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Just wondering… We hardly hear about hell anymore in the Christian Church. It’s unfashionable, uncomfortable, un-politically correct. It’s fine and well to teach the other major doctrines of the Church. They’re good and solid.

-“God is love” 1 John 4:8

-We should love God. “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind “ Mark 12:30

-God loves us. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

-Of course we should teach that Jesus died for our sins. “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” John 4:9, 10

-It’s also good to teach people they need to read their Bibles. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16, 17

-It’s both needful and wonderful to teach people how to live the Christian life well and successfully. (I’ll spare you the several hundred Scriptures covering that one.)

-And the big one, of course, we should be teaching people how to be saved! “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Acts 16:31

It’s all good, all necessary, all must be taught. But…why aren’t we teaching about hell?

-How can God be love and still send people to hell?

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9

-What did Jesus save us from, when he died for our sins?

The Bible says it’s better lop off your own body parts than to wind up in hell! Matthew 18:9, Mark 9:43, 45, 47

Luke’s description of the rich man in hell might give one pause. And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.” Luke 16:23, 24

-Mathew lets us know this is no place for a party. “And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Mathew 25:30

-So does John. “and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night,” Revelation 14:10,11

It’s no wonder there are so many “luke-warm” Christians in the world today. How can we be truly grateful to Jesus Christ if we don’t know what it is He saved us from? Won’t we love our God, that much more, of we really understand and take to heart the horrible fate He spared us? What effect would that have on our obedience to Him? Wouldn’t we be more likely to share the Gospel, if we really believed in the future of those we love, who are unsaved? If we allowed the awful truth to move us, could we stand the thought of even one person being lost?

It’s easier not to think about hell. It’s much nicer to teach on the Love of God, and leave out the hard stuff. It’s certainly less controversial, and many Churches wouldn’t stand for such teaching. Makes this preacher think maybe the Apostles and possibly Jesus, Himself wouldn’t be too welcome in those Churches. They taught the hard stuff.

If we want true revival, if we want to see Christians on fire for God, and working the harvest with all their hearts, we have to start teaching the hard stuff. We’re going to have to teach hell.

This is actually a letter to my Pastor, but someone out there needs to read it. In it I’ve worked through the emotional side of  my recent accident, which left me more shaken than I ever would have believed it could.

This time last year I had just been promoted and received a large raise. My boss almost gushed when she did my review, saying that I was good for moral. Doug nearly had more work than he could handle. We were both still very active in our old church, and looking forward to what the future would bring, despite some pretty serious problems. We kept hearing about the economy taking a nose dive, but we weren’t feeling much of a pinch. Funny how much difference a year makes.

After the first of the year, my boss told me if I wouldn’t open my availability and start working Wednesday nights and Sundays my hours would be cut. I told her to do what she had to do, and tried not to worry. About the same time Doug started getting fewer hours at work too, so we cut a few luxuries (read: We ate out less.) and went on. Things were getting worse at church too, prompting me to ask, Is it possible to be tempted into not living out God’s will for one’s life by being given nearly everything one has ever wanted in a good, godly church?” My trusted friends gave me the truthful, but painful, answer. On January 22, we made the decision to leave Faith Baptist Church.

I think we knew then that we were headed for Aurora. Doug’s mother is so happy here. Pastor was such a wonderful change from what we were used to. Gentle, accepting and secure, he made us feel immediately welcome, which I hadn’t felt in quite some time. Rick and his wife asked us to lunch, and we told him our unhappy story. When he didn’t freak or act like I had committed some great sin, by filling in as temporary pastor at Faith, I knew we were home. We started to heal. We thought we’d been tested and made it through. We had no idea the testing had just begun.

June first, Doug was laid off. Fortunately his unemployment went through without a hitch, but that still cut his pay in half. I started making up my cut hours by staying whenever I could, so we were falling a little behind, but still not really hurting. July and August passed without work for him, but honestly I was enjoying having him home for a while. We were a bit behind though, so I made an arrangement with the mortgage company, and it looked like we’d be able to catch up. Then on September fourteenth, I broke my ankle.

