Sunday, August 25, 2019

So, what’s holiness got to do with it?


So, what’s holiness got to do with it?            



God takes holiness seriously.

Preparations had gone on for weeks and weeks and the time had come.

It was the very first of the priestly ministry of Aaron and his two sons, Nadab and Abihu. God had given specific instructions. The young priests and their garments were precisely prepared and consecrated with anointing oil. The tabernacle was complete, consecrated, and anointed. The congregation had gathered.


It was time. But something went terribly wrong.


According to Leviticus 10:1-2 NKJV, “Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censor and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them. So fire went out from the Lord and devoured them, and they died before the Lord.” WOW!


God is serious about holiness. 
Notice that key word, profane. God does not take kindly to anyone profaning what He calls holy. Let’s repeat that: God does not take kindly to anyone profaning what He calls holy. The word profane literally means strange or unauthorized. It is calling common or using in a common way something which God calls holy.


Image from Pinterest
Here are some examples: His name (Isaiah 57:15). “You shall not profane My holy name, but I will be hallowed among the children of Israel. I am the Lord who sanctifies You” (Leviticus 22:32 NKJV). When someone misuses the name of God, Jesus, or Holy Spirit they are profaning the name of Jehovah God—i.e., profanity. The tithe (Leviticus 27:30-33). When someone uses the tithe for anything other than God’s Kingdom, they’re calling common something God declares holy.  


God is serious about holiness. The occurrence with Nadab and Abihu has always troubled me, but God is God and He is sovereign. He knew what was best at that moment in time. 


In His mercy, we currently live in what many call “the age of grace.” Thankfully, God does not consume us with fire when we profane a thing He has declared to be holy. I would have certainly been zapped a long time ago.  But we should be on notice that God sees our infractions yet stands ready to forgive when we repent. With the shedding of His innocent blood, Jesus took the punishment we deserve for all our sins. Thank You, Jesus!


I appreciate the grace period offered at our public library. If I don’t return a book by the due date, I have a few days of grace which allow me to get it there without penalty. If I don’t get the book there before the end of the grace period, then I must pay up. No one knows the day nor the hour when this cosmic grace period we’re living in will end (Matthew 25:13). When it does end, people will need to pay up. It is urgent to be ready for that day (John 12:47).


After establishing the church in Thessalonica, Paul had been away for a while. He was pleased when Timothy brought back a good report of the growing faith and love of the young ministry, despite affliction and persecution.  Paul sent a letter of encouragement back to the Thessalonians, encouraging them to “stand fast in the Lord” and exhorting them to remain moral and pure, especially regarding sexual behavior (1 Thessalonians 3:8; 4:1-8).


Paul wrote, “And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father in the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints” (1 Thessalonians 3:12-13 NKJV). “For God did not call us to uncleanness, but to holiness. Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit.” (1 Thessalonians 4:7-8).


Paul encourages us to be blameless in holiness. In rejecting this call of God, we are rejecting God. I think we’d all agree that without God’s Spirit is us, we cannot be holy, as Paul reminds us at the end of verse 8. Holiness is a minute by minute relationship with our Creator. It is what separates us from the world and worldliness. Holiness is putting on the robe of Christ’s righteousness and standing firm in faith. 


Being holy is choosing to be set apart from cares, distractions, ways of our flesh, and the world’s systems. Instead, we need to walk out and be dedicated to the sacred purpose* of God’s divine call on the life of each of us. I like that term, sacred purpose. The purpose God created each of us for is a sacred thing. We can be confident that His ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:9) and the outcome will be a life of fullness in joy, hope, peace, and love—a life that leaves a powerful legacy of eternal value for those following behind.


Yes, the call to holiness is a tall order for any human being but the power of holiness brings cosmic results in terms of Eternity. Can you think of someone who influenced you because they lived out the sacred purpose God called them to? Now, think of someone who is coming behind you—who is being influenced by you as you walk out the sacred purpose—the holiness—to which God has called you.


