Build on the Rock


Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down and the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine [Jesus] and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash. (Matthew 7:24-27)

 Did you come to faith in a really moving church service, Christian Concert, or maybe in a desperate situation which led you to turn to God for help? Now that things have settled down and life is back to normal, do you wonder or maybe even fear that your faith is gone because you are not feeling the moving warmth which you felt in the beginning?

These are important questions because “faith” and “feelings” are closely related. The problem with human “feelings” is that they are not dependable. Faith does produce deep feelings in the human heart. But those deep feelings don’t always remain on the surface of our consciousness. And we are fickle at times. Our feelings may change and then we doubt ourselves – and our faith. Some may then wonder, when the feelings are gone, is our faith gone too?

Some days we are upbeat and flying high. Others we are down in the dumps. Does that mean that on the days when we may feel hopeless or depressed, or just plain blah we have lost our faith??? No, it does not. But we each need to ask ourselves these questions. What is my faith based on and/or What do I have faith in? If you are unsure how to answer, or if your answer reflects a faith that is based on the ability or strength of yourself or another human, then you need to rethink things. You need to better understand the meaning of having faith.

So, let’s talk a little about “faith…”

The first point we must make is that “faith” means nothing if it is not connected to something. It needs an object to be attached to and that object needs to be set on a firm foundation, like the house built on the rock in the verse above from Matthew. Without that solid foundation the house would never withstand the wind and rain, and the rising water of a strong storm. It would be washed away like sand on the seashore.

Faith needs a connection to something which is stable – something that will not move away from us when we reach out to it. Without that connection it would be like tossing a life rope to a person who is drowning and walking away without hanging on to it or connecting it to a dock or boat. For the Christian, that life rope is Jesus. You can be sure that when your faith is connected to Jesus you are safe and secure.

 Scripture defines faith as …being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see (Hebrews 11: 1). Faith is confidence that what we have learned and been taught from Scripture, is true even though we are sometimes unable to see it or understand it.

There is no earthly human who can predict or guarantee our future. Only God can. And He does not only predict the future, He knows the future and has the perfect plan for each of our lives. When we place our faith in God, we can be sure of His divine providence not only here on earth, but we can rest calmly and firmly in the hope He promises all believers for eternity.

Out of love for all people God sent His only Son, Jesus, to live the perfect life we are unable to live. Jesus not only lived a perfect life in our place, but He also suffered and died on the cross in our place. His innocent suffering and death paid the debt we owe to God for our sins. And it didn’t end with His death on the cross. He conquered death when He rose from the grave 3 days later. Because He lives, we also will live with Him in eternity when our life here on earth comes to an end. His promise to us? I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die (John 11:25, 26). In John 14: 19 He tells his disciples, Because I live, you also will live.

Jesus is the only firm foundation for our faith. Faith in Jesus means our house is built on a rock. The troubles and sorrows of this life will never wash away His promise to always be with us.  And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age (Matthew 28:20).

On busy days when we are focused on this earthly life, (for example work, children, school etc.) and God and faith are not in the foreground, our faith in Jesus is still there running in the background. Like the apps on our cell phones which run in the background even when we are not aware of them, so it is also with a faith that it is connected to Jesus.

When Jesus is the object of our faith, we will never find ourselves swimming aimlessly in the sea of life without hope. He will never let go of us, even though we may let go of Him at times. We can relax and rest secure in His promises and His Word and enjoy the freedom it offers. Jesus loves you and will never leave you.

Faith does produce feelings, but never base your faith on human feelings alone. You may end up like the man in the above verses from Matthew who built his house on sand. When the wind and the rain came his house could not stand. It collapsed and was washed away. But the house built on a foundation of stone stood firm in the wind and the weather. Let Jesus be the foundation (object) for your faith.

When we place our trust in Him, live by His example, and believe the promises in His Word, we are building on a firm foundation. We will be able to withstand the storms and troubles of this life. We can rest secure in His love and forgiveness and live in hope of an eternity with Him in heaven when we die.

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint (Isaiah 40:31).

Gloria Dei!

By Christine

CALLING HEAVEN


Baby Noah
Precious child

What of the babies
who have never left the womb
breathing in a lifetime;
Angels in waiting gone
before they could be given wings to fly?
Calling Heaven, seeking mercy,
tell me there’s a place for these.
(Michael W. Smith)

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb… My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. (Psalm 139: 13, 15, 16)

One day when I was in my early twenties I was approached by a pro-life person as I was leaving work. He handed me a brochure which contained pictures of babies in the womb. The pictures denoted several different stages of a child’s development before birth. I was told by this person, a young man, that many people in our country, the USA were trying to get abortion legalized and he asked if I would please vote for life and urge others to do so also.

I had been hearing about the legalization of abortion but had not really sat down and thought much about what it meant… until I saw those pictures. I wanted to cry for the babies who would lose their lives at the hands of abortionists were it to become legal. I felt sad also for the many babies who had been illegally aborted over the years. I promised the young man that I would indeed vote for “Life” and would talk to my friends about it and urge them to vote for life also.

At that time in our nation’s history, I recall hearing so often the words, at least if abortion is legalized, women won’t be trying to abort themselves with coat hangers or at the hands of Quack Doctors. I heard people say, it’s better to legalize abortion than to have unwanted babies brought into the world to suffer at the hands of abusive parents who can’t care for them properly. Then there was the usual, I don’t have time for a baby right now… I am too young… what about my college plans…what will my parents say? These excuses reflect a society that is selfish and unwilling to take responsibility for its actions. And the child abuse? – it continues today worse than ever despite legalized abortion.

For sixteen years God placed me in a position where I had the privilege to counsel young women who were considering abortion. With His help I was able to advise and lead at least a few mothers to make a better choice for their child and for themselves. And not only for time here on earth, but especially for eternity. You see, my counseling included not only physical choices, but spiritual choices. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? (Mark 8: 36).

