Remembering My Creator, Volume 1, Number 2, July 2010

Remembering My Creator

Volume 1, Number 2

Theme: Influences of the World

In This Issue:

  • The Influence of Fear in Our Faith by Shannon Harden
  • Oh Be Careful Little Eyes What You See by Jordan Shouse
  • Let Us … Yield Not to Temptation by Ian Harmon

The Influence of Fear in Our Faith

By Shannon Harden

“You block your dream when you allow your fear to grow bigger than your faith.” – Mary Manin Morrissey

Adults say young people are easily influenced – music, movies, television, clothing, and our peers. I do not doubt this is true, but I wanted to think about something else we’re influenced by – which usually comes from within ourselves. Would you consider yourself someone who is easily scared away of doing things you want or should do? I don’t like discussing obvious ideas, so I started thinking about how fear influences our lives.

A few years ago at a bible study, we were going around saying what we admired in the other people in the room. Several people told me they admired my lack of fear and my ability to do many things. At the time I inwardly thought, “Wow, I must really have them fooled.” But as I’ve become more aware of people and the world around me, they may actually be right. The fact is – I do get scared – a lot actually. But I choose not to let that stop me and in some cases, it drives me to push through that fear. The way I look at it, fear is the absence of faith. When talking with my mom about this article she reminded me of the acronym for FEAR – False Evidence Appearing Real (Neal Donald Walsch). So I think she agrees with me.

Fear comes in many different forms – we may be fearful of love, death, living up to our potential, different cultures, unfamiliar situations, rejection, doing God’s will, and what others might think of us. Everyone is afraid of something, so fill in the blank for whatever scares you, and be honest with yourself. Acceptance and honesty is the first step in combating a fear, sin, or failure. I have seen so many people overcome with their fear that instead of doing what they should they either make excuses or just give up. Is that the way God wants us to live our lives? After you accept and understand, you must then become proactive.

So how do you get past your fear? Yes, there are some people who live fearlessly through life and end up doing foolish or dangerous things. That’s not what I’m talking about. Of course I’ve done a few foolish things in my life, but I’m also VERY thoughtful about my decisions. Here’s how I remain “fearless” (remember it’s not that I’m fearless, just that I trust in God more than men). I live with two philosophies to get me through life. Maybe it can help you get through your fear.

First, I have completely adopted 1 Corinthians 13. I believe Love is a verb. I don’t believe love is defined the way the world defines it. It involves the actions of patience, kindness, humility, perseverance, and forgiveness. Godly love never fails, the world’s view of love does. This is VERY important in understanding love. I can love to the best of my ability, but I’m not perfect and neither are people. They will disappoint you, hurt you, take advantage of you, etc. But, I believe in choosing to love others even despite all that. Remember love is selfless and without understanding and accepting that people are imperfect, you won’t truly be able to do this effectively. With “my enemies” or people who choose not to treat me in a loving way, I have to CONSISTENTLY remind myself of my role of being a humble, forgiving, and selfless person. Choosing to love, as God describes it, is GREAT practice for getting rid of fear. If you can love without fear of rejection, what other people think of you, pain, and strife you will be able to diminish fear of other things in your life! But I caution you – your faith can not be in men, they will fail you every time. You must love in spite of men (or women) and their inability to sometimes love you back.

Second, I trust in God. No matter the pain or strife that comes my way, I fully believe that the people and situations that come into my life are there for a reason. Maybe I’m supposed to help that person grow or maybe they are meant to help me grow. Remember we’ve been told that we may have trials which will be a testing of our faith (1 Pet 1:6-7). Not only that, we’re told to rejoice in our sufferings for what it produces – endurance, character, and hope.

We must change our attitude from that of fear, to one who is truly filled with hope. Through Christ we can achieve great things (Philippians 4:13). God has made us to do great things, and we can’t allow our fears to diminish our potential and possibilities.

Oh Be Careful Little Eyes What You See

By Jordan Shouse

A great influencer from the world comes through our eyes. You wouldn’t think much harm could come from eyes, but truthfully they can lead to a great amount of spiritual damage. Jesus spoke about eyes in the famous Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 6:22-23, Jesus illuminates the importance of our eyes. “The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” Jesus shows us the importance of a clear eye. An eye which produces light is clear of sinfulness, error, and wrong. It is an eye which looks upon wholesome, pure, and honorable things. It doesn’t spend its time in front of junk. However, let your eyes gaze upon those things which are sinful, wicked, and filthy in nature, and you’ll find yourself filled with darkness. Do you know why that is? Let me ask you this, what is one of the greatest influences for your thoughts? It is what you see. What my eyes take in influences what my mind dwells upon. When you finish watching a movie or a show or a concert, what does your mind think about for the next few hours? In one way, our eyes are the windows to our mind.

