Leading Others in Truth

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002In a bible study last year, we were talking about Ebenezers (or Remembrance Stones) and performed an exercise where we prayed, asking God to reveal to us a verse of Scripture that we could use on an Ebenezer . . . something He would like us to remember.

The Scripture the Lord impressed upon me was Titus 2:1 “But you must speak what is consistent with sound teaching. HCSB” This revelation made me sit up with a jolt. I had just finished telling a story to the group that was extra-biblical. The circumstances had happened to me and I identified them with God or being Godly, but there was no foundation for them in the Bible.

This was significant to me because I’m a true believer in the Bible. I have a friend who makes fun of me because I don’t believe everything she considers biblical when there just isn’t any basis for it in the Bible. It doesn’t bother me that she laughs at me, I decided a long time ago that I was only going to go toe to toe with people over salvation issues.

In Acts 17:11, when Paul and Silas had traveled to Berea, it says:  “Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. NIV” We don’t seem to do this anymore. We listen to people say any such silly thing and we believe. If they say it, it must be true. Especially if the person is a pastor!

A friend of mine is in a Bible study group going through a book by a pastor from the Bethel church (Redding, CA). While he was telling me what he was learning, I thought I was listening to the writings of Shirley MacLaine. That’s how “out there” this pastor is … very new-agey. He didn’t call it the astral plane, but he has a notion that our spirits fly all over the place while we’re sleeping. I asked my friend to find biblical support for what the gentleman was teaching and he said he’d look into it. I’m fairly certain he won’t find any.

The writer of Hebrews said:  “Do not be led astray by diverse and strange teachings … Heb 13:9a ESV.” Please be wary of what you’re hearing and reading. Regardless if it comes from a local bible study leader, a friend, or a well-known pastor … does it fit within the teachings of the Bible? That is the only question that must be answered.

Believe only the truth.

End of the Sin Chronicles

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Seven Deadly SinsOr is it?

I’m sure I could go on regaling you with my sinning ways and I dare say you’ve thought about some of your own sins these past few weeks. Let us remember that we are all sinners. That we are not perfect. But that there is hope for us in Jesus Christ.

Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus …” ~ Romans 8:1

Why not? Why aren’t we, Christ Followers, condemned because of our sin? Because we have a good and perfect God who died for us. To cleanse us. To forgive us when we repent. A God who through His death, broke the chains of sin that bind us. We have been gifted with the ability not to sin because we have the Spirit of God inside us.

I must remember that when the urge to sin overcomes me it’s not a forgone conclusion that I will sin.

My chains have been broken. 

And if you are in Christ – yours have too.

Prayer:

Lord. You said in 1 John 1:9 that ‘If we confess our sins, You are faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.’ Please never let this promise fade away. Continue to convict me when I think of sinning or do sin and then lovingly forgive me when I confess and repent of my sin. Thank you gracious Father. Amen.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

Felecia

 

Breaking the Law #2

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This may be the sin I’m most ashamed to admit.Litter

I was at the gas station the other day and as I was getting in my car to leave, I tossed a crumpled receipt into the garbage can. At just the right second, a gust of wind caught hold of the paper and propelled it onto the ground. I looked at it sitting there on the pavement, closed my door and drove away.

Littering.

I have not littered since I stopped smoking many years ago. I was one who threw my butts out the window – disgusting, I know.

Driving home I shook my head in dismay. Why didn’t I just pick up the receipt and return it to the trash? Laziness. Slovenliness. As I write this today, I still can’t believe that I littered. It’s such a vile thing.

Prayer:

Lord, forgive me for my laziness. Help me to be more conscientious about my actions and to continue to obey the laws of the land. In doing so, I obey and honor you. Amen.

Let’s finish this up on Friday! I’m dying to drink in the Lord’s forgiveness.

See you then!

Felecia

 

 

Greed

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GreedIf you happened to ask me if I had a tendency to be greedy, I’d probably say no, and believe I was telling you the truth. But what occurred the other evening set me back and the Lord convicted me of yet another “respectable” sin.

