I feel as if the whole world has gone crazy.  A man burned to death and the video sent to the world.  A young woman, who spent her short life giving to others, killed in the name of religion.  A world leader using deeds committed 800-1000 years ago to justify these acts.  However, the question continues to arise – Why????  My sons began asking that question as soon as they were old enough to speak.  As I get older, the question continues to nag me as I encounter “why” questions as every turn.  When I see evil, pain, and suffering in the world, I ask, “why?”

Several years ago, I read Tim LaHaye’s book, Revelation Unveiled.  It was so helpful in putting things in context.   It’s no surprise to me that Jordan, though a Moslem nation, is rising against the current atrocities.  Isaiah 16 tells us that, in the last days, Jordan will harbor Jews and Christians, protecting them from the anti-Christ. LeHaye stressed the following verses: “And you shall hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.”   I hear teachings I’ve had over the years.  I know that all of these things must come to pass for Jesus to return.  And so I continue to pray – Come, Lord Jesus!

There are some prophecies, as I see, that have to be fulfilled before Jesus returns.

  1. The human race would have the capacity to exterminate itself.  In Matthew 24:22, describing world conditions prior to His second coming, Jesus said that “if that time of troubles were not cut short, no living thing could survive; but for the sake of God’s chosen it will be cut short.”   The main message that Jesus brought was of the coming Kingdom of God.  While some of the prophecies concerning events prior to the establishment of the Kingdom can seem negative or scary, I have to remember to keep in mind that the central focus of the Bible prophecy is the good news or gospel of the coming Kingdom of God.  Matthew 24.22 tells me that if Jesus does not intervene in world affairs, the human race will be faced with extinction.  The good news in all of today’s news is that Christians have the assurance that Jesus Christ will return to save mankind from annihilation.
  2. A Jewish Homeland is to be established in the Middle East. Geopolitically, the central focus of end time events is Jerusalem and its environs.   Luke 21 is a parallel chapter to Matthew 24.  Notice Luke’s account of Christ’s long prophecy that answered the disciples’ questions.  Jesus showed that Jerusalem would be the central focus of the political and military upheavals that would immediately precede His return. Anyone living a century ago would have found these words nearly impossible to comprehend. Jerusalem in ancient times had been fought over countless times, but for four centuries from 1517 the city had been at peace within the boundaries of the Ottoman Empire. Jews lived there as a minority under Turkish rule. But this was going to change dramatically during the course of the 20th century. It had to change for the fulfillment of Bible prophecy to take place. The Old Testament prophet Zechariah was used by God to reveal a great deal about end-time events and the second coming of the Messiah. Zechariah lived and prophesied more than 500 years before Christ’s first coming, yet his prophetic book tells us a great deal about our world of today. In Zechariah:12:2-3  God says: “Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah [the Jews inhabiting the land of Israel] and Jerusalem. And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all natons of the earth are gathered against it.”  In verse 9 He adds, “It shall be in that day that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.”  Reading these verses, it is possible to think that they apply to ancient events, as Jerusalem has been fought over repeatedly down through the ages. However, chapter 14 makes clear that this is talking about future, not past, events. The time setting is immediately before Jesus Christ’s return. “Behold, the day of the Lord is coming . . . For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem; the city shall be taken, the houses rifled, and the women ravished. Half of the city shall go into captivity . . . Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as He fights in the day of battle. “And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, from east to west, making a very large valley; half of the mountain shall move toward the north and half of it toward the south” (Zechariah:14:1-4 ). Clearly the last few lines of this prophecy remain to be fulfilled.  