve other people.

The end is coming. Just don’t get too excited about putting a time or date on it. Only the Father knows when it will be.

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Sex = Sin???

In a word: No. God created sex as a beautiful expression of love between a man and a woman ….. in the right context.

“Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.” – 1 Corinthians 6:18‭-‬20 NLT

Sexual sin. That’s a tough subject. Sex….. we can’t even get a consensus of what that means anymore. If you ask a teenage today to define sex, I think you’ll get a different definition than if you ask someone in their 40’s and up. Sexual sin is much more than the physical act of intercourse between a man and a woman, and there are quite a few scriptures addressing it as immorality and sexual sin. Hear what Matthew recorded Jesus saying about it:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘you shall not commit adultery’ (Exodus 20:14); but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. – MATTHEW 5:27-28 NASB

According to JESUS, Who is the ultimate authority, just thinking the lustful thought is the same as actually following through with the physical act. The way I read the scriptures, there is only one way that sexual activity is correct and sanctioned by our Creator LORD, and that is two-fold: between a man and a woman, and within the sanctity of marriage. Marriage is a promise between a man and woman and God. It doesn’t have to take place in a church or place of worship, and it doesn’t have to be a ceremony ‘performed’ by a cleric. I believe that as long as it is properly witnessed and the committment of both the man and the woman is entered into whole-heartedly, it is as binding as any church or government ceremony….. and I believe God honors those committments. Anyone who is married, however they decide to commit, is bound to their spouse ‘until death’ and needs to honor that by being faithful in mind, heart, and body.

Sexual sin affects much more than just the one committing it. Whether it is ‘just’ mental or you follow through with a physical act, because you desire someone other than your spouse, it affects your actions towards both the object(s) of your lust and your spouse. If you aren’t married, it still affects you and any other party involved. You may think you have it covered and it’s a secret, but I promise you, everything – everything – will come to light sooner or later. Lust compromises your heart and your emotions, making simple things difficult. It’s a lie. A whole Pandora’s Box is opened: consequences follow wrongs. You may ‘get away with it’ the first time, or the 20th time….. or so you think.

Pray about it. If you find yourself attracted to someone, give serious thought and prayer to the matter. Go to someone you trust and talk about it. We have each other to lean on. Even the Apostles struggled with sin! Paul writes:

“For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.” – ROMANS 7:19 NASB (Read all of verses 14-25)

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” – JAMES 5:16 NASB

By the way, for anyone who wants to play the “but I’ve fallen out of love with my spouse and I ‘love’ this new person …….” As Col. Potter on Mash used to say, “Beaver biscuits!” LOVE is a choice. If you have “fallen out of love” then you’d best climb up that ladder and get back into it. Just my ‘2 cents’ on love…..

For further reading and study: Matthew 5:31-32; 15:19; 19:9; Mark 7:21-22; John 8:41; Acts 15:20; Romans 13:13; 1 Corinthians 5:1,11; 6:9,18-19; 7:2-5, 10:8; Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:3; Hebrews 13:4; Revelations 21:8

MY Plans 🙊🙉🙈

“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil.” – JAMES 4:13‭-‬16 NASB

Ah yes. I had great plans for my life. Yep….. I had great plans for my life. From high school to college, where I would graduate with a degree in Art (not education, mind you, just Art.) While at college, my plan was to meet “the” guy who would love me and protect me and support me, for the rest of my life. Problem was, instead of allowing God to lead, I became impatient (who, me??), and began making choices and decisions based on emotion and human want. If you’ve been following me for long, you know that hasn’t worked out too well. The guy I picked, the Prince of my dreams, turned out to be more the Prince of my nightmares. I was determined not to fail, though, so I stuck it out for eight long years of lies, cheating, and physical and emotional abuse.

Did I learn from that experience to lean on God, and rely more on His Will and less on mine? Of course not! I was on a roll! I picked another “Prince” to rescue me…… only it turned out that I was the one needing rescue, again, because I was right back in the same situation. I learned from that one, right? Oh, no, of course not. So I tried again, and again, and again. (My ‘picker’ was obviously broken!) I have to keep doing the same things over and over again, determined to get it right on my own, without outside help from other people or from God. That’s the definition of insanity, by the way.

You know how you hear from men who have been through divorce that their ex’s got “everything,” kids, house, car, child support, alimony? Somehow, I kept getting stuck giving them all those things!

