Category Archives: Religion

Temptation 

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.  And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”
But he answered, “It is written, 

“‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” 

Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, 

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ 

and 

“‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'” 

Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, 

‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'”

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.  And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”. Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, 

“‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'” 

Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.
Matthew 4:1-11
As the passage above shows, Christ faced temptation, though because he was God in flesh, he only faced temptation by Satan, but was not tempted. Temptation is something we all face as Christians, no matter how long we have been following Christ.  There are a few practical things, however, that we can do to grow stronger and smarter in our struggle against sin. We can learn how to avoid temptation by practicing these five steps.

Recognize your tendency toward sin.
James 1:14 explains that we are tempted when we become enticed by our own natural desires. The first step toward avoiding temptation, is recognizing our human tendency to be tempted by our own fleshly desires. Temptation is a given, so don’t be surprised by it. Rather, expect to be tempted. Be prepared for it.

Run away from the temptation.
1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”  When you are face to face with temptation, look for the way out that God has promised and then run as fast as you can.

Resist with the Word of truth.
Hebrews 4:12 says God’s Word is living and active. Did you know you can carry a weapon that will make your thoughts obey Jesus Christ? If you don’t believe me, read 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 One of these weapons is the Word of God.

Though it can be helpful to read God’s Word when you’re being tempted, sometimes that’s not practical. Even better is to practice reading the Word daily, so that eventually you have so much of it inside, you are ready whenever temptation comes. If you are reading through the Bible regularly, you will have the full counsel of God at your disposal.

Refocus with praise.
How often have you been tempted to sin when your heart and mind were fully concentrated on worship to the Lord? Praising God takes your focus off of yourself and puts it on God. You may not be strong enough to resist temptation on your own, but as you focus on God, he will inhabit your praise. He will give you the strength to resist and walk away from the temptation. May I suggest Psalm 147 as a good place to start.

Repent quickly when you fail.
In several places the Bible tells us the best way to resist temptation is to flee from it (1 Corinthians 6:18; 1 Corinthians 10:14; 1 Timothy 6:11; 2 Timothy 2:22). Yet still we all fail from time to time. We fail to flee. Notice I didn’t say, repent quickly if you fail. Having a more realistic view—knowing that at times you will fail—should help you to repent quickly when you do. It is not the end of the world when you fail, but it is very dangerous to persist in your sin. Going back to James 1, verse 15 explains that sin “when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”

The following prayer may also bring some solace when we face temptation:
Dear Lord, 
You know the temptations that I am facing today. But your Word promises that I will not be tempted beyond what I can bear. I ask for your strength to stand up under the temptation whenever I encounter it. Your Word also tells me you will provide a way out of the temptation. Please, Lord, give me the wisdom to walk away when I am tempted, and the clarity to see the way out that you will provide. Thank you, God, that you are a faithful deliverer and that I can count on your help in my time of need. 
Amen

The Old Rugged Cross 

This is one of my favorite, if not my favorite, hymns. “The Old Rugged Cross” has always been a song that fills my heart with emotions of love, joy, and nostalgia. It’s a very spiritually moving song, and for me it is the epitome of Ephesians 5:19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to The Lord.

The Old Rugged Cross
On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suffering and shame;
And I love that old cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain.

So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.
O that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
Has a wondrous attraction for me;
For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above
To bear it to dark Calvary.

So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.
In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
A wondrous beauty I see,
For ’twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died,
To pardon and sanctify me.

So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.
To the old rugged cross I will ever be true;
Its shame and reproach gladly bear;
Then He’ll call me some day to my home far away,
Where His glory forever I’ll share.

So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.

This popular Christian song was written in 1912 by George Bennard, an evangelist and song-leader. Though a native of Youngstown (Ohio), Bennard was reared in Iowa. He retired to Reed City, Michigan, and the town had honored him by maintaining a dedicated museum relating to his life and ministry.

As a Methodist evangelist, Bennard wrote the first verse of the hymn in Albion, Michigan, in the fall of 1912. He was helped by Charles H. Gabriel, a well-known gospel-song composer with the harmonies and it was published in 1915.

