I Believe in God

Know What You Believe; Believe What You Know: 

I Believe in God

“Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”  Hebrews 11:6 (KJV)

What does it mean to “believe in God?” What must you believe about God?  Why should you believe in God at all?   Man has been wrestling with the concept of belief in God for thousands of years.  The most brilliant minds from every side of the issue have argued for and against belief in God.  We make it so complex with our human perspectives. But it really is simple: God is who He says He is.  Belief in God is the very foundation of faith, in fact, it is the foundation of our lives. In my last post, we discussed the concept of worldview, which is the basis from which we determine all things related to God, the universe, life and man.  Your worldview starts with your view of God.

Belief in God is declining in the U.S. In a 1944 Gallup poll 96% of Americans claimed to believe that God exists; in 2016, that figure dropped to 89%.  But is “believing” in God enough?  Not according to the Bible.  One New Testament writer said: “You believe that there is one God.  Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder” (James 2:19).  If the demons of hell profess to the existence of God, then there is more to faith than simply saying “Yes, I believe there is a God.”

Our key verse declares that faith believes that God exists, and there are evidences all around to prove His existence.  God has revealed Himself through His creation.  Romans 1:19-20 says “What may be known about God is plain to [men], because God has made it plain to them.  For since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities- His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made; so that men are without excuse.”  The Psalmist David said “the heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands…Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.”  (Psalm 19:1, 3).  The world around us professes to the reality of God.

But the word “exists” holds a deeper meaning in the original Greek than just being; it carries the impression of acceptance, companionship, belonging, involvement.  It means relationship.  To believe in God is not just intellectual assent, though we cannot miss out on that first vital understanding.  Believing in God means investing all I am in a relationship with my Creator.  It means that I am His and He is mine.  That’s the difference between how the demons believe and how faith believes.

I believe in God. This is not just a rote statement I declare, it is the deepest conviction of my heart.

Do you believe in God?

Know What You Believe; Believe What You Know: Does it Matter?

 

 

 

 

 

“Since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse,” Romans 1:20

“It doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you are sincere.”

Can that really be true? Does it matter what you and I believe? And what are we supposed to believe? How do we sort out all the different beliefs that come at us from the world? How do we determine which ones to grab hold of and which ones to let go? Those are a lot of heavy questions, and it’s really hard to understand why all this matters when we are working, raising families, doing chores, going to church, being involved in community activities, being responsible citizens. I don’t know about you, but at the end of a long day I’m too tired to think that hard.

But it does matter. It matters a great deal. Because what you believe translates into who you are and how you live. It determines your thoughts and affects every choice you make. It matters today and tomorrow. What you believe has eternal consequences. So I pose to you two questions: Do you know what you believe? And do you believe what you know? That sounds like double-speak, but I assure you these are the most important questions you’ll ever consider. In the coming weeks at Deeper Roots, we’re going to look into our core beliefs—what is known as our “worldview.”

A worldview is the basis from which we determine all things related to God, the universe, life and man. It is an overarching theme that sets our beliefs in some semblance of order. It answers important questions about the creation of the universe, the origins of all life, morality, individuality, the future of humanity and what follows after this life.

Worldviews often shift from generation to generation and culture to culture. The changes in the world because of advances in education, science, medicine, and a variety of other aspects, while beneficial in so many ways, have also caused modern man to turn away from a worldview that embraces God, creation, salvation and morality. Even the modern church has backed away from many of the foundational beliefs of her ancestors. They don’t ask these important questions and they no longer teach these core issues. This is why the unbelieving world judges the Bible as archaic and Christians as “out of touch” and even “dangerous.”  But a worldview that is founded on the timeless truths and principles of the Bible is as relevant today as it was thousands of years ago for two very important reasons.

1) God has not changed. His character, His truth, His promises and His Word stand just true as they did in the days of Adam, Moses, David, Jesus, Paul and on through the ages.

2) Human nature has not changed. We are still creatures steeped in a sin nature and in desperate need of redemption. We are still self-centered and rebellious and foolish and we still demand to be our own authority.

