Marriage: Down and Dirty

June 17, 2020 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Lori Freeland –

It’s January. Our anniversary month. I have learned a lot about marriage over the last twenty-one years that I’d like to share. Here are the things no one will tell you before you walk down the aisle, along with some reasons to hack it out on the days when being single sounds more appealing.

You can have a soul mate. You just have to work at it. Nothing substantial in a relationship comes naturally—most things need time to grow. Time doesn’t happen overnight. You earn your soul mate by baring the most intimate parts of your being and letting him do the same. After so many years, you just know each other better than anyone else. You know the way he likes his socks folded and where he hides his “special” quarters. You memorize his order at various fast food places and automatically pick up cotton boxer briefs and white crew cut socks. You know him. And he knows you. You have a unique connection with each other—an intimate, private bond that only marriage can produce.

He can read your mind. And you can read his too—to a certain extent. You’ve watched him respond for twenty years. You probably know what he’s going to say about your mother coming to visit for two weeks before you even drop the news. You know he doesn’t cry during the sad part of a movie but you also know if you glance up, he’ll be biting his lip. He knows you’ve had it with driving the kids around and offers to pick your daughter up from choir. He sees you’ve had a bad day and stays out of your way afraid your bite will be worse than your bark—after all he’s had experience with both.

Real love walks a fine line between like and hate. Love sticks deep down in your gut, lodged tight in a place not easily shaken. But there are moments, hours, days where he’s at the bottom of your happy list. And that’s okay. You’re in it for the long term. He feels the same way about you when you spend all his “special” quarters on a new rug for the living room and the dog he told you not to bring home pees all over it.

History is a story that you live together. You make memories together—over years, children, financial struggles, and heart-wrenching crises. I’ve known my husband since I was sixteen years old. I could never give the knowledge of sixteen-year-old me to someone new. My husband lived through the bad years after my parents divorced. He watched me grow and mature, become a mother, and walked the journey next to me when our son fought a four year battle with leukemia. You can’t dump that information on someone new and expect them to comprehend your soul. So stick it out.

It really does get easier. As you walk the road of life and your children grow older, you’re building a bond of trust and a layer of comfort with each other. Twenty years into your marriage, you can look at him and say, “Not tonight” and he’ll know it’s not him but your teen’s emotions you’re struggling with. You can sit down next to him on the couch and hold his hand—just because. You can look into his eyes and say, “I really just need you to say something nice to me today—even if you don’t mean it.” And he will. And he may even mean it.

That’s the beauty of sticking it out. Walking through the bad and embracing the good. The rollercoaster analogy is fair and some years you will see more deep valleys than lofty peaks. But remember, the ride is always worth it in the end.

“Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well. Should your springs overflow in the streets, your streams of water in the public squares? Let them be yours alone, never to be shared with strangers. May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer—” (Proverbs 5:15-19 NIV).

Is Jesus Divine?

June 10, 2020 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Warren Mueller –

In John 14:28, Jesus says “You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you. If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.” The divinity of Jesus is sometimes questioned based on the meaning of “the Father is greater than I.” These meanings were the subject of a debate about the divinity of Jesus known as Arianism. Arius was an elder in the church of Alexandria who lived between 250-336AD. Arius wrote that the Son “is a perfect creature, yet not as one among other creatures; a begotten being yet not as one among other beings.” From this it appears that Arius thought that Jesus was a special creature compared to humans. A key controversial concept about Jesus being a creature versus God revolves around the term “begotten.”

John 3:34-37 says that Jesus is one sent from God who speaks the words of God and has been given the spirit of God without limit. The Father has given Jesus authority over everything such that Jesus has the power to reconcile sinful men to God. The prophets spoke the words of God and were considered to be filled by the spirit of God while doing so but nowhere does the Bible say that anyone received the spirit of God without limit.  This implies that Jesus has all of the spirit of God which would not be possible for a creature to attain.  Also, the Jews were offended by Jesus and considered it blasphemy when he claimed the power to forgive sins as this was something only God could do (Luke 5:22-24 NIV).

