Michelle

You stole my innocence and I was never the same.
Always an outcast, I couldn’t see my pain.
I lied to myself and believed it was special.

I never realized that it was wrong —
Never saw your pain until you were gone.
The things we did — were things you should
have never knew.

If only I would have looked into your eyes
How could I have realized
You were looking for something
to match the pleasure within the pain

I never saw how badly he hurt you.
Never realized that I was a victim too
Tho you may be guilty —
You are not to blame.

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5 Inspirational Bible Verses

Inspirational Bible Verses
Pixabay / stevepb
There are 31,103 verses in the Bible. To pick a verse or two out of the Bible to meditate on, preach or write about can be a daunting task. Where does one start? While I believe that the whole Bible is inspirational, a few verses speak to me a little more than others do. To inspire, according to Merriam-Webster** means “to influence, move, or guide by divine or supernatural inspiration.” Therefore, when I think of inspirational verses of the Bible, they must be verses that move a person to action or causes a change in a person. These inspirational Bible verses do just that for me. Some of the verses cause me to re-evaluate my way of living, some draw me closer to God, and some just keep me going. I hope they do the same for you.
Psalm 1:1-3
1 Blessed is the one
   who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
   or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the LORD,
   and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
   which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
   whatever they do prospers.”*
 
The first thing that draws me to these verses is the imagery of the “tree planted by streams of water…” In these troubled times of war, economic hardships, crime and scandal, it is reassuring to think of being able to “put down roots,” as the old saying goes. In today’s world, not many things are permanent. That new computer you are using will be outdated in a couple months. Fads come and go, fame is fleeting and who was that guy that sang that song everybody was talking about a couple months ago? This world is all about what is new, but God is consistent.
When life puts you through the ringer, God is there. When you feel like the rug has been pulled out from under you, God is there. To those who delight in His word and meditates on His law, he promises life and prosperity in whatever they do. Notice I did not say that God promises prosperity. This is not about wealth. When you make God and His word the passion of your life, your plans are going to be in step with His will and thus, they will prosper.
Jeremiah 1:5
Before I formed you in the womb I knew[a] you,
   before you were born I set you apart;
   I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”*
 
One of the incredible things about this verse, to me, is the fact that God “knew” me. When I start to think of how insignificant my life is in the grand scheme of things, I begin to wonder how I could matter to the God that created the universe. Yet, Jeremiah 1:5 tells me that I was on God’s mind, before I was even formed in the womb! How could I not be inspired to draw near to the God who first thought of me? Not only did He know me, but the verse tells me that He has a purpose for me. I am not just some random lump of cells, cobbled together by fate. I was created with a purpose!
Isaiah 40:31
“but those who hope in the LORD
   will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
   they will run and not grow weary,
   they will walk and not be faint.”*
 
Probably one of the most inspirational verses in the Bible, Isaiah 40:31 reminds us that our strength is not found in ourselves, but in the Lord. When the burdens of this life have gotten us down, the Lord will renew our strength. When the world tells us to give up, the Lord keeps us going.
Acts 4:29
“Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.”*
Some may find this verse an odd fit for this list. It is not spoken of like the others. You will not find it embroidered on pillows or burned onto a plaque on the wall, as you are likely to find the others. Regardless, this verse has inspired me to speak up when it comes to telling others about Christ.
The disciples Peter and John and had just been taken captive, threatened and released by the authorities. Now, I can imagine what the Bible means by “threatened”. I am sure it was a most unpleasant experience, after all, these were the same authorities responsible for the death of Jesus and now they were trying to silence Peter and John from sharing the gospel.
The Bible tells us that, after threatening Peter and John, they let them go. Peter and John went straight to the other disciples and they began to pray. Now, after going through what they went through, it would have been easy to run and hide. Instead, they prayed that they could be bolder in their preaching. They truly feared God more than man! What a lesson for all of us to learn when it comes to witnessing for Christ!
Psalm 30:5
“For his anger lasts only a moment,
   but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night,
   but rejoicing comes in the morning.”*
 
All of us endure hardships, but unfortunately, some of us go through tougher or longer periods of hardships than others. I am thankful that I have not had to endure some of the hardships I have seen others go through! Sure, I can whine and complain with the best of them, but when I count my blessings, I know how truly blessed I really am. Nevertheless, when trials assail us, we have this promise found in Psalm 30:5, “weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” Whether in this life or the next… there will come a time when the weeping will cease! There will come a time when there will be no more disease, loss of loved ones, financial hardships, wars, crime, natural disasters or anything else to bring tears to our eyes. It will be a time when God himself will wipe the tears from our eyes… a time when loss will be turned to gain and weeping will be turned to rejoicing! What a great day this will be!
*New International Version 2010
**http://www.merriam-webster.com

