Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Tribulation brings Hope (Romans 5:1-4)

Prayer: Lord thank you for opening my eyes to this passage as I read my devotions before bed last night. You know the struggles that I have had in my life and You truly spoke to my heart through this passage. Thank You for helping me to see what it is You would have me do and to continue working in my life. Please help me to have the courage and strength to boldly do Your works. 

Romans 5:1-4 - Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith in this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, be we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.
I am currently working through a beginners reading plan as part of my daily devotionals. I chose this reading plan because it was described as, "The Bible Reading Plan for Beginners covers about 40% of the Bible in 170 days. You will read much of the Old Testament story, every chapter in Psalms and Proverbs, the gospels of Mark and John and several of the New Testament epistles (Romans, Philippians, Titus, and others). You will not read the details of the ceremonial law, lengthy genealogies, or difficult prophecies."  Am I saying that the things left out aren't important? ABSOLUTELY NOT! Every word in the Bible is important. As a new believer and beginner, however, I was looking to a reading plan that would point me to the most poignant points of the Bible for my stage in study. This reading plan should be complete in late August at which point I plan to pick up the remainder of what I haven't yet read through a complete reading plan. 

Anyways, Last night I was reading through Genesis 9, 11, and Romans 5. The very opening passages of Romans really caught me. As I new believer I have been captivated by Paul's epistle to the Romans. Some scholars say that Romans is hard for new believers because it overwhelms them with the dense and weighty subject. I, however, can not get enough of it! My reading plan has me slowly making my way through Romans through the end of April. I really want to stick with the plan because it is said to be thematic based on the old testament readings but it is really hard. I may give in and just read the whole epistle because I am craving the word of this specific epistle and that has to be God's work!

I believe that my craving for the epistle of Romans has to do with the fact that the focus of the word is salvation. As a new believer I am so enthralled, enlightened, and overjoyed with the salvation that the Lord has bestowed upon me even though I am a sinner. I have done some really bad things in my life. I have certainly not lived a life to glorify God and I certainly don't deserve and kind of salvation in His arms; however, He still loves me. He still wants me to be with Him in His kingdom. It blows my mind. I am so thankful every morning when I get up knowing that I am safe in my saviors arms. I am able to face whatever darkness the world may bring each day knowing that I have the Light of the World in my heart and that I am called to help to lighten the world by spreading the Light. 

So, this posting has been led far from where I originally thought it would be. I didn't originally plan to write a post about my salvation or the call to accepting the Lord's salvation, but it is amazing what the Lord with put upon my heart and through my fingers. What I planned to write about was the pure hope that I see in the passage above. Specifically, I read verses 3-4.
Romans 5:3-4 - And not only that, be we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.
In life there are bound to be tribulations, trials, and storms. There is nothing that we can do about it. So why do we have to go through these things? It is simple, to help strengthen our faith in the Lord. Jesus put the disciples through trial after trial and storm after storm. Particularly:
John 6:18-21 - Then the sea arose because a great wind was blowing. So when they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near the boat; and they were afraid. But He said to them, It is I; do not be afraid." Then they willingly received Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land where they were going. 
 This storm was only one of many that tested the disciples faith. During the storm and troubles all the disciples had to do was accept Christ in to their boat for the waters to calm. While teaching on this section of John, my pastor brought up that the Lord uses several different types of storms.

  • Correcting Storms - These are storms like the one that Jonah went through. During the catastrophe of the storm, he found God again. 
  • Perfecting Storms - These storms are similar to the ones that Joseph experienced in Genesis. Joseph went through many trials though he did nothing to bring them upon himself. The storms that he experienced; however, served to strengthen his faith in God. 
  • Protecting Storms - This is what we see here in the gospel with the disciples. In these storms, the Lord is protecting us from a far worse storm that we would have experienced. Often we don't know what that worse storm would have been, but we need to have faith the the Lord is using our current tribulation to protect us from far worse. 
I loved the study on storms and tribulation; however, I am not sure that the full message fully embedded in my heart until I ran across the verses in Romans. I think that this could be added as a new type of storm. 
  • Growing Storms - These storms are similar to perfecting storms and correcting storms combined. They are ones that break you from a rut that you may have found yourself in. Even though still strong in faith it gives you a chance to see how God can move your journey along rather than only fixing or directing it. 
I think it is really interesting to examine this verse with the different forms of the Bible. All translations of the Bible come from the same source, but then why do they appear to be so different. This is a fun way to explore verses that really speak to us and to our hearts. 
Romans 5:3-4 (NKJV) - And not only that, be we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 
Romans 5:3-4 (KJV) - And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
Romans 5:3-4 (NIV) - Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.
No matter the storm, tribulation, or trial that you may be going through, God has put it in to your life for a reason. In really reflecting on the passage in Romans, I love the thought that the trial or tribulation embeds you in perseverance. You can not simply run from the trials. You must face them in force. You must continue through the storms because it will cease eventually when your life has been changed in the way the Lord intended. 

That perseverance through the storm builds character. Character is "strength and originality in a person's nature. synonyms: integrity, honor, moral strength, moral fiber, rectitude, uprightness;". So by persevering through the storm, we come out on the other end with honor, integrity, and dokimÄ“ (the Greek word meaning accepted, pleasing, acceptable). By exhibiting strong character, we can have hope in the future.

