Do you listen to God?

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Do you listen to God or do you do all of the talking?

Recently, I had another ear surgery in a series of ear surgeries.  In these ear surgeries, my hearing goes down to very minimal and I have to wait to my ear to heal itself and wait on God’s timing.  I was hoping to be able to hear right after this last ear surgery with my BAHA (Bone Anchored Hearing Aid) which is more than a hearing aid.  It is a sound processor that lets me hear using bone conduction rather than the normal air conduction. Bone conduction converts the sound to vibrations in which my ear nerves can pick up and interpret as a sound.  Well to a surprise to all of us (including my ear doctor), my hearing was farther down than expecting and my tinnitus (a condition where you hear sound when no sound is being made) was (and still is) through the roof so much so that my BAHA cannot penetrate the tinnitus and packing in my only good ear to be able to work as it should.  Thankfully I went back to my ear doctor and he looked and ran a hearing test and saw my hearing is intact, it will just take time for my hearing to come back.

So what do you do when all you hear is sound being produced in your head and nothing else?  You can read a lot of books (which I am) or turn on close captioning on the TV to watch a good program (which is harder and harder to come by) or you talk to your family and friends by reading their lips which I do or do you can listen to God.

I do listen to God through my daily devotional and prayers, but there is always room to grow in this area.  Most Christians that pray often have a “laundry list” of prayer requests and go down that list and mark off the prayer time as ‘complete’, but there is more to prayer than just requests. God knows your needs, but wants you to get to know Him better.  Prayer is a two way street where it is a conversation that you have with God and more importantly God has with you.  Prayer is the time where you stop what you are doing to talk and listen to God.  Not only to thank Him for what He has done in your life and lives of others and to verbalize your requests to him, but more importantly to realize who God is.   Do you acknowledge that God is the maker of all things and there is no one more powerful than Him?  If you frame your conversation with God in that light, you come away with a new appreciation of who God is and who you are and what should your prayer time be.

With my recent hearing impairment, I have been listening to God more and not saying a word.  What I am hearing from God?  He is letting me know that He is in control because He is God.  From Psalm 46:10:

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.”

The interesting part of this verse is that we have to “Be still” or how other Bible versions state to “Stop your striving” or “Stop your fighting”.  Meaning before we can be ready to learn more about God, we have to stop what we are doing and stop talking.  The second part of the verse lets you know that God is God and it is not dependent on anything we do or say.   So through my prayer time and sit back and stop what I am doing or thinking and listen to what God has to say to me.

When you pray….Do you stop and listen to God?

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Patience is not a Virtue

You hear people say that “patience is a virtue”, but I say it is not a virtue.  For people who follow Jesus, patience is a tool that God use to show us how dependent we are on God for each and every moment.

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I did a little research and found out the patience is one of the  seven heavenly virtues  mentioned in the poem  “Battle/Contest of the Soul” written by Aurelius Clemens Prudentius, and are opposites of the seven deadly sins also mentioned in the same poem.  But back to patience…God uses patience a lot in our lives and you can see it a tool he has used many times before within the Bible.   Just look at the life of Job as one example.   In my life personally, God has been using patience as a tool as my one working ear hearing goes up one day and down the next day.   You think you are doing better one day, but then you wake up the next day with only a portion of your hearing.   It is quite frustrating.  I know that God is not a God who likes “play with our emotions”, but he wants to me to really know and rely on him that he has it under control   Many times when my hearing is down, Satan like to use those times to tell you lies that God does not care or to accuse me of a sin that he tells you that God will not forgive me and I desire what I get.   I know that God is will forgive me of any sin except for blaspheming of the Holy Spirit (see Mark 3:28-29), but each day I wake up with my ear problems, I do pray to God to thank him for providing me a new day to praise him and to ask him to help me get through the day.   I know that God will get me through this mess and is building my faith and dependence on Him in the process.  This dependence is a good thing because God who made the universe is capable of taking care of me.  It does not mean that I should not go to the ear doctor to see what is happen, but to rely on God to heal my ear problems and to praise God for the things he has gave me.  I also know that when my hearing is down it gives me a chance to step back and to talk to God without many distractions.  In today’s world, we have too many things that can distract us from God which can moves us farther away from God which is like walking a faulty tight rope without a net. 

What are you battling with?   Is it a physically problem, a relationship problem, or another kind of problem.  Take that problem to God and ask God to help you through the problem.   Also praise God and thank him for the things that he has given you.

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Praising God for My Troubles

I am praising God throughout my ear trouble. My hearing has gone down again, but God has shown me signs that He is with me helping me through the mess.  I have my weak moments, but I keep trusting in God that he will clear up my ear.  With my hearing down, there has been a lot of time to talk to and listen to God.  When I listen carefully, I know God is telling me even when things look bad, I am here with you to get you through these times. 

