Sunday, May 31, 2009

I'd Rather Have Jesus

This morning in church we sang the hymn, I'd Rather Have Jesus. The words of this song are rather emphatic, and the melody is quiet and gentle. It's easy to get lost in the beauty of the melody without giving the weight of the words their proper due. It's always worthwhile to ask yourself, "Am I living this way?" when engaging in song during the worship service. That question struck me this morning as I sang the words. (The two lines that caused me pause were I'd rather have Jesus than anything this world affords today and I'd rather have Jesus and let him lead). Here's the words to I'd Rather Have Jesus (I've included the chorus after the first two verses for full impact of the meaning):

I'd rather have Jesus than silver or god;
Id rather be His than have riches untold;
Id' rather have Jesus than houses or lands;
I'd rather be led by His nail-pierced hand

Than to be the king of a vast domain,
Or be held in sin's dread sway;
I'd rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today.

I'd rather have Jesus than men's applause;
I'd rather be faithful to His dear cause;
I'd rather have Jesus than worldwide fame;
I'd rather be true to His holy name

Than to be the king of a vast domain,
Or be held in sin's dread sway;
I'd rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today.

He's fairer than lilies of rarest bloom;
He's sweeter than honey from out of the comb;
He's all that my hungering spirit needs;
I'd rather have Jesus and let him lead

Saturday, May 30, 2009

My God is the Creator

As promised earlier in the week, a few entries from my What Do I Know About My God? notebook under the heading My God is the Creator.....

Nehemiah 9:6 (ESV)

"You are the LORD, You alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and You preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships You.

Psalm 8:3-4 (ESV)

When I look at Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars which You have set in place. What is man that You are mindful of him and the son of man that You care for him?

Job 9: 8-9 (ESV)

Who alone stretched out the heavens and trampled the waves of the sea; who made the Bear and Orion, the Pleiades and the chambers of the south.

John 1:1-3 (ESV)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Frightening Fridays (Week 2)

If you have been reading this blog regularly, you know that I have committed myself to spending one evening a week in intentional evangelism. I have decided to make that day Friday (evenings). I'm still working out the details on how to go about this.

This Friday my plans were rained out for the most part (not a lot of people wandering around in the rain). I was able to hand out several tracts but was not able to engage anyone face to face and share the gospel with them.

I did experience some rejection as well, just in handing out tracts. It's not unusual for a person to say "No. Thank you." when you're offering them a piece of paper and they don't know what that piece of paper contains (probably 25% of the people at any given time pass it up for that reason). When that happens, it is easy to shake it off. When the gospel is rejected because of its message, that is harder to recover from.

As I was waiting in line for a takeout order at a very busy restaurant, I handed out some optical illusion tracts to other people waiting alongside me (available at www.livingwaters.com). These tracts are very easy to hand out because they are interesting and make people curious. I handed out several of them and was working my way down a bench full of people waiting to be called to a table. I showed them the optical illusion part of the tract and then I told them they could keep them. I always tell people I am handing them a gospel tract, and there is a message on the back. As I reached the couple at the end of the bench (they looked to be roughly my age), the gentelman held up his hand and said, "No. We don't want that." I said, "Oh, did you already see it?" and he said, "It's the message on the back that we don't want." I smiled, said "okay", and moved on, but I was affected by it. My immediate reaction was to discontinue handing out tracts. I handed out more in the parking lot and later that evening but not without hesitation.

That experience caused me to examine myself and how easily I am defeated if operating out of my own human nature. It caused me to pray for a passion for lost souls and desire to share the gospel that is beyond anything I have on my own. I pray for a hunger to know God's Word and to know Him more. I also pray for more rejection that I will know how to handle it when it happens. I pray for a love for God and a love for others that compels me beyond my own fears.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Yearly Review

Yesterday I had my yearly performance review at work. That review marks 7 years with the company. I was praised for my good attitude and devotion to the company. If my "good attitude" and "devotion to the company" came from myself (as they think it does), they would not have a good employee on their hands. These yearly reviews only scratch the surface of my behavior, but God knows my heart, and that affects my work performance.