The Christian worldview of Paul’s day remains the true Christian worldview of our day, because the foundation – Jesus Christ – “is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). In a world of shifting ideologies and ever-changing “truth” it is more important than ever to Know What You Believe and Believe What you Know.

I encourage you – no I challenge you to join me in the coming weeks as we ask some very important questions and search for answers that are true and timeless. Share these posts with your family and friends – let’s start a conversation about what really matters in this life.

Mighty God – we want to fill our minds with something more substantial than the latest celebrity gossip and the thoughts of men. We want truth. We want to build our lives on what is solid and eternal. Open our eyes and ears to the deeper things of life. Open our minds to receive and believe Your eternal wisdom and truth

 

On the Outside Looking In

I was never popular in school. I had a weird name, I was tall and gangly, clumsy and awkward. I wore hand-me-downs and homemade clothes and every school picture looked like I didn’t own a hairbrush. I wasn’t very smart and wasn’t part of the “in” crowd. Oh but I wanted to be. I wanted so much to be accepted by the pretty girls who dressed in the latest fashions and carried themselves with an air of confidence I could never master. That carried over into my adult life, always feeling like I was on the outside looking in. When I became a Christian, those feelings didn’t change. I had a past—a pretty ugly one, and all those Bible-toting women at church, seemed so perfect. Had they ever made some of the choices I made? Did they feel ashamed of the things they had done? I drew back because I didn’t feel like I belonged among them. I felt like an outsider.

That’s why I love Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus. He writes, “You are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household” (2:19). Paul says I belong. It’s not because I’m less awkward or because I dress better or finally found a hairbrush. It’s because of Jesus. Jesus made me acceptable to God. He made me part of the family. He died to cover all my sins and to take away my shame. Because of Jesus I am not an outsider; I’m part of the “in” crowd – because I’m in Him. It’s not a popularity contest. In God’s Kingdom everyone is the same – rescued, redeemed, restored and joined together as one holy dwelling place for the Lord (2:21).

My friend, God’s hand is stretched out to you too, to welcome you into the family, to be “in,” and to never be rejected again. It doesn’t matter what you wear or where you live or work or whether your hair is neatly brushed. It doesn’t matter if you never finished school or if you have a string of letters after your name. It doesn’t matter if you made all the right choices in life (like anyone has) or if you made every mistake possible. It doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, live in a mansion or a tent come from the right family or the wrong side of the tracks. God says to you “Come.” Take Him up on His offer. There’s more than enough room at the family table for you. You can sit next to me.

Holy Father, what a blessing to be part of Your family, to be accepted and welcomed with every other saint of God. I have nothing of value or worth, I’m just a sinner saved by grace. Oh but grace! Thank you for making a place for me a the family table. Amen.

Father God

My son just turned 25 years old . He still lives at home and is still kind of struggling to find his way. I love him with all my heart, but I am ready for him to gain some independence. It is every parent’s goal to raise children who become men and women who can manage their own lives with minimal assistance from mom and dad.

But God is not your typical parent. His goal is not to make us independent, but to draw us into deeper dependence on Him. I have read the Bible through many times, and I find no place where God says, “You’re too dependent on me – get out there and make your own way.” But I find many, many times where He chastised His people for thinking they can do their own thing their own way without His help. Why do you think Jesus tells us to pray for “daily bread”? And why do you think He said we must become like little children? A mature Christian isn’t one who has become so strong they only need God for the big stuff. A mature Christian is one who recognizes their desperate need for Him in every big – and little – thing.


Beloved of God, what are you struggling to manage on your own today? Take it to your Father and tell Him that you need His help. He delights in your dependence on and trust in Him. You are sure to bring a smile to His face and a blessings to your life.

When You Don’t Know What to Pray

“The spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God will” (Romans 8:26-27)

My friend is overwhelmed with a deeply painful issue. Her heart is broken and when she tries to pray her mind is awhirl with thoughts going this way and that. It is like a hundred different voices all speaking at once in her head. She can’t shut them up long enough to get a word in edgewise.

