Choose to Overcome Fear

Barbara | November 11, 2018 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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Yet Another Year of Choices

By Barbara Dahlgren

My last blog explored the subject of fear from a spiritual perspective. We discussed having a healthy fear of God and learned that fearing God in the right way can bring benefits. God doesn’t want us to unnecessarily tremble in His sight but He does want us to respect His power, acknowledge His holiness, worship His majesty, and reverence Him in our lives. This is not a bad thing. As we build a relationship with the living God, we realize He is a God of love and only wants the best for us.

Fear is a good thing, when kept in perspective. There is a healthy kind of fear that comes with wisdom or heeding caution. It keeps us from jumping off the side of a building thinking we can fly, picking up a rattlesnake thinking we won’t get bit, or driving 150 miles per hour thinking we won’t have an accident.

However, some fears paralyze us, keep us from doing what we should or could do, and prevent us from living a fuller, richer life, which is what God wants for us. Fear is an emotion we humans struggle with, so it’s only natural God would speak of it so often in the Bible – encouraging us not to fall into its grip. We should control our fears, not let our fears control us. Of course this is easier said than done.

Psalm 34:4 tells us that God delivers us from our fear, when we seek Him. Seeking God is a key to overcoming fear. However, this seeking of God is not just so He will deliver us from our trials or fears. We seek God so we can place our trust and faith in Him. It’s this faith and trust in God that calms our anxious hearts.

God has to continually remind us that He is with us.

God commanded Joshua to “be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9 NLT)

David wrote, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for You are with me.” (Psalm 23:4-6)

God told Isaiah, “Fear not for I am with you. Be not dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 40:31)

Sometimes we forget that God is with us. Wherever we go, God is with us.

Consider this… Whatever we encounter, God is with us. We lose sight of this when our focus turns from God to ourselves.

God is all powerful, omnipotent, sovereign, and in control. We should be extolling God at all times. (Psalm 34:1) Our praise for Him should be continually on our lips. Our goal should be to keep ourselves in a perpetual relationship with God – rejoicing always, praying without ceasing, and thanking God in all circumstances. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

If we do this, we won’t have to worry about overcoming fear. God will do it for us!

One final thought… I think there is some wisdom in this Ralph Waldo Emerson quote: “Fear defeats more people than any other one thing in the world.”

 


Choose to Fear the Lord

Barbara | November 4, 2018 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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Yet, Another Year of Choices

By Barbara Dahlgren

Proverbs has much to say about the fear of the Lord.

Proverbs 9:10 tells us, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…” What exactly does that mean? Does it mean we tremble with fear every time God’s name is mentioned? The dictionary definition of fear is “an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.”

Does God want us feel that He is dangerous, a threat or likely to cause us pain? I don’t think so. Although some who don’t really know God could interpret it that way. Some live in a constant state of anxiety thinking if they displease God, He will open the trap door to hell. That’s just not true! However, God does want us to realize He is all powerful! When we know or recognize God as our Creator and our Master, we have reverence and awe for who He is, what He’s done, and what He can do.

Thinking of God as a loving Father can help us relate because there is a certain kind of fear or respect that a child has for a parent. Children realize parents have power over them. However, if the parents love them and use their power wisely, children know they are loved. There will be consequences for wrong behavior, but children know the motive will be love and what is best for them. Then the children want to please their parents not out of anxiety, but out of love.

The same applies with fearing God. If we have a deep reverence for God and His love for us, we want to please Him – not because we feel frightened if we don’t, but because we know it reaps the right result.

If we are aware of God’s awesome presence in our lives, we will fear Him in the right way. We will not be frightened of Him. We will acknowledge His holiness, embrace Him, and reverence Him in our lives. We will want to honor him in everything we do. He will be our priority and come first in our lives.

There are blessings of fearing God and giving Him His rightful place in our lives. It brings…

  • Knowledge (Proverbs 1:7)
  • Humility (Proverbs 3:7)
  • Wisdom (Proverbs 9:10)
  • Recognition of evil (Proverbs 8:13)
  • Departure from evil (Proverbs 16:6)
  • Satisfaction (Proverbs 9:23)
  • Prolonged life (Proverbs 10:27)
  • Confidence (Proverbs 14:26)
  • Spiritual insight (Proverbs 14:27)
  • Contentment (Proverbs 15:16)
  • Great blessings (Proverbs 22:4)

Consider this… Oswald Chambers had an interesting thought on the fear of God. He said, “The remarkable thing about fearing God is that, when you fear God, you fear nothing else; whereas if you do not fear God, you fear everything else.”