I was sitting with my parents at our favorite Italian restaurant. We’d ordered pizza and had eaten through to the last two pieces on the silver platter. I checked-in with my belly, yup, I could definitely have another piece. Knowing my Dad, I knew he could eat another piece too. I surveyed the remaining two pieces on the dish. One was bigger than the other. I licked my lips. How could I nonchalantly get that big one onto my plate?

That’s when the conviction hit me.

What was I doing?

It surely was greed that made me want the bigger piece. And I could probably have added gluttony to the list if I’d carried through with my plans. But after silently thanking the Holy Spirit for calling me up short before I sinned, I slid the smaller piece onto my plate and left the big one for my father.

Greed comes in many different shapes and sizes. I was stunned when I realized that greed had so easily pushed me to think in such a manner.

Prayer:

Lord, you’ve shown me that my selfishness makes me greedy. Thank you for stopping me before I sinned in my greed. Please forgive me and continue to make me a better person. Amen.

Next up on Wednesday. Hope to see you then!

Felecia

Breaking the Law #1

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I speed.Speed Limit 65

There, I’ve admitted it. I don’t seem to go anywhere under 80 miles an hour.

“But,” you say. “So do I. That’s not a sin, is it?”

Believe me when I tell you that if we break the law of the land – it’s a sin. We must obey authority. In Romans 13:1 Paul states:  “Everyone must submit to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist are instituted by God.”

To get home, I drive a road whose speed limit begins at 40, moves to 35, and then to 25 miles an hour. Not very many people adhere to these rules and when they do I find myself struggling to stay off their six – sometimes eliciting angry looks in the rear-view mirror or finger-pointing at the speed limit sign as we drive by.

I travel this road daily. Usually at 55, 45, and 30 respectively. A couple months ago I decided to drive the road at or below the posted speed limits. It was excruciating! Almost unbearable. Had I done this to myself? Broken the law so often that I couldn’t comfortably keep the law?

So I decided to spend seven days adhering to all posted speed limit signs to see if I could reverse the trend.

You’d be surprised at how easily I was able to adhere to this new way of driving! The first few days I did find myself pushing a little harder than was necessary on the accelerator, but by day three, it actually became fun to go slower. I was amazed that driving the speed limit in the right lane on the highway was so less stressful. On day four I considered myself a right-old fogey as other people honked, waved certain fingers at me, and crossed double yellow lines to get around me.

So now, a week or so later, where am I? Even with my lead foot, I have managed, without to much thought, to not be too far above the speed limit, if at all. And I could only do that with the help of the Holy Spirit! Thank you, Holy Spirit!

Prayer:

Lord, help me to obey the laws of the land and in doing so, obey and honor you. Amen.

Have a great weekend and I’ll see you on Monday.

Felecia

Gossip

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GossipGossip is defined as:

  1. idle talk or rumor, especially about the personal or private affairs of others
  2. light, familiar talk, or writing.1

If you’re maturing in Christ it’s very possible that you no longer gossip. We probably all did it pre-Christ.

There’s something very naughty and dangerous about gossip, passing secrets about another person. It’s a little thrilling. But now it’s easy to see the destructive nature of gossip and I’ve worked very hard to not let gossip pass my lips.

A while ago I was sitting around a dinner table with 9 other people when the ladies on either side of me started to gossip over me. I listened until my stomach turned over and then spoke up. I whispered to the one on my right, believing that I had a modicum of influence over her and said, “I don’t think you should be gossiping.” She reared back as if I’d struck her and retorted, “It’s not gossip if it’s true.”

Huh?

But it was gossip and as the ladies continued talking about another woman who was not at the table, I shut down my ears and started praying that God would stop them.

Unfortunately, I didn’t do so well the other day when I found myself around some people who were gossiping and I did nothing. I didn’t mention that they were gossiping. I didn’t try to stop them from gossiping. I didn’t get up and walk away. I simply sat there and listened.

