Image and Reality

Hebrews 1:3

Despite the counsel of the New Testament it is hard not to be conformed to this world—especially in what has come to be known in advertising circles as image building. Motivational research is now an industry of its own, employing techniques derived from psychiatry and offering in turn advice on how to present wares most attractively.

The image is all-important. According to this gospel, what sells an article—

whether it be a cake of soap or a pair of stockings—is the image which speaks to the prospective buyer. Given the right image all things are possible.

The premise admitted, it is not a far cry to the deduction that a man’s image can sell (or ruin) the man. But should image be our first concern?

We should remind ourselves that our fathers in the faith were not overmuch concerned about their image. If they had been, they would never have broken with the conventional religious practices of their day. They would never have set Great Britain by the ears had they kept one eye continually on the current public opinion polls. As for image, some of them in the most literal fashion made themselves of no reputation.

“Bramwell,” said the Founder, “50 years hence it will matter very little indeed how these people have treated us. It will matter a great deal how we dealt with the work of God.” So memorable a word puts this concern for image building in its place once and for all. Take care of the reality and the image will take care of itself.

A study of the model relationship between image and reality is found in Hebrews 1:3 where Jesus is described as “the exact representation of [God’s] being.” Here image and reality agree. Image is not a cunningly devised fable to hide the poverty of reality. Nor does reality need to be blown up to correspond with a larger than life image. What is found in the one is present in the other.

Hear the conclusion of the whole matter in a sentence written by William Booth: “Don’t allow the world’s praise to attract, or its blame to affright you from the discharge of the duty you owe to God, to yourself, or to the souls of those about you. God will take care of your reputation if you make His glory and your duty your sovereign aim.”

Frederick Coutts, In Good Company

Our Father’s Care

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. Matthew 10:29

Thwack! I looked up and craned my ear toward the sound. Spotting a smudge on the windowpane, I peered out onto the deck and discovered the still-beating body of a bird. My heart hurt. I longed to help the fragile feathered being.

In Matthew 10, Jesus described His Father’s care for sparrows in order to comfort the disciples as He warned of upcoming dangers. He offered instructions to the twelve as He “gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness” (v. 1). While the power to do such deeds might have seemed grand to the disciples, many would oppose them, including governing authorities, their own families, and the ensnaring grip of the evil one (vv. 16–28).

Then in 10:29–31, Jesus told them not to fear whatever they faced because they would never be out of their Father’s care. “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?” He asked. “Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. . . . So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

I checked on the bird throughout the day, each time finding it alive but unmoved. Then, late into the evening, it was gone. I prayed it had survived. Surely, if I cared this much about the bird, God cared even more. Imagine how much He cares for you and me!

By:  Elisa Morgan

Reflect & Pray

How have you seen God care for you in the past? How can you gain courage for all you face by understanding that you’re never outside your Father’s care?

Dear Father, thank You for always watching over and caring for me.

VIDEO Priority of Truth

Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth. Ephesians 6:14

In recent years, concussions have dominated discussions of safety in American football. As a result, football helmets have become the most important part of a player’s “armor.” While all parts of the football uniform are critically important, the helmet’s protection of the brain may be the most critical.

What about spiritual armor? Is there a most-important piece? Theologically, no, since to put on God’s spiritual armor is to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 13:14). And it’s impossible to divide Christ into “parts.” But it is interesting that in Paul’s description of the believer’s spiritual armor the girdle (belt) of truth gets first mention. In reality, a Roman belt was not really considered armor at all; most Roman men wore a belt of some kind to cinch up their robes. It was part of basic Roman dress; no one—civilian or soldier—would dress without a belt. Perhaps that’s why Paul compared the belt to truth. We can’t go anywhere without God’s truth. It is truth that informs us about all the rest of the spiritual armor.

Jesus is the living truth (John 14:6). God’s Word is the written truth (Psalm 119:160; John 17:17). Truth is foundational to victory in the spiritual life.

The truth of Scripture demolishes speculation.  R. C. Sproul


Wide Open: Opening Up About My Trauma

I hear my therapist ask me “what was it that brought these memories back up?”

I think about it for a minute. These repressed memories of sexual abuse were bound to pop up at some point now that I’m being open about my trauma. I knew the answer within a minute or so. “I was making a timeline of the emotional and verbal abuse he put me through, and then all of these repressed memories I’d tucked deep down kind of popped up as I was writing.