I love this look at the presence. I feel as though so much of the Bible speaks of what we should be looking forward to (and are looking forward to). We have salvation in the Lord which leads us to the Millennial Kingdom, which gives us eternal life with God, which gives us a future after death. So what about my life now? I am a sinner and I deserve nothing from God in the presence or in the future. I deserve the trials and tribulations in my life. This verse tells us, though, that by getting through the tribulations and struggles we gain a Godly character and that is what allows us to have hope for a brighter future. A future in which we are able to spread the Lord's light in the dark world. A future in which we are able and more than willing to yield to the Lord's wishes for our lives, whether they are our wishes, our families wishes, or our neighbors wishes we know that they are the Lord's wishes and we are doing a Godly work through our lives. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Genesis 1-3 Series- Gap Theory

Prayer: Lord, please help me to keep an open mind and quick fingers as You reveal Yourself to me through study and understanding. Please help me to correctly and accurately portray Your wishes. In this method of study, please help me to give each side of the argument credence and understand, but please help me to also make sure to keep Your intention in mind. Thank You for allowing me the time and opportunity to intensify my study of Your Word, Your life, and Your wishes. Thank You for the blessings you have bestowed upon me and my family. For Your honor and glory, Amen.

The study of Genesis causes huge debate and argument against believers and non-believers due to the "proof" of science; however, there are many issues in and of that itself. I will get in to the Evolution vs. Creationism argument at a later date. For now, I assume that creationism is completely irrefutable due to my whole and complete faith in the power, glory, truth, and faithfulness of the Lord. Within Creationism there is debate as to what Genesis is trying to say. One of the theories within creationism is Gap Theory or Ruin-Reconstruction Theory. This theory tries to reconcile the differences between biblical age and evolutionary age theories.

Gap Theorists look at the words on the original Hebrew pages in the Bible and see clues within Day 1 of the creation story. The hebrew word bara is used in this first passage, which means created out of nothing, something only God can do. So, In the beginning God created out of nothing the heaven and the earth. Pretty simple. In verse 2; however, 
Genesis 1:2 - The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. 
The interesting thing about this verse for Gap Theorists is pulled from Isaiah. In this verse, 
Isaiah 45: 18 - For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the Lord; and there was none else. 
The Gap Theorists believe that this verse indicated that the world was not created without form but in fact became that way over time. The verb haya is traditionally translated as "was" but it can also mean "became".  So it could read "The earth became without form". This is where the GAP part of gap theory comes from. They believe that this indicates a gap between verse 1 and verse 2. Many argue that there was creation; however, when it went bad (some say due to the fall of Lucifer) God made it without form to begin again.

Further evidence for a Gap is the story of the fall of Satan. In verse 1 God created the heavens and the earth after which he had to of created the angels, had Satan rebel, toss Satan out, and then create the earth. This is evidenced since Satan was already disgraced when the earth was created. Gap theorists believe that Satan took the earth as his domain and that is when God judged the earth and made it without form to create his own paradise and to further expel Satan, which we know did not exactly work out. If there isn't a gap, then when did this occur?

As I said, this is just one of the existing creationist theories. I do like the pulling of  modern day scientific findings in to further prove the theory. Science isn't bad. Science is wonderful. Science, astrophysics, and all of the related fields have given us so much knowledge and solid understanding. Why not use that understanding and basis to help to pronounce the good news of the creator of the earth? If people are so set to believe science and not faith or the Bible (though much of science is faith) then use that science! This use, however, just doesn't make sense scripturally.

First, for there to have been creation in 1:1 and then destruction of that creation there would have been death. The Bible clearly states that there was no death or evil before Adam and Eve's original sin. 
Genesis 3:19 - In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return.

So then how was Satan bad? I believe that his temptation of Eve in the garden may have begun his downfall, it was not the end of the downfall. Why do I think this? Simply because:
Ezekiel 28:12-15 : ..."You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; Every precious stone was your covering: The sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl,onyx, and jasper, sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your thimbrels and pipes was prepared for you on the day you were created. You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; You were on the holy mountain of God; you walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you.
This indicates to me that when Satan was in the garden he was still in God's good graces. According to Genesis 2, the garden was created with plants and water and seed; therefore, it could not have been created until at least day 5; however, many scholars argue it was day 6. Either way, if Satan was still in God's good graces in the garden on day 6, how then could he have fallen during the gap of day 1 and 2? 

So what is the truth? Simply, the Bible doesn't say. Is there a gap? The Bible doesn't say. I am led to take the creation story literally. Is this the right way to read it? I don't know, but it is right in my heart and in my conviction through Christ. The hardest part of reading the Bible for non-believers, new believers, and scientific minded people is simply that the Bible doesn't say everything. Does this mean the Bible is wrong or that we should fill in our own gaps? No! It simply means it is not for us to know right now. God will reveal it in His own time. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

I don't want to be a good Christian!

Prayer: Lord God Abba, Please help me to write clearly, get Your point across, and to honor Your word as I write. Thank You for giving me the privilege to be able to convey Your word to people, study Your word in my own heart, and grow in You love. Thank You for the blessings that you have bestowed upon my family near and far, including both my blood and legal family as well as my friends and selected family. Lord Your love run through me and help it to flow from me as well. In Your glorious name. Amen

I don't want to be a good Christian!

These words may shock people. These words may offend people. These word may confuse people. Why, you may ask do I not want to be a Christian? Let's first start with the question,

What is a Christian?

The word Christian is specifically used in the Bible only 3 times.
Acts 11:26 - And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians. 
Acts 26:28 - And Agrippa said to Paul, “In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?” 
1 Peter 4:16 - Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.
 Though, not once does Jesus ask us to go forth and be Christians. Linguistically, a Christian is a "follower of Christ". The suffix -ian in both Latin and Hebrew is "of or belonging to"; therefore, a Christian is one who is belonging to Christ. That sounds like a good thing, right?

