Suffering Hardship

Frequent Questions From Those In Search Of Truth:

"I had a terrible childhood. I have suffered tremendously throughout my life. Where has God been? What has God done for me? Why should I choose to worship a God that lets such horrible things happen to good people?"

One important thing to remember is that God never promised that we would grow up in ideal circumstances, have perfect parents, live without tribulation or persecution, and that we would not suffer hardships. Rather, He tells us to rejoice, give thanks and be happy no matter how bad our circumstances may be (1 Thess 5:16-18, Phil 4:4, ). Even in sorrow we are to rejoice (2 Cor 6:10). And I know this is hard because life is hard and so many terrible things happen to even the best of people, but we must remember that no matter how bad we have it... someone out there has it worst. Sometimes the best way to overcome your difficult circumstances is to volunteer your time with those who have suffered worse than you. Not only will you feel more inclined to help others in need, but you will also feel less inclined to take pity upon yourself because of what you have endured in your life.

No matter how bad you have had it, always give thanks for the circumstances you have endured, because they are the circumstances God has given you and God causes all things to work together for good to those that love Him (Romans 8:28). What is also interesting to remember is that those who suffer lives of constant hardship and persecution are usually the ones that come out the strongest in faith. It is difficult to see how essential Christ is when you live a rich a prosperous life. We may be inclined to pray for the Lord to not let us live a life of poverty or persecution, but it would probably be wise to also pray for the Lord to not give us too much comfort in this present life. The author of Proverbs says "Give me neither poverty nor riches... lest I be full and deny Thee, and say "Who is the Lord?" or lest I be poor and steal, and take the name of my God in vain" (Proverbs 30:7-9).

"How could God expect me to live a faithful Christian life when all of the odds are against me because of what I have been through?"

You may be predisposed to sinful behavior because of the circumstances you have endured. But being predisposed to sinful behavior does not take the responsibility away from the sinner. For example, a poor child who has no father and a mother that is a prostitute is predisposed to criminal behavior. When he grows up and murders someone that he is robbing, he is still the sinner even though his parents predisposed him to criminal behavior. Taking responsibility for my actions is one of the most important things I can do. If I don't take responsibility for my actions then I won't feel inclined to change my behavior.
We are each responsible for ourselves.
"Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." Philippians 2:12-13.

The Carnal Christian

Frequent Questions From Those In Search Of Truth:

The word "Carnal" is associated with phrases such as "crude bodily pleasures and appetites; Worldly; controlled by the flesh." These are all characteristics not defining of a Christian. Yet, Paul addressed the Corinthians as if they were carnal (1 Cor 3:1). Is there such thing as a Carnal Christian? How can that be?

Paul makes it clear that you can be carnal and still be a Christian by addressing the carnal Corinthians as "brethren," but he says that being carnal is likened unto being a babe in Christ (1 Cor 3:1). The carnal Christian is an immature Christian. The carnal Christian is not controlled by the Spirit, but is controlled by the flesh. In 1 Cor 3:2-3, Paul says that he had to feed the Corinthians spiritual milk because they could not bear solid food. They could not bear it because they were yet carnal. A Christian can be mature and then decide to allow the world to influence or dominate his thinking again. He will regress and become carnal, even after having already taken in solid spiritual food. Romans 12:2 says "... be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." Without daily meditation on what God says, it is easy to let this present world influence your thoughts and behaviors. It is so easy to be led by a worldly desire to get rich, have fame, be recognized, have physical beauty, have the nicest clothes or eat the nicest food. Our TV shows, advertisements, magazines, and even children's programs are aimed at promoting this worldly view that it is OK to indulge in sinful behavior; that casual sex in normal, clothes that display your body are "in style," and that spending all of your time and money to make YOU feel good is what life is all about. "Live for today, for tomorrow we die..." That is not what the scripture says and it is going to be a sad day for those who spend their lives indulging in their own selfish desires. On the Day of Judgment, a fire will test each person's work. If your foundation is laid with these worldly deeds, fleshly desires and material possessions, it will be burnt up and you will suffer loss (1 Cor 3:12). Don't let your human desires control you. Don't let this world influence your journey with Christ. Remain faithful until death and you will receive a crown of life (Rev. 2:10). The most miserable people on the face of the earth are not sinners; they are Christians who are out of fellowship with the Lord. It is far worse to be led by the Spirit, only to again be controlled by worldly influence than it is to never even be led by the Spirit in the first place (2 Peter 2:20). Take heed lest you fall (1 Cor 10:1-13).

It is impossible to live a sinless life! Every time I sin I feel horrible because scripture tells me not to sin, and yet I just cant live a perfect life! How do I know that God will not kick me out of His family every time I mess up?