The song was popularized during Billy Sunday evangelistic campaigns by Homer Rodeheaver and Virginia Asher (members of his campaign staff).

The hymn tells about the writer experienced as a Christian rather than his adoration of God.


The Power of Prayer 


“Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive.” – Matthew 21:22 

 We can never underestimate the power of prayer. When we are praying according to God’s will, our prayers are unstoppable. Jesus made this promise: “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” (John 15:7).
First John 5:14–15 says, “And this is the boldness we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have obtained the requests made of him.”
Therefore, we should never give up or back down. We need to keep praying. That is why Jesus said, ” Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8). 
Jesus is very clear that prayer is very powerful, but it’s not for just when we want something for ourselves.  It can also be for guidance or wanting something for others. Often we pray because something bad has happened.  Hardships and tragedies are a constant reminder to keep connected to God through prayer, reading, and reflection. It’s important to keep our hearts open so we may reach out to others who may be in that same kind of situation we found ourselves. In helping them, we provide someone in need with the remedy that will soothe their broken spirit.
To maintain God’s peace, we must give up the need to be right, along with the need to control. We must humble ourselves and give it all to God, trusting that we will be shown the way to whatever it is we need to know, as well as Who is in control. God always answers our prayers, but it might just be “no” on occasion.  The most important thing though is that it is always God’s will.

Psalm 112

Psalm 112

Praise ye the LORD. Blessed is the man that feareth the LORD, that delighteth greatly in his commandments.
His seed shall be mighty upon earth: the generation of the upright shall be blessed.
Wealth and riches shall be in his house: and his righteousness endureth for ever.
Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness: he is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous.
A good man sheweth favour, and lendeth: he will guide his affairs with discretion.
Surely he shall not be moved for ever: the righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance.
He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the LORD.
His heart is established, he shall not be afraid, until he see his desire upon his enemies.
He hath dispersed, he hath given to the poor; his righteousness endureth for ever; his horn shall be exalted with honor.
The wicked shall see it, and be grieved; he shall gnash with his teeth, and melt away: the desire of the wicked shall perish.

Reflection

Those who respect God, those who follow the Lord, and love God do not need to live in chronic anxiety of bad news. Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered Christians do not need to live in constant, debilitating fear of the unknown, of being discovered.

The pslamist tells us that God has given to the poor. Compared to straight people, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people have little power. The God who reigns over the earth is pouring out blessings on the poor, on the powerless. God’s blessings are being poured out on the Creator’s gay, bisexual and transgendered children. Just one of those blessings is salvation. 

God Loves You

Can a gay person really be saved? What does the Bible really say? According to the Bible, I found that the answer is yes! Furthermore, you don’t have to “stop being gay” in order to be considered righteous by God!

This article is based on two assumptions:

First, God sent his Son into the world for all of us. According to John 3:16, 17 there are no conditions on God’s love. The only condition set on obtaining everlasting life, or salvation, is to believe in Jesus.

John 3:16-17

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (KJV)

Second, what we are to believe about Jesus is that he died and was raised from the dead on the third day. If we believe this with our hearts and confess with our mouth that “Jesus is Lord” then we will be saved according to the Bible:

Romans 10:9-10

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (KJV)

TRADITIONAL TEACHING: Gays are an abomination…

According to the general Church community gays are an abomination. Gays are told that they have a no hope in God; they will end up like the people of Sodom and Gomorrah; and they are treated as though they embody all evil. A Christian co-worker once told me that the antichrist is going to be a homosexual man. She believed that he was going to be in the closet at first to make everybody like him. She said that when the time comes for him to show his evil he will come out of the closet. I want to proclaim to you that the concept that gays have no hope in God, as gay people, is not a Biblical teaching but a traditional teaching.

Colossians 2:8

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. (KJV)

There are many examples of traditional teachings that served no other purpose but to separate people from God.