Do we participate in gossip by NOT saying something or taking some other action? Methinks, yes. I certainly didn’t feel very good about the whole situation afterward. The Holy Spirit was convicting me.

Silence is acquiescence. Silence in the face of sin is approval of that sin.

Prayer:

Lord, please keep a guard on my mouth and do not let me make idle talk about another person. Please step in when I’m caught between gossips. Help me to say and do the right thing. Amen.

On Friday … One of my worst sins … and I bet yours too!

See you then!

Felecia

 

1 http://www.dictionary.com/browse/gossip?s=t

The Sin Chronicles

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Cherished Sin

Have you noticed preachers don’t seem to be talking about sin as much as they used to? It’s almost as if sin had become a taboo subject in our post-modern, anti-Christian world. After all, who wants to be reminded of their sin?

I do! And I happen to believe every maturing believer is compelled to rout sin out of their lives. It’s how we grow more like Christ.

BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) studied Romans this year so you know we were all up in the sin-grill and I couldn’t be happier. One of the best things about the BSF bible studies is that God always talks to me through whatever we happen to be studying. I get a mighty lesson whether I am ready for it or not.

Most of you also know I’ve been reading Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate by Jerry Bridges. Between the study of Romans and that book you might think me to be a masochist. But I assure you, I’m not. I simply want to grow closer to God. To remove the barriers that grow between us like Chia Pet hair. My insignificant little sins. Yet … I am the only one calling my sins insignificant. All sin is significant in God’s eyes.

What better way to come to grip with my sins than to confront them head on?

I’ve found it’s so easy to live day after day ignoring my sin. After all … it’s really so small … so inconsequential … after all, it’s not murder, right?

I’ve decided to publish The Sin Chronicles. I am going to tamp down on the sins I knowingly commit as well as the sins that wiggle up out of the depths of my soul when I least expect them. I’ll be asking God every day to ensure that all iniquities be brought to my attention. I want to be convicted of those sins that I might attempt to allow – Holy Spirit, please pull me up short before I commit them!

But first, let’s see what behavior constitutes sin.

Most everyone is aware of the Seven Deadly Sins: pride, greed, lust, wrath, gluttony, envy, and sloth. 1  The Bible validates these sins even though they not printed anywhere in a list. In the Bible, there are the seven sins found in Proverbs 6:16-19 which are:

  1. A proud look,
  2. a lying tongue,
  3. hands that shed innocent blood,
  4. A heart that devises wicked plans,
  5. feet that are swift in running to evil,
  6. A false witness who speaks lies,
  7. and one who sows discord among brethren.

But let’s not forget Galatians 5:19-21 where Paul mentions several more sins to be on our guard against: “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these … ”

Then we have the unimportant, everyday sins … speeding … swearing … gossip … pride … envy … greed.

Oh, this is going to be fun. I hope you’ll come along on the ride with me and consider your own sins while I discover mine. Please don’t be like one guy I met recently who told me he did not sin. When I asked him if he was Jesus, he hemmed and hawed and admitted that he might sin but that it wasn’t a lot and it wasn’t very bad.

I think that’s where we get into trouble. Believing our trivial little sins as “not that bad.” Because God is training us up to be like Jesus, I think He would beg to differ.

Join me on Wednesday as I start to greet my sin … not with a smile … but with a slack-jawed, horrified, open mouth.

I’m amazed at what I do. Thank God, He forgives!

See you Wednesday!

Felecia

 

1 http://www.bibleinfo.com/en/questions/what-are-seven-deadly-sins#sins-in-the-bible

Return to the Blogisphere

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Return to the Blogisphere

Oh My! We haven’t seen each other in so long! I hope you’re well!

It’s all my fault, of course. I know you’ve been waiting patiently while I’ve been fiddling around with the book so let me bring you up to speed. It’s written. It went to beta readers and then it went to editing. Unfortunately, my editor was not the best I could have had and when he returned my manuscript, I was dismayed at the lack of editing he performed. I thought I’d get a good job done cheap. Ah well, live and learn.

