All posts in “Faith”

Naomi Wolf On Propaganda and False Flags (video)

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n the scriptures we are told to be wise and discerning, and this is a topic I have talked about before. We are living in an age of deception, so it’s important to be awake and to not automatically believe everything you hear from the mainstream media, especially when it comes to dramatic news stories.

Sadly, I can see that so many people out there still quickly trust whatever they’re told, and don’t have much interest in digging deeper for the truth.

So I want to share this video. This is Naomi Wolf, former Clinton/Gore political consultant, journalist and author. She has some very interesting things to say about propaganda and how we should approach new stories, in this day and age.

Please watch the whole thing, and share your thoughts below! Also, if you agree that people need to be more aware of this issue, please share this video far and wide. Thanks and blessings!

7 ANIMALS THAT TEACH US IMPORTANT LESSONS (Part 2)

I’m so glad that God created animals. It’s hard to imagine a world without animals, but I think it would be a dull place. I believe that one of the reasons God put animals on this earth is to teach us certain things. They sometimes serve as examples or object lessons, on how we should or shouldn’t be.

Last year I did a blog post on this topic (you can check out the first one, here) and in that post I mentioned that I would eventually do a Part 2.   So here it is.

Here are 7 (more) animals that teach us important spiritual or life lessons.

1.SPIDER

animal metaphors

Diligent, tenacious, determined

I’m not going to lie, I don’t like spiders.  They’re ugly and even though they usually mind their own business, I have an irrational fear of spiders falling  on me when I sleep.

Creepy or not, we can learn a few things from spiders.  They work diligently at building their web, they don’t give up, even when we destroy all of their work.

Even though they are hated and unwelcome, that doesn’t stop them, they continue on toward their goal, which is something we can learn from.

In Proverbs 28, the spider is written about as one of four things that is “small on the earth, but exceedingly wise.”   I should state, many bible versions say “lizard” instead of spider.  Scholars are divided on the true meaning of the original word.  But either one works for the following verse, as both the lizard and the spider can be found in palaces.

The spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings’ palaces.
Proverbs 30:28 (KJV)

I think there are a few things we can take away from that verse.  In a practical sense, diligence and skillful work will take us places.  The bible says, “Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings…” (Proverbs 22:29)

Something else that comes to mind when I think about a spider (or lizard) in a palace is: that ugly little creature is not supposed to be there.  But it’s there, hanging on to the wall.    Like the spider, we are earthly creatures that don’t deserve to be in the King’s Palace.   But if we draw near to God and hold on to His promises, we can go from earthly creatures to being in the presence of the King of Heaven, members of God’s household.

2. ROCK BADGER

animal metaphors

Watchful, shrewd, knows where to put its trust

The rock badger is another one of the animals listed in Proverbs 30 as small but exceedingly wise. “The rock badgers are a feeble folk, Yet they make their homes in the crags” (Proverbs 30:26)

This little guy is small, weak and defenseless, but he is very watchful and vigilant, something that we are commanded to be.  Like the rock badger, we too have adversaries prowling around, and we need a place of safety and refuge.

The rock badger shrewdly finds safety in the rock.  Wise people find safety and salvation in the true rock; Jesus.

 

3. ELEPHANT

elephants

Respect their elders, relational, cooperative

Elephants are only mentioned indirectly in the bible, but I wanted to include them in this list, because I adore elephants and I think we can learn a lot from them.

Elephants are relational and family-oriented, and that is the way we were designed to be.  In our case, family doesn’t necessarily mean blood relatives, but God wants us to be relational and part of a community.

Elephants are also cooperative, they respect their elders, and are said to even mourn their dead.   We too should respect our elders, and of course one of the 10 commandments is “honor your mother and father”… something that many people forget.     Thank you God, for the elephant!

4. Donkey

donkey2

Hardy, humble, reminder that God can use anyone!

Donkeys don’t have the best reputation, they are thought of as stubborn, loud and not very smart.  I did some reading on donkeys, and surprisingly, they are said to be very intelligent, with an incredible memory and generally a calmer demeanor than horses.

Donkeys are also very hardy and sturdy, they endure much, as they have been used as working animals for thousands of years.   We too need to be able to endure hardship, and continue to faithfully serve others.