Modern day, however, has twisted the word to simply mean a religion that believes in Christ. These religions do not even have to have Christ at the center to be considered "Christian". I am not here to offend followers of any certain religion. I am not condemning them, but I do believe that it is important to understand the differences. I do believe that there is only one way to salvation and that is through Christ at the center.
Ephesians 2:8 - For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God
Specifically, I first think of the Catholic faith. This only comes to mind first because I was raised in the faith for 18 years. Along with having Christ at the center, the faith (in general, though not all Catholics) also has Mary at the center along with the pope as leader and the religion itself.  When I was in the faith I never knew or had a relationship with Jesus. I always called myself a "Christian", but how was I? I didn't belong to Jesus, I didn't give anything to Jesus, I didn't even really know Jesus. I never felt as though my faith encouraged it. So was I a Christian?
I next think of is the Jehovah's Witness sect of believers who call themselves Christians though their reputation among others is suspect. This group believes that Jesus was the archangel Michael and not God. As we learned in a previous post this is untrue as Jesus is clearly divine and God. 
There are so many others that range is dramatic from as far fetched as Jehovah's Witness, which is clearly incorrect, to Catholic, which simply places too much emphasis on other entities at the center. All of these are Christian. So I ask again, what is a Christian?

In the world, when one says "I am a Christian" people just assume that is a placating term that means they go to church, maybe do good deeds, and recognize God and Jesus have some role in their lives and in the world.

So, someone wants to be a good Christian. What does that even mean? That they do good works? That doesn't ensure salvation.
Titus 3:5 - He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit
Does it mean reading your Bible daily, praying, going to church, tithing, supporting a missionary, evangelizing? None of these things ensure salvation. There is only one way to ensure eternal life with Jesus Christ.
Romans 10:9 - that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
So, yes, being a true good Christian, which is being faithful unto God, praising his Name, trusting Him with your Life, believing that His Son came to earth and lived for us, died for us, and is living again as repentance for our sins. Am I that? Yes! However, is that what society sees as a good christian? No!

I want to be Christlike!

True followers of Christ who have been born again through the remittance of sin through Jesus Christ should strive each and every day to be more Christlike for
Romans 8:29 - For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Being Christlike means giving in full surrender to God. The disciples gave up their entire lives to God with the mere mention of "come with me". This doesn't mean that reading your Bible daily, praying, going to church, tithing, supporting a missionary, and evangelizing are bad. They are absolutely not bad, they are great! They should; however, be the result of your love for God.
James 2:18 - But someone will say, "You have faith and I have works." Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
This means, simply, that faith is vital and good works are a result of your faith. Good works are wonderful; however, they do not guarantee salvation or even prove that you are a Christian or Christlike. Good works through strong faith; however, is exactly how Christ lived his life. Is it possible to enter heaven without good works? Technically, yes as long as you have faith in your salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord. Is it possible to get to heaven with just good works? No, you must have faith with Jesus Christ our Lord.
2 Corinthians 5:17 - Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new
Recently I heard a couple having a conversation exactly like this at a table near me. The woman said, "I just don't think I could believe in a God that wouldn't let a person in to heaven that does charity and helps people every day." No, God will not let someone in to heaven for simply being a good person. Even the best person in the world is still a sinner and is still falling short of the perfection that God demands. Therefore, they can not access the kingdom of heaven except through acceptance of Jesus Christ as their Savior.
Romans 3:23 - For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
So no, I do not want to be a "Good Christian" by the modern worldly definition. This is a meaningless drone. The world has made this phrase to simply mean a good person who may or may not acknowledge God in their daily lives, much less Jesus Christ.

I want to be a Christlike Christian. To be Christlike is to keep Jesus in the center of everything you do. Consulting God with your decisions, with your praise, with your worry. Acknowledging that you are a sinner, that you have fallen short of the Grace of God, and that you have been cleansed by and through the blood of Jesus Christ are the characteristics of someone who is Christlike. Being Christian is absolutely good. You should do good works to exemplify your faith, you should go to church, you should support missionaries; however, this should be secondary to the primary means of being Christlike.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Genesis 1-3 Series- Evil

Prayer: Abba, Please bless me as I look in to this hard and dangerous subject. You have delivered me from the hands and grip of the evil one, and I want to help you to expose this story to others. Please help to guard my heart and give strength to my words. Thank you for the blessings that you have bestowed upon me and my family. I love you and glorify your great name! Amen

As I have been further researching my Genesis series I had a realization. This may sound crazy, but from someone who has never read the bible, I never realized the fall of Satan story wasn't in Genesis. Most people, believer or not, knows the general story of the fall of Satan or some form of retelling of the story. What I have heard in the past, is the following general story:
Satan was one of God's favored angels. Overtime Satan came to think that he was better than God and would be better able to rule and have dominion over heaven and earth. Due to his pride, God cast Satan out of heaven. Satan took 1/3 of the angels with him and vowed to work against the good will and power of God for all eternity. The evil in the world is Satan trying to turn God's people away from him.  
I don't know why, but I always assumed the story was written very specifically like that in Genesis. I vaguely knew the story of Genesis, but why didn't I realize this story wasn't there. Then where is it? Why do we have this story of Satan's fall from Grace?

I started researching where this story came from. From what I can find right now, the main information about the fall of Satan, or Lucifer, comes from a mixture of a story in Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28. The two passages are as follows:
 Isaiah 14:12-15 : "How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: 'I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.' Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit. 

 Ezekiel 28:12-16 : ..."You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; Every precious stone was your covering: The sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your thimbrels and pipes was prepared for you on the day you were created. You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; you were on the holy mountain of God; you waled back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you. By the abundance of your trading you become filled with violence within, and you sinned; therefore I cast you as a profane thing out of the mountain of God; and I destroyed you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the fiery stones. 
Something interesting about these passages is that they actually both begin by describing evil worldly kings. The authors did not set out to write about the fall of Lucifer, or Satan, but when describing the pure evil behind the acts of these kings, it all came back to the evil that possessed them on the earth, Satan.

