Behave Yourself!

When my children were young, they often heard a warning before we went out in public, going shopping, or visiting anywhere. BEHAVE YOURSELF! This meant no climbing on shelves, no hiding in the clothes racks, no helping themselves to food, no tantrums, no pleading, and no whining! It meant something a little different if we were going clothes shopping, especially if the shopping trip was for me. No running amuck in the dressing room, especially once I was stripped down to my underwear.

They did that to me once. I had a double stroller with both of them strapped inside and I needed a dress for a special party. I wheeled them into the dressing room and proceeded to strip down, they undid the stroller straps, hopped out of the stroller and disappeared under the door of the changing booth, giggling hysterically as I hollered for them to get back inside here, all while frantically throwing on my clothes. They thought it was a grand joke. I was not amused.

A visit to Great Aunt Mary’s house, with her collection of fragile china figurines on open display, meant a warning to not TOUCH ANYTHING. This also meant no rough housing, and sitting quietly even if the adult conversation was BORING! And don’t gobble the cookies she gave them, or complain that they wanted chocolate chip cookies instead of oatmeal raisin.

These reminders were issued on a regular basis because my children are human and humans have a tendency to forget things, especially when presented with new and unfamiliar situations.

Behave yourself was a reminder to not act like a rebellious out-of-control lout, to not behave selfishly, and to recognize the preciousness of others and their belongings.

My children are now grown up and I don’t remind them to behave themselves when they go out. Hopefully they got enough to that message growing up.

We may be all grown up, but we still need to behave, especially if we are Christians. You may ask, “Why should we Christians behave? Why should we live any differently than the rest of the world? I accepted Jesus as my Savior, and I’m going to heaven. What difference does it make if I behave or not?”

We should behave for the sake of God’s Kingdom.

Unfortunately, many unsaved people view Christians as hypocrites. We say one thing and often act in an entirely different way. The world is watching. People are searching for a truth to believe in and when we live no differently than the world, it cheapens Christ’s sacrifice. Why should they commit their lives to Christ when believers live the same as they do?

Being a Christian is more than just attending a service on Sunday morning and letting the devil rule the rest of the week. Our lives should be so different than the lives of the lost that they are drawn to Christ because of the different way we live. Your life as a Christian should make non-believers question their disbelief in God.

The Bible tells us to put on the new man when we are born again. We let go of things that offend God, live our lives to please Him and study His Holy Word. The Bible is our new road map for living. We are careful to not follow the way of the world but to walk as Jesus did, in close communion with God and striving to please Him in our daily live.

We should behave for the sake of New Believers.

-People are watching us. The un-redeemed person will test you to see if your faith is real. Remember, they are looking for something true to believe in; something that isn’t another lie.

When I was a new believer, I felt like the Christian walk was something of a mine field. One person said I would go to Hell if I wore slacks or jewelry. Another said I would go to Hell if I used a salad dressing or cold medicine that contained alcohol. Another said I would go to Hell if I cut my hair. None of these will send you to Hell. If Jesus is your Lord and Savior, you will do you best to learn how He wants you to live. If you don’t know how to behave in the way God would have you behave, take a good look at the Ten Commandments and then Jesus’ answer to the Pharisees. These are a good place to start.

Exodus 20:1-17

1And God spoke all these words:

2“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

3“You shall have no other gods before me.

4“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

7“You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses His name.

8“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the sea, and all that is in them, but He rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

12“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.

13“You shall not murder.

14“You shall not commit adultery.

15“You shall not steal.

16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

17“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

These are the ten commandments that God Himself inscribed on a stone tablet for Moses. These are His rules for living, for the Nation of Israel as well as for us today.

Or, you could check out the “Hillbilly 10 Commandments.” They are a condensed version of the 10 commandments, in a slightly different order than the ones God gave Moses, with a backwoodsy twist.

  1. Aint but One God.
  2. Honor yer Ma and Pa.
  3. No tellin’ tales or gossipin’.
  4. Git yer hide ta Sunday meetin’.
  5. Aint notin’ come before the Lord.
  6. No foolin’ with another feller’s gal.
  7. No killin’, cept fer critters.
  8. Quit yer foul mouthin’.
  9. No swipen’ yer kin folk’s stuff.
  10. Don’t be hankerin’ fer it neither.