I can blame the men, and I can blame God, for my situation in life, but ultimately it all falls on me and my poor choices. James said it perfectly:

“You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.”

I’m slow and late to acknowlege it, but it is absolutely true. What the future holds, I have no idea. The only thing I know is that I have to rely on the Lord and do my best to understand His Will for my life. Sounds simple; difficult for some of us to accept and do!! A line from an old tv show pops into my mind, and it probably should be one I repeat to myself more often. From Hogan’s Heros, whenever things spiraled out of control, Sgt. Schultz would say “I know nothing!” Only instead of waiting until after things go wrong, I need to say it first – and then listen to God! He knows everything. Amen!

Listen to Mandisa “I’m Just Unfinished”

Talking Heads

From the Urban Dictionary (urbandictionary.com), the top definition for “Talking Head”:

A “Talking Head” is someone who never stops talking. They will corner you by your car after a long day’s work to tell you gossip about the neighbors or to ask you about the details of your day, so they can distort it and spread it throughout the neighborhood. Not all Talking Heads are malicious, but all talking heads are idiots and time-wasters. Over a year, you can lose many precious hours cornered by a Talking Head. – As defined by Ian De La Rosa, from September 19, 2013

On Quora (quora.com), I found the following “definition” of the term “Talking Heads” – and I have to say that, in my opinion, he absolutely nailed it!

“Talking heads,” as an idiom, refers to individuals pontificating a certain creed, ideology, or kindred set of beliefs without critically analyzing the context and substance of their statement. In essence, these individuals are “spokespeople” or pundits representing an ideologue, movement, or other memetic process. Its usage, from my experience, is as an invariably derogatory epithet that coalesces these “spokespeople” into a clique of intellectual stagnation and coagulation which fails to grasp or address any opinion to the contrary of the orthodoxy promulgated by the talking heads. – Michael Alvis, November 27, 2015

“Talking heads” are everywhere. On TV and in social media, they mix actual news with political agendas and twist things out of context. We can find any point of view – from the blantantly radical and violent (both Left and Right) broadcasts, to knee-jerk reactions full of vitriole and inflammatory language, to orchestrated calls to arms (literal and figurative), to carefully thought out commentaries meant to encourage and to inform. I would love to see more of the last! James says:

“For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man**, able to bridle the whole body as well. …..So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. ……With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.” – JAMES 3:2‭, ‬5‭-‬6‭, ‬9‭-‬10 NASB

(**There is and was and will be only One Perfect Man, the person of Jesus Christ, Who never stumbled in anything He said.)

We can easily find ourselves becoming individual “Talking Heads,” if you will, when we become too stuck and dogmatic in our views. As followers of Christ, it is so important to guard our hearts, so that our tongues don’t start sparks of resentment and animosity, causing the people we speak to to reject what we say. Our hearts and what we hold in our hearts, no matter how well we think we have it hidden and tucked away, affects every word that we utter. Listen to James! (He is much wiser than I can ever hope to be!)

“But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.” – JAMES 3:14‭-‬16 NASB

In Proverbs, we receive many instructions on the value of using wisdom and the teachings of our youth. Unfortunately, too many are growing up today without good teaching. (**This is not a dig against school teachers! I am referring to the Good teaching of the Scriptures.) In chapter 4, I believe the father referred to isn’t David, as you would expect from Solomon, but to GOD, the Father.

“Then He taught me and said to me, “Let your heart hold fast My Words; Keep My Commandments and live; Acquire wisdom! Acquire understanding! Do not forget nor turn away from the words of My Mouth. Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life. Put away from you a deceitful mouth And put devious speech far from you.” – PROVERBS 4:4‭-‬5‭, ‬23‭-‬24 NASB

When we search for God’s wisdom, and we learn His commandments and store them in our hearts, our tongues become more obedient…… That’s my goal! To remember I have two ears and one mouth, and to think before letting the words tumble out of my mouth.

Listen to Matt Maher “Lord I Need You” – My One defense, my Righteousness!

Count It All Joy

This passage from James has never been one of my favorites.

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the Word of Truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.” – JAMES 1:2‭-‬3‭, ‬12‭-‬15‭, ‬17‭-‬18 NASB

I don’t want to hear that I can’t blame my sin on someone – or some thing – other than myself! Yet James said it clearly: “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.I can’t say “the devil made me do it”? I mean, he introduced sin into the world, right? He’s the reason Eve, and Adam, sinned! No, that is flawed. The devil – Satan, the Evil One – did bring in the idea of sin, but we are the ones who choose it over what we know is right. Here’s the thing. Even though we have free will and it is our choice to sin, the LORD in His wisdom gives us a way to circumvent our lack of judgement. Not our free will, but our lack of judgement, our lack of wisdom. The LORD never takes away our free will!

