Saturday, January 18, 2014

"If You Are Happy"

This morning, while browsing Pinterest, I came across a crafty idea about making a heart on an apron with a template. It was cute, so I scrolled down to see all of it, since it was a longer pin with pictures leading up to the final product. It was a cute idea, but not life-changing by any stretch of the imagination. However, the pinner's words struck me. At the end of the picture trail, the pinner said, "If you like this creation, and if you are happy, please visit my site."

When I read this, I pictured this pinner going to her website visitor counter, seeing how many happy people visited her site! And she could think, "Wow, it's good to know so many people are happy." 

I repinned her pin, not necessarily because I want to do the craft project - although I might. I repinned this because I love that quote! 

If you are happy........

It's no secret that happy people are pleasant to be around. Happiness might be hard to define by general standards, but it's not hard to spot when you're out and about, or even in your own home. Happiness is a pursuit, even written in our beloved Declaration of Independence as an inalienable right, paraphrased here: "We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable; that all men are created equal & independent, that from equal creation they derive rights inherent and inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness:"

We all have the right to be happy. 

Happiness is an internal choice, and that choice is not given to you by the USA. It is given to you by God, Himself. There are always going to be pressures and stresses in this world that can bring you down and rob you of your happiness. There are always going to be negative people who will drag you down and try to take your happiness from you. (Those people are not happy, themselves, but jealous of you.)

But, when your true happiness rests in God, they simply can't take that away from you. When Mary sat at Jesus' feet, learning, instead of helping her sister, Martha with food prep, Jesus said she had chosen what could not be taken from her. (Luke 10:38-42)  It could not be taken away from her! It can't be taken away from you, either.

So, I hope you are happy.
If you are, I know you are resting in His grace.
And I rejoice.

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Subtle, Sweet Words of a False Teacher

False teachers never come out and tell you they are false teachers. They are clever and subtle and their words are smooth and comforting to the ear. They start out slowly, staying close to the Word so as not to arouse suspicion, but also to gain their listeners' confidence. Once lured in by their initial offerings, people reach a place of comfort and stop questioning the source. They will then read and follow anything that person says, without question.

This is how cults start.
This is how deception gains a foothold in your life.
This is how a false teacher lures you in.

I remember once attending a ladies Sunday School class for a few weeks when my husband wasn't pastoring, and the ladies were studying a "Bible study book" by a popular author. I questioned something in the book and one of the ladies said, "Oh, I can't imagine her saying anything like that! I trust what she says implicitly! I read everything she writes." The statement in question was right before her eyes, yet she still denied that this beloved author could say anything like that. But, she did say it. That poor woman was in denial. She had turned from student to worshiper, and didn't even realize it. Instead of a teacher, the author had become an idol. She dismissed any question about her as though we had no right to question anything she said. I didn't stay in the class.

The Scriptures tell us to watch. There are so very many warnings against false teachers throughout Scripture that if there were literal warning signs posted, there would be so many signs you'd have to watch carefully so as not to hit them! You would have your eyes wide open because they would be so plentiful you'd risk hitting one if you got distracted for even a moment. Why do you suppose God gave us so many warnings? Let's not kid ourselves by thinking false teachers are few and far between. I highly suspect one might be on your book shelf right now.

Here are some words from a false teacher's latest book. This woman is very popular even in conservative Baptist circles. Because I don't buy or use Bible study books, I'd never read anything she's written, though, so I had to seek out her work. I sought her out because some friends had recently had a heated debate about this woman and I wanted to find out about her myself. Fortunately, Amazon gives us 20% of a book to preview. I previewed this woman's latest book and found the following statement:

"I am being as honest as I know how to be when I say that I did not write these words by simple preference. I wrote them because had I not, the rock in my yard would have cried out. What God does with what He's required is His business. I entrust this message entirely to the One Who delivered it while I sat bug-eyed."

In her next paragraph, she went on to say, "Certainly I'm not audaciously implying that this book was written under the same divine guidance as the Holy Scriptures! What I'm saying is that I wrote this message to the best of my ability under the guidance of the Holy Spirit...."

