It’s Advent season which is my favorite time of the year. As I sit here prepared to write my blog of the week I have come to realize I have nothing to say. No topics come to mind at the moment, no stories or lessons to write about.
I just feel peace right now. Which is strange because November has been a really tough month.
So instead of trying to come up with something I want to offer praise to God.
I want to praise God for the highs, praise Him for the lows.
Praise Him for good health and bad health.
Praise God for the tough things that don’t seem fair, right or just. Things that hurt, make us sad, angry.
Here in America Thanksgiving is this Thursday. I’d like to share a few things with you. First a story, then a prayer and a Hymn’s playlist I found.
This story is really about an analogy from a sermon my Pastor preached. Last year we were at a multi church Thanksgiving Eve service, during his time to preach he spoke on a division using an analogy about Thanksgiving dinner. I’d like to share that analogy to the best of my recollection as I think it is useful not just in the body of Christ but in the world as well.
The analogy basically goes like this…
“At Thanksgiving when we all gather at the table with many different side dishes, we all pass around the food. Now when the cranberry sauce comes to me I just pass them along to the next person without taking any. What I don’t do is announce, “cranberry sauce is gross. It totally ruins the flavors of the other food. It makes no sense for the plate. Anyone who puts that on their plate is foolish.”
The most important reason not to do this is that they would send me away from the table. I want to stay at the table with my family.”
What a valuable lesson. Let’s not divide on the secondary stuff, stay true to the chore values and love each in our disagreements over the little things.
Now for the rest of what I am a sharing.
A Prayer: Thanks for Blessings Past and Present
Lord God, we gather around this table to humbly thank You for all that You have given us this past year – not just what is on this table, but who is sitting around this table. Thank you for life and laughter, for health and happiness, for relationships and memories. Thank you, too, for the lessons learned and the tears we’ve cried because of Your ability to grow us through them. Thank You for Your comfort and Your presence, in light of good days and bad. Thank You for what we have now, for what we had yesterday, and for what You will continue to give tomorrow. Let us never take that for granted, but to always be grateful for every good and perfect gift that comes from You. May we have hearts full of thanksgiving not only today but every day of our lives. We pray these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Your Son, Amen. – Cindy McMenamin
I have to admit this post will be a little lazy (especially since I did a post like this in 2020 and that one included write ups). But today I will be giving you a list of ten YouTube Channels (in no particular order) I frequently have used for Christian content in the last couple of years.
This Sunday at Church we will be remembering the saints (believers) who passed away in the past year. I found this prayer I would like to share with you…
A Prayer for the Saints Who Are No Longer with Us
God, when I hear the word “saint” I often associate it with those who no longer walk this earth, who are dwelling in eternal rest. I can think of many people in my own life who had an impact with me, who I cannot wait to see them again. Lord, I dearly miss my friends and family who are not here on earth anymore. But I also rejoice that they will no longer experience pain or shed any tears of sadness. God, although I’m sad I am temporarily away from them, I want to thank you so much for bringing them into my life. They have shaped me to be more like you, and I will forever remember their example. Amen.
This Wednesday Night at my church I will be leading a Bible Study on Luke 18:9-14. I wrote a study guide this morning so I would like to share that with you for this week’s entry. Hopefully the questions can help you think about the text in a more in-depth way.
Have a Blessed Week, Chris
Luke 18:9-14 New International Version The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector 9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
-When you read this parable what comes to your mind? What are your first thoughts?
-Let’s compare the two people in this parable.
-For me there seems to be a common trend of Jesus speaking up against arrogant religious leaders. How can this be a cautionary tale to us as Christians especially in leadership?
-Do you think the pharisee was a bad person or perhaps just misguided?
-Is it possible to become so focused on God’s commandments that we forget God’s grace?
-This may be a tough one. What’s some tips and guides we can all use to stay humble while not sacrificing our integrity?
Last Week I wrote about God having “High Standards but Higher Grace”. How does this compare to a worldly view?
The world right now is promoting love, acceptance and tolerance.
But is this true?
Have you tried lately presenting your Christian beliefs to a worldly person?
How much love, acceptance and tolerance have you received?
I know they’re many Christians who are hard hearted and lack compassion and love as well but I am strictly speaking of what God’s standards are against the world’s.
The truth is the world’s standards are not as loving and accepting as they claim.
Speaking of standards, the world’s standards are so low. So much is considered okay. Lying, adultery, divorce, lust, violence, I could go on and on. As long as their is an excuse behind it like, “It was only a white lie” or “They deserved it”.
The world is telling you to enjoy all of life’s pleasures, just be yourself with sayings like “You do you!” and “Live your best life!”