The good news is that I’ve contracted with the editor I’ve always wanted to edit my work – Susan Hughes at MyIndependentEditor.com. I found Susan years ago while researching editors and was impressed by the number of books she’d edited that had won awards. Obviously, the author has a great deal to do with that – but the editor does too. I can’t tell you how disappointing it is to read a poorly edited book and I want my first book to hit the streets shining in its Sunday best.

Susan also edited a friend of mine’s book, Ben Nelson’s Encounters with Jesus and he was delighted with her work. So I sent off a few pages to receive a sample edit and I was bowled over with what she returned to me. I’ll even go so far as to say thrilled! Not only did she “get” me right away, she made thoughtful comments and even corrected what the other editor had changed.

So, I’m happy now. Susan is so busy she can’t start on my book until September but I’m content with the delay. Now I know I will release to the world the very best manuscript I can.

This fall I’ll introduce my new website FeleciaClarke.com where you’ll be able to sign up for my newsletter and receive a sample of the book for free. It’s a Christian memoir about how, even though I ran away from Him, God pursued me throughout my life and turned all my blunders into good. I think (hope!) you’ll like it. At the very least, it’ll be edited beautifully!

Now, I won’t leave you alone for long. In Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) this past year we studied Romans which got me thinking a lot about sin … and you know how I love thinking about sin! So get ready for the Sin Chronicles. I hope you’ll be able to take a look at your own sins as you read about me challenging mine.

See you soon and thanks for hanging in!

Felecia

The Interloper’s Demise ~ Redux

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If you’re new to the blog, this story began last year. You may want to read the earlier parts to catch up with the rest of us. You can find it here … Part OnePart TwoPart Three … Go ahead, we’ll wait.

 

Caution TapeIt was a cold day in February, even for Florida, when the Mastermind ended his onslaught on my house. He put away his tools and took my special bed. He’d done all he could. Was it enough? We’d have to wait three months before we could find out. His photon torpedoes made my house swell obscuring the ability to get an accurate picture of what was inside.

I’d been through this before. I laid in bed every night praying to my Creator that the Intruder was gone for good. Wanting to prove the cutter wrong when he said, “You may have to live with him for the rest of your life.”

Three months later we tested my house and I met with the cutter. The Interloper was still there. To get away from the photons, the trespasser had broken into separate pieces and he was now scattered across the upper floor of my house. But the cutter’s eyes twinkled. “I want you to meet with the Brazilian,” he said. “We think we may have found another course of action.”

Motivated to rid myself of this evil presence, I ran head-long to the Brazilian’s office. I liked him and wondered if he was still eating his daily turkey sandwich. Inside he informed me that there might be another way. Medicines that I would feed my house twice daily. The treatment was working with a woman who had the same Trespasser as I did and he wanted to try it with me. I readily agreed.

Three months downing two types of medication in a specific order. I waited with fingers crossed and prayers sent to my Guardian for the outcome of testing. Had the pills done anything to eradicate the Intruder? Gleefully, the Brazilian brought good news. One spot was gone and the rest of the spots were shrinking or stable. I looked heavenward and praised my God. After so many years chasing this Interloper, I could handle “shrinking or stable.” We decided to continue the treatment for another three months.

Those three months came to a close this past Monday. I’d completed all my testing last week. Anxiously, I waited with my mother in the Brazilian’s office for news. The Brazilian strolled in shaking our hands and chatting pleasantries. I watched his face for any signs. He sat down at his desk and poked on his computer.

“You’re clear.” He stated matter-of-factly as if he was talking about the sky or a background check.

I paused. Not really sure I heard him right but knowing I did. “I’m clear?” I asked. “What do you mean I’m clear?”

“Your chest is clear.” He said as he broke out into a wide smile.

“Clear?” I asked again, not able to comprehend the results. “Completely clear?”

“Clear.” He waited for the news to sink in.