Jesus chose the donkey for His triumphant entry into Jerusalem. Many people would ask, why a donkey? I think there are a few reasons.  It was a clear fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy:

“Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
Zechariah 9:9

The donkey was also known as an animal of peace, whereas horses were associated with war at that time.  Although even prestigious people used donkeys as transportation, I think it’s clear that a donkey is a simple, humble creature.    So it’s no accident that Jesus chose the donkey, because the first time around,  Jesus came as a humble, suffering servant, not the “conquering King,” even though He was, and is, the true King above all kings.

If God can use a donkey, God can use anyone

Not only did Jesus use the simple donkey, but if you remember in the Old Testament, God chose to use a donkey to get through to Balaam (a supposed “spiritual person”) who was stubbornly disobedient. Balaam wasn’t able to see the angel who was blocking the road, but the donkey saw the angel. If you’re familiar with this passage, you know that when Balaam beat the donkey, God opened the donkey’s mouth and it miraculously spoke to Balaam, who eventually was able to realize what was happening.

It’s funny that a man like Balaam, who was a famous diviner, someone who is supposed to be spiritually savvy, had less spiritual sense than a donkey.

And just as God used the donkey, God uses ordinary, simple people who are willing to serve.

5. Gazelle

gazelles

Alert, swift, beautiful, free

The Gazelle is mentioned many times in the bible, and it is known for its swiftness, grace, beauty and ability to escape being caught.

We can learn from the Gazelle about being alert and about being quick to run from possible traps or things that keep us in bondage.

“…save yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter.”
Proverbs 6:5

We can see by reading the previous few verses that the writer of Proverbs was talking about financial traps.  Sometimes we can get ourselves into a bind, when it comes to finances. In verse 2, it says, if you are snared or caught in the words of your mouth, then save yourself…  In other words, be careful that you don’t get yourself into a financial trap by something you say or promise.  Beware of the snare of financial debt.

Popular financial expert Dave Ramsey calls that “Gazelle intensity.”  He says, “The only real way to beat debt is to be intense! You’ve got to work hard. You’ve got to fight for survival. You’ve got to run for your life!”

 

6.Cat

cat

Funny, intuitive, affectionate, enjoys life

The cat is another animal that is not mentioned in the bible, at least not the house-cat variety. Big cats, like leopards and lions are mentioned.

The cat has always been my favorite animal. I love all animals, but there’s something about cats that melts my heart.   I think we can learn many things from cats.   They are funny (proof that God has a sense of humor). They are intuitive. They are super affectionate.  And they enjoy life.

They are good at entertaining themselves.  They are fun and adventurous.   And yes, they are also very good at resting.  They find that nice, warm patch of sunlight, to bask in, or take a catnap.

Most of the other animals teach us practical lessons about working hard, persevering and sensible things like that.  But God does want us to rest and enjoy life too, as we can see in Ecclesiastes:

“So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad.”
Ecclesiastes 8:15

 

7. DOG

Enthusiastic, forgiving, unconditionally loving

dogI almost didn’t include the dog, because this post is written from a biblical perspective, and let’s be real here – there are many references to dogs in the bible, and almost all of them are very negative.

So, apparently, the ancient Hebrews were not fond of dogs.  However, I think that dogs at that time were mostly wild dogs (more like wolves), not the domesticated dogs we know and love today. They were scavengers, which is why the scriptures mention dogs eating dead bodies.

Modern day dogs, trained and domesticated are arguably the most popular of all animals (at least in the western world.) So it would be weird to not talk about them and the qualities we can learn from them.

One of the things I love most about dogs is how excited and happy they are to see you, when you walk in the door.   Their enthusiasm  – especially younger dogs – is over the top.   They zealously love their owners so much, they just can’t contain themselves.

That reminds me that Jesus doesn’t want us to be lukewarm.  He said “I wish that you were hot or cold.” So dogs can be a reminder to love God and others wholeheartedly, and to not take people for granted.

Dogs are also enthusiastic about life in general.  Just going for a walk is a huge treat for them, I love their excitement for life.  Life is a gift, and I think God wants us to appreciate it as such.

Dogs are also very forgiving.  More forgiving than many people.   Another lesson for us.

Lastly, dogs love unconditionally.   They love us, faults and all.  Even when we get mad at them, or accidentally step on their foot or something, they don’t stop loving us. They remain our faithful friend.