I often remind myself of James’ words, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16b NKJV). If I want my prayers to avail much, then I need to be mindful of the call to holiness and live righteously. I did not say perfectly. I fall short more than I want to admit but God knows my heart and sees my efforts. And I’m so grateful for the Holy Spirit helping me.  


Will you pray with me? Holy Father, You know me well, even my every thought and each beat of my heart. Please help me to live holy before You. Sometimes it’s hard and I falter, doing things I don’t want to do and know I shouldn’t do. But Lord, you always stand ready to forgive me when I come to the place of repentance. Thank You. And thank You for Your Holy Spirit in me, putting a check in my spirit, correcting me, encouraging me, and helping me. You’re so full of love and grace. Thank You, Lord. In Jesus name, Amen.


©Copyright 2019 Connie Wohlford


*sacred purpose – I really like this term.  Spirit-Filled Life Bible; Thomas Nelson Publishing; 1991; Word Wealth for Leviticus 19:2; page 171

Monday, August 19, 2019

A Little Help Please!


A Little Help Please!               



How much does a normal bull weigh? 

If you’re a rancher or deal with livestock, you’re probably asking, “What kind of bull?” Well, it’s the kind of bull my granddaddy would have on his tiny farm in the mountains of Virginia, out in Carroll County. 


What I know about that bull’s weight is that when he stood with one hoof on my foot, I couldn’t get him to budge. My own weight and all my strength were that of a normal eight-year-old girl and it was no match for the bull. 


Sometimes we get in predicaments that are bigger than we are. Can you think of a time when a situation overpowered you? Are you in that kind of dilemma now? 


When that happens, we need help. We need help from someone who is stronger, more powerful, or knows more than we. We need a helper who knows what to do and we might even need for them to take the reigns and handle the situation for us, or at least help us manage it. 


Jesus said, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14:26 NKJV). 


Psalm 46 is one of my favorite go-to passages when I feel overwhelmed. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even thought the earth be removed and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though the waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling.


“There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God; the holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High. God is in the midst of her… Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted above the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah” (Psalm 46 NKJV).


I loved following Granddaddy around, especially when it involved his animals. Milking the cow was my favorite thing—or maybe it was letting a calf suck my finger. When milking, I never could get a long loud “bing” sound when the cow’s milk hit an empty metal bucket, like Granddaddy could. And the barn cat was out of luck if it was me trying to squirt milk into his mouth. He didn’t appreciate the milk covering his feet or grazing the top of his head.


On this particular morning I went with Granddaddy out to feed the bull. As Granddaddy poured grain into the wood feed box, I stood on the opposite side of the massive animal petting his neck.


Internet photo

Suddenly, the brute stepped forward to eat and placed his left front hoof right on top of my flip-flop clad foot. I immediately tried to pull my foot away but it wouldn’t budge. I pushed on the giant bovine but he was satisfied to just stand still and enjoy his meal.  


I needed help!


I called out, “Granddaddy, he’s standin on my foot!” 


My strong, six-foot-tall, grandfather instantly went into action. He began to push the monster from the front, trying to get him to take a step back. That didn’t work. The big boy just kept munching. He was too focused on breakfast to pay any mind to my predicament.


But Granddaddy knew what to try next. He picked up his metal bucket and whacked that big guy right on the forehead. Finally, after the third whack the creature took a small step back and released my poor foot from its trap. That giant didn’t miss a beat in his chewing rhythm. 


We examined the foot carefully. There was no blood and apparently no broken bones. Fortunately for me the barnyard had enough of a layer of mud to cushion the bottom of my foot so that it was not crushed under the enormous weight.

I limped a little for the rest of the day but was left with a unique memory to share with my beloved grandfather. 


That memory serves as a reminder that we sometimes need help. As humans, we have limitations, but we can always count on our Creator to help us find the solutions when we face trials and obstacles. The solution may come in the form of another person, a piece of information, a miracle, a work of the Holy Spirit, or even a ministering angel sent from God. We can always have peace in knowing that our Lord knows our situation and knows what needs to happen for our benefit. Our God is indeed “a very present help in times of trouble” and He’s only a prayer away. 


Jesus reassures us saying, “In Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NKJV). 


