Friday, December 31, 2010

Marriage: A Ministry

Many, many times I listen to ministers begin each and every sermon with,"I would like to thank this or that...blah-blah... and I count this being here as an honor and a privilege to minster to you this morning..." And indeed, as I thought about it, it is an honor to be chosen to preach to God's people. God in as much trusts that speaker to say what He has given the speaker to say. This person has studied, prayed and is well equip to say and pray the way God has instructed him/her to do. The speaker has taken his position seriously and is not just saying what he thinks sounds good just to increase CD sales and to get a hefty love offering in the end. He/she is not just pulling at the heart strings of emotion for the majority of the congregation to run around the church and be all out of breath to trick them in believing that the church service was really good only to try to make account of the words spoken and it was all fluff and nothing to sustain them for the week. Yes, the person takes the matter of being a spiritual teacher extremely serious because he/she knows that judgement for this person is quite different and nothing to make light of.

So then, who among you would take lightly the position of spouse? Is it not also a privilege that God has given to you the honor of being that close to one of His sons or daughters? You have good intentions in the matters of the heart and consider the other first before yourself. You take the time to listen and are patient as you react in love with all that you say and do. Would you count it as an honor and a privilege that this person was specifically chosen for you to bless? Isn't it just as great? Won't God be just as pleased in seeing that you have made this one person as happy as a minister could do with a congregation?

So before you ask for the moon, sky, and stars, look to see how you have managed your own house. Is it in order? Have you practiced the basic building blocks of Christianity so that it is like brushing your teeth and having your morning coffee? Can you allow someone else to have the last word? Can you smile in the face of adversity and walk away without retaliation? Can you give up a prized material possession if it means getting a fellow saint out of debt? Do you hear God and do specifically what He asks of you or do you at least come close? Bottom line: Can He trust you?

Bitter

I recall in the Autumn months when I used to live in Utah, there was this abandoned apricot orchard that my brother and I discovered. A neighbor suggested that we gathered as much fruit as we can because she was used to canning. She had her son come with us and it was the first time my mother made apricot preserves. But before we actually got the product she instructed us which of the fruit we should pick. We, as children, enjoyed going to the orchard to have our fill of the apricots. We didn't pick the hard ones because experience taught us that the hard ones weren't as sweet and delicious. So we left those. We also learned not to be so tired and reconcile to the fruit on the ground because it was more than likely spoiled or the bugs weren't finished with it. I recall the ick dance when picking those apricots from the ground. I thought it would be easier and they looked fine from the top. It was where the ground connected with the fruit when I turned it over did I see the rot or the grubs from the dirt enjoying the spoils We learned that the best of the fruit were usually high up in the trees. So without proper equipment or instruction as to why we should wait for particular seasons and at the best time, we forged ahead eating until we were full.

With the instruction of my mother (Proverbs 15:32 KJV), we learned what color, size, and how far we should go up the trees. She had us bring baskets, buckets, and for us to watch out for each other with a reason as to the dangers that could happen if we didn't do as she had instructed us to do. While she prepared for a huge harvest, we thought about the fun we were going to have getting as many apricots as we could; we even challenged each other who would have the most.

How odd and very applicable this is to the Christian views of dating. Before coming into the knowledge of the truth, did we not just forge ahead and do as we felt like doing justifying the use of our feelings and emotions until we were filled? We tend to gravitate toward those that look appealing rather than waiting for instruction as to who and what to look for. if it is too hard to reach for the best of what God intends, do we settle for what seems to be easier?This would be the same in dating or trying to rush the process to get married. If you have read any three of these blogs you can see what the type of person that didn't listen to instruction and forged ahead to taste the fruit that wasn't ready. This person could have still been angry at any given situation, had issues, grudges against another believer, or even had unresolved problems with God. This is not the fruit by which we would pick to eat; however, it has been seen over and over when the believer doesn't go beyond what is seen. Just because there is a nice package doesn't mean what is inside is necessarily what was needed. That is also the fruit that looks good enough to eat but wasn't pruned or it was shaded for too long or it got most of the pesticide - for whatever the reason, it looked good but tasted awful. What happened to that one?

To that lazy individual that just wouldn't even make the effort to get the proper tools to reach the best of the fruit - you deserve what you get. You know who you are. God told you what your calling was and what you had to do to achieve it but instead this believer says he/she is waiting for God to do it for  them. They are waiting for that miracle to come and ring the doorbell. They are standing on the scripture of Peter finding the taxes in the mouth of the fish. Supernatural miracles. Its even cute that they are using a verse to substantiate their laziness. And that will happen! Someone will listen to this carnal way of thinking and believe it is cute because of that one verse used out of context. Jesus was with Peter and told him what to do. Peter was obedient. Stop falling for that same scam! Jesus told Peter to do what Peter was initially called to do - fish. If Peter was called to fish and never fished or only fished when he was hungry, Jesus would have never called Peter to be a disciple. If you recall, Jesus called those who were already doing something.

