God’s Words, Not Yours

I was perusing my notes when I found some notes from a Missions Conference in 2017:

“You are not qualified to call people sinners. You  can’t presume to tell people God loves them. But you do have a warrant to report what God says.”

These are God’s words, not yours! You’re the announcer.

When you say, “Thus saith the Lord,” you’d better be sure that God actually said it!

I wish I could remember who was speaking when I took those notes, but not knowing doesn’t make the words less true. We so often use God’s words as if they’re our own, and our words as if they are God’s own. We often get so wrapped up in being right because we’re sure of what God has said, but we say it the wrong way in the wrong attitude. We get so wrapped up in being right because we’re sure of what God has said, but sometimes we’re not even right about God saying it at all! Sometimes we focus so much on one thing God has said, that we forget about something else important He said.

Listen to what God has said, what He has actually said, and then say it to others the way God wants it said.

Uncomfortable But Important

A while back I was listening to one of my favorite composers, Adrian von Ziegler, talk about some things. He got on the topic of feelings that are difficult to talk about, and how we don’t always want to talk about things when we should.

He stated, “If they weren’t important, it wouldn’t make you uncomfortable to talk about it.

Yes. There are a lot of things that are uncomfortable for us to talk about, but they are also very important to talk about. We don’t always like to talk about or listen to uncomfortable things, but so often we should. If we don’t communicate and discuss things with others, we may become bitter, or a problem may grow that could have been avoided, or we won’t get along as well, or we won’t be as close to loved ones as we could be.

This even goes further than human relationships. God likes us to communicate with Him about things. Yes, He knows about everything already, but as a good counselor He will often prompt and wait for us to open up. There’s something about getting things outside of your head that’s so helpful, and God is open to you doing that. And remember that communication goes both ways; God will communicate with you on how to handle what’s happening. This may also be uncomfortable, but remember that God loves you and knows just how important this is.

Resurrection Already Planned

God is omnipresent, which means not only is He everywhere at once, He is every-time at once. Before God even created humans, or even anything at all, He knew what was going to happen. Which means He also knew how to fix it. Jesus coming as a baby, living the perfect life we couldn’t live, sacrificing Himself for our sins on the cross, and rising again to proclaim victory over death, was already planned.

God loves us so much that even though we were going to mess up, He pre-planned a way to fix the damage and created us anyway. As always, God knew what we needed before we even needed it, and had things in place to provide.

A few posts on Easter:
Easter Son Rise
Necessary Humanity
Christ’s Passion
He Is Risen Indeed!

Hosanna, King Jesus!

I was teaching the little kids yesterday in Sunday School about Jesus’ triumphal entry, and why we call the Sunday before Easter “Palm Sunday.” They had a lot of fun waving paper palm branches and shouting, “Hosanna!”

Hosanna has several translated variations, all of which have to do with a cry for help or being saved. Many of the people shouting Hosanna for Jesus may have been thinking He would save them from the Romans and be their king. But like the other teacher and I pointed out for the kids, Jesus didn’t come to be king of their country, He came to be king of their hearts.

Jesus has done everything necessary to save us from far more than our earth-bound, visible problems. We need something else, and we often don’t realize it. Jesus has made salvation available for our very souls! We can escape the righteous judgement of eternal separation from God!

For more:
Palm Sunday

Challenging Questions

I love to answer people’s questions, particularly if they are existential, moral, or theological in nature. But I’m also afraid of people asking questions, because what if I don’t know the answer?

But I know the God who knows everything. I know the God who will generously give me wisdom if I ask. I’ve learned that it’s okay not to know the answer, because I can go find it. I can go study, I can go ask, and then I can return to the original questioner with the answer.

I used to be afraid of putting myself in a position where people can ask me hard questions. Well, sometimes I’m still afraid of it, but I will never get better at answering if I don’t let people ask questions. You don’t get good at anything without doing it a lot and going through a learning curve yourself. I won’t go find out things I didn’t know if I don’t listen to a question. I think harder and better when someone brings up a question I can’t answer, because it shows me the mindset of another, and that the question may need to be answered in a different way than I thought. I find that when people ask hard questions, this causes me to listen more to God and to read the Bible better.

It’s okay not to know the answer if you go find it. It’s okay to admit you don’t know the answer and will need to get back to someone. It’s okay for a question to take a long time to answer. It’s okay to struggle with a question, just let God show you the Truth.

For more:
“Do You Have Any Questions?”
You Are Allowed to Ask Questions
Giving an Answer

Part of God’s Plan Concerning the End Times

The Bible tells us that before Jesus comes back, and even before the Rapture, things are going to get pretty bad for us Christians. There is a spiritual war going on, and for a while it’s going to look like evil is winning. There is no stopping it, it’s just going to happen. There are some Christians who want to go down fighting, even guns-a-blazing, to express their free rights and their belief in God’s Kingdom. But is that what Jesus wants from us? Jesus was kind, gentle, and loving, and even let people wrongfully torture and kill Him just to show them what God’s love looks like.

Besides, God and His goodness will win the war in the end. We don’t have to fight on our own, or technically at all. Yes, there is spiritual warfare, but let’s not get confused and fight physical battles. We don’t fight in God’s army the same way we fight in our own armies. We stand against Satan and evil, not against our fellow humans that God loves (Mind Your Attacks).