But God is so gracious to my friend – this verse promises that the Holy Spirit is praying for her. The Greek word for “groans” finds it root in the word stenos – which means “to narrow.” The image is of the Holy Spirit sorting through the jumble of thoughts and feelings to pull out the thin, narrow strand of truth from our heart, from which He weaves a tapestry of prayer before the Father. All my friend needs to do is pour it all out and let the Spirit, who knows both her heart and God’s will in her situation, sift out the prayer she can’t express.

Beloved, you don’t have to filter your heart when you come to God in prayer. You don’t have to have your thoughts and feelings organized – you don’t even have to know what you should pray for. That is why Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit. Let Him do the sorting and sifting – He’ll find the thread of your heart’s prayer and carry it to Your Father.

How my Cat Taught Me a Spiritual Truth

God taught me a spiritual lesson this morning through my cat.
We keep Celina’s dry food bowl full so she can nibble throughout the day (kind of like I do), but every morning when I come into the kitchen she sits by her full bowl and cries for food – even though there’s still plenty of food there! Every morning I dump the old food back into the plastic tub we store it in, and scoop it right back up into her bowl. This morning as I set her bowl before her I said, “Celina, you do realize that I’m giving you back the exact same stuff that was in there.” But she attacked it like it was something new and wonderful.
The world treats us the same way my friends. When we cry to the world to have our desires met what we receive is the same old thing that failed to satisfy us yesterday and the day before. The world has nothing new to offer us and when we feast on worldly things we’re always hungry for something more. Something filling.
But Jesus said that those who “hunger and thirst for righteousness . . . will be filled” (Matthew 5:6). Filled. Satisfied. Blessed. When we cry out to God He never fails to give us exactly what we need and plenty of it. His provision is always fresh and wonderful. How long has it been, beloved, since you were really satisfied? Who have you been asking to fill your bowl?
Holy Father, You never fail to satisfy me with the most wonderful, overflowing blessings.  Forgive me when I turn to the world for what only You can provide.   Remind me that You are the source of all I need and all I desire.  Amen.

Light

It has been a rainy week here in Alabama with day after day of cloudy, gray skies blocking the sun’s rays. When these days drag on and on it leaves you with a gloomy, gray feeling. But Thursday dawned bright and cloudless and the feel of the sun on my face was a welcome blessing. It reminded me of an old John Denver song: “Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy.”[1]

This morning I started over in the Bible, back to Genesis 1 and the creation account, and something caught my attention I’d never really thought about before. Genesis 1:3 says “Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light.” God separated the light from the darkness and established day and night by it. But He did not create the sun until day 4. This light appeared before the sun came to be. So where did the light come from on day 1? Scholars agree that this light came from God Himself and it emanated from His perfect being.

Sometimes our lives take a difficult turn and we need more than just the sun on our face. We need a light that won’t dim, a light that the clouds cannot hide, a light that penetrates the darkness in our spirit. We need the light of God. Beloved, if your world is dark today may I remind you that the light and love of God is only a prayer away. Call out to Him and ask Him to shine His light into your heart. You don’t belong in the darkness; God created you for the light. Let Him come and be your light today.

[1] John Denver, Sunshine¸ RCA Records, 1973

The Lovely Dwelling Place of God

“How lovely is Your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty!” Psalm 84:1

Home décor and aesthetics are big business today – and with good reason.  Who doesn’t want a well-appointed home worthy of a magazine cover.  If your family is like mine, that look wouldn’t last more than a day past the photo shoot. What really makes a home beautiful? It’s not the paint or the furnishings or the landscape – it’s the ones who dwell there. It’s the people who call it home.

The Old Testament pointed to the Tabernacle, and later the Temple, as the dwelling place of God. The Tabernacle was made with the finest wood, the richest tapestries and was adorned with gold and silver elements. When Solomon built the Temple, the walls were covered with gold and only the finest stones were used throughout. It was necessary and fitting for the dwelling place of the Lord God to be the very best.  After the Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians, the Jewish people rebuilt it and the older generation grieved the smaller, less opulent structure. In time Herod remodeled and expanded the Temple to appease the Jews but, as Jesus predicted,[1] it was destroyed in A.D. 70 by the Romans.