What is troubling you at this moment? Are you trapped? Do you feel like a big ole bull is standing on your foot or sitting on your chest?


Like I cried out to my grandfather, perhaps you need to cry out to Jesus. He’s right there, wanting to step in and help. Turn to Him in prayer and listen for His reply.


Here’s a song that might be a blessing to you. It’s called Cry out to Jesus, sung by Third Day - https://youtu.be/JmVxRl5bc4Y


Your comments are welcome.


©Copyright 2019 Connie Wohlford

Sunday, August 4, 2019

What is Abundant Life?


What is Abundant Life?                              

     How do you define abundant life?


     Jesus spoke of abundant life, saying, “I have come that they might have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10b NKJV).


     The word abundance means, excessive, overflowing, surplus, more than enough, and more than sufficient. I suppose it’s not surprising that some people think of abundant life as overflowing material wealth. But we can know that Jesus was referring to much more than material surplus. 

     God Word assures us that our Creator has a plan and purpose for each of us and it's good and has our best interest in mind (Jeremiah 29:11). His desire for our abundant life was in His heart and mind before we were even born (Psalm 139).


     In the first few verses of John 10, Jesus compared Himself to a shepherd who protects and provides for his sheep. The shepherd knows his sheep and leads them. The sheep know the voice of the shepherd, trust him, and willingly follow him. Sheep who have a good shepherd live life in peace and abundance.


       Jesus also referred to Himself as the door of the sheepfold, and said, “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:9-10). 


 
Photo by Connie Wohlford
     In contrast to all that Jesus comes to give, the thief, who is the devil, comes to take away. Jesus wants to give us more that just an ordinary existence. He wants us to experience fullness of love, joy, peace, and happiness. Whereas the devil wants to steal all those things, oppressing, and killing Mankind, who is the crown of God’s creation. He is out to destroy all that we love, enjoy, and hold dear.   



     In contrast to all that Jesus comes to give, the thief, who is the devil, comes to take away. Jesus wants to give us more that just an ordinary existence. He wants us to experience fullness of love, joy, peace, and happiness. Whereas the devil wants to steal all those things, oppressing, and killing Mankind, who is the crown of God’s creation. He is out to destroy all that we love, enjoy, and hold dear. 

    The devil will do all he can to stand in the way of our enjoying abundant life. But its up to us, through our own free will to stand firm on God’s truths and promises. What are some tricks he uses to take our peace and joy?


Speaking lies and negatives in our minds, shooting fiery darts, temptations—especially in our weak areas. It might involve our mouths, our moods, our time management, our health, and on & on. We could name many.


     The enemy of our souls wishes to steal, kill, and destroy in every area of the S.I.P.E.S of the abundant life God has for each of us. Are you wondering what S.I.P.E.S. is about? I’m referring to the five areas of human development and life: Spiritual – Intellectual – Physical – Emotional - Social.


     Let’s grow and live out each of those five areas God’s way. The first chapter of 2 Peter can help us see how:

     Spiritual – know that by His divine power, He has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness (v. 3a). We have the Holy Spirit inside of us. We have our Bibles so we can get to know God and His nature, as well as how to live. And we have the precious opportunity to communicate with God through prayer.

     Intellectual – We can experience abundant life through “the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue” (v. 3b).

     Physical – We are made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26-28) and have been given great and precious promises and “may be partakers of His divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (v. 4).

     Emotional – God gives us the power to develop diligence, adding to our faith virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, and godliness.

     Social – We can add to these attributes, brotherly kindness and love (v. 7). And, as the writer of Hebrews says, we should not neglect the assembling together to encourage one another (Hebrews 10:25).


     “For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ … (and goes on to say) an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” 2 Peter 1:8-11)


     That everlasting kingdom is the ultimate provision of the abundant life God gives. When we believe and receive Jesus as our Savior, “all things become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17) in our earthly life. Plus we have Eternity with our Lord to look forward to as well. 

     Oh, and one other thing, we cannot blame the devil for all of our infractions. Our own human nature, which the Bible often calls our flesh, can lure us into sinning, thus sabotaging our living out abundant life. “For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish” … “And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:6 & 24 NKJV).