Do you trust God through your dark times?

praising God in the storm

2 Corinthians 4:17-18: “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”  http://bible.com/111/2co.4.17-18.niv

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How Should Christians Respond to “Politically Correct” Issues?

We have all seen where things the public deems them politically correct or not politically correct. The Bible is quite clear on what is sin and what is not sin which is anything that is short of God’s perfection (Romans 3:23), but we know full well no one is perfect (Romans 3:23).  Most of actions and thoughts that the Bible calls sin is not politically correct to call it sin.  That where Christians have to decide how to respond to hot topic issues that the Bible clearly states is sin.

Have you ever heard the phrase “Hate the sin, but not the sinner”?  I have heard this statement many times from Christians and it really sends the wrong message about Christians.  The focus is on hate, but as Christian we need to express what the Bible says.   I have been reading and hearing a lot about what happens to Christians when they state what they believe which is Bible based on some of the hot button topic issues where their biblical views are not currently politically correct (e.g. homosexuality,  adultery, casual sex,  lying, cheating, etc).  As soon as a christian speaks about one of these hot button issues, different non-christian come out to condemn the christian for saying what he believes (i.e. christian are judgemental) or different christians say “hate the sin, but not the sinner”.  For christians in the public eye the condemnation seems worse.   The condemnation is spread wide and publicize in different media.  Some companies who are sponsoring the christian in the public eye may stop funding them.   What should a Christian do?

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I was looking at two sections of Bible; one is  John 4:1-26 and the other is John 8:1-11.  John 4 talks about how Jesus not only talks to a Samaritan woman (in those days, Jews and Samaritans did not associated with each other) and presents the gift of eternal life through faith in Jesus, but also shows her why she cannot earn this gift by talking about her having five husbands and living with a guy who is not her husband.  John 8 talks about how the Pharisees who brought a woman who committed adultery to see how Jesus would respond on what should happen to this women.  Jesus starting writing in the dirt and one by one the Pharisees left the area until none of them were left.  When Jesus got up and asked the women where were her accusers she said no one was there. Which Jesus replied “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (verse John 8:11). I think these two Bible passages give Christian a few guidelines on how to respond to hot topic issues where their response is not politically correct.

Speak the truth– Christian should never respond to an issue in a non-biblical way.   Never call what the Bible calls sin good.  In John 8, Jesus plainly states to “leave your life of sin” (John 8:11). Once you come to accept Jesus is your Lord and Savior from hell,  Jesus never states to stay in your sins, but quite the opposite (see Romans 6:15-23).   Christians need to speak about issues from a biblically point a view whether it is be politically correct or not politically correct.

Speak Knowledgeable – If you do not know what Bible says about a topic, ask God to help you find out the truth on that topic,  dig into your Bible, use Bible tools (concordance, Bible studies on that topic, etc.) and ask spiritual leaders that you know to point you to Bible passages that talk about the issue.   So when you are asked about that topic, you can respond in a biblical approach.  Understand what the Bible says about most hot topics will not be popular and you may be persecuted for holding the biblical position.  You may lose your stature within a certain group of people or you may lose worldly success (a raise, a job, an invitation to a “cool” event), but it better to stand for what the Bible says now rather than conforming your beliefs to the world views.  Normally the worlds views is total against what the Bible and Jesus represent.  If your views reflect the worlds view, it leaves your christian witness useless (Matthew 5:13).

Speak in love – This phrase has been used a lot and can mean different things to different people.  To some it means do not talk about an issue that may offend someone and to others it means to speak about these issues, but from a biblical standpoint.  It should be interpreted as the latter.  Only one sin is not forgivable and that is blaspheming the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:31).  All other sins God will forgive (if you ask for forgiveness – see Acts 3:19).  So whenever you are asked about a hot topic issue or God provides an opening for you to speak about a hot topic issue, speak from a Biblical standpoint, but as your sin is not less or more then other people sin, speak in words that are biblical and that point people to their need of Jesus Christ.  As you are not perfect while you are on earth, speak from a humble standpoint (don’t be self righteous) as you respond to hot topic issues.

Speak in whole – This is where I think a lot of Christians get caught.  They see a sin (for example abortion) and they will do everything in their power to point out that abortion is a sin and will stand outside abortion clinics with signs while ignoring the significance of other sins.  Would I go out in front of an abortion clinic and picket it, probably not because it brings more attention to the Christian and what they are against rather than a Christian who is pointing people to Jesus Christ.  I would write letters to my congressional members and the President asking them to vote against a certain proposed bill because it promotes abortions.  I would also communicate with the same people about other topics too that support a Biblical view or against a bill because it does not promote a Biblical stands.  I also would more readily support a company that promotes a Biblical standpoint than other companies that do not promote a Biblical standpoint.  I also refuse to support with time or money on any company that is based on a non-Biblical viewpoints (like a store that only sells pronographic material or services).

