GrowingInLOVE

..Sharing with Fellow Christians..

Dirty Hands November 23, 2010

Filed under: My Writings — growinginlove @ 5:11 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

He told me I needed clean hands before I could embrace Him

I thought that was easy enough a task to accomplish

I ran to the sink and let the fresh water flow over my hands

I returned swiftly, beaming brightly

Until…. “What do you mean they’re  not clean? I just washed them!”

I sulked on my way back to the sink with my eyes low

Noticing the grimy footprints I left from stepping in the water I dripped on the floor

This time I turned the water on as hot as I could stand it

I sang through the alphabet three times while I lathered my hands

I even soaped up my wrists and got under my nails!

Surely my hands must be clean now!

I returned proudly, with my hands outstretched and ready for inspection

“Still not good enough?!” , I lamented as I began to feel hopeless

I sunk to the floor in despair and disappointment

But just then, He pitied me and told me to give it one last try

I dragged myself back to the sink

Confusion settled into my face as I looked down

How did my hands get so dirty so quickly?

Again I turned on the faucet

Brown, murky water cascaded down my fingers and pooled in my palms

Disgusted and frantic, I backed away from the sink

I looked around for the towel to wipe my hands

And I noticed that what I had been using to dry my hands was just a tattered, dirty rag

I cried as I ran back to Him, exposing my filthy hands

“I can’t get them clean, the water’s dirty! How can I wash my hands in dirty water?! What must I do?!”

He told me not to worry because He could help

He stretched out His hands to me

They were the most spotless I’d ever seen!

Only…He had to really bad sores, one in each

But He told me not to fear as I started to reach

When He tightly grasped my hand, I squeezed His back

That’s when blood oozed from the holes and soaked my hands

He slowly let go and instructed me to take a look

My hands were clean like His!!!

This meant that I could finally come before Him in humble assurance

And I would be recieved as His own

And I know that His grip is strong enough to never let me go!

Advertisements
 

The Fiery Furnace May 5, 2010

Filed under: My Thoughts — growinginlove @ 9:09 am
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Last night I read the first 4 chapters of the book of Daniel.  I had heard the story of Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego since I was a kid in sunday school, but it never resonated within me as it did last night. 

Nebuchadnezzar had demanded that these three be thrown into the fiery furnace because they refused to obey his command to worship the idol he had set up.  They were bound and thrown into the fire, but upon looking, Nebuchadnezzar saw that they were no longer bound and were up walking, and he also noticed the figure of a fourth person whom he said was, “Like the Son of God”.  When the three came out of the fire, their clothes were not affected by the fire, not a hair on their heads was singed, and they didn’t even smell like smoke.  (Daniel 3:10-27)

Maybe I’m late with this, but this just spoke so beautifully to me.  It’s so encouraging.  When circumstances arise that threaten to take you through the fire, God won’t always prevent you from being taken through the fire.  He didn’t prevent Nebuchadnezzar from throwing them in there, tied up and all.  But while you’re in the midst of that fiery trial, God will be right there with you, and loose the ropes that bind you and walk with you to get you through it.  And since the one true God you serve is with you, once you come out of the fiery situation, you won’t even look or smell like you’ve been in fire.  Through Christ Jesus we are victorious, and He will bring us through the fires we face, enabling us to stand  firm in Him and for Him through any situation.  Because of our faith in Jesus Christ, we won’t avoid every fire, but we can stand in the midst of a fire and not be consumed!

Christ is King!!!

 

“You’re a Calvinist” April 15, 2010

Filed under: My Thoughts — growinginlove @ 11:24 am
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I’ve never called myself a Calvinist, but I’ve been slapped with that label recently.  I do agree with the “five points”, however, I’m not familiar with the rest of John Calvin’s theology or system of beliefs in entirety, so I won’t title myself.  Besides, I think believing in God’s grace would make me a Bible-ist first…or maybe it would just make me a Christian?

