Tag Archives: Matthew

Rick Warren – Shepherd or Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing?

15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.

~ Matthew 7:15-20 — NKJV ~

English: Rick Warren speaks at the 2006 TED co...
English: Rick Warren speaks at the 2006 TED conference. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I received a message from a brother in the Lord, whose opinion I respect very much, and he had some questions about my latest post, in which I called Rick Warren a false teacher. After reading his comment, I wanted to further expound on the reasons why I feel that Rick Warren is a teacher of false doctrine. Therefore, in this post, I will further share with you the reasons why I believe that Rick Warren is a false teacher. Then, after reading this post and my previous post, if anyone still questions this, I urge you to pray and compare what I’ve shared with scripture so you can see what kind of fruit Mr. Warren bears. Then you can judge for yourself if Rick Warren is a false teacher or an anointed man of God.

“Did you know that God smiles when you be you. Some people have the misguided idea that God only gets excited when you’re doing “spiritual things” like going to church or helping the poor or confessing or doing something like that.

The bottom line is that God gets pleasure watching you be you. Why? He made you. And when you do what you were made to do He says ‘That’s my boy!’, ‘That’s my girl!’

You’re using the talent and ability that I gave you… So my advice to you is look at what is in your hand, your identity, your influence, your income, and say its not about me, its about making the world a better place.”

~ Rick Warren,
TED Conference, 2006 ~

Pastor Rick Warren at Saddleback Church.
Pastor Rick Warren at Saddleback Church. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 2006, Rick Warren was invited to speak at the TED Conference, which is made up of nonbelievers and deep thinkers of the world. Given this incredible opportunity to speak for twenty minutes to those who do not know Jesus Christ, you would think that a minister of God would share the gospel with the crowd, but instead, Rick Warren chose to talk about “A Life of Purpose,”

For more than twenty minutes, Warren spoke about our purpose in life and what pleases God, and what he said sounds like a good thing. According to Warren, we please God just by being ourselves. Doesn’t that sound good? According to Rick Warren, when I use the talents and the abilities that God gave me to make the world a better place, and say that it’s not about me, God is pleased. Doesn’t it sound pleasing to your ears? While this sounds good and nice, it is not what God’s Word says…

8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

~ Romans 8:8 — NKJV ~

6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

~ Hebrews 11:6 — NKJV ~

Pastor Rick Warren at Saddleback Church.
Pastor Rick Warren at Saddleback Church. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to the bible, if someone is in his/her flesh, that person cannot please God, no matter what they use their talents and abilities for. Also, according to Hebrews 11:6, without faith, no matter how you use your gifts and talents, you cannot please God. This is another example of false teaching from Rick Warren.

Further, in his statement above, Pastor Warren implied that our purpose is to make the world  better place. Again, this is not now, nor has it ever been mankind’s purpose to make the world a better place.

“Everyone who is called by My name,
Whom I have created for My glory;
I have formed him, yes, I have made him.”

~ Isaiah 43:7 — NKJV ~

According to the scripture above, the Lord created mankind for His glory… and no matter what anyone else says, this is our purpose in life — to live for the glory of God.

Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

~ 1 Corinthians 10:31 — NKJV ~

Image Credit: InspirationalChristianQuotes.net
Image Credit:
InspirationalChristianQuotes.net

To tell someone that God gets pleasure simply from watching you be you is to do people a great disservice. We were all created for the glory of God, and in everything we do, we must do it to the glory of God.

Therefore, if we fail to glorify God and if we have no faith, no matter how well we use our gifts and talents, it is impossible for us to please God, despite what Rick Warren says. In fact, by failing to present the gospel of salvation to this group of people, and for teaching the people at the TED conference a lie, Rick Warren failed to please God…

Now, some might say that most of the things taught by Warren are good things, and that there is “some” truth in what he says, however, even the smallest error can be disastrous to the lives of men, women and children. It is extremely important that we remember that only the truth will set us free from the bonds of sin, death and destruction…

31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

~ John 8:31-32 — NKJV ~

Now, let us not only remember that it is the truth that sets us free, let us also remember what the Apostle Paul said about the leaven of sin…

6 Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven,  nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

~ 1 Corinthians 5:6-8 — NKJV ~

Even though some of what Pastor Rick Warren teaches seems harmless, and in some instances, even good, because it is peppered (or leavened) with untruths, it spoils his whole message. Just as one bad potato can ruin the whole bushel of potatoes, one bad erroneous doctrine can ruin the whole gospel that is preached, so that it is no longer the untainted Gospel of Truth, but a false doctrine taught by a false prophet…

In March, 2013, when the Roman Catholic church was seeking their new pope, Warren tweeted a call for the church to fast and pray for the cardinals who were seeking a new pope.

“Join me today in fasting and prayer for the 115 Cardinals seeking God’s Will in a new leader.”

~ Rick Warren ~

I realize that I may anger some people, however, I must speak the truth. Whoever said that it is God’s will for His church to have a pope? The call for us to fast and pray for the cardinals’ choice of a new pope, who is worshiped within the Catholic community, is nothing less than heresy.

“I’m very concerned because what this does is it confuses the average evangelical. Right now, the Body of Christ doesn’t know whether to evangelize Roman Catholics or to join hands with them to go out and evangelize the world, [and] it’s because of people like Rick Warren who either don’t know how exclusive the Gospel of grace is, or he’s not aware of the false and fatal Gospel of the Roman Catholic religion.”

~ Mike Gendron of Proclaiminng the Gospel Ministries and former Roman Catholic ~

Further, on the Piers Morgan Show in November, 2012, Warren responded to a question about whether a person could be born homosexual…

“I think the jury is still out on that. It wouldn’t bother me if there was a ‘gay gene’ found, because here’s what we know about life: I have all kinds of natural feelings in my life, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that I should act on every feeling. … I do not believe that attraction is a sin, but I do believe that some actions are sin.”

~ Rick Warren ~

I have a problem with this statement, because it flies in the face against the teachings of Jesus, who taught us this powerful lesson…

27 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you;  for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.”

~ Matthew 5:27-30 — NKJV ~

Mr. Warren says that there is nothing wrong with being attracted, that the problem arises when you  act on your desires, but this is not what Jesus taught us. Jesus said that whoever looks at someone with lust in their eyes has already committed sin. This same scripture can be applied to those who have either heterosexual and/or homosexual desires for someone they are not married to. To lust after anyone is sin — period.

Further, check out his response in an interview with Marc Lamont Hill, Huffington Post, when Warren was asked whether or not homosexuals go to hell.

“No, not because they’re gay,” he said. “We go to Hell because we choose to reject the grace of God.”

When Hill asked what happens to a homosexual that accepts Jesus, Warren responded enthusiastically.

“He’s going to Heaven!” he declared. “Without a doubt.”

Now, let’s see what the word of God says about the subject…

9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 

~ 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 — NKJV ~

Now, let’s be clear about this, my friends, lest anyone should lose hope. Although He hates sin, God loves the sinner, and it is not His will that anyone should perish. That is why it is so necessary for teachers to teach sound doctrine. Can the homosexual man or woman be saved? Hallelujah – yes they can! Can they continue in their sinful lifestyle and still be saved? No. Repentance is required.

Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you.

~ Acts 8:22 — NKJV ~

Sadly, in his teachings, Pastor Warren neglects to warn people of their need for repentance. Simply believing is not enough to save a person, for faith without works is dead…

19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?

~ James 2:19-20 — NKJV ~

My beloved brothers and sisters, I have included several examples and reasons why I believe Rick Warren is a false teacher. Also, below, I’ve included some related articles about the subject. Please read the examples and the scriptures I’ve listed, so that you can make an informed decision.

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

A Reason to Rejoice!

Image Credit: William Hole
Image Credit:
William Hole

9 As Jesus was walking along, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow Me and be My disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed Him.

 

10 Later, Matthew invited Jesus and His disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. 11 But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked His disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with such scum?”

 

12 When Jesus heard this, He said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.” 13 Then He added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”

~ Matthew 9:9-13 — NLT ~

ocsoldier.blogspot.com
ocsoldier.blogspot.com

Imagine what Matthew must have felt like when Jesus called him. He was a Jew, and yet he was hated by his fellow Jews because he worked for Herod Antipas, collecting taxes from the people. Not only that, tax collectors had a reputation of being extremely corrupt, extorting far more money from citizens than what the actual taxes were. Therefore, knowing how his people felt about him, with good reason, imagine how Matthew must have felt when Jesus came to his tax booth, and looking him straight in the eye, invited him to join His disciples.

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Image Credit:
http://vimeo.com/62820471

I can’t help but wonder how Matthew felt. Did he hurry and leave his tax booth immediately to follow Jesus, joyfully bidding his fellow tax collectors and other sinners that he knew, a fond farewell, inviting them to join him for dinner later that evening, where Jesus would be the distinguished guest of honor?  I can only wonder at his joy and excitement.

As he followed Jesus that first day, what words of wisdom did he hear? Did he witness any miracles or deliverances that day? As he walked along with the One who was the Way, the Truth and the Life, did he feel humbled and grateful?

Later that evening, after spending his first day with Jesus, Matthew must have been overflowing with joy as his guests began to arrive and he proudly introduced them to Jesus. How his joy must have melted into shame as he heard the Pharisees questioning the disciples…

But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked His disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with such scum?”

