"Like a father to his child
Christ our Savior waits for us with open arms
To cradle us when we hurt, He mends our shattered lives
He soothes our broken hearts and lifts us up; we can face the day once again
We draw our strength from Gods’ endless love and live in His limitless grace, trusting in Him
Like a child to his father." T. Garafola
“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him” 1 John 3:1 NIV
I don’t know who said this first but they had it right, “Sometimes you’re the bug, sometimes you’re the windshield.”
Can you count the number of times you’ve been the bug? I certainly can’t, it’s been way too many times! Life is hard for many of us. Sometimes just knowing what the day is to bring, can make you not want to get out of bed in the morning.
I'd like to discuss a little about suffering, both physically and spiritually. The physical suffering usually effects our spirit.
Cancer, children being born with horrible diseases, autism is prevalent, obscure new disease come up everyday, autoimmune disorders, debilitating neurological disorders, just to name a few. Let's focus on the environment and what is going into our bodies.
The air we breathe is filled with chemicals. Chemicals are in the water we drink and in the food we eat. These things (and more) all carry a variety of toxic garbage that can destroy the body. In food alone there are carcinogens, hormones and all types of unnatural substances and there is almost no way to escape it. They inject hormones into the cattle we eat to fatten them up quickly, yet we are surprised that when human beings ingest these hormones, many of them fatten up quickly too. People love to blame obesity on gluttony but that is a very narrow view of the problem.
Many of these chemicals destroy our bodies. They corrupt the perfectly created system that is the human body. There are those who say, “oh that’s not true, we don’t create diseases”, I disagree. Take a good look the next time you pick up that pack of cigarettes. Hiding within those wonderful plumes of smoke are formaldehyde, poisonous chemicals and carcinogenic compounds that are released into the air for everyone to breathe in. Try reading the contents everyday household products, cosmetics or even the frozen or boxed foods commonly purchased at the market.
Did you know that food manufacturers are fighting to not have to label what is in the food they are selling? They desire ability to use Genetically Modified Organism's (GMO's) but label them as natural ingredients. No one can tell us how these genetically modified ingredients will effect us in the future.
It's heartbreaking that so many people become angry with God or simply decide to not believe in God because they say if the Lord was real, why would He allow anyone to suffer the ravages of cancer or any other disease for that matter?
There is no way to say it delicately and it’s usually not well received, but the fact is, God did not create this mess, we did. This is an imperfect and broken world we live in. The Lord gave us free will, the ability to choose for ourselves. And as a good father does, He often allows us to learn from our mistakes, to take the journey we have chosen, to learn from our choices. What we are feeling are the effects of some of those choices.
I do not say that flippantly. I’ve been there. Watching and waiting helplessly while someone dear to me died slowly and painfully from Leukemia. I’ve felt the pain, the helplessness, the frustration and the anger, as we had to pick up the pieces of our shattered lives. I live in pain every day of my life because I have two very debilitating illnesses.
But I don’t allow that to break me. God may have my feet to the fire, figuratively of course, but he is using my circumstances to teach me and bring me closer to Him. And it works! He is teaching me endurance, I have a passion to learn and understand His Word, and I am so much closer to Christ than I have ever been. It’s a hard thing for nonbelievers to understand or find truth in because they do not know the Lord.
Christ has nothing to do with religion. Our Lord has nothing to do with the hate and violence the cruel people of this world claims to do in His name. Our Creator is peaceful, caring and loving. He gave us the gift of life and the free will to live. Our creator can heal our broken hearts, tame our anger, mend our broken spirits, and find our lost souls. He asks only for our belief, trust and obedience to His commandments.
Those commandments by the way just instruct us not to be deceitful, hateful barbarians to one another, and to love and come to the aid of others. Personally, I think that’s a great recipe for a healthy society!