In my lifetime, I have been sexually assaulted, as well as emotionally,verbally, and sexually abused in a relationship. I hadn’t found the courage to talk about it until about August of 2017. It started with me in the car with one of my best friends. We were talking about my ex boyfriend and the words came flying out of my mouth, the words I hadn’t been brave enough to utter before then. “He was emotionally abusive towards me.” Back then, although I didn’t admit the other abuses, I still felt so free. I felt like I could start talking. My friend hugged me and said, “I’m glad you told me. It takes courage.”

My openness took a break in November of 2017, though, when I got a new therapist. She was extremely rude and had a serious lack of knowledge in trauma and abusive relationships. She asked the question therapists should know the answer to; “why didn’t you just leave?” I already had doubts about her, but this is why I stopped seeing her. If she couldn’t understand that concept, she wouldn’t understand anything about me.

I was hospitalized in January of 2018, and had to address a lot of the trauma I had endured. I had to work through challenges, including flashbacks and panic attacks, and I made it. I got out and am starting to thrive. I have two jobs, and am learning the most important two words I need to know and practice the most: self care.

Self care is the most important thing I do for myself. I write about my struggle. I talk to friends and others in my support network when I feel low. And, I’m learning that I have to stop blaming myself for what has been done to me. I am not the deeds that have been done to me. No, I am much kinder. I am a giving person, and I need to work more on realizing I am not at fault.

If you are, or have been, a victim of abuse, please realize you are not defined by your trauma. You are not to blame for what happened to you. There are people out there who understand. There are people who can and will support you through this. You are so strong, and I am so proud of you for how far you’ve come.

If anyone you love is, or has been, a victim of abuse, please realize there are some things you shouldn’t say. Pay attention to triggers. Ask them what is not acceptable to say, and what their specific triggers are. And most importantly, please respect their boundaries. If they tell you they are uncomfortable doing something or are uncomfortable with what you are doing or saying, respect it. It is extremely important.

Our young adult blogger chooses to remain anonymous. They like to sing and advocate for change.

by Lisa Lambert

http://ppal.net/2018/05/blog-posts/6671

VIDEO Pagans And Christians – Witness To False Christians

pagan Christian

I read a very wise thing in John MacArthur’s Parables. Consider it well:

“The underlying error… the belief that people can gain God’s favor by being good enough–is the central lie that dominates all false religion.”

In pagan religions, worshipers are always trying to buy the gods’ favor, or, as it were, hire the gods as their employees, by promising to do this or that good work, or sacrificing this or that prize animal. And where does it get them?

In Homer’s Iliad, Zeus, the king of the gods, is upset by the sight of Hector fleeing from Achilles. Zeus exclaims, “Confound it, I love that man whom I see hunted round those walls! I am grieved for Hector, who has sacrificed many an ox on the heights of Ida or the citadel of Troy. And now there is Prince Achilles, chasing him round the city of Priam. What do you think, gods? Just consider, shall we save him from death or shall we let Achilles beat him?” (W.H.D. Rouse translation)

And of course, in spite of Hector’s piety, in spite of all the sacrifices he gave the gods throughout his life, it turned out Zeus couldn’t save him, after all.

In contrast to every  religion ever invented by man, Christianity teaches that we cannot hire God, we cannot buy His favor, there is no magic word or special kind of prayer that will compel Him to do our bidding.

Instead, His favor, His grace, our salvation, eternal life, forgiveness of sins–these are all free gifts, given by a sovereign God and paid for, paid for on the cross, by Jesus Christ the Son of God. God saves us; but when we reach for our wallets, we discover the bill has already been paid. By Jesus Christ.

At the root of it, Christianity is very simple. How simple? In Acts 16:30, during a crisis in which he was within an inch of taking his own life, the jailer in Philippi asks of Paul and Silas, temporarily his prisoners, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. (v.31)

And that’s the whole theology.

You couldn’t possibly do enough good works, sacrifice enough bulls or rams, donate enough money to the church, to earn, to deserve, eternal life. But God can give it to you. It’s as simple as that.

 

by  LEE DUIGON 


How to Witness to False Christians

REAL Christianity

Abram Had No Bible No Church
It was still dark when Mary Magdalene made her silent, mournful way through the streets of Jerusalem. Passing through the gate in the city wall, she walked the short distance to the grotto where Joseph of Arimathea had provided a tomb for the burial of Jesus.

Approaching the tomb, she stopped short. Was this the right place? In the dark, everything looked different from when the tomb was sealed two days earlier. This couldn’t be right. She was standing in front of a tomb that was open, a tomb whose sealing stone was rolled to the side. Clearly, this was a tomb waiting on its eternal resident, not the tomb where Jesus had been laid. How could it be? How could Jesus’ tomb—a tomb she saw sealed with her own eyes—now be open?

