It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

I’m borrowing the title from this movie, it seemed a fitting title.

If you listen to the daily news, that is the impression you would get.

If you go out into your daily life, you might see something totally different. I do.

Matthew 5:9 – Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

John-3-16-web

I know that there is a lot of chaos in our world and country right now.  Quite honestly though, I really don’t see much in daily life.  We go into our town and see people going to work, running errands, taking walks. We drive into the city to go to the eye doctor, to the grocery store, to the library etc. and most everyone I come across is friendly.  We went back to our hometown Detroit to spend my 50th birthday downtown. People were out walking around enjoying the sunshine, grabbing lunch, spending time on the boardwalk. People of all sorts of colors, backgrounds and languages milling about all around just living life in that moment being friendly. I’d like to think that THIS is what most people in the US are like. Do we have problems? You betcha. Are there some idiots out there? You betcha. Some great big ones. But I refuse to believe those that are portraying the majority of people in the United States like this. I just don’t see that in real life. Maybe I’m being a Pollyanna. Maybe I’m really in the minority and things really are as bad as the news tells us.

I’ve always believed that if you want change that it has to start with you. I also believe the Bible when it says do unto others.  Even if I’m the only one who does, I still will.  What about you?

Matthew 7:12 – So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
Luke 6:31 – And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
1 Peter 3:9 – Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.
Romans 12:18 – If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all
Leviticus 19:18 – You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.
Hebrews 13:2 – Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
Ephesians 4:32 – Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Colossians 3:12-14 – Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
John 16:33 – I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world

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The Good, The Bad, and The Unpredictable

bald_man_combI saw a meme the other day that said “My luck is like a bald man who won a comb.”  That about sums it up.

My life is NOT awful at all.  I’ve been through and continue to go through lots of challenging situations, but even though some of those situations are pretty bad, my life as a whole is still good.  I have a pretty awesome husband.  We have a crazy wonderful son.  We live in a great area.  We are children of an amazing and powerful Father God.  When I lay my head down on my pillow at night, that is what counts.

The challenges are still hard.  For example, after hubby being on unemployment for a while, we were just starting to get back on our feet.  Then one by one, our appliances started breaking down.  First the stove, then the dryer and the fridge.  Also during that time…BOTH vehicles had to be replaced.  We also had to replace our roof.  The washer is now on its last legs and now our water heater needs replacing.  It feels like we are taking one step forward and two steps back.  It doesn’t feel like we’ll ever catch up.

It’s overwhelming at times especially when you see so many other people who manage their obstacles much easier. I know behind the scenes they are probably just as overwhelmed as we are.

The Bible tells us not to be anxious about tomorrow “…for tomorrow will worry about it’s own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matthew 6:34 I tend to be a worrier, especially when it seems that everything that could go wrong, has. I am TRYING to focus just on today. I’m telling myself I can’t do anything about the washer or the water heater right this moment, but I can take care of the things that I can right now…and the rest will wait in God’s capable hands. Then I will do the same tomorrow.

So that’s it. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. How do you run a marathon? One step at a time. And man’s steps are ordained by the Lord, how then can man understand his way? (Proverbs 20:24) I just have to keep repeating this to myself, reminding myself that we’ve made it through worse, and keep counting my blessings.

Until next time – live simply and love abundantly!  Grace and peace…

Ann’Re

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh to to me? Psalm 56:3-4

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

For I am the Lord your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear; I will help you. Isaiah 41:13

New Year Bible Reading

bibleOne thing I want more than anything else this new year is a deeper walk with the Lord.  I want my relationship with Him to be my biggest priority.  One of the ways I can do that is to spend more time in prayer.  Another is to spend more time in the Word.

I fully admit that I am not good with Bible reading plans. I start well, but finish poorly.  It took me two years to actually finish a one year reading plan.  So I don’t commit to them anymore.  I don’t want my quiet time to feel like an obligation or drudgery.  At the same time, I do want to read through the Bible cover to cover, otherwise there are books I would never read otherwise (like, for example, Leviticus.)

My reading plan is simple: I start in Genesis and just read.  Some days it might be a few chapters, some days a paragraph or two.  The key for me is there is no schedule and no pressure to finish by a certain time.  It could take me several months to finish or it could take a few years.  I can take my time and meditate on Scriptures as the Spirit prompts, or just read and read when my heart is just hungry for the Word.

Taking away the pressure of schedules and deadlines also takes away the guilt of not sticking to the plan or not finishing.  It allows me to enjoy my Bible reading with the freedom to slow down or speed up reading based on His leading, not my schedule.

Do you use a Bible reading plan?  I would love to hear about it and how you use it!