Internet Photo
     Abundant life is ours for the taking when we do two things: 1- when we’re born-again and then 2- when we choose to live life God’s way.      


     I’m not saying that abundant life means a life of bliss with no hardships. The sheep have hardships sometimes too. They may get tangled in briars or attacked by wolves, but their capable shepherd is there to help and to mend their wounds, like our Savior is there to help us and to mend our wounds.


     Question for you—Are you living life in abundance according to God’s design? If not, what could you do to experience a more abundant life?


     The power of an abundant life gives one the manifold blessings of living out their very best life while anticipating a forever in God’s Eternal Kingdom. Also, the witness of one living in God’s abundance is powerful in drawing others to faith in Christ. 


How do you define, Abundant Life?  Here are some of the Facebook responses: 

“The gifts of the Spirit in evidence in my life!”
“Life with God as He wants it for us. A life of close fellowship with Him, overflowing with His love and help and blessing. Turning around and giving that love to others, living for something beyond ourselves. For His kingdom and plan and will on earth.”

“Knowing God LIVES in me, that He purposefully planned in love for me (and all who belong to Him) to be the display of His amazing attributes, gifts and anointing.”


“One filled with what we truly need in life. God's presence, His wisdom, His teaching, and His provision. A life that overflows with His love so others might see His glory.”

“Living in total freedom with sweet Jesus and intimately experiencing His unconditional love in the Holy of Holies with His Father.”

“Living with Jesus in my heart!”

 “Life with God!”

“Unexplainable peace, through every circumstance due to a personal RELATIONSHIP with Jesus.”

“Pure freedom in your identity Christ Jesus...my cup runneth over kind of life!”

“Blessings from God.”

Your comments are welcome.

If you’d like, share how you define “Abundant Life.”


©Copyright 2019 Connie Wohlford


Sunday, July 21, 2019

Darkness CANNOT Overtake God’s Light


Darkness CANNOT Overtake God’s Light       



Have you noticed there’s lots of darkness in our world?

It often seems like we’re surrounded by darkness and that it’s closing in. 

Notice, I said “seems like.” Seems like is not the reality for those of us who are in Christ. Yes, there’s a lot of darkness out there. But we don’t have to let it penetrate.  

Take a look at the encouraging words of the apostle, John. 

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing that was made was made. In Him was life and the life was the light of men. And the Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it” (John 1:1-5 NKJV).  





We who are in Christ have Christ in us. Therefore, His light is in us and cannot be overpowered nor overtaken by darkness.  

Look at the word used here in the New King James Version in verse 5—comprehend. “And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” Other translations use such words as overcome and understand. 


According to Strong’s (#2638), comprehend, katalambano (kat-al-am-ban-oh), has three interpretations:

1- To seize, lay hold of, overcome. As such, verse 5 could read, “The darkness could not gain control of it.”

2- To perceive, attain, lay hold of with the mind; to apprehend with mental or moral effort. As such, verse 5 could read, “The darkness is unreceptive and does not understand it.” [WOW! We could camp out there for a while because lost people cannot understand why we think the way we think and do the things we do.]

3- To quench, extinguish, snuff out the light by stifling it. With this, verse 5 could read, “The darkness will never be able to eliminate it.”*



SO—

“Light and darkness essentially are antagonistic. The Christian’s joy is in knowing that light is not only greater than darkness but will also outlast the darkness.”* 

Therefore—

As we are very aware of the many facets of darkness, both near and far, we must guard against allowing it to penetrate us. And we have the means by which to do so.

We have the full armor of God—it’s our responsibility to wear it and wield it (Ephesians 6:10-18).

We have the Holy Spirit—its our responsibility to give Him full access to our spirit and soul and thus lead us along our way.  

Look at the words of Isaiah: 

Then they will look to the earth, and see trouble and darkness, gloom of anguish; and they will be driven into darkness. Nevertheless the gloom will not be upon her who is distressed, … 
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined.

You have multiplied the nation and increased its joy; They rejoice before You according to the joy of harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.