Sounds great on the surface but in reality that way of life is empty and has no moral compass whatsoever. Another persons pleasure could cause another’s pain. You may say, “It’s fine as long as it’s not hurting anyone else”.
Is it? What if it’s hurting oneself? Do you really think it’s healthy to live a life for pleasure? You will always be unsatisfied looking for the next fix. A new house, car, phone. The dream vacation isn’t good enough when you find out your neighbor did the same vacation but got the luxury suite.
You will be left empty, jealous and wanting more.
Now let’s talk about grace, that is the main focus here.
The world has an extremely low version of grace.
Make one mistake and the world will attempt to destroy you, there is no forgiveness offer, no redemption allowed.
Don’t believe me?
Go and pull up a job application. The vast majority of them require you to inform the business if you have committed a crime in the past. Doesn’t matter if it was 30 years ago it will always be with you. If a similar crime happens in your area, the police will show up and question you first because you will always be that criminal for the rest of your life.
That is the world’s standards and that is just one example.
They will claim God is harsh, cruel and judgmental. But in reality what is God’s grace?
The Bible says God will cast our sins into the bottom of the sea, He will remove our transgressions as far as the east is from the west.
All you need is faith and repentance.
If you have faith you will stand before God not as a criminal, not as a liar, not as an adultery, not as a sinner but has a redeemed child of God.
That is true Grace, that is true love. That is something the world will never offer you.
Today is going to be a bit different. Instead of me writing on a subject I am going to be posting a video and resources to go with it.
The topic I am posting about is vastly important, it is the rapidly growing “New Age” movement and its effects on Christianity. I am no expert on this subject and many of you reading this may not even have a clue about what I am talking about. So instead of me writing on this I am going to post a video featuring Pastor Mike Winger talking about some Bible Verses “New Age” people and “Word of Faith” Christians misuse to justify their beliefs.
If you’re from the “New Age” or “Word of Faith” I ask you to please watch this video. Also if you’re unfamiliar with this topic I suggest you watch as well as this is not something to take lightly. The New Age is everywhere and being promoted all over different forms of media.
Without further ado here is the video.
Now in addition to this, I am leaving several Ex New Agers YouTube channels for further information.
One of the toughest things Christian have to do is use discernment when it comes to figuring out if they should follow a certain ministry.
I have a couple of methods I use to determine if I am personally going to follow a ministry. I am going to share those with you today.
First is the ministry “orthodox”? And when I say “orthodox” I mean the Webster’s dictionary version of the word which is, “conforming to established doctrine especially in religion” not the Orthodox denomination.
But how do you do that? Well the first way is obvious read and study the Bible. I know Biblical study takes time and you may need a quicker answer so how about this.
Follow the Nicene Creed,
“We believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, begotten from the Father before all ages, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made; of the same essence as the Father. Through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven; he became incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary, and was made human. He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate; he suffered and was buried. The third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures. He ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again with glory to judge the living and the dead. His kingdom will never end.
And we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life. He proceeds from the Father and the Son, and with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified. He spoke through the prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church. We affirm one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look forward to the resurrection of the dead, and to life in the world to come. Amen.”
Please note the term “catholic” means “universal” it is not referencing the Roman Catholic denomination. People often get that confused.
That is a perfect way to start. That way you know if you hear a ministry saying something like, “Jesus isn’t God, He was a created Being made by the Father born two thousand years ago”. You can immediately know that the Ministry who says that is teaching false doctrine and you should avoid them. They’re a lot ministries who just by knowing the Nicene Creed you can write off as they teach things that are not the basics of the Christian faith. Things we call “heresy”. It is very important to know who God is and fundamentals of the Trinity.
The second way I am going to discuss is going to be a bit less popular. Does this ministry produce the Fruit of the Spirit?
What is the Fruit of the Spirit? Well this…
Galatians 5:22-23 New International Version “22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
So if you see a ministry that is hateful, wrathful, angry, arrogant, aggressive, graceless, always picking fights and being divisive without every controlling the tongue then avoid them.
After all they’re many ministries who can articulate theology and preach sermons without behaving in a manner that goes against the way the Bible instructs. (Click the link below to read more on divisive people and behavior)
You may say, “But Pastor So and So has excellent theology and is a great teacher!”
I ask you, “If that Pastor had such excellent theology then why does he behave in such an unbiblical manner? If that Pastor is such a great teacher than why is he teaching his followers to behave like a sinner and not like Jesus?”
I will leave you with this scripture as the best response to any challenge on this…
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 New International Version “13 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.”