God lets humans make their own choices, and this means that part of God’s overarching plan for history is for evil to look like it’s winning for a while. Because God wants humans to make the right choice, He will give us as much time as possible to make that choice. But He will only let things happen as far as He can righteously allow, then He will suddenly sweep in and right every wrong. (See also The Time to Make a Choice)

Let’s not try to get in the way of God’s plan. We might not like it, but God’s plan is always better than ours. When Peter didn’t like God’s plan as told in Matthew 16:21-25 and Mark 8:31-35, Jesus turned around and called him Satan. Both accounts tell of this occurring right after Peter expressed his belief that Jesus is the Christ, showing that we can believe in Jesus and still need some correcting on our attitudes and views.

Am I saying we should just roll over and give up on the world? Am I saying we should hole ourselves up in the Christian castle, pull up the drawbridge, and flood the moat? No, absolutely not! Jesus has left us here to show people what He is like, and we can’t do that if we aren’t living with them and being kind to them, even and especially when we’re mistreated. Jesus will continue to leave us here for as long as is right. Will it get difficult? Absolutely, but Jesus promised God’s help through the Holy Spirit! We’ll be okay, even when we’re not okay.

For a few more things:
The Two Kingdoms
Just Passing Through

Writing Notes

No matter your age or memory-recall capacity, it’s good to write things down sometimes. For one, it helps you remember it better so you might not even have to consult your notes. For another, if you do forget you still have it. If you remember where you wrote it down, that is!

At other times it’s just nice to look back on some things that you’ve written before, to see what you were doing, thinking, and learning at the time. You may even see how you’ve grown and changed since then! This is especially useful when looking at your spiritual and relational growth with God.

Try writing things down and taking little notes. If you find it distracting, then try remembering things to write them down later. Even if you don’t end up writing them down, you have likely made things easier to remember and recall.

For a little more:
Writing Things Down
Written Like It Is

God’s Correction and Love

In Ezekiel chapters 8 and 9, we see that the sin of God’s people is so great that God must correct and discipline them, and not spare. It has gone on long enough. And God started at His house (9:6).

In Jeremiah and Lamentations, we again see God’s harsher corrective discipline towards a rebellious people. He trashes His chosen people, trashes His own temple, and uses an ungodly nation to do it!

God loves His people, which means when the people do wrong He must correct them. If you’ll listen the first time, it isn’t so bad. But if you continually rebel, God must take more drastic measures.

So if God won’t spare even His chosen people Israel when they need correction, why do we think we’ll get away with anything? If God will cause ruin to His own people, however temporarily, what makes us think we can get away without it? If God will even use the ungodly to be His instrument of correction, why do we think we don’t have to listen or pay attention when that happens to us?

Now after hearing all that correction for Israel, let’s not mistakenly think that God is so drastically corrective all the time. Those punishments were on a national level for a people that had constantly rebelled against God. While God certainly isn’t so drastically corrective all the time, looking at His harshest punishments shows us that even in the midst of harsher correction, He still loves us and wants us to be better.

God is patient and slow to anger, and He would rather not have to correct us, but He certainly is swift once it is time for correction to be dealt. After all, His people are His children, and a loving father must teach His children right from wrong so they will not hurt themselves or others in the future. A loving father will only correct and discipline you so you can become better; it is for your good (Proverbs 3:11-12; Hebrews 12:5-11; Revelation 3:19).

Even though God can unleash some powerful correction, and though He would rather not, when He has had to deal harsh correction, He has never abandoned or stopped loving His people. In the midst of the drastic measures of Ezekiel 8 and 9, God knew who still loved and listened to Him (9:3-4). Even in the midst of Jeremiah’s lament in Lamentations 3, we see the prophet remembering that God is still in control and that there is still mercy (around verses 21-26 and onward). As a loving father, God will still be there in the midst of trouble when you need Him (Job 5:17-18; Psalm 94:12-14). God would rather hold you close.

God sets boundaries to protect us and help us grow. These are for His glory and our good. Let’s not disobey, but listen to God since He actually loves us and knows what’s best. And let’s not obey because we’re afraid of correction, but rather because we love our Father in return for the love He shows us. God wants to hold us close. God wants to relate with us. God wants us to want to reciprocate.

Changing People

You can’t change people. That’s easy to say, but we still go around acting like we can change others. We may have the best of intentions, but if a person doesn’t want to change, nothing we do will help. Others have a free will just like I do.

God can change people. That’s also easy to say, but we still go around acting like God can’t change others. Maybe we think that because God respects the volition He gave us. While God could certainly change people against their will, He doesn’t. God gave us each a free will, and He limits Himself on purpose to respect that will. But when a person decides to let God change them, He can do what they can’t on their own, and what we can’t help them do.

Oh, and as a reminder, let’s not give everyone else a hard time when sometimes you and I are the ones who refuse to change.

With God, we are to always be changing for the better. And when someone else changes, we need to let them. We may not always like the changes that come about, but when we realize it’s God’s idea, we realize it’s much better!

More on change:
Change: New, Scary, and Exciting
God Controls Change
Held at Arm’s Length, But Then Changed

Some Notes

I was looking through some old notes yet again and wanted to share a few.

You may reach far, but you will never reach your full potential until you give God your life and let Him lead.

You can worship God anywhere, pray to Him anywhere, and read your Bible anywhere, but remember that there is something different and special about corporate worship! It’s nice to have a stick on fire, but it’s great to have a bonfire!

Whatever you look for, you’ll have a tendency to find.

God is not stuck on one pattern.

You can forgive someone who has not apologized. You can forgive dead people. You can choose to release the offense to God regardless of another’s attitude or state.

Don’t be so tightly focused on what you wish would happen that you despise reality.