~ Matthew 9:11 — NLT ~

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Image Credit:
tvaraj2inspirations.wordpress.com/

Have you ever felt like dirt? Have you ever been on the mountaintop, only to have someone trash you, revealing all of your shortcomings and weaknesses to those you most wanted to love you? Do you know what its like to feel exposed and vulnerable? I suspect Matthew may have felt like that for awhile, until Jesus responded to the Pharisees…

12 When Jesus heard this, He said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.” 13 Then He added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”

~ Matthew 9:12-13 — NLT ~

Image Credit: everydaywithgrace.com
Image Credit:
everydaywithgrace.com

Can you even begin to imagine the joy and the relief Matthew must have felt as heard Jesus’ words? The Pharisees hadn’t revealed anything that Jesus didn’t already know! He already knew of Matthew’s sins, as well as those of his friends, but He chose to give them mercy and grace.

Jesus was the great physician, who had come to heal the sin-sick tax collectors and disreputable sinners, He, who had never sinned, never lied, and never cheated, wasn’t ashamed to be associated with Matthew and his sinful friends. Instead of condemning the sinners, Jesus had come to call them, just as He had called Matthew and all of the other disciples.

What’s more, not only did Jesus defend Matthew and the other sinners, He also did the unthinkable. How shocked Matthew, the other disciples, and the sinners must have been… How shocked the Pharisees must have been, when Jesus rebuked them as He ordered them to leave…

… “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.

~ Matthew 9:13 — NLT ~

Hallelujah! This scripture passage gives me such hope, as it should to everyone who reads this post and realizes that they too are sinners who have fallen short of the glory of God. Yes, I’ve sinned. I’ve made such a mess of so many things in my life, and I am fully aware of my weaknesses.

So, my beloved readers, how do you feel about this scripture passage? Does it bless your heart? When you read it, do you feel peace? Love? Joy? Hope? Leave me a comment and let me know how this scripture passage makes you feel. May the Lord bless you, my friends!

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

Be Encouraged, My Child! Your Sins Are Forgiven

1 Jesus climbed into a boat and went back across the lake to His own town. 2 Some people brought to Him a paralyzed man on a mat. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “Be encouraged, My child! Your sins are forgiven.”

3 But some of the teachers of religious law said to themselves, “That’s blasphemy! Does He think He’s God?”

4 Jesus knew what they were thinking, so He asked them, “Why do you have such evil thoughts in your hearts? 5 Is it easier to say ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up and walk’? 6 So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!”

7 And the man jumped up and went home! 8 Fear swept through the crowd as they saw this happen. And they praised God for sending a Man with such great authority.

~ Matthew 9:1-8 — NLT ~

When I read this, passage of scripture, my mind immediately goes to the many people who have been paralyzed throughout the centuries. I think of people who I’ve known personally, and those that I don’t know personally, but I know of them.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States of America, was paralyzed from the waist down, and later diagnosed with infantile paralysis (polio) in 1921, at the age of 39. Unbeknownst to the very people who elected him, Roosevelt was able to keep his paralysis a secret, for the most part, through the aid of the press.

Image Credit: www.history.com
Image Credit:
http://www.history.com

How do you think people would react if their loved ones brought them to see Jesus, and He simply responded, “Be encouraged, My child! Your sins are forgiven.”?  How would Franklin D. Roosevelt have responded, I wonder? Would he praise the Lord and thank Jesus? Or would he be offended that Jesus brought his sins up? How would the wealthy spoiled politician have responded? Would he have angrily tried to silence Jesus, fearing He would Roosevelt’s adulterous affairs to the world? Or would he have repented, crying out to the Lord and asking for forgiveness for the sins he had committed against God and man?

Image Credit: Photorazzi
Image Credit:
Photorazzi

Many people have heard of Christopher Reeve, an actor best known for playing Superman in the 1980’s. Reeve was paralyzed after being thrown from a horse in 1995, at the age of 42. For the rest of his life, until he died at age 52, Reeve was a quadriplegic, unable to breathe on his own without breathing equipment.

How do you think Christopher Reeve and his family, friends and fans would have responded to Jesus telling him, “Be encouraged, My child! Your sins are forgiven.”? Do you think Reeve and those who loved him would have rejoiced at Jesus’ words of love and mercy? Or would he, his family, friends and fans be offended at the implication that he was a sinful man? Would he and those who loved him have recognized that He was in the presence of the Son of God, who had authority to forgive sins? Or would they simply think Jesus was a man like any other man, who had no authority… a man who had stepped out of line by implying that Christopher Reeves was a sinner? How would you feel if you witnessed this?

Image Credit: Messiah College News
Image Credit:
Messiah College News

And then there’s Joni Eareckson Tada… I don’t know how many of you are familiar with Joni Eareckson Tada, so I’ll just give you a brief overview of her life. In 1967, at the tender age of 17, Joni Eareckson Tada was involved in a terrible diving accident, fracturing her spine between the fourth and fifth cervical levels, which left her a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the shoulders down. During the months that followed her accident, Joni suffered from deep depression, wanting to commit suicide, yet physically unable to carry out her wishes, until finally, one night, a few months after her accident, she cried out to the Lord to help her endure and to let some good come from her pain.

Image Credit: Disability Campaign
Image Credit:
Disability Campaign

The Lord heard her cry, filling her life with purpose. Though she was no longer able to use her hands and arms, nor her feet and her legs, He gave her the ability to draw and to paint, holding the necessary instruments in her mouth. The quality of the artwork she produced far exceeded the abilities of most people who have use of all of their limbs. And every picture drawn, as well as every painting was done for the glory of the Lord… 

Image Credit: Heaven - Your Real Home Joni Eareckson Tada
Image Credit:
Heaven – Your Real Home
Joni Eareckson Tada

As she drew closer to the Lord, Joni acknowledged that as incomprehensible as it may seem to most people, the Lord had allowed the horrible accident in answer to a prayer that she had prayed few months prior. That night, after returning home from an evening of teenage passion and sin, Joni had cried out to God for forgiveness and for the strength to stop sinning against Him. She admitted that the Lord would have to give her the strength to repent and turn away from the sins she was involved in, because she was powerless to stop on her own. She admits that she has come to believe that the Lord allowed all that has happened in answer to that desperate cry for help, and to discipline her according to Hebrews 12…

5 And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as His children? He said, “My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline, and don’t give up when He corrects you. 6 For the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes each one He accepts as His child.” 

7 As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as His own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? 8 If God doesn’t discipline you as He does all of His children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really His children at all. 9 Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever?

10 For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in His holiness. 11 No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.

~ Hebrews 12:5-11 — NLT ~

Image Credit: Tulips Joni Eareckson Tada
Image Credit:
Tulips
Joni Eareckson Tada

This seems so difficult for people to swallow. Would a God of love really ordain one of His children to become a quadriplegic in answer to prayer? Is God really more concerned about our souls than in the suffering of our bodies? Is it easier for God to forgive sins? Or is it easier for Him to heal our bodies, enabling the quadriplegics and the paraplegics to rise up and walk again?

Look at yourself and your own situations. How is your physical health? How is your emotional health? Have you ever wondered, “Why me, Lord?” Have you ever considered the possibility that not only has God allowed your present suffering, but perhaps, He also ordained it? Is this offensive to you? What if I told you that the Lord’s love for us runs so deep, and flies so high; its breadth is so wide and it spans so long that He will spare nothing to win us for eternity? Remember, my beloved readers, God knows our hearts better than we do…

9 “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? 10 But I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.

~ Jeremiah 17:9-10 — NLT ~

Christ knows what is in the heart of man, and therefore, He knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows exactly what you and I must endure in order for us to submit our lives to Him, and while it is not His will to harm us, He will do whatever it takes in order to draw us to Him. Have you been suffering? I have suffered greatly, both throughout my younger years, and even recently. I don’t understand why the Lord chose to ordain my suffering, but I do know that He loves me, and He promises that He will work all things together for my good, because I love Him and He has called me according to His glory.

2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

~ James 1:2-4 — NLT ~

What about you, beloved? Do you love the Lord? Has He called you according to His glory? Then count it all joy, for the Lord is perfecting you!

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

Let the Dead Bury Their Own Dead

"Let the dead bury their own dead."
“Let the dead bury their own dead.”

21 Then another of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.”

22 But Jesus said to him, “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

~ Matthew 8:21-22 — NKJV ~

Image Credit: http://followpurity.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/jesus-hand.jpg
Image Credit:
http://followpurity.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/jesus-hand.jpg

What do you think when you read this scripture? Does it sound harsh to you? Does it seem like Jesus is being really cold in light of the pain the disciple must be feeling at the death of his father? I always struggled with that passage, and I’ll be honest with you, I prayed the Lord would give me the wisdom to understand this and to share it with you (and me too!).

And then I started thinking about it, and the Lord opened my eyes as He taught me… Let’s take note of the first thing that Jesus says to the man — “Follow Me…” Think about it. Jesus commanded the disciple to follow Him. He gives us the same command today, and we must make a choice. Will we follow Him? Or will we go our own way?

“Follow Me”, Jesus commands us, and we mustn’t let anything get in the way of this command. We must choose to follow Him, no matter what our circumstances are. If all is well, we must follow Jesus. If it seems as though all hell has broken loose, we must follow Jesus. Our lives depend on obeying this command to follow Jesus.

Now think about this, Jesus is LIFE, and this disciple wanted to leave LIFE, to go and be with his dead father. Yes, this was his father, but his father was dead. Really, there was nothing more that could be done for his father, but there was every reason for him to follow the One in whom there was LIFE.

4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

~ John 1:4-5 — NKJV ~

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

~ John 11:25-26 — NKJV ~

Let’s look at the passage of scripture we are studying again…

21 Then another of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.”

22 But Jesus said to him, “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

Matthew 8:21-22 — NKJV ~

When I read this passage now, I see the harshness of Jesus’ response borne out of love for His disciple. The disciple wanted to leave Christ to bury a dead man first. Think about it… Not only was this disciple putting something else ahead of the Lord, he was putting a dead man ahead of Him!

