Vitamins for Christians

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I used to take a lot of vitamin and mineral supplements because I believed it would help me to be healthy. I also went through a weight training phase that consisted of taking protein supplements and amino acids regularly. Then one day I had an eye-opening experience. I read study after study about the different ways that vitamins and proteins are absorbed in our bodies. Not all supplements are equal, even when it comes to vitamins. Some are fat-soluble ones (like A, D, E, and K), and others are water-soluble ones (like B and C). Also, our body absorbs two types of nutrients: macronutrients and micronutrients. Macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats) are your body’s direct fuel or energy sources, whereas micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, etc.) indirectly influence available energy by serving as catalysts to release the macros. But unless they’re efficiently absorbed, none of the nutrients can fulfill their duties optimally.

I spent so much time pouring supplements into my body but they weren’t doing what I’d hoped they’d do. I wasn’t taking them in the correct manner nor was I always doing the correct activity to help boost their effectiveness. When it comes down to our health and fitness, we can take pills and powders all we want, but we won’t get the desired results unless we get up and move, and do so efficiently. Our body has limits to the amount of vitamins and minerals that it will absorb. When levels are low or you’re deficient, your body tries to regain homeostasis (equilibrium) by absorbing more of whatever is needed. Once that balance is reached, absorption will again be decreased in order to maintain the appropriate level. In short, our bodies are way smarter than we are. God’s design in the human body is absolutely astounding. In addition to all these factors, there are several outside influences to our nutrient absorption. Stress, sleep patterns, alcohol consumption, caffeine intake, and exercise are perhaps the greatest among them.

This isn’t a health blog so here’s what I’m trying to get at. We can take in a lot of spiritual nutrition, but unless we do it properly, and target the outside influences, we will never grow like we are intended to. Simply put, we can do 10 devotions a day, Bible studies three times a week, and go to church weekly, but if we aren’t putting things into practice then where’s the growth? If I put a lot of time into studying how to fight stress and live in the peace of God, but don’t let it eradicate my worries and increase my faith, then what’s the point? If I hear sermons and read books on discipleship but I’m not actively trying to connect with people and love and change lives, what good is it? If I do devotions and sing songs about the love of God and surrendering my life, but I hold on tightly to control, how does it benefit me? If I run through quick prayer times in the morning or evenings but spend all my time speaking and no time quietly listening, how will I ever hear from Him? So many of us are taking spiritual supplements but we’re seeing no change. We should be different today than when we first decided to follow Christ. We shouldn’t be battling with all of the same junk. The Christian life is one of surrender, peace, love, truth, grace, kindness, joy, and humility. Those things may not characterize a new believer, but they shouldn’t certainly be displayed the longer we follow Jesus. God’s goal for humanity is to change them into the image bearers we were always meant to be.

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

Romans 8:29 (ESV)

Reading the Bible, praying, devotions, Bible studies, worship, and prayer time are amazing and essential. But no matter of spiritual supplements can make a difference without submission to the Holy Spirit and passion for our Savior. This is a lesson I’ve been confronted with every time I’m going through something that I “know” the right answer to but I’m not living the right answer. I know people who have battled with anger, anxiety, depression, addictions, and the like for the entire time they’ve walked with Jesus. There might be stuff that we all have that nag at us till the day we die, but we’re meant to walk free and redeemed. I need to be reminded of that. How about you? Brothers and sisters let’s not just be hearers (and studiers, and singers, and discussers) of the Word, but lets put it into action and see is transform lives! Let’s put the supplements to work.

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

James 1:22-25 (ESV)

 

 

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Four Reasons Hanukkah is Important to Christians

Hanukkah (or Chanukah) is also known as the Feast of Dedication and the Festival of Lights. It’s origins come from the Jewish rebellion against outside oppression and idolatry over 100 years before Jesus was born. Its a fascinating story of heroism, faith, and God’s people refusing to compromise. While it’s not one of the commanded celebrations of the Bible (like the feasts of Leviticus 23) it has become a greatly cherished season for honoring God. It seems to have started out that way very quickly because it was being celebrated in Israel during the time of Jesus.

