Middle Age Ramblings

Where I Share My Thoughts On This Journey Called Life

Archive for the tag “Christian”

Hiding Behind A Mask

Halloween Costumes 1980

Today is Halloween. This is the time of the year that children and some adults think about dressing up in all kinds of costumes, going out door to door and getting candy. Most of the costumes for children have some type of mask with them. Thus making it easier to pretend to be someone else for a short time.

I wonder how many Christians are hiding behind masks all the time? Hiding who we really are to act like what we believe a Christian is supposed to act.

We live in a culture today where 2 families can come to the same church every Sunday, sit in the same pew with each other every week, and yet not have a clue about the struggles and problems the other family is going through.

We think that because we are Christians we are supposed to have it all together. We are not supposed to have any problems. Guess what? That’s the wrong answer!

Listen! We still live in this sin cursed world! We are not home yet! To borrow a line from Steve Brown, we are beggars telling other beggars where we found bread. While we are here, we need to reach out to one another and lean on one another.

We need to take off our mask and admit to the world that we are lonely and needy. That we sometimes say things we shouldn’t and even do things we shouldn’t.

Who knows? Revival might just break out in the church! And our Father would be pleased.

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Learning To Trust

One of the hardest lessons for me to learn in my Christian walk is learning to trust God in all situations. Not a blind trust, but a trust developed through experience. Yet, I need to be reminded constantly of the Father’s consistent working in my life.

I remember many years ago when my children were younger, we went through a tough time with my job. I was working for a major furniture manufacturer when business took a downturn. It got so bad that we were only working 3 days a week. I was out looking around our small town for  a second job and wasn’t finding one. I finally realized that God was trying to tell me to trust Him. To be patient and rest in Him. It was amazing to watch God work through other Christians and sometimes in ways that I couldn’t understand to meet our needs.

Proverbs 3:5-6 became very important in my life because of this season in my life.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do  not lean on your own understanding.

In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make straight your paths. ESV

There are times in our lives though that we don’t think about past victories and we fail to remember how God has helped us in the past. Maybe we should follow more closely the commands that God gave the children of Israel when he told them to teach the children in their household the truths of God’s law and the way God helped them get to the promised land.

It’s difficult to learn to trust God completely. In our culture, individualism is encouraged. There is pressure to look out for number 1, ourselves, and not think about others. We as followers of Christ, must learn in these difficult days to trust in God for all of our needs. We must realize that God, not the government is the source of all we have. It’s difficult to learn. I’m still working on it, but god is faithful to remind me daily of all He’s done for me. I just have to listen.

Please share some of your experiences in learning to trust God in the comments below.

 

It’s Been A Crazy Week

Well it has been a crazy week. It all started last Friday afternoon when I got a call from my wife about three in the afternoon, which is odd for her. She told me she had just been laid-off from her job. That could have bummed me out, but all of a sudden a peace came over me and I knew in my heart that everything was going to be okay.

Things were pretty normal over the weekend. I still was not in crisis mode over this change that had come to our lives. My wife had a job interview on Monday, and we were very hopeful.

Then the bottom fell out as far as my work. Deadlines were looming and I couldn’t get anything accomplished. Then the computer system went down! This went on for two days! I was stressed out!

I have read all of this stuff about turning your problems over to the Lord. Let Him handle your problems, your stress and , your crisis. Let me tell you, that’s easier said than done.

The tough part was trying to not allow my wife to worry. In the meantime, she got a call offering her the job she had interviewed for earlier in the week. That was great! it took some of the load off my mind, but I still had not been really worried about her work situation. I knew it was under control. Nothing else was working right.

This has been an exhausting week. I’m glad it’s over. I’m also glad I made it through and didn’t hurt anybody. You see life happens and when life happens to a follower of Christ, we are automatically under the microscope. Everybody wants to see how we’ll handle the situation.