Christians need to be known for who they serve (Jesus Christ) and not known as person that is against one particular sin.  Remember, Christians are the light of the world.  As if read in Matthew 5:14-16:

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Let our lives(light) point people to God and gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ.

So the next time you asked about a hot topic issue, how will you respond?

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Finding Hope

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Do you ever wish that finding hope in life was as easy reading a road sign?  Everybody has ups and downs in their life.  When you are in the down part of your life sometimes it is hard to find hope and courage to keep going, but there are three things to remember that will help you find that hope.

1.   Rely on Jesus – Some people put their hope in people or things, but since we are in a sinful and live is a broken world, these people or things will always fail no matter what they have promised.  Jesus is without sin and  what he promises will come to true.  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Heb. 13:8).  His ultimate promise to save us from our sinful ways, was fulfilled when he died on the cross and conquered death three days later.  If Jesus can fulfill that type of promise, He can help you through your issues.   If you do not know about Jesus, I would be happy to tell you how Jesus changed my life.   Just leave me your contact information below and I will tell you how Jesus has changed my life.

2.  Be outwardly focused and help others – The worst thing you can do when you are in a life struggle is to concentrate on the problem that you have no clue what to do.   If you look around you, there are other people dealing with their life struggles that you might even think is more devastating, but they are they are not letting them stop them.  Also when you look around, God will open your eyes to see where he wants you to help some one else.  It may be something small in your eyes, but it means a whole lot more to the person your are helping.  God can use you at any time within your life, do not let your struggle get the better of you, follow God’s promptings.

3.  Tomorrow is a new day – You life struggle may be getting you down, but if you are relying on Jesus, it means that you have to be patience (something I am still learning to do) and wait for God’s time.  God may not get you out of your life struggle the way you think he should or on the time schedule you want, but God’s time table is something that we can not even begin to grasp. God said he will never leave you (see Deut 31:6).  With God’s help, you can face each new day, not focusing on your limits, but focusing on God limitless power and how he plans to use you that day to show God to someone else.

If we are truly following God, our purpose is not to show how much we are following God, but how God can be seen through our lives.

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One thing to make a stronger marriage

Are you looking for the one thing to make your marriage stronger and be able to withstand the stresses of life?  Although all the marriage books will be helpful to your marriage in one way or another, just reading the Bible will make your marriage stronger.  Debbie and I can attest to this fact with my recent (and continuing) ear problems.

This past weekend, Debbie and I went on a Family Life “Weekend to Remember” and they gave a lot of good advice, but the one point that I kept coming back to is if both husband and the wife strive to be more like Jesus, the stronger and closer your marriage will become.  While having my ear issues, I have had to lay flat for 20 minutes while I have ear drops sitting on my outer ear parts.  There are a lot of things you can do in 20 minutes, but I choose to read my daily devotional during that time. During this time I was being reminded that God is in control and my problems I currently are having are not out of his reach to help me through them.  If you look into the the first chapter of James you will see where it talks about trails and how it makes you stronger (see James 1:2-8).  The source of this strength is not your own, but God strength working through you.  At the same time, Debbie was worried about me and not knowing what to do to help, but she would do her devotional at that time.  During her times, she was handing over the problem to God because she did not know what to do.  Both of us were rediscovering that we have to rely on God to help us through this problem.  There are no such thing as a good “self help” book when dealing with life issues because you were not made to handle life issues by yourself.  God wants you to come to him with your concerns because he is truly the only person to help you through life issues.

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Do you know what happen?  We grew closer to each other as we both we getting closer to Jesus within our devotional and prayer times.  We have been blessed with a good marriage, not from our own doing, but both of us from the very beginning said that Jesus would be the center of our marriage.  God has blessed that commitment by giving us a strong healthy marriage. Yes, we do have our bumps in our marriage because we are both still human (that is sinful), but with God’s help, we can work through these issues.

So the one thing to make a stronger marriage is both husband and wife getting closer to Jesus.

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How many Christians ask the Lord for this request?

Show me your ways, Lord , teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. (Psalm 25:4)

How many of Christians have asked for God to show us His ways? I know in the USA we are very independent. It would serve USA Christians and American if we all seek the Lords ways each and everyday.

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God Nudges

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Most people around me tell me “don’t ask God for patience because that is one of the first request He grants”.  Why does that seem true?  Why does God seem to grant the “patience” requests faster than other requests.  It boils down to how we look at things that make us have to use patience.   And do you have the type of patience that is anticipating (like a child waiting for Christmas morning) or just marking time (like waiting for quitting time at a dead end job).  My view has been changing to be more anticipatory than it has been before.

