Pure Religion

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”1

As the late Karen Carpenter used to mournfully sing, “Loneliness, it’s such a sad affair.” How true this is for so many in today’s digital world.

Special holiday times such as Easter, Christmas, birthdays and even weekends are joyous occasions for many. For others these are some of the loneliness times of the year… especially for those who are alone, for those who have lost their spouse or a child, and for single adults … all of whom remember happier times and suffer a deep kind of loneliness at these times.

Many Daily Encounter readers have been there. Some are there right now. I’ve been there, too. I know the pain. This is why all of us need to be sensitive to the needs of all in our circle of relationships, remembering that many a smiling face hides an aching heart. We need to reach out to those who are lonely and hurting—invite him, her, or them over for a meal. Call them on the phone or send them an email to let them know you are thinking about them. Ask if there is anything you can do for them. Visit an elderly friend or neighbor. Provide gifts for the children of a family that is in deep need. Provide some food for the hungry.

I had a dear friend whom I met in kindergarten. We went all through grade school and technical college together. We’d been in national service together, too, and even though we’d lived thousands of miles apart, we never lost contact with each other. A while ago my friend fell on hard times, became discouraged, withdrew into himself and took his life. A tragic waste! Sadly, he never let me know of his struggle. How sad it is when, in our hour of need, as adults, we forget to hold hands and reach out for the help and support we need—so we can, as Jesus taught, “bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ”—and practice pure and true religion!

Suggested prayer: “Dear God, thank you for all your endless blessings given to me. Help me always to be responsible, loving, kind, a burden-bearer, and above all to be Christ-like in all that I say and do. And when I need help, give me the courage to reach out and admit that I have a problem and ask for help. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus’ name, amen.”

from DailyEncounter, 03-23-2008

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My Eating Disorder Is Eating Me

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”1

A Daily Encounter reader writes: “I need help. My eating disorder is eating me. I have tried to give it to God, but I am not sure if I have wholeheartedly done this. I want to stop but I am hooked on the skinniness thing.”

When under- or over-eating is an addictive behavior, it can be a serious problem. Seeing what the cause of the problem is may be the hardest thing to come to terms with. With all addictions the problem we see—the presenting problem—is usually just the symptom of the real problem—”the fruit of a deeper root.”

While symptoms need to be treated, it is critical that the root cause/s are treated and resolved. If only the symptom is treated, the root will pop out in another area. I know of one man who claimed he was healed of alcoholism the moment he became a Christian. In reality all he had done was change from being an alcoholic into an anger-aholic!

The bottom line in many, if not most, addictions is that somewhere in the past, mostly in early childhood, there has been a failure somewhere in love. The addictive behavior is used to medicate and not feel the pain of one’s inner hurt of not feeling adequately loved. Besides asking for God’s help and praying for deliverance, we need to do our part as well. As we get damaged in damaging relationships we get healed in healing relationships. This is why support groups such as twelve-step programs can be very effective, and why working with a skilled counselor or therapist may be needed and even critical.

As alcoholics need to be in an alcoholic-anonymous support group, food-aholics need to be in an overeaters anonymous group (and so on), where they can be loved and accepted for whom they are. As it is a failure in love that drives people into addictive behaviors, it is unconditional love that is one of the greatest healing agents to deliver one from addictive behaviors. When people feel genuinely loved and accepted, the need to “act out” in self-destructive addictive behaviors is greatly lessened.

A support group also helps the addict to keep accountable for his behavior, for it is only as he stops his addictive behavior and feels the real pain of his hurt or rejection, can he face and resolve the root cause of his problem.

from DailyEncounter, 03-19-2008

An Open Letter To ()

*This discussion came up after reading Angels and Demons by Dan Brown. And when I said I died – in a different sense

destiny – (dě’stǐny)

n. predetermine events; power that foreordains, invincible necessity

predestination – (préděstǐnā’tion)

n. God’s appointment from eternity of some of mankind o salvation and eternal life; God’s foreordaining of all that comes to pass; fate, destiny

existential – (ěxǐstě’ntial) (ěgz- ; -shal)

– a. of or relating to existence; (Logic, of a proposition) predicating existence; (Philos.) concerned with existence, esp. with human existence as viewed by existentialism; hence ~ly2

Existentialism – (ěgz- ; -shal-)

n. philosophical theory emphasizing existence of the individual person as free and responsible agent determining his own development; hence ~ist

source: Oxford Dictionary

Well, actually, you make perfect sense – except that it’s kinda contradicting. You said that you believe in predestination – which is, accdng. to Oxford, God’s foreordaining of all that comes to pass, and you’re an existentialist – from existentialism which is a philosophical theory emphasizing existence of the individual person as free and responsible agent determining his own dev’t. It’s a huge, HUGE, that is, contradiction. Which is which? You can’t actually believe someone can believe in predestination and at the same time believe in existentialism, yo.

But, as I’ve said previously, each has her own perspective. We read things the way see it. We see things the way we wanna see it. And for me, I still believe that destination is a matter of choice. Yes, it’s amazing to know/think that we are all part of a big book but it is a whole lot more amazing if we know that we are the ones filling up the chapters of that book. Isn’t it? {But don’t get me wrong, I acknowledge the existence of God’s Master Plan. But some of us just don’t wanna be part of that Master Plan and those are the people who go astray. Me, I wanna be part of that plan. But I still believe that we are the ones filling up those pages. God has made us a template to follow; we can still modify it – though, not too extreme. Like, there exists a sorta outline that we follow and we modify ‘em so they have a paragraph form. Modify in a sense that is still acceptable in the eyes of God.}

Well, you call me kiddo. And yes, I’m still a kid. Maybe that’s just how a kid sees it and a mature mind sees it differently.