17 When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as if I were dead. But He laid His right hand on me and said, “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last. 18 I am the living one. I died, but look—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave.”

~ Revelation 1:17-18 — NLT ~

Image Credit: http://followpurity.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/jesus-hand.jpg
Image Credit:
http://followpurity.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/jesus-hand.jpg

This disciple wanted to put a dead man ahead of the One who is the First and the Last. He was going to put a dead man, who had already lived his life — “Yes,” you may say, “but this was the man’s father!” — ahead of the One who holds the keys of death and the grave. Yes, although the dead man was the disciple’s father, he was dead. There was nothing more he could do for his father, because he was no longer among the living. What remained was the disciple, and the choice he made would determine whether he would be among the living or the dead.

Jesus’ statement, “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead,” reminds me of one of my favorite passages in Deuteronomy 15, when Moses addresses the people of Israel, giving them the choice between life and death. I believe that this was Jesus’ message to His disciple and to every other man, woman and child who would follow, that they too must make a choice…

15 “Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster. 16 For I command you this day to love the Lord your God and to keep His commands, decrees, and regulations by walking in His ways. If you do this, you will live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you and the land you are about to enter and occupy.

17 “But if your heart turns away and you refuse to listen, and if you are drawn away to serve and worship other gods, 18 then I warn you now that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live a long, good life in the land you are crossing the Jordan to occupy.

19 “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! 20 You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying Him, and committing yourself firmly to Him. This is the key to your life. And if you love and obey the Lord, you will live long in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”

~ Deuteronomy 30:15-20 — NLT ~

Don’t you see the choice Jesus gave the young man? “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” We can follow Him and let the dead bury their own dead, or we can leave Him to be with the dead… When He says, “Follow Me,” I can almost hear Him saying, just as Moses said to the children of Israel, “Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!” And now, after praying and meditating on this word, it no longer seems as though Jesus is being harsh. This passage is just another example of the wonderful, matchless and unmerited love of Christ for each and every one of us.

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

To Tithe or Not To Tithe? (Part 5)

Greetings to My Beloved Readers,

Thank you so much for your patience in waiting for me to continue with the tithing series, To Tithe or Not To Tithe?, while I was temporarily out of commission. Thanks also to everyone who has been praying for me. I truly appreciate your prayers, more than you know…

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Image Credit:http://usafreemoney.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/bag_of_money_wallpaper-other.jpg

And now, let’s continue with the fifth part of the series, To Tithe or Not To Tithe?. In the last few posts, we’ve compared Old Testament teachings about tithing to New Testament teaching. Now, let’s take a look at the early church to see if they tithed. Let’s also see where their money went, and how they got it…

“It is admitted universally that the payment of tithes or the tenth of possessions, for sacred purposes, did not find a place within the Christian Church during the age covered by the apostles and their immediate successors.”

Hastings Dictionary of the Apostolic Church ~
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“The Christian Church depended at first on voluntary gifts from its members.”

~ Encyclopedia Britannica ~
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44 And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. 45 They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. 

~ Acts 2:44-45 — NLT ~
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bag_of_money_wallpaper-other.jpg

As you can see from the scripture above, and from the references above, the early church did not tithe. Instead, all of the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. Now take note of who shared… All of the believers shared… This included apostles, pastors, prophets, teachers and evangelists, as well as everyone else…

Next, let’s look at what they shared… And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. ~ Acts 2:44 — NLT ~ Wow. Just think about this. All of the believers shared everything they had. Obviously, there would have been no apostles, pastors, prophets, teachers and evangelists who were independently wealthy from the tithes and offerings they received from other believers, because they would have shared everything they had. There would have been no worshipers or Christian musicians who charged people to see them and listen to their music, because it all would have been for the glory of God.

Finally, it’s important for us to see who the early church shared everything they had with… They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. ~ Acts 2:45 — NLT ~ The early church shared with those in need. Money was not collected to pay ministers, but to give to those who were in need.

“The New Testament nowhere explicitly requires tithing to maintain a ministry or a place of assembly.”

Bruce M. Metzger and Michael D. Coogan,Oxford Companion to the Bible ~
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Image Credit:
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As you can see, giving in the early church differs greatly from the church today, who gives first to pay for clergy, buildings, maintenance, heat and air conditioning for the buildings, utilities, administrative staff and administrative costs, and a portion goes to whatever denomination the church members belong to. It is only after this and so many other expenses are met, that the money taken in is shared with those in need, and then, it is often given very selectively, after those in need meet certain criteria. I can’t help but wonder what Jesus or the early apostles would think of the giving of tithes, which are given to support many pastors, evangelists and televangelists, who never even come in contact with those who are in need?

“The silence of the N.T. writers, particularly Paul, regarding the present validity of the tithe can be explained only on the ground that the dispensation of grace has no more place for a law of tithing than it has for a law on circumcision.”

Baker’s Dictionary, 1960 ~
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2 Corinthians 9 encourages the Corinthian believers, and us as well, to give to those who are in need. It is not a command to tithe to any church, but to give to those who are in need. It also encourages believers to determine in their hearts how much to give, and not to give reluctantly or in response to pressure. It does not command us to tithe our income…

In fact, after studying the subject, I’ve come to the conclusion that tithing is part of the Old Covenant, which was fulfilled by Jesus. Further, Old Testament tithing never included the people’s income – rather, they tithed their produce and their meat. Finally, we must remember that we are no longer under the law, therefore, if we tithe, we are placing ourselves under the law…

So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.

~ Galatians 5:1 — NLT ~

I’d like to share one final thought about tithing and giving. The Lord wants us to give to the poor, orphans and widows. He wants us to give with a cheerful heart, not under compulsion. What if we listened to Holy Spirit as the early church did, and gave accordingly, not limiting ourselves to a 10% tithe? The early church shared freely of everything they had. If they had  nothing to give, they felt no shame for it. The early church didn’t need a lot of money to share the gospel with their coworkers, families, friends and acquaintances. 

My friends, I urge you to prayerfully consider what you’ve read in this series, and give according to what Holy Spirit leads you to give. Don’t limit yourselves by tithing to a place of worship. Instead, let Holy Spirit lead you to give to those in need, according to the will of God. 

Related Articles:

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

To Tithe or Not To Tithe? Update

Greetings Friends,

Please forgive me for taking so long with my next post. Since returning home from my trip out of town, I’ve been under the weather, and with medication changes, unable to focus. Please keep me in your  prayers. I will be continuing this series and seeing it through its completion, so I ask for your continued patience.

May the Lord bless you!

Love,
Cheryl

To Tithe or Not To Tithe? (Part 4)

8 “Will a man rob God?
Yet you have robbed Me!
But you say,
‘In what way have we robbed You?’
In tithes and offerings.
9 You are cursed with a curse,
For you have robbed Me,
Even this whole nation.
10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
That there may be food in My house,
And try Me now in this,”
Says the Lord of hosts,
“If I will not open for you the windows of heaven
And pour out for you such blessing
That there will not be room enough to receive it.

Malachi 3:8-10 — NKJV ~

Image Credit: http://slaveoftheword.blogspot.com/ 2013/05/old-testament- tithing-passages- response.html
Image Credit:
http://slaveoftheword.blogspot.com/
2013/05/old-testament-
tithing-passages-
response.html

I’m really enjoying this study, and I don’t mind confessing that I’m learning as we go along too. I have also tithed for most of my walk with Christ, (at least since I seriously started serving Him), and until I complete this study, I will reserve my final judgment on tithing. What I am discovering is that many of the things I’ve always believed or been taught to believe about tithing were based not on what the scriptures say, but on the teachings of the church. Also, please understand that I am not telling anyone that they should not give as the Lord leads you to give, and until we complete this study, I’m not even telling you to stop tithing, especially if you feel that it is sinful not to tithe. 

The purpose of this study is for us to discover what the word of God truly says regarding tithing in the church. Please let me be very clear about one thing before we continue with our study, because several people have expressed concern that I might be encouraging you not to tithe. I am encouraging you to join me in this study of God’s word, and after we have completed the study, if you choose to continue tithing or to stop tithing, I encourage you to do so based on what the bible says, NOT because I told you to do so. Now that I’ve cleared that up, let’s continue our bible study with Malachi 3:10…

10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
That there may be food in My house,
And try Me now in this,”
Says the Lord of hosts,
“If I will not open for you the windows of heaven
And pour out for you such blessing
That there will not be room enough to receive it.

Malachi 3:10 — NKJV ~

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Image Credit:
http://www.templesanjose.org/
JudaismInfo/faq/temple
wall.htm

In Malachi 3:10, the Lord instructs the Levite priests to, “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house…” 

In our previous studies, we learned that tithes were seeds and fruit, and herds and flocks. We also learned that 10% of these tithes were given to the Levite priests, who were dedicated to a life of service to the Lord and His temple, and had no land of their own, in order to provide food for them and their families. Therefore, in order to ensure that the Lord’s priests would always have enough to eat, the Lord instituted the tithe. This information is important, because it explains why it was important that there be food in God’s house.

Now look at the first part of that scripture again, “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house…” What was the storehouse, and where was it? (2 Chronicles 31)

  • The storehouse was where the tithes and offerings were kept until they were distributed to the priests.
  • The storehouse was located within the temple. 