There are many awe-inspiring structures of worship throughout the world. Have you seen St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, or the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris? Maybe you’ve seen pictures of St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow or St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. They are all awe-inspiring structures of worship. But the most beautiful of all God’s dwelling places is YOU. The Scriptures says that if you are in Christ Jesus “The Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you” (Romans 8:11). You are the place where God chose to reside through His Spirit. You are the place God calls home. Whether you are tall or short, light or dark-skinned or any other color in between, no matter your weight or the color of your hair (even if you have none!), despite any scars or imperfections you may see, you are the lovely dwelling place of God in the world today. It’s not your physical appearance nor your clothes and accessories but it is the One who lives within that makes you the beauty you are.

Beloved, if you struggle with your physical image, may I suggest you look deeper than the surface? Look past the garments and flesh and see yourself as the exquisite abode of the Lord of heaven and earth. See the beauty within and let others see it too. My but you’re looking lovely today!

Holy Father, anything good in me is because your Spirit dwells within and makes me into someone beautiful, inside and out. Thank you for moving in – please make Yourself at home in me. Amen

[1] See Matthew 24:2.

Finding Lost Hope

“But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise You more and more” (Psalm 71:14).

I have a confession to make.

I lost my hope.

I had hoped in a dream that I believed was God’s plan for me – it was exciting and I was filled with anticipation.  But when my life turned in a different direction, I set my backpack full of hope down and shuffled off on this unwanted new path.  It all seemed more like a heavy burden – just another unfulfilled longing.  It was easier to leave it behind than to continue carrying it around like so much dead weight.

The Bible mentions quite a few people who stood at the same crossroads.  Moses, Elijah, and Naomi come to mind.  Peter and several of the disciples, uncertain of where their lives are going after Jesus’ death, dejectedly went back to fishing (John 21).  And then there are two of Jesus’ followers  walking on the dusty road to Emmaus when they encounter a stranger.  They tell him about Jesus (isn’t that a kick), sadly saying: “We had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:21).  They saw their lives going in a completely different direction than they expected.

Part of the problem is our understanding of the word “hope.”  We say, “I hope it doesn’t rain out the picnic today.”  “I hope he asks me to the prom.”  “I hope you feel better soon.” – but these are spoken like “wishful thinking.”  That’s a “cross-your-fingers” kind of hope.  The Bible portrays hope as “an attitude of confidently looking forward to what is good and beneficial.”  It’s a hope that serves as “an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (Hebrews 6:19).  It’s not a hope in circumstances, but rather a hope in the One who called us and sustains us and guarantees a good outcome.  It’s a hope that we can carry with us no matter what twists and turns life takes.  Better yet, it’s a hope that carries us no matter what.  That’s the kind of hope you and I need.

Remember Peter and those disciples on the road to Emmaus – the ones who had lost hope? Their stories didn’t end there.  At the end of that fishing trip was breakfast with the risen Jesus and restored hope for Peter.  At the end of the Emmaus road was the joyful realization that the stranger in their midst was the resurrected Lord Himself.  In the end their hope was renewed, in fact, it was even stronger than before.

One of my favorite verses in seasons like this is Proverbs 13:12: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when dreams come true at last there is life and joy.”  I believe this is an assurance that our God-given dreams don’t get cast aside when life takes an unexpected turn.  Because God expected that turn, even if I didn’t, and somehow my dreams will make the turn too. And when He brings them to reality, they may not look exactly like I envisioned, but they will be full of life and joy.  And hope.

Holy Father, I’m picking my hope back up and I’m going to walk this new path with the assurance that “He who began a good work in me will bring it to completion” (Philippians 1:6).  My hope is in You.  There’s no better place for it to be.  Amen.

In the Mother’s Prayer Room

“I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of Him” (1 Samuel 1:27).

