Welcome to my blog! I hope to be a resource to help you in your walk with God. Now more than ever we need to get back to the basic fundamentals of moral living and take a stand for what is right and truthful with God as our ultimate authority. His Word is reliable and preserved and can be trusted, so that is the basis for my advice and teaching. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or topics you would like me to cover. I look forward to sharing what God has placed on my heart. See my website at https://www.lovinggodministry.com/ for books and music I have written that will enrich your life!

Ezekiel 22:30: "And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none." Let's stand in the gap together!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Love The Truth

My pastor preached on this chapter yesterday, and I thought this would make a great future song. It's in poem form right now, but I thought you might enjoy it.

2 Thessalonians 2:10: "And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved."

Love The Truth 

By Dawn Foss

Taken from 2 Thessalonians 2:1-17

How can one be saved, you ask?
How does one believe?
There are so many stories told,
Seeking to deceive.

The Lord will come again, but first
Something will occur.
Many fall away from truth,
From sin their eyes will blur.

People will oppose the truth
And exalt themselves above
The one true God who gives us life
And fills us with His love.

Satan does deceive mankind
Through his power, signs and lies;
And God who offers truth and hope
Instead becomes despised.

God's holy Word and His bright coming
Will destroy these lies.
But until then, watch out, be warned!
Strong delusion will blind your eyes.

Denying truth and taking pleasure
In unrighteousness
Will cause your soul to perish, you
declined God's full forgiveness.

Love the truth...so you can be saved.
Open your eyes...don't be deceived.
Thank God for those...who show the way.
Believe the truth...stand fast today.

He's not willing that any should perish, hold on
To traditions, the Gospel, God's Word,
Good things we've been taught give us good hope and grace,
And everlasting comfort.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Does God Love the Arabs?

Recently I was teaching my Sunday School class out of Genesis 16-21 about Abraham and Isaac, and how God had promised to make of Abraham a great nation. God made this promise years before Isaac was actually born. I can understand how Abraham and Sarah might have wondered how God was going to perform this, since Sarah his wife was barren, and now an old woman, well past child-bearing years. However, God had made a promise, and God keeps His promises.

Sarah took things into her own hands by stepping in for God, perhaps thinking she better do something to help Abraham get this promised son before she dies. Perhaps she wondered if God had forgotten them, or because God kept her barren she was not good enough or adequate. Maybe she was mad at God for not changing her situation, and it was so late in life for her now that the dream of bearing a child of her own was long gone. What bitter pain she may have been feeling, and maybe even feeling rejected by her husband.  Whatever the reason, she gave Abraham her Egyptian maid Hagar to marry, he slept with her and she indeed became pregnant. Sarah thought this child would be hers, because in Genesis 16:2 she said to Abraham her husband, "Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her."

However, this plan backfired, and she really regretted it. When Hagar conceived, it only made her feel worse that she could not give her husband a child, and Hagar despised Sarah, which made Sarah feel even worse. Sarah lashed back and dealt harshly with her, and Hagar fled from her in fear. Genesis 16:7-13 says, "And the angel of the LORD found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur. And he said, Hagar, Sarai's [that was the spelling at this time, was later changed to "Sarah"] maid, whence camest thou? and whither wilt thou go? And she said, I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai. And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands. And the angel of the LORD said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude. And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the LORD hath heard thy affliction. And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his breathren. And she called the name of the LORD that spake unto her, Thou God seest me: for she said, Have I also here looked after him that seeth me?" So yes, while he will be wild man of war, God still promised he was not forgotten; he and Hagar were not unseen.

In chapter 17 God again reinforced his promise to Abraham in vs. 1-2: "...I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly." He went on to say that Abraham would be the father of many nations. God also specified that this line would come through Sarah his wife. In vs. 16: "And I will bless her [Sarah], and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her." Abraham, however, was a little confused and laughed, thinking he was all done with impregnating anyone because he was 99 years old, and his barren wife was 90 years old! He asked God to just use Ishmael. Hey, the work was already done, he was a son of Abraham, so what's the harm? Can't God adjust His plan?

Abraham said to God, "O that Ishmael might live before thee! And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him" (Genesis 17:18-19).  Isaac would be the promised son that the lineage of Jesus would be from, and would begin the birth of the Jewish nation.  However, God did not forget Abraham's other son Ishmael, even though this was not God's plan and Sarah made a hasty decision by giving her Egyptian maid to her husband. Polygamy was never God's design.

God made a special promise to Abraham regarding this other precious soul. "And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation. By my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year." That was that. The decision was made...by God Himself. It wasn't that Ishmael was a bad boy or not good enough. He was just not the promised child. This child had to be a miracle from God, born of a barren, postmenopausal woman, and Abraham's first wife, and that's it. It's not up to us to try to change God's plan; we are to obey. However, it is clear that Ishmael was also loved by God, and would become a great nation as well; just not the Jews. Abraham and Ishmael and all the men of the household were then circumcised, as God had said unto him.