At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter,and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon.So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me,but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep.My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.I and the Father are one.”

John 10:22-30 (ESV)

Here are four reasons why Hanukkah holds so much significance for the followers of Christ.

#1 Light of the World

The centerpiece of Hanukkah has to be the Hanukkiah. It is an eight candle lamp with one center candle called the Shamash. In the Temple, this candelabrum was to remain burning at all times. It was the source of light that allowed the priests to carry out the worship of Yahweh. Christians often celebrate this festival by decorating their houses with lights, inside and out, and lighting of the hanukkiah in honor of this element of Hanukkah. There is no greater light in the world than Jesus. The Festival of Lights honors the Light of the World as well as reminding us of our role to serve as lights in this world for all those walking in darkness.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 8:12 (ESV)

#2 Miraculous Provision

When the Maccabean revolt regained the Temple, one of the first things they did was to light the lamp using the oil available there. The problem was, there was only enough oil for one day. However, the oil miraculously lasted a full eight days which is why Hanukkah lasts for eight days. This was nothing short of a miracle. And God is a God of miracles. Jesus demonstrated that during His earthly ministry. Remember those two times that He multiplied the fish and bread to feed thousands of people? Not only did He demonstrate miracles, But He is also a miracle. His birth to the Virgin Mary was a miracle. His death on the cross on behalf of humanity was a miracle. And His resurrection from the dead was a miracle. Jesus is, in fact, the miraculous provision of God for humanity. Far greater than the oil. And nothing is more miraculous than a sinful people being cleansed and made new by God. Hanukkah is eight full days of praising the Lord for cleansing us of our sins and giving us new life.

He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

1 John 2:2 (ESV)

#3 Dedication of the Temple

The temple had been desecrated by the leader Antiochus and idol worship had become a common activity there. The Jews chose to bring an end to this idol worship in the house of God and rose up in arms. After defeating their enemies, the Temple had to be rededicated to the Lord. Nearly 200 years later, Jesus would enter the Temple in Jerusalem to call out the idol worship being conducted there. He overturned tables and reminded the people of the purpose of the Temple. Jesus also changed the idea of what the Temple was. You see, God had chosen to live among His people in multiple ways throughout the story of the Bible. In the beginning, He walked in the garden with Adam and Eve. Later, He gave Moses the blueprints for a tabernacle. Solomon would construct the first Temple not long after King David passed away. Jesus said in John chapter two that He would “destroy this temple and in three days raise it up.” He wasn’t speaking of the building in Jerusalem. He was talking about His body. After the death and resurrection of Jesus, the temple became the believer and follower of Jesus. In the Temple, God’s Holy Spirit resided. Now His Holy Spirit lives in those who dedicate their lives to the Messiah Jesus. Hanukkah is a great time to rededicate our lives to the One who saved us.

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (ESV)

#4 Jesus celebrated it

In the first Bible passage of this post, John 10, Jesus is shown celebrating the Feast of Dedication. That is obviously speaking of Hanukkah. As followers of Christ, we are supposed to do as our Savior did. Our life belongs to Him, to live a life honoring of Him, sold out for Him. If Jesus believed it to be important to celebrate Hanukkah than shouldn’t His followers? Besides, the Festival of Lights all points to Him anyways.

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 was not any thing made that was made.In him was life, and the life was the light of men.The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

John 1:1-5 (ESV)

Peace in Christ brothers and sisters and happy Hanukkah!

Tear Out The Dividing Page!

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When Christians distance themselves from their Hebrew roots it’s like cutting the branch off that they stand on.

The entire Bible is built on Hebrew themes and context. The New Testament, while written primarily in Greek, is an explanation of so many of the things that the Old Testament laid the foundation for. God used the Hebrew people as a means of revealing His character to the nations. God instituted His feasts, first among the nation of Israel, as a way to teach His redemptive plan seven times a year. Yeshua (Jesus) is our Hebrew savior. He taught using the Hebrew text and customs for illustrations. He was given titles understood best in the Hebrew context (Lamb of God, Messiah, the Word, Son of Man, etc…). He used people of Israel, His disciples, to take His message to the world and seek and save the lost.

