Friday, October 30, 2009

Scary Stories

What is it about a scary story that so intrigues us? Ever notice how quickly the tales spin around a campfire, especially when children are present. My memories of summer camp are when it came time for “lights out” that was when everyone would huddle around and someone would grab a flashlight. Holding it under their chin, they begin telling their scariest story and then each in turn would tell a tale trying to out do the last. First, we’d giggle and then everyone would get really quite, listening for any strange noises, there were always strange noises. I didn’t sleep much at camp.

Why we are so preoccupied with death and the afterlife? Something in our very core tells us there is something more. Every culture on earth has myths and legends about ghosts, spirits and ideas of the afterlife. The Egyptians built the great tombs and filled them with supplies for the afterlife. Many other cultures would bury prized possessions with their loved ones, even some Christian traditions continue to this day, placing a token of some sort with the deceased, hoping it will gain them access into the heavenly realm. The ancient Celts had a tradition called Samhain, which was not only a celebration of the harvest, but also a belief that the division between the spirit world and the physical world became thinner. During this time they believed the spirits of their ancestors would come and visit with them. This festival is still practiced in some regions.

The Bible reveals the spiritual dimension and the truth about it. Whenever the Lord sent one of his angels to the people, they were very frightened, some fainted and could not speak (Daniel 8:17-18, Luke 1:19-20). The disciples thought that Jesus was a ghost, when he came walking on the water to them (Matthew 14:25-27). Peter, James and John were privileged to witness the transfiguration of Jesus in his glory as the Son of God (Mark 9: 2-9). When Jesus rose from the dead, Mary grabbed him to make sure he was real (John 20:14-17). The Roman guards fainted as dead men when the angels of God appeared at the tomb of Jesus (Matthew 28:1-4).

The Bible is God’s revealed word to us and it is trustworthy and true. He has told us these things not to scare us, but to make us aware of the evil that is all around us. We are in the midst of a spiritual battle, that we can’t see but we know is there. Jesus told us of the enemy, who is the father of all lies and whose game plan is to kill, steal and destroy all of humanity. (John 8:44, 10:10). Whenever we are lulled into a false sense of this spiritual warfare or fall victim to its ways, we have One who has come to give us victory. Jesus Christ defeated Satan and his legions at the cross. The battle is won! Why doesn’t it seem to be that way?

Almighty God is continuing his plan of redemption. Our job as the “redeemed” or the“bride of Christ” is to tell those who continue in darkness, that salvation has come. No longer do we have to feel lost, confused, and defeated by the tricks and strategies of the Devil. Satan does not want you to know that the battle has been won and he will use every trick to keep you away from the truth about Jesus Christ and the power of his blood.

Jesus said, “I assure you that everyone who sins is a slave to sin. A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. So if the son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:34-36 NLT).

Are you afraid of death? Does the thought of the unknown frighten you? Then come to Jesus, let him relieve your fears of death and the unknown. When you accept him as your Lord and Savior the Holy Spirit will come to live within you and will lead you into all truth. The Apostle John told us, “But you belong to God, my dear children. You have won your fight with these false prophets, because the spirit that lives in you is greater than the spirit that lives in the world” (1 John 4:4 NLT)

Copyright©2009tathorpe-All Rights Reserved-

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Church Clothes

Nothing breaks my heart more than a person not wanting to come to church fearing judgment by what they wear or how they look. The church has portrayed such an unwelcoming image, that people do not feel drawn to seek Jesus. We have poorly represented the One who laid down his life to save us sinners. I don’t know where the idea came from that someone had to “have it all together” or “clean up their act” before they can come to Jesus.

Jesus had the reputation of hanging out with the “scum of the earth.” Many of the ones he called to be his followers and apostles were tax collectors who robbed their own people and sided with the Romans. Also, prostitutes, lepers, blind, poor, cripple and formally demon possessed, they all wanted to follow him. People who were utterly helpless, because of what society perceived as, “their sin or that of their parents” (Exodus 20:5), he welcomed with open arms. There were no social services to aide them, if the infirmed were without family or someone to pity them, they would die.

Jesus showed God’s love to those who were without help and without hope, by healing them, feeding them and teaching them God’s true ways. The outcasts of society were the people he called his friends. Mark recants an event that should remind us how Jesus taught. He had just called Levi, a local tax collector to be his follower.

“That night Levi invited Jesus and his disciples to be his dinner guests, along with his fellow tax collectors and many notorious sinners. (There were many people of this kind among the crowds that followed Jesus). But when some of the teachers of the religious law, who were Pharisees saw him eating with people like that, they said to his disciples, “why does he eat with such scum?” When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor--sick people do. I have come to call sinners, not those who think they are already good enough.”” (Mark 2: 13-17 NLT).