What is it that’s got people so riled up about something as beautiful as God’s grace and sovereignty?  I understand the shock of it because I’ve been there.  I understand it completely!  I know how I felt when I was first introduced to it.  However, God has changed my thinking from man-centered to Christ-centered.  I no longer view God as “owing” man something.  We are owed nothing but what we deserve and that is Hell.  Flat out.  I won’t mince words about that.  But why do other Christians get so bothered by even considering God having a choice in who receives salvation?  Why does it bother them that God must change our hearts in order for us to even be able to receive Him?  And why does it bother them that theheart that’s changed to receive Him can’t choose to do anything but receive Him.  A changed heart comes with changed desires.  Here are some of the reasons that have crossed my mind why many people have a hard time with accepting God’s sovereign grace:

-Men are prideful.

-Man thinks of man as the focus of the universe instead of God

-Man wants more freedom than God.

-Man thinks God “owes” him something or that he is deserving of good things from God.

-Man thinks that if God doesn’t work the way he thinks He should or wants Him to, then He’s wrong or unfair.

-Man doesn’t like to be at the mercy of anyone other than himself.

-Man doesn’t really want to trust God, he’d rather trust himself.

-Man wants God to be God when he wants Him to be God and in the manner which he prefers Him to conduct His Godliness.

So in effect, I’m a “Calvinist” or anything other than just a Christian because I believe that God created this universe for HIS purposes, HIS pleasure, and HIS glory.  Who is the creation to answer back to his Creator?  I recognize that I was put here to glorify God and to serve the purposes that He put me here to serve.  When I was speaking with a loved one about God’s elect, I was accused of possibly developing the mentality of  boasting, “Oh, I’m God’s elect! That must mean I’m special!”  And that could not be FURTHER from the truth.  When you realize what you were before regeneration and faith in Christ, you understand the horrific state you were in, being under the wrath of the Almighty God!  I was no better, no more special, and worth no more than any other sinful human being.  There was NOTHING good about me, and being under the wrath of God is being under the wrath of God..I don’t think “degrees” or levels come into play much here.  So when I think about the fact that He, in His own will and for His own good pleasure, sent His Spirit into me crying Abba, Father, when I didn’t deserve it, it does nothing but humble and baffle me!  Humbled and baffled because I know that I don’t deserve it..and God could have very well left me alone to face the penalty for my sins committed against Him.  I understand that I’m unworthy of such a gracious and precious gift.  I have NOTHING to brag on and no reason to look at myself as if I was something special.  In my flesh dwells no good thing…and before God’s work in me, I was controlled by my flesh..and in that state, there was NOTHING I could do to please God (Romans 8:6-8).  And I couldn’t go from being fleshly-minded to spiritually-minded until the Holy Spirit enabled me to be so.  The natural man can’t understand the things of the Spirit (1Cor 2:14).  Therefore, in order for him to understand the things of the Spirit, the Spirit must reside upon him and in him.  A man who is still carnally-minded  and dead in his sins and trespasses can’t make himself understand the things of the Spirit.  No, God BEGINS the work and He, being faithful, will COMPLETE it (Philippians 1:6).

On the other hand, for someone to think that he pulled himself up by his own bootstraps and enforced his mighty will to “activate” Christ’s finished work…what stops him from boasting?  “I chose Christ! I was smart/spiritual/wise/intelligent/had common sense enough to choose Him.”  And those who didn’t weren’t smart enough or spiritual enough?  So then your salvation gives you reason to boast or look to yourself as the final decision maker in salvation instead of God?  That would kind of mean God would have to share the glory for your salvation.  “Thanks be to God for providing Jesus, but thanks be to me for making it effective.” Glory split 50-50?