Romans chapter 11 makes it pretty clear that non-Jewish believers (gentiles) were grafted into the tree of faith that God had been growing through the nation of Israel. We didn’t become an entirely new tree. We entered into a covenant relationship that existed for over a thousand years before the first “Christian” church ever met. Jesus came to bond the nations through His sacrifice.

Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

Ephesians 2:11-13 (ESV)

We have been adopted into a family of faith, that is rich, and so beautiful. To know our Hebrew roots unlocks so much of the magic in the Bible. To disregard the importance of our spiritual ancestry is to walk blindly towards key elements of our faith. That single page that divides the Old and New Testament is a relic and a unhelpful distraction from reality. The Bible is one unified story from beginning to end. To live exclusively in Matthew to Revelation is like only knowing half the story. Same goes for those who stick so tightly to the Torah and rarely venture to the teachings of Jesus and His apostles. God gave us seven beautiful feasts to learn from and celebrate year around. He gave a law that reveals so much about who He is and what holiness looks like. And He spoke hundreds of prophecies about our Savior, His plan for our lives, and the course of the world. The story of Israel is the story of us. We can see life experiences through theirs. It’s time for that page that divides our Bibles to be torn out, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Because Jesus tore it out spiritually.

…for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

Galatians 3:26-29 (ESV)

Be the Proof

Throughout my years as a Christian, I’ve had to work through my faith like anyone else. I’ve had to try to reconcile my purpose, what it means to be a Christian, how good works fit in to the equation, and so much more. Conflicting messages have only served to complicate the search. Denominations have been formed over these same basic questions. Debates have long divided societies. If you’ve found yourself struggling to resolve similar questions in your own walk of faith, let me offer you something to contemplate.

On my most recent journey through the Bible I locked on to a passage late in the book of Acts. The book of Acts is a valuable source because it records the commission given by Jesus before He ascended to heaven, the giving of the Holy Spirit to His followers, and records of how that Spirit used Christ’s early followers. The book focuses on many different followers but a big portion centers on the apostle Paul’s missions. He is one of our greatest examples of what it means to follow Jesus, and he laid out his mission statement for us all. It comes in Acts chapter 20 verse 24.

But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.

It’s simple, and yet very deep. It’s one line but all consuming. Paul’s entire life had the purpose of pointing others to Jesus. Whether by his words or actions, Paul wanted the world to see Jesus in his way of life. When Paul encountered Jesus, everything changed for him. Jesus consumed his heart and every affection, and he had to tell everyone.

Paul said he was propelled with the purpose of testifying to the gospel of the grace of God. To testify is far more than just telling people. It also means to serve as evidence or proof. Our life, as a Christian, is supposed to be the evidence of God’s grace. That means we love greatly, unconditionally, serve everyone, forgive quickly no matter the offense, put others before ourselves, and lay our lives down for the cause of bringing others to God. Every single one of those things, Jesus did and then extended His hands in invitation for us to do the same. Our lives should show the world that the grace and love and power or God are very real and available to everyone.

You can’t share something you don’t have

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One night, my four year old daughter refused to let me leave her room because she was afraid. It was bedtime, and for those of you with children, you know that bedtime can be a challenge. I’m convinced that children are born with the innate ability to negotiate. All of a sudden they are starving, or dying of thirst, have an urgent need to go to the bathroom, or just have to be with you. The routine is often the same in homes across the globe. But occasionally, our children are genuinely scared and need our consolation. There are those moments when fear and loneliness stir their precious little hearts. That was the case for my daughter on that particular evening.

“Daddy, please don’t leave my room,” my daughter says.

“What’s wrong sweetheart?” I asked.

“I’m afraid!”, she responds.

“What are you afraid of?” I inquired.