Abraham was visited by angels who again reinforced the message from God that Abraham and Sarah would become reproductive again (for Sarah it would be the first time!), and Sarah would conceive a son. Sarah laughed over the situation, but God reminded them, "Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son" (Genesis 18:14).  She did indeed! In chapter 21 Isaac was born and circumcised. After he was weaned they had a great feast. Ishmael was a teenager by now. He was heard mocking Isaac, and that was not OK with Sarah. In vs. 10 she said to Abraham, "Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac." The Bible goes on to say that this grieved Abraham, but God said in vs. 12: "And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called."

The story doesn't stop there, however. God continued: "And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation, because he is thy seed" (Genesis 21:13). This was promised before, and reiterated now. Abraham got supplies for Hagar and Ishmael, and they were sent away, and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba.  They ran out of water and were about to die. Hagar didn't want to see the death of her child, and lift up her voice and wept. "God heard the voice of the lad (he must have been praying): and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is. Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation. And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink. And God was with the lad; and he grew, and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer" (Genesis 21:17-20). God intended for him to live and intervened to save his life. He married a woman from Egypt, and settled in Paran.

What is the point of this story? It is to point out the tenderness and love and deliverance of God for Ishmael. Yes, Abraham is Ishmael's father. Abraham is also Isaac's father. Isaac became the father of a great nation: Israel. Ishmael became the father of a great nation: Arabs.  Why is there so much war between them? I wonder if the Arabs feel like an illegitimate child. But Abraham married Hagar, and while Abraham had to send them away, it was not because he did not love them. He loved them very much, and it grieved him to send them away. However, he had a duty to obey God by hearkening unto the voice of his wife, and separating the two boys, just like he had to separate from his nephew Lot in order keep their workers from fighting all the time.  Both were loved by Abraham, and both were loved by God. Isaac was the chosen son, chosen by God for a special purpose: to be the lineage of Jesus, and be His chosen people.

I am a Gentile, so there have been times I have wished I were God's chosen Jew because I thought I might be more precious in His eyes. However, God loves Gentiles, too, and Jesus died to save the whole world, regardless of race. "For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Romans 10:12-13).  "Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith" (Romans 3:29-30). Praise the Lord, we are not left out! God has made room in His kingdom for us all!  Also, Ruth was in the lineage of Jesus, and she was a Gentile. Salvation is for the Jew and the Arab, for the Greek and the Italian. For the American and the Brazilian. For the European and the African, Asian, Australian, etc. You get the picture! "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). 

If you are an Arab, please know God loves you. Repent of your sin and come to Jesus by faith and ask Him to be your personal Lord and Savior. He died on the cross and rose again the third day. "For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures" (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). He rose victorious over death and the grave, and like Him, we too will one day be resurrected in Christ and be with Him for eternity if we accept His gift of salvation.  "So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 15:54-58).

He never intended Arabs to reject Him; Jehovah God is not the God of the Jews, but the God of the Arabs, too. Come to Him for your salvation and freedom from sin, and a promise of eternal life. Titus 1:2: "In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began." Ephesians 2:8-9: "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast."

Friday, September 19, 2014

If we allow Christianity to flourish, then should Satanism do likewise?

There was a comment on my last post that challenged religious freedom in schools. What was posted was a coloring book that promoted Satanism that is being proselytized in public schools in Florida as a response to Christian proselytization. After all, if one religion is allowed, then shouldn't every religion be allowed? If we don't welcome one particular religion, then shouldn't we prohibit them all, in order to be fair?

First of all, humans have free will to decide whether they are going to do right, or whether they are going to do wrong. We are wired to know basic right from wrong.  We are also taught social norms and culture, but God gave each of us a conscience and a knowledge of God's existence. He also gave us the Bible so we can learn more about Him, and how to live. This transcends all religion. We have placed labels on various faith sets, and have put them in convenient little boxes called denominations. These are man-made. Our standard of truth is in the Word of God, and applies to all mankind everywhere for all time, regardless of ethnicity, race, culture, social norms, traditions, country of origin, or man-made assigned religion. There is one God, and whether someone wants to believe that or not is their choice, but it does not change the truth, or the fact that they will stand before God one day to give account for their life. Evidence is all around us, and while it takes faith to believe God exists, He has made Himself so clear and plain that to deny it is to reject truth and common sense.