For You have broken the yoke of his burden and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian.
For every warrior’s sandal from the noisy battle, and garments rolled in blood, will be used for burning and fuel of fire.

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this  (Isaiah 8:22; 9:1a, 2-7 NKJV).

Photo by Connie Wohlford

“The challenge of the day is to live a Christian life in a post-Christian world. Christ’s light must shine through our lives, and the deeper the darkness, the brighter that light must be.” -Woodrow Michael Kroll



Let’s pray: Holy Father, as we live in the midst of thick darkness, let us not forget that we once walked in darkness ourselves. Thank You for giving us the Light of Christ and help us to allow His light to shine through us so others will want to know Him. We’re grateful to know that He is the Light which no darkness can comprehend in any sense of the word. Hallelujah! And in His name—the mighty name of Jesus—we pray, Amen.  

Your comments are welcome. 

*Spirit Filled Life Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishing, Word Wealth, p 1573

©Connie Wohlford 2019

Sunday, June 30, 2019

What do the Battle of New Orleans and Satan have in common?


      What do the Battle of New Orleans and Satan have in common? 


      Sing along with me: “In 1814 we took a little trip along with Colonel Jackson down the mighty Mississip.  We took a little bacon and we took a little beans, and we fought the bloody British in the town of New Orleans.”

Okay, so if you know that song, you’re a senior citizen, like me.




What do the Battle of New Orleans and Satan have in common?





First, let’s read Satan’s declaration in Isaiah 14:12-14:

“How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations!

“For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the most High.’” (NKJV)


      In his pride, ambition, and self-will, Lucifer declared independence from his Creator, the Most High God. He set himself equal to God. Lucifer’s rebellion was a declaration of war on God and thus a declaration of war on God’s most beloved creation—Mankind. So, the war of the universe had begun.


     My pastor often says, “Pride is the firstfruit of unbelief.” Look what pride did to Lucifer, impacting the entire human race. 


     Satan’s rebellion and the Battle of New Orleans have something in common.


     I was recently reminded that the Battle of New Orleans took place a few days after the signing of the Treaty of Ghent which was the peace treaty that ended the War of 1812.


     American, Bvt. Maj. General Andrew Jackson and British, Maj. General Sir Edward Packenham were unaware that that the war had ended. Though Jackson’s victory boosted the total American win of the war, the loss of life was unfortunate and unnecessary, about 250 Americans and about 2,000 British soldiers died on the battlefield that day. (This battle lasted approximately 30 minutes and 2,250 men died!)


      Consider the war casualties after the war had actually ended. What a shame!


      So, what do the Battle of New Orleans and Satan have in common?


      Consider the war casualties of death, unfulfilled lives and purposes, lack of victory, ill health, lack of peace, and on and on, in the lives of God’s children who don’t realize or have forgotten that the cosmic war between good and evil has been won—it’s over and done. “It is finished.”


      Jesus defeated Satan when He was crucified, restored to life, and walked out of the grave.


      We need to be continually mindful of this truth. We fight battles regularly, even daily. We have anxieties, think bad thoughts, suffer physical and emotional pain, get mad or frustrated, and so on. It’s part of life. But the ultimate victory is ours when we’re trusting in Christ Jesus, even when some outcomes don’t go our way.  


      I often remind myself what Jesus said. “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NASB).


      Let’s remember, every day, that Satan is defeated. Jesus already won the war and victory is already ours because we are His.


      Please join me in prayer. Holy God, thank You for sending Jesus to defeat Satan. Only Jesus could have stood against such a foe. And now, with the Spirit of Christ in us, we too have the power to win against Satan’s devices.  Help us to be mindful daily that Jesus already won the war and we can take courage, knowing He has overcome the world and we are His own. In Jesus name we pray—Amen. 


©Copyright 2019 Connie Wohlford

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Daddy Defender


This little story about my dad tells of an occurrence that happened fifty-plus years ago. To me it’s a precious memory. I posted it last year and want to post it again, slightly edited.  “Happy Father’s Day, Daddy, in Heaven.”

