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Standing up for my beliefs

In recent days/weeks, a controversy has been brewing in a small town  just north of where I live, in the town I grew up in. It seems that a women’s civic group decorated the courthouse lawn and as part of the decorations, they included a nativity scene. This is not something new. They have done this for years! But, now it is a problem, at least according to a group calling themselves “Freedom From Religion Foundation.”

The people of this foundation have stated that they feel it is unconstitutional for the nativity scene to be there. They have no problem with the Santa or snowman however.

http://radio.foxnews.com/toddstarnes/top-stories/pastors-to-defend-nativity-tell-atheists-enough-is-enough.html?fb_comment_id=fbc_10150442280073808_20062230_10150444389203808#f33b4439a25bb78

This is just one of many stories online about this. Simply google Henderson County Nativity Scene and I am sure you will come up with several others.

I am looking for a little guidance here. There is going to be a rally/vigil/prayer chain, any number of things to call it, it’s a gathering of Christians who want to fight to have the nativity scene remain. I plan to attend. Where I need my guidance is in some of the things that these people are saying and how I should respond. I am a “young Christian”, not by years of age, but by my knowledge of the Bible. I know the basics of what we are told, but when someone says to me that my christianity encourages murder of innocent women and children, where does that come from? Or, they say that women are not supposed to pray out loud, actually they say no one is supposed to pray out loud and they refer to Matthew 6: 5-6 as the referrence for this. But women are not allowed to pray outloud? I’ve never heard that and if it says so in the Bible, someone please direct me there.

I guess I am asking for some encouragement and words of wisdom for when, or if, I am directly confronted by any of these people. I know I need to do a lot of studying!! And believe me, I am!!

I also ask that each of you please be in prayer for this community as they stand up for their beliefs. As one of the pastors said, “It is time we stand up for what we believe and stop letting them run all over us.”

Thank you, and God bless you all!!

 

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What is our ultimate responsibility as Christians, believers in Jesus Christ?

A couple of days ago I issued a challenge to anyone reading my simple little blog. Take a portion of what you would spend on yourself or someone else for Christmas gifts, and spend that on someone in our area that is really in need. I believe as part of that challenge, you (we) should also be reaching out to any potential  lost souls and introducing them to Jesus Christ! Shouldn’t that be our ultimate goal? I personally love the idea of giving an entire Christmas to  someone who might otherwise not have one, but I believe that we need to let them know, these gifts come to them as gifts from Jesus, just like He gave us the gift of salvation! They are not really gifts from us, because Jesus gave them to us, specifically to share with others!

I have been a very materialistic person in the past. If I found something I wanted, I was going to have it, on way or another! I didn’t care who had to do without, as long as I got what I wanted!! But, it is a wonderful thing when God  makes a huge change in your heart to the point of not caring whether I get a gift or not, as long as I can share what I have with  someone less fortunate than myself! THAT, is the real gift that I receive.  Just to see, or hear, the pure joy and appreciation for what you  have done for them, just gives you  such a warm feeling. Imagine how Jesus feels when we show Him pure joy and appreciation for the gifts He gives us!!

I would like to add something to that challenge. If you know the family is in need of spiritual help or direction, give them a Bible. It doesn’t have to be a fancy one, but it does need to have the names and phone numbers of at least three different churches and pastors that they can contact for future needs. If you feel comfortable doing so, give them your phone number and invite them to call you at anytime, to talk about their spiritual health and how they might be able to improve upon it. Here, you have to remember, ‘you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.’ You can tell someone all about Jesus and the love He has for them and the sacrifice He made for each of us, but if they are not ready to hear it, your words will fall on deaf ears.

Does that mean that I am saying that if they show no interest, you should leave God out of the equation? NO WAY!!! God is the reason you are doing this after all, right? I mean, you are doing this as a simple way of sharing the love of God with a neighbor or coworker who is in need. So, no matter what, you have to pray to God to give you the opportunity to tell them about Him,  and then SHUT UP AND LISTEN!! The Holy Spirit will speak to you, guide you, and help you  with the right words to say at the right time. But, you have to be open to hearing the Holy Spirit speak to you!

