Category Archives: Challenge

Truth-Seekers? Are You There?

Okay, so I have a legitimate question. And the comment section is open to everyone, even if you think it is a stupid question in the first place, and even if you are an agnostic or atheist. I don’t expect everyone to agree with each other, but I do want to engage in respectful, intelligent conversation.

So here it is: have you ever gone through a serious phase of doubt in your life? And when I say doubt, I’m talking about your core beliefs. The ones that make you who you are. The reasons that you behave the way you do. I’m referring to the lens through which you view all other beliefs and ideologies.

I sincerely want to hear what you all have to say, even if you don’t call yourself a Christian. However, it is my opinion that this is something that sincere Christians do not talk about often enough. To me, it almost feels like the church is operating under an Emperor’s-New-Clothes mentality. We’re afraid that if we admit to having doubt, it will de-legitimize everything we claim to believe about God. Has anyone else felt what I’m feeling here?

So, if you did have doubts, or if you still do, where did they come from? Did you read something in the Bible that caused you to second-guess? Did you have a conversation that challenged your long-held beliefs? Maybe someone asked a question, and you just couldn’t fathom having an answer that fit in with everything you’ve ever believed.

I’d like to get a little bit of self-analyzing here, because I think it’s important that we ask the hard questions in an effort to become fully aware of why we believe what we do. I don’t think it’s good for people to float through life believing everything they’ve ever been told, even if it was a highly respected or valued individual that taught them.

Be a believer or a non-believer, as you wish. But be an intelligent one. Know why you are clinging to your religion (or anti-religion, as the case may be).

Okay, so a couple of follow up questions for those who have doubted: did you search for answers, or allow your beliefs to fall by the wayside? Did your religion suddenly become the most important thing you could possibly dig into and research, or did you just shrug your shoulders and leave it in the dust? Why do you think you reacted that way?

Did you come full-circle? Are you believing what you believed before, or did something change with the new information? What changed, and why?

If you doubted, and did your research, and are now a believer again, do you feel that your faith is stronger than ever? Do you feel that you needed to experience a time of doubting and searching to become the person you are today?

If you have never doubted, not even for a moment, why not? Are you clinging so closely to what you grew up believing that there’s no room for questions? Are you afraid to ask the hard questions? Afraid that you won’t like the answers, or afraid that you may be misled by someone who believes differently than you?

Truth is worth seeking. Even if you have to break down 50 years of traditional beliefs, even if it divides you from your friends and family, Truth is worth finding. Seek with a whole heart, and never be afraid of the Truth. Truth is freedom.

If the Bible is true, and I have found that it is, then your seeking will not go unrewarded. You will find the answers you are looking for:

“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” Matthew 5:6

“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32

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I’m Over-analyzing Myself via Blog Stats

I was looking over my blog stats earlier this week, and I noticed a strange disconnect between the things I blog about and the things I visit other people’s blogs to read about. So I made a couple of lists.

Now I’m no expert on blogging technique, but it seems to me that these two lists should have more crossover than they actually do.  I told myself that a big reason for the difference is that I write about the things I know, whereas I read about the things I want to know.

The second thing I noticed is that there are many things on the first list (things I write about) that I should be reading about too. I should always make an effort to keep learning, even if I feel that I’m already an “expert” on the topic (which I can’t honestly say about anything really).

To be perfectly candid, I fear that part of the reason I don’t read more about homeschooling, for instance, is because I am set in my ways and don’t want to have my opinions, methods, and beliefs challenged. Or maybe I am too lazy to defend them. Uh, oh. My sister will reprimand me if she reads this…

That’s a poor reason not to stay educated. Part of excellence in any area of study is keeping up to date on changes in your field.

And even if your area of expertise is something like math, which doesn’t change on a foundational level, it seems to me that you should still stay current on popular opinion, methods, and such things as math history and theoretical math.

There is always something more to discover.

The third thing I noticed is that there are things I could be writing about that I’m not. For instance, homemaking is one of the tags that I follow in my WordPress reader, but to my knowledge, I’ve never written about it. Which is a darn shame, because I love doing it.