World views determine how we see the world, and is the foundation upon which our opinions, preferences and convictions stand. A Christian world view puts God in the center of the universe, whereas a secular worldview puts man in the center. Put another way, Christianity and Humanism have conflicting centers of worship (God vs. man). A Christian worldview sees God as Creator, and everything we study in school revolves around the idea that God gave us this wonderful world to enjoy and explore, made everything with order and logic and intelligence. A Secular worldview sees the creation as the object of adoration, that everything we have is because the universe, including man, has made it happen without the influence of an outside source (God). It makes no logical sense because something cannot create itself, because it wouldn't have been here to create itself until it was created. Yet still this worldview teaches that God is a crutch, not something that is real or required to make the world go round.

Public schools used to have a Christian worldview, and it was assumed that God existed, the things in the Bible were true, and basic character and honesty were reflections of a faith in an all-wise, all-knowing, all-powerful God whom we will give account to one day for our actions. People would strive to do what was right even when no one was looking, knowing that God sees all. Crime was much less because most people had a moral standard based on the Word of God because it was taught in school, and many went to Sunday School for additional training. Even the common criminal respected two things: his mother and the church.

Today doubts are put into the minds of children, and are taught that truth is relative. People can be justified in doing what is right in their own eyes, and judgments should not be imposed on others. We make laws and rules, but they can be disputed easily because it's one man putting a leash on another man, rather than God our Father setting guidelines for us to live by to give us the safest, most organized, and best life we can have: abundant life!

That notion is rejected in the name of tolerance. The secular idea is that we should be tolerant of everyone's world view, because everyone is right. However, that is a logical impossibility, because two opposites cannot be the same, and various world views and religions conflict with each other. What actually happens in the modern view of tolerance is some are forced to abandon their convictions. It creates people who are actually very intolerant, because rather than engaging in an intelligent discussion to find truth, everyone has to lie down their principles and the loudest, strongest force wins, and everyone has to be "tolerant" so that one worldview or one set of values dominates. The classic view of tolerance is you respect all people of all views, but you do not have to agree with them. Engage in intelligent conversation, but if you cannot come to agreement, agree to disagree and be civil to one another.

When it comes to laws, legislation has to be based on something, and hopefully it is truth. In our country, we vote for people whom we hope represent our values. These legislators should have a good handle on truth so they can create good laws. Truth can be found, and must be found. If you think truth is relative, think about this: we all demand truth everyday. Think about your bank account balance, a speeding ticket, your spouse's or child's testimony, etc. You demand truth!

In the public square, all religions are welcome, but there are rules of the land in order to keep things civil. Breach of peace is not allowed. We are not allowed to harm others or others' property (like a manger scene or a cross or a temple, statue, etc.). In other words, it is not OK to murder someone in the name of religion. We must respect each other's lives and livelihood. A religion that requires human sacrifices is not lawful and should be punished as a crime if this occurs, for example. Satanism is such a religion that causes harm to others, and should not be looked upon in the same light and respect as Christianity, for example, which teaches to love one another, protect and care for one another.

Going back to our original scenario in Florida, should religion be taught in the public school system, and if so, which religion, or should all religions be able to hand out materials?  I believe that "religion" should not be taught in public schools unless the students are attending a religion class, one that is teaching about the various religions. There is a difference between theology and religion. As correlated above about world views, theology is God centered (teaching about the world based on a view of God as ultimate authority) and religion is man centered (teaching about the world based on a view of man as ultimate authority). Teaching religion is a sort of history class, giving facts about the various religious practices, traditions and beliefs. There may be various books that are read or encouraged to read that teach about these various doctrines and beliefs, and in a religious class in a public school, all should be respected and presented in a historical way, and each student can learn and draw their own conclusions. It is incorrect to say they are all right, because that's impossible.

I believe a Christian worldview should dominate because it has proven to be the most logical and best worldview, is the foundation for our country, and has worked well for many years. The public school system has to make a choice which worldview to teach; it can't be neutral, and it is not neutral. It has chosen a secular world view, and as a result the value of a human life has degraded, many children have lower standards for character, and we have become a very selfish, materialistic culture. It is clearly not the best as evidenced by its results.

Handing out materials on public school property by strangers is a whole other situation. Can people enter onto school property uninvited while school is in session to hand things out to students? In my experience working at a public school, that would not be OK. For the safety of the children, no one should be approaching children and giving them anything without permission of the school staff. What religion children adopt is up to the parents, not the school or strangers entering school property.

World view is different; that is a society norm, and society has to make a choice. Religion, however, is everyone's freedom and should not be pushed onto children without the consent of the parents. Adolescents and college-aged students could have information available to them to take if they want, set up at tables perhaps, but should not be bullied or pressured into accepting materials. They could have an event in which materials are available, but this is not required and should not be expected of a public school. However, state and federal holidays should be celebrated in a public school setting, including religious holidays such as Christmas and Easter. It is a proud heritage of our country that those coming in from other countries and cultures can learn about and respect. If an American attends a foreign school, it should be expected that they will be exposed to traditional holidays that the citizens hold dear, and those should be respected, even if they do not agree with or like them.