The Meaning of Grace

anapaulafelic / Pixabay
It has been said that the difference between religion and Christianity is that religion is man reaching up to God, while Christianity is God reaching down to man. While other religions emphasize what man must do to earn their way into Heaven or please their god, Christianity emphasizes what God has done to save mankind. The Bible tells us that we were enemies of God, yet God sent His Son into the world to redeem the us. This incredible work that God has done is the very essence of the meaning of grace.
The idea of grace is a hard concept for us to grasp. We want salvation on our terms, because if we accept the idea that grace is freely given, then we have to accept the idea that we can do nothing to earn it. This means that we are, in fact, helpless when it comes to sin and salvation.

The fact of the matter is, we ARE helpless. The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, tells us that “God, who is rich in mercy,” has so much love for us that even while we were considered spiritually dead in our sins, gave us life through Christ. If we are spiritually dead, then we have no life. If we have no life, we cannot DO anything to help ourselves. Paul goes on to summarize by stating, “by such grace [we] have been saved through faith.”

I discuss the topic of faith in the article, “How we come to faith.” I encourage you to read that article, in the meantime, how are we saved through faith? Romans 9:15-16 says, “For [God] says to Moses, “I will be merciful to the person I want to be merciful to, and I will be kind to the person I want to be kind to. Therefore, God’s choice does not depend on a person’s will or effort, but on God himself, who shows mercy.” We do not deserve God’s mercy. We have not earned it and cannot do anything to persuade or convince God of our worthiness. The fact of the matter is, without Christ, we are worthless! It is only when we invite Jesus into our hearts, thus being reconciled to God, that we obtain our worth. It is not some work that we have done, it is only our acceptance of the work done FOR us.

God knew that we would never be able to live up to His standard. He also knew that, even after becoming a follower of Christ, that we would make mistakes along the way. Thus, He “predestined us for adoption to himself through Jesus the Messiah, according to the pleasure of his will… according to the riches of God’s grace.” (Eph 1:5-7) This unmerited favor is God’s gift to us. He has chosen us as His own, and lavishes us with His love and mercy. I cannot think of a better meaning of grace!

How We Come To Faith

In a previous  article, I was discussing the role doubt plays in our walk of faith.  Now I want to answer the question, “Exactly how does one come to trust in God’s Word in the first place? “

Romans tells us, “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?”* Simply put, you cannot come to trust in God’s Word, if you have not heard (or read) God’s Word. 

Therefore, a good first step is getting the Word into the person’s hands. Reading the Bible, meditating on it, and talking about it are good ways to keep it fresh in your mind. It is also a good way to encourage others to want to learn more about God’s Word. Being refreshed yourself; you are more prepared to share the Word with others. It is sort of like a salesman knowing his product in order to make the sale.

While this is an important first step, there is something more important than just getting the Word out. It is God’s revelation. From the very foundation of the world, God has revealed himself to us through His creation. In Romans, we read, “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.  For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. “** (Emphasis mine)

In a way, I see this as God’s ultimate loophole… or better yet, this is God’s way of plugging any loopholes. Nobody, past or present, has any excuse for not obeying God’s Word and thus, accepting Jesus as their Savior. God has revealed Himself through His creation! He has put enough of Himself into us that we naturally seek Him. We have the evidence of creation declaring a Master Designer.
Look in Genesis, at the story of Abraham. Abraham did not come from a “Christian” family. He did not have the NIV Bible laying around for him to peruse and come to knowledge of God. Instead, he was living in a country known for being idolaters and the first thing we read in Genesis 12 is God telling Abram (Abraham) to leave his country. God does not tell him where he is going, just to pack up and go… and Abram obeys! Why did he obey? He obeyed because God called him. When the creator calls, the creation recognizes Him and responds.

When I was 11 years old, God called me. Sure, He did not tell me to pack up and leave the country. Instead, He put a burning desire in my heart to know Him. I had questions; I had a desire to know more about Him. It was through this questioning, that I came to ask Jesus to be my Savior.
You see, it is impossible for someone to come to Christ on his or her own. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.”*** You cannot do it alone! God has to initiate the process for you. There is nothing good in and of ourselves. Left to ourselves, we would all run screaming in the opposite direction of God. Our carnal nature abhors God! We do not want anything to do with Him! That is why God always takes the first step. He so loved the world that He gave His only Son, while we were still in our sins!

