Sunday, June 30, 2019

GROWING SEEDS: "Did the Bible REALLY Say That?"

Over the past few months and yes, even years, I have lost count of the number of times I have been told by well-meaning friends,

"Don't worry, Liz.....the Bible says God doesn't give us more than we can handle." 

Hum.  By saying that, it implies that God gave me the hardship in the first place.  Last I checked, God was a God of love....not a God of adversity and pain.  I know full well the struggles in my life are caused by my enemy...the one who desperately wants to shut me up and knock me down in hopes I won't get back up.  What the Bible actually says with regards to this subject is, "And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it." (1 Corinthians 10:13 NIV).

Awww...see the difference?  Go ahead; read it again. 

This got me thinking about what else have we incorrectly given the Bible credit for.  Here's a few examples I thought you might find interesting:

* "Eve was tempted by Satan with an apple" (Deliciousness 1:1)."  Really?  Are you sure?  Genesis 3:6 simply states "When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it."  That could have been an orange, or a coconut or maybe even a pomegranate!  Says nothing about it being an apple, although, if I were Eve, I probably would have preferred an apple.

* "God works in mysterious ways" (Factualfiction 39:12).  Nope.....not Biblical.  Although this is a true statement and He's constantly working in crazy mysterious ways in all of our lives, you won't find those exact words written in the pages of your Bible.

* "God helps those who help themselves" (1 Americanians 17:76).   Ouch.  This one should be deleted from your sentence vocabulary bank.  Romans 5:6 actually tells us just the opposite:  "You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly."   Or maybe check out Psalms 121:2, "My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of Heaven and Earth."  I don't remember God telling Moses to have the people build a boat as they stared down the Red Sea....just sayin'.

I realize the importance of whether Eve was tempted with an apple or an apricot is of little importance, but what is important is that we know what God's Word actually says.  That we don't blindly believe everything we're told by others....and that we READ THE BOOK and find out for ourselves.  It's a a super cool story that you just might find yourself a part of.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

GROWING SEEDS: "Are You An Orphan or Have You Been Adopted?"


Growing up, my older brother and I used to regularly tell my sister Debbie that she was adopted because she didn't have the family web toes like we both did.  James and I both inherited our father's web toes on the second and third toes of our right foot and we never missed a chance to remind Debbie she wasn't part of our family since she didn't have web toes too.   She wasn't adopted.....but we loved making her think she was.

But we learn in Ephesians 1:5 that being adopted is a GOOD thing:

"God decided in advance to ADOPT us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and IT GAVE HIM GREAT PLEASURE."

Awwww...the ammunition my sister could have used if she would have known this scripture back then.  It's a be adopted. 

Especially by God.

But did you know that not everyone is adopted by God into His family?  There are requirements that must be met before being adopted and being a part of the amazing family of God.  First, you must BELIEVE.....but simple belief in God alone is not enough.  James 2:19 says, "You believe that there is one God.  That's fine!  Even the demons believe that and they tremble with fear."  Belief without repentance...without relationship...
without DEAD as a doornail....six feet under...pushing up as Hades.

So often, we Christians think that by simply proclaiming we believe in Christ and yet never getting to know Him, never speaking to Him through our prayers, never telling others about Him, that somehow, that's enough to get us adopted by God. 

Would YOU want to adopt YOU if you were Him?

I have to ask myself that question daily.  Am I living for my life here on earth or am I living for my life in eternity?  How I live my life here on earth will determine WHERE I spend my life in eternity.  God just wants YOU.  And he wants you to want Him. 

That's all.  He wants nothing more than to adopt you into His family and give you the inheritance He has reserved for you.....He doesn't mind if you have a few warts, bad breath or even web toes. 

He just wants want HIM.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

GROWING SEEDS: "Let God Pull The Volkswagon"

As I sit here writing this to you, I am preparing to jump on a plane in a few hours and head west to San Jose, CA.  I have been instructed to sit on the right side of the plane, window seat, and look for a cute girl waving at a certain spot on the top of a tall residential building as my plane prepares to land in California.  Sounds crazy, doesn't it?  

This crazy girl would be my cousin, Sheri.  

Sheri has been the voice of endurance to me over these past roller coaster months since my status changed from married to widowed.  She is a nurse...a paramedic....a fire chief, and yet, was forced to watch her own life change before her eyes when her young husband died from a heart attack eight years ago.  She has been a gift from God to me during this time in my life...and she has given me words of hope for what lies ahead.

So I think that's why this particular scripture strikes a deep cord within me:

 "We can REJOICE, too, when we run into problems and trials, 
for we know that they help us develop ENDURANCE."
Romans 5  

Sheri and I didn't grow up knowing each other, but I remember hearing stories passed around the family about how, when she was training to be a fireman, she would attach a pully-device to her tiny waist and pull a Volkswagen down the street as a way of getting stronger and more equipped to handle the load she longed to carry as a fireman.  The pain and strength it took to pull something many times her own weight.  It developed her endurance.

In much the same way, our struggles and trials in this life are our Volkswagons.   We strap on the Love of God to our weary bodies and let Him pull us and our troubles to safety.  He doesn't ask us to do the work of the pulling...He simply asks us to.release the emergency brake so He is able to accomplish this for us.  

And endurance develops strength of character, 
and character strengthens our confident HOPE of salvation."

Sunday, June 2, 2019

GROWING SEEDS: 'My Chains Are Gone"

About twelve years ago, while sitting in my favorite chair in the living room reading one morning, I came across a website called "Gently Broken".  As I poured over the contents of this beautifully healing website, I came across the song, "Amazing Grace, My Chains Are Gone".  

At the time, I hadn't been to church in a number of years, so I didn't realize this remake of the Amazing Grace I had known as a child was now a common song in many churches.  And something amazing happened as I heard these words for the first time...

"My chains are gone, I've been set free...
My Savior has ransomed me.  
And like a flood, His mercy rains, 
Unending love, AMAZING GRACE."

These words touched a place inside of me that felt like the finger of God touching my very soul.  It was then that I realized the bondage of legalism I had been living in most of my life.  Much like the earthquake Paul felt while in prison which caused his chains to come unfastened and the cell doors to swing wide open in Acts 16, I felt an earthquake of freedom in Christ I had never felt before.

Tears flowed from my eyes as I found my hands outstretched in front of me, feeling the weight of the heavy chains of denominational rules falling to the floor.  And the chains were replaced with Grace, Forgiveness and Relationship and the knowledge that there was nothing I could "do" to earn my ticket to amount of "works" or "good deeds" could get me an address in Heaven.  I simply needed to Believe and Love the Lord my God with every fiber of my heart. 

"The jailor called for lights, and rushing in (to the cell), he fell down trembling before Paul and Silas asking, 
'What must I do to be saved?'  
They answered, "BELIEVE on the Lord Jesus, and you will be SAVED."
Acts 16:31

Yes, it was Grace that taught my heart to fear that day....and Grace my fears relieved.  How absolutely precious did that Grace appear....that hour I first believed.