So no, I do not think, in my own humble opinion, that religious materials should be handed out at random to unsuspecting students, but a Christian worldview should be what the entire educational system in America is based on. This promotes a moral and consistent culture, and the fruit is seen in responsible, moral, intelligent citizens who stand for truth and are able to defend it.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Learning and Adjusting

1 Thessalonians 5:21: 

"Prove all things; hold fast that which is good."

I have recently taken on a part time position at our Christian school in which I am teaching music classes, which includes directing handchime choirs and vocal choirs. I love music, and I love kids, so this is a great, fun opportunity for me. But don't misinterpret the word, "fun" for lack of hard work! The hardest part for me is the planning part. Teaching theory is not a problem, but deciding on which songs to do with them out of hundreds of possible songs is hard, and figuring out which ones they'll like, which ones teach them some things about music in a practical way, which ones are on their level, etc. can be challenging.  In my opinion, music classes are fun by their very nature (as music is fun!), but still keeping order is a challenge for me. My spirit is like Fraulein Maria in the Sound of Music!

It is interesting as I study the situation at how much we as human beings can learn and adjust to new situations. Every day in every class I am learning what works, what doesn't work, what to change, what to adjust, and am working toward having awesome music classes for almost the entire school!

In life we have to be humble, and when coming across new situations, be willing to get out there and try, don't be afraid, and give it your best shot! In doing so, you may find that your first initial attempts are inadequate, so just roll up your sleeves and get in there and try again!  Keep a good attitude, and if you mess up or fall short, take a step back, look at the situation, be humble and see where you can make adjustments. Always keep in mind the overall goal.

For me in music, the goal is to inspire a love for music in my students, and teach them enough that they can grow and move on to learn to play musical instruments, participate more in their church's music ministry, enjoy playing and singing more, and use their talents to glorify the Lord!  It's also important to have an appreciation for everything God created, which includes music! Music is all around us, not only from our musical instruments that God gave each of us (our voices), but in others' voices (including animals), bubbling brooks, mighty waterfalls, birds, crunchy leaves in the Fall, windy days, and so many other beautiful sounds we hear every day, if we have been blessed with working ears.

Their best interest is always at heart, but in order to accomplish this, it is necessary to teach the theory and keep order in the class so it is an atmosphere of learning. Balanced in this is the performance part, which can be both fun and scary, especially when you have to get in front of others who may be judging you! My prayer is that my students will see themselves learning and growing in the area of music, and feel good about it by the end of their time with me. I hope they will take that love for music with them for the rest of their lives!

How about you? Have you had any situations in which you are either afraid to jump in, you fear rejection or failure, or you just can't be bothered with learning one more thing? It does take a lot of work, but what's the alternative? What do you have in life to show for your hours and days that are given to you by God? Are you productive? If you're super busy, is there anything that you can take out of your schedule so that you can make some time for something that might be exciting and challenging, and cause you to leave a legacy or at least make some kind of difference for good in this world? I hope that you have that opportunity, or can make that opportunity for yourself because it's very invigorating!

Don't be shy - get in there and do something good. Take on a new hobby that can do good in some way, read stories at the library to the children, teach an art class, learn a new instrument and play it at a nursing home or church or somewhere in which your music can bless others, lead an exercise class, volunteer at a hospital, take more time with your children or grandchildren, start a community garden, cut back your work hours so you can spend more time taking care of your home for your family, write a book, etc.  If you don't know what the desire of your heart is, pray and ask God to help you find what He wants you to do.  Life is an exciting journey! Don't hesitate to learn and grow, and adjust so you can be the best you can be for God! Give it all you got!

Proverbs 3:9: "Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase."

Give of your best to the Master
Words: Howard B. Grose, The Endeavor Hymnal, 1902.

Give of your best to the Master;
Give of the strength of your youth.
Throw your soul’s fresh, glowing ardor
Into the battle for truth.
Jesus has set the example,
Dauntless was He, young and brave.
Give Him your loyal devotion;
Give Him the best that you have.

Give of your best to the Master;
Give of the strength of your youth.
Clad in salvation’s full armor,
Join in the battle for truth.

Give of your best to the Master;
Give Him first place in your heart.
Give Him first place in your service;
Consecrate every part.
Give, and to you will be given;
God His beloved Son gave.
Gratefully seeking to serve Him,
Give Him the best that you have.

Give of your best to the Master;
Naught else is worthy His love.
He gave Himself for your ransom,
Gave up His glory above.
Laid down His life without murmur,
You from sin’s ruin to save.
Give Him your heart’s adoration;
Give Him the best that you have.