I turned to my mother whose eyes were shining. She had a large smile on her face.

“Look at the CT report,” he said, turning the monitor toward me. “No evidence of cancer.”

I shook my head unable to speak. In shock, I suppose.

“Continue the course of medication for now and in another three months we’ll get a CT Chest and Abdomen to make sure.”

“Am I cancer free?” He looked up at me without saying anything. “In remission?” I offered, wanting to put words to this condition. The Brazilian stopped short of claiming either outcome.

Even though I still have a hard time believing where we are right now and that the Intruder is actually gone. I praise my God. Singing the Doxology with a whisper of hope in my heart.

Praise God from Whom all blessings flow.

Praise Him, all creatures here below.

Praise Him above, ye Heavenly Host.

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Jesus had always told me that I would be fine. But in our Christian economy, fine could be healthy and living or living with Him in Heaven. I had been prepared for either conclusion for two long years.

So for now the Interloper seems to have been beaten back. Dead again. And me? I’m still stunned. Not really sure how to cope without the beast who’s been intertwined within me for so long; but ready to try!

Am I Ungodly?

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Am I Ungodly?

 

Well, we’re in Romans at BSF this year. That’s Bible Study Fellowship for the uninitiated. Romans is a wonderful book full of the teaching of Christian doctrine and how to live a Christian life. However I’d completely missed Paul saying in Chapter 1 verse 18:

For God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all godlessness and unrighteousness of people who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.

While I initially understood godlessness (or in some versions ungodliness) and unrighteousness as one in the same, Paul distinguishes between the two.

In his book, Respectable Sins, Jerry Bridges states that ungodliness is describes an attitude toward God, while unrighteousness refers to sinful actions in thought, word, or deed.

While I usually start chastising myself when I misread Scripture – or don’t read it well enough to begin with – I’m going to let myself slide in this instance. Let’s face it, in the beginning of Romans Paul has been hammering home the “wrath of God” on everyone because we are all sinners. The passage is uncomfortable to read because you know it’s true. But we have to know – must know – what we ought to receive at judgment because of our sinful nature before we can truly appreciate the saving grace of Christ. We deserve nothing short of God’s wrath.

So, am I ungodly? Are you?

Jerry Bridges goes on to define ungodliness as living one’s everyday life with little or no thought of God, or of God’s will, or of God’s glory, or one’s dependence on God.

Gulp.

I can see myself in that sentence. I may spend some quiet time in the morning with God but how often do I continue that conversation throughout the day? Some days are better than others. Some days I’m in communication with Him all day long; praying, worshiping, thanking, giving Him glory, talking, and trying to listen for His voice.

But not always and it’s definitely not often enough.

Jerry helps when he says:

Our goal in the pursuit of godliness should be to grow more in our conscious awareness that every moment of our lives is lived in the presence of God; that we are responsible to Him and dependent on Him. This goal would include a growing desire to please Him and glorify Him in the most ordinary activities of life.

After I finished this convicting chapter I knew I needed to seek God’s forgiveness at once. I squeezed my eyes shut, rolled over, and dug my head into my pillow in an attempt to shut out the world and be alone with Him.

Lord, help me to keep you forefront in my mind all day long. Allow your Holy Spirit to guide me, mark my steps, watch my words and actions, and do everything for your glory.

Immediately I received a vision I have not seen since 2008.

All I could “see” behind my shuttered eyes was a glorious swath of deep, rich purple. This has been an indicator that my Lord is with me. Non-condemning. Hearing my plea and cradling me. I was awash in His love.

How is it that we have the maker of the universe listen to and love us so?

His all-consuming love makes me want to not be quite so ungodly.

In His love,

Felecia

PS: the book is almost ready to go to my beta readers and then to editing. Thank you all for being so patient with me. Keep your eye out for a chance to sign up for my email list and receive a couple of chapters – Free!

PPS: Another great book on the subject of becoming more godly is: The Practice of the Presence of God a thin but weighty volume by Brother Lawrence.