My actions at work come from my relationship with God. If I forgive people at work it is because I have been forgiven far greater an offense than ever committed against me. If I have a sense of morality in my daily dealings it is because I know there is a Moral Law Giver, and He is the one who created me. If I treat people with kindness and respect throughout the work day, it is because the Bible instructs me to do so not because this is an idea that I have come up with on my own.

I am grateful to God for providing this job for me. I am grateful for the income it provides. Mostly, concerning my job, I am grateful for how God uses it to grow me in my relationship with Him.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

What Do I Know About My God?

Currently, at our church, we are engaged in a monthly Bible study for women. We are using the book What Do I Know About My God? by Mardi Collier as the base of our study. In her book, Mrs. Collier describes a method of Bible study that she developed. The method involves reading through the Bible (we're starting in Psalms for the purpose of our monthly study) while keeping a notebook next to you. The notebook contains headings (that you compose) that describe what God tells us about Himself and His character through His Word. (Example: My God is in Control, My God is Creator, etc.).

I am enjoying the monthly study as we work through the book of Psalms, but I'm also enjoying the study on a daily basis. Greg (my husband) and I are reading through the Bible this year as a family. The plan we are using has us reading four (roughly) chapters of the Bible a day, two as a family, two personally. As I go through my daily reading, I'm finding the "What Do I Know About My God" notebook a valuable tool. It is helping me develop my understanding of a Biblical worldview as I write the verses under categories describing God's character and nature.

I highly recommend this Bible study method and the book What Do I Know About My God? Stay tuned for future postings that contain some of my notebook headings and appropriate Scripture passages in the months to come.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I Peter 2:18-25

Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in His steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in His mouth. When He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He suffered He did not threaten, but continued entrusting Himself to Him who judges justly. He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to rightousness. By His wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Sherpherd and Overseer of your souls.

I Peter 2:18-25 (ESV)

Monday, May 25, 2009

A Visit With Mom

Yesterday after church, I drove up to Milaca (about an hour north of my house) to visit my mom for the afternoon. It was just the two of us. It was a sweet visit.

My relationship with my mom has changed greatly in the last 3 years or so, a change for the better. All the glory and praise for this goes to God.

I was a false convert to Christianity until about 6 years ago (I claimed it with my mouth but denied it with my life). I called myself a Christian but I had not been regenerated, made new by God. After God saved me, and I began to testify of His goodness, friends and family members were confused (and rightfully so, I had already claimed this once before, when I was 11 years old). But there are two people (in particular) in my life who understood what I was saying, my husband and my mother. They both had a lot of experience with the real me (the me behind closed doors who didn't clean up behavior for reputation's sake).

I also attribute some of this change in my relationship with my mom to the church where we (Greg and I) are now members. Mom and Larry (my dearly-loved step dad) attend there as well. We are hearing the Bible preached from the pulpit every time the doors are opened, and we are encouraged to study it on our own as well. When you are in God's Word and seeking to apply it to your life, it changes your relationships. When my mom and I have conversations now, we are able to hold each other accountable by the standard of God's Word and not just our personal expectations.

I thank Jesus Christ for dying on the cross to the take the punishment for my sins that I may have a relationship with God. I thank God that He gave me my mother and that, through His saving grace, I can have a relationship with her as well.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Frightening Fridays (Part 2)

As mentioned in yesterday's blog entry, since returning home from some evangelism training in California about two weeks ago, I have decided to spend Friday evenings out in the local community handing out tracts and sharing the gospel with people I meet.


A tip I learned in the training I received was to set a goal when going out for the evening with evangelism on your brain. So, I did that. My goal was to hand out 15 gospel tracts and share the gospel with at least one person face to face.

I drove from work to a town neighboring my home with the intent to pass out tracts and talk to a few people. It being May in Minnesota, there weren't many people congregating out and about quite yet.

I did find a carnival going on in a parking lot. I was able to chat for a few minutes with some young people (late teens to early twenties) hanging out in and around their vehicle. They helped me identify some celebrities on the million dollar bill tracts, and they very kindly wrote down the information for me (even calling friends on their cell phones to make sure they were giving me correct information). Though they were very kind and very friendly, my tongue remained frozen when it came to sharing the gospel. I did manage to summon the courage to give them each a gospel tract when I left (the one containing my own personal testimony and an invitation to the church Greg and I attend).