There are several reasons why this scripture does not apply to Christians… 

  • Firstly, as I shared with you before, tithes were never cash or credit…
    • Tithes were for a sacrifice to God, and food for the Levite priests.
      • The priests served the Lord in the temple, offering sacrifices, playing music, mediating to God for the sins of the people, etc.
      • Because their lives were dedicated to the Lord, and they had no land of their own, 10% of the tithes were given to the Levite priests for food for them and their families.
      • After Christ was crucified, there was no longer a need for the priests to serve in the temple, because Jesus became our High Priest.
  • The temple was destroyed in 70 AD, and has not been rebuilt.
    • Therefore, there is no longer any storehouse.
    • Further, since Christ was crucified, He became the final sacrifice, and there is no longer a need to present tithes and offerings to the Lord to be sacrificed… In fact, it was never our sacrifices that the Lord desired…
      • You take no delight in sacrifices or offerings.
        Now that you have made me listen, I finally understand—
        you don’t require burnt offerings or sin offerings.
         ~ Psalm 40:6 
      • I want you to show love,
        not offer sacrifices.
        I want you to know me
        more than I want burnt offerings. 
        ~
        Hosea 6:6
    • Levite priests are no longer necessary, there is no longer a need to collect tithes to feed them.
    • Since the temple was destroyed, there is no longer a storehouse for the tithes to be brought to.
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Image Credit:
http://blog.adw.org/
wp-content/uploads/
Faces_of_Christ.jpg

Now, some claim that the storehouse we are now supposed to bring our tithes and offerings (cash and credit, no longer food, although scripture makes no mention of this change) to, is the church. However, according to the scriptures, the church is not the building or the place where we worship…

  • 22 And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. ~ Ephesians 1:22-23 — NKJV ~

According to the scriptures, Christians are the church. We are the body of Christ, not the building that we go to worship at. If I am in my home, then my home houses the church, but it is not the church. If I am in my car or Walmart, then they house the church, but they are not the church. When I go to my place of worship on Sundays, as soon as the men and women of God show up, that is where the church is, but as soon as we leave that building, although it may be dedicated to God, it is not the church. 

Not only that, but the bible tells us in several different places that not only are we (all Christians) the church, but we are also the temple of the Holy Spirit.

  • Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself… 1 Corinthians 6:19 — NLT ~
  • 19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. ~ Ephesians 2:19-22 — NKJV ~

So, the tithes and offerings were brought to the storehouse for the purpose of sacrificing to God, and feeding the Levite priests. There is no longer any need to do either, because Jesus was the sacrifice for our sins once and for all. Further, consider this…

  • you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. ~ 1 Peter 2:5 — NIV ~
      • And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him. ~ Romans 12:1 — NLT ~
  • But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light. ~ 1 Peter 2:9 — NIV ~

The tithes and offerings were taken to the temple and given to the priests. If all Christians are the church and temple of the Holy Spirit, and if we are also a holy and royal priesthood, then it’s important to know this fact. The Levite priests were not required to tithe, because a portion of the tithes were to feed them. 

Therefore, since we are a royal priesthood, and the temple of God’s Holy Spirit, are we bound by the law to tithe? Also, let us not forget that the Lord doesn’t desire sacrifices, and the sacrifice that is required of all believers is for us to offer our bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, which is pleasing to the Lord. Brothers and sisters, this is truly the way to worship God. As I study the scriptures, which tells us that we are not bound by the law, why would God command His people to obey this law? And would He change the terms, requiring priests to pay tithes now, and changing the food offerings to cash or credit offerings? And to whom and where would God’s holy priesthood present tithes?

I urge you to prayerfully study the scriptures, asking the Lord to reveal the truth to you through His word. I also encourage you to join me for To Tithe or Not To Tithe (Part 5)when we will continue our study.

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

To Tithe or Not To Tithe? (Part 3)

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Welcome to the third part of To Tithe or Not To Tithe?, and thank you for your patience in waiting for part 3. I just left my daughter’s home in GA and headed for home yesterday, and was unable to finish this post during my last few days there. However, I’m home now, and hopefully, Lord willing, I will be able to continue on this series more regularly. If you’re just starting this series, please be sure to check out the following posts first…

In part two of this series, I said that we would be studying Malachi 3:8-10…

8 “Will a man rob God?
Yet you have robbed Me!
But you say,
‘In what way have we robbed You?’
In tithes and offerings.
9 You are cursed with a curse,
For you have robbed Me,
Even this whole nation.
10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
That there may be food in My house,
And try Me now in this,”
Says the Lord of hosts,
“If I will not open for you the windows of heaven
And pour out for you such blessing
That there will not be room enough to receive it.

Malachi 3:8-10 — NKJV ~

In part two of this series, we began the study with verse 8…

8 “Will a man rob God?
Yet you have robbed Me!
But you say,
‘In what way have we robbed You?’
In tithes and offerings.

Malachi 3:8 — NKJV ~

In verse 8 we learned:

  • The Lord spoke these words these words to warn the Levite priests who had turned away from Him, and were not treating the sacrifices they were to make to Him seriously, to repent and obey the Law.
  • The Lord did not require monetary tithes and offerings.
    • He required a tithe of seeds and fruit
    • He required a tithe of herds and flocks
  • When Jesus was crucified on the cross, as a sacrifice to pay for the sins of man, there was no longer any need for sacrifice in the Temple…Since there is no longer any need for sacrifices to be made, there is no longer any need for priests to offer sacrifices, approach God on our behalf, or mediate for our sins, for Christ is our High Priest…
    • For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus — 1 Timothy 2:5 (NKJV)
    • 14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. — Hebrews 4:14-16 (NKJV)
Image Credit: http://www.tithing.com/wp-content/ uploads/2012/02/tithing-on-trial.jpg

Now, we’ll continue the study, with verse 9 of the passage…

9 You are cursed with a curse,
For you have robbed Me,
Even this whole nation.

I have heard this message directed at Christians, and have sat under pastors who have said that not only are people cheating themselves out of a blessing for not bringing our tithes to the storehouse, but they are also bringing God’s curse on themselves. However, as we learned in To Tithe or Not To Tithe? (Part 2)this specific message was never intended for Christians. The Lord spoke this message to warn the Levite priests who had turned away from Him, and were not treating the sacrifices they were to make to Him seriously, to repent and obey the Law. Further, we also learned that the tithe was not 10% of one’s income. It was not cash or credit. The tithe was seeds and fruit, and herds and flocks, which the people were giving. 

  • Therefore, the Lord was telling the Levite priests that they were cursed with a curse. (Remember, they were still under the Law)

For those who would imply that this law applies to Christians, and if we as Christians do not give 10% of our income, we will be “cursed with a curse”, please consider this:

13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), 14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

~ Galatians 3:13-14 — NKJV ~

Brothers and sisters, this post is short and sweet, because I really want you to focus on these verses from Galatians 3. When someone speaks a curse over you for not tithing or for not living by the law, remember that Christ set us free from the curse of the law, and whom the Son sets free is free indeed!

Please be sure to join me for the next post in our study of To Tithe or Not To Tithe?, when we will continue this study, focusing on verse 10.

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

To Tithe or Not To Tithe? (Part 2)

8 “Will a man rob God?
Yet you have robbed Me!
But you say,
‘In what way have we robbed You?’
In tithes and offerings.
9 You are cursed with a curse,
For you have robbed Me,
Even this whole nation.
10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
That there may be food in My house,
And try Me now in this,”
Says the Lord of hosts,
“If I will not open for you the windows of heaven
And pour out for you such blessing
That there will not be room enough to receive it.

~ Malachi 3:8-10 — NKJV ~

Image Credit: http://media.salemwebnetwork.com/worshiphousemedia/ resource/images/main/s/mo/pow/ss/tithesandoffering.jpg
Image Credit:
http://media.salemwebnetwork.com/worshiphousemedia/
resource/images/main/s/mo/pow/ss/tithesandoffering.jpg

First of all, let me state very clearly, I love the Lord, and I don’t want to rob Him. I don’t want to sin against God. I want to love Him and serve Him, and be a blessing to Him. My heart’s desire is to be a woman after God’s own heart. I want to know Him and understand His word. I want to be all that God has called me to be, and I want to walk in the liberty that He has given me…

Therefore, let’s begin To Tithe or Not To Tithe? (Part 2) by looking at verse eight of Malachi 3…

8 “Will a man rob God?
Yet you have robbed Me!
But you say,
‘In what way have we robbed You?’
In tithes and offerings.

~ Malachi 3:8 — NKJV ~

Image Credit: http://cdn1.tillhecomes.org/wp-content/ uploads/2012/01/Malachi-3.jpg
Image Credit:
http://cdn1.tillhecomes.org/wp-content/
uploads/2012/01/Malachi-3.jpg

One of the first rules when studying scripture is to discover who, what, when, where and why. Therefore, let’s start first with who…

  • Who was speaking in this passage?
    • God was speaking
  • To whom was God speaking?
    • To find out who God was speaking to, I had to go back to the beginning of Malachi, where I discovered that God was speaking to the priests, not the people, who had brought their tithes, and it was the priests who failed to distribute them according to the Law.
  • What was God saying?
    • He accused the priests of robbing Him in tithes and offerings.
    • The priests were not presenting the tithes and offerings to the Lord as they should, instead, keeping the best of the tithes and offerings for themselves, while offering the Lord blind, sick and lame sacrifices.
  • When did God speak these words?
    • Malachi was written some time between 440 and 400 B.C.
  • Where did God speak these words?
    • The word of the Lord came to Israel.
  • Why did God speak these words?
    • He spoke these words to warn the priests who had turned away from Him and were not treating the sacrifices they were to make to Him seriously, to repent and obey the Law.