It was such a stupid accident. Who falls off their own porch? Wish I could say that I was being a good employee and wanting to get to work on time, but the truth is I left a little early, in a good mood, because I’d be able to stop at 7-11 for a coffee and sandwich. Tired and careless, I missed the bottom step and went down hard. I actually heard the bones snap, but thankfully didn’t feel it. Of course, it just had to be raining.

The first sight of that ankle scared the daylights out of me. They are not suppose to bend like that! Panic set in, and I began to scream for Doug. There I am laying in three inches of water, getting rained on, screaming my head off, and he can’t hear me, because of the rain. This went on for twenty minutes, before I decided to drag myself to the car and honk the horn. I think I asked God for the strength. That’s when I remembered my cell phone was in my pocket, and called Doug.

It didn’t occur to me until a couple of days ago, that my cell phone shouldn’t have worked. It’s a cheap tracfone. It was in my pants pocket, and I was soaked to the skin. It should have been soaked and useless, but when I pulled it out it was bone dry and worked like it was new. It still shows no sign of water damage, though I used it in the rain. The very thought floors me. Maybe it’s because I can actually hold a miracle in my hand. It can’t be explained away as luck or coincidence. It simply should not have worked.

At the hospital they tried to set it twice, but decided it would take surgery to do the job. God was working then too. The surgeon they contacted usually deals with children and sports injuries, but it took someone with his skill to put Humpty back together again. The one hour surgery turned into three, because the end of the bone on the outside kept slipping into the joint, keeping it from seating properly.

Doug’s mother may never understand how much comfort she gave me, when she prayed, before my second surgery. There was no fear, just acceptance of whatever God had in store. I think it was actually easier for me than it was for her and Doug, because they had to wait it out, while I slept through it, as once again a one hour surgery turned into four, because the damage was worse than they originally thought.

I’ve always been a little impatient with wounded and sick people, who let it slow them down. I was always the one who kept on going, like the energizer bunny, no matter what else happened. If this has taught me nothing else, it’s taught me compassion. There is no way Doug can pick up my rather ample frame. Dragging oneself across the porch and through the front door, because you can’t get up the steps, will take a person down a peg or two, as will being forced to depend on someone else for literally everything.

A week to the day after my accident, we called the ambulance again, for Doug. He had to spend two nights in the hospital and have a surgery of his own. Thank God his mother was able to be there for him.

Naturally, while Doug was in the hospital, I had a doctors appointment. Once again it was his mom to the rescue, but she couldn’t get me on or off the deck either. God was there and working again. I went outside early determined to get off the deck, before she got there, so she wouldn’t worry about me hurting myself. As I stood there wondering how to manage such a feat, the trash truck drove by and then stopped. The driver walked up and asked if I needed help, and helped me lower myself to the edge of the deck. Problem solved. When his mother brought me back home, we still had the problem of getting me back in the house. A young man stopped and helped lift me to a rolling desk chair I used to get across the porch and back into the house. “God bless you.” were his parting words. He had sent me another angel.

For two months Doug and I were the neighborhood entertainment, him breaking my fall at the edge of the deck to leave, and my fanny walking back across the deck and into the house at first, then later as we both got stronger him helping me into my rolling chair. By the time we didn’t have to do it anymore we had it down to a science.

God has been hard at work during our trials. With neither of us able to work we should be hurting financially. We certainly aren’t rolling in it, but we’re not going to lose anything or have to sit in the dark. You wouldn’t think having a mortgage arrangement broken because the mail took fifteen days to get your payment there would be a blessing, but it worked out to a better arrangement for us, and weirdly we’ve been able to make the payments. I had two years of sick pay saved up, and a bonus just before the accident, which caught up all our bills, and both our cars had just been paid off. Now, even though I can’t work, my second anniversary with the company just passed, so there is vacation and personal time credited, which will get us through. Things don’t just fall into place that way without a little divine help. You would think all this would strengthen my trust in God, which it did, but it didn’t solve the problem of my broken heart.