Proverbs 1:7 tells us that the fear of God is the beginning of knowledge. It goes on to say, “…but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” The choice is simple. Fear God and gain blessings. It would be foolish to do otherwise.

One final thought… Could the reason we fear men so much is because we don’t have the proper fear of God? Charles Spurgeon once said, “He who fears God has nothing else to fear.”

 

 


Choose to Have Friends

Barbara | October 28, 2018 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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Yet Another Year of Choices

By Barbara Dahlgren

Evonne and I have been friends since the second grade and believe me, that’s a long time. Even as kids, we had an uncanny ability to know what the other one was thinking and laugh, laugh, laugh. We’ve shared the good times and the bad, but through it all we’ve always felt God’s presence and guiding hand in our lives. We do not see eye to eye on every minor theological tenet, but our belief in God has cemented our relationship and strengthened our bond.

Sadly, friendships like ours are becoming a thing of the past. Our society touts hundreds of friends on Facebook. We can now have more friends on Facebook than we’ve actually met in real life. However, sociologists at Cornell University have found most Americans have fewer close confidants now than they did a generation ago. While people appear to be just as social as ever, friendships are shallower leaving us to go through tough times alone.

Medical researchers have found that those who have close friends tend to be happier, healthier, and live longer than those who don’t. Having friends has numerous physical and spiritual benefits. According to the Mayo Clinic, in addition to preventing loneliness and giving companionship, friends can…

  • Increase your sense of purpose
  • Help the body’s autoimmune system resist disease
  • Help you cope with trauma such as divorce, illness, death, job loss
  • Promote brain health

Overall, medical and psychological studies prove that people who have one or more close friends are in better health than those who have only casual friends or no friends at all. In fact, studies say that maintaining positive relationships should rank up there with healthy eating and exercise as a necessary investment in your health.

In order to have friends, we need to learn how to be a good friend. Here is what the Bible says about real friends…

  • Proverbs 17:17: They love at all times. They know us, accept our weaknesses and imperfections, but love us anyway.
  • Proverbs 27:17: They give us a different perspective like “iron sharpening iron.” This also indicates a certain respect friends have for each other because iron cannot sharpen iron unless opinions are respected even though not agreed upon.
  • Proverbs 27:9: They give wise counsel in a tactful way.
  • Proverbs 27:5, 6: Even if a friend has to tell us something we don’t want to hear, it’s better because we know we can trust them.
  • Proverbs 18:24: Friends are with you through thick and thin – sometimes closer than family.
  • Ecclesiastes 4:8-12: Friends lift you up and strengthen you. It passage says, “Two are better than one because if one falls down the other one helps him up.” Friends form a bond that is not easily broken.

Of course our best friend is Jesus. He accepts us unconditionally. He loves us when we are unlovable. He wants to spend time with us. He’ll never leave or forsake us. He wants only the best for us. He rejoices with us when we accomplish something. He comforts us when we are weary. He picks us up when we fall. He stays with us when we are frightened. He cries with us when we are sad. He laughs with us when we are happy.

Consider this… God created us to be relational. The Father, Son, and Spirit are relational and invite us into that relationship with them and others.

Those of us who are blessed with a few close friends can be very thankful. Those who aren’t might want to increase contact with other believers so friendships can develop.

Charles Spurgeon put it this way: “Some Christians try to go to heaven alone, in solitude. But believers are not compared to bears or lions or other animals that wander alone. Those who belong to Christ are sheep in this respect; they love to get together. Sheep go in flocks, and so do God’s people.”

One final thought…

True friends aren’t the ones who make your problems disappear. They are the ones who don’t disappear when you have problems.

 

 

 


Choose Not to Be Blind

Barbara | October 21, 2018 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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Yet Another Year of Choices

By Barbara Dahlgren

Years ago an article in Discover Magazine entitled Sight Unseen caught my eye. It recounted the true story of Mike May, a man who lost his sight at the age of 3 when a jar of lantern fuel fell and exploded in his face. But Mike was not going to let being blind slow him down. He played flag football and soccer in school. He held the world speed record for downhill skiing by a blind person. He earned a master’s degree in international affairs at Johns Hopkins, worked for the CIA, and became president of a company that made talking Global Positioning Systems for the blind. He even found time to marry and have two children. Then, with modern technology, a miraculous surgery gave him back his sight.