Satan knows this. The world knows this. Why is it there are countless TV shows and movies filled with sinfulness and darkness? Why are there so many billboards along the side of the road with models half dressed? What you see affects your soul. Gazing upon sinful things produces sinful thoughts. John exhorts us to avoid the “lust of the eyes” (1 John 2:16). We are told to set our mind on things above (Col. 3:2), to renew our mind (Eph. 4:23; Rom. 12:2). Pure thoughts, holy thoughts, righteous and godly thoughts all come from setting our eyes on godly things. If my goal is to think godly thoughts, I shouldn’t sit in front of shows which are saturated in sin and lustful temptation. Instead of spending hours looking at that which only brings darkness, what if I spent my time dwelling upon the word (Col. 3:16). The Hebrew writer encouraged us to fix our eyes on Jesus (Heb. 12:2). You will be tempted and pressured to go to sinful shows or places where people are improperly dressed. For the sake of purity, for the sake of holiness, for the sake of obedience to your God, you must learn to say no. Jesus said that if our eye causes us to stumble, to tear it out (Matt. 5:29). I’m Heaven bound, my goal is God, and NOTHING must cause me to fail. Let’s learn to keep pure and holy in our minds by guarding our eyes. “We are powerless before this great multitude who are coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You.” (2 Chron. 20:12)

Let Us…Yield Not to Temptation

By Ian Harmon

There’s an old hymn in our hymnal, written by Horatio R. Palmer in 1868, entitled “Yield Not to Temptation.” This hymn was written in response to why an individual must not yield to temptation, how we must conduct our lives, and what we have to look forward to if we overcome sin. In this article, I would like to touch briefly on these three topics.

First, we must not yield to temptation because yielding to it is sin. In Matthew 4:1, we read that after Jesus was baptized, he “was led up by the Spirit…to be tempted by the devil.” We are given three separate accounts in which the devil tempted Jesus after already being in the desert for forty days and nights, and having not eaten anything. Jesus combated all three temptations with a weapon that we all have at our disposal: the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:17). James tells us that we are tempted when we are “drawn away by [our] own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” (James 1:14-15). LET US yield not to temptation for the fear of death that it may bring.

Second, we must not associate ourselves with evil companions, nor do anything which may impede our chances of making it to heaven. If we allow ourselves to be in the company of those who may be stumbling blocks to us, and cause us to sin, then we are doing nothing but harm against our souls. The apostle Paul warned the Corinthian brethren of this in I Corinthians 15:33-34. He tells them to “not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits.’ Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.” He wanted them to come to their senses and realize that in keeping with bad company, they were bringing shame upon themselves. In keeping with this, we must also guard our speech, and make sure that nothing unwholesome leaves our mouths. James tells us that we must “bridle” our tongues because it “is a fire” that can easily burn out of control (James 1:26; 3:6). He tells us that we must make sure that we are not praising God with the same mouth that we curse men. LET US not associate with evil companions nor do or say anything that may impede our chances of making it to heaven.

And finally, we must look forward to what will happen to us if we overcome sin. Through our faith in God, we know that if we overcome temptation, God will give us a crown. James tells us that “blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (1:12). God will always to faithful to his promise of eternal life to those who not only love the Lord but also to those who obey his commandments. LET US always look forward to our crown that awaits us, strive to shun evil companions, do and say what is right, and yield not to temptation.

Remembering My Creator, Volume 1, Number 1, June 2010

Remembering My Creator

Volume 1, Number 1

Theme: Daily Bible Reading

In This Issue:

• Daily Appointments With God by Randy Sexton

• Try a Bible Study Buddy by Shannon Harden

• Daily Meditation upon the Word by Jordan Shouse

Daily Appointments With God

By Randy Sexton

Recently I bought for my Son, Ryan, who just became a Christian, a little book by Michael Kast titled My Faith: Getting To Know God, His Son and His Word, Appointments With God – 150 daily encounters with the Word. On the back cover it says,

“He knows you’re busy. Some days you’re just trying to survive. But what would happen if you took part of every day and met just with him? You know, sort of an ‘appointment with God.’ An encounter with his Word.

Meet with God each day and discover his incredible promises, his charac6ter and his love for you. He’s the One who created time. The One who manages the universe. The One who knows your doubts, your struggles and your heart.

Use this book in your time with God to take an honest look at your faith. You’ll get to know Jesus’ life and teachings. His power. His sacrifice for you. And, you’ll dig into some unbelievably cool stories in his Word. It’s all true.

HE’S WAITING

In each encounter, you’ll write about:

Things to remember

Things God is teaching you

Things to act on

Things to pray about

So, grab your Bible, a pen and this journal. Choose a time and place that work for you. You’ve got a divine appointment. He’s waiting.”

I don’t know anything about Mr. Kast’s religious background or his positions on theological issues. What he says here “resonates” with me and I appreciate what he has attempted to do in his two Appointments With God journals that I have seen. I have incorporated his approach in my Reflections on My Daily Bible Readings column.