I wasn’t just taken down a peg. I was floored, knocked in the dirt, broken. I didn’t ask, “Why me?”, but “Why can’t I handle this?” People go through worse things everyday. They lose love ones, get cancer, have heart attacks, and have much worse accidents. Why was my heart so hurt? Why did the sight of those pins sticking out of my leg hurt my feelings so much? Why was I so scared? I finally looked to the right person for the answers.

One night lying in bed, with the way my ankle looked that morning and the sight of those pins sticking out of it haunting me, I asked Jesus how He stood it, not the physical pain of what He went through, before the cross, though that had to have been tremendous, but the emotional pain He had to have felt. I poured out all of my hurt and fear to Him that night, and realized that, for me, this was a huge thing, and I didn’t have to feel bad for being hurt. There was a lesson to be learned here. It was time to find it.

A shepherd kept his sheep safe by keeping them together and close to him. Sometimes a lamb would take it into his head to wander from the herd. When a lamb made a habit of wandering, the shepherd would pick him up and break his leg. It wasn’t done to be mean, but it caused that lamb to rely totally on the shepherd as it healed. From then on the lamb stayed close and safe. Understand, I don’t think God broke my ankle, but if He did, then it needed done. I do believe however, that he can use my circumstances to me teach a lesson.

Life and ministry at Faith Baptist were hard. It’s not easy when your pastor thinks your a usurper, and tells you from the pulpit that God won’t use you. It’s rough when he threatens to run you out the door from the same pulpit. It’s hard when you buy into the lie that a church won’t grow unless it’s right with God. I let it push me down, and away from God’s plan for me. I wandered from His side, but He never moved from mine.

I surrender to the ministry of His Word. I don’t know exactly what He has in mind, but I know He uses women like Beth Moore, so He can and will use me. No more excuses. I’m a woman, big deal, so was Deborah. I surrender.

People need to know God can work a miracle with a cell phone. They need to know He can forgive and use anyone. They need to know He won’t walk away from them. They need to know He loves them.

I surrender. Please pray for me.

done well.

This, my brothers and sisters in Christ, is how we make God smile.

Impact of this game on players’ lives can’t be overstated

I’m not messing with it, because there’s nothing I can add.

History – a chronological record of significant events often including an explanation of their causes.
Herstory – a chronological record of significant events of my faith and service including an explanation of their causes.

Willohroots requested the whole story of my road to faith and service, so here it is. It turned out to be very long, but my favorite evangelist, David Ring, says if I don‘t tell it, it won‘t get told. Hope you can stay awake.

I think faith often starts in childhood. I know mine did. I can only remember one time my family attended church, and it was long enough ago that they had a smoking section, but my mother often spoke of God and His love. I remember her trying to explain the triune God, when I was about four. (Yep, four; can you imagine!) She did as good a job as anyone, and I’ve never struggled with that doctrine the way some have. It may be as simple as believing, because “Mom said so.“ But it works. She also allowed me to attend vacation Bible School, each summer, and always encouraged me to go to church with my friends when invited. It was during one of those visits, to a friends church, at twelve, that I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. (Becky B., if you ever read this I owe you my very life.)

Unfortunately, we got tied up with Jehovah’s Witnesses shortly thereafter. I can’t call that time a total loss, because it instilled in me the importance of Bible study and reaching out to others. And how many people can say they were baptized on the fifty-yard-line of Texas Stadium? I did however become very confused about Jesus, and lost my trust in Him. After falling away I tried a lot of other roads, including Wicca, but when life was at it’s worst and I really needed someone, I always found myself at the foot of the cross. I kept searching for someone/something to fill the void. Men didn’t do it, and I have three ex-husbands to prove it. Four children didn’t do it, though they came closer than anything else. Liquor, pills, pot, work, friends, none of those things filled the empty space inside.