Further in this same chapter we read of how those nations that came against Jerusalem will have to go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, Jesus Christ (verse 16). These chapters of Zechariah are a prophecy about the events that precede and include the second coming of Jesus. A Jewish-controlled Jerusalem is noticeably the central focus. Shortly before Zechariah, another Jewish prophet named Daniel lived during the time of the captivity of the Jews in Babylon. His book speaks of the Jews’ daily sacrifices being cut off in the end time (Daniel:12:11; see verses 1-13)—an event that had a forerunner in the temple defilement under Syrian ruler Antiochus Epiphanes in the second century B.C. However, Jesus Christ confirmed this as a future event to precede His return (compareDaniel:11:31; Matthew:24:15). This means that these sacrifices must first be reinstituted in Jerusalem—requiring Jewish rule over the city. After rebelling against the Romans in A.D. 66 and again in 132, Judea was crushed and most of the remaining Jews were dispersed throughout the Roman Empire and beyond. No Jewish homeland existed again until 1948 when the modern nation of Israel was established.  An independent Jewish homeland was merely a dream for a small group of zealots a century ago. It moved a step nearer during World War I, when forces of the British Commonwealth took control of Jerusalem from the Turks in December 1916. A few months later, the British government pledged itself to the establishment of an independent Jewish homeland in the ancient lands the Jews had inhabited for centuries.  It was to be another 30 years before the dream was realized in 1948. Yet since then tiny Israel has had to fight wars for survival in 1948, 1967 and 1973 and has suffered countless terrorist attacks and threats of annihilation from hostile neighbors determined to eliminate the Jewish state.
  3. The end-time king of the North and king of the South In Daniel 11 we find an amazing prophecy about two leaders, the kings of the North and South, the heads of regions that were geographically north and south of the Holy Land. To understand this prophecy we have to go to the time of Alexander the Great, who lived near the end of the fourth century B.C., 200 years after Daniel. Alexander figures prominently throughout the book of Daniel, even though Daniel did not know his name and never knew him personally. He couldn’t have, since he died almost two centuries before Alexander appeared on the world stage. But God revealed to Daniel that after Babylon, Persia would arise as the greatest power of the region, to be followed in turn by Greece. Not surprisingly, the prophecies regarding the rise of Greece are centered on Alexander the Great, one of the greatest conquerors in history. Daniel 8 gives a vivid account of the coming clash between Persia and Greece. As you read it, remember that a horn symbolizes royal power and authority. Persia had “two horns and the two horns were high; but one was higher than the other, and the higher one came up last.” This refers to the Medo-Persian Empire, the coming together of two nations or peoples. As foretold here in verse 3, the Persians rose to greatness after the Medes. In verse 5 we read of Persia’s later defeat by Alexander the Great: “And as I was considering, suddenly a male goat came from the west, across the surface of the whole earth, without touching the ground; and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes” (verse 5). The “notable horn” or royal leader was Alexander the Great. The prophecy about his army not even touching the ground is a reference to the incredible speed with which he conquered the known world. All this was achieved in a very short time. Alexander died in 323 B.C. when he was only about 33 years old. Even his sudden, unexpected death was prophesied: “The male goat grew very great; but when he became strong, the large horn was broken, and in place of it four notable ones came up toward the four winds of heaven” (verse 8). When Alexander died, his empire was eventually divided between four of his generals—the four “notable horns” mentioned here. Two of these established dynasties would have a profound effect on the Jewish people, caught in the middle between them. These two dynasties were the descendants of Seleucus, who ruled a vast empire from Antioch in Syria, north of Jerusalem, and Ptolemy, who ruled Egypt from Alexandria. Daniel 11 is a long and detailed prophecy about the dynastic conflicts between these two powers, their respective leaders being referred to as “the king of the North” and “the king of the South.” Of great significance is that whenever they went to battle against each other, the Jews got trampled on. This was to continue from the time of Alexander until the middle of the second century B.C., a period of almost two centuries. Then, suddenly, the prophecy jumps down to the end time. In verse 40 we read: “At the time of the end the king of the South shall attack him; and the king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter the countries, overwhelm them and pass through. He shall also enter the Glorious Land [the Holy Land], and many countries shall be overthrown” (Daniel:11:40-41). The latter part of Daniel’s prophecy of the North-South conflict describes a clash of civilizations between the leader of a soon-coming European superpower—a revived Roman Empire (successor to Seleucid Syrian rule)—and a leader who is the successor to the Ptolemaic rule of Egypt, which is now part of the Islamic world.