According to the surgeons, May’s eyes were given a lens that ought to provide crystal clear vision. But…it didn’t. Since Mike May was blind from childhood, his brain had never been programmed to fully process the visual information it received. Therefore, Mike had to still use his seeing-eye dog and walk by tapping the sidewalk with his cane. He was a blind man with vision. Sight signals went to the brain but they were not being interpreted well. He should have been able to discern letters on an eye chart from 25 feet away but he could only see them at 2 feet away. He couldn’t distinguish a cube from a sphere. Basically, although Mike had his sight restored, he had to learn to see which is still an ongoing process.

This article helped me to realize how amazing it was when Jesus healed the man blind from birth in John 9. Of course, it was a miracle that the man gained sight, but according to the scientific data we now have available to us, it was a miracle he could see clearly after Jesus gave him his sight.

In Luke 18, a blind beggar was persistent in shouting to Jesus as He passed. Was Jesus asking a foolish question when He said, “What do you want of me?” It was obvious that the blind beggar wanted to see. “Lord, I want to see.” Perhaps Jesus knew that gaining sight is a tricky thing. When we gain sight, sometimes we don’t see as well as we would like. Sometimes we see things we don’t want to see.

Spiritually speaking, God does not wish us to be blind. He wants to reveal His truth to us. He wants us to have minds ready to assimilate that truth. He wants us to see clearly. But do we really want to see?

Consider this… To see means we might have to actually study the Bible rather than just rely on what we think it says. To see means we might have to not only believe what God says but act on it. To see means we might have to learn how to worship God in spirit and truth. To see means we might need to reevaluate why we do what we do. To see means that things may be hazy for a little while until our brains program the information. To see means we might actually need to change.

Being able to see is a much more complicated process than we might think. Still, it beats the alternative to staying blind. Just ask Mike May.

One last thought…

When I sing the worship song Open the Eyes of My Heart, Lord, it has much more meaning for me now. After all, I don’t want to have sight without vision.

 

 

 

 


Choose to Praise God

Barbara | October 14, 2018 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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Yet Another Year of Choices

By Barbara Dahlgren

Praising God is so much more than just singing songs each week in church services, although that can be a part of it. It’s realizing how BIG God is and how little we are.

It reminds me of the chorus from a song called Yakko’s Universe. Yakko is one of the cartoon characters from Animaniacs, an animated comedy series from the 1990s that I used to watch with my son. The lyrics went something like this…

“It’s a great big universe and we’re all really puny. We’re just tiny little specks about the size of Mickey Rooney. It’s big and black and inky and we are small and dinky. It’s a big universe and we’re not.”

That’s how it is with God. He’s a great BIG God and we’re not. That’s the first step. We realize that God is BIG and powerful and great.

Then this great, big, powerful God who owns the universe sacrifices His Son so we can have salvation. WOW! He says, “Come and follow Me and I will care for you. My Son has paid the penalty for your sin. I will wipe your slate clean. I will supply all your needs. I will forgive you. I will let you start anew. I will be with you in the good times and the bad times. You will never be alone. I will give you strength. I will lift the burdens of this world off your shoulders. I will give you rest. I will give you comfort. I will give you hope. I will give you eternal life. I will give you true love.”

When this sinks in with us, we cannot comprehend the wonder of it all. As we do gain understanding, we fall to our knees. We cry. We repent. We surrender. This is where praise begins…with a certain brokenness.

Suddenly we see God face-to-face. We see Him everywhere. We see His strength in a thunderstorm. We see His peace in a sleeping baby. We see His majesty in a towering mountain. We see His joy in a laughing child. We see His beauty in a vibrant sunset. We see His vastness in a star-filled sky. We see His guidance in our lives. When we see God face-to-face, our focus changes. We arise from bed in the morning blessing Him. We thank Him as we drive the car. We want to walk with Him. We talk with Him throughout the day. We meditate on His greatness, His power, His love. We whisper the name of Jesus. We shout for joy. We realize the reason we live is to worship Him.