Jesus even speaks of Satan's fall from Grace when discussing the casting out of evil spirits in Luke's gospel.
Luke 10:18-20 : And he said to the, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather because your names are written in heaven."
This passage has so many things that we could discuss, and I will probably do another blog past about names being written in heaven as that portion of the bible and scripture really fascinates me.  For this post; however, I want to focus on Jesus' discussion not only of Satan's fall but also of his instruction to trample on serpents and scorpions. I believe that in this passage Jesus' meaning is two fold. On the first point he is saying "Yes, I saw the work that you did to banish the demons of Satan". In this manner he was reassuring the seventy that he was walking with them as they went out on their mission.

On the other hand I believe that he is saying "I saw when Satan was cast out of heaven and he has since possessed My people." By referring to the evil one as serpents and scorpions he is referring back to the serpent in Genesis, which is why I believe that the previous statement is referring back to the original fall of Satan as well. Jesus then tells the seventy that as long as they are with Jesus and Jesus is with them, the evil one can not hurt them. He then reminds them that it is not okay to rejoice in the fall of another, even if that other is the evil one. We must rejoice in our salvation through Jesus and not in the lack of salvation of another.

So, in finality, the story that I had been told as a child and that I remembered from other teachings is fairly accurate; however, the location and the method of telling is very different. The story of Satan is not as clearly laid out as one might have expected, instead it is embedded within the stories of two evil Kings and within a lesson from Jesus to the seventy. With this being such an integral part of the Bible story, I am surprised to find it embedded and not clearly stated. I don't imagine this will be my last surprising revelation during this journey!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Who is Jesus the Christ

Prayer: Lord please grant me the wisdom and the power of word and language. Please assist me in finding the passages within your Word to help me to portray what you would have me portray. Thank you for allowing me the privilege to analyze your Word according to a different way of thinking than traditional commentaries. Lord please help me to ensure that I am only doing, saying, and reading what you are meaning. 

The chief character in The Bible is Jesus the Christ. The Old Testament is the prelude to Jesus coming to do his work on the Earth. It lays forth the information that is needed to identify Jesus when he appears as well as the history of the love Jesus has for the world. The New Testament begins with 4 separate stories of Jesus the Christ. The first three (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) are chronology gospels or synoptic gospels. They basically tell the same story from three different perspective, which allows us to see just a few of the many facets of Jesus. The fourth gospel (John) is more of a love story. It tells of John's love for the Lord, the Lord's love for his people and their world, and the love that is possible in the world through the Lord. Most of the rest of the New Testament generally helps the world to understand, appreciate, and live the good news from Jesus' life, death, and resurrection.

So, who is Jesus? Everyone, whether believer or non-believer knows the basic story of Jesus the Christ; however, there is great debate about who he is. I believe that this is a core understanding that one must have before reading any part of The Bible for it is all either the prelude to, the life of, or the life because of Jesus the Christ. So, was he a great teacher, was he a prophet, or is he the Son of God.

As believers we know that Jesus the Christ is the Son of God. We say is because He is the ever living God. But what do we mean by the Son of God. Is Jesus the Christ a separate being entirely from God? Is Jesus God? Never in his life did Jesus say "I am God"; however, he did allude to it as did many of His disciples. My favorite passage of this is:

John 1:1-5 - In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All
things were made through him, and without Him nothing was made that was 
made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines
in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

So, what does this mean? Is Jesus God? In the beginning was the Word refers back to Genesis 1:1 "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." So when John says The Word he is referring to God. The next passage; however, says that the Word was with God and the Word was God. So in essence these are the same thing. He was with God, but he is also God. This may be totally bizarre, but I look at it as, All thumbs are fingers but not all fingers are thumbs. Jesus is God but not all God is Jesus. Is that totally off base or weird? 

You see this kind of symmetry again when looking at Jesus' word in referral to a famous passage, Exodus 3:14 "And God said to Moses, 'I AM WHO I AM.' And He said, "Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, 'I AM sent me to you.'" I AM. God refers to himself as I AM. Jesus then refers back to this passage in:

John 8:57-58 - The the Jews said to Him, "You are not yet fifty years old,
and You have seen Abraham?" Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to 
you, before Abraham was, I AM"

In this passage, Jesus is making reference to the fact that He was with God before He was made flesh, and He is also making reference to the fact that He is God, for he uses the same name, I AM. Jesus also works to prove his deity in John 5:31-47; however, is specifically references the Exodus passage in: 

John 5: 45-47 - Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father,
there is one who accuses you - Moses, in whom you trust. For if you believed
Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not
believe his writings, how will you believe My words?

To religious Jews of the day this would have really made them sit up and think. They would have taken the Torah to heart. Moses was one of the most well known and one of the most talked about Patriarchs. How then could they doubt Moses? How can we doubt Moses in 2015? Can you believe part of The Bible and not all? No, because as we realized in a previous study, The Bible is one book or Truth, it is not a compilation of story and lore. 

So does it matter? I believe that it does. The basis of our Faith and Grace and New Life is centered on the one truth that Jesus was born, lived a sinless life, and was offered as a sacrifice for the sins of worldly man.

This is another clear depiction of who is Jesus the Christ. He lived a sinless life. Who else can have claimed that? No other. Certain religions claim that Jesus is a major prophet; however, prophets, while wonderful tools of the Lord, are still sinners by birth. One in particular, Mohammed. In the Koran Mohammed is commanded to seek forgiveness for his sins. Jesus is never given this same command. In fact
2 Corinthians 5:21 - For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
1 John 3:5 - And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin.  
1 Peter 2: 22 - "Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth" 
All people born on the Earth are of a sinful nature. The penalty of Adam's sin was that all of his descendants would therefore inherit his sinful nature. In fact, in the Psalms David reiterated this fact by saying "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me." (Psalm 51:5). Since every human being on Earth is a descendant from Adam and Eve, every human being on Earth is born in to sin. How then is Jesus sinless? The only way that he would be without sin would be if he was not actually a human being. In fact, Jesus is a deity who took human form to help cleanse the world of sin. Since he was not of full human birth, he was not born in to original sin and as a human did not commit a sin.