As Christians, we have all been guilty of the “sin of the Pharisee” at some point in our Christian life. We have looked down on others and passed judgment on them and their lifestyle. Born Again Christians are those who have experienced the Lord's grace and redeeming power. Their life is growing and being filled with love for all people. All of us are a work in progress!

I feel a need to apologize to all those who came looking for Jesus and found judgment from those who claim to represent Christ. That is not who Jesus is, he loves you and gave his life to pay the penalty of your sin. Sin means living life on your own terms, completely disregarding the awesome power of God’s presence. Jesus came to give you new life, restore what was lost, and not burden you with a set of rules and regulations to follow. The only thing he asks in return is that you learn to obey him and trust him, no matter what comes your way.

If this has been your experience, please try again. Jesus will not refuse you. Seek him out in His Word, start in the New Testament and read the four accounts called the Gospels, which means “Good News” and you will discover the real Jesus. Come to him in a simple prayer, admit you have sinned against him, ask for forgiveness and thank him for his compassionate love for you. If you do this you will received his gift of salvation and eternal security.

Copyright©2009 tathorpe –All Rights Reserved-

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Bitterness- The Seed of Death

It is impossible to walk through life without getting your toes stepped on or stepping on someone else’s. A careless word or remark can sting. We have all suffered from the effects at one time or another. The real problem is not that we’ve been hurt, but how we handle it. The offended person has only two choices, release the offender of the offence, which is called: Forgiveness. Or refuse to let the offender off the hook, which is called: Vengeance.

If someone holds onto the offense, then the seed of bitterness has been planted. In that nanosecond, they have judged a person unworthy of love or forgiveness. The seed of bitterness grows at a rapid pace, bringing death to a relationship.

The Apostle Paul warned us, “Don’t sin by allowing anger to gain control over you. Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry. For anger gives a mighty foothold to the Devil.”
(Ephesians 4:26-27 NLT).

God is all about relationships and he enjoys it when his children are growing in his unconditional love. This is so close to the heart of God that holding on to vengeance grieves the Holy Spirit. The Lord will not accept your prayers or offerings if there is bitterness and anger between you and another.

Jesus taught, “If you are standing before the altar in the Temple, offering a sacrifice to God, and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there beside the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.” (Matthew 5:23-24 NLT).

“Do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he is the one who has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words and slander as well as all types of malice behavior. Instead, be kind, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you”
(Ephesians 4:30-32 NLT).

If we are the offender, the moment we become aware that we have offended someone; we need to apologize and ask forgiveness, which diffuses bitterness. If an apology is offered with a sincere motive and is accepted, then it’s a “no harm no foul” situation, which pleases the Lord.

How do you know if bitterness has taken root in your life? Is there a person at school, work, home or church that you avoid? Is there pain and anger associated when you see them or the mention of their name? If you answered YES, then bitterness has grown in your heart. You must forgive the offender, ask God to help you.

Forgiveness is the hallmark of the child of God. The benefits of forgiveness are: Peace with God and others, Your joy will overflow and love for all people is increased. If bitterness is allowed to grow, it can cost so much more than temporary revenge, it will cost you your spiritual health. Jesus said, “Forgive and you will be forgiven”
(Luke 6:37).

copyright©2009 tathorpe-All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Laughter, the Song of Life

Laughter is contagious. You don’t have to see a person laughing to feel its effects. The sound of laughter is music in the ears of God. He made everything for our enjoyment, and it gave him great pleasure. Our world being as it is, there is very little to laugh about. It is easy to become depressed with feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, but don’t let that rob you of your purpose to enjoy. God designed us in his wisdom, knowing that we would become separated from him, which would lead to suffering and tremendous pain. So he designed the gift of laughter to relieve us.

Do you think God laughs? Not a chuckle or giggle, but a full on belly-roll that brings tears to his eyes? I have looked through scripture and I can’t find anything like that, but I know it exists. We are created in His image, full of emotions, but somehow we imagine God as solemn, void of expression or wearing a disappointed look. That could not be further from the truth.

Health professionals know that laughter and joy release endorphins in our bloodstream, which counter the effects of stress hormones, cortisol and epinephrine. If stress hormones are elevated for a long period, they inflict damage on our immune system, which in turn leads to all kinds of serious health and mental issues. Laughing for just a few minutes will increase our health and mental well-being.