Life’s own misery, eh? Life won’t be miserable if you won’t make it one. Life can always be good if you chose it to be. Anyway, it’s your choice.

And, yeah, HE leads the way if you wan Him to. Yeah, true. Also true that He can only lead if you let go and let Him |steer|. Right?

[In every rule, there is always an exception. You have no choice but to accept the fact that we can never erase death. (the literal one)]

Troublemakers in the Church and Elsewhere

“Alexander the metalworker did me [the Apostle Paul] a great deal of harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done. You too should be on your guard against him, because he strongly opposed our message.”1

We’ve all heard or read about toxic pastors and/or priests, but what about toxic church members? They just don’t get the news coverage as toxic pastors and priests do—news that the liberal media love to broadcast far and wide.

I have read that several studies have indicated that it is usually less than 5 or 6 people who manage to “run off” the pastor of a church.

While this has not happened to me, I was “shot down” a few years ago and know how painful this can be. This was not from being the pastor of a church (which would be devastating), but from the Sunday School class where I was the teacher. My chief opponent was one person who stirred up others against me. I discovered to my dismay, without as much as being contacted, that I had been voted out as teacher of this class. I did learn, however, that I was only one of the last six teachers who had also been “shot down.” That class has since been disbanded. I was also the member of a church where just a few disgruntled members basically killed a thriving church which now no longer exists!

While some pastors and teachers need to be dismissed for justifiable reasons, more often than not there are power struggles in churches that cause pastors and leaders to be dismissed and hurt deeply. I was taught in college that every church has a church “boss” which usually isn’t the pastor. It is a person who wants to be in control. This gives him or her a sense of power and importance. However, this is a false sense because anyone who has to be in control of every situation is a very insecure person. Furthermore, without knowing it, they play the role of the Holy Spirit in the church and in people’s lives. As Paul warned, we need to be on our guard against these troublemakers—inside and outside of the church!

Strangely enough, in our western culture we call controlling or domineering people strong when in fact they are very insecure and weak. Mature and genuinely strong people are never domineering or controlling. The supreme example is Jesus. He always spoke with authority but was never authoritarian (controlling).

Control, such as mentioned above—whether by a high and mighty hand or in an underhanded saccharine-sweet manipulative manner—is a major problem in our society. It is a destroyer not only of churches, classes, or groups, but also of marriages, families, and personal relationships.

The tragedy is that most controlling people never see or admit who they are or what they are doing.

Suggested prayer: “Dear God, please help me to grow in maturity so that I will become more and more a loving, non-controlling leader and/or individual. Help me to be like Jesus in every way. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus’ name, amen.”

from DailyEncounter, 03-18-2008

Build Up Your Self-Confidence

God to Joshua: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”1

According to Samuel Johnson, “Self-confidence is the first requisite to great undertakings.” This is true for both the non-Christian and the Christian alike but what the Christian needs perhaps even more is God-confidence.

As another has pointed out, “Moses lacked self-confidence when God called him. Had Joshua had lots of self-confidence why would God have told him to not be afraid? Gideon certainly lacked self-confidence. And until the disciples of Jesus were filled with the Holy Spirit they had little if any self-confidence. When Jesus was taken captive, his disciples fled for their lives. Undoubtedly, just as I would have done had I been in their shoes. Had Paul had lots of self-confidence in all situations, why would God have sent an angel to him when he was in prison to tell him to fear not? And over and over God had to tell David not to fear.”

Lacking self-confidence is par for the course for most of us for we all struggle with this to some degree. So how do we overcome?

First, we do this by building on our successes and not on our failures—and on what we can do, not on what we can’t do! For instance, I may be a terrible bricklayer but that doesn’t make me a terrible person.

Second, more importantly, building up our self-confidence needs to come from within; that is, building up my belief in myself. This comes mostly from being open, honest and transparent with at least one or two trusted friends to whom I reveal my total self—warts and all. As they love and accept me as I am, little by little I learn (in a healthy way) to love and accept myself as I am. As we grow in self-love, it is amazing how our self-confidence increases.

Third, and how do I build up my God-confidence? By choosing to trust him no matter how I feel. When I am lacking in self-confidence, I keep saying to God, “I’m afraid, but I choose to trust you in this situation.” Eventually my feelings catch up with my choice to trust God.

Fourth, we also build up God-confidence through experience—by stepping out and practicing faith in God and doing what we believe he wants us to do. As we see God using us, our God-confidence grows.

Suggested prayer: “Dear God, thank you that you love and accept me as I am—and that you love me too much to leave me as I am. Please help me to accept myself as you do, and help me to grow to become the person you want me to be so that my God-confidence and self-confidence will increase greatly. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus’ name, amen.”

from DailyEncounter, 03-17-2008

Change of blog header

Uh-huh, I changed my blog header…

previous header

previous header

new header

new header

I still love Maximum Ride. But this time I wanna make my statement.
Tell me which one is better.
And speakin’ of Max Ride, I haven’t had any updates on the movie and the possibility of a fifth book. I have been checkin’ Fly On but they haven’t talked ‘bout it lately. No updates on the UK website, too. And the James Patterson website newsletter hasn’t told me anythin’ new. But I’ll be checkin’ as often as I can.