I stopped to run an errand at Walmart and handed out a few tracts on my way in the door.

My final stop was at a park near my home where I decided to go for a walk on the walking trails in hopes of finding someone with which to strike up a conversation. As I was walking, I passed 4 young people (junior high school aged) who yelled out some kind of hip greeting that I did not understand. I smiled and showed them some gospel tracts. Then I said, "Do you know what the gospel is?" They threw out a few answers. I was then able to share some of the 10 commandments with them. After establishing the bad news of their sinful state with them, I was able to share the good news of the gospel. I saw a few moments of sincerity and general interest in their eyes. I gave them a few follow up tracts and urged them to think about what they heard that evening.

My tract distribution and witnessing goals were met, so I headed home. It appears God allows even the chickens to proclaim the good news of the gospel.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Frightening Fridays (Part 1)

About two weeks ago, I attended an evangelism training event (Ambassador's Academy) in California. I like the way this ministry uses the law (the 10 commandments) to bring knowledge of sin, and then shares the gospel (the good news of redemption). I wanted to experience sharing the gospel alongside people who do it all the time, and I want to share the gospel with people, here, where I live. The training was excellent. The experience was excellent. Now I'm home, without a team of supporters surrounding me. Time to put training into practice. But there's a problem; I'm a huge chicken.

There is nothing in my personality alone that would coerce me to start a conversation with people I don't know. There are but two things that compel me to share the gospel with total strangers:

1. Love for Jesus Christ (I am undeserving, yet He loves me and took the punishment for my sins. I am grateful).

2. Love for people. (It is a shockingly high number of people in America who do not know the message of the gospel. We are no longer a predominantly Christian nation).

That brings me to the title of this post. I have decided to spend Friday evenings (whenever possible) out and about in the local cities handing out gospel tracts and sharing the gospel with people I meet. At present, I am a team of one (physically anyway). But I have fellow believers praying for me, and for that, I am very grateful.

Sharing the gospel with strangers (and friends and family members) will cause you to pray more than ever before and desire to be in God's Word more than you ever thought possible. It will cause you to hunger and thirst for those things because you know you have nothing to offer in and of yourself.

Stayed tuned to tomorrow's post for what happened on my first Friday out on the streets.

Note: If you are reading this blog, and you are not a Christian, please click on the "My Testimony" post (under Blog Archive on the right-hand side of this blog page) to learn more about the message of the gospel. I welcome your feedback.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Morning Reading

I was reading in the book of James this morning, so I thought I'd share these verses.

Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit-yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that." As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it for him it is sin.
James 4:13-17 (ESV)

Hmmmm, the Word of God, as relevant today as the day it was written.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Running Behind

Lately, I've been struggling with getting to work on time (getting there at the time I committed to being there everyday). I seem to have the ability to arrive at work late consistently, so I must have the ability to consistently arrive at work on time.

I've been struggling with it and praying about. God has convicted my heart. My struggle with arriving to work on time is not just a struggle with timeliness but a struggle with selfishness. I want to do one more thing for me or one more thing while my time is still mine. Selfishness is sin. God brought that to my mind yesterday like a sledge hammer knocking me over.

I'm grateful that God loves me enough to correct me.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

When in Doubt......Quote

Today I lack anything profound to say in and of myself. I will then, defer to (in my opinion) the best words ever written, the Bible. The veres that come to mind today are from the book of Philippians, specifically Philippians 2:3-11

Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own intersests but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which is also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2: 3-11 (NKJV)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

My Short Adventure With Facebook

Facebook seems to be all the rage these days. I was very reluctant to join but broke down and gave it a try. Sunday evening I joined facebook. Monday evening I canceled facebook.

I found that it brings out things in me that I try to die to everyday. I have a side in me that has to fight the urge to gossip and criticize. I make war on these desires by reading the Bible and through Christian friends and family members who hold me accountable. For me, joining facebook was just asking for trouble in this area. I recognized this shortly after I joined, so I quickly ended my relationship with this networking tool.

These verses were running through my head at the time: Colossians 3:1-3 "If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God."