I, along with other dedicated volunteers (many of whom are still giving of their hearts and their time), worked together to tell these young women about Jesus. We did devotions with them. We taught them about baptism and then encouraged them and offered them opportunities to baptize their babies and children.

We realized however, that spiritual food does not feed and diaper babies, so we helped them with physical needs also. They received diapers, formula and clothing free of charge along with loving support, friendship and encouragement.

There were some stories with happy endings, some with sad endings and many with unknown endings, but hopefully in a small way, and with the Lord’s help, I and my fellow volunteers were able to make a difference in the lives of even a few mothers and children.

I know and understand that not everyone is able to be physically present to help these mothers and babies, but prayer is powerful. Please keep the volunteers at the pregnancy care centers all over the US in your prayers as they fight for the little ones who are unable to fight for themselves. Pray that our government will come to its senses and change the laws that make abortion legal.

Jesus loves children. They are precious gifts from Him. It doesn’t matter what kind of life situation they are the result of. Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’ (Matthew 19:14)

Even the angels report back to God as they watch over the little children in this world, both born and unborn. Jesus tells us also, ‘See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.’ (Matthew 18:10, 11) What a profound statement! I can only imagine how His heart breaks when he sees our children murdered by abortion and abused by selfish and stupid adults.

What Have you Done
What have you done?

Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?

Gloria Dei!
By Christine

The Precious child in the picture at the top of this post is a miscarried baby. His mother took this picture and shared it to help people realize that the unborn no matter how small, are little people with a body and a soul. Although it is not visible in the picture, this is a baby boy and he was named “Noah” by his parents. He was their seventh child. Life is a precious gift from God and to be respected no matter the age.

 

Who is Your Favorite Pastor?


The Christian and Yoga

For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere men?… So then, no more boasting about men! What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants through whom you came to believe – as the Lord has assigned to each his task… So then, no more boasting about men! All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future – all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God. (1 Corinthians 3:4, 5, 21-23)

Who is your favorite pastor? What should members of a congregation expect or require of their pastor? We all have our opinions, don’t we? But only one opinion counts – God’s.

The apostle Paul in his letter to Timothy clearly states the qualifications for a pastor and shepherd of God’s people. He says, In the presence of God and of the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction. (2 Timothy 4: 1,2)

We have each been blessed with special gifts from God. However, He does gift each of us differently. Imagine how boring our world would be if He didn’t. Rather, …each man has his own gift from God. One has this gift, another has that. (1 Corinthians 7:7)

Some pastors are dynamic speakers – some are not. Some are good at working with youth/teens/children – some not so much. Some have a talent for getting the point across in fewer words… some maybe not. Some are outgoing, type “A” personalities… some are quiet and laid back. But when all is said and done, the most important thing is that our pastor preaches the truth from scripture. We don’t go to church on Sunday to worship the pastor. We go to church to worship God and hear His Word taught in its truth and purity. We go to praise God, to strengthen and build up our faith, and for fellowship with others who share in the same faith and beliefs that we possess.

In the opening verses above, the apostle Paul is chiding the Corinthian Christians for favoring one pastor over the other and pitting them against each other. He reminds them (and us) that all pastors are mere men. They have each been called to do the work assigned to them, first and foremost, planting the seed of faith in human hearts, and watering it through preaching and teaching the Word. Paul says, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.” (1 Corinthians 3:6)

Only when what we are hearing taught is not the truth from Scripture, can we say that our pastor has failed us. So, let’s not be too picky about the little things. Listen to the Word carefully and make sure it matches the teachings in Scripture. Beyond that let’s cut our pastor some slack. Pastors are people too. Some are more gifted in certain ways than others, but when they have a heart for God and for the souls of the members they have been called to lead, and when they are preaching the truth, we can be thankful.

If you are a member of a large church as I am, and there are two or more pastors serving your congregation, give them each the respect they deserve. Don’t determine which Sunday, or service you will attend according to which pastor is preaching. They have each been called by God to shepherd His people.

Pray for your pastor/pastors. They’re job is stressful at times. They carry a huge responsibility. Be supportive and volunteer to use your own God-given gifts and talents to help with some of the smaller things. In this way your pastor will have more time to concentrate on what he has been called by God to do – preaching and teaching the Word.

If you have a problem with something your pastor does or doesn’t do, speak to him privately with a loving and understanding heart. It is possible he can give you some insight which will help you to better understand why things are done or not done a certain way.

Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10: 24, 25)

Gloria Dei!
By Christine

 

I found the following on the website http://www.frtommylane.com. I’m sure it will make you chuckle.

The Perfect Pastor
The perfect pastor preaches exactly 10 minutes.
He condemns sin roundly but never hurts anyone’s feelings.
He works from 8am until midnight and is also the church janitor.
The perfect pastor makes $40 a week, wears good clothes, drives a good car,
buys good books, and donates $30 a week to the church.
He is 29 years old and has 40 years’ experience.
Above all, he is handsome.
The perfect pastor has a burning desire to work with teenagers,
and he spends most of his time with the senior citizens.
He smiles all the time with a straight face because he has a sense of humor
that keeps him seriously dedicated to his church.
He makes 15 home visits a day
and is always in his office to be handy when needed.
The perfect pastor always has time for church council and all of its committees.
He never misses the meeting of any church organization
and is always busy evangelizing the unchurched.
The perfect pastor is always in the next church over!
If your pastor does not measure up,
simply send this notice to six other churches that are tired of their pastor, too.
Then bundle up your pastor and send him to the church at the top of the list.
If everyone cooperates, in one week you will receive 1,643 pastors.
One of them should be perfect!