Men build doctrines around the interpretation of one scripture and ignore the hundreds that say to praise God. Why? Could it be easier to academically pontificate on hidden meanings than to totally surrender our hearts, minds, and very beings to God? Is it easier to know about God than to come to know Him intimately? I think so, because we can remain detached. If we truly know God, we cannot remain detached for He lives in us.

Consider this… As you read the Bible, I urge you to look for buzzwords that are linked to praise – words like bless, thanksgiving, thankful, thank, sacrifice, look to, lift hands, sing, dance, leap, joyful noise, joy, worship, rejoice, worthy, awesome, etc. They’re everywhere!

You see, God doesn’t need our praise but we need to praise Him. Through praise we affirm over and over again God’s greatness and how thankful we are to have Him in our lives. (Revelation 4:8-11)

One final thought…

Have you prayed about your concerns as much as you’ve talked about them? We would worry less if we praised God more.

 


Choose to Embrace the Day

Barbara | October 7, 2018 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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Yet Another Year of Choices

By Barbara Dahlgren

One of my favorite scriptures is Psalm 118:24: “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” That means every day is a brand new gift from God. Each new day is full of opportunities and possibilities. It’s another chance to hold loved ones near, to enjoy creation, to praise and worship God. And we are commanded to rejoice and be glad IN it – not in spite of it or after it’s over – but IN it!

There’s no denying that some days are good and some are not so good, but there is always some positive aspect to be found. Our job is to search it out! Far too many rob themselves of appreciating today by living in regret of yesterday and fear of tomorrow. Let’s face it – yesterday is gone and there is no guarantee for tomorrow, so today is all we have.

So how can we make the most of each and every day the Lord has made and given to us. Here are few suggestions…

  • Be glad! Find something, anything to be happy about! (Psalm 118:24)
  • Rejoice! Give God praise and worship no matter how you feel! (Philippians 4:4)
  • Be thankful! Find something, anything to be thankful for! (Colossians 2:6-7, Psalm 95:2, 1 Thessalonians 5:18)
  • Stay in constant communication with God. Say short prayers all day long. (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
  • Laugh at least once every day! (Proverbs 17:22)
  • Notice and enjoy a little of God’s creation. (Psalm 8:1-4)
  • Think good thoughts and the best of others! (Philippians 4:8)
  • Don’t worry or fear! Worry and fear cannot solve problems. (Philippians 4:6a, Psalm 56:3-4)
  • Turn problems over to God! (Philippians 4:6)
  • Trust God! Whisper the words “I trust You Lord” often. (Proverbs 3:5, Psalm 34:8, Psalm 62:8)
  • Keep minds focused on Jesus! (Isaiah 26:3, Hebrews 12:2)
  • Savor God’s love. Nothing can separate us from God’s love. He is with us always. (Romans 8:38-39; Matthew 28:20)
  • Remember, it’s not about us; it’s about God. So do everything for His glory. (1 Corinthians 10:31)

Consider this… This is the day that the Lord has made. If we do any of the above suggestions, we should be able to rejoice and be glad in it!

One final thought…

Today is the first day of the rest of your life, so don’t screw it up!


Choose to Be on God’s Side

Barbara | September 30, 2018 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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Yet Another Year of Choices

By Barbara Dahlgren

 

Abraham Lincoln was president during one of the  most trying times in our nation – the Civil War. According to several books written about Lincoln, when a man approached him and said, “Mr. President, we trust during this time of trial in which the nation is engaged, God is on our side, and will give us victory.” Lincoln replied: “Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side. My greatest concern is to be on God’s side…”

Lincoln refused to picture the North as entirely virtuous in the Civil War, nor the South entirely evil. He knew each was fighting for a cause they believed in. In his second Inaugural Address in 1865 he said, “Both (North and South) read the same Bible and pray to the same God…” He knew the outcome was in God’s hands. He knew God’s perspective is not always our perspective. God sees everything and we don’t.

Lincoln had profound spiritual perception – which is remarkable considering he never professed to be a Christian. Lincoln attended but never joined a church. He was disillusioned by organized religion, but he never denied the truth of the Scriptures. He read the Bible throughout his life, quoted from it, and made use of biblical images. It is said he knew much of the Bible by heart. He pointed our country to God and continually asked for prayers. He was not a theologian, but he openly acknowledged the sovereignty of God and he was wise enough to see the subtle difference between God being on our side or us being on God’s side.