Then on September 11, 2001 suddenly and without warning, our entire country went into mourning, causing me to consider ending my life. For that to make sense you need to know that I’m an empath, which is not something weird or spooky. It simply means that I feel the strong emotions of those around me. Fear, anger, and sadness surrounded me, and I couldn’t escape, even for a moment. The only peace I felt was when my husband and I attended a memorial at the church across the street from where I worked. Then and many times since then I’ve had the feeling of being held as I wept. Doug must have noticed, because he was the one who suggested we actively begin seeking a church to attend regularly. Of course, after visiting several and not finding what we were looking for it kind of fell by the wayside.

A few months later, a friend invited me to a women’s retreat at her church, and paid my way, because there was no way I could afford it. It started out with a silly PJ and crazy slipper night, and turned into one of the most important milestones in my life. Suddenly I had an appetite for God’s Word again, and found myself on my knees rededicating my life to Him. Well, He doesn’t take a thing like that lightly, and soon Doug and I were attending his mother’s church regularly. During a Sunday service, we simply looked at each other and said, “Let’s join.” Neither of us even knew the other was considering it! A week later we were baptized together, which has turned into a huge strong point in our marriage.

It really was a great church, on the small side, with as sweet a spirit as any new Christian could hope for, and Brother Dan, the pastor, was a great teacher. I still had a trust problem with Jesus, and was trying to work it out when The Passion came out. It broke my heart and sent me running to my Savior’s arms.

We were at that church for three years, and as with most things, I jumped in head first, always carefully avoiding stepping over my bounds as a woman. With the encouragement of our piano player, Marlene, I was singing specials with the bravest of them, and found myself teaching Sunday school and leading children’s church. As most good things tend to, it ended. Our church split, my Sunday school class of tough little girls vanished, and children’s church was down to three little boys, so they were moved to the regular service. Our best friends left with the Pastor and began a new church, where he abandoned them right away. We were heartsick, for them and for us.

After they found a new pastor for their fledgling church, we went to visit them. They asked me to lead the song service that day, and suddenly I had a place to serve again. There is really nothing like building up a brand new church, so much to be done, and so few to do the work. I was in “Martha” heaven. There were some things I had to get use to though. Women were often called on to pray, and there was a woman on the finance committee! Funny, it didn’t take long.

It soon became apparent we had a problem. Our pastor was jealous of one of the founders of the church, and had begun to use the pulpit to blast him at every opportunity. He also started manipulating people to further his own agenda. We kept expecting him to get angry enough to walk out, and though I still don’t know why, I promised my friend I’d have a devotion ready, if we needed it. It finally came to a point where we had to ask him to leave. It was ugly and painful, and we lost several families, because of it. With the help of one of our other ladies, I was pressed into leading our services, while we looked for a new pastor.

I was about as freaked out as one person is allowed to be. My husband had just gone out of town for work, and there was no one I could talk to, well, other than God. I cried, and told Him I wouldn’t do it, couldn’t do it. I am a woman after all. Of course I just happened to be in Deborah’s part of Judges in my Bible reading. So I agreed, but I wouldn’t stand in the pulpit, and would only do devotions until one of the men was ready to preach. But they needed more, and somehow it had fallen to me to feed His sheep. It wasn’t long before I was in the pulpit, preaching. It seems there is very little difference in a devotion and a sermon.

Six months later, we did find a preacher. I had a few doubts, but everyone else was so happy. I shut my mouth and handed my charges over to his care and keeping. I did, however, stay the song leader. I don’t know that speaking up would have changed anything, but do wish I had tried. I stuck it out as the pastor’s thumb came down harder and harder, because my husband was happy there, and because there were some good things happening.

The toughest thing to deal with is that the pastor knows I feel called to ministry, and he simply can’t let it go. He always talks about how good it is to visit his home church, how they bless him with things for his church, and how they pray for and support him. He would not only deny me that, but actively try to destroy any ministry of which I am a part. In the end I had a choice, stay and destroy the church or go find the supportive environment I need and crave.