It really is amazing how animals have emotions, and such a capacity to love.

Let’s learn from their good qualities and thank God for them!

If you have any thoughts on this topic, or anything you want to add, I’d love to hear it.  Please leave your comments below!

Blessings, you all!

 

Photo credits
Spider: 9-1-07 705a via photopin cc, Rock Badger:David Snelling via Flickr cc, Elephants: Diana Robinson via Flickr cc, Donkey:bagsgroove via Flickr cc, Gazelles: Donald Macauley, via Wikimedia Commons, cc, Dog: Grant Frederiksen via Flickr cc

The Armor of God – Are you on the battlefield unarmed?

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everal years ago a funny thing happened to me that I’ll never forget. I got the crazy idea to post on an atheist internet forum, in order to stand for God and Christianity. I wanted to get into some interesting debates and hopefully reach anyone who was on the fence. It didn’t take long to see that the posters there weren’t your everyday, ordinary atheists. They were hardcore, militant, anti-Christian atheists. Many of them seemed to hate Christians, with a passion.

After posting there for about a month, I began to feel incredibly tired and drained. I felt like I was in the middle of a pit of hissing vipers. The atmosphere was dark, angry and bitter. The people there were demoralizing and depressing. I felt like they were sucking the life right out of me.

During those weeks, one day I was driving in a quiet, rural area. I started to pray. I asked God, “Why am I feeling so tired and weak? I feel like I’m completely drained, with no energy. Why?”

As I was praying that, I came to a stop sign, and there was a pickup truck in front of me.

I kid you not, seconds after I asked God that question, I looked right in front of me and saw a white bumper sticker on the back of the truck, with big capital letters that read:

JESUS IS GOD. READ YOUR BIBLE.

The second part of it stood out to me. Read your bible. It took about a second before it registered that I got a clear answer to my prayer.

I suddenly remembered that I hadn’t been reading the bible, for at least a couple weeks. I prayed occasionally, but back then I wasn’t having a daily quiet time with God in prayer and in the Word. So God answered my question right in front of my eyes. Read your bible!

The funny part was, it should’ve been obvious what the problem was. Even though I had faith, I was going into enemy territory almost completely unarmed! Duh! I was still a baby Christian at that time, so cut me some slack. 😉

armor-verse2I was truly amazed at how God answered my sincere prayer so clearly and quickly. It was funny, but more importantly it was a critically important message.

We have to remember to put on the whole armor of God, so we can stand against the schemes of the enemy. We are living in a fallen world, in a society that is in opposition to the true, living God of the universe. If we don’t listen to the clear command to use the spiritual armor that God provides, then we are basically going into battle unarmed, unprepared and unable to stand on our own strength.

Sometimes we forget to put on the armor of God. Or sometimes we do it in a partial way.

Ephesians 6 makes it clear that we must put on the full armor of God, not a partial armor.

For example, if we pray but we’re not reading God’s word, we’re only partially armed. If we have the Gospel, but we don’t have much faith, we don’t have the full armor. It all goes together: truth, righteousness, the gospel, faith, salvation, the Word of God, and prayer!

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.

Ephesians 6:10-18

If you are going through a difficult time right now… if you’re feeling anxious, sad, frustrated, or just tired and drained, I hope this post will encourage you to let God be your strength! Put on His armor, every morning. Don’t go to the battlefield unclothed and unarmed!

If you have any thoughts or a story you want to share on this topic, please share it below.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

photo credit: dogwatcher via Flickr, cc

Vanity of Vanities (Thoughts + a video)

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ne of the most intriguing books in the bible is the Book of Ecclesiastes. I put together a little video based on Ecclesiastes, that was inspired by a debate on an internet discussion forum about the ultimate point of life.

There are many people who simply don’t have time to think about things like the meaning of life. They are too busy with everyday responsibilities and just trying to stay afloat. There are other people who hold the secular idea that there is no ultimate meaning, that we create our own meaning and purpose. For many people, achieving success and having the freedom to live the life we choose is the ultimate goal.

It’s certainly true that being able to enjoy the fruit of one’s labor and the pleasures of this world can bring happiness. However, it’s also true that certain people who seem to have it all – celebrities, billionaire heiresses or famous artists – often end up addicted to drugs or sometimes even suicidal. So if the key to life is not success or the temporary pleasures of this world, the big question is, what is?