All has now become possible. This, in turn, makes it much more likely that our generation will live to see Jesus Christ return and establish the Kingdom of God on earth. After all, Jesus Himself said that once these things begin, the generation alive at that time “will by no means pass away till all these things take place” (Matthew:24:34).

It’s both sobering and encouraging to think that we appear to be living in the generation that will ultimately witness the most important event in the history of mankind. As Jesus Christ tells His followers in Luke:21:28, “Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”

Instead of asking “why,” I think I will lift my head and look up.  My redemption draws near.  🙂

Justified by Faith

On our way to Sunday School last week, Macon and I discussed the concept of justification by faith.  I reminded him that many kids are taught that justified means “just as if I’d never sinned.   That has been running through my mind off and on all week long.  Just as if I’d never sinned.  Just as if I’d never sinned.

Romans 3:23, one of the first verses I ever memorized tells me that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  I sin.  I was born into sin and inherited that sin nature from Adam.  I make choices every day that violate God’s laws and desires and break His heart.  I could do nothing to save myself.  No amount of good works, compassion on others, or self sacrifice could earn my salvation.  My sin separated me from a Holy God; but I was not and continue to not be left hopeless.  Romans 3:24 tells me I have been justified FREELY by His grace.  Galatians 2:16 tells me that only way I can be justified is by faith in Jesus, not in anything I can do or not do.

So I pondered these thoughts this week.  There is not a day that goes by that I don’t sin.  I have a hard time some days not sinning in my heart before I get out of bed let alone make it through an entire day.  Some of those sins are only known to me and God.  Some of them are evident to others.  Some seem bigger or worse than others.  Others seem so small and insignificant.  But they are all sin.  Isn’t it funny that we are so willing to apply that grace to our sins; however, we are not so willing to apply that to others?

“Don’t trust her.  She’s lied.”   “He was in jail.” “He is just acting like he’s never done anything wrong.”  What part of our sin are we supposed to carry with us?  How long do we carry?  Who decides the consequences?  What if I see him acting as if he’d never done anything wrong and I didn’t hear that he told anyone he’s sorry?  Well, of course he’s acting as if he’s never done anything wrong.  Justification means just as if he’d never sinned.  Just because I didn’t hear the apology to God doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

As I was thinking all of these things and more this week, I realized that, anytime I feel shame or guilt over things I’ve confessed and from which I’ve repented, I am not trusting that God is doing what He said He would do. I’m calling Him a liar.  He is telling me that, because He gave Himself as a propitiation for my sin, it truly is just as if I’d never sinned.  Whenever I alter my behavior, thinking as a sinner I have no right to do whatever, I am not demonstrating a sincere belief in justification by faith and faith alone.  For if I have died with Christ, I know that I also live with Him.  If I have died, then I am free from sin and death has no dominion over me.  He died to sin once and for all.  I do not have to carry my sins around like a large scarlet letter A.  I can walk in this world just as if I’d never sinned – walking in that newness of life.  There is no condemnation for me because I am justified in him.

I think there have been times that, though I have been set free, I have kept myself, or tried to place others, behind bars.  I feel guilty or expect others to feel guilty that we cannot be perfect in this life.  They should be sorry for what they’ve done.  There have even been times in my life that I felt like such a hypocrite by opening my Bible because I know how far from godliness I am.  Yet, isn’t that a lack of faith?  Christ came that I might be made righteous.  He is the only way and nothing I have ever done was good enough for me to be called righteous.  Which is the true act of hypocrisy – making sure my outward life looks acceptable before I walk outwardly in the Christian life or taking God at His word and walking in the Christian life by faith, knowing that, though I am far from perfect and will continue to sin, He has promised to complete a work in me?

What if I acted as if I’d never sinned?  What things would I do differently?  Would I be bolder?  Would I be quicker to approach His throne?  Would I approach Him more boldly?  Would I be quicker to step up to help?  Would I be more confident in my faith?  Would I be free to do more things for God?  Would I be more willing to wear my Christianity more openly if I wasn’t concerned about others remembering I’m a sinner?  Would I be quicker to witness, being able to genuinely answer the charge – “the church is full of hypocrites,” knowing that the true hypocrites are the ones who do not understand that Christ came for the sinners and for not those who consider themselves righteous?