  1. Galileo discovered that the earth revolved around the sun. The Church considered this heresy according to their misinterpretation of Genesis 1. They sentenced him to life imprisonment under house arrest.
  2. The Church used Genesis 9:21-27 to “prove” that Blacks were cursed by God into a life of slavery in order to justify what was done to them during the plantation days and to justify racism. The fact is that the curse fell upon Canaan, one of Noah’s grandson’s. Canaan was one of four brothers. His three brothers settled in Africa but Canaan settled in the Middle East.
  3. Another example of a traditional teaching with no basis in Scripture is the hatred of Jews. Some think that God condemned the Jews because they killed Jesus. If it were not for the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ there would be no salvation. Jesus himself was a Jew!

Finally, the Church community is wrong when it uses God’s Word to condemn you for being gay. The fact that you care what God thinks about you, proves them wrong! The fact that you have suffered hurt, humiliation, guilt, rejection and shame at the hands of these people proves that they are misrepresenting God!

The God of the Bible is full of justice, mercy and love. Yes, He has gotten and will get angry with people, but this anger is always precipitated by three things: abandoning Him in exchange for another god, abusing others morally, financially, sexually or otherwise, and abusing ourselves in the same manner. You will see this consistent theme from Genesis to Revelation.

SOURCEInspiritus


A Christian Dispute

When it first began, The Rick and Bubba Show was a harmless morning radio show about two Alabama bubbas and the funny stories they told. However, since the death of Rick Burgess’ son several years ago and the election of President Obama, it has become a show about conservative politics and even more conservative religious views. Here are two stories from al.com:

Brandi Burgess, bisexual daughter of Rick & Bubba host: ‘I am praying for my father’

By Brandi Burgess, daughter of Rick Burgess of Rick & Bubba, and an actress and activist living in Philadelphia

I have always believed stories carry healing powers. Bible legends of heroes and outcasts. Fables with neatly packaged morals. That friend at every gathering who lit up the room with fantastical tales, the one who left my sides hurting and my eyes streaming and made me think, “my god this is my life, it is so ridiculous and wonderful.”

My first memories are of me sitting under my father’s radio desk, listening to him talk. Rick Burgess has built an entire career sharing the stories of his life. He has amassed an incredible following, because he speaks his truth. People love him. People hate him. His boldness has always inspired me.

As I grew older I became a prominent character in his stories. I was the exuberant softball player whose passion got her thrown out of games, the angsty teen late to church, the young woman in Israel almost traded in marriage for 40 camels. I was a punch line, a glittering prop, a cartoon.

Then – in his eyes — I failed him.

Gone were the stories of my boyfriends being taken down “to the hunting room” before first dates. I was erased. Recently, I’ve returned, cast as the prodigal daughter.

The story my father tells is one of a lost lamb, covered in shame. In his public musings, he speaks of my sin. Without my consent, he uses me as a cautionary tale.

For the past three years, my father and I have been debating God’s stance on homosexuality. It started with my Instagram post at a Pride parade: a picture of a mother holding a sign saying “I love my gay son.” I got a text demanding its removal: “How dare you compromise my platform!?”, “Remember who you represent.”, “Are you a gay?”

I have been praying, researching and meditating on the many emails, sermons and verses my dad has sent me. I always come back to the same conclusion. Love is love.

I shared this with him. “I love you. I’m sorry. I still love God.” I promised to be discrete.

This led to a constant barrage of shame. “You think you’re so mod, so special. But you’re nothing. You’re typical.”

I blocked everyone in my family from my social media because it was “killing my grandmother.” I grew silent. I mourned my family. I believed I was selfish, a fraud.

I visited home this summer. I wasn’t allowed too close to my siblings, for fear of infecting them with my queerness.

My stepmother took me out to lunch. She told me about a recent vacation with my father. “He couldn’t go in the water. You know he has panic attacks around water ever since your brother drowned.”

Why didn’t I know that? Why couldn’t my father let me hold him, tell me his fear. I would have given him rest, said, “Me too, dad. When I babysit, I have to tell the parents that I can’t take them to the pool. I know exactly how you feel.”