I like this commentary by J. Stafford Wright, from his article, ‘The Interpretation of Ecclesiastes’

The book is the record of a search for the key to life. It is an endeavor to give a meaning to life, to see it as a whole. And there is no key under the sun. Life has lost the key to itself. Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” If you want the key you must go to the locksmith who made the lock. “God holds the key of all unknown.” And He will not give it to you. Since then you cannot get the key, you must trust the locksmith to open the doors.

This is one of the areas that shows the stark contrast between the atheistic worldview and the biblical worldview.

Wright goes on to say:

The Christian answer is that the universe does make sense. There is a plan and a purpose that has its center and its climax in Christ. We as Christians have been predestinated to be an integral part of that plan. But not even to Christians has it been given to comprehend the plan. Not even a Christian can explain how everything that comes into his life takes its place in the plan. But, none the less, all the time he is trying to catch a glimpse of a certain wholeness that will link together all his individual experiences. But again and again he is driven back to the position of Romans 8:28: “We know that to them that love God all things work together for good, even to them that are called according to his purpose”; or, if ho theos is read in place of ton theos, “We know that God works all things for good with them that love him.”

The Christian attitude then is one of faith and confidence. The Christian says, “I know that all these things must play their part in God’s total plan. I long to know what the plan is and to see it as a whole, and I shall always go on trying to see it. But in the meantime I will live my life one day at a time, believing that in the common round of life I am doing the will of God. I will be content with what God gives me and take my life from the hand of God.”

eternityThe Book of Ecclesiastes is interpreted in different ways, but one thing is for sure. Our life in this world is short, in the grand scheme of things. The pleasures of this world are temporary. At the time of death, there is no difference between a prince and a pauper – they both die the same way they came into this world, with nothing.

Ecclesiastes ends with the final conclusion – fear God and keep his commandments, that is the duty of mankind. That might sound like bad news to those who don’t know God, but there is good news. The very word “Gospel” means good news. There is a Creator who loves you so much that He was willing to give His life for you. In the same way that an earthly parent would take a bullet for their child, who they love and care about so much. So our hope and salvation is in the One who fulfilled the law perfectly and stood in our place, bridging the gap between God and man.

I believe that all of us have a sense of eternity. That is what Ecclesiastes 3:11 says. However, it’s easy to put our focus on this temporary life. So my prayer is that we all will have a more eternal perspective, and not be sidetracked or discouraged by the things of this world.

Amen! Here’s the video:

Please share your thoughts on the book of Ecclesiastes, or the topic of meaning in general. I look forward to hearing what you have to say!

Something Far Better Than New Year’s Resolutions

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et’s be honest. If you weren’t born yesterday, you know as well as I do that most people don’t keep New Year’s resolutions.

Every year around this time the same thing happens. People think about all the things they want to change, the bad habits they want to drop and the new and exciting things they want to do. I think that’s a great thing. However, most people give up on those resolutions after about 2 or 3 weeks, then it’s back to life as usual… until December rolls around again.

Sorry for being depressing, but that’s the reality. That said, there is some good news. Very good news, in fact.

I’ve discovered something truly amazing and… well…miraculous!

If you walk with God daily, you genuinely want to change and you make the firm decision to do whatever it takes to change, God responds to that and that’s when the miracle happens.

true transformationTrue transformation comes from God, and the changes are not shallow or temporary but deep, lasting and life changing.

Before I gave my life to Christ, I was a partier. In my twenties, I went out drinking with my friends just about every weekend. It was just what everyone did. The path I was on led to a lot of mistakes, pain and heartache. But I was so blind that it never even occurred to me that I didn’t have to drink or do all the things that people in the world do.

After I came to Christ, I remember thinking to myself, “Now that I’m a Christian, I’ll just limit myself to 2 drinks. That way I won’t get drunk, but I’ll still be able to enjoy going out with my friends.” That strategy might work for others, but it didn’t work so well for me.

My “2 drink policy” failed on a particularly horrible night in November of 2003. After a couple very tall beers, a friend of mine bought a round of shots for everyone, and things went downhill from there. I was no longer in control. Something very bad happened that night, which is a story for another time, but for now I’ll just say that it ended up being a big wake up call for me.

The pain that God allowed me to go through was enough to snap me out of my foolish mindset – the idea that I could be a Christian yet still act like everyone else in the world.