The Pharisees and Sadducees were the teachers of the teachers of the law the leaders of Israel in Jesus’ day and they were always trying to trip him up. They questioned Jesus on the commandments in Matthew 22: 34-40.

34Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35One of them, an expert in the law, tested Him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied, “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

And this succinctly boils down all of the ten commandments into two. Love God and love people.

We should behave because our children are watching.

We all smile when we see a little boy imitating his daddy shaving, or a little girl imitating her mother applying makeup. Our children are watching our every move and the lessons they learn as they watch us are far more impactful than anything we could ever say.

Some things are better caught than taught. We should be a living gospel to all who see us, particularly our children. Studies show that parents who make church attendance optional. meaning only attending when it is convenient, tend to raise children who view church and God as non-essential.

In 1 Corinthians 4:16 Paul urges the new Believers in Corinth to imitate him as he follows Christ. Our children imitate us. Our children and new Believers are always watching us and learning how to walk the Christian walk largely based on how we are walking ourselves.

We should behave because Jesus is watching.

Have you heard the joke about the burglar and the parrot? the burglar breaks into a person’s house and is busily trying to crack open the safe when he hears a voice behind him say, “Jesus is watching,.” Startled, he turns around and sees no one else in the room with him and returns to his work. Again, he hears: “Jesus is watching.”

This time he shines his flashlight around the room and sees a parrot sitting on a perch. The bird looks at him and says again, “Jesus is watching.”

“Just a stupid bird,” the burglar mutters. Then he asks the bird its name. The bird replies, “Moses.”

“Moses!” the burglar says. “Who would name a bird Moses?”

The bird replies, “The same person who named their Rottweiler Jesus. Sic ’em, Jesus.”

Jesus Christ is not a rottweiler. He is the King and Lord of Lords and is God in the flesh. He will come again to judge the living and the dead. Believers will not be judged as to if they can enter heaven or not; believing in Jesus, making Him the Lord of your life and following Him takes care of that. But there is a special judgment for believers where Jesus will examine the works we did on earth, and the way that we lived our life here on earth and we will be rewarded for the things we did for His Kingdom.

In Matthew 16:24-27, Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? For what can a man give in exchange for his soul? For the son of man is going to come in His Father’s glory with His angels and then He will reward each person according to what he has done.”

Paul, addressing the church in Corinth said in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15: By the grace God has given me I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s works. If what has built survives, he will receive his reward. It it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.

What are you building on the foundation of Jesus Christ? Are you building with gold and gemstones or wood and straw?

Jesus is the good shepherd. He watches over His church. It breaks my heart to think of willfully doing anything that would grieve Him or cause Him pain. He has done so much for me. My obedience to Him is an act of love.

Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey My commandments.” Remember, these are “love God and love people.” Walk circumspectly because people are watching. They are the lost, sin-soaked world that is looking for truth to commit their lives to. They are new Believers who are looking for an example of Christian walk to follow. They are your children, the next generation of Christianity. And it is Jesus, our Lord and Savior, who is looking for people to follow Him in truth.

There is a sad heresy that has crept into Christendom today. It is the Hyper Grace movement. It reduces a life of devotion to Jesus to a mere incantation. Say the words, walk the church aisle, and be saved. Then live as you choose because you now have your golden ticket to heaven.

That is not the way it works. Jesus is looking for people to be devoted to Him, to turn away from sin, and walk as new creatures in the light of God, not people who only give Him lip service and then live by their own rules.

Are you willing to make that choice? Are you willing to give up the sinful life and follow Jesus? If you are willing, please don’t delay. I firmly believe that Jesus could return for His Church at any moment. You don’t want to miss that train. You don’t have to recite a fancy prayer; just talk to God from your heart and tell Him you are sorry for sinning against Him and ask Him to make you part of His family and ask HIm to help you live for Jesus.

Whom Are We Really Offending?

Today is Halloween or more specifically, All Hallows Eve, the day before the Christian feast day dedicated to the celebration of heaven being the final destination for all who claim Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Just as many begin their official celebration of Christmas on December 24, or Christmas Eve, All Hallows Eve traditionally was the “kick-off party” to the celebration of “All Saints Day.”

