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Easter

Easter is even more important than Christmas. Why? Because EVERYONE has a birthday, but only Jesus has a resurrection day!

The Bible skims over the horror of what Jesus suffered on our behalf, because people in those days didn’t need any details about things like flogging and crucifixion; we should be grateful for this, because otherwise this event would be too gruesome for us to read about. The crucial point to remember is that Jesus knew the horror that awaited him, but he still went through it voluntarily so that we would be saved. Granted that we have a special day for thanksgiving, but I think that Easter is the day we should be the most thankful every year.

I don’t know what’s more extraordinary, that God gave His only son to die in agony for us, or that despite this infinite blessing He continues to give us additional blessings every day. My life has been full of blessings this year, as well as troubles, and I apologize to long-time readers who have been waiting patiently for me to start transcribing sermons again while these things take up all my time. Every time I get close to catching up, I’m hit with something else and get further behind. Please hang in there a little while longer; I’ve started catching up again, and I really hope to get some transcriptions done soon!

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And a REALLY belated Merry Christmas, too! I REALLY got sucked into the holiday season; I never even thought to post! It ended up going better than I had hoped or imagined, for the most part, and I hope yours did as well!! 🙂

2018 ended up being one of the best years of my life, even though NONE of my ongoing issues have been resolved or even made visible progress to resolution. The most important thing was the huge leap forward in my walk with God; my ability to see angels every day, the Holy Spirit on a regular basis, and even heaven, 4 times so far… and something that appears over my bed and around me when I sleep, forming a protective barrier between me and the unwelcome forces that are trying to get at me, and looks something like this:

I’ve seen this many times, and I’m betting that many people have something similar; maybe ALL of us do. God will go to extraordinary lengths to keep us safe!

I also, amongst countless other blessings in 2018, developed TWO new skills so suddenly and dramatically that only the Holy Spirit could have provided them… and think about it, when was the last time you gained an entirely new skill? I don’t mean learning a new recipe when you can already cook, or becoming better at something you’ve been doing for a long time, or figuring out your new cell phone, I mean a TOTALLY new skill, not connected to anything that you’ve done previously? Many people never develop any new skills once they finish whatever education or training they need for their job or career… 2 in one year is HUGE!!

Now we’re into 2019, and hopefully have all made some good resolutions… which hopefully, for all of us, includes daily Bible reading. There are many “Bible in a year” programs, and I highly recommend that you use one of those instead of trying to do random reading on your own and hoping that you make it through the whole Bible in a year; you will REALLY benefit from it. (If you haven’t started yet, don’t worry, you can always catch up, especially if you choose one of the Bible-LISTENING programs, which you can listen to in the car, or while doing housework, with no loss of time from your busy day.) MY intensive Bible study restarted on January 1; I plan to do this every year for the rest of my life.

Another important part of starting the new year is getting a word for that year; if you haven’t gotten one, or think you might have it but want confirmation, pray about it, and try going to some of the many websites that generate random Bible verses, and see if anything jumps out at you. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you get a word, I guess it could also be a phrase but typically it’s just one word, that tells you what the tone is going to be for you for the year. This year, I got a fantastic word: REST. I’ve been knocking myself out to try to square things away in my life for so long, but this year I’m going to just sit back, not stress or obligate myself unless it’s absolutely necessary, which it will rarely be, and let God handle things.

I had an incredibly powerful sign from the Holy Spirit as I was praying in the new year (by which I mean praying nonstop between 11:30 PM and 12:30 AM). I asked for not just a manifestation, but an intense indwelling, like I haven’t had in a while, as proof of the blessings, restoration, and answered prayers that would happen this year… especially the restoration x7 that I was promised 4 years ago, in a prophecy that I was given right on stage the first time I ever went to church. It was really a step of faith, because what if nothing had happened? I needn’t have worried, of course; as I was walking and praying, I suddenly got a feeling like my legs were wrapped in the lead, and I understood that I needed to get on my face, so I did… and I felt the incredible weight and pressure that often accompanies the Holy Spirit. I was down on the floor for 20-25 minutes; a couple of times I tried to raise my head and look around, but the weight on my head was so intense that I put it right back down again. This was INCREDIBLY powerful, and tells me that spectacular things are coming in 2019.

