Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Fat Tuesday

Today is Fat Tuesday, so I have been thinking about the Lenten season. I am not one to give up something for Lent just for the sake of giving it up. I think it really has to be a sacrifice and one that will bring me closer to God, or else what is the point. Some years I will add something worshipful to my days instead of giving something up. I think this makes more sense to me as far as furthering my relationship with God. We do need to stop and remember the sacrifice that Jesus made, but we can do that without giving up something, can't we?

Then I start wondering if this was just my rebellious nature coming out. I didn't want to just give something up because I was 'supposed to' during Lent, so I dug in my heals and didn't. But was I really listening to what God wanted from me, or was I just doing my own thing again? I am not sure. It is hard to tell sometimes which thoughts are mine and which are Gods. It takes some being still before him and prayerfully reading the scriptures.

I found a few scriptures about sacrifice; from reading these scriptures it seems to me that God does not ask us to necessarily give up tangible things as sacrifices, as the Jewish people were asked to do under the Hebraic Laws. He expects us to be living sacrifices. A living sacrifice is in so many ways harder to define than bringing our best sheep to the altar. It takes some commitment of the spirit to renew our minds daily so that we can bring our best to the Lord as an offering every day. This means every day, not just during Lent.

Lent can be a good time to shed some bad habits and to start some new ones, however. It is a punctuation mark in the year that allows us to stop and take stock in our lives. Are my attitudes pleasing to God? Am I serving others as I should be? Are my days filled with productive activities - not just busy work, but things that matter in the world? Do I take time to dwell on spiritual matters instead of worries? These are the questions we should be asking ourselves. I know I will in a state of introspection - taking my inventory and seeing what needs my attention most.

Prayerfully the areas that I need to work on will be revealed to me. I can spend some time refreshing my life as I remember that I owe my life to the one who sacrificed it all for me.

Romans 12:1-3 (New International Version)

1Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

3For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.

Mark 12:32-34 (New International Version)

32"Well said, teacher," the man replied. "You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices."

34When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.

Hebrews 13:15-16 (New International Version)

15Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name. 16And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

1 Peter 2:5 (New International Version)

5you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

She didn't choose abortion - now what?

We all have our pet issues and problems that touch our hearts. Not just moms, but especially among  moms, the majority of us are drawn to matters that involve children. I've participated in ad-nauseum discussions on the issue of abortion, when life begins, and who has the right to terminate a pregnancy.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Should Christians be Figthing for Israel?

Why do so many of my Christian friends feel that it is their duty to take up the fight for Israel in their battle against Palestine?

This is a question that has been on my mind and heart a lot lately. I have been praying about this because I wondered if I was being remiss in some way not feeling that it is my battle to wage. In my prayers and in my studies I always test my feelings against the word to see if I am being deceived or if the Holy Spirit is speaking to me. After much reading and prayer, I still feel that God is not calling me to support this battle. I believe that I am being called to live at peace.

I feel that as a Christian I should fight battles in my own backyard. There are some radical Christians who need to be eradicated. They need to be told that they are not living as Christ and are doing a lot of harm and nothing good to spread the gospel. This is where my focus needs to be.

This is not to say that I do not have a heart for people who are caught in the cross fire of the conflict between Israel and Palestine because I do. I pray that they will be saved from further devastation.

2 Corinthians 13:11-12 (New International Version)

11Finally, brothers, good-by. Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.

12Greet one another with a holy kiss.

John 14:25-27

25"All this I have spoken while still with you. 26But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

James 3:13-18

13Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. 16For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

17But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.

Romans 12:17-19

17Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay,"a]">says the Lord.

John 16:33

33"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."