As I was pondering this, Sherri asked me “are you seeing anyone?” I took a deep breath, and held on to hope. The Greek word for hope means “cord.” My dad taught me that.

“Yes. I am. I am deeply in love. It is….not with a man.” I had my speech ready, about fluidity, non-binary queerness, Lin-Manuel Miranda quotes, etc.

“No. You choose this or you choose us. After all your father’s done for you, how could you do this to him?”

I was whisked away to the Rick and Bubba office. Dad was waiting, bible in hand.

I believe that my father’s actions were intended as love. I believe he can’t know how powerfully he hurt me.

My story is not that of all queer people from an evangelical home. I have the privilege of now belonging to a safe community. Yet, I let my father’s message of shame define me. I hated my body, sabotaged relationships, believed I was unworthy of love.

So now, I am writing to the young women who feel like they don’t belong in their bodies, to the boys who want to kiss boys, and those on the spectrum between:

Perhaps you have heard my father on the radio and it makes you want to go to sleep and never wake up.

I love you. Your worth is untouchable. Find a good friend. Invest in therapy. Dance in the middle of the night and hold yourself accountable to the life you’ve always wanted. At the root of all this hate speech is fear. This is not your fear to carry. Release it.

I am redeemed. I have surrendered to the beautiful mystery of God’s love, have witnessed its vast complexity.

My partner whispers to me as I fall asleep: “Your worth is intrinsic, your beauty immeasurable.” Their love is divine, it is of God. I know this in my bones.

I am telling you this because I can no longer avoid my own eyes in the mirror.

I am praying for my father. I am holding onto hope and it is outstretched toward him. Perhaps he will take hold. Perhaps we will find we were holding the same cord.

Here is an article about her father’s very unchristian response:

Rick & Bubba’s Rick Burgess speaks about his bisexual daughter

Rick Burgess of the Rick & Bubba Show was asked this week to comment on his daughter’s choice to speak out about her bisexuality. He declined, saying “God has given me my own platform in which to clearly state my views on this issue that is impacting our society and the church.”

He and his wife, Sherri, addressed the issue on the radio show this morning.

The comments were largely focused on scripture, and Rick said he hopes his daughter, Brandi Burgess, finds her way back home to God. He said he and Sherri have “taken on the role of the father of the Prodigal Son.”

To Brandi, he said: “I told you before and I’ll say it again you’re my daughter and I will always love you. But I love you enough to tell you the truth. I’m not going to come up with some version of love that really isn’t love at all, that pats you on the back to justify you all the way to hell.”

He said Brandi is misguided.

“This has become a new version of Christianity which is not biblical in any way shape or form,” he said. “Sadly our daughter and others have bought into this new hippie version of Jesus.”

“Quit making up a version of God which is your own – which is idolatry,” he said

Sherri Burgess, Brandi’s stepmother, said she didn’t believe Brandi when she initially said she was bisexual.

“I just didn’t believe it but over time she’s convinced me she really does feel this way,” she said. “This is not a battle between Rick and me and our daughter. It’s a battle between good and evil, the Bible versus the world, God versus the world.”

On Brandi’s comments about her own journey, Rick said “we now release you to that journey and we pray and we hope that it brings you back to repentance.”

Sherri said she advised Brandi not to live according to human passions, but according to God’s will.

“I don’t care if you’re happy. I don’t care if you’re healthy. I care about your eternal salvation,” she said.

“I know there are people out there who really struggle with this and it is hard. But Jesus is there not only to forgive you but to cleanse you of all unrighteousness.”

Rick said “We love her with all our heart and we love her enough to tell her the truth, but in this article instead of declaring the Lord Lord, she’s declared herself Lord.”

He asked people to be kind.

“I would just say again I know how these things can get ugly because Bubba and I have been in the crosshairs … Let’s see if we can stay away from that, please. It may upset you. You may be offended. You may say this is disrespectful, and certainly we’ve gone through those feelings ourselves. But please just understand she’s lost. She’s just got scales on her eyes and she needs those to fall.”