She paused for a brief few seconds and said, “I don’t know…I…I just don’t want to be alone. I’m scared.”

From there I had to assess whether or not she was sincere or just postponing the inevitable moment that she would have to succumb to sleep. I truly believe she was really shaken that night. I didn’t know why. She couldn’t explain it. We hadn’t watched any movies that could’ve scared her, and her day was very ordinary. But she was scared, and that’s what mattered.

For the next 5 to 10 minutes I tried to calm my daughter’s fears by reminding her that she is never alone. I told her that mommy and daddy are in a room not too far from hers. More importantly, I tried to get her to see that Jesus is always present in her life. Have you ever tried explaining that to a toddler? It’s extremely difficult. But I did my best and then we prayed together. I told her I loved her and we called it a night.

When I left her room I was overwhelmed by what had just happened. My daughter’s struggle with fear and loneliness is not all that unlike adult struggles with the same issues. We may not squirm and fuss like a toddler does. No, we’ve gotten much better at keeping it inside. We get afraid, often of our own imaginations. And loneliness hits everyone and some point and time. We’re made to be relational beings which makes being alone really difficult sometimes, especially if we never learned to cope.

What I prayed for my daughter, and what I tried to tell her, was that our hearts can rest at peace. That we never have to be afraid. That joy can fill our minds and our hearts at all times. Then it hit me. Do I even experience that? Am I trying to tell me daughter to have something I don’t even have? Am I at peace? Do I have unspeakable joy continually in my heart? It was challenging…extremely challenging.

Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything. With thankful hearts offer up your prayers and requests to God. Then, because you belong to Christ Jesus, God will bless you with peace that no one can completely understand. And this peace will control the way you think and feel.

Philippians 4:6-7 (CEV)

When it comes down to it, I can spout out bible verses like the one above, all day long and give my daughters consoling pep talks about their security, love, and acceptance in Christ. But if I’m not showing them those truths by my attitude and how I carry myself…well then, it’s potentially very empty. Our children are likely to forget most of the things we say to them, but they will always remember how we affected them.

If I don’t feel accepted and cared for by Jesus, then I can’t expect them, or anyone else to. If I don’t overcome fear and doubt by choosing to believe that God has my best interests in mind, always, then I offer them nothing. I don’t want to merely give others, especially my children, words on a page. I want to give them a real way of life. I want to show them that they have a real Savior who died for them, and loves them, and will never leave them. Will I be perfect? Not even close. But I hope to be genuine.

Marriage Series #2: One not Two

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This is the second post in a five part series on marriage. In the last post I talked about how we need to view our purpose in getting married. This post is more focused on what happens to people when they do “tie the knot” as the old adage goes.

I think that a lot of conflict in marriage results from having a two person mentality. What I mean by that is that we still view a marriage as two people in a relationship with one another. Isn’t that what it is? Not exactly. I’m going to try and use a rough illustration so bear with me please. Lets pretend that the lovely couple getting married are two companies (weird I know). Many people look at marriage as though the two companies are signing a contract to work together on a joint venture. Contracts are mutual agreements and if one party doesn’t hold up their end of the deal, the contract is off. Two companies that write up contracts to work together remain two companies with separate identities. However, marriage isn’t meant to work like that. God designed marriage to be a merger. In a business merger, two companies see the advantage to joining forces and instead of signing a contract, they unite into one new company. Usually one company will take on the name of the other. I think you probably see the parallel I’m trying to draw.

That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.

Genesis 2:24 (NIV) [my emphasis]

I know, I know, many people have taken this to mean that husbands and wives are to consummate their union through physical means. I’m not about to argue that it doesn’t mean that. I’m just saying that, like with the rest of scripture, there is far deeper implications than the surface level. When you get married, you are uniting with your spouse into one new entity just as the merging companies did in the illustration. As a result, you and your spouse are now meant to be joined in purpose and direction. Imagine if two merging companies decided on a different purpose and direction and pursued them. The new company would disintegrate pretty rapidly. There would be plenty of internal squabbling and unrest until they finally reached the point of “irreconcilable differences.” On the other hand, merged companies with a united purpose and direction will operate much more smoothly and be able to resolve differences in order to achieve the desired outcome.