As we grow in our knowledge of the Word of God, we should sin less and less. I have heard it said that we can compare our walk with God with a child that is learning to walk. When a child is taking his first steps without support, he tends to fall down many times. But the more he practices walking, the less he falls. He gets to the point where he is walking very well, but may trip and fall every once in awhile. The devil will try to put obstacles in our path in an effort to cause us to trip, but as we continue to walk with the Lord, confessing our sins and asking for forgiveness (1 John 1:9) should help us to be entangled less and less by the tactics of the enemy.

The key is to grow in knowledge of the Word of God. Study your bible daily and meditate on what God has to say.

Self Realization

My husband is always saying to me, "Stop analyzing everything!" Of course he realizes that I cannot help but analyze. This is one of the main components of my personality type and I cannot help it. Oh, it is such a burden at times! Why can't my brain rest awhile? I have tried time and time again to shut this mechanism down, and then find myself being caught up in the analysis of why I am created this way and what steps I must take to change and how I can find new ways to fall asleep at night and so on and so forth. It never stops!

I have realized that I should embrace this "burden" that I have. It is through self- analyzing that a Christian has any potential of humbling himself. Lack of this particular trait is what causes pride and arrogance. In 2 Corinthians 13:5, Paul was addressing Christians. The church at Corinth disputed Paul's doctrine and demanded proof of His apostleship. Paul told them to prove their own selves which could not be done without first examining their selves.

It takes quite a bit of analyzing to become acquainted with our weaknesses and temptations. We cannot flee from sin if we do not first analyze which situations put us at such risk. We cannot sincerely pray for God to lead us not into temptation if we are unwilling to analyze what tempts us and take the steps necessary to avoid temptation and sin.

It is only after analyzing a given situation that a Christian can ask forgiveness. How does one come to the realization that repentance is necessary unless they first analyze their selves? Someone with a tendency to "over- analyze" is more quick to repent and ask forgiveness than someone who tends to "under- analyze." But in any situation, the analyzing should be that of ones self! In Luke 6:41-42, Jesus said

"And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not perceive the plank in your own eye? "Or how can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me remove the speck that is in your eye,' when you yourself do not see the plank that is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck that is in your brother's eye."

How dare I point out a fault that any brother or sister has! I am not without sin so I have no right to cast a stone.

If I do not constantly analyze what my intentions, motives, and desired consequences are for any given thing that I do or say, I find myself en-flamed with sin. Who am I to judge anyone?

It is unfortunate that I sometimes forget to analyze myself as I am too busy analyzing others. Thankfully, I can usually quickly find where I err most. I have no problem admitting when I am wrong and I welcome anyone who is willing to suggest that I may have sinned. It takes not worldly knowledge to realize these thing, but constant analyzing and self- realization.

  • feb_showers16
    Hi Steve! Are you Steve Wallace or Steve Willis?
    by feb_showers16 at 11/02/06 7:29PM
  • brianne
    Happy Thanksgiving!
    by brianne at 11/23/06 9:42AM
  • deusvitae
    Hope you have a happy holiday season and a good new year. :)
    by deusvitae at 12/23/06 9:51AM

Martyr for Christ

There may come a time in our lives when we will not have the freedom and security of worshiping Jesus and calling ourselves Christians without suffering persecution. There may come a time when we will have to either worship someone else or die. The Islamic fascists are psychotic and evil. But you have to give it to them... they have faith in their non-existent god and will do whatever it takes to please him.
Can we say our faith is so strong? In the days of the Emperor Caesar, Christians either had to burn incense to Caesar, or be thrown to the wild beasts in the amphitheater. Even women who still had suckling babies and even the elderly. Their faith was such that they said "NO, I will not worship Caesar!" They chose horrible and humiliating deaths rather than to simply curse Christ and go about their day. If that time comes in our lives, will we be able to look the slobbering leopard and the angry boar in the face and allow ourselves to be trampled and mangled to death? Or will we rather curse Christ and then later ask forgiveness, keeping our "Christianity" a secret?
I don't know if anyone here has seen the video footage of the be-headings that have occurred since 9/11. I do not recommend watching them, but I watched them. They are not quick be-headings on a guillotine like in the movies. These terrorists know what they are doing and they know how to make people suffer before they die. They are killing people all over the world for being anything other than Muslim and they even said to the remarks made by the Pope recently that they will not stop until the entire world is Muslim.
It's not going to go away. If they have that dull, dirty sword to your neck and tell you to either curse Christ or die... will you have the strength and faith to be a martyr for Christ or will you wimp out and curse our precious Savior?
It is easy for someone to say
"Oh, I will definitely die for Christ! I will never curse Him!"

