Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Just Accept It - That's All You Need To Do

I remember when I visited Egypt. I spent the month of February, 2008, with three friends and we toured several places. I loved my time there, and it was such a surreal feeling to be standing in front of the pyramids, to visit the temples and tombs, and sail down the Nile.

One thing that is quite common over there, is the abundance of people (usually men) trying to sell you souvenirs, etc. The country is quite poor, so you can't fault them for trying to make a living. But, everywhere we went, someone was always shouting out for us to come and buy something from them. In several places, like at the pyramids, you would find men (and lots of times children as well), carrying around several items trying to sell them to make a pound (their currency is the Egyptian pound, but they also use and accept the American dollar).

While at the pyramids, one man approached us with cute little glass images (set of 3) of the pyramids - think paperweights. He approached T and said to her, "Here, it's a gift for you." She took it, thinking that is was really nice of him to offer her a gift for no reason. She started to walk on after thanking him, but he followed right along and tugged her arm. "It's a gift for you. Now you give me a gift. Maybe _____." (fill in the blank with a dollar amount). So, as it turns out, it really wasn't a gift. He was using that method to get the person to accept the item he wanted to sell, then once they had it in their possession, he would request to be paid for the item.

Thankfully, God is not like that. In Romans 6:23 we read, "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (bold and italics are my addition).

Salvation is not earned. God has freely given it to us in the form of His Son - Jesus Christ. We don't have to pay (in actuality, we CAN'T do this) to be saved. All we need to do is believe and profess that Jesus is the Son of God, that He died for our sins (he sacrificed His life so we could live), and rose the third day.

God gives us His gift; He doesn't demand to be paid for it - not prior to giving it, not after giving it. All we need to do is accept His gift. He's not going to follow after us, tug at our arms and demand us to give him a "gift" in exchange for eternal life. The truth of the matter is, the price has already been paid in full - with Jesus' death and resurrection. Jesus paid the price for our sins on the cross.

All you need to do, is just accept God's gift to you. That's it.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Angry Birds, Eh?

I have a new addiction - thanks to Pete Wilson and others...

I've been playing this game since noonish. It's fun; it's cute, and I love it! So, thanks Pete and others who introduced me to this!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Biblical Humor

Here's a little repost of one of my posts from my first year ever of blogging. Enjoy!

Attending a wedding for the first time, a little girl whispered to her mother, "Why is the bride dressed in white?" "Because white is the color of happiness, and today is the happiest day of her life." The child thought about this for a moment, then said, "So why is the groom wearing black?"

A little girl, dressed in her Sunday best, was running as fast as she could, trying not to be late for Bible class. As she ran she prayed, "Dear Lord, please don't let me be late! Dear Lord, please don't let me be late!" While she was running and praying, she tripped on a curb and fell, getting her clothes dirty and tearing her dress. She got up, brushed herself off, and started running again. As she ran she once again began to pray, "Dear Lord, please don't let me be late...But please don't shove me either!"

Three boys are in the school yard bragging about their fathers. The first boy says, "My Dad scribbles a few words on a piece of paper, he calls it a poem. They give him $50."

The second boy says, "That's nothing. My Dad scribbles a few words on a piece of paper, he calls it a song. They give him $100."

The third boy says, "I got you both beat. My Dad scribbles a few words on a piece of paper, he calls it a sermon, and it takes eight people to collect all the money!"

An elderly woman died last month. Having never married, she requested no male pallbearers. In her handwritten instructions for her memorial service, she wrote, "They wouldn't take me out while I was alive, I don't want them to take me out when I'm dead.

A Sunday School teacher asked her class why Joseph and Mary took Jesus with them to Jerusalem. A small child replied: "They couldn't get a baby sitter."

A Sunday school teacher was discussing the Ten Commandments with her five and six year olds. After explaining the commandment to "honor thy father and thy mother," she asked "Is there a commandment that teaches us how to treat our brothers and sisters?" Without missing a beat one little boy answered, "Thou shall not kill."

At Sunday School they were teaching how God created everything, including human beings. Little Johnny seemed especially intent when they told him how Eve was created out of one of Adam's ribs. Later in the week his mother noticed him lying down as though he were ill, and said, "Johnny, what is the matter?" Little Johnny responded, "I have pain in my side. I think I'm going to have a wife."

Two boys were walking home from Sunday school after hearing a strong preaching on the devil. One said to the other, "What do you think about all this Satan stuff?" The other boy replied, "Well, you know how Santa Claus turned out. It's probably just your Dad.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Lest We Forget

Painting of Flanders Fields taken from this blog, but I don't have any idea from where he got it.

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders Fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders Fields.

- John McCrae

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Silence Is Golden

This week in Sunday school, we discussed being silent before the Lord in order to hear His voice. This is something we might find difficult to do, depending on our situation - like if you have small children (or any children) or a job that takes up a lot of time.