This woman, despite her argument to the contrary, is aligning herself with God, giving her words as much credibility as the very Word of God. To her, I would say, "No, Beth Moore, the rocks in your yard would not cry out if you had not written your latest book." I would also say, "Your empty denial of equating your words with God's is not luring me in." And finally, I would say, "Get behind me, Satan!"

Beth Moore is a false teacher. I did not reach that conclusion by reading all her books, studying her associations or by talking to others about her. I reached that conclusion based on her very own words. As soon as any teacher, male or female, begins to equate their words with God's, they have crossed a line. She may have crossed a line sooner, I don't know but this one crosses the line and in doing so, she's disqualified every book she's ever written as being even remotely about or from God!

Her disclaimer of "not audaciously implying that this book was written under the same divine guidance as the Holy Scriptures" is akin to someone holding a gun to your head and claiming, "I am not a murderer!" as they blow your head off. (This was my husband's example.) Beth Moore is fully aware of how she has exalted herself. She has to publicly deny this, however, because if she didn't say the words of denial, she might face accusation. So, she says the words, but in the same paragraph, she, again exalts herself to God's level.

Her books are best used for kindling, should you have any in your house.

This is why I do not buy or use Bible study books. I have been asked more than once to write some Bible study books and I refuse. The only book you need in order to study your Bible is your Bible.

You do not have to be a Bible scholar to study your Bible effectively. You do not have to have a degree from a seminary. You have all the tools you need to study your Bible and know the Word of God. Colossians 2:8-10 assures you of your completeness in Christ, "Beware lest any man spoil (plunder) you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the basic principles of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.And you are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power."

I challenge you to stop buying and reading Bible study books and recommit yourself to the pure Word of God.


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

How To Have a Nice Day

It hit me during a sermon my husband was preaching last night at the Watch Night Service at our church. He'd been asked to fill in and preach in place of one of our pastors who is in the hospital. He said it was a huge honor to fill Pastor Emmanuel Ephraim's shoes in that pulpit. I had to agree. Pastor Emmanuel, in the short few months we've known him, has taught us so very much already. We praise God for him.

Back to the sermon. David was preaching on Hebrews 13:7-9. Most of us are very familiar with Hebrews 13:8, which says, "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and forever." Powerful words; powerful Truth. Sometimes, it's enough just to rest in that Truth and nothing else. But, a real follower of Truth simply can't do that; we always want more. And there is so much more.

Verse seven tells us to remember those who have led us, those who have taught us the Word. But, we aren't to remember them in following them blindly, but only after we see their end result; i.e. if we see them being faithful. The author of Hebrews admonishes us to imitate their faith, but only if they remained faithful. Discretion is important. As we look at their faith, we must see Jesus. Verse eight clearly points out that Jesus Christ is the same....yesterday, today, forever. He does not change. He is constant. In his sermon, David said, "You can count on that!" and the room resounded with "Amen!" from every corner.

Verse nine, coming on the context of that assurance of Jesus, tells us exactly how to have a nice day. "Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace..." This verse is a clear acknowledgement that there are varied and strange teachings out there. We are warned to not be carried away by them. We are told what they are....varied and strange. To recognize varied and strange teachings, we must be aware of and familiar with the teachings of Christ and His absolute unwavering consistency, which is our Anchor.

"It is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by food..." How do our hearts get strengthened by grace? Verse eight tells us.....focus on Jesus Christ, for He is the same, yesterday, today and forever.

Varied and strange teachings cause unrest in our souls. They leave us questioning.

Grace rests our souls, giving us peace and satisfaction.

Because we can rest in His grace, our hearts are strengthened by that grace. It's a peaceful place to be.

So, don't listen to varied and strange teachings. Stay to the "old, old story of Jesus and His love" and you will, indeed, have a nice day, today and every day. Guaranteed.

So, have a nice day! It will be easy now that you know how.