So, Is this really important? YES! We can not achieve salvation without acceptance of Jesus as the Son of God. The belief that He came to the Earth to die for our sins and that He conquered death and is seated at the right hand of the Father waiting for the prescribed time and date at which He will return to Earth to gather His church so that He may plant His millennial kingdom.

Revelation 1:17-18 - ..."Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore..."

Thursday, March 5, 2015

My Baptism

Prayer: Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord. We will wait upon the Lord. We will wait upon the Lord. Our God, You reign forever. Our hope, our Strong Deliverer. You are the everlasting God. The everlasting God. You do not faint. You won't grow weary. Our God, You reign forever. Everlasting God I want to thank you for laying on my heart the need and desire to get baptized last night. I want to thank you for the wonderful glory that you have given to me and blessed me with. I want to thank you for giving your son to pay for my sins. I am not worthy to have been given such a wonderful gift and I so wholly desire to make you proud with what I do with the second chance that you have given to me. Please help me to keep me eyes affixed on your perfect plan. 

The beginning of the prayer that I just prayed is the lyrics to a song by Chris Tomlin. They have been sitting on my heart and my mind today. Often times songs help me to keep my eyes and path affixed on the Lord's perfect plan. My head runs through so much in a day but somehow there is always room for music.

Last night I was baptized along side my husband. Let me tell you it was an amazing experience.

Shane and I preparing together for baptism!

We got to church early last night and we were able to sit and chat and really connect, which we haven't had a whole lot of time for recently. When service started you could tell there was a different energy and excitement among the group. The songs were sung louder and with more enthusiasm. Since March in our church is Ministry Month (you can sort of see the flags in the background of the picture below) we did a 10 minute activity in small groups to pray for people serving in the ministry overseas that our church supports with resources. 

Shane and I post baptism, and post dry warm clothes! BUR!

Finally the Pastor began is talk about the importance of water baptism. Much of what he said is in the previous post, so I wont continue to reiterate the same points. He also spoke about the importance of salvation and the means to salvation. I also wont go as in deep about that because I am planning a whole series on that when I finish my Genesis series (which I am still actively working on, I promise, I just want to be thorough!). Anyways, he made several good points and analogies that I would like to share with you. 
Romans 6:14 - For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
 This verse is used to focus on the fact that you are saved and governed by grace and grace alone. In order to be right with God, to ensure salvation, and to live in eternal life within the kingdom of heaven, you must fully accept the Lord's grace. God has infinite patience with us as his creation. He does not demand that you live a good life or even a great life, he demands that you live a perfect life. Can that be done my a mere man? No, it has only ever been done by the living God, Jesus Christ. So, does that doom us to fail? No, because the Lord has saved us from an eternal life sentence of soul separation by sentencing his son instead.

Shane being prayed over before his baptism. 

My pastor used a wonderful illustration to drive this point home.
Imagine you are standing in front of a judge to be found guilty or not guilty of a crime. In your heart you know you are guilty. You are hoping for a not guilty verdict, but you know that you committed the crime. All of a sudden the judge says "You have been found guilty". Your heart drops. That is it, you have been condemned. Now the sentence. You know you are guilty, the judge knows that you are guilty, the entire courtroom now knows you are guilty. The best you can hope for is a light sentence. Then the judge says "You have been sentenced to life in prison in solitary confinement". Your heart drops to the floor. That is it. That is the end of your life. All of a sudden the judge stands up, takes off his robe and says "You know, I can tell you are a good kid. You are remorseful. You can do better. I want you to go out and do better, but someone must pay for the crime you committed, so I will live your life sentence in prison. Make me proud."
Wow, That really drove home the way that God put Jesus up for our sins. We are guilty and we know it, but when we repent and show remorse he recognizes that we can do better. We must do better. We must make him proud.

Shane and two of the pastors at church praying with me and over me before my baptism. 

So that story helps to explain why we need to be saved. We need to be repentant of our sins in order to show remorse and thank Jesus for taking our punishment for us so that we may live a better more eternal life. So we do that. Then it is time to be baptized. Refer to the previous post for a more detailed description of why you need to be baptized after accepting God as your savior of your own free will as an adult. Why is this important? It is a symbolic way of cleansing your sins, being born again as a new believer in Christ's kingdom, and it is the first step in your own discipleship and ministry. In Matthew 28:19 Jesus sends out the great commission of 
Matthew 28:19-20 - "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen. 
Being raised from the baptismal pool a new, renewed, fresh disciple for Christ

We are commanded as followers of Jesus Christ to make disciples and to teach. Jesus was given this same commission by the Father when he came to earth. He began his ministry forthright by getting baptized. Until his baptism seen in Matthew 3:13-17, Mark 1:9-11, Luke 3:21-22, and John 1:29-34. My favorite telling of this monumentous event comes from Luke's gospel.
Luke 3:21-23 - When all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized; and while He prayed, the heaven was opened. And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, "You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased." Now Jesus Himself began his ministry...
I like this telling because Luke shows very mater-of-factly that Jesus was baptized and immediately stood and began his public ministry.  So, when Jesus tells us in the great commissions to "go therefore and make disciples..." he is telling us that it is our time to begin our public ministry. For me, I felt the call prior to my baptism and thus starting this project to bring the Bible to myself and others who may think in a different less linear way.

Shane coming up from his baptism a spiritual warrior for Christ

The experience that Shane and I shared yesterday was one that we will never forget. It is right up there with September 3, 2014 (the day we were saved standing side-by-side holding hand) and October 12, 2013 (the day we were joined as husband and wife before family, friends, and God even though we didn't truly know Him yet). On the way out of church and on the way home we both had trouble expressing how we felt. It was a lightness. Like weight had been lifted from our shoulders. I felt, even though I had previously know, that Jesus physically took my worries and pains and concerns and was shouldering them for me. I physically felt that all I had to do was have faith in His plan and I would be okay. 

