This and That

Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

They call my son the worship leader. He sings the loudest, knows all the words, and beams when he is asked to help lead the rest of the class in the songs. Hearing these words from the children’s teacher at our church filled my heart with so much joy and love for my son. To know he is not only growing in his faith at church but is thriving is an amazing feeling as a parent. I love that he is helping to bring joy to his classmates as well.

Maybe he’ll even end up with a talent neither hubby or I have, the ability to carry a tune.

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I was doing my bible study the other day while the boys were napping and had an epiphany. My study is in the Book of Acts, which is focused on the beginnings of the Christian church and the disciple Paul’s travels bringing the gospel to other countries. I have read Acts several times and when you read something so often it can become dry and uneventful. But the Book of Acts should be anything but boring. This is the account of how the church got started, about the first believers, and how they worshiped Jesus. Acts is our blueprint of how early Christians saw their faith and how we should see our faith two thousands years later.

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MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!!!!!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY JESUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Gospel of Luke: Chapter 2

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.

4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child,18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

The Gospel of Matthew: Chapter 2

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi[a] from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:

6 “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’[b]

7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared.8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

The Escape to Egypt

13 When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”

14 So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15 where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”[c]

16 When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. 17 Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:

18 “A voice is heard in Ramah,
weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more.”[d]

The Return to Nazareth

19 After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 20 and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.”

21 So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, 23 and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene.

May the day of our LORD’s birth be remembered , tomorrow, and everyday throughout the year!

May God bless you and keep you safe this season and through 2012!

So we don’t all forget the real reason for the Christmas season in the midst of all the presents and craziness:

The Gospel of Luke Chapter 1

God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[b] the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”

38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

 

The Gospel of Matthew: Chapter 1

18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about[d]: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet[e] did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,[f]because he will save his people from their sins.”

22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”[g] (which means “God with us”).

24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

And then….

Christmas is less than a week away and you can see it everywhere. All the houses and stores have their Christmas lights glowing and decorations are hung. Christmas music is being played around the clock on most radio stations and all the wonderful Christmas movies are being shown on television. Christmas is probably the biggest holiday, not just in America but the world; which is fabulous but in light of all this cheer something was brought to my attention that troubles me about this holiday. Something I had never thought about before, in my eight years as a Christian.

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In life we have to make hard decisions.

Decisions that affect not only our lives but the lives of our families, friends, and even strangers.

We can not predict the future or know how events will play out.

All we can do is get the best information available, weigh the pros and cons, and decide.

But there is one more thing we should do…

One more step we should make before making a hard decision…

It should really be our first step in the whole decision making process…

Prayer.

We should bring all our problems, questions, and decisions to God and prayfully ask for His guidance and wisdom.

I do not do this enough.

I need to do this more.

I will do this more.

Will you?

One of the lessons from Jesus is not to judge people. Matthew 7:1 says ““Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” The gospel of Jesus is about love; loving God, loving your family and friends, and loving your enemies. With love there is no room for judgement. I am a Christian, I love God, I love my family and friends, I try to love my enemies, but I judge others all the time.

I have always known I had this problem but it slapped me in the face this morning. The boys and I do a bible study once a week at a local church. The bible study is not affiliated with the church and members of the bible study come from all backgrounds and church denominations. The church we meet at is one of the largest and most influential in Orange County, maybe the country. Needless to say it’s a very rich church and it’s congregation is very wealthy.

This bible study seems to have a lot more wealthy women in it than any other studies I have been too and it is here, in this place, with these women that my judgements are coming out.

1. I make the judgement these wealthy women all go to this wealthy church.

2. I make the judgement that these women who wear expensive clothes, jewelry, and are dressed extermely hip can’t possibly, really love Jesus.

3. I make the judgement that women who get Botox, boob jobs, and nose jobs, can’t love Jesus.

4. I make the judgement that these women are here for the social aspect of the bible study; they don’t really read the bible or do the homework.

It’s only the third meeting and this morning I started to regret signing up for it. I was already composing an email in my head to my old bible study group (that meets in another city and church) about how much I missed them, how all this Botox and all the diamonds are completely distracting to the Word of God. I went on to say (in my head) none of these women are genuine believers and this whole study was fake.

I did go to the study and sat down ready to play on my phone during the lecture when the leader started speaking about being filled with the Holy Spirit and how the fruit of the Spirit is love. Love. SLAP! I believe the Holy Spirit slapped me in the face and called me a judger. Love is the main calling of our gospel. I know this and yet I was sitting in judgement of these women and completely not loving them because they have more money than I do, because they have made different financial choices then I would, because, because, because…the list could go on and on.

Ouch! I am judging these women, women I don’t even know. Then the Holy Spirit revealed even more darkness in my heart: I judge rich people in general very harshly. This is so eye opening to me because I am the first to tell anyone that God doesn’t call money a curse; it’s what we do with the money each individual is given that matters. Yet, I automatically assume rich people can’t really love Jesus because they are too busy loving their money. This is so untrue and I am disgusted at this revelation into my heart. Awful! Horrible! So wicked of me!

So I want to apologize to all the women at my bible study and to all the rich Jesus-loving people in the world. I am so sorry I have wrongly judged you. I am so ashamed at my thoughts and behavior. I pray you will forgive me! Lord, please forgive me.

“You will be judged according to your conduct and your actions, declares the Sovereign LORD.’” Ezekiel 24:14b