Inching closer, Mary looked in and gasped. The light of dawn was enough for her to see that Jesus’ body no longer lay on the stone shelf inside the tomb. The tomb was empty—Jesus’ body was gone!

Fleeing the grotto, Mary ran to the home where the disciples of Jesus were staying and told them of her discovery. Peter and John leapt to their feet, dashed out of the house, and ran for the grotto, Mary trying to keep up. By the time Mary arrived, Peter and John had entered the empty tomb and verified her report. The burial cloths in which Jesus had been wrapped were there, but His body was gone.

The disciples walked away silently, heads down. But Mary stood outside the tomb weeping. (Based on John 20:1-11.)

What an image the apostle John gives us of the confusion and despair the followers of Jesus must have felt: Mary standing outside the empty tomb of Jesus, weeping (John 20:11).

Seeing Jesus crucified two days earlier was bad enough. But now someone had stolen the body? Or, had He been raised from the dead—a possibility as they recalled things He had said (John 2:19)? To their despair was added confusion; to their grief was added the loss of all hope.

Would we not have felt the same way? The Christian life—following Jesus as Lord and Savior—is a real-life event. It comes with joy and sorrow, grief and grace. This snapshot catches the followers of Jesus at a critical moment, a crossroads of faith. Would they trust that answers would come? Would they trust that the One who had not failed them for three years would not fail them now?

Will we? Will we trust when Jesus seems invisible to us, nowhere to be found? What does it take to live the REAL Christian life? What does it take to be a REAL Christian when the valleys seem darker and deeper and the dawn looks like it will never break through the night?

It is possible, of course. If we continue reading the four Gospel accounts, and the beginning of Acts, we find a changing story. Over forty days, Jesus met with the disciples (Acts 1:3; 1 Corinthians 15:5-8). He ate with them, walked and talked with them, and commissioned them to take the Gospel into all the world (Matthew 28:19-20). And then He left them and returned to heaven (Acts 1:9).

Jesus was with them for three years, taken away for three days in the grave, then was with them for forty days, then was taken from them again. They were up, they were down, up again, now down again. In that final down state, they huddled together for ten more days, praying about what to do (Acts 1:14). They had been given a mission, but Jesus had told them to wait for the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5). They waited out of obedience, not out of understanding.

When the Holy Spirit came at the end of the ten days, at the feast of Pentecost, the disciples’ lives were changed. They launched into REAL Christianity: Ready, Expectant, Authentic, and Loving. They set out to fulfill the commission Jesus had given them—and they never looked back, not because their faith became suddenly easy, but because their faith, by the power of the Spirit in their lives, became REAL.

By David Jeremiah

From generation to generation, I Am

Jesus - I Am2

Exodus 3: 15 God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’“This is My name forever, the name you shall call Me from generation to generation.

What a blessing…from generation to generation My name shall always be, I Am!

We are familiar with Jesus’ I Am statement in the Gospel of John. It is also a blessing to find Him making this declaration in other Scriptures. What an Awesome God! How blessed are those who are His children. Truly, He is our greatest treasure!

John 6:51:”I AM the Living Bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever”

John 7:29: “but I know him because I Am from him and he sent me.”

John 8:12: Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I AM the Light of the World. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

John 8:18: I Am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me.”

John 8:23: And He said to them, “You are from beneath; I AM from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.

John 8:58:  Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”

John 10:9: “I AM the Door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.”

John 10:11: “I AM the Good Shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.

John 10:36: “do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I Am the Son of God’?

John 11:25: Jesus said to her, “I AM the Resurrection and the Life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.

John 14:6: Jesus said to him, “I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

John 15:1: “I AM the True Vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.

John 19:2: Therefore the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but, ‘He said, “I Am the King of the Jews.”‘”

Acts 7:32: Stephen speaking of Moses’ encounter at the burning bush  “saying, ‘I Am the God of your fathers— the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ And Moses trembled and dared not look.”

Acts 9:5: And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And the Lord said, “I Am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”

Revelation 1:18: I Am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I Am Alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.

Revelation 22:13: I Am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.

Revelation 22:20: He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I Am coming soon.