It’s common for people to make dramatic pronunciations of how the new year is going to be so great for EVERYONE; even big-time pastors are guilty of saying that, and/or for claiming a certain sort of blessing is going to be coming to everyone this year… but that’s RIDICULOUS, because there’s no such year thing as a year that’s great for EVERYONE, or when the EVERYONE receives a certain kind a blessing. 2019, like every other year, will be fantastic for some, horrible for others, and most people will fall somewhere in between. The important thing to remember is that God can give you an infinitely better year than you would’ve had without His help, and the way to be sure that you get the most and best blessings is to praise, thank, and pray, with all your heart, every single day!

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You might remember my post of October 20, where I described how far behind I’d gotten in my life, including weeks behind with Bible study, which I NEVER allow anything in the universe of to happen normally, concurrent with multiple new things that were sucking up time and energy from the life that did not have a moment to spare. At the time, I was hoping that a couple more weeks would be all I would need to catch up, but as you can see, it ended up being 2 MONTHS!

For the first time in YEARS, I’m both caught up with everything, and without the stress and pressure of undone transcriptions hanging over my head. I still don’t have the luxury of a single day off, or even so much as a single evening, but until after the first of the year, I’m going to give myself a break from the stress… and then, I’ll see what I can do about getting some sermons back up here. I don’t know yet what form that will take, but I’m pretty certain that I will never be able to go back to doing word for word transcriptions every week; that’s just too much time to devote to something that doesn’t provide me with growth or progress in my life as a whole. I might be posting excerpts, or summaries, or alternating weeks… I don’t know yet, and I’m not going to wrestle with it now.

I hope that all of you will have a safe and joyful holiday season! Please keep in mind what I said before Thanksgiving, about gathering in people that have nowhere to go and no one to be with; Christmas is Jesus’ birthday, and the best gift that you can give him is to love and lift up the people he died in agony to save! Let’s finish the year strong, and be willing to have 2019 be the year we give God the most glory, and take the most territory for the kingdom, that we ever have!

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If you’re in the United States, you’re probably gearing up to celebrate Thanksgiving, where we symbolically celebrate having plenty by eating until we burst… Yes, I know that’s not the official explanation, but that doesn’t mean it’s not accurate, right, LOL? Seriously, though, this holiday can be wonderful for those who are fortunate enough to be able to afford to eat a good meal, and to have people to share it with… but for those who are less fortunate, the day can be a miserable one.

God wants you to DO something about it! Yes, you should absolutely pray that everyone who is hungry is fed, and everyone who is lonely is brought amongst loved ones, but prayer is not enough:

James 2:14-17 (NIV)
14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

In almost every community, joining the fight against hunger is easy; there are many churches and other organizations that collect food or provide meals for the homeless and hungry, and they will welcome whatever donation you are able to make, whether large or small. If you cook or bake, or can afford to purchase pre-made traditional foods, you can take food directly to the homeless yourself. You can also get a really great feeling by working at a soup kitchen or anywhere else that the impoverished are being fed on Thanksgiving. Give someone ELSE something to be thankful for!

But there’s something else that you can provide that’s equally important; a way for someone to be with others rather than alone on our first major holiday of the season. The family member who is kind of a black sheep. The friend that drifted away from, or maybe was pushed out of, your social group. The coworker who you know has no local family and nowhere to go. The neighbor who never has any visitors. Anyone you know who is recently widowed, divorced, or separated, new in town, or for any other reason looking at being alone on Thanksgiving day, is an opportunity for you to serve God’s people and bring Him greater glory; invite these people to join your family for Thanksgiving. It doesn’t matter whether your home and meal will be simple or grand; the difference between invited and not invited is infinite.