I’m labled with another title because I know that salvation is of the Lord, and that it is by His grace that we’re saved through faith, and not of ourselves, but it is a gift from God. Ephesians 2:8-10.  I just want anyone who claims the name of Christ to know that salvation is a product of God’s work in them by His grace and faith which He gave them…not by some emotional decision they made when they raised their hand, filled out a card, or repeated a “sinner’s prayer”…and not because they decided to give mere mental assent to Jesus Christ. Salvation is a miraculous work of God.  The greatest miracle He’s performed/performing among human beings. It is literally a miracle that an enemy-of God by nature, wrath-deserving sinner can be transformed into a child of God, truly loving Him and having their sins atoned for by Christ and Christ’s righteousness imputed to them, causing them to be justified and declared acceptable to God and inheriting eternal life!  Professing Christians of ALL “denominations” need to know that.

Soli Deo Gloria! Christ is King!

 

Just an Update (Journal) April 1, 2010

Filed under: My Thoughts — growinginlove @ 11:53 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

Well, I made an attempt at talking to a couple of people very close to me about my “Reformed Theology” learnings, specifically election/predestination…yeah…didn’t go over well at all.  I all but got my head bitten off.  I thought it was a safe place to try to share it, but I guess I was wrong…lol.  I wasn’t expecting them to agree, but I also didn’t expect to get jumped on like I did.  But hey,  I can understand how they felt…it just put me in a scary position I guess.  I’ve never experienced that kind of reaction before.  Anywho, I’m still studying and learning about the Reformed Theology in general.  What I like most about it is that God gets ALL the glory in every aspect.  I’ve come to realize that church/religion, as I’ve known it, seems to put man at the forefront with God as his assistant, only serving the purpose of answering prayers (always with a yes, of course), bringing prosperity and healing, and being there to rescue people out of bad situations.  In actuality, God is the One in charge of this whole thing, and He owes man NOTHING.  We are the creature, He is the Creator.  Until the last year or so, I hadn’t really considered what that really meant.  We are here to serve the purpose that God put us here for.  He doesn’t depend on us, we depend on Him.  Once I started to realize that, I began to put God back in His proper place in my life..me yielding to Him, not me expecting Him to yield to me.  I grew up with a very skewed perception of the Godhead…and I didn’t know it was skewed until good ole “hindsight” kicked in.  I realized how arrogant the church, in the general sense, has become.  In my opinion, it seems like we make God dependent upon us…Like puny humans have tied God’s hands behind His back and He’s just a-wishin’ and a-hopin’ that we’ll untie Him so He can go back to doin’ His “genie thing”. 

Growing up, I can’t really say that I was taught about the judgment of God, how He REALLY feels about sin, what Christ REALLY did on the cross, what grace REALLY is, and what we as sinners REALLY deserve and WHY.  I didn’t even really know, in depth, what the Gospel was truly about, yet I spent almost my whole life in church.  Now that I understand it a lot better, I rejoice and thank GOD for His Son and what He’s done! Soli Deo Gloria!

Also, I’ve been doing much praying and studying and praying and studying, and I have a strong desire to enter into fellowship with other brothers and sisters in Christ.  I disconnected myself from the “church” for very good reasons…but I’m not so foolish to think that there aren’t some assemblies out there, even of 15 people, who have a grasp on what the church body should be like.  There are no perfect churches, I know, but I’m not settling anymore.  I want to find a place where the true Word is going forth, no fluff..with people who have great respect for God and His Word.  I just don’t know where to go yet.  I’ve recently found 2 churches in an online search for my area that have interested me, but I haven’t visited yet..but I really want to.  God has stirred up within me the desire for Christ-centered fellowship and I can hardly contain myself.  I am resolved to visit one of them this Sunday (Resurrection Sunday).  They’re both Reformed churches, so I might be forced to visit by myself..lol.  Anywho, we’ll see how that goes 🙂

Just needed to vent and get some stuff of my chest today…so there ya have it!

Christ is King!!!