Now that I have shared some of my story, I would love to hear about yours! Please feel free to post a comment and share how came to know Christ as your Savior.

* Romans 10:14
** Romans 1:18-23
*** Ephesians 2:8-9

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The Meaning of Doubt – The Pros and Cons of Doubt

Meaning of Doubt
Pixabay

What is the meaning of doubt in the lives of Christians? Is it acceptable to have doubts or is it merely a lack of faith? These are very important questions, because I believe we do have to question what we believe in. The paradox of this is this, in order to question something; you have to have an idea of what the answer is. In other words, you need some sort of standard on which to measure. I used to work in the home remodeling field and I used to lay a LOT of flooring. Whenever I began to prepare for the job, I did not just look around the room and say, “well, it looks like I have enough materials, let’s start tearing the house apart!” Instead, I had a standard with which I compared the room (“i.e. a tape measure). Initially, you have to question what you believe in in order to lay a foundation for faith. Because of this, I measure everything I believe in against the word of God. If it contradicts what the word of God says, I know it must be false.


What’s Right With Doubt
I think it is important to question what you believe in to make sure you are not being led astray. The Bible even tells us to “test the spirits” to make sure everything is on the up & up. There comes a point, though, where doubt has to be replaced with faith. Hebrews tells us that faith is “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” I think there is a mystery to faith. Maybe it is as if God is saying, “Do you trust me or not?” Like when God told Abraham to go up on the mountain and sacrifice Isaac. Abraham did not have any evidence that God was going to stop him. He simply trusted God and obeyed and the Bible tells us “and it was credited to him as righteousness.”* It’s like what Jesus told Thomas, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”**

What’s Wrong With Doubt
I believe that constant doubt can lead to complacency. For example, if I begin to doubt my boss or the company I work for, my work ethic is going to suffer. I am going to think, “What’s the point to working so many hours or working so hard?” I am going to seek something else to believe in.
I wrestled with doubt for a while. I had some things happen in my life that left me doubting everything that I believed in. I soon realized that when you question everything else, all you really have left is yourself to believe in. The problem is, you don’t get far worshiping yourself. Nevertheless, in the end, I realized that I never truly stopped believing in God or His Word. What I stopped believing in was myself and my ability to follow Jesus.

So Where Does This Leave Us
So, is it wrong to doubt? I refer you back to the example of Thomas. Did Jesus chastise Thomas for doubting? No, so I do not think it is wrong to have doubts. The important thing to keep in mind, though, is what Wes Molebash refers to as “mysterious parts of Christianity.” There are times when God is going to keep us in the dark. Look at the example of Abraham and Isaac or the story of Job. Sometimes God tries our faith to make us stronger. It is in these moments that we learn to lean on Him for our strength.
Faith is where the rubber meets the road. It is believing in God’s Word and saying, “Lord, you’ve done x, y, and z in the past and I’m putting my faith in you for the future.” It is standing on God’s promises, even when you cannot see the evidence proving them right in front of you. It is that step of faith, which leads to a closer walk with God.
* Galatians 3:6
** John 20:29

A Look At Messianic Prophecies

messianic prophecies
AndreasWeitz / Pixabay
Biblical prophecies typically come in one of two forms; promises or judgments. The term “messianic prophecies” refers to Old Testament prophecies about the first coming of Jesus Christ. These prophecies described his birth, ministry and ultimately, his death and resurrection. Let’s start with Abraham.
Abraham received a twofold promise from God. This promise contained two aspects. “One aspect had to do with the future nation or kingdom; the other spoke of salvation and blessing.” (Freeman, 2005, pg 126) The first aspect was focused on Israel. It referred to Israel becoming a great nation, the Promised Land and God’s blessing of Israel. The second aspect referred to Christ’s lineage coming from Abraham and that being the pathway God would use as a means of salvation. “And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” (Genesis 12:3) Through Christ, via Abraham, “all the families of the earth [will] be blessed.”
Messianic prophecies were built around David as well. “The term Messiah or anointed One had special reference to the Davidic King, who as God’s Son was to inherit David’s everlasting kingdom.” (Freeman, 2005, pg 128) Referring to Christ, who was born of the Davidic lineage, who will one day rule in Zion, and whose throne will be established forever, 2 Samuel 7:16 tells us, “And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever.”
The prophecies built around Cyrus, king of Persia had to do with the deliverance of God’s church. God anointed Cyrus to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple. In Isaiah 44:28, The Lord says of Cyrus, “He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid.”
From the promises given to Abraham, to prophecies built around the life of King David, the messianic prophecies all pointed directly to Jesus. Born of a virgin in the town of Bethlehem, He lived, ministered and then died on a cross, was buried and rose again three days later. In Matthew 5:17, Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” Out of the over 300 prophecies concerning the birth, life and ultimate death and resurrection of Christ. Jesus fulfilled every one of them!