Jesus said, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you . . . They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me.” John 15: 18-21
People tell us we’re crazy, even call us ignorant because we believe in God but I chuckle at those comments. I tell people if I’m wrong, I’ve lived a good life with belief and hope in something greater than humankind, I’ve lost nothing (besides, I’ll be dead - it will be too late to be neurotic about it). But . . . if I’m right . . . I’ll be in the presence of our Creator and to me, there can be nothing better than that!
If you don’t know Christ and have a sincere desire to know Him than I urge you to seek Him. Attend a few different churches, a few classes, read the Bible and ask questions. Ask all of your questions! When you come to know Christ, you will understand why millions of people believe. You will feel His presence in your life and I tell you, it’s amazing.
Peter wrote about Jesus, “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 8-9
God loves us even through our sins, our faults and imperfections. He does not care if you are tall or short, skinny or chunky, he doesn’t care where you come from or what you have believed in, nor does he care what color your skin is or how far you have fallen. We are all the Lord God’s children and He wants all of us to jump the fence and rejoin the flock! He is waiting with open arms.
If you haven’t accepted Christ as your savior but desire His grace than repeat a prayer for salvation with truth in your heart.
"My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you." James 1:19–21
People have their reasons not to believe in the Lord and even more reasons to take issue with the faithful. I recently had some work done at my house. The gentleman who was doing the repair took notice of a cross we have prominently displayed on our wall.
We’ll call the repairman, Frank.
Frank started up a conversation about religion and felt a need to announce that he is an atheist. He went on to explain how he has a strong distaste for Christians because he has encountered too many who talked to him as if they were above him. Frank stated he was surprised by the fact that he was having a nice conversation with Christians who weren’t belittling to him for his choice.
Our first instinct was to explain that there is a difference between ‘religion’ and Christianity, but we wanted him to understand that Christians are human beings who are subject to the same faults every other person in the world has. And most importantly, not judge the perfect being of Christ by the actions of His imperfect children.
This short encounter served as a good reminder that we as Christ followers need to be mindful how we represent our faith and most importantly, how we represent the Lord. And yes, we represent the Lord because those who don’t believe in God, don’t read the Bible. They read the faithful. They read our words and our actions.
We can go to church multiple times a week. We can teach Sunday school every weekend and wrap ourselves in Christian symbols but none of that means we are Christian in our hearts and souls.
There are far too many people in the world that claim to be faithful servants of God but have appalling behavior and some actually encourage hate and violence.
These things help alienate people from the Lord. It gives non-believers further reason to despise us, to ridicule us and worst of all, we push people away from God. This can’t be, we as Christ followers have been commanded to go out and spread the good Word, to spread God’s love.
“Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after [each other] and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:26-27 NIV
So what do we do?
I believe we need to keep our ears open and allow others to share their opinions, their reasons for their disbelief. It is then we can respond, in love and kindness, sharing our beliefs and plant those seeds. It is then that the Lord can do His mighty work and change their hearts. When we don’t respond with that caring spirit, we accomplish the opposite. We encourage nonbelievers to keep their minds and hearts closed, scoring another one for the enemy.
The Lord has been amazing to me and I am fired up with passion and excitement. I want nothing more than to see more souls being won for the King of Kings but I remind myself that I have to do so with caring and understanding.
All too many times I’ve seen people fired up for the Lord but do all but sit on top of a person and beat he/she over the head with the Bible. That does not work.
Let me say it again, that does not work especially when we are confronting someone stinging from a loss of a loved one or holds some great anger against God. Badgering them with countless Bible verses won’t do anything other than alienate them.
Those are the times that others gain the impression that we believe we are above them, that we’re arrogant, and nothing more than bullies.
And as time grows closer to the end days, we see much of the Bible prophecies coming true.
“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – having a form of godliness but denying its power. 2 Timothy 2:1-5NIV
So now more than ever, we as Christ followers need to stand together and reach out to as many people as we can sharing the grace of God but put those boxing gloves away. Always teach with caring and love.
Have you given your heart to God? Are you ready? Don’t worry, He doesn’t care where you’ve been, He only cares where you are going.
" LORD, I bow before you on bended knee, in humble reverence