We tried to do this for a brief amount of time in class, and some of us had a difficult time, while others didn't seem to mind at all. For me, it was difficult.

I find it difficult to turn off my mind or stop it from wandering. Usually one thought leads to another, and that one to another, and so on. Or, I'll hear a noise or talking or whatnot in the distance (in this case it was coming from the class next door to ours, and from the kids music program down the hall), and seem to focus on that - even if I pray and ask the Lord to help me refocus on Him. It's not an easy situation!

Here are some guidelines we discussed prior to doing this exercise in the class:

1. Prayer (5 minutes) - settling into quietness and stillness, trust God with "to-dos" or jot them down in a quick note.

2. Read through your Bible passage once (in our case we tried this exercise using Matthew 5:1-12), then read it again, this time more slowly.

3. Pay attention to verses that stand out to you.

4. In what ways are you feeling plessed?

5. In what ways have you experienced the truth of these verses lately?

6. How do these verses intersect with your life right now?

7. Are there ways in which these verses seem odd to you? (It is totally OK if they do)

8. Are there ways you sense God is telling you to change? How do you react to this?

9. What do the verses tell us about God?

As I said, I didn't find myself successful with the attempt of being silent before the Lord in class. Not only did I find the noise around me (from other classes) distracting, but I wasn't sitting in a comfortable chair either. To me, that is one of the big factors - the need to be comfortable before I can concentrate or focus. I'm the same way if I'm studying something too; I need a comfortable chair.

So, because this didn't work for me on Sunday, does that mean I won't try it again? Of course not! I will try this again and see how it works for me then - and of course, I'll make sure I have myself a nice, comfortable chair!

Have you tried being silent before the Lord? Have you heard him speak to you this way? I'd love to hear your experiences with it!

Saturday, November 06, 2010

To Fast Or Not To Fast...

Recently in Sunday school class, we discussed the topic of fasting.

Usually when we talk about fasting, it is from food and eating. According to dictionary.com, fasting means to cause to abstain entirely or limit food. However, there are many kinds of fasts that we can do, and not just from food.

In class, one woman talked about having an "addiction" to caffeinated beverages, so she had chosen to fast from those for a certain amount of time (I believe she decided to do this during Lent, even though it wasn't something practiced in our church). Another woman talked about fasting from electronics, particularly the computer. Other fasts you can do is to abstain from food and only drink water and/or fruit juice; another would be to fast from all meat and just eat fruits and vegetables. The list goes on, really.

The idea of fasting is to remove some form of comfort from our lives and use that time to focus more on spiritual things. It should be noted that when fasting, the enemy is going to do whatever he can to break the fast. For example, you fast from food and only drink water and/or fruit juice and, of course, you will get hungry. Your stomach will growl, and the enemy is right there helping to put thoughts in your mind, like, "Wouldn't a nice, juicy hambuger taste good right about now? Or how about going out to your favourite restaurant - it's Tuesday and they have that awesome special on..."  However, when those hunger pangs do strike, you can use those as reminders to stop and pray and focus on the Lord.

The Bible is filled with verses on fasting - Daniel was on a sort of vegetable fast (he fasted from eating the king's food, and only ate fruits and vegetables), Jesus tells the disciples, who had inquired about not being able to drive out evil spirits from someone, that those spirits could only be removed through prayer and fasting.

I remember one time several years ago being in a Christian chat room and discussing this very topic with some people from around the world. A few of us had decided that evening that we were going to fast for a twelve hour period. Well, for one woman, the day was just beginning and she had eaten breakfast. She decided from that time she would fast for the next 12 hours. A man, who was about an hour behind my time (putting it about 10pm for him) decided that since he was going in to work on the night shift, he would fast during that time (and a few hours afterwards). That was great for them, but it was about 11pm for me and it was time for bed. They told me that didn't matter and that I could still fast and it would "count".

Now, to me, that is not fasting. I would be asleep and not able to focus on spiritual matters or pray - not exactly something you can do when you are sleeping. I told them my thoughts on this and that I would have to wait until the next day if I were to fast, but they were adament that my sleeping through the fast would still
count". However, as I said earlier on, fasting is designed to remove some of our comforts in order to focus on spiritual matters. Now, I could have fasted from sleep and spent the time praying and reading my Bible, but I didn't. I slept. And, I still believe that that sort of situation is not fasting.

To my recollection, I have only ever fasted once (for about 12 hours), and it was several years ago so I don't recall the outcome or how it was. I am thinking of trying a fast regarding a couple of thoughts/situations that I have been mulling over lately, but I have no current idea as to when I'll actually do it.

What are your thoughts on fasting? Have you ever fasted? I would love to hear your responses in the comment section.