Doug and I have found a place where we can both serve, and which supports women in ministry. I get phone calls from people leaving our old church. Sometimes they’re in tears wanting to know what went wrong. It seems since we left the pastor has taken iron-fisted control. They are only allowed to sing from the hymnal he brought in, and he has questioned the salvation of several members, because they’ve sinned. There are other things, but that’s enough. Why did he wait until we left to do those things? Maybe because he knew I’d call him on them?

My independent Bible study starts Wednesday morning. Anyone who wants to attend will be welcome, and I plan to go invite a few folks the churches haven’t bothered with.

God worked too hard to break the chains that bound me, and no one is putting me back in them! If anyone has a problem with it they can talk to my Boss.

Father, help me always to remember that You’re not done with me yet, I’m just a sinner, saved by grace, and that minister means servant.

It’s a line from an old stoner movie, from my not so shiny past, but works well in this situation.

It’s bad. It’s really bad. People are calling, some in tears, wanting to know what happened and what they should do. I’m not going to go into it here, because I’m hearing everything second hand, and that would be gossip. But people are being hurt and driven away, and that’s just wrong.

So…

…I’m not going to raise my hand against God’s anointed.
Lord, help me remember it’s Your job to deal with him.

…I’m not going to spread rumors and gossip.
Lord, put Your arm around my shoulders and Your hand firmly over my mouth.

…I’m not going to going to be drawn into a flame war.
Lord, help me to not defend myself.

…I’m not going to give up.
Lord, keep me strong.

…I’m not going to let those who’ve been hurt drop by the wayside.
Lord, hide me behind the cross, and let them see only You.

But…

…I’ve got to do something. Can’t let this good, righteous, “I want to throw someone out of the temple.” anger go to waste. Right?

So…

I will start a Bible Study, for anyone who wants to attend.
Thank you, Father, for the excellent study to which You led me.

I will reach out to the community in love and understanding.
Lord, lend me Your eyes, and stop my quaking knees.

I will stay true to the truth, even when it stings.
Lord, help me to always remember I’m nothing more than Your work in progress.

I will stay strong and not fear.
Psalm 56:11 “In God I have put my trust. I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.

Matthew 28:19-20 “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

Your prayers and positive thoughts would be appreciated.

This is a Sunday school lesson I taught, on sexual purity. I’m posting it for a friend.

Bible text for this lesson:

Proverbs 5:3,4 “For the lips of an immoral woman drip honey, And her mouth is smoother than oil; But in the end she is bitter as wormwood, Sharp as a two-edged sword.”

This verse speaks of the pleasures of immorality, and warns of the truth behind the pleasure.

Proverbs 6:25 “Do not lust after her beauty in your heart, Nor let her allure you with her eyelids.”

Warns you to practice self-control.

Proverbs 5:21,22 “For the ways of man are before the eyes of the LORD, And He ponders all his paths. His own iniquities entrap the wicked man, And he is caught in the cords of his sin.”

We can hide our sin from man, but we can hide nothing from God.

Proverbs 6:27-29 “Can a man take fire to his bosom, And his clothes not be burned? Can one walk on hot coals, And his feet not be seared? So is he who goes in to his neighbor’s wife; Whoever touches her shall not be innocent.”

Sin always has consequences.

Proverbs 6:32-35 “Whoever commits adultery with a woman lacks understanding; He who does so destroys his own soul. Wounds and dishonor he will get, And his reproach will not be wiped away. For jealousy is a husband’s fury; Therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance. He will accept no recompense, Nor will he be appeased though you give many gifts.”

Sexual sin is a sin against one’s self, and the jealousy of a wronged partner is difficult to overcome.
______________________________________

Solomon encourages marital fidelity and warns against sexual immorality. Face it, sin, immorality included, is fun. There wouldn’t be any point otherwise, but that fun is, all too often, short lived. And the consequences can be devastating. Guilt and STDs have destroyed marriages, and no sin devastates Christian lives, homes, and churches more often than infidelity.

All across America people have bought into the idea that whatever they want to do with their bodies is no one’s business but their own. They’ve cast aside moral standards, considering them to be out of date.