 

My Study on God’s Elect/Predestination-Intro March 17, 2010

Filed under: My Studies and Things I've Learned — growinginlove @ 3:11 pm
Tags: , , ,

About 2-3 years ago, a friend of mine and I got into a somewhat heated discussion when he brought up something that I had never in my life heard of, and I must admit, it was a difficult thing to swallow.  I can’t remember how the conversation started, but one of the first things I remember him asking me was somewhere along the lines of, “Why do you believe God loves everybody?”  And of course, I threw out John 3:16 amongst a few other scriptures.  Then he pointed out to me Romans 9:13, where it recounts that God loved Jacob but hated Esau.  At the time, I don’t think I had ever seen that scripture before.  I really had no response to it.  After more talking, he then laid the big one on me–Some people are chosen/elected by God to receive salvation, and others are not.  I just really could NOT accept that at that time.  It was total and utter nonsense to me.  I didn’t have much meaningful or strong knowledge of the Bible, so I didn’t have much ground to stand on or use in support of my stance.  The only Bible knowledge I had was what I had heard my pastor quote over and over again and the particular scriptures and biblical accounts that were drummed into our heads at church.  Needless to say, I was filled with so many emotions, mainly of disbelief and disgust that someone could even think that about God.  Everybody deserves a chance, and everybody can be saved if they choose to be, right?

Well, a few years, a knowledge of the TRUE Christ, coming to TRUE salvation, a lot of prayers, and some studying later…I sing a different tune.  Not only is the doctrine of God’s election made clear throughout the Bible, but I almost feel silly that I never noticed it before.  Last year, I read through the entire New Testament in a couple of weeks, and still didn’t see it! Going back now, I know clearly that the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to actually read the Bible for what it says instead of reading what I’ve been taught or my own thoughts into the text.  In retrospect, it almost seems like an impossibility for me to have missed it…almost like my mind subconsciously ignored it, didn’t notice it, or thought, “Well, it can’t mean that, so it must mean something else.” 

This topic has been on my mind SOOO much these past few months, and I haven’t been able to really talk about it deeply with anyone because nobody I know believes it or wants to believe it.  So I mostly stick to the Bible to learn about it, and check a lot of online sources to see what others say about it and the scriptures  they use to support this topic, and I search those and compare them with the scriptures that I’ve studied in my own time.  It’s all still a work in progress, but I have to say that I in NO way look at salvation like I used to.  I’m never one to shut out knowledge when it comes to God’s Word.  I’m always open to correction and will happily accept the new knowledge as long as it’s backed up by Scripture and the Word of God in it’s entire context.  No more do I allow myself to buy into to cherry-picked verses that string together a doctrine that can’t be backed up by God’s Word in it’s entire context.

With that being said, I wanted to start to get into, little by little, some of the things that I’ve learned.  I started today particularly because I’ve been wanting to blog about this for a while, but I was hesitant to do so because of how touchy this topic is.  However, I read an article today on another blog, and I went back and looked the scriptures that were mentioned, which I had highlighted and made notes on, and when I did, 3 verses of scripture explode in my face!  I can’t stay silent on this topic anymore.  I wanted to wait until I had seen substantial scriptural support for the elect/non-elect.  I’ve seen so much now and I’m no longer afraid to discuss the topic.  Plus, this is my blog and if no one will listen to me face-to-face, at least I’ll be able to vent it somewhere! Lol.  I’ll be covering two groups of scripture in this particular post because these were the most eye-opening to me, initially.

Some weeks ago, I was in John 10.  Jesus was speaking about His sheep, and how His sheep know His voice and follow Him.  In verses 14-15, Jesus says:

“I am the good shepherd, and know My sheep, and am known of Mine.  As the Father knows me, even so know I the Father:  and I lay down My life for the sheep.”

A few more verses down, we see that the Jews were still divided, some were doubtful of Christ’s claims.  Verses 24-29:

“Then came the Jews round about Him, and said to Him, How long do You make us to doubt? If you be the Christ, tell us plainly. Jesus answered them, I told you, and you believed not:  the works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of me. But you believe not, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice and I know them, and they follow Me:  And I give to them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand.  My Father, which gave them Me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father’s hand.

