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Posts Tagged ‘roadblocks to Christianity’

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.  In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.  And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.  Eph.  2:19-22

The summer following my marriage, I made my first visit to the Montfort cottage at Heart Lake PA, a beautiful location in The Endless Mountains of the Poconos in northeastern PA.  That first night, as I lay in bed in the front room on a crisp, clear night, I marveled at the heavens.  With the absence of city lights, so many more stars were visible.  As I lay there, a bit overwhelmed by the thousands of stars I could see, it slowly dawned on me that I shouldn’t be able to see the sky and stars from my bed inside.  Although the cottage has two floors and a porch surrounding it, it really is a simple structure.  The walls are board-and-batten, meaning they nest, one into the other, to form the walls.  When I look at the inside walls, I’m looking at the inside of the outside wall.  The whole structure sits on piles of rocks.  With freezing and thawing, wind and rain erosion, the house tends to shift a bit from year to year.  Anyway, the following morning, we contacted a local handyman, who came over, jacked up that corner of the house, and added rocks to make the floors more level and bring the walls of the front room up to meet the eaves of the roof.  Knowing how practical a woman my mother-in-law was, I bought a house jack for her next birthday.  (I’m sure the salesman still thinks I was pulling his leg when I told him I was buying it as a birthday present for my mother-in-law).

Anyway, on that night so long ago, I was in a house.  I had walls and a roof protecting me from the elements.  The wind might blow; the rain might fall.  But I was safe and dry inside.  Still, something was askew; something was not quite right.  And left as it was, it could lead to disaster.  However, once the problem was recognized, correction could be made and, indeed, was made.

The same holds true in our spiritual lives.  We have believed; we know we are saved.  But sometimes we feel that things aren’t quite right.  We get the niggling feeling that something is askew, or we feel a disconnect from God.  Salvation may be ours, but we still feel that something is wrong.  And, if left without correction, disaster can ensue.

Well, the same corrective process holds, too.  The first step is to recognize just what’s wrong.  Then we need to look for the cause.  Is it a personal sin that we won’t let go of?  Is it pride?  Is it an unwillingness to listen to the prodding of the Holy Spirit? Is it willfulness?  Disobedience?  Anger?  Guilt?  Do I feel unworthy for some reason or another?

Sin?  Direct my footsteps according to your word, let no sin rule over me.  Ps. 119:133 

Because I have sinned against him, I will bear the Lord’s wrath, until he pleads my case and establishes my right.  He will bring me out into the light; I will see his righteousness.  Micah 7:9    

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Heb. 12:1

 Pride?  Willfulness?  To fear the Lord is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.  Prov. 8:13 

Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just.  And those who walk in pride, he is able to humble.  Dan. 4:37

 Unwillingness to hear?  Disobedience?  He who belongs to God hears what God says.  The reason you do not hear, is that you do not belong to God.  John 8:47 

Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching, My father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”  John 14:23 

Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith.  And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.  Rom. 1:5-6

 Anger?  An angry man stirs up dissension, and a hot-tempered one commits many sins.  Prov. 29:22 

A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.  Prov. 29: 11 

Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 1Cor. 13: 4-5

Unworthy?  Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?  Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.  And even the very hairs of your head all numbered.  So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.  Matt.10:29-31 

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:  while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Rom. 5:8

 So check to see where your foundation needs correction.  Select the rocks you need from His word.  Bring your foundation of faith back to level, and rest easy that you will survive the winds and storms. 

Prayer:  Lord, help us to set a sure foundation, a strong base building our temple on You, the Holy Spirit, the saints who have preceded us and, always, upon the Truth of Your word.

Emily Montfort

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Honeycombs

Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.  Prov. 16:24

The perverse stir up dissension, and gossips separate friends.  Prov. 16:28

The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.  Prov. 12:18

The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.  Prov. 15:4

Someone once asked me why it took me so long to convert.  My response was that I couldn’t accept Christianity until I could separate it from Christians.  What’s really sad about that is that It was true.  I found too many of them to be narrow-minded, hard-hearted, and judgmental.  Does that sound judgmental?  It was.  I was judging them as harshly as I found them to be judging others.  I heard talk about love, but I saw criticism, gossiping, stereotyping.  They were loving of their own, but excluded others.   When I read the New Testament, I found Jesus to be caring and inclusive.  He showed love and compassion to the unlovable, touched the untouchable, welcomed the outcasts.   I wondered why his followers weren’t more like him.  

When I was in college and debating religion with friends in my dorm, I caused a bit of a ruckus.  Most of these girls had never had anyone challenge their beliefs and didn’t know quite how to handle it.  So they frequently went to the chaplain to get answers to my questions and challenges.  When he and I finally met, he shared with me that one of the girls came to him with a real crisis of faith because of me.  She was a pastor’s kid and told him that she had always been told that I would go to hell because I didn’t accept Christ.  But, she told him, she found me to be more Christian in how I treated people, and the things I did for others, than most of her Christian friends.  And if God would deny heaven to me but open it to them, she wasn’t sure that was a God she wanted to worship.   Fortunately, he helped her over that bump in the road.  But she had a point.  All too often faith is professed better than it is lived.  And the outside world sees how we are more than what we say.  Sadly, though, it frequently is what we say and how we say it that causes the dichotomy between what we profess and how others see us.

I once did a study, looking at how many times sexual sin was mentioned in the Bible; then how many time the wagging or perverse tongue was mentioned.  It wasn’t even close.  Apparently God knew how much trouble we have with our tongues, because he sure kept pointing it out to us…throughout both the Old Testament and the New Testament.   Put-downs, gossip, sarcasm, back-handed compliments, criticism, back-biting….so many ways we find to cut and crush and cause dissent.  And sadly, when we do this, we often convince ourselves that we’re doing it to help the others improve.  

I believe that hurtful words leave longer-lasting wounds and worse scarring than physical abuse.  I also believe it is a sin as much as adultery or sexual perversions, and God probably weeps along with the victims of our tongues.  But the opposite is also true.  We can lift others up, help them cope, strengthen them with our words.

Prayer:  Abba, Father, guide me and help me make honeycombs as I interact with those that I come into contact with, wherever and whoever that may be.  Help me be aware of my words and use them to build others up, not tear them down.  Make my words sweet to the soul, unifying and healing.

Emily Montfort

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