I love creating a home with an inviting atmosphere. I love that my husband compliments me and tells me that he looks forward to coming home after a long day at work. He is excited to find out what’s for dinner or what I’m wearing or any number of small details that add up to make a home.

I enjoy reading about how others keep house, and I’m confused by why I don’t share my ideas and experiences to inspire others. I guess I’m afraid that it will look like I’m bragging on myself, but that’s not how I perceive others’ blogs when I visit them for ideas.

So, if you like housekeeping, or you wish you did, stay tuned. It entails so much more than cleanliness and offers many opportunities for creativity.

photo credit: trackrecord <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/22191301@N00/303650619″>EADS saliendo del pozo</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

Post from the Past: Still waiting on God?

I have heard people say that God spoke to them audibly. I have never known exactly what to think of that, even though I am sure that God is quite capable of doing anything He feels like doing. A few years ago, however, I had an experience that made me wonder.

I was attending chapel at my college. It was probably the first or second time I had ever been to chapel there. Even though the university had a chapel-attendance policy, I was exempt; I was a commuting student and was rarely on campus during chapel sessions. I don’t remember what the message was about that day, but I remember sitting there in my own little world talking to God. I was asking Him what He wanted for my life. Normally, we see or hear words, but this was a completely different experience. While I didn’t hear an audible voice, I felt the very distinct impression of two specific words: Serve Me.

“Impression” is the only word I can think of that even comes close what I felt. Now as to whether these words came straight from heaven, or whether they were just the culmination of everything that I already knew, I have no idea. But as I was thinking about this experience later, more and more I got the impression that I should have already known the answer. It doesn’t really matter whether God spoke directly to me, or whether I just happened to figure it out in that instant. Either way, I’m absolutely sure what God wants me to do with the rest of my life: serve Him.

Serve Him. Am I being too simplistic? I don’t think so. I guess you could just brush it off as a phrase that you have heard one too many times. Maybe it has lost its meaning to you. But if you will take a moment to consider the implications, I think you will see that those two little words offer a life-changing experience. Taken literally, they have the power to change the life of everyone who comes into contact with you. Those words, acted upon, will function as a stone tossed into the middle of a sea of souls. Whether a large stone or a small one is entirely up to you.

How do I serve Him? One obvious way we can serve Him is by serving others. “…Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Matthew 25:40b.

Why do I think I should have already known the answer?

Because God has already told us to serve. It is not a suggestion, but a standing order. “…but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” Galatians 5:13c-14.

Because Jesus is our example. “For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45.

Christ’s first miracle as a man occurred because there was a need to be met. John 2:1-11.

The question then, is how can we serve? Find a person with a need and fill it. Find an organization that helps people with needs and volunteer. No act of kindness is too small. The more spontaneous, unexpected, and undeserved it is, the greater impact it will have. If you have an abundance of time or money, start by offering these. If you don’t have either, find ways to consume less of what you do have so that you will have some left over to share with others. What do you think is more effective: knocking on doors and inviting complete strangers to church, or serving someone in the community, stranger or not, and following up with a conversation about Christ? They may even ask you why in the world you are offering your time, money, sweat, etc. This will open the door to explain how your actions are nothing compared to the love of God and the free, undeserved gift of salvation.

When can we serve? Start by cutting out as much television as you possibly can. Remember that everything in this world will be burned up, and that we could be taken off this earth at literally any moment. Get up a little earlier or go to bed a little later. Take a week or a month, and inventory how you spend your time. Try not to worry too much about loss of personal time. Time means nothing to those who have an eternity to look forward to. Any time lost to serving others and spreading the gospel will most certainly be redeemed after you are resurrected. You will be laying up treasure in heaven. Of course, you must still make time for your family: they are your responsibility, and serving them is just as important as serving others.

Do you ever feel like you can’t do anything else without direction from God? Do you feel you have been waiting for years, and you are just tired of waiting? Sometimes I fear that we Christians use “waiting on God” as an excuse. He has already given us direction for our lives. Why do we think we need to wait for a personal word from God, in addition to what He has given us in His Word? Are we waiting for Him to drop an opportunity into our laps? Are we waiting to be the leader of a ministry? Our own ministry? That’s our first mistake. Ministry is about everyone except us. Sometimes, we don’t recognize God’s will because it doesn’t line up with our own will. He wants us working, not sitting around waiting for Him to knock us over the head with an answer that we approve of. I’m not suggesting that we stop waiting on the Lord. He commands us to do that as well. I’m merely suggesting that we do both – obey His commandments, and wait, expecting Him to lead us to the next step.