As we launch this new Remembering My Creator page, we invite you to read along! This page is targeted to young people, especially those new in the faith. We have several young Christians who have committed to writing for this page. Writers will include Jordan Shouse, Ian Harmon, and Shannon Harden. We encourage you to launch your own daily appointment with God. Get in the habit of early morning bible reading/journaling and see if it does not improve your prayer life and strengthen your faith!

“Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, ‘I have no pleasure in them… (Ecclesiastes 12:1)

Please continue to read with me young people and post your comments or send your private comments to me at randy.sexton@achristiansvoice.com. Have a blessed day!

Try a Bible Study Buddy

By Shannon Harden

“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” – Matt 4:4

Reading God’s word is an important aspect of growing as a Christian. But in our day and time it can sometimes seem like something that gets forgotten about. So, the question is: How do you keep up with your daily bible schedule and grow from reading God’s word?

To be honest, keeping up with my reading is the greatest struggle that I have. Not only do I have to remind myself that I’m not too busy to do anything I set my mind to, but I don’t have the personality that can do a “normal” bible reading schedule. I think it’s important in our life to figure out what personalities God has given us. Some love to study independently; some can rise at dawn and do their studying before they start their day. I am not one of those people. Feeding ourselves daily with God’s word is so important that we must reflect on what we need to accomplish our goal. Often we can get into the mindset that we are “too busy” or we just become lazy.

So for me, the thing that helps me the most is finding a bible study “buddy.” I realized a long time ago that I need encouragement to do many things in my life. I just flat out don’t like doing things on my own. I no longer see this as a weakness, just reality. God made us as social people, which is why he created another being for Adam in the garden and I believe that’s why we have the church. We need encouragement and for people to help keep us be accountable. I personally need that encouragement and accountability in various aspects of my life. So in a lot of things that I do, I like to find a “buddy.” I find travel buddies and exercise buddies… why not a bible study buddy?

So if you struggle with having a consistent bible study maybe finding a friend who will just check in with you to keep you accountable or you can discuss what you’ve learned – will help you to get your spiritual nourishment. But be forewarned: you must find a good buddy. Finding someone who is not encouraging and doesn’t hold you accountable will not help you to improve your daily reading habits.

Daily Meditation upon the Word

by Jordan Shouse

What comes to mind when you think of the word strength? Some may be led to think of body builders who can lift immense weights with ease. Some think of powerful beasts like lions and bears, strong forceful animals. The Kentucky Derby passed by a few months ago. Noticing the horses as they pounded around the course, one could not help but notice the concept of strength. What about a tree? For many, trees are probably low on the list as that which characterizes the concept of strength. However, in the 1st Psalm, the tree is what the writer uses to talk about one who is strong. Notice the passage. Psalm 1:1-3.

While the beginning of this Psalm is a series of actions, built up with a stark contrast, what I want us to focus upon is the tree. Did you notice the detail the writer gave about the tree? It is firmly planted by the water. It yields its fruit. It does not wither. Whatever it does it prospers. Think about the truth behind this symbolism. A tree firmly planted is much like a wall; concrete, solid, and immovable. Cars have wrecked into trees going racing speeds which leaves the car in millions of pieces yet the tree unmoved. Strong winds blow houses to bits, yet the mighty tree with its large roots stands firm. The tree truly is a strong force. But in this passage, the writer is not focusing on trees. He attributes this concept of strength to one who “delights in the law of the Lord. And in His law he meditates day and night.”

I would venture to say that a common goal as Christians is to become strong. I don’t believe anyone has the desire to be weak or feeble. We want strong bodies, strong minds, strong houses; likewise wouldn’t we want strong faith? The Psalmist said that strength is the product of one who meditates in the Word daily. Do you know what that word meditate means? It doesn’t mean to sit cross legged and hum. Meditate is a lot like chewing. When we chew, we take our time with that which is in our mouths, enjoying the tastes and flavors we are receiving. To meditate upon the Word is to think about the passages I’ve read. Throughout my day, I’m thinking about those verses, allowing them to run through my mind and produce congruent thoughts and attitudes. When I read of the passage in Genesis 6, of God’s command to Noah for the construction of the ark, through my day I may be thinking thoughts like, “What would I have said, or how would I have reacted to such an enormous task and yet a strange command?”

Did you catch the other phrase from the Psalmist in our passage: “day and night.” The Word of God is my fuel for the soul just as food is for the body. Imagine going a day without food. The same is with the Word. The Bible is my source for encouragement, support and strength. The Bible is my firm reminder of my responsibility to the will of God. The Bible is the only source of faith. Stronger faith, deeper faith, grounded faith, just like the mighty roots of a large tree; it all comes from daily reading and meditation of the Bible. Have you read today?