Jesus - I Am

“Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power
and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!”
Revelation 7:12

revelation15.3

To Know Jesus as Lord and Savior

From generation to generation, I Am

VIDEO The Final Battle, Beast of Revelation

Oct 6, 2013

A low profile gang member , young 22 year old Lucas finds himself in a soon to be persecuted christian church with his peers while living the double life. Throughout his life, he has had the protection of his guardian angel and had been convicted many times of the Holy Spirit to leave behind his affiliation with crime as soon as he became a man. One day, when it all boils down to prophetic intensity , Biblical truth starts unveiling in real life across the planet as and everyone is faced with the decision to keep the commandments of God or not. As the end of the world looms , The churches that preach the real truth about the sabbath day are persecuted and many of its members flee into other churches to keep a Forced and false deceitful sabbath day, for national and financial security, which happens to be the mark of the beast. Some quit their faith in God and the truth preaching persecuted church totally to live their own lifestyles. However , many members of society start hearing this truth for the first time in their lives and they become well informed about the global political and financial deception. These people then choose to follow God and strengthen their faith to unshakable foundations and soon replace the places of those that left their faith and believe in Bible Truth.And When everyone has had the Chance, the End Of The World Happens Fast.

What will Lucas choose , will he be saved or lost ……….. find out and enjoy.

This movie does not contain or support the theory of the Rapture and does not add to bible specified truths in the book of revelations therefore it may be the most accurate Christian movie to date though made a few years ago. ..

The Devotion of Hearing

Samuel answered, “Speak, for Your servant hears.” —1 Samuel 3:10

Just because I have listened carefully and intently to one thing from God does not mean that I will listen to everything He says. I show God my lack of love and respect for Him by the insensitivity of my heart and mind toward what He says. If I love my friend, I will instinctively understand what he wants. And Jesus said, “You are My friends…” (John 15:14). Have I disobeyed some command of my Lord’s this week? If I had realized that it was a command of Jesus, I would not have deliberately disobeyed it. But most of us show incredible disrespect to God because we don’t even hear Him. He might as well never have spoken to us.

The goal of my spiritual life is such close identification with Jesus Christ that I will always hear God and know that God always hears me (see John 11:41). If I am united with Jesus Christ, I hear God all the time through the devotion of hearing. A flower, a tree, or a servant of God may convey God’s message to me. What hinders me from hearing is my attention to other things. It is not that I don’t want to hear God, but I am not devoted in the right areas of my life. I am devoted to things and even to service and my own convictions. God may say whatever He wants, but I just don’t hear Him. The attitude of a child of God should always be, “Speak, for Your servant hears.” If I have not developed and nurtured this devotion of hearing, I can only hear God’s voice at certain times. At other times I become deaf to Him because my attention is to other things— things which I think I must do. This is not living the life of a child of God. Have you heard God’s voice today?

by Oswald Chambers

In our first year of marriage, I realized my husband had a serious problem,then THIS happened

 

It was in our first year of marriage that I realized that my husband Dave had a serious “neck problem.”

We were talking on a beach, when I noticed his problem. You see, every time a beautiful, scantily clad woman would walk by us on the beach, Dave’s neck just couldn’t seem to stop twisting and turning to gawk at these girls as they walked past him – and he continued to watch them all the way down the beach.

Let me tell you, I was mad about it!

SIX MONTHS INTO MARRIAGE, I COULDN’T THINK OF ONE THING THAT I LIKED ABOUT MY HUSBAND – THIS CHANGED EVERYTHING

“Seriously, Dave! I’m standing right here, and you can’t stop yourself from ogling these girls?”

“What are you talking about?” he replied in an innocent tone that I wasn’t buying for even a second.

At first, I seriously thought he was kidding, but I soon realized that this “girl watching” had been such a habit that he didn’t even know he was doing it. Of course, you may be thinking, Who cares? Big deal. He’s not hurting anyone.

Well, in this case, you would be wrong – he was hurting me!

Like so many women – and many men too, for that matter – I didn’t exactly possess the greatest self-esteem when it came to body image. The mirror was not my best friend. Because of this, every time Dave stared at other women in my presence, it felt as though someone was stabbing a knife in my chest. And speaking of chests, I could also hear a lie being told somewhere in my head, saying, If you looked better in your bathing suit, he would only be looking at you!

It was torture for me.

I was only 20 years old, and I so desperately wanted my new husband to only have eyes for me. Outwardly I was angry, but inwardly I wanted to just sit down and cry, because his actions drew all of my insecurities out of their hiding places and into the ugly open air. I went to bed that night trying to turn my mind to anything positive – anything but the shameful thoughts that my body didn’t measure up to Dave’s dreams.

My last thought before my eyes fluttered shut were, Well, Jesus, at least the beach wasn’t full of topless girls. Thanks for protecting me from that!

Little did I know what was coming.