How many of us want to be on God’s side? Academically, we probably all do. Emotionally, if we are totally honest, most of us want God to be on our side. We want God to back us up, continually deliver us, and think like we do. We may pray, “Thy will be done,” but in our hearts we want God to give us what we yearn for. Far too often we seek for God’s will to align with ours when we should be praying for our will to align with His.

Being on God’s side means we believe and trust God even when He doesn’t give us what we want. A good illustration of this is found in Daniel 2. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow down to the golden idol because they knew there is only one true God. As a result, King Nebuchadnezzar had them thrown into a fiery furnace.

They didn’t say, “God is on our side. He will protect us.” No, in essence they said, “We are on God’s side. We know that the God we serve is able to deliver us, but even if He chooses not to, we still won’t serve your gods or worship your golden image.”

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego knew what it meant to be truly and wholeheartedly on God’s side. They knew God could deliver them, but if for some reason it wasn’t His will that they be delivered, that was okay with them. Only God knows what His perfect plan is in our lives. Only God can bring it to completion.

Consider this… We can learn a lot from Lincoln’s statement: “Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side. My great concern is to be on God’s side.” May we always believe and trust God. May we always seek to be on God’s side.

One final thought…

Here is the rest of Lincoln’s quote: “My greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.”


Choose to Love God Regardless

Barbara | September 23, 2018 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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Yet Another Year of Choices

By Barbara Dahlgren

 

In Romans we are asked a rhetorical question, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” (Romans 8:35)

Truthfully, nothing can separate us from Christ’s love, which is revealed as we read further in this passage: “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35-39)

We cannot be separated from God’s love because He loves us regardless. He loves us whether we are good or bad, whether we win or lose, and whether times are smooth or rough. Whether we believe it or not, God loves us! He sent His Son Jesus Christ to die for us. Jesus Christ died for us while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8) and there is no greater love than to die for someone. (John 15:13) So God loves us. It’s a given. No matter what happens, God loves us.

As Christians, perhaps the more important question to ask is whether or not we will still love God when hardships come? Don’t kid yourself into thinking Christians are immune from trials and distress. Hardships are a given in life whether we are saints or sinners. The Christian life was never promised to be without difficulties. Will we love God during the bad times as well as the good?

Our Biblical forefathers must have thought about this as well. Here are some of their conclusions:

Habakkuk: “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in the God of my salvation.” (Habakkuk 3:17-18)

Micah: “Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD shall be a light unto me.” (Micah 7:8)

Job: “Then said his wife unto him, ‘Dost thou still retain thine integrity? Curse God, and die.’ But he said unto her, ‘Thou speak as one of the foolish women speaks. What? Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?’ In all this Job did not sin with his lips.” (Job 2:9-10)

My favorite example is Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. When faced with the possibility of being burned alive, they basically said they knew God was able to deliver them. However, if God chose not to deliver them, it was okay with them. (Daniel 3:16-18) They would love and praise God no matter what He decided to do.

Consider this… Loving and praising God is not so much about good times or bad times, or when we win or lose. It’s about loving and trusting Him no matter what. After all, that’s the kind of love He gives to us!

One final thought…

God loves you. Others may think you are a jerk – and you may very well be, but God loves you anyway.

 


Choose to “Eat” Your Bible

Barbara | September 16, 2018 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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Yet Another Year of Choices

By Barbara Dahlgren

Menelik II was an intelligent, dynamic African ruler who lived from 1844 to 1913. He established the nation of Ethiopia and is remembered for preserving the freedom of his people by defeating a major Italian military expedition. He strengthened his kingdom through expansion and modernization.

Legends tell us that Menelik II believed the word of God had curative powers. When he felt ill, he would actually eat a few pages of scripture. This seemed to work quite well for him. Then in 1913 he had a stroke and prescribed himself a strict diet of first and second Kings. He survived the stroke but died of a bowel obstruction shortly afterwards – probably caused by excessive amounts of paper in his intestines. If he had read the book of Kings instead of literally eating it, he might have learned something and lived in the process.