Rick forgets that Jesus condemned divorce, while never condemning homosexuality. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.


How Great Thou Art 

O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds thy hands have made,
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed:

Refrain


Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee:
How great thou art! How great thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee:
How great thou art! How great thou art!

When through the woods and forest glades I wander
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees,
When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur,
And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze:

Refrain

And when I think that God, his Son not sparing,
Sent him to die, I scarce can take it in,
That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.

Refrain

When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart!
Then I shall bow in humble adoration,
And there proclaim, My God, how great thou art

In 1885, at age 26, Swedish preacher Carl G. Boberg wrote the words only of a poem entitled “O Store Gud.” Several years later, Boberg attended a meeting and was surprised to hear his poem being sung to the tune of an old Swedish melody.

In the early 1920s, English missionaries, Stuart K. Hine and his wife, ministered in Poland. It was there they learned the Russian version of Boberg’s poem, “O Store Gud,” coupled with the original Swedish melody. Later, Hine wrote original English words and made his own arrangement of the Swedish melody, which became popular and is now known as the hymn, “How Great Thou Art.”

The first three verses were inspired, line upon line, amidst unforgettable experiences in the Carpathian Mountains. In a village to which he had climbed, Mr. Hine stood in the street singing a Gospel Hymn and reading aloud, John, Chapter Three. Among the sympathetic listeners was a local village schoolmaster. A storm was gathering, and when it was evident that no further travel could be made that night, the friendly schoolmaster offered his hospitality. Awe-inspiring was the mighty thunder echoing through the mountains, and it was this impression that was to bring about the birth of the first verse.

Pushing on, Hine crossed the mountain frontier into Romania and into Bukovina. Together with some young people, through the woods and forest glades he wandered, and heard the birds sing sweetly in the trees. Thus, the second verse came into being. Verse three was inspired by the conversion of many Carpathian mountain-dwellers. The fourth verse did not come about until Hine’s return to Britain.


Second Chances 

Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The LORD works righteousness
and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
his acts to the people of Israel.
The LORD is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.
For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust.
As for man, his days are like grass;
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
and its place knows it no more.
But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
and his righteousness to children’s children,
to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.
The LORD has established his throne in the heavens,
and his kingdom rules over all.

Bless the LORD, O you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his word,
obeying the voice of his word!
Bless the LORD, all his hosts,
his ministers, who do his will!
Bless the LORD, all his works,
in all places of his dominion.
Bless the LORD, O my soul!

Psalms 103

With the new year, we often think back on the old. We attempt to think of resolutions to help us correct our flaws, and hopefully, give ourselves a second chance in the new year. We are blessed to have a God who grants second chances. In fact, He grants an infinite number of chances. This is good news because most of us mess up the second chance fairly quickly. One of the amazing facets of God’s character is His incredible patience with us. Psalm 86:15 says it well: “But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.”

How many times have any of us done something really stupid, and realize it right after, or right in the middle of it? Do you ever feel like you can’t do anything right, wondering why you bother trying as you’re going to fail anyway? I’ve had instances when I really didn’t mean to hurt someone, yet I did, and I didn’t know how to set it right. I must admit, I’ve experienced this on more days than I want to admit. It just seems like no matter how hard I try, things just don’t seem to work out, or not that often anyway. Yet, in each instance I look to God for guidance, and he shows me the way.

Just as God is patient and forgiving, He wants His children to be patient with and forgiving of others. “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience” (Colossians 3:12). He gives us second chances, and we must give the same to others. Jesus gives a stern warning to those who refuse to forgive, saying that if we will not forgive others, God will not forgive us. If someone is truly repentant, then we are obligated to forgive. Matthew 18:21-22 says “Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

Forgiveness, however, is not the same thing as reconciliation. Many people struggle to find the balance between showing mercy and enabling a harmful person to continue harming. We should forgive everyone who wrongs us, just as Jesus forgives us. Forgiveness is between our heart and God’s, removing any barriers that non-forgiveness brings. When someone continues to unrepentantly violate another person’s boundaries, a wise person learns to set firmer boundaries.