Will I have worldly concerns and worry? Yes. Will I have struggles and pains and discomfort? Yes. I know that I will stumble, I know that I will fall, but I also know that no matter what happens to me that my Savior and my Lord has my back. I have acknowledged Him publicly, and He will now acknowledge me before His Father.
Luke 12:8 - "Also I say to you, whoever confesses Me before man, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God."
Matthew 10:32 - "Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven." 

Post baptism joy and celebration in the goodness of God

As I write this post I am reminded of a song we often sing at church and that I sing to myself on a regular occasion during my private time with God. I truely love this song. It really spoke to me before last night; however, it was playing in the church right after I was baptized and it had a completely new meaning to me. I just wanted to tell God all of these things because it was so heavily laid on my heart. I want to do His will and honor His wishes in everything that I do!

Take these hands
I know they're empty
But with You they can
Be used for beauty
In Your perfect Plan
All I am is Yours

Take these feet
I know they stumble
But You use the weak
You use the humble
So, please use me
All I am is Yours

I give You all my life
I'm letting it go
A living sacrifice
No longer my own
All I am is Yours
All I am is Yours

Take this heart
Set it on fire
Shine it in the dark
I wanna tell the world
Of who You are
All I am is Yours

I give You all my life
I'm letting it go
I live in sacrifice

No longer my own
All I am is Yours
All I am is Yours

I give You everything
To You I belong
Every beat of my heart
The breath in my lungs
All I am is Yours
All I am is Yours

I lift my hands up
God I surrender
All that I am
For Your glory, Your honor, Your faith
I lift my hands up
God I surrender to You

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Adult Water Baptism

Prayer: Abba, thank you for all the good and great things that you are doing in the world. Yesterday myself and 20,000 of my worldly sisters (many with you currently) received the awful news that our college was closing. This is heartbreaking to so many of us. I pray that you grant me the wisdom to go down the path that you think is right. I feel the administration in the past several years has taken a route not glorified by you and in fact led by your greatest adversary. I ask you to lead me and open my eyes as to what my role should be in the battle to save this place that was my worldly home for so long. Please open my eyes to your wishes and your desires. For this morning, turn my eyes to the study of baptism. Please help me to see and reveal what you wish for me and others to know. In your heavenly and glorious name, Amen. 

It is still amazing to me how the Lord work. My daily devotionals landed me at the beginning of Matthews gospel today reading about John the Baptist. It sparked me to read what the other 3 gospels had to say and the research Baptism. It is so funny, because today my church is hosting a worship and baptism service for believing adults to participate in a full submersion voluntary water baptism. I have been wanting to go through a new baptism for a while and missed the last ones at church. I had been planning to go tonight and participate, so it is interesting that my studies landed me smack dab in the middle of a study of John the Baptist.

As a Catholic, I was baptized. I actually did not go through infant baptism as most Catholics do. My family wasn't actively going to church when I was born. I was finally baptized at  7 or maybe 8? I vaguely remember going through a class of sorts, but really my parents were the driving force. I also wanted to attend youth activities with my friends, so I wanted to be at the stage that they were. Typically Catholics practice infant baptism for the forgiveness of all future sin. They believe that you can not enter the kingdom of heaven without being baptized, so infants should be baptized at a very very young age to ensure salvation.
(There is so so much more to this and literally books and volumes have been written on this subject so I am severely dumbing it down here. I don't mean to minimize these beliefs; however, as I have dug deeper I am led to believe in a different form of baptism.)

As I have been going to a Bible teaching church I have begun digging deeper. Specifically when the church announced the upcoming water baptism I really wanted to understand why the church that I was attending believed in baptizing adult believers and actually refused to baptize infants. Instead, they practice Baby Dedications.

Baptism is discussed at the beginning of the gospels with John the Baptist. John the Baptist was a great believer in the up coming of Jesus Christ. As he baptized believers he continually emphasized the good news.
Matthew 3:11 - I indeed baptized you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
Here John is specifically discussing the importance of baptism by water as well as with the Holy Spirit. An important thing to note in this passage is this: "I indeed baptized you with water unto repentance". Unto repentance. In infant can not experience or express repentance of sin. Are they sinners, yet because sin is passed from the parents and all people are sinners from birth; however, baptism needs to be for repentance, cleansing of the repentant sins.
Luke 3:3 - And he went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. 
Mark 1:4 - John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.

So, we see that baptism is for people that are repentant of their sins. How can an infant repent their sins? Even if you get beyond that fact, the idea that baptism secures your spot in heaven is also not supported in the scripture. In the scripture of Act below, you will see that Peter is preaching and there are Jews who begin to believe and accept the Holy Spirit. After they have repented and accepted the Holy Spirit he commands them to be baptized, not before. You can not baptize someone who has not repented of their sins and are not voluntarily filled with the Holy Spirit.
Acts 10:44, 48 - While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word . . . And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. 
You can also see in the scripture of Luke below, that you ca be permitted in to heaven without being baptized. There are beliefs that you can not go to heaven without being baptized; however, you see here while Jesus is hanging on the cross. He is speaking with a thief that is also being crucified. The thief confesses with his mouth his belief and  Jesus assures him that he will be granted access to the kingdom of God. This man was never baptized, he died hours after he was saved, so how was he granted access to the Kingdom of God?
 Luke 23:40-43 - But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, "Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done noting wrong." Then he said to Jesus, "Lord, remember me when You come into Your Kingdom." And Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise."
So I am saved. I have repented of my sins to the Lord. I have begun studying the Lord's Word. So I will enter the kingdom of heaven, right? Right! So, why get water baptized? If I don't believe that baptism is the key to heaven, if I don't believe that baptism will rid me of my sins (Jesus' blood did that), then why am I going to go be submerged in a pool of water at church tonight?