I've seen several people who participate in facebook, and they do it very well (my husband being one of them). They're able to participate without it consuming them and their thoughts. I commend them. I, however, do not have this ability.

For now, I'll stick with the blogging (it's a little more suitable to my personality).

Monday, May 18, 2009

Not to be Taken for Granted

Yesterday morning, as part of my morning activities, I checked my e-mail. I had received an e-mail from Voice of the Martyrs. It was called "prisoner alert". It's an e-mail that Voice of the Martyrs (a non-profit organization supporting the persecuted church around the world) sends out to alert other Christians about a fellow believer in another part of the world who is currently imprisoned (and being persecuted) for their faith in Jesus Christ.

At the time, I was preparing to go to church. I was reminded of the freedom I enjoy here in America. May it not be taken for granted. I pray God will continue to convict me not to waste this precious time of freedom while I have it.

Please pray for fellow Christians around the world who are being persecuted (physically and mentally) for their faith even as I am writing the words on this screen.

If you would like to find out more about the Voice of the Martyrs organization and the work they do for the persecuted church, check out their website at http://www.persecution.com/. I would also recommend the book Tortured for Christ by Richard Wurmbrand (the founder of Voice of the Martyrs). I haven't been the same since reading that book. A free copy of it can be obtained through the above mentioned website.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sunday School

I recently started teaching Christian Education (also known as Sunday School) for the 3-6 year olds at our church. My initial schooling was in child development, and I taught preschool for about 10 years. I then went back to school and trained in medical transcription and that was my career for the next 10 years (with a little overlap in between), and it continues to be my occupation today. I didn't think I missed teaching at all. But I realize now, it is my first love. I'm grateful God has allowed me this opportunity to teach the little ones again. I find I learn more through teaching than through any other experience in my life.

In our class, we are working on memorizing an entire Scripture passage instead of a different verse every week. We are memorizing Psalm 8. I am amazed at the ability of the young mind to memorize. They challenge me in this area, and teaching them allows me to work on my memorizing skills as well. It's a good mental reprimand to say to yourself, "Hey, a four year old can do this, what's your problem?"

Here's the passage we're working on (so far we've memorized through verse 4):

Psalm 8
(1) O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth! You have set Your glory above the heavens. (2) Out of the mouth of babies and infants, You have established strength because of Your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger. (3) When I look at Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place, (4) what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You care for him?(5) Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings, and crowned him with glory and honor. (6) You have given him dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, (7) all sheep and oxen and also the beasts of the field, (8) the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the seas. (9) O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!

(Psalm 8--English Standard Version)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Monthly Report

I am a medical transcriptionist by trade, and I have worked at a neurology clinic for 7 years now. Two years ago, the company downsized our department. We went from a 9-person department to a 2-person department. I took a blended position offered by the company at the time. I went from being a medical transcriptionist to being a transcription coordinator (office manager with a little typing on the side). At that time, I inherited the infamous monthly report. The bulk of the transcription is now typed by outside contractors. I am responsible for gathering the information of how many lines typed by each contractor every month and inputting it into an Excel spreadsheet. The spreadsheet is then given to the Accounting Department and to my boss (in Human Resources). I have spent much time in my boss' office being questioned about the monthly report and its lack of accuracy. I have been docked in ratings on my yearly review (two years in a row!--how embarrassing) because of my performance on the monthly report. I recently completed the monthly report for April, so this task is fresh in my mind.

God has taught me a lot about myself and about my relationship with Him through the monthly report. Here are some of the lessons I have learned:

1. God is in control. I do nothing apart from Him and the abilities He has given me. He has chosen to limit my skills in the area of math. It makes me all the more dependent on God.

2. My dislike for a task does not exempt me from the responsibility to the task. I spent a lot of time feeling sorry for myself about my inadequacy in this area and even felt there should be more understanding and leniency for the fact that this was "not my thing". I felt the company should be grateful I was doing the report at all. I was arrogant, and I was selfish. I gave no thought to how my poor performance was hindering people in other departments. I was sinning, and God convicted me of it.

3. I do not have to understand everything about a task in order to complete it. God taught me about obedience through the monthly report. I was given a task to perform, and it was my job to do so regardless of my feelings.