When studying the scriptures, after determining the 5 W’s, we also need to see if these scriptures apply to us (Christian believers) today… Therefore, at this point, it’s really important for us to understand what the tithes and offerings that the Lord was talking about, were. Just so everyone is on the same page, let’s look up the Law’s tithe requirement…

  • Leviticus 27:30-33 (NKJV) — 30 And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s. It is holy to the Lord. 31 If a man wants at all to redeem any of his tithes, he shall add one-fifth to it. 32 And concerning the tithe of the herd or the flock, of whatever passes under the rod, the tenth one shall be holy to the Lord. 33 He shall not inquire whether it is good or bad, nor shall he exchange it; and if he exchanges it at all, then both it and the one exchanged for it shall be holy; it shall not be redeemed.
  • We see here that the tithe was food, both from the fruit of the land and from animals
    • The Lord did not require monetary tithes and offerings
    • The tithes and offerings required were food, which was given to the priests, who were to offer a tithe of what they received to the Lord.
    • The rest of the tithes and offerings were given to the priests, who owned no land to grow or raise their own food, because their lives were dedicated to the Lord.
Image Credit: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_ sdEWIhL1Dsc/TK0l3D3Zl VI/AAAAAAAAADI/C8N2 W3n19aM/s320/tithe.jpg
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sdEWIhL1Dsc/TK0l3D3Zl
VI/AAAAAAAAADI/C8N2
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Does the Lord still require these tithes and offerings, as required by the Law? Of course not! For Christ paid all of our debts once and for all…

11 And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, 13 from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool.14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.

15 But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before, 16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days,” says the Lord: “I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,” 17 then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” 18 Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.

~ Hebrews 10:11-18 — NKJV ~

When Christ died on the cross, there was no longer any need for sacrifices, because He paid for the sins of mankind once and for all. Therefore…

  • There is no longer any need for priests to offer sacrifices, approach God on our behalf, or mediate for our sins, for Christ is our High Priest…
    • For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus — 1 Timothy 2:5 (NKJV)
    • 14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. — Hebrews 4:14-16 (NKJV)

My beloved Messianic readers, if you have given your life to Christ, you are a new creation, and you are no longer bound by the Law. Beloved Gentile believers, you have never been bound by the Law, and you shouldn’t allow anyone to deceive you into giving your freedom away…

So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.

2 Listen! I, Paul, tell you this: If you are counting on circumcision to make you right with God, then Christ will be of no benefit to you. 3 I’ll say it again. If you are trying to find favor with God by being circumcised, you must obey every regulation in the whole law of Moses. 4 For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God’s grace.

5 But we who live by the Spirit eagerly wait to receive by faith the righteousness God has promised to us. 6 For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, there is no benefit in being circumcised or being uncircumcised. What is important is faith expressing itself in love.

~ Galatians 5:1-6 — NLT ~

My beloved readers, I do not want to influence anyone, nor do I want to tell you what to do or believe. However, there are those who try to shame and coerce the people of God into giving money to their ministries by misusing  the Word of God, and my desire is that the men and women of God will read and study His word so they will know what God’s will for His people truly is.

Therefore, I encourage you to pray about what you are reading here, and seek God’s face. Also, please don’t misunderstand what you are reading or what I am saying. As you read this  series, please be sure you hold this scripture close to your heart as you pray…

You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.”

~ 2 Corinthians 9:7 — NLT ~

 Thank you for reading, my friends, and please, be sure to join me for To Tithe or Not To Tithe (Part 3), when we continue our study of Malachi 3:8-10…

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

To Tithe or Not To Tithe? (Part 1)

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I’ve been studying the scriptures and seeking answers about tithing. I know what the church’s stance on tithing is, and I know what non-church goers think about tithing, but frankly, I’m not interested in opinions. I want to know what God says about tithing, because I want to walk in obedience to Him in all areas of my life, because I truly do love Him with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. I also feel the Spirit leading me to share my findings with others who want to walk in obedience to the Lord.

I began my study by looking at some of the various scriptures we hear in church, urging us to tithe, and it soon became evident to me, that this was not something that could be answered in one  post. For this reason, I decided to do a series on this subject, so that we could do an in-depth study of God’s word and determine His will for us. After deciding to do a series on To Tithe or Not To Tithe?, I decided to start with one of the scriptures that I’ve heard used most frequently by pastors, evangelists and televangelists, when urging their congregations to tithe…

~ Luke 6:38 — NKJV ~

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Image Credit:
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Well, that seems pretty clear, doesn’t it? These are the words of Jesus, which means that it applies to His followers, therefore, we should all obey His words, if we want to receive the promised blessing… But wait!

It’s always important to study scriptures in their context, so that we can truly understand what the Lord’s will for us is. Therefore, let’s look at this scripture a little closer, in its context…

32 “But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. 35 But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. 36 Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.

37 “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.

39 And He spoke a parable to them: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into the ditch? 40 A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher. 41 And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the plank in your own eye? 42 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the plank that is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck that is in your brother’s eye.”

~ Luke 6:32-42 — NKJV ~

Did you see any mention of tithes and offerings in that passage of scripture? I didn’t. Please allow me to share with you what I did see in this passage of scripture…

Image Credit: http://faithfactorytreasures.com/wp-content/uploads/wpsc/product_images/Angry%20Birds%20Love%20Your%20Enemies%20T-shirt.jpg
Image Credit:
http://faithfactorytreasures.com/wp-content/uploads/wpsc/product_images/Angry%20Birds%20Love%20Your%20Enemies%20T-shirt.jpg

In Luke 6:32-36, Jesus is instructing people to love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return. He also instructs us to be merciful just like our heavenly Father is merciful. He also tells us that if we will do those things, our reward will be great, but He makes no mention of tithes in those verses, does He?

Now, let’s look at Luke 6:37-38, and see what Jesus tells us… In verse 37, Jesus tells us not to judge or condemn anyone, so you won’t be judged or condemned. He also tells us to forgive, and we will be forgiven. Then, in verse 38, He tells us to give, and it will be given back to us, good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

In Luke 6:39-42, Jesus tells us that the blind cannot lead the blind, and the disciple cannot be above his teacher. Then, He continues speaking about judging others, and tells us that before we judge someone else, we must first examine ourselves and rid ourselves of the plank (sin) from our own eye, before trying to remove the speck (sin) from our brother’s eye.

Did you see anything at all about tithes and offerings in this passage of scripture?

“Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

Luke 6:38 — NKJV ~

When you put this scripture into context, we discover that Jesus is instructing us to give mercy and forgiveness and it will be given to us, good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, it will be put into our bosom. For with the same measure that we use, it will be measured back to us…

Also, just to verify that we are interpreting this passage correctly, let’s look at Matthew’s account of this passage of scripture.

1 “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. 3 And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

~ Matthew 7:1-5 — NKJV ~

Again, you can see clearly that Jesus was not talking about tithes and offerings in this passage. He was talking about showing your brother mercy and forgiveness, rather than measuring out judgment and condemnation against him.

Beloved readers, it is important for you to know God’s word for yourself, so that you will know what God’s will for you is. Jesus was commanding us to be merciful and forgiving when He spoke the words above. He was not commanding us to give money in this instance, nor was He promising to reward us with money. Therefore, if you give tithes and offerings expecting to receive back what you have given, good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you,” you could be very disappointed.

Please be sure to join me in this study of God’s word on tithing for Christians, so that we can understand what the Lord is truly commanding us to do. I look forward to sharing more with you in To Tithe or Not To Tithe? (Part 2)

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

Words of Jesus – Real Authority

28 After Jesus finished speaking, the crowds were amazed at His teaching, 29 for He taught as one who had real authority — quite unlike the teachers of religious law.

~ Matthew 7:28-29 NLT ~

I briefly debated with myself about whether to include this under the category “Words of Jesus,” because this particular sentence wasn’t actually spoken by Jesus — it was spoken by the author of the book, Matthew, about Jesus. However, this sentence speaks loudly to me, because it is about the authority of Jesus’ words, therefore, I decided that this must be included in “Words of Jesus.” Continue reading Words of Jesus – Real Authority

Words of Jesus – The Wise Man Built His House Upon the Rock

24″Anyone who listens to My teaching and obeys Me is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. 25 Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse, because it is built on rock. 26 But anyone who hears My teaching and ignores it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. 27 When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will fall with a mighty crash.”

~ Matthew 7:24-27 NLT ~

Image Credit: http://www.emmanuelsfoundation.org
Image Credit:
http://www.emmanuelsfoundation.org

A house builder knows the importance of a good foundation. While you may be able to cut corners elsewhere, if the foundation of a building or house is not firm, it will begin to erode over time, eventually ruining the house. If a foundation begins to erode, walls will begin to crack, and the house will even begin to crumble and fall apart.

When Jesus was talking to the crowds who had gathered for the Sermon on the Mount, He told them that if they were wise, they would listen and obey Him, just as a wise man who built his house on a rock, and that anyone who hears His word and ignores it is foolish, like someone who builds his house upon the sand. One thing Jesus wasn’t — He was never politically correct. Continue reading Words of Jesus – The Wise Man Built His House Upon the Rock

From a Humble Perspective

This post is in response to the Weekly Lite Prompts by Tilda Swift at her blog, Swift Expression. If any of my readers derives inspiration from this post and would like to do something similar on their own blog, please provide full credit to Weekly Lite Prompts by Tilda Swift (as stated above) to abide by copyright laws.