Challenge: Still waiting on God? All well and good. But in the meantime, obey the call to service.

Submission – what does it really mean?

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

Ephesians 5:22-24

What should you do when you feel that your husband isn’t treating you right? Maybe you can sense a reoccurring streak of selfishness, or maybe it’s as bad as a complete disregard for how you feel. Worse than that, perhaps you can see that he is making poor choices or ignoring the mandates set forth in God’s Word. How can you make him understand? The short answer: you can’t. You can try to reason with him; respectfully tell him exactly how you feel. Sometimes your honesty will be enough to make him take a second look at things. But in the long run, you can’t force him to believe differently about something or to behave in a certain way.

How then, should you react? Here’s my advice, although many may not agree. The Bible commands wives to submit to their husbands. I know, I know; it also commands husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the church. That means that your husband should listen to your opinions and give them a lot of weight in his decision-making, right? Well, the truth is, however your husband decides to interpret that verse, it shouldn’t have any impact on the way you interpret the preceding ones. You see, those verses aren’t set up like “if…then” statements. If the husband loves his wife, then the wife submits to her husband. What if your husband isn’t a Christian at all, and gives no thought to the Bible whatsoever? Does that automatically make you the decision-maker of the household? Because your decisions are the right ones? No. Every wife believes her opinions to be the right ones – all the time. The Bible doesn’t say, “Therefore, whosoever is wrong shall submit to whosoever is right.” God has ordained your husband to make family decisions.

The only time you can disobey your husband is if he asks you to sin against God. You cannot force him to act the way you believe God wants him to. I have found that approaching God’s command this way frees me from worry about the effects of my husband’s decisions. I obey God by obeying my husband; everything that happens in my life as a result is God’s responsibility. You see, God will never punish you for obeying him. In fact, the only way you can find His perfect will is to obey Him to the letter – even if you feel that God’s will is being hindered by others in your life. Believe me; He does have the power to perfectly order your life in spite of other humans.

Your only job is to act the way you believe God wants you to act. As a matter of fact, that is everyone’s job, and the sooner we can believe that as a church, the sooner we can begin to examine our own lives, and stop nit-picking the lives of others – either audibly by nagging them, or in our thoughts. Think about a common church service for example. Maybe the pastor is preaching about finding God’s will for your life. Maybe your husband is sitting next to you, and you just know this sermon is exactly what he needs. You speak to him after the service and discover that he thought the message was, “ok.” What? That was a life-changing message! So why isn’t he bubbling over and brainstorming areas in his life that need changing right away? Sometimes – I would venture to say all of the time – what people really need in their lives is an example of godly living. My advice is to apply every Word from God to your own life, whether you are sitting in church or having a quiet Bible study by yourself. So much time is wasted by thinking, “So-and-so really needs to hear this. I wish she were here,” or “I hope he’s paying good attention. This message is for him.” When in reality, God has you sitting under that message on that day for a reason, and I guarantee that that reason is not so you can sit there and think about who else needs to hear it. Am I making sense? Let me bring it down to one sentence:

It is not the words you speak that will change the world, but the example that you set.

Challenge: apply everything you read today to your own life.

What do I really believe?

I have been quiet lately, I know. I may appear calm on the outside, but my soul is stirring underneath, like a barely controlled tempest. My mind is altered. My life is beginning to take a shape that I am unfamiliar with. In a previous post, I alluded to a change in perception that has been taking place for over a year now. Well, today I am ready to talk about it.