What would my relationships be like if I insisted on always seeing people through the filter of Jesus?  What if I treated people as if they’d never sinned?  What if, when sinned against, I could go to my sister in love and gently confront her and then truly let it go?  What if I concerned myself with loving others enough to not see their sin but rather see Jesus in them?  What if, instead of categorizing people according to some ranking of sin, I saw each person as a person for whom Christ died?  The Son of God Himself loved them so much, He died for them.  What if I weighed their worth through that value???

Justified – just as if I’d never sinned.  Walking in faith.  Believing His Word and walking as if I’d never sinned.  I am His and He is mine.  I am not ashamed and neither is He.  🙂

“And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain—
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.”    Charles Wesley

Free at last! Free at last!

No truth is more glorious to imprisoned people than to be told that they are no longer condemned but are set free! Christ brings that good news! When people accept Christ’s sacrifice e on their behalf, they are freed from the tyranny of sin. “There is therefore now Conde,nation to those who are in Christ Jesus”. Condemnation means an eternity apart from God. No condemnation means living with Him, now and forever. Often, however, I, who have been set free, still put myself behind bars, I feel guilty about my past, or guilty that I can’t be perfect in this life and continue to sin. Guilt can be good when it helps remind me that I’ve done something wrong. But guilt can also keep me from being able to rejoice in my new life or to bring others to Christ,

Not keeping the law perfectly brings condemnation. Since no one can keep God’s law perfectly, all people are condemned. The law brings guilt because we realize we are powerless to keep it. Christ’s death on our behalf sets us free. There is no condemnation for me in Christ because I have been forgiven and am promised eternal life. If Christ no longer condemns me, then neither should I condemn myself, beating myself up over sins that I have brought to God, repented of, and asked forgiveness for, only keeps me imprisoned in my guilt. Christ has set me free.

Years ago, a wise and good friend, Vicki Dye, talked to me about the far reaching effects of Christ’s death on the cross. She explained to me that all of my sin – my past sin, my present sin, and my future sin – were all future to the cross. From the perspective of the cross, all of my sins were yet to be committed. If all my sins – past, present, and future – were not paid for by the cross, then there is no hope for me. God declared me not guilty based upon the once for all propitiation of His Son on the cross. If God Himself did all that, what could I do to possibly undo it? Nothing! God promises me glory in Christ. I can count on that and can live free on that promise!

The Course of Introversion

Being an introvert makes me different than many others and, many times, it makes me misunderstood. My behavior, my statements, my way of interacting with the world is not always interpreted in the best way by others. Today, I received an email that’s caused me to look at how I relate to the world. I’ve always been an introvert and I’ve always been one to speak somewhat bluntly at times. It’s made for many misunderstandings yet I believe I was created and formed this way for a reason.

People don’t outgrow introversion, so this introverted adult was once an introverted child. What is true of one is true of both. Contrary to popular opinion, introverts are not asocial, nor are we friendless loners who lack social skills. We simply have different social needs and preferences.

It is not easy for introverts to make new friends because getting to know someone takes so much energy. However, we don’t need a wide circle of friends. We prefer one or two close friends, even though we may know many people and have a large number of acquaintances. In spite of this preference, we’re frequently criticized for not making an effort to make more friends.

Introverts need a lot of personal space. We like being in a room alone with the door closed and those who don’t understand introverts believe this desire to be alone is abnormal. However, for introverts this behavior is normal; it is not a sign of withdrawing from life. Being around others is tiring for us so we need time alone in order to regain some of our energy. Being alone also gives us a chance to think and figure things out uninterrupted. Introverts don’t enjoy large parties and if we have to attend one, prefer to spend our time with just one or two others, talking about what we all know a lot about.

Introverts enjoy activities we can do alone or with just a few others. It’s not surprising, then, that so many introverted gifted children love to read. We also tend to prefer activities that allow for creative expression, like creative writing, music, and art. Introverted children also enjoy quiet and imaginative play. When presented with an opportunity to participate in a group activity or game, introverts prefer to hang back and watch before we join in. Many people see this as shyness, but it’s not. We feel more comfortable with situations that are familiar to us and we are simply trying to become familiar with the activity before we join in.