I didn’t do so good this week. Don’t be so surprised. If more of us who follow Christ were honest and open about our sins, maybe, just maybe the world could see less of us and more of the Jesus who saved us, and who continually picks us up and cleans the mud off of us when we fall.

Please share your experiences below.

 

How To Read The Bible More Effectively

In my last post, I talked about three things you can do to help you live a more focused life. The first thing I mentioned was reading the Bible every day. I thought in this post, I would give everybody some things that has helped me down through the years with Bible reading and study.

I know there are many Christians who attend a church from time to time, but who never pick up the Bible and read it. If you are a person who does that, you are missing out. There is no way you can find God’s direction for your life without knowledge of the truths in the Bible.

Some of you are going to say  that you don’t have time to read. I have found out that I don’t need to miss my time in God’s word. I have become convinced there is more to this life than just sliding through life barely getting by. the only way to be truly successful in life is to find your place and direction for living from the Bible.

Let me give you some ideas of mine that will help you as you begin to read your Bible each day as part of your plan to find direction or focus for your life.

1. Pick up your Bible and read it! I know that seems redundant, but read it! You can’t learn these truths by osmosis.

2. Schedule a definite time each day to read, preferably the same time each day. If you have to schedule it into your calendar or planner do it. Whatever you have to do to get the habit of reading the Bible daily started.

3. Pray before you begin reading. Ask God to open your mind to see the truths found in His Word.

4. Meditate, or think about what you are reading. Engage your mind into the process.

5. Keep a journal in which you write down the reference for that day and some of the things you observed out of the passage you read.

6. Keep it simple at the beginning. Don’t think you have to read a chapter or more each day. Sometimes I just read a small section of a chapter or some days even one verse.

7. Review what you have read several times during the day. Meditate on what you have read.

If you have never been a daily Bible reader and you don’t know where to start, let me give you some suggestions.  If you need some thing practical and down to earth, try the book of James. If you want to learn more about the life of Jesus try Luke or John. If you are looking for practical advise for life, try the book of Proverbs. In fact, one thing I like to do in Proverbs is when we start a month that has 31 days in it, I like to read a chapter in Proverbs everyday.

That gives you a few suggestions on how to read the Bible. I’m certain there are many other suggestions that others may have.

What are some suggestions you may have for reading the Bible more effectively? Share them in the comments below.

 

A Life Of Enthusiasm

 

Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men, Colossians 3:23 HCSB.

 

I see too many Christians, including myself sometime, with no enthusiasm at all for life. I know life is hard especially for Christians, but it is possible to live life with enthusiasm!

First of all, I want to be clear about what I’m not talking about. I am not talking about having a wish so, hope so religion. I also am not talking about having a religion of name it and claim it, or anything like that.

When I talk about living a life of enthusiasm, I am talking about living a victorious life in Christ! A life of faith,  believing that He is in control of all things and that He has what’s best for me at heart. God placed none of us on this earth haphazardly or without thought. Each one of us has a purpose. It’s up to us to prayerfully seek to follow God’s will with our lives. When we do that we live life with an enthusiasm that comes from serving God!

I know this verse from Colossians comes from a passage on servant master relationships, but I think it also applies to what I’m saying here. Even when life throws us a curve ball, God gives us the ability to handle whatever life throws at you. I remember when I started playing baseball I enjoyed hitting. That is until the pitchers I played against got old enough to start throwing curveballs. I was in trouble because I never could figure out how to hit a curveball, but God will help you hit life’s curveballs.

I try to pray several times a week and ask God to help me live life enthusiastically. Believe me I’m not there yet, but each day is a new adventure of learning how God intends for us to live down here in this sin cursed world. When we live this way, people take notice and will soon want to know what makes you tick. That will give you the perfect opportunity to tell them about Christ! Allow Jesus to live enthusiastically through you and watch the difference it makes in your life!