Praise the Lord! Sis Caddo Veil wrote several nonets, which were so moving, that I just had to try also. For those who don’t know, a nonet is 9 syllables on the first line, going down to 8 the next, 7 next, and so on, all the way down to 1 syllable on the last line. I tried doing one of these earlier today, and it was such fun, that I decided to have a go at it again, with this second writing prompt… 

Tilda, I know you said to choose one of the following prompts, but I couldn’t make up my mind because I liked them all, so I decided to use them all! Many blessings!
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I Am A Moth

English: moth on a surface
English: moth on a surface (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am a lowly moth seemingly
Fragile and frail with gossamer
Wings, but look again, and see
My frailty’s but a ruse
A disguise to hide
Destruction I
Bring to
You

 “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where they can be eaten by moths and get rusty, and where thieves break in and steal.” ~ Matthew 6:19 NLT ~

English: A crown of thorns in the stores of Be...
English: A crown of thorns in the stores of Bedford Museum. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I Am A Thorn

I am a thorn, sharp, pointed, painful
Be careful or I will pierce you
My wounds can be quite deadly
I pierced the Savior’s brow
Blood ran down His face
Beware – I have
No mercy
I’ll trap
You

“But I will fence her in with thornbushes. I will block the road to make her lose her way.” ~ Hosea 2:6 NLT ~

Image Credit: http://www.angelfire.com/jazz/karen_trust /PrayerLog/Nov2007.html

I Am A Small Gray Feather

I am a small gray feather, soft, light
Though gentle and warm, there is strength
Come, My beloved and hide
In My shadow and wings
I will cradle you
Defend, protect
Rest safely
In Me
Come

He shall cover you with His feathers, And under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler. ~ Psalm 91:4 NKJV ~

Dandelion

I Am A Little Weed

I am a little weed, a nuisance
Try to get rid of me, kill me
But I will return, stronger
Meaner, more determined
I will destroy you
Suffocate you
Temptations
Better
Run!

Here is another story Jesus told: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field. But that night as everyone slept, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat. When the crop began to grow and produce grain, the weeds also grew. The farmer’s servants came and told him, ‘Sir, the field where you planted that good seed is full of weeds!’

“‘An enemy has done it!’ the farmer exclaimed.”

‘Shall we pull out the weeds?’ they asked.

“He replied, ‘No, you’ll hurt the wheat if you do. Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds and burn them and to put the wheat in the barn.'” ~ Matthew 13:24-30 NLT ~

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

Daily Prompt: Silver Screen

Daily Prompt: Silver Screen

by michelle w. on March 13, 2013

Take a quote from your favorite movie — there’s the title of your post. Now, write!
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“Do not cite the Deep Magic to me Witch. I was there when it was written.”
Aslan – Chronicles of Narnia
“The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe”

Music Inspired by The Chronicles of Narnia: Th...
Music Inspired by The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If ever there was a show stopper, this was it. In case anyone wondered what this story, this allegory was about, it suddenly snapped into focus, as everyone suddenly realized that the character, Aslan, Lion of Narnia, was truly an allegorical character for none other than Jesus Christ, Lion of the tribe of Judah, and that the witch was merely an allegorical characterization of Satan himself. My heart rejoiced at this famous line in the movie, as the white witch tried to explain the meaning of the words, written by Aslan, much in the same way Satan tried to twist God’s Word to Jesus as he tempted Him in the wilderness, until Jesus, also known as the Word of God, had finally had enough!

10 “Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God; serve only Him.'”

~ Matthew 4:10 NLT ~

Image Credit: http://hbiblecommentary.wordpress.com/2009/12/09/john-11/

If only everyone could see that as beautiful as this allegorical movie is, there is even more beauty in the true story of Jesus Christ, who was both the Lion and the Lamb. My heart’s desire is that all who enjoyed this movie would know the true joy of knowing the truth about Jesus Christ, who was the very Word of God.

1 In the beginning the Word already existed. He was with God, and He was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 He created everything there is. Nothing exists that He didn’t make. 4 Life itself was in Him, and this life gives light to everyone. 5 The light shines through the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.

~ John 1:1-5 NLT ~

He was in the beginning with God, and He created everything there is. In fact, nothing exists that He didn’t make. 

15 Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before God made anything at all and is supreme over all creation. 16 Christ is the one through whom God created everything in heaven and earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see — kings, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities. Everything has been created through Him and for Him. 17 He existed before everything else began, and He holds all creation together.

~ Colossians 1:15-17 NLT ~

Image Credit: http://darrellcreswell.wordpress.com/2013/02/20/god-and-math-prove-that-nothing-is-greater-than-the-love-of-god/

My friends, you can go ahead and call it gravity if you want, but the truth is that everything was created through Christ and for Him, and it is He that holds all of creation together. It was He, who knew before He even laid the foundations of the earth, that man would sin, yet He chose to create us anyway. He knew that we would be tempted by the devil, and that we would choose to lie, cheat, steal and kill, rather than follow in His ways, but He chose to create us anyway. 

He knew that the only way to pay for sin would be death, but He had a plan.

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.

~ Romans 6:23 NLT ~

He knew the only way to save us from death and eternal damnation would be for Him to leave His throne in heaven and come to live here on earth as a man, and He made up His mind to do just that. He knew that no one else could do it, because there was no one who was just and holy. Everybody had sinned, so it would have to be Him.

10 As the Scriptures say, “No one is good — not even one.”

~ Romans 3:10 NLT ~

23 For all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious standard.

~ Romans 3:23 NLT ~

Image Credit: http://petehise.com/2010/02/jesus-carried-the-weight/

He knew that Him living a perfect and holy life would not be enough to save  us from the penalty of our sin. He knew that He would also have to suffer for our sins. He knew that He would have to carry the weight of every person’s sins on His shoulders. He would have to suffer the pain of every man, woman and child who had ever lived before, and who ever would live. He would have to carry the sins of people who would never repent, and He would have to pay for them. Can you imagine how difficult that must have been? 

21 God made this sinless Man be a sin offering on our behalf, so that in union with Him we might fully share in God’s righteousness.”

~ 2 Corinthians 5:21 CJB ~

Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/inspirationalimages/4484580976/

Have you ever been punished for something that someone else did? Have you ever felt the righteous anger that rises up as you are falsely accused? Do you know what it’s like to experience rejection because of something you were wrongfully accused of? It’s hard, but you can tolerate the rejection of strangers, but what about those that you love? Do you know what it feels like to have those that you love turn their backs on you, knowing that you have truly done nothing wrong? Have you ever felt the pain of someone you love looking at you with disappointment and shame, knowing that nothing you say will convince them that you didn’t do what you were accused of? That’s what Jesus endured, and yet, He didn’t even try to defend Himself against the false accusations. Instead, He chose to lay down His life, so that you and I could live.

As I watched Aslan die on the stone slab, I thought of all of this, but inside, my heart was rejoicing, because you see, I know the ending of the true story… Jesus did suffer dreadfully. And unlike Aslan, people didn’t see the Lion of the tribe of Judah when they saw Him. They just saw a plain, unimportant man…

1 Who has believed our message? To whom will the LORD reveal His saving power? 2 My servant grew up in the LORD’s presence like a tender green shoot, sprouting from a root in dry and sterile ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about His appearance, nothing to attract us to Him. 3 He was despised and rejected — a Man of sorrows, acquainted with bitterest grief. We turned our backs on Him and looked the other way when He went by. He was despised, and we did not care. 4 Yet it was our weaknesses He carried; it was our sorrows that weighed Him down. And we thought His troubles were a punishment from God for His own sins! 5 But He was wounded and crushed for our sins. He was beaten that we might have peace. He was whipped, and we were healed! 6 All of us have strayed away like sheep. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on Him the guilt and sins of us all.7 He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet He never said a word. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, He did not open His mouth. 8 From prison and trial they led Him away to His death. But who among the people realized that He was dying for their sins — that He was suffering their punishment? 9 He had done no wrong, and He never deceived anyone. But He was buried like a criminal; He was put in a rich man’s grave. 10 But it was the LORD’s good plan to crush Him and fill Him with grief. Yet when His life is made an offering for sin, He will have a multitude of children, many heirs. He will enjoy a long life, and the LORD’s plan will prosper in His hands. 11 When He sees all that is accomplished by His anguish, He will be satisfied. And because of what He has experienced, My Righteous Servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for He will bear all their sins. 12 I will give Him the honors of One who is mighty and great, because He exposed Himself to death. He was counted among those who were sinners. He bore the sins of many and interceded for sinners.

~ Isaiah 53 NLT ~

Oh my friends, the people of His day totally missed who He was! They didn’t put two and two together — and sadly, many people throughout many generations since have not been able to put two and two together. They too, have missed who He is!

Beloved, do you recognize who this Jesus is? Do you know this Lion of the tribe of Judah? He is the King of kings and Lord of lords! He is the first and the last, the beginning and the end! He is the Savior of the universe! He is our hope… our peace… our joy… He is Jesus Christ and He is Lord.

Image Credit: http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/every%20knee%20shall%20bow

There is also one more thing that I must share with you, beloved, so that you will know the whole truth. Yes, Jesus suffered, bled and died on the cross for your sins and for mine. And yes, He was buried in a borrowed tomb. BUT, on the third day, He arose from the dead, and He is now seated at the right hand of God, the Father, Almighty, and He is coming back again one day, to reign and to rule forevermore. Therefore, whether you acknowledge Him as Lord now, or whether you reject Him now, know this… There is coming a day, when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord!