4. God loves a humble heart. God is teaching me humility through the monthly report. I have failed many times in this process. At first, the failure was killing me. Then, I got angry about it. Now, I realize God has allowed this in my life because it is a lesson I need to learn. He disciplines me because He loves me.

5. The accounting department is a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there. I'm quite sure that feeling is mutual. Truly, the accounting department has been so kind to me in all my interactions with them.

God constantly uses my 40-hour-a-week job to teach me about my relationship with Him. I'd be interested in examples from others about how God has used your job to purge sin from your life.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Knowing God

In last night's Bible study at church one of the highlights (and there were several) was when our pastor shared a few thoughts from the book Knowing God by J.I. Packer. It penetrated my thinking, so I wanted to share it with you.

And I quote, "Packer suggests there are four effects the knowledge of God has on a person."

1. Those who know God have great energy for God.

Daniel 11:32 says, "He shall seduce with flattery those who violate the covenant, but the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action."

2. Those who know God have great thoughts of God.

Daniel 2:20-23 says, "Daniel answered and said: Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; He removes kings and sets up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding; He reveals deep and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him. To You, O God of my father, I give thanks and praise, for You have given me wisdom and might, and have now made known to me what we asked of you, for you have made known to us the king's matter."

3. Those who know God show great boldness for God.

Daniel 3:12 says, "There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abdnego. These men, O king, pay no attention to you; they do not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up."

4. Those who know God have great contentment in God.

Daniel 3:16-18 says, "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, O Nebechadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up."

Wow! I want to know God more.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

My Brothers

Recently, I had opportunity to spend time with my two brothers. Sadly, we were traveling to a cousin's funeral (about a 5-hour trip to Iowa), and that was the occasion that brought us together. Our time together, however, was sweet. I was reminded not only that I love them but that I enjoy spending time with them. We had the rare opportunity to travel as three siblings visiting relatives. For just a few hours we weren't wives, husbands, daughters, sons, fathers, uncles, or aunts, just brothers and sister.

I was reminded of the caring and protective side of my brother, Rob. I was reminded that he is a deep thinker and one who contemplates all aspects of a situation.

I was reminded of the conversational side of my brother, John (he can talk to a wall, and when he walks away you'd swear you saw the wall smiling). He has the ability to diffuse an uncomfortable situation and make those around him feel at ease. He, too, has the ability to examine all angles of a situation and is not afraid to ask the unanswered question (or as he refers to it "the elephant in the room").

I was also reminded that they both have a quick wit. They're the funniest guys I know and always have been.

I live in close proximity to both of my brothers but rarely have opportunity to spend time with them alone. Though the occasion that brought us together was very sad, I am grateful to God for allowing me this rare amount of concentrated time with my brothers. God is, indeed, good!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Ambassador's Academy

I've had a week off of work (last Wednesday through yesterday, Tuesday). Today, it's back to work for me.

Last Wednesday I flew out to California to participate in something called the Ambassadors' Academy, through Living Waters/Way of the Master ministry. The ministry exists to teach other Christians how to share the gospel with friends and strangers. The Academy consisted of a full day (Thursday) of classroom training with various speakers from Living Waters/Way of the Master ministry followed by two days (Friday and Saturday) out on the streets (including Hollywood Boulevard) putting to practice what we learned. We passed out gospel tracts, shared the gospel with people face to face on the street, and even did some open-air preaching.

I wanted to participate in this training because I have a desire to share the gospel with as many people as possible. I spent many years with a wrong understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ (my testimony is posted on this blog if you would like to read it). I don't want to take the chance that others have not heard the true message of the gospel. If it is rejected, then let it be done with knowledge of what is being rejected not out of ignorance to the message itself.

I came back home on Sunday and had Monday and Tuesday off of work. Today, it's back to work for me. May the boldness of the training I received in southern California go with me as I live day to day in Minnesota.