“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” – JAMES 1:5 NASB

I almost think that James should have written it this way: “But as we all lack wisdom, let us all ask of God ….”

LORD, I ask for Your wisdom, because I know first-hand how flawed my own thinking is, having experienced the consequences of it. I ask for the faith to not doubt You and to wholly submit myself to Your desires over mine. Amen.

(https://www.britannica.com/topic/The-Thinker-sculpture-by-Rodin)

Honor – and Ruin: NOT PC

Honor – and Ruin: NOT PC
Define hon·ornoun
  1. high respect; great esteem. “His portrait hangs in the place of honor”
  2. adherence to what is right or to a conventional standard of conduct. “I must as a matter of honor avoid any taint of dishonesty”

What has happened to honor? Aren’t we supposed to honor our government officials – if not the person, then the office? That’s how I was raised…. Unfortunately, politicians are making such a laughing stock of their positions and their office, and straying so far from our constitution and our laws, it’s becoming more and more difficult. So many think they are above the law. They can hold a position, an ideology, that they present as what we the people need – but it doesn’t apply to them.

I “should be” grateful that they want to oversee and control my life, providing me with what they think I need. Since when is that even remotely okay? I live in America. The United States of America. We have a Constitution and a Bill of Rights. Some of my ancestors migrated here in the 1800’s and early 1900’s – and some were born here. We (almost) all have ancestors who came here to escape poverty and/or lack of freedom, and they came legally as immigrants. Some came as indentured servants, and some came as slaves – of all colors. When my ancestors arrived, they did several things: find jobs (not welfare), and learned the common – English – language.

Some became well-off financially, and some struggled, but I believe that regardless of their financial circumstances, they came and stayed because of the freedom afforded them. Freedom of speech, freedom to protect themselves instead of having to rely on the police or a police-state. Freedom to move around the country without governmental restrictions. These are all reasons that I choose to stay and protect my country.

You see, true immigrants don’t move to another country to make into a mirror of where they come from. We don’t move from one community to another in order to change it to what is familiar. We move so that we can find like-minded people whose ideas and beliefs mesh with our own.

Why do people come to America today? The majority, the ones who do it legally, do it because of the promise of freedom. They leave their country of origin because of oppression; because they believe they can have a better life here. They learn English and they find work.

I believe that we the people had better get a grip! Honor isn’t being taught in our homes or our schools, and it isn’t even up to our schools! We aren’t teaching our kids to honor their parents or other adults. We aren’t teaching them to honor our country, or our Constitution. We aren’t teaching them the principles this country was founded on – freedom and honor.

Without those, we are ruined.

God Is Still Talking Today!

“With the tongue we Praise our LORD and FATHER, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in GOD’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?” – James 3:9‭-‬11 NIV

Even though it (finally) sunk into my head years ago that using the F-bomb and various other inappropriate words as adjective, adverb, and noun was a less than intelligent way to make my point (was that a diplomatic statement? LOL!) I still say things in anger and frustration that aren’t pleasing to God. My attitude and my actions can ‘call down curses’ even when I don’t say actual words. I need to pay more attention to my thoughts, because they are where my attitude, my actions, and my words originate. JESUS had some strong words to say about our thoughts:

“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister , will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘ Raca* ,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” ….. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” – Matthew 5:21‭-‬22‭, ‬27‭-‬28 NIV (*’ Raca ‘ means name calling, insults)

Do these scriptures cause you to stop, and maybe hit the rewind button? They should! Today’s society disagrees with these teachings. Have you ever heard someone referred to as ‘eye-candy’? How about “I can look as long as I don’t touch.” “I could seriously hurt that person…” “You idiot.” We are seldom held accountable for our words, and as for our thoughts….. have you looked at the so-called comic books and the graphic novels that are prevalent, the tv sitcoms and dramas, the entertainment available – literally, everywhere? Cursing, sex, murder; lust, racial slurrs, violence….. and we wonder why disrespect is common and crime is up?

Thank you, JESUS, for calling me out through your recorded words. Help me to hold them close to my heart whenever my thoughts began to stray.