One year our church hosted a children’s party that focused on the celebration of those of us who looked forward to heaven – those of us still here on earth fighting in the trenches of spiritual warfare. No spooky or gory costumes were permitted. Children were to dress in costumes representing Believers who had died in Christ and were now triumphantly in heaven. The party looked a lot like a gathering of “The Village People” with many tinkers, tailors, and Indian Chiefs.

But this year, a school district in Colorado sent letters home to parents stating that children’s Halloween party costumes criteria no longer allowed children to dress up as cowboys or Indians, nor wear any other attire which the school might find offensive, particularly any outfit that might offend any ethnic group. (No more gypsies, geishas, flamenco dancers, or Mexican freedom fighters, like Zorro, allowed either!) Witches, ghouls, vampires, goblins and zombies are permitted.

The American culture is steeped in death and the occult. Tune into prime time television on any night and take note of the parade of undead, witches, and vampires. Even commercials have zombies trying to buy cell phones! The school’s permission of gory, occultic and demonic costumes shouldn’t offend anyone, right? And many Christians, lulled into the fog of political correctness, allow their offspring to dress up as a zombie, witch, or vampire and think nothing of it, because the costumes are not offending any particular ethnic group.

Whom are we really offending? We are so caught up with political correctness, that we completely miss the offense we are committing toward our God and Creator. His love letter to us, the Holy Bible, warns us to have nothing to do with the occult and to avoid every appearance of evil. Satan celebrates death, while Jesus came that we might enjoy abundant life.

Christians, Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey my commandments.” Don’t be changed by the culture we live in, but transform the culture around you by letting the light of Christ-in-you shine and dispel the darkness, and battle on!

The Miracle Mutt

Miracle Mutt Give thanks to the LORD for he is good; His love endures forever. Psalm 107:1

My daughter’s little dog is a Miracle Mutt. He managed to injure himself last week in a duel to the death with a bathroom rug. The evil rug was destroyed, but it nearly took him with it. There were no witnesses to this battle; he was discovered lying listlessly on the floor with the rug in shreds around him. His left hind leg was useless and he trembled in horrible pain, refusing food and water.

The vet suspected a blown disc was the cause, but nothing was revealed by x-rays. A blood scan revealed nothing abnormal. Yet, the little guy was in intense pain. Even pain meds didn’t seem to eradicate his suffering. More x-rays and additional vet visits failed to reveal the cause of his problems. Stumped, the Dr. suggested a neurosurgeon, but warned that the tests alone would cost thousands of dollars.

One thing we knew, the poor dog wouldn’t last long in his current condition. It looked very grim. He would only drink from a syringe as he lay quivering from the pain. At one point he lost bladder control and couldn’t even stand. She hand fed him special foods and wept.

My daughter was heartbroken, and we all cried together at the thought of euthanizing her beloved pet. Without the funds to cover such a catastrophic event, she would have him put out of his suffering if he failed to improve over the weekend.

We prayed. We posted on Facebook and friends and family prayed. She teaches Sunday School and the children in her class prayed.

Deciding that his final day would be as good as she could make it, they went to his favorite place and spent several hours at the ocean as she prayed and cried. And God was gracious and merciful.

On Monday, the dog stood up and limped around her living room. He began putting the injured foot down to the ground and began to void his bladder and bowels without assistance. He wants to play! He is so perky that she worries that he may reinjure himself.

The vet was not sure he would last through the weekend, but we are celebrating God’s mercy. Whatever the cause of his injury, we believe that God is in the process of miraculously healing my daughter’s little dog. We are humbled and grateful beyond words, praising our God and King for his great love.

Psalm 116: I love the LORD for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy…The LORD is gracious and righteous. our God is full of compassion.

Cat Tales

We spend our summers in a rural area, surrounded by dairy farms and fields of corn. Our ten acres is its own little wild-life sanctuary, populated by deer, pheasants, rabbits, and feral cats.

We sometimes stumble upon nests of feral kittens tucked away in the flower bed or woodshed They are wild little creatures. Perhaps their ancestors were once tame, ending up in this life by abandonment by their owners, or getting lost by their own wandering, these offspring have long forgotten how to be loved. They run when they see a human, exist by their own wits, and are frequently meals for the coyote and hawk population. Life is short and difficult in the wild. These feral cats will “visit” my tame cats through the window of my house, and hiss and spit at them, as if challenging them to fight.