Ezekiel and John were given specific instructions from God to literally eat a scroll or two. However, we don’t see any other prophets, disciples, or apostles doing the same thing. It would give a whole new meaning to the Last Supper. However, the Bible often uses the image of eating as a metaphor for studying God’s Word. Jeremiah said that when God’s Word came to him, he “ate” it. (Jeremiah 15:16)

2 Timothy 2:15 commands us to study the Bible. Metaphorically speaking, we should devour it like a healthy meal. In our hearts, we know that spiritual food is better than physical food. After all, man wasn’t meant to live by bread alone but by every Word of God. (Matthew 4:4) The scriptures were given by inspiration from God to help us understand doctrine, correct us, instruct us, train us, and equip us for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17) The Thessalonians were commended for searching the scriptures daily. (Acts 17:11)

We know this, but the sad fact is that most of us don’t even read our Bibles daily, much less study them. However, we rarely go a day without eating because we know our physical bodies cannot survive without physical food. Not only do we eat daily, but the health conscious among us strive to eat a balanced diet. Menelik II found out the hard way that too much of the wrong kind of fiber could be hazardous to your health.

One’s spiritual life cannot survive without the spiritual food found in the Bible. Listening to TV preachers, reading devotionals, and attending small group meetings are great but should not be substitutions for daily drinking in God’s Word. Not only should we be “eating” the Bible daily, but in a balanced way. A spiritual diet of all prophecy will not make a healthy Christian.

Consider this… If we are what we eat, I recommend we “eat” our Bibles. Not the way Menelik II did, because it did not reap a healthy result. “Eat” your bible the way Jeremiah did. “Thy words were found and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O Lord God of hosts.”

One final thought…

There’s an old saying: Garbage in; garbage out. It came from the computer world indicating that when poor or incorrect input occurs, a faulty output is produced. The same can apply to our bodies and minds. So be cautious about what your body and mind feed on so each can produce the right result.

 


Choose to Be a Good Christian, Not a Bad One

Barbara | September 9, 2018 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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Yet Another Year of Choices

By Barbara Dahlgren

One of my favorite movies is The Wizard of Oz. I love it! Dorothy spins over that rainbow and lands on top of a wicked witch. Then the lovely Glinda floats down like a beauty queen to ask Dorothy in a wavery voice, “Are you a good witch or a bad witch?” Dorothy is perplexed. “I’m not a witch at all,” she says. “Witches are old and ugly.”

“Tee-hee-hee,” the Munchkins titter. The elegant Glinda replies, “They’re laughing because – I am a witch.”

Things aren’t always what they seem, are they? Consider if someone were to ask you, “Are you a good Christian or a bad Christian?” Is a bad Christian anomaly? Aren’t all Christians, by virtue of just being Christian, good? If that were true, books like When Bad Christians Happen to Good People by Dave Burchett wouldn’t have to be written.

Christians who try to shove religion down another’s throat in the name of Christ miss the mark of what Christianity is all about. The Bible says to be ready to give an answer to those who ask. (1 Peter 3:15) No one wants to ask an obnoxious Christian anything. Maybe that’s why they feel the need to preach their version of Christ to all they meet. Some want to convert people to be like them rather than leading them to encounter the risen Christ.

Nor should we be trying to spiritually psychoanalyze someone else. Telling people who have problems, sickness, or trials that they are suffering because God is punishing them or they are sinning or they are not close enough to God is not comforting nor is it biblical. The greatest apostle of all, Paul, had severe trials and a thorn in the flesh God didn’t remove. Was he not close enough to God???? Well, if he wasn’t, none of us will ever be.

Are Christians perfect? Of course not! But the errors should come more from stumbling and falling in the process of becoming like Christ (walking the walk) rather than merely forcing others to share their point of view on Christianity (talking the talk). As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Who you are speaks so loudly, I can’t hear what you are saying.” People should know a Christian by how they live, how they treat others, their love of God, and the fruits of the spirit manifest in their lives.

How does the Bible say you can recognize a disciple of Christ? “By this all will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35) 1 Peter 2:15 says, “…by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.”

Consider this… Should we be able to talk the talk? You bet! How else will you know what and why you believe? But more importantly, if you want to win souls for Christ, you better walk the walk. If you walk the walk, people are going to be more inclined to hear what you have to say. This may be one way to tell the good Christians from the bad.

One final thought…

What we do can speak so loudly that others won’t be able to hear what we are saying.