Jesus is the full emotional expression of God. Jesus laughed, joked, cried and felt everything we feel, he loved being with us. When we allow anything to rob us of our laughter, it saddens the Lord’s heart. Jesus said, “I am leaving you with a gift-peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn’t like the peace the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid” (John 14:27 NLT). He has given us his peace, total security that he is in complete control, so we can relax and enjoy.

When the deceiver whispers in our ears and reminds us of the harsh reality of our circumstance, just laugh, it will send him running. Everyday is another opportunity to find pleasure in life, joy and laughter. Everyday is a gift from God and he wants us to rejoice and be glad in it (Psalms 118:24). If you need to laugh, watch some kittens play or listen to the carefree giggle of a young child. Share a laugh today, it‘s contagious!!

Copyright©2009tathorpe-All Rights Reserved

Monday, October 19, 2009

Stumbling in Darkness

There is nothing worse than waking up in the middle of the night and stubbing your toe on something, hobbling around in pain then falling into something else. When we switch on the light, we see the culprit that caused our pain. That is what it is like before Jesus. We were born into the kingdom of darkness. We are apt to stumble from one injury to the next. Proverbs states, “The way of the wicked is like complete darkness. Those who follow it have no idea what they are stumbling over” (Proverbs 4:19 NLT).

At some point, we just accept “this is the way it is”, until something made us wonder. It may have begun simply looking at the night sky, having a sense that something greater is at work. It may have been the changing of the seasons, a baby’s cry or the kindness of a stranger. Something put our feet on the path toward the light.

Light by its very existence dispels darkness and it cannot exist in its presence. Light reveals the truth of our surroundings; it exposes fear, doubt and insecurity. Jesus said I am the Light of the World! By this statement, he said, “I am the Truth, I expose darkness and uncertainty, it cannot exist in my presence.” So why do so many continue to stumble? Jesus gave us the answer:

“God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it. There is no judgment awaiting those who trust him. But those who do not trust him have already been judged for not believing in the only Son of God. Their judgment is based on this fact: The light from heaven came into the world, but they loved the darkness more than the light for their actions were evil. They hate the light because they want to sin in darkness. They stay away from the light for fear their sins will be exposed and they will be punished. But those who do what is right come to the light gladly, so everyone can see that they are doing what God wants.” (John 3: 17-21 NLT)

You don’t have to stumble in darkness any longer. Come to Jesus, let him expose what has caused you to stumble.

Copyright©2009tathorpe-All rights reserved

Thursday, October 15, 2009

You Look Like Your Father

When someone would say that I reminded them of my father, I felt a sense of pride. I wanted to grow up to be just like my father. He was witty, charming, and generous. I liked the way people responded to his happy-go-lucky attitude. He was not perfect by any means, but my father always gave everything his best shot.

Jesus was the exact representation of his Father yet no one, including those closest to him, would believe that he and his Father were the same. Toward the end of his earthly ministry, he became quite poignant about the fact that his time was quickly coming to an end. In one conversation with his disciples, he told them he was going to prepare a place for them, and then he would return when everything was ready. The Apostle John recorded this conversation:

“No, we don’t know Lord, Thomas said, “We haven’t any idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus told them, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. If you had known who I am, then you would have known who my Father is. From now on, you have known him and have seen him!” Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and we will be satisfied.” Jesus replied, “Philip, don’t you even yet know who I am, even after all this time I have been with you? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So, why are you asking to see him?”” (John 14:5-9 NLT)

I am sure those comments stung a bit, but he patiently tried to make them understand, it wasn't until much later that they did. Much of our perception is primarily based on physical appearances. The disciples could not see beyond the flesh to see the Father. The flesh is of no consequence, but the spirit in you is what reveals your true character. How about you, does your life reflect who your father is? Can people see Jesus in you?

Copyright©2009tathorpe All Rights reserved

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Launching This Adventure

Stepping from the shadows into the light is always a difficult challenge for me. I am excited and blessed to begin this adventure with you. I have had my wavering back and forth about beginning a blog, but through some encouragement, prayers and a lot of faith, here I am.

I love Jesus! and I am not afraid to say. I am not ashamed of Jesus, he held nothing back and submitted himself to cruelty to saved me. Through his unimaginable gift, I have received more that I can imagine this side of heaven. Many things I write will be thought provoking, simply because I am not afraid to take on somethings related to Christianity that others shy away from. I am not into the mystical side of Christianity, but I do have a living, breathing, daily walk with Jesus, that I want to share with you.

I hope you will enjoy my pondering and share them with those you love. We walk together through this life, fighting and squabbling among each other is not the way of love. Seeking to develop a deeper relationship with God and His unconditional love is my goal, I hope it is yours as well.

With Blessings

Copyright@2009Tathorpe All rights reserved