Though most of Daddy's barbering was done in his shop, he was known to cut hair in many places, from Mission Beach, CA to Athens, GA & Seymore Johnson Air Force Base, NC --- from 1 year old great grands to 100 year old Uncle Tom.


Daddy Defender

 

    I walked into the restaurant to pick up a breakfast order for a group I was meeting with when I spotted my father’s old friend, eating alone at a small table.



     “Hi, Moose. Do you remember me?” I said, as I leaned in toward the small framed old man. 



     I do mean old man. Moose was ninety-seven years old at the time of this encounter. I had not seen him for a couple years and wasn’t sure how his memory was holding up. 



     “Of course, I know you, Connie. I’ll never forget the day you came in the barbershop and told your dad you were going to your horseback riding lesson.” Moose and I had had this very conversation many times before. He loved my father and apparently, he loved this occurrence from our distant past.



     I couldn’t hold back the grin as Moose continued on, rehearsing the story with amazing accuracy for a man so advanced in years. I listened intently to this friend, customer, and VFW comrade of my father. Since he had died a year earlier, I felt warmly connected to Daddy while in Moose’s presence.



     I left the restaurant with my mind full of memories of Daddy and friends like Moose and of going to VFW picnics and events at the old VFW hall. Mostly, I tried to recall, minute by minute, the incident at Daddy’s barbershop that day. I was always amazed it had left such a lasting impression on Moose.   

  

     The event at the barbershop occurred when I was sixteen or seventeen years old. On this particular day I had stopped by Daddy’s shop after school to report in and tell Daddy I was heading to my horseback riding lesson. 



      Daddy smiled and said, “Got your money?”  



      I nodded and he raised his clippers to wave me on.



      As I turned to leave, a customer who was waiting his turn for a haircut, spoke up and haughtily said, “You don’t have to pay money to learn to ride a horse.” 



     Silence fell over Central Barber Shop.



     Hands dropping to his sides, clinching comb and clippers, my father squared his shoulders, inhaled, looked the man in the eye, and with a slightly raised voice stated, “She earned that money herself and can spend it on anything she wants.”



     That simple statement settled the matter. After about half a minute of dead silence, the buzz of the other barbers’ clippers and the low talking of male voices resumed. 



     Glancing at Daddy’s flushed face, I left and prayed he would not have a heart attack over the episode. 



     While driving to the horse farm, I couldn’t help but wonder why the man made the remark. For a moment it made me feel small. 



     But thanks to my father, that was a short moment. With no hesitation, Daddy stepped up and took up for me in the face of ridicule.

   

     To people reading this, the whole incident may seem so small it’s hardly worth writing about. But to me, even fifty plus years later, I remember Daddy defending me that day. I left his shop holding my head high, knowing my honor had been upheld and that my father loved me enough to speak up even at the risk of losing a customer. 



Daddy and me - I was about 19 years old here
     Obviously, I’m not the only one the event left an impression on. Through the years, when Moose and my paths would cross, he almost always brought it up so we could share the memory together. The unspoken, yet most valuable component of our memory was the man—Rudy Edwards—his friend, my father.      
                                             

     Each time the barbershop incident arose, we were lifting up a man we both loved and admired. It’s amazing how such a brief moment in time can travel through decades and remain alive in the hearts of an old WWII vet and a now grandmother who was once the teen girl who never had to doubt her father’s love and loyalty. 


Saturday, June 1, 2019

Nominal vs. Actual Christian


Nominal vs. Actual Christian            

Are you a Christian? Are you a nominal or an actual Christian?

If you’ve been around Christendom for very long you likely have heard the term, nominal Christian. The Google definition of nominal is “existing or being something in name only … may vary from the actual.” Synonyms are minimal and token. *

On the other hand, actual is defined as “existing in fact or reality, … not false.” Synonyms are authentic and genuine. **

The Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization (LCWE), founded by Billy Graham, defines a nominal Christian as "a person who has not responded in repentance and faith to Jesus Christ as his personal Savior and Lord." The LCWE notes that such a person "may be a practicing or non-practicing church member …  He may give intellectual assent to basic Christian doctrines and claim to be a Christian.” *** 
Photo by Josh Felise from Unsplash

I propose that a nominal Christian is a Christian in name only and thus not a Christian at all, according to the whole truth of Scripture. Ultimately, it is God who defines Christian—not any man. He is the final judge—not any man.