Many people, myself included, have a very difficult time discerning whether instructions or guidance is coming from the Holy Spirit or from some other source that we really should not be listening to! So, how can you tell whether what you are hearing is coming from the Holy Spirit or not? Listen carefully. Is the action you are being asked to take, the words you are being given to speak, an expression of God’s love? Are you simply sharing the love of Jesus in what you are doing or saying? If you are, then I believe you can trust that it is coming from the Holy Spirit. But, if you are simply offering a few gifts to someone to make yourself feel better, and you just really don’t want to take the time to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with this family, or person, then you need to rethink your reasoning. If you are not sharing the LOVE of Jesus Christ and demonstrating that love, then you are just feeding a man a fish dinner as opposed to teaching him to fish for his next meal!

You have to show people that you have faith and no doubt as to where your next meal is coming from. You have to prove your trust and faith in God to provide for you, but those you are offering help to have to see that in your actions. They have to see you telling them to “do as I do” and not “do as I say, not as I do.”

If you spend more than 5 minutes talking with someone at any time, there will be an opportunity to talk about Jesus with them. Once that door is opened, you must walk through it and invite the person you are speaking to, to step through that door with you. And once they step through, you must take advantage and talk to them about God and what He has done for them, and what He WANTS to do for them still!! Always have a Bible handy, even if it is on your fancy smart phone!! Always, always be prepared to share the word of God and His blessings with anyone who will sit with you for more than 5 minutes and actually listen.

Take advantage of every opportunity!! Our days on this earth are fewer every day, and we are instructed to be fishers of men, to bring more to Jesus. That is a job that NEVER stops.

So, as I challenge you to help a needy family this Christmas, go to your local Christian Book Store and purchase a Bible to include with the items for the family! Now, we don’t want to seem to be bragging about what we are doing, but, if you tell the owner or manager of the Christian Book Store what you are doing, I bet you will end up with more than a Bible to include in the gifts for the family! You may even end up with a Bible for each member of the family.

As always, be much in prayer about what you are doing. Let God lead you to the right family. Listen to the Holy Spirit for ques and openings of what to say, and when to say them. Remember, you are never alone in any part of this. Pray without ceasing!!! Pray about what to do and for whom. Pray about the needs of the family, pray about YOUR reasons for doing this. Make sure your heart is right. Remember, satan will take advantage of any opening we give him. Don’t give him any  opening!!

God bless you all, and I look forward to hearing your stories of how you answered this challenge, so please share!! I pray each of you has a blessed day  tomorrow, the Lord’s day. I hope you  enjoy a special blessing from each worship service you attend. I pray that each service you attend makes you want to attend more, and more; and then you will be inviting people to come and visit your church. When they do, it falls on your shoulders to make them feel welcome and comfortable!! DO NOT miss this opportunity!!

Remember, non-believers are constantly watching believers for failure! It will happen. They are watching you also to see how you respond to that failure or change of plans, or whatever it may be. Don’t give satan the satisfaction of messing up your chance to witness to someone. Always strive to be as much like Jesus as possible. Love each other, forgive freely.

And, that is all I have for now!! Have a great weekend!!

 

Black Friday and What happened to our sense of giving during the holidays?

Seems like the whole black Friday thing has really taken off over the past few years, doesn’t it? I mean, I do not remember getting up at midnight to go stand and wait for a store to open so I could buy my Christmas gifts. I don’t even remember there being any ads for the “door buster” sales when my kids were small, or when I was growing up!

This just shows me how commercialized the whole Christmas season has become. Now, don’t get me wrong, I enjoy putting up decorations and seeing how beautifully decorated others have their homes, but I don’t get so upset anymore when I get my tree up and decorated, and have no gifts to put under it yet. That used to be a major upset for me!! So much so, that one year I wrapped empty boxes and put them under the tree! Tell me that is not pitiful!