Introverts tend to be quiet and subdued. We dislike being the center of attention, even if the attention is positive. It’s not surprising, then, that introverts don’t brag about our achievements or knowledge. In fact, we may know more than we’ll admit. It may be the introverted gifted children who are more at risk for “dumbing down” since they would be more likely to want to hide their abilities.When introverts are tired, in a large group, or if too much is going on, we may show little animation, with little facial expression or body movement. Introverts also have two distinct personalities: a private one and a public one. That can explain why we can be talkative in comfortable settings, like home, and quiet elsewhere.

While introverts may appear to lack social skills or be antisocial, neither is true. Our style of social interaction is simply different from that of extroverts. We tend to listen more than we talk. We are attentive and will make eye contact with the person we are listening to and rarely interrupt. When we do talk, introverts tend to say what we mean and may look away from the person we’re talking to. We dislike small talk and would rather say nothing than something we feel is insignificant. Although introverts are quiet, we will talk incessantly if we’re interested in the topic. We also dislike being interrupted when we talk, or when we’re working on some project.

If given a choice, introverts would rather express our ideas in writing than in speech. When we do speak, we need time to think before answering a question. Sometimes we even feel the need to mentally rehearse what we want to say before we say it. The need to think before speaking often results in the introvert being slow to respond to questions or comments.

Introverts become emotionally drained after spending time with others, particularly strangers. We don’t like crowded places and introverted children can even become grouchy and irritable if they’ve been around too many people for too long. Even when introverts enjoyed a party or activity, we can feel drained afterwards. Introverts are also rather territorial. We dislike sharing space with others for too long. Introverts also have a hard time sharing their feelings and feel deeply embarrassed by public mistakes.

Introverts can concentrate intensely on a book or project for a long time if we find it interesting and like to explore subjects deeply and thoroughly. That may be why introverts don’t like to be bothered when we are reading or working on a project. Introverts are highly aware of their inner world of perceptions, thoughts, ideas, beliefs, and feelings. We are also highly aware of our surroundings, noticing details that others don’t see. However, we are not always quick to discuss our thoughts or observations. We may, for example, wait days or weeks to talk about events. Introverts also favor consistency over change, and cope with change best when we know ahead of time what to expect and have enough time to prepare for it.

Being an introvert has complicated my life at times. It’s made it possible for others to criticize me, misinterpret me, and misunderstand me. Yet I wouldn’t have it any other way. I believe I was created this way in order to fulfill the purpose for which I was born. Thank you, Father God, for making me who You want me to be.

Best quote ever for introverts:
Inside myself is a place where I live all alone and that is where I renew my springs that never dry up.

Pearl S. Buck

Ponderings from a Sore Nose

At the beginning of the summer, I noticed a small sore on my nose that wasn’t going away.  It would occasionally bleed but it wasn’t painful – just a nuisance right there on my nose.  A couple of months ago, I mentioned it to my doctor who sent me to have it biopsied.  When the biopsy came back showing it as a small basal cell tumor, I was sent in to see the specialist.

This doctor carefully explained what was wrong, emphasized that it would not go away on it’s own, and that I needed it removed before it grew greater.  So, I had it removed a few weeks ago.  At that time, the doctor carefully explained how to care for the wound – I was to put Vaseline on it daily and keep it bandaged for at least four weeks.  He remarked that it would look bad for several weeks but that, one day, in about 3-4 weeks, it would start looking much better.  I just had to continue to care for it daily in faith that it would heal properly.

I’ve been putting on the Vaseline and bandages daily.  The wound continued to look bad and even bled at times. I’m into the 4th week and yesterday, I was concerned that the wound was never going to heal.  However, this morning, when I went to change the bandage, the wound looked almost healed – almost like it happened over night.  As I was looking at my nose in the mirror – all up in that mirror and I will save a discussion of my vanity for another post LOL – the thought came to me that this a picture of my spiritual life over the past few years.