It took me a while before I caught it.  Jesus said, in verses 14-15 that He knows His sheep and they know Him, and He lays His life down for the sheep.  Then in verses 26-27, He tells those people that they are not of His sheep.  This would explain why they don’t know Him, and it also appears to imply that He’s not laying His life down for them.  He lays His life down for the sheep, He clearly tells them they aren’t His sheep, so He’s not laying down His life for them.  Also, to point something out, Jesus said, in verse 26, “But you believe not, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you.”  Notice, He didn’t say, “But you believe not, therefore you are not of my sheep.” The fact that they weren’t of His sheep was not the result of their unbelief…their unbelief was the result of them not being of His sheep.  Big difference.

Now on to John chapter 6.  This particular group of scriptures has to do with election and sure salvation (impossibility of losing salvation).  I’ll be dealing with John 6:37-45.  Just ahead of these verses, Jesus is talking to the people.  They basically wanted Him to give proof of who He claims to be so that they will believe Him.  He mentions the bread of God from heaven which gives life to the world, and they told Him to give them that bread.  Jesus replies in verses 35-40:

“And Jesus said to them, I am the bread of life:  he that comes to Me shall never hunger; and he that believes on Me shall never thirst. But I said to you, That you also have seen Me, and believe not. All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me; and him that comes to Me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which has sent Me, that of all which He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. and this is the will of Him that sent Me, that every one which sees the Son, and believes on Him, may have everlasting life:  and I will raise him up at the last day.

Jesus said all that the Father gives Him will come to Him, verse 37, and right before, in verse 36, He tells those people that they have seen Him and believe not.  However, all the people that the Father has given Him SHALL come to Him.  So it appears that these people were not given to Christ by God.  Also, Jesus said, in verse 38, that He came down from heaven to do the will of the Father.  I’m sure all sincere Christians would agree that Jesus lived a perfectly sinless life in total, complete, and perfect obedience to God, right?  So, if a person who is truly saved can lose their salvation, then that makes Jesus disobedient and a liar.  Disobedient because, in verses 39 and 40, Jesus tells us that the will of God is that of all which God has given Him that He should lose nothing, but raise it up again at the last day, God’s will is that everyone that believes on Him will have everlasting life, and He’ll raise him up at the last day..so if the will of God is for Jesus to lose none of the people God gave Him, then He’s disobedient and has failed if any of God’s chosen people don’t receive salvation.. and that would make Jesus a liar, because He said He came to do the will of the Father, but if He lost one, then He lied about doing God’s will.  Clearly Jesus was perfectly obedient, therefore no one that God has given to Christ to be saved will be lost.

I might as well touch on verse 44 and 45 while I’m right there.  Jesus said:

No man can come to Me, except the Father which has sent Me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.  It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God.  Every man therefore that has heard, and has learned of the Father, comes to Me.

Jesus said that no man can (ability, power, capability) come to Him, except (unless) the Father draw (‘helko’-drag) him, and He’ll raise them up at the last day.  So, those who Christ will raise up at the last day are those who God gives to Him, who will come to him (verse 37), who won’t be lost(verse 39), who will believe on Him and receive eternal life from Him(verse 40), and they can’t come to Him unless the Father draws them (verse 44).  Jesus said in verse 45 that those who God draws will be taught of God, and every man that has heard and learned of (from or by) the Father comes to Him..EVERY man that God has drawn will come to Christ and be raised up by Christ at the last day.

I’m learning that God has more power over salvation than I used to think…obtaining it AND preserving it.