6 Though He was God, He did not demand and cling to His rights as God. 7 He made Himself nothing; He took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form. 8 And in human form He obediently humbled Himself even further by dying a criminal’s death on a cross. 9 Because of this, God raised Him up to the heights of heaven and gave Him a name that is above every other name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

~ Philippians 2:6-11 NLT ~

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

Words of Jesus – Enter the Narrow Gate

“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose the easy way. But the gateway to life is small, and the road is narrow, and only a few ever find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14 NLT)

Kingdom
Kingdom (Photo credit: photoscott)

Jesus tells us that there is only one way to enter God’s Kingdom, through the narrow gate. Therefore, since there is only one way to enter, it’s important for us to know where that way is, especially since He says that only a few ever find it…

I love trying to discover shortcuts and new ways home, however, my children have never fully appreciated this little quirk of mine. Whenever I would suggest taking a shortcut, my children would usually groan and whine, and try to talk me out of it. You see, exploring and trying to find shortcuts might be okay if you have a sense of direction, but they learned at a very young age that their mother has absolutely no sense of direction. My shortcuts often found us miles and miles away from home, by the time I figured out where we were.

I always looked on it as an adventure. I figured we would eventually wind up somewhere I recognized. However, this was more troubling to my children, who may have wanted to get home in time for a favorite show, or even more urgent, they may have needed to use the bathroom.

English: Narrow road at Cwmmiles, Login
English: Narrow road at Cwmmiles, Login (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now, I have to tell you that as much as I like to ride, and as much as I enjoy riding around aimlessly in my car (Of course, this was when gas was affordable!), it would be horrible to spend my life, thinking I’m on the right road to the Kingdom of God, only to discover that I missed it. And listen to this, Jesus said that only a few ever find that road. Did you pick up on that? That means that there’s a whole lot of people who are going the wrong way, and only a few who have managed to go the right way.

Now for someone like me, who has no sense of direction, I want to make sure I study the road map and check to make sure my GPS is up to date, because I definitely want to be on the right road for the Kingdom of God. Therefore, I’m going to really dig into this so that I’m prepared for my journey to the Kingdom of God… Jesus said, “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate.” 

 The Greek word for narrow is stenos, which means narrow & strait.

Dictionary.com defines narrow:

  1. of little breadth or width; not broad or wide; not as wide as usual or expected: a narrow path.
  2. limited in extent or space; affording little room: narrow quarters.
  3. limited in range or scope: a narrow sampling of public opinion.
  4. lacking breadth of view or sympathy, as persons, the mind, or ideas: a narrow man, knowing only his professional specialty; a narrow mind.
  5. with little margin to spare; barely adequate or successful; close: a narrow escape.

Dictionary.com defines strait:

  1. Often, straits. ( used with a singular verb  ) a narrow passage of water connecting two large bodies of water.
  2. Often, straits. a position of difficulty, distress, or need: Ill and penniless, he was in sad straits indeed.
  3. Archaic. a narrow passage or area.
  4. an isthmus.
  5. narrow: Strait is the gate.
  6. affording little space; confined in area.
  7. strict, as in requirements or principles.

The first thing we have to know if we plan on journeying to the Kingdom of God is that the gate we’re supposed to go through is very narrow… It affords very little space, it’s very limited… And look at this – this narrow strait way is very strict in its requirements and principles. Do you understand the magnitude of this?

Day 306/365 - One Way
Day 306/365 – One Way (Photo credit: Great Beyond)

If we want to go on this journey to the Kingdom of God, then we’re going to have to go through a very narrow gate. We’re going to need to search for it, because it’s small and tight… And we’re going to have to meet some strict requirements and principles…

Okay, I can almost hear what you’re saying – “What about grace?” And that’s a fair question… Let’s examine this closely, because I don’t want to miss it, and I certainly don’t want to steer anyone down the wrong road.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9 NASB) Brothers and sisters, you will never hear me dispute that we are saved by grace through faith, and that works do not save us. Scripture is very clear about this.

http://www.sunministries.org/Narrow.html
http://www.sunministries.org/Narrow.html

However, why were we saved? For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things He planned for us long ago. (Ephesians 2:10 NLT) We are not saved as a result of our works, but we are created to do good works after we’re saved… So, brothers and sisters, let’s examine ourselves, because the road is narrow and there are some strict principles that we must meet, not to earn our salvation, which is a gift from God, but as proof of our salvation.

Dear brothers and sisters, what’s the use of saying you have faith if you don’t prove it by your actions? That kind of faith can’t save anyone. Suppose you see a brother or sister who needs food or clothing, and you say, “Well, good-bye and God bless you; stay warm and eat well” — but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see, it isn’t enough just to have faith. Faith that doesn’t show itself by good deeds is no faith at all — it is dead and useless.

Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” I say, “I can’t see your faith if you don’t have good deeds, but I will show you my faith through my good deeds.”

Do you still think it’s enough just to believe that there is one God? Well, even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror! Fool! When will you ever learn that faith that does not result in good deeds is useless?

Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was declared right with God because of what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see, he was trusting God so much that he was willing to do whatever God told him to do. His faith was made complete by what he did — by his actions. And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, so God declared him to be righteous.” He was even called “the friend of God.” 

So you see, we are made right with God by what we do, not by faith alone. Rahab the prostitute is another example of this. She was made right with God by her actions — when she hid those messengers and sent them safely away by a different road. Just as the body is dead without a spirit, so also faith is dead without good deeds. (James 2:14-26 NLT)

The Strait Gate
http://goodjesuitbadjesuit.blogspot.com/2010_03_01_archive.html

Do you see, brothers and sisters? On this narrow road, we must have a living faith, and faith without works is dead. There’s so much to say about this narrow road. You see, singing in the church choir, preaching from the pulpit, even casting out demons is no guarantee that you are walking on the narrow road.

In John 14, when Jesus is speaking to the disciples about His imminent departure, He talks about the way to where He is going.  “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.”

Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. (John 14:1-6 NKJV)

Do you see it again brothers and sisters? There is only one way, and this straight and narrow one way road is through Christ alone. And understand this, even though obedience is not popular, it is required. Do you love Jesus? Obey Him. Do you really love Jesus? The evidence of your love will be shown in your obedience to Him. Obedience is a requirement on the narrow road, don’t let anyone mislead you. Look what Jesus says about this:

  • Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32 NKJV) 
  • “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” (John 14:15 NKJV)
  • Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me. (John 14:23-24 NKJV)
  • “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.” (John 15:10 NKJV)
  • “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.” (John 15:12-14 NKJV)

Do you see how important obedience is to Jesus? Brothers and sisters, don’t let anyone mislead you. I’m not saying you have to obey in order to get saved. If that was the case, none of us would ever find that narrow road. But once you are born again, that changes.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV) You see, my old sinful nature passed away (it died), and I got a new nature… Before, I had no desire to obey or to please God. Now, I love Him, and more than anything, I want to please Him. Because I love Him, I want to obey Him, and because I love Him, when I disobey Him, it breaks my heart.

Brothers and sisters, if you’re not living a life of obedience, if obeying the Lord doesn’t seem important to you, then you need to begin to question yourself. Am I walking on the narrow road, which is difficult and confining?

Or is my way fairly easy? I don’t worry about obedience, because God loves me. He knows my heart. Brothers and sisters, I assure you that you’re right. God does know your heart. Remember? He’s the One who said,  “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings. (Jeremiah 17:9-10 NKJV) 

Brothers and sisters, let’s pray to the Father of Lights that He would show us the strait and narrow way, and that we would boldly walk that road, knowing that there will be periods of loneliness, because only a few ever find it.

Words of Jesus – Sh! Don’t Tell Anybody

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“Take care! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired, because then you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. When you give a gift to someone in need, don’t shout about it as the hypocrites do — blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I assure you, they have received all the reward they will ever get. But when you give to someone, don’t tell your left hand what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in secret, and your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you.

“And now about prayer. When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I assure you, that is all the reward they will ever get. But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father secretly. Then your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:1-6 NLT)

Does anyone else struggle with this portion of scripture? I don’t mean to imply that I don’t understand what it says, because its meaning is abundantly clear! When I ask if anyone else struggles with this scripture, I mean does anyone else have difficulty living this one out?

There Jesus goes again, turning my world upside down. You see, my whole life I’ve bent over backwards to win people’s approval, first my parents, then later my teachers and later still, anyone’s approval! And then He comes into the picture and tells me to stop doing what I’ve always done – the only thing I know how to do.

Just when I think I’ve got a handle on things, and I’m really starting to do what’s right in my walk with the Lord, He shows me that I’m still not like Him as much as I want to be. “My thoughts are completely different from yours,” says the LORD. “And My ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9 NLT)

So again, I’m thrown into a quandary. What happens when I try to walk this out, and people reward me with their praise? Do I lose out on God‘s blessing?

I don’t want to do that. You see, as much as I want others to love me and validate me, I NEED His love and approval, because the truth is, I could still write, preach, and minister without another person ever witnessing it, but, without His anointing, without His presence, without Him giving me the words, the heart and the mind to write and minister, I couldn’t do it!

Yes, it feels good when you deliver a powerful word from the Lord, and people confirm it. But, as I’ve said before, it also makes me apprehensive… What if my motives are wrong? What if I’m trying to please people more than Jesus? Lord, what if I’ve totally missed the mark?

And then, things become more challenging for me when Jesus speaks about prayer. “And now about prayer. When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I assure you, that is all the reward they will ever get. But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father secretly. Then your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:5-6 NLT)

So, here’s my other dilemma. I’m a minister. I minister in prison and I’m part of the ministerial staff at my church, as well as being a Sunday School teacher, and I’m often called on to pray – Publicly – where others hear my prayers. And again, when I’m writing, I often pray as I write, and everyone who reads my posts, may at some point or other read my prayers.