But if a person is not quite sure, especially if they don’t know exactly what the Bible really says about being a true follower of Jesus Christ, then it is of upmost importance to find out. Since one’s eternal destination depends on it, it’s the most important thing about anyone’s life, because none of us know when we’ll breathe our last breath. 

The gospel writer, Matthew warns that in that day some will proclaim, “Lord, Lord,” but will be turned away from God’s Eternal Kingdom and hear God say, “I never knew you; depart from me.”

God knows the thoughts and intents of every man’s heart. He knows thoroughly every sin and motive. The final reckoning will be done by the God of Creation. Only He knows, with certainty, what each one has done with His Son, Jesus, who came to earth to redeem whoever would believe and receive Him.

With God as the judge, there will be no explaining, no rationalizing, and no arguing. There will be no opportunity for a change of heart or a change of mind. 

“And it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgement” (Hebrews 9:27 NKJV).

A few years ago, when my grandson was about fourteen years old, we were discussing the recent death of a family member. I mentioned that at least that person was a Christian so we could be confident they were with Jesus and we would see them again. 

My grandson said, “Well if someone is not a Christian when they die, they can decide to be one then, can’t they?” 

I was surprised at his words, because here was a young fellow who had gone to church regularly all of his life. I was grateful to have to opportunity to get him straightened out on this primary Christian doctrine. And he seemed grateful to have accurate information. This is a Bible truth of upmost importance!

Granted, he was young. But he was a church kid—one who professes Christianity. 

When discussing questions like, “Are you ready to meet your maker?” and “Are you going to Heaven when you die?” I have heard people say things like, “Well, I sure hope so.” 

Another frequent answer is, “Well, I’m a good person.” 

What would be your answer? Or, how have you heard others respond?
The above answers suggest a lack of understanding of what it means to be a Christian—a true follower of Christ Jesus. Hoping so indicates a lack of assurance. An actual Christian would know what the Bible says well enough to know where they stand. 

Here are suggestions of what to do if you are not completely sure, beyond a doubt, that you are a born-again Christian—if you don’t have assurance that you’ll go to Heaven when you die—I suggest you do these things:

1- Pray right now and ask God to lead you to the way of salvation.

2- Say “Yes” to Jesus. “Yes, Jesus, I believe You are who the Bible says You are. I believe in You and want You to live in me. Please help me live according to Your ways. In Jesus name, amen.

3- Read the Bible, especially the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Learn Jesus. Get to know Him. He’s your Savior. 

4- Get involved in a Bible believing church. Don’t just attend on Sundays. Faithfully attend a Sunday School class or Bible study. Become a part of what God is doing in your community through His church.

5- Talk with an authentic Christian and tell that person of your decision to follow Jesus. Beware, there are lots of preachers and spiritual leaders who are themselves not actual Christians. The blind leading the blind is not what you need. It is God’s desire that none parish in Hell for eternity. (2 Peter 3:9) 

God gives us free will and we each choose for ourselves what we will do with Jesus. Therefore, the eternal destination for each of us is our own choice. 

  
“What a heartbreak it would be to live an almost Christian life, then almost get into Heaven.” -Author unknown
 

Jesus said, “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me” (Matthew 15:8).  

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6 NKJV).

Timothy proclaims that in the last days it will be common for people to commit many and various sins yet “having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!” (2 Timothy 3:1-7)

The Apostle John said, “He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:4 JKJV). 

Do you call yourself a Christian?  

Are you a nominal Christian or an authentic Christian?

When you pass through death’s portal and come face to face with the Living God, He will not ask that or any other questions because He will know. You will have already decided. Your decision to believe in and follow Jesus or not, prior to that moment, is all that matters. 

Please be sure you have the right answer. Eternity is a long, long time.

©Copyright 2019 Connie Wohlford