There was a time when I have been broken by my sin and by the sin of others.  Sin tore apart the fabric of my relationships.  I felt alienated from myself, from others, and from God.  Evil infiltrated and divided the parts and continues to scatter some of them to increase my sense of alienation through felt distance and misunderstandings.

The result of this was not only a profound emptiness and loneliness, but also a tendency on my part to fend for myself while rejecting others’ care and involvement.  Needing and trusting became too risky and I continued to venture down a path of isolation and independence from others.  In order to heal me, God had to perform major surgery.  In the process of healing me, He had to expose the rampant sinfulness in my heart that He died to cure.  The process of healing and recovery is not always easy, nor is it instantaneous.  Deep wounds take time to heal.  Sin is embedded in every fiber of my being. The healing process means going under God’s knife to allow Him to deal with the sickness.

Just as the basal cell would not go away on it’s own and there was nothing I could personally do to change that, so was the sin in me.  I could not remove the sin from my life by myself and, if left there, it would continue to grow and consume me.  Just as the surgeon removed the tumor, so God removes the sin in my life and heart. He continues to show me where He wants to work in me and continues to promise the gift of life more abundantly.

God did not leave me to do it on my own.  Not only do I have a husband who has encouraged me to put the Vaseline and bandages on daily, I have a husband who also continues to encourage me to do the things that help the healing- even when I don’t see healing.  He would not allow me to isolate myself totally.  He encourages me not only to attend church again but to become involved.  He looks for places where I might feel accepted and loved.  He refocuses me on the things of God, exhorting me to remember how faithful God is and His promises of grace and love – even when I don’t feel it.

I have a son who shares my sense of humor and sends me jokes, texts, funny movies, etc.  He continues to encourage me to look at the funny parts of life.  He also challenges me to think through my beliefs and to truly come to an understanding of what I believe and who I am in Christ – who I truly am and not who others think I should be.

I have stepkids, family, friends, and co workers who encourage, love, exhort, rebuke, and pray for me.  God even made sure I had a little dog who loves me above all things who makes me reach out of myself even on days when I only want to retreat inside of myself.

God sends reminders of His grace and redemptive power in sermons and conversations.  He sends people who show me His love – even though I am a sinner – who even now continue to reach out to this sinful introvert. He made experiences available that remind me I belong to Him.  He shows me every day what a wonderfully blessed and full life I have.  I am beginning to understand the phrase “the balm of Gilead.”  He continues to tell me, day after day, that I am in His hand and no one can take me from Him.

So this morning, while looking in the mirror, what I saw wasn’t a sore nose but rather a child of God who, though still scarred and somewhat tender in spots, is in the process of being healed daily by a God Who can be counted on to be faithful to complete the perfect work He began in me.  What an awesome God I serve!

The Devastation of Rumors

The whispers when a colleague is fired. The looks of communication when a young woman mentions weight gain. The choosing of sides in a friend’s divorce.

It’s difficult not to become involved in gossip. After all, people like gossip and interesting bits of information: you only have to look at the number of celebrity-focused publications to realize that we have a huge appetite for discussing other people’s lives. However, this type of interaction is harmful and costly. It wastes time, damages reputations, promotes divisiveness, creates anxiety, and destroys families.

So why do people start and spread rumors? Much of it has to do with our need to make sense of what’s happening around us. To understand what’s going on, people talk to one-another. And, together, they fill in the holes in the story with a little bit of fact – and a lot of guesswork. This new story spreads, with bits and pieces added along the way, until you have an out-of-control rumor spreading. When you add in a person spreading rumors who has a personal agenda, it becomes even worse.

Rumors often grow because people like to be “in the know.” Knowledge is power, and that’s why the people with the least amount of power can often be the ones to start and spread rumors. It can make them feel important if they’re seen to know things that others don’t. This knowledge is at the center of why and how rumors start and spread. Insufficient knowledge or incomplete information are often to blame.

Some rumors take on a more personal tone. These are generally what we think of as gossip. Gossip tends to be related to interpersonal relationships, and is often malicious in nature. It can get out of control quickly, and should be addressed promptly – before it leads to harassment or bullying . Rumors can spread quickly, and they can often change and grow far beyond the small bit of truth that caused them to start.