But back to that one horrid tasting piece of fruit. The one that looked to have the right color, the right kind of firmness, and seemingly in the right place; why would it not taste as ripe and delicious as all of the rest? Have you ever met someone like this? They are sitting right next to you in the congregation. He or she smiles at other members and labors in the ministry, yet upon lengthy conversation you find that he or she has issues with certain people or certain areas of the city or in understanding the Word or something else. What happened and could any of this be missed while dating or forging ahead to marriage? Of course it can. To the frustrated person who quarrels at home and smiles in church; you know who you are (1 Corinthians 3:2-3 KJV). That root of bitterness is difficult to find because of justification as to why you have those feelings. There is no getting around it when challenged with the Word of God. If you use the commandment of love in all that you do, bitterness is uprooted miraculously because the Word sustains life and eradicates darkness (2 Corinthians 6:14 KJV).

That fruit that is found on the ground and is nasty when turned over... recall that the flesh was made from the dust and if it is that which you would much rather wallow in then you cannot be surprised at its effects (Galatians 6:8 KJV). It is carnal thinking that produces carnal results. If there is not one thing that I have continually repeated in these blogs is, if you don't like the product you much change the seed or the ground that you are sowing the seed into.

Recall the instruction that was given to myself and brother (Proverbs 10:17 KJV). We were told to take tools, given something to carry the fruit in, where to go and how high. We were told to leave the fruit that had fallen alone and if its too high, don't try to reach it so we won't fall. Question: when mature in Christ, is there a place thats too high for you to reach? Then why do so many of us settle for what seems to be the easiest without hardly any effort? Selah.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

What's Your Sign?

Truly, I believed the asking of this question was so passer, I didn't believe it was worth discussing. How can a Christian even use the zodiac as a means of conversation; and if it is used how could the other party still enjoy the date? Really?!! You wanna know my sign?!!!

I recall the zodiac being such the rage back in the day. I considered it fun as well - course this was before I found Jesus as my Lord and Savior. People were getting such a kick out of it. I recall statements such as,
I know people like that. They seem to all be like (this sign or another).
Oooh, I had a dream and it means according to my sign...
I have to keep playing this number because the newspaper said it would be lucky for me.
Oh I couldn't go anywhere with him, I know my sign isn't compatible with (some other zodiac sign).
That's how those (place sign here) act. They are always arguing about something.
Such and such sign are so creative.

And so forth and so on. Even at my young age, it all started to sound silly. I was reading the paper looking at the classifieds or something and happened upon the horoscope section. I stopped for a moment to see what mine was. I learned of what my sign was as a child when my parents were studying the same fad. When my parents studied - they studied! I am talking books and books on the matter. I recall books on astronomy and the zodiac. I tried to read what the fascination was, but it was as interesting as an anatomy book on the procedure of cardiac surgery. Aaaarrrggh! As I looked through the other signs and the months those signs fell on, I came upon mine and began to read what my day was supposed to be like. It was vague at best and had absolutely nothing to look forward to. I then sought what it said for the next day and the next. Not because I became obsessed, but to see if there was any validity as to why someone would continually do this to map what their day would consist of. After a few days, I thought I would lose interest, however, just that fast I sensed almost a compulsion to get the paper just to see for the fun of it. I actually had to resist not to see what would be there. Why? What would the temptation be? There was nothing there in those days I looked, why now did I have to see if something would be different? And there it was. I understood how something so simple as a fad that comes in and out of style like anything else had become a habit to some people - a lack of resistance to error (2 Peter 2:18-19 KJV). Error then matured into something else  - hence all of the books my parents bought.

I believed it was necessary to write about this matter for the body of Christ to recognize this as being a spot or wrinkle. It is a matter that needs much prayer. I recently spoke to a believer, and in our conversation she casually mentioned a zodiac sign. I stopped and stared at her but said nothing as she continued to speak. We had developed such a friendship that she knew the expressions on my face and my silence meant more then the words I spoke. She then paused and said, "what?" While I used as little expression as I could not believing that she could be so casual about a matter and also be such a lover of Christ, her reaction was just as astonishing to me, "it is all for fun." It was not just this simple statement but the pitch in her voice of which I have heard in other believers. The pitch has the distinct implication of, there she goes taking it too far again. What's the matter with this Lenora, ho-hum (an audible sigh)!

I have learned to not say anything and allow God to be God. Would He take matters too far when He states a case using His Word? Believing that the prayers of the righteous avails much, I stay on task.

What does this have to do with dating? Well, as casual as a conversation that I had with my friend, I didn't find this out about her until well into two years of the friendship - two years! Most people date for about a year and before that year is complete, their minds are made up to marry. Many things are found out after the wedding. What is your resolve? It is why I am writing so that you might not do a Sarai thing and try to reason with what the Word might mean then what it actually is. There is no need to create wrinkles when generations passed went through what they did for us to live a easier simpler life. Just be quick to listen!

When does looking for a sign from God become wicked (Matthew 12:39 KJV)? When there is an understanding that we walk by faith and not by sight. So why would any of us use the system of the zodiac to determine the path we should take in this matter or that (Proverbs 3:6 KJV)? Why would it even be used for fun? How is it appropriate in conversation? When would a believer state the zodiac sign of his birthday and would the birthday be his natural birth or when he was born again into righteousness? Would this be pleasing to God or is it disrespectful in the conversation that is called fun?