 

A Soldier Without A Weapon

There are several things I’ve observed in the modern church that concerns me. I’m not going to get into a long list of things in this post, I’m only going to talk about one thing here. Before I begin rambling, let me give you a scripture reference or two.

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge….”Hosea 4:6a ESV.

“Behold the days are coming, declares the LORD GOD, when I will send a famine in the land-not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD.” Amos 8:11 ESV

We are fast approaching a day when there will be fewer opportunities to hear the Word of God. I know that’s hard to believe because in this country its on several channels on TV every day. Radio stations devote their entire program format to proclaiming God’s Word. I promise you those days won’t last long.

What bothers me the most is to go into a church service, either in my home church, or somewhere that I am visiting, and see Christians without a Bible coming in to a worship service to hear the Word of God taught. It’s just like a soldier without a weapon.

When  a person goes into the military they are issued a weapon, which is not only a means of defense, but also a means of carrying out a mission. We as Christ’s followers have been given a mission. That mission is two-fold. First we are to evangelize: carry the gospel to every person we come in contact with. Secondly, we are to teach and disciple those who accept Christ.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 says:”All Scripture is given by inspiration of GOD, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of GOD may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” NKJV

How can we be equipped for every good work if we don’t have a Bible with us at church? I know Christians who have been in church longer than I have that struggle to find passages in the Bible. That comes from not using their Bible.

In this culture we live in today, with so many people fighting to have their pet sin recognized as being okay, or being accepted by society, we cannot afford to go out into the world into battle without our only weapon which is the word of God!

Ephesian 6:17″ and take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of GOD.”ESV

Hebrews 4:12a ” For the word of GOD is living and active sharper than any two-edged sword……”  ESV

We have to be ready to fight! We cannot fight without instruction and a weapon of defense! The Bible is our instruction manual and our only weapon of defense against satan and his allies!

Our Bibles should be the most worn out book we own. We should have to go get another one regularly because the one we have is falling apart from use. We instead would rather go into battle untrained except for what we pick up through osmosis on Sunday morning, and unarmed. No wonder the other side is winning!

The Narrow Road

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.
(2Ti 3:1-5) ESV

Paul wrote these words to Timothy just before his death. When one reads these words, they read just like todays news. Think about it for a minute. Lovers of self, lovers of money, without self-control, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. I could go on with this , but I won’t.

The last two items in the passage from 2 Timothy are the ones that really bother me. There are people all over america who have an appearance or form of godliness, but deny its real power. That Power is the power to transform lives.

Paul again wrote:

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
(2 Co 5:17) KJV

From this verse, I believe that upon receiving God’s gift of grace, that a change begins to take place in a person’s life. For example, when I came to Christ I didn’t immediately stop sinning, in fact I still sin each day. My desires changed. I know longer wanted to live the same way I had before. The Holy Spirit had begun the process of changing me into a new creature from the inside out. That process is still ongoing today and will continue until I reach Heaven.

Some “Christians” seem to believe that they can hold to their old sinful lifestyle and yet still be called a christian. These people may go to church every Sunday, but they don’t live for Christ on Monday through Saturday. They deny the real power of God, which is the power to change lives.

Jesus spoke about the difficulty of following Him:

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
(Mat 7:13-14) ESV

It’s not easy to follow Christ. Jesus requires us to lay aside our old ways of living and follow the path that He has laid out for us. Then and only then can we experience not only the power of God in our lives, but also the joy of following and serving our risen Lord!

 

 

Side Note: Some of you are going to disagree with me on this. That’s okay. I’m getting used to it. As always your comments are welcome. I try to read all of them, but due to my daily responsibilities, I am not always able to reply or respond.

 

 

Time to Clean Up!

It was a beautiful day here in Northeast Mississippi! I got outside in my yard for the first time since last fall and decided to do some yard work.

It has been unusually warm for this time of year so the grass has already been growing fast. Really fast!