I have been hesitant to publicly address how I now believe. One reason being that I am constantly learning new things, and I know that in another year’s time, I will have morphed completely beyond where I am now, and I am loathe to make a fool of myself, speaking of things which I barely understand. I have only scratched the surface, I know. But I am yearning, starving for more, and every week I uncover something new that has been hiding in plain sight all my life: Principally, I have uncovered 2 things:

  1. the overwhelming, inexplicable foreshadowing of Jesus Christ throughout the Law and the Old Testament. Something like this cannot be forged. The conspiracy would have to span thousands of years, countless patient martyrs, and make sudden and complete perfect sense of the hidden mystery of God that was revealed in the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ our Messiah. The more you study, the more you will realize that the gospel message could not possibly have been contrived by men. I realize I’m a little late to the party on this one. Many of you have already discovered what has lately been filling me with amazement and unspeakable respect and awe in the face of our Creator and Redeemer. However, I want to lay these things out plainly for any other seeker that may be a bit behind, as I was (and am).
  2. the fact that the Law is every bit as relevant today as it ever has been. (This is the belief that I expect to be challenged for.) “The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.” Deuteronomy 29:29. “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” Joshua 1:8. “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” I John 3:4. “Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church: Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.” Colossians 1:24-29

The second reason is difficult for me to admit. I am afraid. Afraid that my dearest friends and family members will misunderstand what I have to say. Afraid that they will think that I am not “looking unto Jesus as the author and finisher of our faith.” That’s why I intend to be very careful about how I word things. I will attempt to say exactly what I mean. I do not fear questions and challenges, so ask away. To quote a good friend of mine: “I am not afraid to discover the truth, whatever it may be” – which is what led me to this place to begin with.

Here is what has changed my life: deep inspection of the Law of God, the Torah. I have only just learned this term, its meaning, and the importance and impact of these books (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy). I am not saying they are the most important books of the Bible, merely that we have neglected them for centuries, and that it’s high time they reclaim their proper place in the hearts and lives of mankind.

Now I have long since wondered about Christianity and its neglect of just one of the Ten Commandments. Why neglect one? This has been an ongoing, nagging question in my heart since childhood. There have even been phases in my life where I have attempted to keep the Sabbath, but they were always short-lived. I lacked the urgency needed to follow God’s rules (due to being steeped in modern-day, “fluffy” Christianity).

However, my journey began in earnest after learning that I am BRCA positive. I started to wonder if my genes harbored some trace of a Jewish heritage. Having always believed that the Law was given to God’s chosen people, this wonderment changed something in me. Was the Law intended for me? However, I was only in a phase of curiosity. I had not yet reached the intense desire to find out everything that it’s possible for a person to know about God and His Law (which are insights into His personality and righteousness).

While I was mostly ignoring the occasional blips on my spiritual radar, I went on with my life as normal. On the other hand, my dad started to dig and began sharing things with me. His conversation and lifestyle sparked in me a compulsion to prove him wrong. I was afraid that he was placing his salvation in his own hands, not in the pierced hands of Jesus Christ alone. I feared he was on the verge of practicing gnosticism, wondering if he believed he knew things that were only revealed to a chosen few. I would come home from visits at my parents’ home and search and comb the scriptures, comparing the old (testament) with the new, and the new with the old, trying all the while to read them with naked eyes. Does that make sense? Eyes that were not looking through filtered lenses of world-view, doctrine, or any other type, striving to merely see what God is saying about His Covenant and everything else. Deeper and deeper, revelation after revelation, the Scriptures slowly began to change my mind, and only God knows how deep the rabbit hole goes. I am beginning to suspect it is infinite.

Here is the third reason that I have been hesitant to share, and it is the biggest. I have this fear that perhaps I am wrong. Maybe it’s the urging of the Holy Spirit asking me not to get into things over my head. Most likely it’s Satan, trying to prevent me from discovering the fullness of God’s majesty and plan of redemption. I would like to think that I know the difference between the voice of God and that of His adversary, and I believe that I do. However, for your sakes, please do not take anything I have to say at face value, and do your own digging. Please. If there is anything you take away from all of my rambling, be it this admonition: Find out for yourself; it is your responsibility. This is not, however, a disclaimer. I am not attempting to wash my hands of my part in this movement. I am not pretending that I won’t share the blame if I mislead anyone, and God knows that is the last thing I want to do, so I have waited this long to share the beliefs of which I am now fully convinced. I am just stating, that if you believe a lie without consulting the Scriptures, you will be equally responsible for your own misguidedness.