A few years later, Dave and I agreed to lead a mission trip where we would be sharing God’s love with people on the beaches in Sweden. A little known detail was shared with us as we pulled up to our first beach…half the women on the beach would be topless!

Are you kidding me?

The first day we were sitting in a beachside restaurant prepping for our day when it happened. The doorway was suddenly filled with three drop-dead gorgeous, long-legged, buxom beauties. Barbie and her two companions were actually real, live beings – and some kid out there forgot to put their bikini tops on!

The room was instantly quiet – you could have heard a pin drop. I glanced around our table to find that jaws were literally hanging wide open . . . and there may or may not have been drool pooling on the tabletop.

Then suddenly, I remembered my 26-year-old husband sitting next to me, and a rush of fear gripped my heart. I whipped my head around to look at him. The state in which I found him was almost sad – his head was bowed as low as it could possibly go without falling off altogether. I was instantly – albeit temporarily – relieved that his neck problem had not had a sudden flare-up in this exact moment.

To encourage him, I leaned over and sweetly whispered in his ear, “If you lift your head for even one second, you are a dead man!”

As Dave headed out to the beach, I headed to our hotel room to do some serious business with God.

I yelled out to him, “God, you know all of my fears and insecurities. I’ve told you countless times that this would be my worst fear. I’m afraid Dave will be sorry he married me when he could have someone else more voluptuous and beautiful.”

The truth is that as a little girl, I couldn’t wait to grow up and look like Barbie. Instead of transforming into Barbie, I stopped growing and maxed out at 5 feet and 1 inch tall – I was forever destined to be more like Barbie’s kid sister, Skipper.

As I continued my rant, I felt a small whisper collide with my anger. “Ann, can you trust me?”

“No! I can’t trust you! That’s pretty obvious right now!”

But as I continued my tirade, the question kept coming to my mind over and over again. It was relentless: “Ann, can you trust me?”

Finally, exhausted by my fear, anger, and tears, I fell on my knees before God and cried out,

“God, what choice do I have? I will trust you! Please help me. I’m clinging to you as my helper and guide . . . as my Father. I need you not only to help me get through this, but to help Dave get through this too.”

A sense of resolution and strength began to fill my heart, enough that I was able to push the anxiety down a bit. I again tried to take hold of the reminder that Jesus loved me – and that he loved Dave as well – more than I could ever hope for or dream.

I don’t want to sum everything up as if a lifelong problem of fear and anxiety suddenly dissipated after only a short prayer – no, these problems continued, but I had the peace and hope to face them.

That trip was a turning point of sorts. For the first time, Dave began experiencing a real level of success with his neck problem, and for the first time, I started realizing that my worth does not originate, cannot be increased, and certainly is not limited in any way by my physical appearance.

I became more aware than ever of my truest, deepest identity:

I am a daughter of the King of kings and Lord of lords – and he is a very proud and protective Father. I have been made and equipped to carry out a plan that my heavenly Father uniquely crafted for my specific life. I have been made with a purpose and destiny that both satisfy my soul and reflect the love of Christ to the world.

As I look back on that afternoon some 30 years ago, I chuckle at the insignificance of my dilemma. In retrospect, if that were the most difficult thing I had to deal with, my life would be pretty easy.

Since that trip, I’ve been faced with actual life-and-death issues related to my own health, the health of our babies, and the death of my very best friend and sister at the age of 45.

Time and time again in each of these situations, God asked me the same question he asked me years earlier at that topless beach: “Ann, can you trust me?”

It’s never been easy, but I have discovered that yes, I can trust Him. He is always there. He always loves me deeply. He carries me, and He never leaves me. He comforts me and encourages me to keep my eyes on him – I guess you can say that my eyes tend to wander when uncertainty or crises arise.

It’s my own neck problem.

God is calling us to stop leaning on our own understanding of our versions of the ways we think He should lead our lives.

Instead, he keeps asking us, “Will you trust me?”

The invitation is to the complete surrender of allowing him to work His plan – carried out His way – in our lives.

The safest – and also the scariest – place on earth is right in the middle of his plan for you.

Sometimes He does His most miraculous work in the middle of our greatest fear.

Will you trust him with your disappointments?

Your fears?

Your struggles?

Your marriage?

Your kids?

Your life?

Adapted from “Vertical Marriage by Dave and Ann Wilson.” Copyright © 2019 by Dave and Ann Wilson. Used by permission of Zondervan. www.zondervan.com.

https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/in-our-first-year-of-marriage-i-realized-my-husband-had-a-serious-problem-then-this-happened

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