In John 10:30 Jesus claims to be “one” with the Father. The Jews present pick up stones to kill Jesus because they clearly understood that Jesus claimed to be God. In verses 33-38, Jesus says he is the Son of God; that he has been sent by the Father and that the miracles he performs prove that “the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” He says that even though there are other humans that are sons of God, he clearly distinguishes himself as unique which further enrages them because they understand him to say that he is God.

Jesus knew his purpose was to die on the cross; that he and the Father would be glorified by his death; that the power of the devil or prince of the world would be broken by his death and that the Father accepts and honors those who follow Jesus.  Jesus is God and offered him-self as a sin sacrifice once for mankind. If Jesus is a creature, he would have to make innumerable offerings as did the Jewish priests. Hebrews 10:10 says that “we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

In John 14:10, Jesus is astounded by Philip’s request for Jesus to show the Father to the disciples.  He tells Philip that “anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.  So how can you say, Show us the Father?”   He then again says that the Father is living in him and that he says and does precisely what the Father is doing.  This only makes sense if Jesus and the Father are one God.

Christians worshipped Jesus as God for over two hundred years before Arius questioned his divinity. The evidence for Arianism is limited to verses that use the words “begotten” and that the Father is “greater” than Jesus. There are multiple meanings for the Greek words “begotten” and “greater” that can support either view so we must look to other verses in the Bible to help us decide the best meanings of these words. There are many verses in the Bible that support the view that Jesus is God while there are none that clearly support the idea that Jesus is a creature so it is apparent that the Arian view is false. Therefore, Jesus must have meant that, while Jesus was on earth, he was lesser in position not different in essence with the Father.

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness and found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!”  (Phillipians 2:5-8 NIV).

Potential

June 2, 2020 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Alan Mowbray –

William Shakespeare wrote, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

Or would it? If Donald Trump changed his name to Gladys Smith, would all the prestige, trust, and brand recognition follow him to his new name? Hardly.

Our names are important. They appear to be an empty slate when we are born; yet, when our parents named us, they bestowed upon us part of God’s plan for us—potential waiting to be realized as we grow and learn. Have you ever wondered how your name fits into God’s plan for your life?

In Acts 4, a man named Joseph sold some land and gave all the proceeds to the apostles for the use of the young church. He received great honor and blessing for this act. His name means “he will add.” Prior to this, he had been given the nickname of Barnabas, which, as stated in verse 36 means “son of encouragement.” Was he living up to his name?

Israel sent 12 spies into the Promised Land to scope out the situation. Only two had a positive report upon return. Do you remember their names? Joshua and Caleb.

Joshua means “Jehovah is Salvation.” His report to Moses, if followed, would have permitted a whole generation to see the Promised Land. He saw that the Lord would see them through. Because his report was unheeded, that generation perished in the wilderness.

Caleb, whose name means “dog”(as in tenacious fighter, loyal), yearned to enter the Promised Land as well, boldly asking for the most dangerous lands to conquer—at eighty years of age..

Barnabas honored God with his giving. A couple named Ananias and Sapphira coveted the honor and blessing that Barnabas received and sold some land as well. Their story in Acts 5 does not have a happy ending. Conspiring to steal honor and blessing they lied about the sale total to the Holy Spirit and the apostles. That lie carried a price of immediate death.

The name Ananias means “Grace of God.” He took advantage that grace. And, with a meaning like “Woman of Beauty,” isn’t it sad that such a beautiful name as Sapphira is considered cursed by the world?

So the question is… How sweet is the fragrance of your name to God? Is its scent filled with the vision of provision that God has promised you, or does it stink of defeats, compromises, and lies to the Holy Spirit? Looking at myself, I’m not pleased. There are parts of my life that are flowing great, while other parts reveal weakness, failure, and deception. And still He loves me. Praise God for his grace!

As for the other ten spies, here are their names and meanings:

Shammah – Renowned, or heard of God

Shapat – Judge, to judge or avenge

Igal – Avenger

Palti – Deliverance from the Lord

Gaddiel – the fortune of God

Gaddi – Fortunate

Ammiel – People of God

Sethur – Hidden

Nahbi – also means Hidden

Geuel – Majesty of God

What if each of these men had returned an honest and accurate report instead of doubt?

