The only way to build faith

If you find your faith lacking or if you feel like the man who asked Jesus to heal his son and when Jesus asked him if he believed he could, his answer was, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24) or “I do believe, kinda-sorta.”

 If you find yourself in need of more faith the place to start to change that, to really build faith, is to immerse ourselves in God’s Word.  It becomes our daily friend.  It’s living and active.  It builds faith.  Romans 10:17 says, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”  Notice it is not by hearing the latest self-help person, or by reading the bestselling book at the bookstore.  It is faith that comes by hearing the Word of God. That is where the power is. 

If you want to get in good shape, chances are, you probably want to eat the right things, or less of the wrong things.  Right?  And you probably want to go to the gym or start some type of an exercise plan.  Likewise, you want to grow your faith? Then you have to feed and renew your mind regularly with God’s Word.  It becomes a part of your life.  And just as you go to the gym, you get bigger muscles.  Well, you listen to God’s Word; it makes your faith bigger.  I can trace in my life the times when my faith is big, and I am believing God.  I am in His Word.  And the times when I am in doubt, I am not in His Word the way I should be. 

Now, you may say, “I tried to read the Bible. I don’t even know how to start.  Well, where do I start?”  This is what I do. I use a one year reading plan. If I read 20 minutes a day I can read through the Bible in a year. My reading plan is in a little book called a Life Journal. I read for 20 minutes then I journal for 20 minutes. I write down a scripture that has spoken to me. I then write my observation of that scripture. I follow that with my application of that scripture to my life. What do I need to do about it? And then I write out a brief prayer. Scripture, observation, application, prayer. That spells SOAP. It is the best plan and the biggest faith builder I have ever brought into my life. I am in the Word daily and it is growing my faith daily. (If you are interested in a Life Journal I can connect you to the source.)

And sure, when I read the Bible there are some things that still don’t make sense to me, but they might next year. But you are just feeding yourself the Word, and it renews your mind out of the garbage of this world into the truth of the kingdom of God, and your faith grows.

Here are a couple other ways to get into the Word each day. If you have a smart phone download YouVersion. It is a free version of the Bible with numerous features and applications, including and audio Bible.

And if you would just like the audio Bible, check out the Daily Audio Bible (DAB, for short). The leader, Brain Hardin, reads through the Bible throughout the year, starting with verses in the Old Testament, then New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs.  They also have a DAB for Kids, where they read through just the New Testament.  It is a great way to listen to the Word, especially on your way to work!  They also have Podcasts for your IPod. www.dailyaudiobible.com is the website.

So however you do it, the first step to growing a strong faith is to immerse yourself in the Word of God. There is no substitute for this. I repeat, nothing replaces getting into the Word.

I would be interested in hearing other ideas that any of you have about how you keep yourself in scripture each day. Please pass them on. Let’s help each other in this faith building process.    

 

Sex is Stupid

I’m guessing you are somewhat familiar with what has been happening in the world of sex in the last few days.

Kenyan Olympic marathon runner Samuel Wanjiru died in the early hours of Monday morning, May 16, from injuries after a “fall” from the balcony of his first-floor Nyahururu home near the Rift Valley in central Kenya. He had just been caught by his wife in bed with another woman. It is not yet clear whether it was a suicide or if he jumped out of rage or what caused him to fall to the ground.

Samuel was some kind of a world class runner. Not only was Wanjiru the first Kenyan to win Olympic gold in the marathon, at the 2008 Beijing Summer Games; he triumphed in an Olympic-record time of 2 hrs. 6 min. and 32 sec. Other high-profile wins for the Kenyan star included the Chicago and London marathons. Wanjiru was also a former world-record holder in the half-marathon, with a time of 58:33. He became the youngest runner to win four major marathons and ran the fastest time ever recorded in a marathon in the United States.

And then there’s IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn who awoke Tuesday in a notorious NYC jail on an attempted rape charge as the outside world swirled with questions about the truth of the rape accusations and pressure mounted on him to step down.

The 62-year-old managing director of the International Monetary Fund is being kept behind bars on charges he tried to rape a hotel maid, charges that look, at least from the outside, to be pretty strong.

Add to the sex news of the week the revelation that Arnold and Marie Schwarzenegger’s marriage is ending due to a “sex” child (Wasn’t really love, just sex.) he conceived with a member of their household staff over ten years ago.

Here are three high profile people in the world who have destroyed themselves, one quite literally, over nothing other than sex. Sex is stupid under such circumstances. In fact, sex is stupid under ANY circumstance other than its God created intent, within the sacred bonds of marriage. And that is true whatever your status in life. Outside of its intended purpose it ALWAYS leads to negative, damaging and many times completely destructive ends. It is just plain stupid. So guys and gals as well, wise up. Put your passions and parts away and show some restraint and a little bit of intelligence.

Audrey and the Cincinnati Reds

In case you are unfamiliar with Audrey let me take just a few statements and introduce you to her. She is our first grandchild, born about three and a half years ago. When her mother was about four months pregnant it was discovered that Audrey had a condition called encepholosis in which part of her brain was forming outside of her cranial area. After extensive scans, tests and assessments it was announced to her parents, by the team of “expert” at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital that Audrey would probably not live to birth and if she did she would likely die soon thereafter. You can read a more detailed description of the beginning of Audrey’s life from an earlier blog post of mine called, “only god could do it.”  A later post called “Audrey turns one” gives an update of her progress.