Water baptism is obedience to the Lord. The Lord still wants us to be baptized. Baptism is a way to outwardly respond to the Lord. Baptism is a reenactment of the baptism in the Holy Spirit the day that we were born-again, saved, and confessed our sins to the Lord. I think that this final passage I will share with you from Romans is a very interesting look also in to a full water submersion baptism verses the sprinkling of water.
Romans 6:4 - Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
Wow. Looking at baptism in this way is really enlightening for me. I had never thought of it this way, but baptism is the recreation of Jesus' very real act of dying for our sins. We enter the water as sinners. The water represents death. We are completely submerged symbolizing our death as a sinner. We are thin brought out of the water in to a new life with Jesus Christ as the leader.

So if baptism is merely symbolic, is it required? Yes. The Lord commands the importance of baptism. While Jesus and the thief on the cross shows a great example of God's love and mercy, all able bodied believers should be, and should strive to be, baptized. Why? Because the Lord commands it. Is it a requirement to pray daily to reach the kingdom of heaven, No. Should you do it? Yes, because the Lord commands it and it help your to grow closer to the Father. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Genesis 1-3 Series- The beginning of the beginning

Prayer: Lord please help me to reveal you wishes and your desires in this post. Please help me to understand what I am writing and what your desires are. Please help my heart to accept your truth and reject unsubstantiated facts. Please help me to confidently go forth and convey your good news and your love and your honesty and your almighty. In your name we all pray. Amen. 

If you had asked me a year ago what I would write if someone asked me to write a passage about Genesis 1-3 I certainly would not ever say that I was going to write what is about to come forth. I would have laughed at you. I always knew that I needed to believe some semblance of Genesis if I was to believe the rest of the Bible, so I used my hyper scientific and analyzed it so that it would work with my own perceptions and what I had been taught in secular public school.

It is amazing that Genesis 1:1, the very first sentence in The Bible will separate true believers from non-believers. God does not mess around. He puts it out there first. You either believe or you do not. The Bible is not a buffet line where you can pick and choose what you want to believe and not believe, take in or not take in. It simply isn't. So, if you get stuck on the first sentence, then perhaps you need to do some further re-examining and soul searching and praying.

It is also amazing how much backlash believers can get by saying that they believe Genesis 1-3. The scientific community has so engrained in everyone the theories of evolution that no one believes it could be any other way. That is simply not the case. When looking at Genesis through a believers lens, how could it be any other way. My husband and I have had many many conversations about Genesis, creation, the beginning, and we both still have seeds of doubt and lack of understanding; however, through prayer and hope in the power of the Lord we have faith. Every answer is not in The Bible. Many answers we will not know until the glorious day when we stand before the Lord. That is often where non-believers catch believers of Genesis; however, their theories also do not explain everything. They take giant leaps in thinking. So how can you have faith in that but ridicule those who have faith in the Lord's creation? See, it doesn't make sense.

Now, even within the realm of believers that assert there is absolutely one creator of the heavens and the earth there are differing theories. As a new believer I am trying to learn more about each one and form an opinion of my own. I have not yet done this, so I will present the theories that I have yet far researched and the thoughts behind them. I originally was going to present the theories in this one post; however, it quickly fell out of control and felt the tug to take time, take a breath, and separate them in to separate posts so that I may have time to present each according to the merits and good will.

Do you have a favorite theory I should look in to? 

I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Why read the Bible?

Prayer: Lord, please help me to have a non-distracted mind and an open heart for your word to flow into and to fill me. Let me have wisdom and discernment as your words and desires flow from me. Thank you for granting us one more day to spread your word and your love throughout the world. In your holy name, Amen.

Each devotional or worship session should start with a prayer. This can be anything from simply thanking your Father for everything He has done in your life to song lyrics that have been implanted on your heart. I believe that God is truly Abba. Abba in greek means daddy. Got Question.org has a wonderful explanation of God as Abba. I believe in going to your Abba and laying it at his feet. It does not need to be extremely formal. Most people do not approach their worldly fathers with such formality, so why feel as though you have to approach your Abba in the same way? Just ask for his help as your would have asked your worldly father to help you accomplish a task when you were younger. 

Today I am starting my journey through the bible by simply looking at the Bible. What is the Bible? Why do we read the Bible if so much has already been written on it? I recently picked up two books at the bookstore. The first is Why The Bible Makes Sense by Ed Strauss and the other is Learn The Bible in 24 Hours by Chuck Missler. Both books have been extremely enlightening on this question of The Bible.

Simply put, we read the Bible because it is the instruction manual from God. Imagine you are at a new job and your boss hands you a packet of papers and says this is the word for word instruction manual on how to do the job you have been hired to do. Would you read it, or would you go to fellow co-workers and ask for their advice on how to do the job? I would do both in this context. Think now that God is your boss and the job you have been hired (nay created) to do is being laid out before you. Would you read it? Absolutely! Would you ask others opinions? Absolutely! If you had asked me 8 months ago, I would have said that it was important to read, but I had other things to do so a summary or cliff notes would get the gist...how wrong I was!

It is amazing how being saved puts an entirely new way of thinking in to your head. It is as if a light switch that had been off my whole life was finally turned on. I had been searching for the switch and every now and then the light would flicker enough for me to get a glimpse, but it would then be gone again. Well the switch is flipped and the light is shining brightly now!

So, back to the basics of The Bible. Not only is The Bible the instruction manual for your life, but it is also the greatest love story, murder mystery, crime drama, and end of the world disaster novel ever created. There are many different translations of The Bible and to be honest, as long as you are reading it, I don't find it necessary to squabble over translations. I typically use the New King James Version because that is what my pastor uses; however, I also have a copy of the New International Version that I will reference as well. There are even translations written in novel form; however, while interesting, I wouldn't use that as a main source of study. If you don't have a Bible, almost any translation will help you to get started. You can refine your palate (so to speak) as you get later in study.