No, God wanted my whole heart, and that meant obeying Him. His word says that those who love Him obey Him. (John 14:23)

After that happened, I made the firm decision to stop drinking completely. I haven’t had a drop of alcohol since. That was definitely one of the best decisions I ever made.

True change comes when we simply surrender to God and allow Him to transform us.

I don’t believe that God forces change on us. That’s why we all grow spiritually at different paces….which leads me to another example.

Even though my life changed drastically in several ways, I still had a lot of bad habits and terrible self-discipline. Especially when it came to my physical health and doing things I don’t like to do.

I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I never got in the habit of regular exercise. I’ve never been athletic, and I always hated exercising, unless it was something fun, like dance or maybe swimming.

true transformation

Me and my Coke. (Some random guy in Indonesia wanted to have his picture taken with me…. haha!)

In addition to not exercising, I had poor eating habits. I think I’ve been addicted to sugar, for most of my life. My friends know that my favorite drink was Coke, and you could always find me with a Coke in my hand, as you can see in the photo to your right.

Fast forward to this year, 2014. After years of being inactive, not exercising and not eating right, I finally woke up this year and realized that I just couldn’t continue the way I was going.

Because of the work I do, I’m on the computer constantly, always indoors, always sitting and not moving around much. I was eating lots of processed foods, lots of junk and not enough fruits and vegetables. I was fueling myself on coffee and sugar, everyday.

I was able to get away with those bad habits for a long time, because in the past I had the opposite problem that most people have… I was always underweight. But it finally caught up to me. This year, for the first time in my life (believe it or not) my belly grew, as well as my hips. But more importantly, my health was deteriorating. I had constant fatigue, very little strength and I knew that if I didn’t change my ways, I would end up with diabetes…or maybe something worse.

I started researching nutrition, and reading a lot about sugar and which diet is the healthiest. The more I looked into it, the more I wanted to make this change, and I realized that I needed to change not only my eating habits but my entire lifestyle.

So I finally made the decision to get healthy and stay healthy.

Last year I prayed about my lack of self-discipline. I asked God to change me, but at that time I wasn’t quite ready or determined to do whatever it takes.

God knows our hearts. He knows when we merely say we want to change, and when we truly want to change. When we truly want to change, we give God the green light to work in us, and that’s what happened with me not long ago, in the area of my physical health and self-discipline.

It has been amazing. God opened my eyes and showed me that changing my daily habits will change my life. I’ve learned that He cares about not only our soul and spirit, but our bodies too. Remember, if you are a follower of Christ, you are a temple of the Holy Spirit.

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

To others, this might not sound like a big deal, but this mindset change for me is huge. Remember, I was the person who never exercised or ate right, and although I was thin, I was out of shape. (Yes, it’s possible to be thin yet have no muscle.)

What have I done? I cut out all processed foods. I quit refined sugar and caffeine. I’ve been eating fresh, whole foods, including lots of fruits and vegetables. And I’ve been drinking tons of water.

And I’ve only just begun! I am determined to get in shape. I started working out regularly, and for me that has been the most challenging part – even more challenging than changing my diet.

I’m drawing a red ‘X’ on my calendar, every day I work out, and just crossing off another X is satisfying!

This is not a New Year’s resolution.

This is a lifestyle change. A mindset change. A surrender to God, to allow Him to transform me and teach me self-discipline. Not only in the area of my physical health, but self-discipline overall…and self-improvement overall.

I’ve thought about why this realization didn’t happen sooner. I think it’s important to say that this mindset shift came after over a year of applying myself to learning and getting closer to God, as you can read about in this post from last year.

So 2014 was a year of learning, soaking up knowledge and wisdom, growing and preparing for what is to come. That investment has paid off, without a doubt! With my new mindset, new habits and new determination, I’m ready now to bear fruit!

So, I’m really looking forward to 2015 and the future in general. I have some exciting plans about a big creative project, but I’ll share that in another post!

Do you want changes in your life that are deeper and more lasting than the usual short-lived New Year’s resolutions? You can be transformed. I believe anyone can.

Join me in this adventure. Allow God to transform you from the inside out, by making the firm decision to go to the next level.

You will grow and blossom into the person you were created to be.

And that’s a beautiful and miraculous thing!