More to come…

 

The Wealthy Christ January 26, 2010

So I was watching television this morning, waiting for one of my favorite shows to come on as I get ready for work, as I do every morning.  Kenneth Copeland’s “Believer’s Voice of Victory” program comes on before the show I like to watch, so sometimes I’ll just let the program run while I do my morning routine.  Fredrick K.C. Price was the guest speaker.  I sort of grew up in a Word of Faith/Prosperity church, so I was very familiar with Price.  Now, having left that environment back in late 2008, and having grown and matured in the Word, I decided to listen to him now and compare his teachings to the Bible.  I wasn’t suprised at the fact that the topic was “prosperity”, and I wasn’t surprised at the fact that some things were said that I didn’t agree with and that were not truly biblically sound.  The issue Price focused on  was dispelling the myth that Jesus was poor.  Some problems arose during the course of his arguement in favor of a wealthy Jesus.  Of course, I was upset at the tactic of making scriptures say what he wanted them to say, but what flabbergasted me was a particular comment he made about Christ and His disciples. 

Now, I could have totally misunderstood what Price was trying to say, but I doubt that’s likely.  His argument is that Jesus was wealthy.  He then takes things from scripture to back up this claim.  He pointed out Mark 1:20, where Jesus calls James and John.  He said that since they had hired servants they couldn’t have been poor, since poor people don’t have servants.  I’ll give him that, but he ignored what that passage shows.  They were fishermen who had fishing equipment, a boat, and hired servants, so they weren’t dirt poor, but when Christ called them, they FORSOOK it all, including their father, to follow Him.

He used that to get to his next point, the statement that made me cringe, close my Bible, and say, “Guess I won’t be needing this!”.  With his reasoning, he came to the conclusion that 12 grown men would not have followed a poor man, and that Jesus had to have had something to convince them to hang around….that absolutely floored me.  It wasn’t because He was the Son of God, or because He hand-selected them, or because it was revealed to them who Christ was, it wasn’t even because he performed great miracles.  It was because He was wealthy?…

Disgusting!

Within a very small sentence he sure said a lot about what he thinks of our Savior.  Even if that wasn’t his intent, it was a VERY dangerous statement because of its implications.

 

Does Christ Know You? December 11, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — growinginlove @ 10:14 am
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Upon doing some reading in Matthew last night, I got to chapter 25, in which Jesus tells the parable of the ten virgins who were waiting from the bridegroom.  Five of the virgins were unprepared, as they had not brought any oil for their lamps, and while they left to go get some, the five prepared virgins were invited into the marriage.  When the five unprepared virgins returned, they said, “Lord, Lord, open to us”, but the response was “I know you not”.  (Matt 25:1-12)  These passages, of course, also brought to mind Matthew 7:21-23, which says, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.  Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity”.  Jesus also explained it in Luke 13:25-28.  Many people will say they know Christ, and even claim to do great works in His name, but He will tell them that He never knew them and that they must depart from Him.

Now, last night, upon reading the parable of the virgins in Matthew 25, the passage in Matthew 16 came into my head, and I have no explanation why, other than I believe that God wanted me to see something.  The specific part of that chapter that came to mind was the portion in verses 13-18:

“When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

Right then, it was like a light went off in my head.  Peter knew who Jesus was; He knew that He was Christ, the Son of God.  Jesus then told Peter that he knew it, not after the flesh, because God had revealed it to him.  Then Jesus acknowledges Peter by name, showing that He knows who Peter is.  Peter knew Jesus, and Jesus knew Peter, then Jesus said that upon this rock will He build His church. Upon which rock? Peter?  I beg to differ.

I believe Jesus was establishing the rock, foundation, on which His church (or body of called out believers) would be built: the believer knowing Christ, as revealed by the Father, and Christ knowing the believer.  In Matthew 7:21, Jesus says that regardless of who claims to know Him, or says, “Lord, Lord”, only those who do the will of the Father will enter into the Kingdom.  Doing the will of the Father is what keeps Christ from telling you He doesn’t know you.  Doing the will of the Father is how Christ knows us!  This is how Christ’s church is built! I don’t believe the focus was to be on Peter himself, but on the fact that Peter knew and acknowledged Jesus as the Christ, Son of God, and Christ also knew and acknowledged Peter.  This relationship of us knowing Christ and Christ knowing us is the rock upon which Christ’s church is built.  We must do the will of the Father to enter into His Kingdom.