Read with Discernment

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I love to read. When I can open a good book, I do. I read fiction, non-fiction, self-help, historical fiction, chick-lit, and anything a friend recommends. This morning I was reading a book by a popular Christian author. She made a statement that I didn’t agree with. I reread the statement. I reread the paragraph. I still didn’t agree. I didn’t put down the book but kept reading. I made a mental note that I didn’t agree with her and to keep on alert while reading on.

In Christianity, we have many denominations. On the whole, we all love Jesus, accept Him as our Savior, and as our path to God and eternal life. However, not all denominations agree on baptism style or communion or end times or … Hence, why we have denominations. As I read this book, I surmised this author to be of a particular denomination who believes differently than I do. I am not going to stop reading the book, I am going to read it with my eyes open. Why am I blogging about this? Because whether reading, watching a video, or listening to your pastor, listen with discerning ears.

Just because our pastor says it doesn’t means it’s true. We may need to dive into scripture (the Bible) after being exposed to a statement or belief that doesn’t sit right with us. We should do this. We should question what we hear/read and discover what God says. Humans are fallible. God is not.

 Don’t suppress the Spirit, and don’t stifle those who have a word from the Master. On the other hand, don’t be gullible. Check out everything, and keep only what’s good. Throw out anything tainted with evil.

~ I Thessalonians 5:19-22 The Message

There is a wonderful example of this in the book of Acts when Paul and Silas were teaching in Berea.

As soon as it was night, the believers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. . ~ Acts 17:10-11 NIV (bold faced added by me)

They double checked on their own to see if Paul – a well known and well respected preacher – was preaching truth. They went to God’s Word – the Scriptures – to confirm it. They didn’t take it at face value. How about you? Do you question what you read/hear if the author/speaker is a well known and well respected teacher? You should. I have looked up things Beth Moore has said many times. She actually encourages that in many of her talks. We should question. We should know for ourselves what we believe and what God says. If you feel uncomfortable about something you read/hear, take it to God’s Word.

We live in a world of false truths, deception, and flat out lies. We are called to be wise and to check out everything against the Word of God. Start listening/reading with attentive and questioning ears. I will keep reading this book, I don’t need to ignore the wisdom this author is sharing because I disagree on one of her perspectives. I am a mature enough Christian to read with discernment. I am sure you are too.

Dream Big! Pray Big!

God’s Word

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The Bible is God’s Word. It’s one of many ways He speaks to us. I often encourage you in my blog to spend time reading the Bible. If we want to grow to be more like Jesus, we need to spend time listening to God and reading His Word. What about adding a new way to interact with God’s Word? Let’s share it with others.

You will see me post scripture from time to time on Facebook or Instagram. A lot of people post stunning visuals with God’s Word imposed over it. Beautiful and encouraging to see. Several blogs ago, I said I was going to share more scripture with friends when they need encouragement. I have been doing that. Rather than only offering words of encouragement and prayer, I now share a verse with that friend. God is joining our conversation. It’s a great way to encourage because God is speaking into the situation too.

Yesterday, I was part of a zoom call to encourage a friend. We read scripture aloud. Sometimes we inserted our friend’s name into the verse to personalize it. The power of God’s Word being read aloud is indescribable. Not only did God join our conversation, we felt His presence. His Word can raise the dead, part the sea, move mountains, heal the sick, encourage the brokenhearted, and much much much more. It is alive and powerful. It has even more power when spoken.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

~Hebrews 4:12 NIV

Find a friend and read scripture together. Find a quiet place and read scripture aloud to yourself. It’s alive when read silently and it’s alive when read aloud. However, there is something about stimulating your ears with His Word. Try it. You can read the verse listed above. Or try the one below that most of us know by heart – say it with your name inserted not mine.

For God so loved Debbie, that He gave His only Son. That if Debbie believes in Him, Debbie will have eternal life. ~ John 3:16 (Bold words are where I replaced words with my name)

Dream Big! Pray Big!

You Are Not Alone

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Happy Valentine’s Day! Last week I blogged about our job description as Christians – love. That’s it. Love. Today is a day we celebrate love. Today can be a lonely day for many. Married, single, divorced, widowed, in a relationship, just starting a relationship, and unsure is where you may find yourself today. Lonely is not so uncommon these days. Social distancing has left many without their normal support system. Zoom may work for some but not others. Today, as we endeavor to do every day, we seek the source of love – God.

I woke up today and enjoyed a pancake breakfast with my son. When he left for school, I knew exactly my next step in my day – time with God. I have to. I work later today and need to make sure I spend my morning free time wisely. Tea with God. A video sermon. Reading some scripture. Learning about empathy by Brene Brown. A lovely morning bike ride. Yep. It was a good morning.

Today I had time to ponder. Some days – it’s a verse, a prayer, and on with my day. The moment spent with a verse and a prayer keeps me from being lonely. God is with me. The scripture posted above is truth. God is with me. He will never leave me. When I bike I usually listen to Christian music. On my playlist is a song called I Am Not Alone by Kari Jobe. I sang it loud and proud. I claimed that truth.

Whatever today holds for you – flowers, candy, cards, gifts, a nice meal or just a normal day, God is near. He holds you tight. You are not alone. Hold onto that truth. Share with someone who needs to hear it today too.

Dream Big! Pray Big!

Job Description

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Christian job description: Love! It’s that simple. Our pastor started a series on love. We all know the following verse.

One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

~ Matthew 22:35-37 NIV

The greatest commandment is love God, love neighbor as yourself. Jesus said it. It’s true. It’s that simple. Yet, it isn’t. Love is a complicated thing. As we approach Valentine’s Day, many couples celebrate. Some contemplate. Others endure. If you look on Facebook, one of the choices for relationship status is “it’s complicated.” Love is complicated and it’s hard. It may be easy to love God but loving my neighbor….

In I Corinthians 13 (a.k.a. the love chapter), we are called to patient, kind, and more. I fail at number one. Patient. I have always joked that I won’t teach a Bible Study on patience because I don’t want to be tested in that way to prepare for the presentation. Patience alone trips me up when it comes to loving. Truth be told, I’m not very patient with God either. I want answers. I want results. I’m type A. I like lists and checking them off. Patience means unfinished action items. How do I show loving patience in a relationship? By being intentional.

Living out love is work, intentional, and impossible without God’s help. On my own, I am not patient. If I spent time with God, filled myself with His love and truth, I can then pass that onto others. If I am short-tempered, easily aggravated, and/or impatient, it is time for me to refuel with God. Once I receive His perfect love, I can pass it along.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

~ I Corinthians 13:4-7 NIV

I encourage you this week to focus on the portion of 1 Corinthians 13 where you struggle the most. Find scripture to encourage you to grow in that area. Talk to God about it. Journal. Be intentional to be more loving this week – not in general – too big of an ask – but in one specific area. Next week or next month, move onto another area. The more loving we are, the more of God our world will see. Also, our relationships will flourish.

Dream Big! Pray Big!