Christians and Politics

Colossians 3:2 – Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

mybibleI don’t get political very often but I personally think many Christians are way too political. Clear as mud, huh? Let me explain. Our purpose as followers of Christ is to be sharing God’s love and His Gospel with everyone we meet, not our political views. And when we do happen to share our political views, they should be seen through God’s Word. You see, we do not live, but Christ lives within us. Even our thoughts should be captive to His obedience…

2 Corinthians 10:4-6 – For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.

We should be standing up for the Gospel, preaching the Gospel so that all will hear, and lovingly holding those accountable who say they are Christians yet go against the Gospel. John MacArthur says “America’s moral decline is a spiritual problem, not a political one, and its solution is the gospel, not partisan politics.” Christ said His kingdom is not of this world, and in Christ ours isn’t either. We shouldn’t be out to reform our government, we should be out to reform hearts and souls of citizens for Jesus Christ. Does that mean we shouldn’t be involved in politics at all?  No, but being about our Father’s business is to be our priority in every aspect of our lives, including voting.  Politics doesn’t save anyone’s soul regardless of who is elected.  The message of the Gospel does.  That alone will have more impact on our government than anything we can do politically. I think politics actually drives a wedge between Christians and non-Christians…and even between Christians and Christians.  I finally felt God convicting me.  “Are you working harder to gain votes for a particular person or push a political agenda or are you working harder to gain souls for My Kingdom and push the Gospel message?”  Pray for our country, not that we become a Christian nation, but a nation full of Christians.  There is a big difference.

For the longest time I’ve felt pretty awkward when it comes to the subject of politics because I just couldn’t put beliefs into words. While I lean Anabaptist, I don’t agree with everything they do. I recently came across a sermon series from John MacArthur that pretty much summed up what I believe politically according to the Bible. Even if you don’t agree…I’d love to know what you think.

The Christian’s Responsibility to Government Part 1
The Christian’s Responsibility to Government Part 2
The Christian’s Responsibility to Government Part 3
The Christian’s Responsibility to Government Part 4

The World and The Christian

mybible1 John 2:15-17 – Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

Sadly we see Christians who are more in love with the world and the things in the world than they are with the God over all of it. They expect all the spiritual benefits of being a Christian without giving anything up. Christ paid the ultimate sacrifice by shedding His precious blood for us, Christians today sacrifice very little in return.

Romans 12:1-2 – I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Christians watch the same movies and shows as the world, listens to the same music as the world, wears the same clothes, reads the same books etc.  And when they do actually give something up, there is the huge market of Christian merchandise to replace it and ensure that today’s Christians do not feel like they are missing out on anything.  Former gang leader Nick Cruz pretty much summed it up by saying “The Modern Church is, quite simply, just the World with a Christian T-shirt on!”

Christians today are so comfortable in the world that they are having little effect on it.  Even our churches are becoming less reverent and more “comfortable” so non-believers will hardly know they are even in a Church.  And our churches are suffering for it.  We cannot expect to change the world if the world doesn’t see anything to change.

The cross of Christ is not effective because very few Christians are daily taking up theirs.  Instead of crucifying the flesh with its passions and desires, they are feeding it and keeping it alive and well.  Today’s Christians do not want to hear that they shouldn’t read that book that everyone is reading, they don’t want to hear that they should miss out on that movie that everyone is going to see, they don’t want to hear that it isn’t a good idea to wear that trendy new style of clothes, they don’t want to even hear that what they are doing could even be sinful.  They have freedom, you know, but there is no testimony or witness in that.

1 Corinthians 10:23-24 – All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being.

I know it’s hard (trust me I DO KNOW!) to draw a line and say “we aren’t going to do that, even though everyone else does (including Christian friends).”   But that is what we are called to do!!   How?  First, get on our knees and ask God to forgive us for it.  Then quite simply…read and study our Bible.  Real and deep reading and study of God’s Word.  Prayerful study.  The whole thing.  Cover to cover.  You  don’t need some other book to tell you what the Bible says…you need to know for yourself what the Bible says and let the Holy Spirit reveal to you what it says.  Get to know God through His Word, and our love for Him will grow as our love for the world will diminish.  And when our joy and worth is truly in the Him and not the world, it won’t bother us not to see that movie, read that book, wear that style, listen to that music etc…and we’ll be more than happy to share why!!

If all those that say they are Christians would take a stand…what a change it would make in this nation and the world.

Luke 9:23-24 – Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.

1 Corinthians 1:17-18 – For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

Galatians 5:24 – And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Philippians 3:18-19 – For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things.

Have you read God’s Word today?

bibleIt is never too late to start a Bible reading plan.  You can find the one I use here.  You can have it sent directly to your email and there are many Bible versions to pick from.  Many Bibles include a reading plan in them.  And you can do an online search for Bible Reading Plans and have many to choose from.  Or you can just open your Bible to Genesis 1:1 and read a little bit each day.  The bottom line is that you be in the Scriptures.  Don’t ever spend more time reading books about the Bible than you do reading the Bible itself.

2 Timothy 3:16-17
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Luke 4:4
But Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’”

John 8:31-32
Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

Psalm 119:105
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.