Before I could start to mow, I had to do some clean up work. There was limbs in the yard, my fault for letting them pile up. And there were a lot of dead leaves, again my fault for letting them pile up.

After I got all the limbs pick up and carried to the street for the city to pick up I was worn out! I had not even started to mow yet!

Later, after I had finished the yard and was cleaning up myself the thought occurred to me that so many times I  put off cleaning up my life as well as my yard.

The yard is easy, it’s just a matter of doing it. I must make up my mind that I am going to get it done so our home will look clean on the outside. Sometimes it’s not so easy in my life. For instance it’s easy sometimes to put off dealing with the sin in our lives.

It’s not just the wrong things that we do that  displeases God, but also the things that we forget to do. the things that God asks us to do. Sometimes I find that I have more problem with those than the “bad” stuff.

It’s so easy to get in a hurry in the mornings and forget to pray or read my Bible. There are other things that I struggle with as well that I’m not going to list here, but you get the idea.

It’s true that Satan does everything he can to get us off the path that God had placed in front of us, but it’s our responsibility to make sure that when we get off the path, we go to God, confess our sins, and ask for His forgiveness.

Our Father is so good to us! He is always ready to forgive us and cleans us if we will ask Him to. God’s grace really is amazing!

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1John 1:9 NKJV

Father thank you for your marvellous grace that you so freely give to us without question. Thank you for your love that you express to me daily even when I’m dirty and need to clean up. In Jesus name amen!

God Made Me

I was reading in Psalms the other day during lunch when I stumbled across a verse that I had read before, but had forgotten about. Psalms 119:73 reads,

Your hands have made me and fashioned me;

Give me understanding that I may learn your commandments. (NKJV)

God used that passage afresh and anew that He made me. That I am a unique individual! Not only that, God desires that I learn what He has recorded in His word! You may be reading this thinking, ” Well ole Mike sounds like a new babe in Christ instead of someone who has been a follower of Christ for all these years.” Maybe that’s why I got so exited to read this verse!

You see I have realized that we as “mature” Christians need to recover the innocence of being a true follower of Christ. Jesus said  we had to come to Him like a small child does. Now I’m a grandparent and let me tell you grandchildren are a special gift from God. One thing I’ve noticed being around my two grandsons is the trust they have for us, their parents , and others they have placed trust. We need to find or ability to trust Christ the same way. Without question or reservation. Then we will be able to hear and learn the things God has for us to learn. Just like young Samuel in I Samuel, “Speak Lord for your servant hears.”

Yes God made me and He made you too. He will gladly give us understanding of His teachings, if we will just trust HIm.

 

 

 

Do You Believe?

John 20:27b, “Do not be unbelieving, but believe.

Many of Christs Followers will remember this passage from the encounter with Thomas who was not present the first time Jesus appeared to the disciples after the resurrection. The statement made by Jesus in the last part of verse 27 written above is one that we as Christians face often. “do not be unbelieving, but believe.” do we as Christians really believe? I’m not talking about someone’s salvation here, but I am talking about how we live our lives as His followers and disciples.

The question is simple, but the answer is complex sometimes. Do we as followers of Christ really believe that He will do what He promises to do? For many of us, the Christian life can best be described as doing the best you can and ask God for forgiveness when we stumble. We are already defeated before we face life or even the onslaughts of the enemy.

I’m not talking about some pie in the sky lifestyle where God magically gives us everything we want just because we say so; where life is supposed to be one success after another and if it’s not, then you don’t have enough faith.

Jesus said many times there would be struggles in life; that men would even hate us because of Him. but He has promised to be there for us, to give us His grace and mercy, and to get us home before the dark. He has promised us a home in heaven with none of the struggles or pains of this life. Life will be one struggle after another until we reach home.

So as I struggle at times with this question, I ask each one of you, ” Do you believe?” My prayer is that each one of us will learn to trust Christ completely in every area of life and learn to lean on Him to see us through the hard times.

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