In my next few posts, I will be addressing a few of the things I have learned very recently, and I hope they spur you toward revival and a thirst for the Living Water and His righteousness. “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” Matthew 5:6.Christie Thomas Even if you disagree with everything I say here, I hope these words compel you to dig and find out whether I am right or wrong. I urge you to search the Scriptures for yourself, Old and New Testaments alike, and find out what God has to say to you.

It’s time to stop relying on conventions, traditions, and unsupported doctrines of men. Some doctrines are good; some are bad, but we have everything we need to allow us to discern the truth. We have no excuse to mindlessly accept what we’ve always been told. We have been given the Word and the Holy Spirit of God. It’s time to stop neglecting the Holy Scriptures – the one thing in this world that reveals the message of life freely to all who believe.

 

This is enough for one day. Aside from the scriptures provided here, I realize I have said next to nothing of substance in this post. However, I am afraid to write everything I am thinking at once. (I am afraid you will get bored and stop reading!) Next time, if God gives me grace to complete it, I will begin to tackle what I believe is the three-fold purpose of the Law:

  1. To reveal sin in our lives, thereby proving our need for a Savior.
  2. To act as an indisputable sign, pointing perfectly and completely at Jesus Christ as Messiah.
  3. To show us how to live an abundant life during our sojourn here on earth.

 

Later, I intend to cover some common objections.

I would also like to talk about the names of God and His Son, the feast days, worldliness in the church (including pagan practices), and the tricky way that Satan has convinced us (almost collectively) that sin is okay.

These are all from a layman’s viewpoint; I am seeking to educate myself but have no credentials of any kind. However, I am a perpetual student of Yahweh and His holiness. “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15

 

I John 4:1-5:

Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:

And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.

Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.

They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them.

The Me I Want to Be

Ok, tomorrow I’m intend to do the following three things, and I want you all to help make me accountable:

1. Get up at 6:30am and stay up for the rest of the day.

2. Go for a run up to the high school and back.

3. Avoid sugar and food additives like The Plague.

PhilippiansThere are so many changes I’d like to make in my life, but I just can’t find the will-power. I keep thinking “I can do all things through Christ which strentheneth me (Philippians 4:13),” but I’m just so used to caving into my own desires that I never make it very far.

The me I want to be is the following woman: healthy, fully in charge of her eating habits, active, productive. I don’t want to be a slave to food, sleep, television, social media, etc. I just want to be me! Is that too much to ask of myself?

Would you all benefit from an accountability partner? If you had one, what challenges would you make yourselves?

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/44037580@N08/7490433460″>week five – austin m. d.</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

Stop and play

GuitarLife is busy. It flows by so quickly and changes so much. Lately, I have been trying harder to just stop and do something that I enjoy. I have been able to carve out a lot more time by making one change in my life: I never watch movies or television anymore. Sometimes I’ll sit in the living room while my husband or son watches YouTube, but I am always reading or playing the guitar or eating dinner, and I never stay for long. I have decided that when I look back on my life, from my death bed, I will regret all the time I spent in front of the TV. I don’t know – maybe nothing will matter at that point – perhaps I’ll regret the fiction I read and any other time I wasted (Can we say FaceBook?). Do you think we will consider any of our learning to be a waste of time? But anyway…TV is definitely out. I’ll work on the rest later.

With the arrival of the warmer weather, my favorite retreat has been on the bench that my husband got me for our front porch. I sit out there so often that complete strangers recognize me when they come into my place of work! (I’m a hostess at Applebee’s.)

Now I just need to think of a way to get moving – one that I enjoy. Before Ian was born, I would get up when my husband went to work and go for a run. That’s what I’d like to try again, if I can just bring myself to start! Does anyone know where I can find some will-power laying around at 6:30 in the morning?

Anyway, what would you find the time to do if you cut television out completely? Or FaceBook, or your biggest time waster? I want to challenge you to try it for a week and pursue something you enjoy or something you’ve been wanting to learn. You never know – you might like it!

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/41385059@N04/6178377279″>1979  YAMAHA FG531SB</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;