How to Deal with Doubts about Your Faith

When doubt hit me

As I grew up in the church, I thought I knew the bible well.

I stopped thinking critically about it and no longer asked many questions. Then, from friends and the internet, I started hearing questions I didn’t know how to answer like:

“If God is all good, why does he allow so much evil in the world?”

“Why does God allowed our loved ones to die?”

Initially, instead of seeking answers for the questions, I tried to “have faith” and pushed them to the back of my mind.

But that didn’t work.

Doubts left unanswered can cripple a Christian’s faith.

They must be dealt with.

Read more at: https://allendalebaptist.org/doubts-faith-how-to

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Two Common Myths about the Spirit-Filled Life

Many Christians believe the myth that ‘Spirit-filled’ or even ‘spiritual’ must indicate something or someone a little strange. Depending on how much exposure people have had to the Pentecostal-Charismatic movement, they might associate the words ‘Spirit-filled’ with people who claim to be inspired by the Spirit to bark like dogs, scream, or roll around on the floor. Such people exist—I’ve seen them!

Eccentric Prophets

Some people try to justify their conclusion that it is spiritual to act strange by pointing to the eccentric behavior of prophets in the Old Testament. For example, Isaiah walked around naked (Isaiah 20:1–4)—some scholars say, wearing only an undergarment—and Ezekiel lay on his side for 430 days (Ezekiel 4:4–6). Some also point to Saul, who “changed into a different person” when the Spirit of the Lord came upon him and he prophesied (1 Samuel 10:6, 10).

These examples, however, don’t prove that one should expect to act strangely if one is to be truly spiritual. First of all, Saul might have just “changed into a different person” in the sense that “God changed Saul’s heart” before he prophesied (v. 9).

The Frantic Prophets of Baal

Read more:

What Research Says About How Self-centeredness Grows in Us

http://ericgeiger.com/2019/02/what-research-says-about-how-self-centeredness-grows-in-us/

5 Reasons Why a Handwritten “Thank You” Note Can Make a Difference

By Chuck Lawless

I know I’m dating myself here, but I believe many of us need to return to handwriting some thank you notes. I assume that all of us can name somebody who has blessed us, either for a long time or even just today. Here’s why taking the time to write a “thank you” note matters:

  1. It takes time—which shows some depth of gratitude. Think about it – you have to buy the card, write the note, find an address, address the envelope, and mail it. Sure, the card arrives much later than an email would, but the effort behind the “thank you” note is seldom missed.
  2. Few people do it—so it catches the attention of the receiver. An email “thank you” is easier to send, but it’s also easier to miss on the other end. A handwritten note, however, often catches the recipient by surprise. Its very uniqueness in our Internet-based world makes a difference.
  3. It feels much more personal. I know that’s an emotional response, but it’s often true nonetheless. Somehow, seeing the handwriting and signature of an affirming friend or loved one is different than receiving an email.
  4. It provides good memories. I still remember “thank you” notes that arrived at just the right time with just the right words from just the right person. God used those notes to encourage me then, and my memories of them still encourage me today. That’s one reason I’m writing this post today.
  5. It models a good habit for others. I know many people who’ve received gifts and support from others, but who never took the time to say, “thank you.” It is as if we sometimes think we’re entitled to something, so we see no need to express gratitude. We need to learn, though, from others who seldom miss an opportunity to say “thank you” via a handwritten note.

So, I encourage you this week/weekend to write at least five “thank you” notes to people who have blessed your life. Let them hear from you, in the words of the apostle Paul, “in my [your] own handwriting” (Gal. 6:11).

The Secret of Happiness – Part II

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Philippians 4:11-12

As we said yesterday, happiness is many things to many people. For one thing, it means we need to know and accept ourselves for who we are.

Happiness also means learning to accept my personal circumstances. Some of them can be changed. Others can’t. And unless I accept the ones that can’t be changed, I’ll never be happy or content. As blind Helen Keller said, “I thank God for my handicaps, for through them I have found myself, my work, and my God.”

Happiness is also having a worthwhile goal . . . a noble purpose for which to live . . . something of value to strive for.

I was once talking to a union representative on a construction job. At the time he was also demonstrating for a cause that was popular back then. He told me he joined this group because it gave him something to live for. I don’t know if this man is still demonstrating for a cause, but certainly everybody needs something to live for other than himself and his own happiness.