I’ve found a real connection and draw inspiration from some of the mothers in the Bible and in Christian history.  In honor of Mother’s Day, I’d like to share my Mother-Heroines with you. Maybe you will find a connection and inspiration too.

I’ve long had a special place in my heart for Hannah, the mother of Samuel.  Hannah’s story is found in 1 Samuel 1-2; she endured many years of barrenness – what I called infertility for seven years.  Hannah prayed fervently for a child – and God granted her prayer and she gave birth to Samuel, who became a great leader of the Israelite nation.  I, too prayed for many years for a child and God granted my desire as well. Hannah and I kept praying until God said yes – we both had sons after many years of waiting. Our key verse is her words to the priest Eli, when she and her husband presented baby Samuel at the Temple.

Bathsheba is an example to me of a mom who sinned greatly, yet God forgave her, blessed her and used her in His plan. Her story is told in 2 Samuel 11-12. Bathsheba was another’s man’s wife when King David initiated an affair with her, then murdered her husband to cover up his sin when she discovered she was pregnant.  Though her child died, God forgave her and blessed Bathsheba with another son, Solomon, who followed his father on the throne of Israel and ruled (for a time) with godly wisdom.  I am a mom who messed up more than once, and, just as God forgave Bathsheba and redeemed her life, He has done the same for me.

There is a mom and grandmother I truly aspire to be like: Eunice and Lois, whose godly lives and teaching shaped young Timothy, who became the Apostle Paul’s “right-hand man” in ministry.  Paul said of them: “I have been reminded of your [Timothy’s] sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also” (2 Timothy 1:5).  What a legacy!  That’s the kind of mom I want to be, one who models a “sincere faith” that influences my child and someday, my grandchildren.

At this stage in my “parenting career” I most identify with a mother named Monica who lived in a.d. 300-400.  Monica was a woman who loved God passionately and also loved her son deeply.  Monica’s son was a young man with a – shall we say – “zest” for all the world had to offer.  He pursued his own pleasures and made choices that broke his mother’s heart.  He loved his mother, but he was determined to live his life on his terms.  Monica prayed fervently and faithfully for her son.  She wept and pleaded with God to bring her son out of the world and into His Kingdom.  She sacrificed for her son and endured his misbehavior and the consequences that followed him around everywhere he went.   Her son later wrote these words about her, “I cannot adequately tell of the love she had for me, or how she continued to travail for me in the spirit with far more anguish than when she bore me in the flesh.”[1]  As Monica sought godly counsel for her son, she begged and pleaded with the local bishop.  “Finally the bishop, a little vexed at her persistence, exclaimed, ‘Go your way; as you live, it cannot be that the son of these tears should perish.’”[2]  Monica and God won the battle for her son’s soul and he came to salvation at the age of 32.  Perhaps you’ve heard of him – Saint Augustine of Hippo – one of the greatest fathers of the Christian faith.  I also have a grown son whom I pray for continually.  As he struggles to find his way in the world, I pray that he will be caught up in the enormous love of God and will live his life as a follower of Christ.

Motherhood is the hardest thing you’ll ever do.  Maybe this Mother’s Day the sun dawns on a broken heart, a longing unfulfilled, an unimaginable loss, a strained relationship, or a struggling child.  I want to encourage you to take a look at the mothers of the Bible and the Church.  The one common denominator in every one of their stories is a mother on her knees for her child.  Come join me in the Mother’s prayer room – we’re all in this together and best of all – God is in it with us too.

Dear Father, I think the heart of a mother comes closest to Your own heart than any other on earth.  I pray for my son to know You and to love You with all his heart, mind, soul and strength.  I pray for my fellow moms – give us endurance to stay on our knees and let us rejoice together when our children say “I belong to the Lord” (Isaiah 44:5). Amen.

[1] Saint Augustine, Confessions of Saint Augustine, Edited by Tom Gill. (Alachua, Bridge-Logos,2003),117.

[2] Augustine, 72.

Reposted from “A Mom Like Me” 5/12/2015