For now, it's back to work for me.............medical transcription awaits.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Cookie Baking Night

Last night was "cookie baking night". Every other Monday my nieces and nephews (from both sides of the family) come over to spend the evening with me and my husband. We have supper together, bake cookies, play games, color pictures, read Bible stories, etc. Currently, we're reading through the book Leading Littles Ones to God by Marian Schoolland. It's a great book that teaches theology to children through stories, followup questions, Scripture passages, hymns, and prayers. My niece, Emily (she's 8 years old), received her first Bible last week. She brought it with her and read the Scripture passage from our story that evening (Psalm 139:1-10). She did a great job! Emily requested that we start learning the books of the Bible so she will know how to find things in the Bible without needing to look at the table of contents each time. We will start that process at the next "cookie baking night" and continue over the months to come. Any suggestions on how to teach the books of the Bible to children ages 3-8 would be greatly appreciated.

I thoroughly enjoy "cookie baking nights" with the nieces and nephews. It allows me to have and maintain a relationship with them beyond the annual family gatherings.

Monday, May 11, 2009

My Testimony

This is the testimony of how God saved me from my sins and gave me a new life. With my testimony, I’ve added an opportunity to examine your own life. Thank you for taking the time to read it and indulging me in this manner.

I spent many years of my life believing I was a Christian and believing things about God that simply weren’t true. I had a wrong idea of what it was like to be a Christian. I put my trust in one decision I made when I was 11 years old and not in Jesus Christ alone for my salvation. I have since repented of my sins, and God saved me.

When I was a young girl, my family started attending a local, community church. When I was 11 years old, I went to church camp. One night at camp, I heard a sermon preached on hell and that all sinners go to hell. I certainly could agree that I was a sinner, and I definitely didn’t want to go to hell. I responded to an invitation at the end of the service and prayed to “ask Jesus into my heart.” From that day forward I proceeded to live like a Christian. I trusted fully in the decision I made that day at camp. I attended church every Sunday, and I worked hard to be a good person. I felt was pretty good.

When I was in my early thirties, I went through a time of depression in my life, a time of profound sadness. I was so unhappy and believed that everything and everyone around me was the reason for my unhappiness. I cried out to God in my despair, and God answered my prayer. God began to show me, through my conscience, that I was not the good person I thought I was.

I was utterly and completely addicted to TV. I loved it with all my heart. I gave all of my spare time and attention to it. I lived for it. It was an idol in my life. The Bible says in Exodus 20:2, “You shall have no other gods before me.” This is the first of the 10 commandments.

I had a mistaken image of God in my mind. This god I worshiped turned a blind eye to sin. He was okay with sin and saw no need for me to be different from anyone around me. I created my own god. The Bible says in Exodus 20:4: “You shall not make for yourself a graven image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above or that is in the earth beneath”. This is the second of the 10 commandments.

I was dishonest. I lied to protect myself when I didn’t want to hurt another person’s feelings. I lied when I said I would be at work by 7:30 but showed up somewhere between 7:35 and 7:40, constantly. I lied in stories I told from the past (changed around and embellished some of the details) because I thought my newer version of the story was more exciting. I told thousands of lies. The Bible says in Exodus 20:16 “You shall not lie.” This is the ninth of the 10 commandments.

I spent most of my days wanting what someone else had. I wanted a husband who behaved differently than my husband. I wanted a different car. I would spend a lot of my time poring over magazines full of things I desired to have someday. I coveted just about any life but my own. The Bible says in Exodus 20:17 “You shall not covet…” This is the tenth of the 10 commandments.

The 10 commandments are God’s standard of goodness. God showed me, by convicting my conscience, that I was not a good person. I realized I was an idolater, a liar, coveter, and much more. I’ve only shared with you how I had broken four of the 10 commandments for time’s sake, but you can be sure I have broken them all.

When I realized my own sin, I realized I was not a good person. I grew up in church and had heard the gospel many times in my life, but it wasn’t until I realized the depth of my own sin that the gospel message made sense to me. For the first time in my life I realized I had sinned against the holy and righteous God of the universe, the one who created me. I knew at that point that if I died I would go to Hell, and I deserved it as punishment for my sins (Ezekiel 18:20, “The soul who sins shall die…”). It was then that I truly understood what God did for me over 2,000 years ago (Romans 5:6, “For while we were still weak, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly.”) God in His lovingkindness gave His only son as substitution for my sin. Jesus Christ came to this earth, took on the form of a man, lived a sinless life, and died a cruel, painful death as the punishment for my sin, and then rose from the grave defeating death. A legal transaction took place (Colossians 2:14 “by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands.”) I broke God’s laws, and Jesus paid my fine.