Needless to say the doctors were wrong and this is a picture of Audrey and how she looks today. She has delays to address but is progressing in so many ways far beyond anyone’s expectations. Since I have just begun a teaching series on miracles I am delighted to say that Audrey is a miracle child.  She blesses lives every day. She is currently taking piano lessons, loves it and is doing well.

So what does Audrey have to do with the Cincinnati Reds? First of all, she, her parents and younger sister live in Cincinnati. She continued to receive therapy and treatment from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. It is actually a tremendous care facility, one of the best in the country. One of the programs at the hospital is called “Champions.” Andrey has been part of Champions for some time now. Well it just so happens that the Cincinnati Reds from time to time invites kids from the Champions program to take the game ball to the mound at the start of the game. So what does Audrey get to do? On September 16 Audrey will be carrying the baseball to the pitcher’s mound at the beginning of the Reds game against the Milwaukee Brewers for the games first pitch. What a testimony to the power of God and the miraculous results of prayer. God makes the impossible possible.

All I have to do now is figure out how I can make it to the game.

Why moms are so special

Here are some of the comments from a few of our New Venture family about what you appreciate so much in your mom. Moms are special and here are some of the reasons why.

“I mostly appreciate my mom’s unwavering faith in me, even when I don’t believe in myself.”

“She was always there when I came home.”

“Being there when I was young.”

“My mom is very supportive about my education and career goals.”

“She is ALWAYS there for me, loves me no matter what, giving caring.”

“Selfless”

“No matter what I can always depend on my mom to be there to support me.”

“Her weirdness…uh, I mean uniqueness.”

“Mom always wanted the best for me.”

“I am thankful for her strong will.”

“I love how patient she is and how she never lets me second guess her love.”

“She made me feel safe–always.”

These are some of the reasons why you say your mom is special to you. I hope you take some time on Mother’s Day to express your gratitude to her if you are still able to do so. Even beyond that, how about letting her know how much you appreciate her and are grateful to her on a regular basis. Go ahead!

How should a Christ follower respond to the death of Osama Ben Laden?

I have reframed from writing on the subject of Osama Ben Laden’s death intentionally so that I could have a little more time to process it all. I find myself torn as to the proper response for one who wears the name of Christ. I have listened to numerous discussions on the subject and have engaged in a few myself. I have watched the news reports beginning with the night it was announced to the world. I have viewed the celebrations from around the country and to a lesser degree, the world and have found myself experiencing some of the same feelings. And I have, of course, have read endless comments posted on facebook. Though most are reposts and few are original I have seen the entire gamut of feelings, expressions and reactions to the killing of the world’s most wanted criminal.

All of this has left me wondering and asking. “How should a follower of Jesus respond to a situation like this?” or even, “How would Jesus himself have responded to the news of Ben Laden’s death?” I am not qualified to answer for Him but I do think there are a few things we are pretty sure of about our Leader.

1. I just can’t see Jesus celebrating in the streets and yelling “USA—USA.” Now, don’t mistake what I am saying. I love America. I am as patriotic as any red blooded American. I believe America is the greatest country in the world. But I don’t believe America occupies the most favored nation status in Jesus’ mind. Because America isn’t even the most Christian nation in the world. South Korea holds that distinction. America can’t even be called a Christian nation any more. Sure, America was founded on the pursuit of religious freedom. But for some time now America has been a Post –Christian nation. In fact, Christianity is the only religion in America that is regularly under attack. So I can’t see Jesus joining in all the euphoric celebration.

2. I also can’t see Jesus celebrating the fact that Osama Ben Laden is now going to “rot in hell,” or some variation of that expression. I have heard and read a number of comments to that affect. We forget so easily that “God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9 God wants all people to be saved and for them to spend eternity with Him and when one of them fails to choose His way he does not rejoice, but rather it breaks his heart. As one person wrote, “I’m glad the mission was carried out, and I agree that hell was made for evildoers/those who do not make Jesus the Lord of their life, however I don’t think it’s appropriate to be celebratory about it. I’ll celebrate the fact that I’m not getting what I deserve instead of someone else getting what they do.”

3. This is the part that I have struggled with the most. How exactly should I feel and respond? I have read all the posts that quote, “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls…” Proverbs 24:17 and “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live.” Ezekiel 33:11. As well as the other side of the spectrum,  “When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices; when the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy” Proverbs 11:10

 Justice has been served, and I am an advocate of justice when someone has been so heartless, ruthless and destructive. I think they have chosen the way of destruction and the end leads to eternal death, not thousands of virgins. That is justice. And there is a part of me that breathes a sigh of relief that he has reaped what he has sown and the wicked one has fallen prey to his own trap. But there is another part of me that tells me that God’s people should be known more for mercy than justice. If we got justice we would all be eternally lost and it is only by the grace and mercy of God that we have any hope at all. Should that not be the spirit that flows from us? Again, I am not in any way advocating that someone like Ben Laden should have escaped justice. I am saying that followers of Jesus should be known more for mercy than justice.

I suppose there are other things that I have been wrestling with and I don’t know if this post has helped sort anything out or just muddied the waters. This I do think we should realize, as much as I love my country and as much as I think America is the greatest country in the world, I believe we are called to be followers of Jesus first and Americans second. And it is easy, in all the hype surrounding an event like this to get caught up in it all. However, I believe this is one of those rare occasions where we, as Christ followers, have a huge opportunity to show a different way to respond to such a world shaking event, a way that will draw people to the Christ we follow before and above the country we love.