Our first Maine Coon cat was rescued from this life. Riley was nearly starving when he found us, assumingly abandoned on our lonely dirt road. The vet gave him a clean bill of health and we adopted the cat into our home. He immediately bonded with me and was always at my side like a faithful dog. It was almost as if he remembered his frightening life in the wild and gratefully appreciated his redemption.

After Riley’s death we acquired another Maine Coon cat, this time from a breeder. Buster has always been pampered, loved and cared for. He has never experienced hardship and seems to take his care for granted and that his needs will always be met. He has been with us a number of years and is only just begun to show signs of bonding with me.

The state of these cats remind me of people and their relationship to Jesus Christ.

The feral cats make me think of people who are lost. Perhaps their ancestors knew the Lord, but influences of culture or bad choices drove them away from God. Their children and grandchildren have lived by their wits and without the knowledge of Jesus Christ. And, like the cats who hiss through the windows of my house, they often try to pick fights with those who follow Jesus.

Riley, my rescued cat, puts me in mind of people who come out of the wild, who make a conscious decision to follow Jesus and are infinitely grateful for being rescued. They remember their life before Christ and never want to go back to living without Him. They are faithful.

Buster makes me think of people who have been raised in a Christian heritage. They have grown up surrounded by a Christian culture and influence through their parents and grandparents. Perhaps they have always attended Christian schools and been raised in a church environment. They have never known a life without Christian influence. They are at risk of assuming that because their family is Christian, they are as well, and this is a dangerous assumption. God has children, but not grandchildren. Everyone must make their own decision to follow Christ.

What kind of a cat are you? Do you need to come out of the wild and be rescued? Have you been adopted into God’s family? The cry for salvation is a prayer that God always hears and answers.

Doing the Splits

We moved a lot during my husband’s career. He was utilized as a plant launch specialist and when his company wanted to start up a new factory, he was THE guy for the job. During the ten years of my children’s’ education, we moved seven times, living in five different states.

After one relocates a few times, the brain tends to switch to auto pilot. There is a mental check list of notifications, closet cleaning, and good-byes. We generally had a two week window to wrap up life in one location before moving to another. During those two weeks, we would pack up our computer, schoolbooks, and a survival wardrobe and move into a furnished apartment while house-hunting in our new location.

Notification of transfer usually came mid-December; January would find us in a new apartment, and we generally closed and moved in to our new house in early May. That left about 4 months of “doing the splits”- living with a minimum amount of stuff, away from those things that make our day-to-day life more enjoyable, easier, and fun. Inevitably, I would think I had something essential with me, would tear the apartment apart looking for it, only to conclude it must be a the other house.

I have been in Florida since January and did “the splits” this morning! I woke up with my mind made up on what I want to wear today. (Doesn’t everyone do that, or is it just a “girl-thing?” ) The object of my search is a print cotton cardigan. It has a brown and tan and orange pattern and would go great with the brown Capri’s, orange belt, and white polo that I am wearing to work today.

I tore apart all of the storage bins under my bed, my limited closet space, and even dug through the bins in the back of my van. I am convinced it is still at home in my closet.

Not having the sweater is a minor frustration. It is just a reminder that I am “doing the splits.” My life is currently split between Michigan and Florida, and will remain in transition until God opens up a firm direction for our future.

As a Christian, I should be used to “doing the splits.” I live in this world, but am not of this world. My real home is in heaven; I am just a sojourner on this earth. Someday, I will finally get to go home.

Here, in the present, living between Michigan and Florida, I am searching for my sweater.  I know that when I go back to my home in Michigan and will retreive it.  But, during our time here on earth, we spend our lives in a state of searching – searching for that illusive happiness and peace. 

The missing ingredient in life is Jesus Christ, and many of us spend our entire life searching for true happiness in all of the wrong places. It cannot be found in parties, drugs, or possessions.  There is a peace and joy in Jesus Christ that our world here cannot give.  Behind all of our searching, is Jesus.  He is what our broken, empty hearts are ultimately searching for.    He is waiting for all who seek Him.  Call out to Jesus and find that true peace.