What is baptism?

What is baptism?
pastoruben / Pixabay


Introduction

In a previous article, I discussed the role of sacraments in the church. Protestants recognize two sacraments, baptism and communion. Each sacrament has its own unique characteristics and its own unique place in the church, but they both serve an important aspect in the life of the believer. Thus, “baptism and communion are connected practices, not independent acts. Baptism begins a lifelong journey of discipleship, and communion sustains us on that journey” (Galbreath, 2009, pg.#). This article is going to focus on what baptism is, what it means and how it relates on a personal level.

What baptism Is

What is baptism? Webster’s definition of baptism is: “n. rite of admission into a Christian church by dipping in or sprinkling with water.” Based on this definition, we see that baptism is a uniquely Christian activity. There are two types of baptism, dipping in the water and sprinkling with water. The style of baptism used is based on the denomination of the church. “Various passages in the Bible referring to baptism have lead to differences in practice and belief among the various Christian denominations. Regardless of how baptism is carried out, however, the uniting factor is the use of water as a sign and agent of spiritual cleansing” (Brown, 1991, pg.#).

Where did baptism get its start? According to the book, World Religions: From Ancient History to the Present (1971), baptism took the place of circumcision, as a means of entering the Christian faith. “Membership of the Jewish faith was by virtue of birth and all males had to be circumcized at eight days of age (Genesis xvii:2, Exodus xii:48). When Gentiles adopted Judaism they were first baptized (since Gentiles were regarded as being in a state of ritual impurity), and then circumcized” (Parrinder, 1971, pg.#). It was Jesus who instructed His disciples to “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:19).

Sometime before AD 100, a manual of sorts was created to serve as an instruction manual for the Christian church. “The Didache… orders baptism in water in the name of the Trinity. By the time that we come to the Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus (c. 2 the Church has evolved a full baptismal liturgy, which includes the washing away of sin (symbolically) in the water, anointing with oil blessed by the bishop, the sealing’ (or confirmation) by the bishop, and first communion of the neophyte. The normal time for baptism was on Easter Eve, followed by the first communion early on Easter Day” (Parrinder, 1971, pg.#).

What Baptism Means

This is all well and good, but what does baptism mean for the Christian today? What is its relevance in the Christian life? According to Rob Staples (1991), baptism has a five fold meaning. Staples says that baptism is:

  1. …the mark of our inclusion in the new covenant that Christ established.
  2. …the symbol of our identification with the death of Christ.
  3. …the symbol of our participation in the resurrected life of Christ.
  4. …the symbol of our reception of the Holy Spirit, which is the Spirit of Christ.
  5. …the action through which we are made part of Christ’s Body, the Church.

By saying that baptism is the “mark of our inclusion in the new covenant that Christ established”, Staples is comparing baptism, as a sign of the new covenant, to circumcision, a sign of the old covenant. “Baptism, then, like circumcision under the old covenant, is a mark of the agreement between God’s grace and our response… It is the seal stamped both on His initiative and our response” (Staples, 1991, pg.#)

Baptism as “the symbol of our identification with the death of Christ” refers to our dying to our sinful nature. “’Dying to sin does not mean to simply stop sinning!’ We cannot die to sin by merely cutting ourselves off from it. ‘Death to sin… is always related to our identification with Christ’s death – by faith’” (Staples, 1991, pg.#). Death to sin is recognition of our changed nature. When we give our lives over to Christ and truly repent of sin, we are saying we are done with that life and in effect dead to that old way of life.

Once we have died to our sins, we can be reborn in the life of Christ. That is, we are born a new creature. Baptism is an outward sign of this inward work of grace. It is an outward showing of the work being done in us. “In baptism, we make the work of Christ our work” (Staples, 1991, pg.#)

Baptism is also the symbol of our reception of the Holy Spirit, which is the Spirit of Christ. When Jesus was baptized, the Bible tells us that the Spirit descended upon Him in the form of a dove. So too, when we are baptized, we are symbolically receiving the Holy Spirit. Here again, it is an outward sign of an inward grace.