The Bible is split in to 2 halves. Each half is split in to many books. Each book is split in to many chapters. While this is how it is and always will be referred to in any circle or realm, I think that it is misleading. This terminology leads one to think that each book is a stand alone story and The Bible is in itself just a holder of the many stories. I think of it like a book of poems. Each poem is significant; however, the collection as a whole doesn't add much to the meaning of each poem. This is NOT so in the Bible. I think, rather, each book should be referred to as volumes, each book as parts, and then each chapter can remain a chapter. This helped because when you think of volumes they build upon each other. When you think of parts (say of a play or of a long novel) they build upon and reference each other. This will help you to think of The Bible as one book to be read and revered, rather than a simple compilation of stories, which was my first pitfall that I had to overcome.

I will save walking you through each and every book and part of The Bible, since we will do that as we read through it together; however, I think that it is important to understand that the books of The Old Testament do build upon each other. They are the stories of the history of a great nation and of the people who God so loves. It is also the revealing of prophecy that will be unraveled during The New Testament as well as some prophecy that we are still waiting on today.

It has always been hard for me to read The Old Testament. I used to think of it as history that was altered when The New Covenant was handed down. So why do I need to read it if it is all altered? I can now see that it is because it is the prequel. It lays out who the main players were, are, and will be. It defines who we are and why we are. It is the decoding cypher for the seeming paradoxes laid forth in The New Testament. It is because we do not take The Old Testament as seriously as we should that people are confused by The New Testament. It is because we do not understand The Old Testament that non-believers are able to point out holes in The New Testament. There are not holes in The New Testament, they are simply filled by the writings of The Old Testament.

So, going forward we will read both Old and New Testament together to understand where this all comes from. I have always had trouble reading The Bible cover to cover because it is not written in such a way. It is written with references back to other scripture and as a comprehensive instruction manual. I will attempt to read it as such.

I hope that you will continue to journey with me during The Project and help me in my understanding. I am NOT a biblical scholar. I am not a pastor. I am not even a long time believer. I am no different than you. I am a newly saved 28 year old girl yearning to know her Abba on a deeper level. I have no formal training or insight, so anything that you may want to contribute is welcomed and appreciated. I view this as a communal project, so please, join the community by following the blog, adding it to your daily feed, mentioning it on Facebook or Twitter, and contributing in the comments!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

About Me

My name is Lauren Patrick. I am 27 years old and I live in Denver, Colorado with my husband, 4 dogs, cat, and rabbit.

Shane and my engagement photos - April 2013

I was raised in a Catholic household with my Mom, Dad, and Sister. I attended mass frequently and was even very involved with my church youth group. I thought that this made me a good Christian. I went to confession when I had to, I went through the sacraments of first communion, first reconciliation, and confirmation. This meant that I was set, right? Besides Wednesday night and Sunday mornings I was alive in the world. I had inappropriate relationships with boys, I cursed, and a did whatever I thought I needed to do to be "cool". It didn't matter though, because I went to church...

Youth Group friends - April 2006

When I went off to college I made excuse after excuse of why I hadn't found a church. I think in the 4 years that I lived in Virginia, I went to mass 2 maybe 3 times. I stopped going on "Holy Days of Obligation", I stopped going on holidays, I just stopped. I owned a bible though...so I was still set, Right?

Welcome party at Sweet Briar College - September 2006

I met a wonderful man during my Junior year of college. We knew immediately that we had been drawn together for a higher purpose. We talked about attending church together, we went to the Christian bookstore and bought bibles, and we thought about attending church. We joined together through our worldly relationship and that was that.

My husband (then boyfriend) and I on one of our first dates - April 2009

After I graduated from college, I moved out to Denver to go to graduate school. My boyfriend stayed in Virginia and we had a long distance relationship. I continued to dabble in joining a church again. I wanted to find a church for the fellowship. It is a good way to meet good people, right? My mom and I even did over the phone bible studies every now and then, but it was a chore to finish. I did it though, so I was set, right?

Preparing to video chat bible study with Mom - January 2012

My boyfriend moved out to Denver, we got engaged, and we got married. We discussed having a family. I want a big family. I have always wanted a big family. When I was little I used to tell my mom that when she got old she could live with me and my million children. While I have scaled down my expectation on number, I do still want a big family. In those discussions we discussed raising our children in a godly home. From what we both knew, that meant going to church and going through the rituals, right?

Cutting our wedding cake - October 2013

My husband and I have been together for just over 6 years, but we had been married for just about 6 months when he came to me and said "I have a strong feeling that we need to go to church!". We dabbled in the thought and researched churches in our area. We went to a few Catholic masses and a few other denominational churches and never felt like we were in the right place. We let that go for about 3 months through the summer. Finally in September my husband came to me again and said "I still really feel like I need to go to church, let's look for a non-denominational church!" I agreed and we set to our good friend Google. Eerily, every single listing on the search page was for a local bible church.

That Sunday we got up and went in to church. If God can smack you upside the head with a Bible, he did it to me. The teaching that day was on having a RELATIONSHIP with the Lord. Ensuring that you were honoring his teaching, reading his word, and having an honest relationship. The pastor even taught on the difference between relationship and ritual. I found out that I had previously had a relationship with the ritual and not with the Lord. Looking back I don't know how I ever thought that was possible, but it is true.

We went to church the next Wednesday, September 3, 2014. At that service we were again smacked in the face with The Word. At the end of service that night we both stood up and asked God to forgive us our sins. We pledged in our hearts and with our mouths that Jesus Christ was the Son of God and died on the cross to forgive us of our sins. According to Romans 10:9-10 we were officially saved. I was saved. Saved. It is still lifting to my heart to say that word in relation to my own life.

I  .  AM  .  SAVED