God is watching you to see what you will do. Will you make a little extra food, a little extra effort, maybe clean up your house a little bit more, maybe deal with a little bit of awkwardness because of people you don’t know as well… or will you be giving Christian kindness a pass on Thursday? Let’s be a credit to Jesus, and show the non-believers in our lives what it means to be a Christian!

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Update, and an apology

I’m so sorry for my protracted silence!! You know how it happens, you think you’re ALMOST through handling everything, so you hold off on saying anything, but life continues to happen and suddenly MONTHS have gone by.

If you’re a long-time subscriber, you’ve seen periodic posts about how absolutely jam-packed my schedule is. It became the norm for me to always be a week behind in posting transcripts, and then 2 weeks, and then THREE weeks… When there was a holiday, or a week with no new sermon, instead of having some time to rest and have a break, I was just using it to get more caught up. I probably would have gone on like that forever, but God suddenly gave me TWO new skills/activities, both of which require a great deal of time, and then a THIRD activity that was really benefiting me but also a time-suck, and THEN, a big health crisis happened in my immediate circle, and I was the only one who could help out, so suddenly I had effectively acquired a new part-time job doing THAT… and my life just kind of fell apart. It’s gotten so bad that at one point I was 2.5 WEEKS behind in my Bible study, when I NEVER let myself get more than a couple of days behind no matter what catastrophe is underway. I’ve slowly caught up a week, but there is a new chunk being added to the backlog every day, so it kind of feels like shoveling the sidewalk while it’s still snowing.

The end result of all of this is something that I never thought would happen; I am now 2.5 MONTHS behind with sermon transcriptions. Because of all of this, I now have to tell you something I never thought I would say; I will NOT be catching up with the transcripts. Everything that I’ve missed, I’m just going to have to let it go. It really hurts me to say that, and I hate to disappoint people, who I know receive a lot of benefit and enjoyment out of being able to read and study the sermons, but God has me in a season of extraordinary and explosive personal growth, and pretty extreme service, at the same time, and the only thing I can let go of, aside from sleep and my sanity, LOL, is the huge chunk of hours that it takes to do the transcripts.

I DO intend to go back to doing them… I really want to say in a couple of weeks, but I don’t want to make promises I might not be able to keep. I have GOT to get caught up with Bible study before I can go back to doing transcripts, and I’m so pressed for time that I can’t be sure when that will happen. Once it does, I’ll post again and let you know what is happening going forward.  Again, I do sincerely apologize to those who were really hoping for and expecting the transcripts for the past couple of months!!

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Someone just subscribed to this blog with the same unusual last name, and the same first initial, as someone who had a faith and politics blog on Typepad in 2005, back in the days when I was active on Blogger. I wanted to ask, “Hey, is it really you?” in a way that didn’t violate his privacy or anonymity if he wanted to post here. Following what might well have been the leading of the Holy Spirit, I went to archive.org and looked up his old blog, not consciously knowing what I was looking for… and then I saw his picture:

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If this is you, hello, great to know you’re still out there! What have you been up to?

And for everyone else: I apologize for how far behind I’ve gotten in posting sermon transcripts!

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(No new sermon this week.)

Last month, I wrote about how it appears that Paul may have disobeyed the Holy Spirit:

https://formerheathen.wordpress.com/2018/07/09/did-paul-disobey-the-holy-spirit/

And then, this came up in my Bible study:

2 Corinthians 2:12-13 (NIV)
12 Now when I went to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ and found that the Lord had opened a door for me, 13 I still had no peace of mind, because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I said goodbye to them and went on to Macedonia.

Did Paul disobey God AGAIN, by declining to stay and preach because his friend wasn’t there, putting his personal preferences and comfort ahead of some clear sign from God that he was supposed to be ministering there?

What do YOU think?

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