Happiness in itself is not a worthwhile goal to live for. To be happy all of the time is unreal, as happiness is only one of life’s great emotions. To be in touch with all of one’s feelings is more important than being happy all of the time. To feel sad, hurt, angry, afraid, and unhappy at the appropriate times is both normal and healthy. However, if one is unhappy most of the time, this is nature’s way of telling him/her that something is missing in his life or some conflict needs resolving.

To be happy, or at least fulfilled, one also needs to have worthwhile work (paid or volunteer) into which one can put one’s best efforts. Note, too, that when our work is helping to meet others needs, this can be very fulfilling.

Everybody has some talents; so it is important that he/she discover his/her gifts, receive adequate training to sharpen them, and find a place to use them. This is equally true for both men and women.

It is a wise man who helps his wife find, develop, and use her special gifts. He will reap just rewards through his wife’s increased fulfillment and happiness. And so it is for a wise woman for her husband.

To be continued. . . .

Suggested prayer: “Dear God, please help me to realize that happiness comes much more through who I am rather than what I do. Help me to become the person you want me to be and then find further fulfillment and happiness with what I do with my life. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

Comment: http://www.actsweb.org/daily.php?id=655

Armor of God

Ephesians 6:10-20

Ah yes, the famous passage on the armor of God, a passage many know by heart, a favorite sermon passage and a favorite devotional passage rich with metaphor and meaning; a wonderful passage. I thought that I’d approach it a little differently this time. Accordingly, I’ll not really comment on the metaphoric aspect, but focus on the underlying strategic circumstances that all of us face every day.

The whole armor metaphor is a way of communicating an important issue that for most of us is not easy to understand, the issue of spiritual warfare. Over the centuries, people have understood this in various ways and many legends and ballads have been the result, both in literature and other art forms. There have been times when people in superstitious cultures have gone to bizarre lengths, burning witches, so called heretics and almost anyone who incurred disfavor in high councils; history is full of such insanity. I can’t help but wonder how otherwise good people couldn’t see where the evil one was really operating, but then maybe they forgot to put on their armor!

In our day, the idea of spiritual warfare is often limited to the oddball fringe, “nuters” as our British friends might say; you might hear a lot on the subject on radio talk shows that air in the wee hours, along with spacemen and such. Oh my, how clever our adversary can be!

Read the rest of Don’s blog at: https://lifereference.wordpress.com/2018/12/13/armor-of-god-3/

Love is Active

 

Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

James 1:26-27

My first thought when it came to writing on these verses was that this would be a very easy post… and then I started thinking about it.  The “catch” here is the part about keeping a “tight rein” on the tongue.  My first thought was to go off on people within the church who abuse their positions of authority to say hurtful and ugly things to people from a position of self-righteousness.  Of course it occurred to me that having a tight rein on the tongue probably applies to the keyboard as well.  OK, I’ve heard the more traditional approach to this many times: watch your language!  Somehow however, that always has struck me as being just a bit shallow. Yes, we shouldn’t be tossing foul language around, but do you really need me to tell you that?  I have the impression that James had considerably more in mind, particularly in this context.

Great: Now what?

The truth is that I think we often make a mistake in passages such as these by taking them too literally. I doubt that James wrote this to give us the perfect verse to enable an annual sermon on cussing, nor do I think that he wrote verse 27 to give us the perfect verse to justify our annual message on helping the needy or to raise money for an orphanage. After all, the context is love in action, and that is far broader than either of these two applications. Of course followers of Jesus shouldn’t be using the filthy language of this wicked world, of course followers of Jesus should actively aid and protect widows and orphans; these are but examples of a larger truth.

In the larger context, it seems to me that James is giving instruction about the sanctity and sacredness of each one of God’s children. He wants us to recognize the fact that every single person is valued by God, that we must make every effort to respect, love and cherish every single one. We mustn’t be in the habit of denigrating anybody, for they are loved and cherished by our Lord, so much so that He willingly gave Himself up for them. Most of all, the little children who are innocent and helpless must be a high priority for us to love, nurture and protect from harm, as well as the widows who have been left alone and vulnerable… and anybody else who is unable to protect themselves from this harsh world.

This is what it means to love, to put that love into action, and to serve God.  This is what Jesus did, and this is what His followers are to do.

Comment: https://lifereference.wordpress.com/2019/02/08/love-is-active-5/