Unfortunately, rumors can then become a self- perpetuating cycle of lies. You hear a rumor that a person drinks too much. When you next see her, she is distracted, clumsy, and socially inept. You ascribe her behavior to having had too much to drink yet again. Yet, it could be that she is ill, or tired, or stressed, or…. Anything she does or say will be misconstrued to fit a certain perception and truth will be sacrificed. After a while, we can even come to believe our distortions.

Charles Stanley said:

“God hates gossip. He wants our speech to be pleasing to Him. He certainly doesn’t consider idle talk or mean-spirited words pleasant as stated in Colossians 3:8.

Sadly, gossip is practiced so freely that even some believers participate and try to justify their chatter. But hearsay has no place in a Christian’s life. Romans 1 contains one of the Bible’s longest lists of sins. The book’s author, the apostle Paul, is reminding believers that God has revealed Himself to all mankind. Those who reject Him and chase after idols are turned over to their evil worship and the immoral practices that go with serving self.

Gossip appears in the middle of the list. God despises it because malicious talk destroys lives whether the stories are true or false. The person who is targeted by the rumor often loses the respect of those who listen to it. Hurt feelings may not be the only negative effect. A job or relationship could be lost as well.

Those spreading tales also face destructive consequences. People who refuse to control the tongue reveal evil motives or, at the very least, lack of discipline. As a result, believers and unbelievers will often avoid such untrustworthy individuals. For a Christian who spreads rumors, there’s potential for even worse damage, in that such actions can harm fellowship with the Lord. Animosity toward another person and intimacy with God can’t coexist in the same heart.

Gossip achieves no good in anyone’s life, which is why the Lord warns against it. Instead, our words should build up, comfort, and encourage others.”

A Spirit of Thankfulness

Isn’t it funny that Sunday always starts out feeling so rushed but then, by the end of the day, it slows down and feels calm? At least it’s that way for me. Now that it’s calmed down, I thought I would start the week by listing some things for which I’m thankful.

I’m thankful for our church and especially our small groups – both the Bible Study Fellowship group and the orchestra group, who have encouraged our spiritual growth in endless ways. Could I imagine life without the saving grace of my faith? Not a chance.

I’m thankful to live in this country. Yes, we have problems, big ones. But because we have a legacy of liberty and freedom unprecedented in the annals of history, we’ll keep fighting to keep that freedom. I’m thankful for the soldiers as well as ordinary Americans who are fighting too.

I’m thankful for the abundance of resources in this country. Flick a switch, lights come on. Push a handle, I get clean potable water. How cool is that? Along the same lines, I’m thankful for modern conveniences. Computers, cars, electricity, telephones, the Internet … remember what life was like without these things?

I’m thankful for technology. Each year I feel like I am clinging to the technological frontier with my fingernails, and if I’m honest, I’ll admit that I’m actually just falling further behind. But what technology now makes possible is still remarkable: Our ability to do our work, maintain friendships, learn at a distance, share music and literature, and do a thousand other activities is being transformed on a daily basis. This process is not without its obvious downsides, but increasing mastery of science and technology is both a source of great human empowerment and pleasure; it is also the best hope we have of surmounting the challenges that are rushing at us in the decades ahead.

I’m thankful I’m feeling better. I’m thankful for a week’s worth of dinners in the freezer, clean laundry, and a clean house with which to start my week. I’m thankful for coffee, PJs, and fuzzy socks.

There is nearly always something I for which I can be thankful. The offering of thanksgiving is indeed a sweet incense going up to God throughout a busy day. I pray I will seek diligently for something to be glad and thankful about. I want to acquire in time the habit of being constantly grateful to God for all His blessings. I so desire that each new day shows me some new cause for joy and gratitude will spring to my mind and I will thank God sincerely. It is my prayer to develop a truly thankful spirit.

“A thankful and a contented spirit is a continual feast. We ought to be contented, and we shall be contented, if we are in the habit of seeing God in everything, and living upon Him day by day. Oh, for a spirit of true thankfulness!” Aston Oxenden.