This is an incredibly difficult concept to grasp, mainly because you are still you when you get married and your spouse is still your spouse. You don’t actually become one person physically. To operate as one, while not physically being one, is the essence of the marriage union. Success in this area requires extreme intimacy and openness. When communication breaks down, so does the system. There also has to be a high level of servant hood on the part of both members. A unique challenge to marriage is that two people, with two sets of dreams, two sets of talents, and two backgrounds, are now trying to coexist as one.  To overcome this challenge each person needs to commit to forming a new dream that they can help one another in achieving together. Each person also has to use their talents to compliment the other’s. That means we have to admit we aren’t perfect and the strengths of our spouse can help us overcome in areas of weakness. Each person should also commit to the new life they have begun together and only draw off of background experiences that can nourish their relationship. All of that is far easier said than done, I know.

Some may fail at this because they want to be the bigger company that their spouse is merging into. They place demands and expectations on their loved one rather than seeking to meet them half way. They place priority on their dreams, refusing to change course, while not even stopping to think if its God’s design for their life or consulting their spouse. They continue pursuing a life with, yet separate from, their partner. Over time their lives drift in different directions and resentment bubbles under the surface.

When we get married we have to realize that our spouse becomes as much of us as we are of ourselves. I hope that made sense. We have to embrace an entirely new outlook on our future because it is now inextricably linked with another. Jesus tells us that a house divided against itself cannot stand. When two people get married, they become one new house, one new person, with a direction that is meant to be unified. A couple that is joined in purpose and direction can endure, even the most difficult of times.

No matter where you are in your relationship, Jesus can be the captain of your course correction. He is our healer so there is no marriage that is too fractured. Jesus also has to be the unified vision of our marriage. Pursuing Him brings us together in a real and very spiritually deep way (More on that in a later post). If you’re not married, this is a great time to consider what it will mean for you if you make that commitment some day in the future. You’ll be saying goodbye to yourself and hello to the new you that is joined with the love of you life. That’s pretty awesome.

Follow Up: These are great things to ponder on your own or use to talk with your loved one. Blessings!

1- Have you been pursuing your own dreams, possibly at the expense of your spouse?

2- Do you have a unified vision as a couple that you help one another to reach?

3- Is your ‘house’ divided in any way? If so, what part can you take to bring unity?

4- What talents does your spouse have that compliments you and helps the marriage to thrive? What do you bring to the table?

5- Are you pursuing Jesus as a couple?

Paying Attention to Your Christianity – Old Path Musings

(Not original photo)

Hebrews 2:1 Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.

Paying Attention to Your Christianity

Paying attention to how your Christian life is going is important.  As things in this world get more and more debased, we need to pay closer attention to what is being taught.  That is because the heart and mind can easily be drawn off course.  In the book, Pilgrim’s Progress, Christian, more than once, got off the Celestial Pathway for one reason or another.  Most of the time, it was because he failed to heed Evangelist’s instructions.  He let some things slip in his life and listened to other people, like Mr. Civility, Mr. Worldly Wiseman, and others.

An Urgency to Living Right

When we give earnest heed to something, we make it a priority in our life.  Earnest means that it is urgent, it needs to happen now and cannot be put off.  It takes an urgency to live right.  There is often just a short time from when a temptation is presented and a decision is made to move toward sin.  You need to be paying attention so that you are not drawn away by your own lusts, that reside in your heart.  When you let something slip, it means you lose traction, you lose stability.  When we let Bible teaching and doctrine slip out of our heart and mind, we are letting our walk with God slip.  That is why we need to be in church regularly, read our Bible each day, and put good, godly thoughts in our mind all day long.  Make sure you are paying attention to your Christianity today.  If you don’t, eventually, you are getting out of the race.

by Dan Cler | Nov 4, 2016 | 

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