How do you practice sexual purity in a world of relaxed moral standards, easy access pornography, the current standard of immodest dress, and movies, television, and magazines that make immorality seem not only normal but desirable? We use the tools God gave us, self-control, true love, decisions made in advance, prayer in times of temptation, accountability, and strong marriages.

The Bible provides more instruction about the relationships between men and women than any other subject. It shows sexuality as God’s gift for human pleasure. Sex is not a sin! God created and equipped the human body for pleasure in the context of marriage and procreation, and the drive is strong because the human race depends on it. The only time sex becomes a sin is outside of marriage.

Our Bible text gives it’s warning concerning sexual sin from a male perspective, but the warnings are just as valid for a female. The consequences of casual sex are devastating to both parties. The tragic irony is that in the name of love people do things that hurt those they profess to love. Love and Lust are not the same.

Anyone male or female can be enticed by lust, and anyone male or female can arouse lust in the opposite sex. The Bible is warning you not to allow yourself to lust for someone else or allow yourself to be the object of someone else’s lust.

I know, easier said than done. Right? How about some practical advice?

Men, learn to bounce your eyes. Pretty girls, showing a lot of skin, are going to be out there. Don’t put yourselves in a bad position. Look away. It gets easier every time you do.

If you’re having a problem with porn, get help. Get an accountability partner. You’re probably not going to be able to kick it on your own.

Work on your marriage. You married her for some reason. Rediscover it!

Women, stop comparing your husband to other men. It’s not fair! You are seeing them with their “company manners” on. I bet they belch at the table too. And if you’re reading what my dad use to call bodice rippers, stop! That’s the worst comparison of all.

As for that guy at work, who seems to understand you so well, he only sees your “company manners”. Your husband might enjoy seeing them, as well.

Kids, we’ve gone over some tough stuff, but there are times when things happen to us, over which we have no control. If someone has forced themselves on you, or an adult has taken advantage of you, it is not your fault! Your heart, body, and soul are still pure before the LORD.

That said young men, what kind of wife do you want? Do you want a wife who has been with five men before you, or who waited for you? Do you want a wife who has kissed 25 guys before you, or who has kissed only you? Don’t hold your future wife to a higher standard than you’re willing to hold yourself to.

Do you love her? Love her enough to wait. If she really loves you, she’ll be willing to wait too. Decide now what kind of man you want to be.

Young ladies, decide now what your answer will be. Don’t wait until you’re in a situation, because if you do the situation will decide for you.

Have you ever been somewhere where they sell jewelry? The rhinestones are always on top of the counter where anyone can try them on for size, and the diamonds are always protected in a locked glass cabinet, so only those serious about buying them get to touch them. Next time you’re there take a look at the differences between the two. The rhinestones tend to get kind of dull and smudgy and dirty from all the handling, while the diamonds stay bright and sparkly and clean. Ladies, you are diamonds! Treat yourselves accordingly.

If he really loves you, he will wait, and he won’t ask you to do anything you couldn’t tell your mom and dad about.

Everyone, remember that the pleasures of sexual sin simply are not worth the possible consequences, and there are always consequences of some kind.

At the end of this lesson I encouraged questions of any kind. I happily do the same here.

Between services this morning.

Friend- “I miss your Sunday school lessons. Are you ever going to teach again?”

Me- “I’m enjoying warming a pew and learning something, right now. Pastor (not his real name) does a better job of it anyway.”

Friend- “I don’t think he’s really better, just different.”

Me- “When we have enough teen girls, to have a class for them, I’d like to teach it.”

Pastor- (who I didn’t know was listening) “You’d be great at it. The kids already think they can tell you anything, and I’ve noticed they mimic a lot of your actions.”

Friend- “You’re not afraid to talk about the tough stuff either.”

Pastor- “I’ve noticed that too. You handled the chapter on sexual purity very well, and did it in a mixed class.”

Me- “If you get all embarrassed about things the kids will think they can’t talk to you when they really need advice. Either one of you could have done it. All I did was follow the lesson plan.”

Pastor- “I would have skipped it.”

Friend- “Me too.”