Giving someone a second chance means we give him another chance to earn our trust. But that does not mean we instantly forget what experience has taught us. Trust must be earned over time, and we are foolish if we give trust prematurely. We can have a loving and forgiving heart that also practices wise guardianship over our lives.

When we have wronged someone, we have no right to demand another chance. But we should work to earn another chance by continued demonstration of repentance and change.

God does everything possible to draw us to repentance, offering forgiveness and second chances (2 Peter 3:9). But if we continue to reject Him, the offer is withdrawn and, at death, there are no more chances (Hebrews 9:27). God’s grace is our model. We can offer second chances to others until a healthy relationship is no longer possible.

In this new year, we should try to emulate God more. Just as he gives us second chances, give others a second chance as well. Maybe that someone deserves even more than a single second chance, then offer them more chances as long as they are attempting to do what is right. However, if that person is continuously hurting you, then forgive them and walk away. Just because someone has hurt you, it does not mean that it was intentional. Give them that second chance, just as God would give you a second chance. Yet, when it is intentional hurting, sometimes it is best to just cut ties. It is often difficult to do so, but it is occasionally what is best for both. Sometimes, it’s easy to just cut ties, but evaluate the situation. Could you help that person more by giving them a second chance? If so, then that is what god asks us to do.

Let God give you a second chance in the new year, and resolve to be a better person. Also, try to give someone in your life a second chance, maybe they truly deserve it. I hope each of you has a blessed and happy 2017!


The Christmas Story 

Luke 2 King James Version (KJV)

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.

(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.


Proverbial Giving


Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.
Proverbs 19:17

Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him.
Proverbs 14:31

I have to admit that when I was looking up some commentaries on giving and the Bible, too many of the sources I found focused on giving to the church.  I give what I can to church, which is what I think of when the apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 8:12 “For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have.”  Many churches though use this as a means of forcing a true tithe of 10 percent.  However, even though we are in the season of giving, we should be giving and helping year round to those who need assistance.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus commands us to give to the needy:
Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Matthew 6:1-4
Giving is not all about what you give to your local congregation, but what you give to those who are in need.  We are to love our fellow man and not judge them.  If we look down on the poor, then how can we look up to God.  Some people blame God for the misfortunes of the world, I blame those who do not follow the teachings of love and charity.  Do you have to be a Christian to have love for your fellow man or to be charitable to the less fortunate?  Of course you don’t.  But I will say this, too many people who call themselves Christian often follow the proverb “God helps those who help themselves.”  The phrase is often mistaken as scriptural, but it appears nowhere in the Bible. 

Political commentator Bill O’Reilly employed the phrase, in responding to Jim McDermott, the Democratic U.S. Representative for Washington’s 7th congressional district, who argued, “This is Christmas time. We talk about Good Samaritans, the poor, the little baby Jesus in the cradle and all this stuff. And then we say to the unemployed we won’t give you a check to feed your family. That’s simply wrong.” O’Reilly argued for a more selective approach to unemployment benefits, and the importance of individual responsibility, concluding “while Jesus promoted charity at the highest level, he was not self-destructive. The Lord helps those who help themselves. Does he not?” Political comedian Stephen Colbert parodied him in response, concluding in character, “if this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn’t help the poor, either we’ve got to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we’ve got to acknowledge that he commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition; and then admit that we just don’t want to do it.” Colbert may be a comedian who is often irreverent, but he makes a good point.

For the vast majority of us, misfortune finds us at one point or another. Various people have helped me during those unfortunate times, and I do my best to help those in need when I am able to help.  Giving is not just for the red buckets of the Salvation Army during Christmastime but for all year round.  It is also not about gifts and money, because not all of us are able to do so, but it is about giving our love to those around us.  Love is the greatest gift we can give.

Peace, love, and charity!

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