“In baptism, we make the work of Christ our work” (Staples, 1991, pg#). We are announcing to the world that we are becoming a part of Christ’s church and thus are taking up our cross and following Him. That involves doing the work that Christ has commissioned us to do, to “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” (Matthew 28:19)

A Personal Experience

According to the Baptist Faith and Message, “Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer’s faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Savior, the believer’s death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus. It is a testimony to his faith in the final resurrection of the dead. Being a church ordinance, it is prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and to the Lord’s Supper” (Baptist Faith and Message, 1963).

This is what I was confessing to believe when I was baptized into Southside Baptist Church in Columbus, Ohio. My wife and I were both baptized on a cold Sunday morning in March of 2002. I had been saved many years before and was baptized many years before also. But I was young then and didn’t fully understand what baptism was at the time.

This time, however, I understood that I was, symbolically, dying to my old carnal nature and being reborn a new creature in Christ. I also understood that I was inviting the Holy Spirit to come into my life and to work in and through me. This was also our way of becoming a part of Christ’s church, in the form of Southside Baptist. This, to me, is what baptism is. 




References

Brown, S. (1991). Christianity: World religions New York: Facts on File.

Galbreath, Paul (2009, May). What Presbyterians Believe – Sacraments: Grace we can touch Retrieved from: http://www.pcusa.org/today/believe/2009/sacraments.htm

Parrinder, Geoffrey, Editor (1971). World Religions: From Ancient History to the Present

New York: Facts on File.

Southern Baptist Convention (1963). Baptist Faith & Message

Staples, Rob L. (1991). Outward Sign and Inward Grace Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press

Agnes, Michael, Editor (2000) Webster’s New Pocket Dictionary Cleveland: Wiley Publishing, Inc.

What is a sacrament and what is it’s role in the church?

What is a sacrament?
PublicDomainPictures/ Pixabay

There is a debate on the issues of the tangibility of the sacraments and their roles in the church. What is a sacrament? What are the views on sacramental theology? What effect do the sacraments have in the man/God relationship? What role, if any, does man play in the “means of grace”? Are the sacraments necessary for salvation?

There are three views on sacramental theology. The sacraments as: a non-participating symbol, a participating symbol and “realism”. The first view is that the sacraments are a non-participating symbol or a sign, a representation of something greater. The object itself does not have a bearing on what it is portraying. Baptism, in this case, is merely an outward showing of our salvation. There is no power in it; it is just a picture of something greater. This version of symbol “is merely an accidental and dispensable ‘pointer’ to reality.”1 The sign doesn’t take part in the thing it is pointing to and can be replaced at anytime with another sign.

The second view of sacraments is that the sacraments are a participating symbol. The philosophical term is analogia entis (“the analogy of being”), which says that the sacraments are “not as an abstraction from reality but as a window into reality that participates in the reality itself.”2 The sacraments are not mere pictures of something else, but active participants in the man/God communion taking place. John Wesley put it thus, the sacraments are “outward signs… to be the ordinary channels whereby he might convey to men, preventing, justifying, or sanctifying grace.”3 In this case, baptism becomes the channel through which we die to our sins and are reborn in Christ.4 The Lord’s Supper becomes not just a place of remembrance, but a place of self-examination and renewal.5 In this line of thinking, “the role and purpose of the sacraments are grounded in a firm belief that the sacraments connect us to Christ through the presence of the Holy Spirit.”6

The third view of sacramental theology is referred to as “realism”. Followers of this philosophy take a very literal interpretation of the sacraments. This type believes that the sacraments are not just symbols of something greater, or participants of something greater… they actually become something greater. In this view, the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper are not just representative of the body and blood of Christ; they actually become the body of Christ and His blood. “Both Catholics and Lutherans believe that in the Eucharist we meet the ‘real presence’ of Christ, as opposed to a merely ‘symbolic’ presence.”7

Catholics argue that a sacrament is only effective when properly administered by a minister. They believe the sacrament is effective regardless of the worthiness of minister himself, because the minister is only performing the sacrament. The real power lies in the sacrament, not in minister or the recipient. “It is effective not by reason of the power of intercession of priestly prayer nor on account of the worthiness of the recipient, but solely on the power of Christ. The power of Christ lives in the sacraments.”8