But, as I grow in my relationship with Christ, I listen a little more closely to the words of some Christmas songs, such as one playing right now, “Let there be peace on Earth, and let it begin with me.” Isn’t that the kind of thing we should be concerned with at this time of year, and always of course. Or, rather than worrying whether we are going to be able to purchase that $50+ video game or other gift for someone on our “list”, how about we concern ourselves with those right around us who are not concerned about that video game or a gift under the tree as much as they are wondering if they will be able to provide their family with ANY kind of Christmas dinner!

I would like to issue a challenge to everyone of you who reads this. I’ll explain the challenge in a moment, but first, let me back up a bit.

Several years ago, I was fortunate enough to be a part of a group of ladies who all joined together and chose two families to help with the Christmas holidays. These were families that we found either through a church or school. One family was a family of I believe 5 kids and a single mom. She wasn’t even going to be able to put up a tree for her kids. Now, granted, her oldest was a high schooler, but she had a youngster about 2 or so, and you know that child had no understanding of the situation. We raised the funds and materials to provide this family with a Christmas tree, decorations, food for Christmas dinner, and a few other meals as well, and some VERY nice gifts for the entire family, even mom!! She sat and cried as we brought the items into her home. We left the tree for her and her children to decorate, helped her put the groceries away and I believe we even provided her with wrapping paper to wrap the gifts. Her children had no idea where these items came from!!

The second family touched me even more. This was a young family of four. The husband had recently lost his job and was spending every possible minute searching for another, on foot. They did not have funds for gas for their car for him to go look for a job!! They did have a tree already, though nothing under it. It was an artificial they had already had for years according to the mother. This family, with two daughters, both under the age of 8, ALL cried as we brought what we had for them into the house! We provided them with groceries, and of course all the fixings for Christmas dinner! We had MANY gifts for them, some we had pre-wrapped because we knew the girls would be home from school when we delivered them, but the gifts that stand out in my mind the most are a couple of coats. These girls were walking to school every day with only a very light sweater for warmth. Mom’s coat wasn’t much better. When those girls saw they had new jackets, actual coats, you would have thought we gave them a million dollars!!! The squeals and giggles were so wonderful!! Those were gifts we went ahead and gave them because we felt that was an immediate need. The appreciation shown by this family was just so overwhelming I found myself tearing up as the girls watched us put gift after gift under their tree! We had also found a couple of job leads for the father!! I honestly don’t recall if anything came from them or not, but if not, it was not for a lack of trying on his part! This was the most blessed Christmas I think I ever had!!

So, my challenge to all of you is to find a family in need in your area. If you don’t know where to look, contact the local elementary school, churches, or any childrens shelter in your area. And give them more than just a few toys for the kids. Remember those parents aren’t going to get anything either. And, keep in mind that it is very possible that they have no idea where their next meal is coming from. In that case you can go to a local grocery store and purchase a gift card for them. I know, “how do we know they are going to buy healthy food and not beer and cigarettes!” Well, you don’t. But, when you give them the 0pportunity to provide for their family by giving them a gift card, what they do with it is between them and God.

Bottom line, if this is a family who is truly trying to get up on their feet and just keep getting knocked back down, your simple gesture may be just the boost they need!!

Oh, we also provided Bibles in their gifts! One of the little girls, I believe the oldest was so excited that she had her own Bible!!

So, if this is something you seriously want to do, pray about it. Ask God to lead you to the right family or the right need. Give what you can. If we don’t have a turkey for Christmas, but I can provide one for a needy family, I will be just as full as if I had eaten the entire bird myself. There is nothing as rewarding as giving to someone in need and seeing the joy in their faces when they receive.

Now, there are a lot of scenarios where you do not actually get to give the family the gifts yourself, and that is okay too. Just know in your heart that you have made a child and a parent smile and praise God!! Isn’t that our goal? To lead others to praise and follow our savior? To help others to see that God loves them just as much as he loves me.

And, yes, I plan to do just this for Christmas. I’m pretty sure finding a family in need won’t be difficult in today’s economy.

Give whereever you can this Christmas season, even if it means you or your family skips the gifts, or you eat sandwiches for Christmas dinner. God will bless you for your sacrifice!