If I would have died before that season in my early thirties, I would have gone to Hell, though I professed to know and was fully convinced that I knew Jesus Christ as Savior.

Consider this illustration. Imagine I showed up at the White House and said, “Hey, I’m here to see the President of the United States. I know all about him, and I totally believe in him. I love him!” Most likely a member of the security staff would say “You’re going to have to leave now. The president does not know you.” Now, imagine I went to the White House by invitation of the president and when I arrived I was greeted with these words, “Follow me, the president has been waiting for you.”

There was a great difference in these two scenarios when the president knew me.

It doesn’t matter if you claim to know God. Does God know you? Have you repented of your sins and put your trust in Jesus Christ alone for your salvation? It’s like putting your trust in a parachute. You don’t just believe in the parachute. You don’t just recognize that the parachute exists and find comfort in it. You have to put on the parachute and trust it with your life when you jump out of an airplane.

The Bible says in Psalm 14:3 “….There is none who does good, no not one.” You cannot earn your way to heaven by being good because you are not as good as you might think and certainly not to the standard of a perfect, holy God. The Bible also says in John 3:3 “…unless one is born again, he cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.”
When I truly understood the impact of my own sins and how I had broken God’s laws, I did what is natural in any situation where you have wronged someone else. I repented of my sins. I apologized to God and asked for forgiveness. I thanked Jesus Christ for taking the punishment for my sins. I put my trust in Him for my salvation. When I did that I was born again. God changed my heart. He gave me new desires. The sin that I once loved, I now hate. I now long to please the God who created me. I long to read His word and know more about Him. My sinful nature did not go away that day, but my desires have changed.

Have you been born again? Have you repented of your sins and put your trust in Jesus Christ alone for your salvation? Have you considered the 10 commandments? Please take this time to ask yourself a few questions?

Has God always been first in your life? The first of the 10 commandments says, “You shall have no other gods before Me.”

Have you ever taken the Lord’s name in vain? That is called blasphemy. It’s very serious in God’s sight. The Bible says in Exodus 20:7 (the third of the 10 commandments) “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.”

Have you ever murdered anyone? Jesus says in Matthew 5:21 “…..you shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment. But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.” God’s standard is so high that he judges the intentions of your heart. If you even have the angry, hateful thought against other person (perhaps when you are driving down the road and someone cuts you off in traffic), you are a murderer at heart.

How many lies have you told in your life? What do you call someone who tells lies?

Have you committed adultery? Jesus said in Matthew 5:27: “You have heard that it was said to those of old, you shall not commit adultery. But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery in his heart.” Have you looked at another person with lustful thoughts, sexual desire? Again, God’s standard is so high that He judges your thoughts and intentions. Looking at someone with lust would be considered adultery of the heart.

We have looked at 5 of the 10 commandments. If you have answered “yes” to them, the verdict is that you are an idolater, a blasphemer, a murderer at heart, a liar, and an adulterer at heart. If you stood before God on judgment day and he judged you by the 10 commandments, would you be innocent or guilty? The innocent go to heaven; the guilty go to hell. Would you go to heaven or hell?

As I discovered a few years ago myself, we are all guilty. We all deserve hell.

Please give this some thought today. Think about your sins, think about the punishment you deserve because of your sins, and think about what Jesus did for you on the cross. Isaiah 53:5 says “But He [Jesus] was wounded for our [yours and mine] transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His stripes we are healed.” You don’t need to say a special prayer. You don’t need to go to a church right now to talk to God. Cry out to Him where you are. Repent of your sins (apologize and turn from them) and put your trust in Jesus Christ alone for your salvation. God will make you a new person. (2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.) He will change your heart.

If you have cried out to God in repentance today, if you have been born again, get a Bible and start reading it. Consider starting with the Gospel of John in the New Testament. Pray daily. Start attending a church that preaches the Bible so you can grow in your relationship with Jesus Christ.

Cookie Baking Night 08/28/17

Tonight is Cookie Baking Night. In attendance this evening: Allison, Rylar, and Enzo. Just the four of us tonight. Clara has taken ill with ...