Protestants argue that the problem with the idea of “realism” in sacramental theology is the capacity to place man’s works on an equal footing with the works of God. It makes man’s work as important as God’s grace. According to Catholic Online, “The doctrine of the sacraments is the doctrine of the second part of God’s way of salvation to us.”9 Roman Catholics have a “means of grace” theology, but they take it to the point that the sacraments are “necessary for salvation.” They believe in the necessity of the sacraments for salvation, but guard against an ex opera operato theology (“by the work performed”), which would lead to “the way of salvation as being man’s way to God and not God’s way to man.”10

The very idea that the sacraments are as necessary for salvation as faith is a grievous and deadly error. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”11 There is no other way to salvation, but through faith in Jesus Christ.12 There is no other work that can be done to cleanse someone of their sins. There is no other means of forgiveness and grace. Any other attempt to gain God’s grace is futile. “Whosoever, therefore, imagines there is any intrinsic power in a means whatsoever, does greatly err, not knowing the Scriptures, neither the power of God … We know, likewise, that He is able to give the same grace, though there were no means on the face of the earth.”13

1 Rob Staples, Outward Sign and Inward Grace (Kansas City, Beacon Hill Press, 1991) 58.
2 Rob Staples, Outward Sign and Inward Grace (Kansas City, Beacon Hill Press, 1991) 55.
3 John Wesley, “Sermon 16: The Means of Grace,” http://gbgm-umc.org/UMW/Wesley/serm-016.stm 1872
4 Romans 6:3-4
5 1 Corinthians 11:28.
6 Paul Galbreath, “What Presbyterians Believe: Sacraments: Grace we can touch,” Presbyterians Today Online May 2009: http://www.pcusa.org/today/believe/2009/sacraments.htm .
7 Rob Staples, Outward Sign and Inward Grace (Kansas City, Beacon Hill Press, 1991) 57.
8 Catholic Online, Sacraments of the Catholic Church ()
9 Catholic Online, Sacraments of the Catholic Church (See Above)
10 Catholic Online, Sacraments of the Catholic Church  (See Above)
11 John 14:6
12 Romans 10:10
13 John Wesley, “Sermon 16: The Means of Grace,1872 (See Above)

From A Bride To A Stranger (a poem)

Revelation 2:4 says, “Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.” This poem compares a fallen Christian to a bride that has forgotten her first love.
Pixabay

From A Bride To A Stranger

How can I go from a bride to a stranger?
How could I lose my first love?
Though I loved you so much, my heart drifts away,
carried along by the whims of this world.
I pledged my life and swore I would die for you,
yet my complacency kills the soul.
The cares of this world eat at my mind,
consuming my thoughts like a ravenous animal.
Little by little, I give way to these thoughts,
as you become more and more distant to me.

“And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife.” – Revelation 21:9

What causes anxiety attacks

Pixabay.com / 42557 

Whenever I tell people that I battle anxiety and panic disorder, I usually get one of two responses. The first is the, “Don’t let things bother you,”response. The second response is when they begin to tell me all of the things that they are worried about. Although I know they mean well, they don’t understand what causes anxiety attacks.

First off, here is a little tip: I do not need anything else to worry about, so I don’t want to hear about your problems! Ok? It is not that I don’t care, I just can’t handle it. Even if your problems are worse than mine, it is not going to make me feel any better to know what you are going through. In fact, it will probably make me feel like you are trying to belittle what I am going through. Everybody has their own crap they have to go through and each of us reacts in our own way!
As far as not “letting things bother me,” trust me, if I could shut it off like that, I would! The fact is, there are a number of variables at play when it comes to anxiety disorder. Yes, there is the whole worrying about stuff, but there are other things like diet, amount of sleep and even the weather. All of these things and more can cause anxiety and/or panic.
This is why I think is important to take better care of ourselves. It is easy, especially when dealing with anxiety, to feel like you have to handle everything yourself. When you are running around trying to hold everything together, it is easy to neglect yourself – not eat right and not get enough rest. When you live like this, pretty soon, you find yourself exhausted and more susceptible to an attack.
I have often wondered what causes anxiety attacks in the first place? Do I get anxious because I worry so much, or do I worry because I’m anxious? Which is the cause? The act of worrying or the condition of anxiety? Is it my condition that makes me feel overwhelmed, or is my life that chaotic? With four kids in the house it can certainly be crazy at times. On the other hand, I have always been a little neurotic, so it was bound to develop some kind of condition!


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