Actions speak louder than words and it might be kinda hard to put things in perspective when that sword is to our throats or we're looking a hungry bear in the face.
I believe we must prepare ourselves for anything. We are not safe from the threat of persecution. This society is becoming more and more atheistic every day. Let us focus on lifting one another up and encouraging one another to grow in the faith and knowledge of our Lord. Let us pray for stronger faith than what the Islamic terrorists have. Our God is real, so we must not be afraid. Let's get our priorities strait.

Devil in Disguise

People all around the world from various cultures and aspects of life have reported for years what they perceive to be a Near Death Experience. Despite the different religious beliefs among many of those reporting these incidences, many of the details involved are strangely similar. There is often a sense of traveling through a tunnel or tunnel-like pathway. There are sounds reported that are similar among cases, as well as a beam of light or a celestial creature that is perceived to be either an angel with knowledge or Jesus.

This topic has fascinated me for years and when I hear about people's various NDEs, I am in complete amazement. I often seek out people who purport to have had such experiences because it interests me so. I recently went to a church a couple hours away to hear a man talk about what his experience was like. It was not pleasant. He was an atheist in his lifetime before the NDE and often mocked God and attempted to talk people out of believing in Him. His name is Howard Storm and he wrote a book about his experience called My Descent into Death, A Second Chance at Life. He was even on Oprah to talk about it. I found it humorous when he said that during his travels as he told people about his experience, they were more amazed that he had met Oprah than they were to hear he had actually met Jesus. That's typical of our culture.

While I believe that people legitimately have Near Death Experiences, there is something oddly deceiving about the whole thing. There are times when the person's NDE is motivating and moving and the experience leads the person in the direction of God's word. I have found that in most cases, when this is the end result of a NDE, that the person does not usually see Jesus. Rather, they see a beam of light, a family member, or an angel that is not perceived to be Jesus. I spoke with a woman who saw only the very tip of an angel's wing. This sounds insignificant and boring to us, but she said it was the most amazing and beautiful sight and that she could not even imagine such beauty on this present earth. This led her to become a Christian.

There are reported cases of people actually seeing Jesus. However, when Jesus speaks to them, what He says is not usually consistent with the Word of God. This has been what I have observed in listening to people's accounts.

There are times when "Jesus" has told people that the ones who claim they are Christians and go to church are more often than not lost. "He" has said to people that they must live life to the fullest, do what feels good, and find true happiness in life. The restrictions that a church so often represents are contrary to this happiness. A homosexual man who had been hiding in "the closet" says that he was told by "Jesus" that in order for his life to be pleasing in the eyes of God, he must come out of the closet and convince as many people as he can to do the same.

Many people claim that "Jesus" has said there is no difference in the eyes of God between the Buddhist faith, the Islam faith, or the Christian faith. "He" has supposedly told people to find the religion that makes them most happy and restricts them the less. Restrictions cause unhappiness, and unhappiness (in this case, I mean worldly unhappiness) is supposedly contrary to the will of God. There have been reports that "Jesus" said that religion is merely a vehicle that one uses to find God and that it does not matter which vehicle you choose, as long as you find happiness (again, worldly happiness); then you will have found God.

These are only a few of the contradicting statements that "Jesus" has said to people while they are in the state of death.

I can not, as a Bible- believing Christian, accept that God would say these things. Yet, there is far too much evidence in support of the NDE for me to simply dismiss it. There are medical explanations that do not add up. There are legitimate historical documents with accounts of people's NDEs that are eerily similar to ones that many in our culture have today. So, what's going on? Hebrews 13:8 says "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever." How can the Jesus we believe in from the word of God change so drastically?

The devil is the master of manipulation. He is a murderer and a liar! He is not too good to appear to someone while they are in this state so as to kill them through deception.

John 8:44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

Satan can disguise himself as an angel or as something that a person in such a vulnerable state would perceive as Jesus. He will stop at nothing to send us to Hell forever.

2 Corinthians 11:14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

We cannot simply dismiss a person that has experienced such an incredible out of body experience or near- death experience just because there are accounts of a being that contradicts our Lord. Even in death, we must beware of his schemes. Advanced medical technology and the success of CPR methods may bring us back. That is why we must be sure we are guarded by the armor of His word to the extent that even if he presents as Jesus Himself, we will recognize him through his conniving manipulation.

  • cspan_man
    hey welcome to pleonast! thanks for joining the Pleonast Republicans group!!!
    by cspan_man at 10/12/06 3:55PM
  • deusvitae
    Welcome to Pleonast. :)
    by deusvitae at 10/12/06 4:11PM