Would their names be honored like Joshua and Caleb?

What if?

Father God, whose name is the Name Above All Names, I praise you! Thank you for my name. Guide me in fulfilling the destiny to which it is linked. As a child grafted into the vine, I will strive to honor my Father’s name through my actions. I ask for wisdom and draw from your love and strength to release that potential which you have given me. Glorified is your Name! Amen!

Am I a Godly Influence?

May 31, 2020 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Nina Medrano –

I woke up one morning thinking about my younger brother, Daniel.  I asked the Holy Spirit, “What about Daniel?  What is going on with him?”

The Holy Spirit’s response was, “Ask Daniel, ‘Are you sharing the gospel of Christ at home?’”

Good question, Holy Spirit.

It’s too early to call Daniel so I sent him a text.

I was mulling over the Holy Spirit’s question, “Are you sharing the gospel of Christ at home?”

If I answer, “Yes,” then the gospel that I share outside of my home should be the same gospel.  If not, then I dishonor God.

If I say, “I’m sharing the gospel with friends but deny sharing it with family,” then what gospel am I presenting?

In Romans 2:23-2 (NIV) Paul writes, “You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law?  As it is written: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”

Paul says in Romans 2:28 that “a man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly…No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit…”

I will paraphrase this verse to say that “a man is not a follower of Christ if he is only one publicly…No, a man is a follower of Christ if he is one inwardly and of true circumcision.”

So I asked myself, “Are you sharing the gospel of Christ at home?” It is a question that is loaded with Holy Spirit conviction.

It challenges me to examine what gospel my life demonstrates in the privacy of my home as well as in my public life.

Oftentimes, we live our lives flippantly and forget that our lives are no longer our own but His.  If we yield to God, or not, what influence does this have?

I hope that the gospel that I share at home draws family and friends to want to know God.

“Are you sharing the gospel of Christ at home?”

Stay Planted and Grow

May 29, 2020 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Candace McQuain –

My pastor is an endless fountain of knowledge. He is consistently sprinkling out incredibly meaningful and thought provoking words. He never ceases to amaze me in what he will come up with next. One Sunday, he told a story about a woman he had seen when he was out and about. She had approached him and told him that she goes to his church.

Well pastor always loves hearing that, so he asked her what sermon she had heard last and what she thought of it. She then told him that she couldn’t remember because it had “been a while” since she had attended. What he then wanted to say to her was, “Thank you, but you don’t go to my church, you’ve been to my church.” What he did say to her though was this, “Do you go to the gym?” She answered, “Yes”. He asked her, “How often?” She answered, “Very often.” He then said, “What would happen if you just went every now and then, or maybe only just once?” She answered with, “It wouldn’t do any good.”

I’m not exactly sure how he finished the rest of the conversation, but I’m sure you see where he was going with that line of questioning.

Building an intimate relationship with Christ is indeed a lot like building muscle tone at the gym. If we want a true and meaningful relationship with Him, just going to church one Sunday and then taking a couple weeks or months off before heading back again, isn’t going to cut it. Just like muscles that aren’t worked out regularly, our hearts and minds can become weak and vulnerable.

As regulars we become planted and when we do, our roots (faith) can extend, thick and strong.

From experience I can tell you that finding the church of your dreams is a lot like finding the man or woman of your dreams. The first time you meet him or her you get warm fuzzies all over and you can’t wait to see them again. Now the date wasn’t perfect, but you knew down deep in your heart that they were the one for you. Finding a church home is the same way. No church is perfect, but God is, and He is behind everything. So if your heart is telling you to attend that church up the street again or the one your sister has been telling you about for months, try it. These are the vessels God is using to get you there or to get you to return.

Once you’re there and you feel those warm fuzzies, because I know you will, let yourself fall in love and become committed.

Stay planted, and let yourself grow.

“They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit”  (Jeremiah 17:8 NIV).

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