During the last couple of months when I have had multiple ear inflammations that are so bad in my one good ear that it takes my hearing down to a fraction of my normal hearing which makes everything much harder to do.  Think about the things you use your hearing from buying an item to answering the phone to talking to people.  If you do not know how to sign (and most hearing people do not know how to sign) or if you cannot read the people’s lips to understand what they are saying, it make the transaction harder to do.  During these times I have asked God to get me through the day and to help me to be patient (not anxious).

What I discovered is that asking God for patience is acknowledging that I cannot do it by myself and I need His help.   That is a hard thing for most of us (including me) in the United States as  we are some-what self-centered and definitely independant that it is hard for us to ask for help from anyone and especially God, but we are missing out what God wants to give us.  Look up James 1:2-4 and you will see that patience brings you to a better understand of who God is and ultimately to a closer relationship with God.  As James states in verse 2 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds”, the “joy” is the knowledge that God has things it control even though you may not know what it is.   God will not leave you hanging out there, but you have to trust in Him and not yourself.

With my current ear troubles, I am learning to depend on God more.  Not only for my ear to heal, but on God’s timetable and not mine.  That is sometimes a very hard to admit.  But when I find that I choose to trust in God for my day to day activities and especially for my ear to heal, God gives me little nudges that shows me that He is still there.  Tonight’s nudge was when my wife put in my ear drops, my hearing increased tremendously for about 10 minutes for closing back up on me.  Some would think that would be disheartening, but I see it as a God nudge which helps me trust Him more.

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Giving Thanks to God

“Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind.” Psalm 107:31

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As we celebrate Thanksgiving, what are you thankful for today?  Here is my top 10 that I thankful today:

  1. For the gift of salvation paid for by Jesus dying on the cross for my sins.
  2. For the gift that Jesus conquered death and so whoever believes that Jesus is Lord and Savior will see Jesus in heaven when we die.
  3. For Jesus being with me throughout each and every day even though I may not paying attention to Him (God is working with me on that).
  4. For my wonderful and beautiful wife Debbie of 11 years who I would not be the same without her.
  5. For helping me through my trials of ear infections and hearing loss during these last 4 months.  Currently I am on antibiotic and oral steroids to help me get back my hearing in my one good ear.  During these times, God has used it to bring closer to Him.
  6. For having the ability to get a special type of hearing aid (BAHA – Bone Anchored Hearing Aid) in late January which will make my life less traumatizing when I have ear infections.
  7. For my family.  Some of them I will get to see today.
  8. For my church family at New Venture Christian Church (www.relaxedchurch.com), as it strives to preach about Jesus Christ through the Bible and outwardly focused in ministry to the people in need.
  9. For all of the people praying on my behalf to God to heal my ear.
  10. The freedom to be able to post my top 10 “What I am thankful” list.
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American Christians….Wimps or Warriors

It does not take long to figure out that United States of American is still one of the safest countries in the world to be able to read the Bible, read Christian books and  other Christian literature and be able to practice our Christian faith with little to no real persecution.  We can enjoy going to church, reading our Bible, having Bible studies and even be able to tell other people about our beliefs without major retribution or no persecution.

Most of the time, we in the USA don’t show our faith in Jesus because we want to be part of the “in” crowd or not to look “weird” in front of our family and friends.  I call that self-persecution which is not biblical at all.  I call this a wimpy Christian.  You cannot be ashamed of your faith in Jesus Christ because it makes you not part of the “in” crowd.  As 2 Timothy 1:7-8 “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.”.

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I am not saying that some persecution is not going on in America because I see Christians being encouraged not to use the word “Jesus” in public settings because it is not politically correct or to not stand up for a Biblical principle because it excludes a certain group of people .  I personally know a few business owners that have faced persecution by have law suits threaten to be brought against them because the event they would have been a part of is against their christian convictions.   I fear that there will come a time where American Christians will be persecuted as you see in many other parts of the world.  That is when you see who are the Wimpy Christians and who are the Warrior Christians.

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What are some of the traits of a warrior Christian.  Ephesians 6:10-20 shows the traits a warrior christian needs.

    • Be strong, but by the Lord’s power not yours
    • Learn and know the Bible (belt of truth)
    • Guard your heart with God’s protection (breastplate of righteousness)
    • Allow God to guide your entire life (feet of readiness)
    • Let your faith in Jesus be a 24/7 faith (shield of faith)
    • Guard your mind with the knowledge that Jesus is your person Lord and Savior (helmet of salvation)
    • Use the Bible as base of your testimony and your life (sword of Spirit)
    • Keep the communication line up to God with constant prayer.  Prayer is not an event, it is a life characteristic.

One more thing, Paul reminds the warrior to do is to put on the full armor of God, meaning you cannot be a christian warrior without the characteristics shown in Ephesians 6.

So what type of Christian are you?   Are you a wimpy Christian or a warrior Christian?

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