Lord, am I cheating myself out of Your blessings? 

And I hear words of the Lord saying, The human heart is most deceitful and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? But I know! I, the LORD, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.” (Jeremiah 17:8-9 NLT) 

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You see, according to this, I don’t even know how wicked my heart really is, and my heart is likely to lie about its motives. I might think I’m doing the right thing for all the right reasons, when in reality, my heart may have deceived me. So, now what?

All I (we) can do is cry out to the Lord. Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends You, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. (Psalm 139:23-24 NLT) 

Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a right spirit within me. Do not banish me from Your presence, and don’t take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me again the joy of Your salvation, and make me willing to obey You. (Psalm 51:10-12 NLT)

He knows our hearts, better than we do, and He is able to search them out. Praise God, He is so faithful too, telling us that if we confess our sins to Him, He will forgive us and clean us up from all unrighteousness. Aren’t you grateful for that? I know I sure am.

So, in conclusion, God is interested in the motives of our heart. What motivates us to minister, to give, to pray or to serve? Is it the accolades we receive from others? If so, we’ve already received our reward. Do we do it for recognition? If so, that is our reward.

But what if we write, we pray, we preach and we minister, because His word is like a fire shut up in our bones and we grow weary when we try to hold it back? If some people are inspired by those words or “like” them, then we must make sure that we let them know they’re not our (my) words, but only a gift from Him. And if they dislike those words, they’re still His words, not ours (mine), and it’s all for His glory, and not ours (mine).

© 2012
Cheryl A. Showers

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Words of Jesus – D-I-V-O-R-C-E

“You have heard that the law of Moses says, ‘A man can divorce his wife by merely giving her a letter of divorce.’ But I say that a man who divorces his wife, unless she has been unfaithful, causes her to commit adultery. And anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” (Matthew 5:31-32 NLT)

I’ve had to think and pray about what to write regarding these Words of Jesus… Divorce is such a big topic and such a painful one, and I want to be sure that my words line up with His Word, and that I speak the truth in love. The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me and He has sent me to preach the good news to the poor and to heal the brokenhearted… So, I want the words that I speak to bring healing to broken hearts according to His will.

It’s been several days, and I’ve written and deleted, written and deleted about this topic – oh, did I say that I’ve written and deleted? I really couldn’t find the words, and for anyone who knows me, if I have to search for words, it’s because I’m not clearly hearing what the Lord is saying to me.

Then I sat down here a few minutes ago, thinking about the Scripture verse above, and the Lord placed a song on my heart, and suddenly, I knew that He was speaking to me about divorce, and that I needed to get ready to write. This is an old song that my mother used to sing at the top of her lungs when I was a little girl, and every time I heard her sing it, her voice sounded like she was crying. I never really thought about it or even understood it until now…

“For I hate divorce!” says the LORD, the God of Israel. “It is as cruel as putting on a victim’s bloodstained coat,” says the LORD Almighty. “So guard yourself; always remain loyal to your wife.” (Malachi 2:16 NLT) I want you to understand, the words that I am speaking are not words of condemnation to anyone who has been divorced. The fact is that my mother and my birth father divorced when I was still a toddler, and I love them both very much.

Rather than condemnation, these are words of love and truth. I share the Lord’s feelings about divorce, because He loves us and He wants the very best for us. As I listened to the song above, I felt a heaviness in my spirit, because divorce is so painful. And look at the reason the Lord gives for hating divorce. “It is as cruel as putting on a victim’s bloodstained coat,” says the LORD Almighty.

There’s no question about it. Divorce causes nothing but pain… pain to both spouses… pain to their children… pain to their families and friends… If you’ve ever been through a divorce or had a loved one who went through a divorce, you know this is true. God isn’t being harsh or cruel when His word says, Here is another thing you do. You cover the LORD’s altar with tears, weeping and groaning because He pays no attention to your offerings, and He doesn’t accept them with pleasure.

You cry out, “Why has the LORD abandoned us?”

I’ll tell you why! Because the LORD witnessed the vows you and your wife made to each other on your wedding day when you were young. But you have been disloyal to her, though she remained your faithful companion, the wife of your marriage vows. Didn’t the LORD make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are His. And what does He want? Godly children from your union. So guard yourself; remain loyal to the wife of your youth.

“For I hate divorce!” says the LORD, the God of Israel. “It is as cruel as putting on a victim’s bloodstained coat,” says the LORD Almighty. “So guard yourself; always remain loyal to your wife.” (Malachi 2:13-16 NLT)

For those of you who are in the midst of a divorce, because your spouse has been unfaithful to you or because he/she has filed against you, or if you have ever been divorced, please know this. God sees you. He knows your pain. Psalm 56:8 says that the Lord has seen your sorrow, and that He has collected all of your tears in a bottle and recorded them.

The Lord also warns us not to seek revenge against the spouse or anyone who hurt you. Dear friends, never avenge yourselves. Leave that to God. For it is written, “I will take vengeance; I will repay those who deserve it,” says the Lord. (Romans 12:19 NLT)

I have to tell you, the Lord has so much to say about divorce, that one blog post could never cover it, but let’s just continue a little more… For those who have claimed that Jesus never speaks against homosexuality and same-sex marriage, I submit the following Scripture:

Some Pharisees came and tried to trap Him with this question: “Should a man be allowed to divorce his wife?”

“What did Moses say about divorce?” Jesus asked them.

“Well, he permitted it,” they replied. “He said a man merely has to write his wife an official letter of divorce and send her away.”

But Jesus responded, “He wrote those instructions only as a concession to your hard-hearted wickedness. But God’s plan was seen from the beginning of creation, for ‘He made them male and female.’ ‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ Since they are no longer two but one, let no one separate them, for God has joined them together.

Later, when He was alone with His disciples in the house, they brought up the subject again. He told them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery against her. And if a woman divorces her husband and remarries, she commits adultery.” (Mark 10:2-12 NLT)

As you can see, marriage is spelled out very clearly by Jesus – one man and one woman, and when they are married, the two are united into one. And again, Jesus makes it clear that since the two have become one, no one is to separate them, because God has joined them together.

You see, my beloved, a marriage is a lifelong commitment. It’s a covenant, not only between you and your spouse, but also between you and everyone else who witnessed your vows, including the Lord. When we marry, we vow to love, honor and cherish one another for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, for better or worse as long as we both shall live. Jesus was very clear when He spoke to the Pharisees about divorce. The only reason Moses allowed them to divorce was because they were wicked and hard-hearted, but God never sanctioned divorce.

I know that many reading these words are already hurting, and these words may feel like a hammer pulverizing your already broken heart, and beloved, that is not my intention as I write these words. I want to speak the truth to you in love, and Jesus said, “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Someone once said, “The truth hurts,” and sometimes it cuts like a knife, but Jesus said if you know the truth, it will set you free.

The apostle, Paul, wrote these words about divorce… Now, for those who are married I have a command that comes not from me, but from the Lord. A wife must not leave her husband. But if she does leave him, let her remain single or else go back to him. And the husband must not leave his wife.

Now, I will speak to the rest of you, though I do not have a direct command from the Lord. If a Christian man has a wife who is an unbeliever and she is willing to continue living with him, he must not leave her. And if a Christian woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he is willing to continue living with her, she must not leave him. For the Christian wife brings holiness to her marriage, and the Christian husband brings holiness to his marriage. Otherwise, your children would not have a godly influence, but now they are set apart for Him. (But if the husband or wife who isn’t a Christian insists on leaving, let them go. In such cases the Christian husband or wife is not required to stay with them, for God wants his children to live in peace.)  You wives must remember that your husbands might be converted because of you. And you husbands must remember that your wives might be converted because of you.  You must accept whatever situation the Lord has put you in, and continue on as you were when God first called you. This is my rule for all the churches. (1 Corinthians 7:10-17 NLT)

I know that some are outraged by what they are reading here, and I’m sure some are saying, “What about a situation where one spouse is abusing the other spouse and their children?” I hear your cries for help. I hear your pain – indeed, as a child brought up in an abusive household, I understand better than you know. Truly, the Lord understands your plight and it grieves Him. Step back for a minute and see what He said, Now, for those who are married I have a command that comes not from me, but from the Lord. A wife must not leave her husband. But if she does leave him, let her remain single or else go back to him. And the husband must not leave his wife

The Lord knows that because we live in a fallen world, there are situations that require one spouse leaving another, so He has given a provision for that, but because you made a covenant between your spouse, God and man, you must remain single, or if circumstances change, go back to your spouse. I know these words may not sit well with many of you, and it may seem unfair, because after all, don’t we deserve a little happiness?

And I would say to you that it wasn’t fair that Jesus had to go through all that He went through to pay for my sins and yours. And don’t you think that if anyone deserved happiness, it was Him? The walk of a man or woman of God is not any easy one, but it brings life to us. And though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, He promises to be with us and to comfort us. No matter how lonely and hurt we are, He understands and He tells us to cast our cares on Him, because He cares for us.

No matter how exhausted and alone we feel, Jesus says, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you. Let Me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NLT)

This is a hard word for us, but praise God, we have a gentle Savior who is there to carry our burdens. And His strength is made perfect in our weakness. Beloved, I am praying for every man, woman and child who has ever gone through the heartache and disillusionment of divorce. I pray that the Lord will give you wisdom to know where to go and what to do. I pray that He will give you peace in the midst of your storm. I pray that He will comfort you as you mourn and give you a garment of praise to take the place of the spirit of heaviness. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

© 2012
Cheryl A. Showers

Words of Jesus – Blessed Are Those Who Are Persecuted For Righteousness’ Sake…

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:10-12 NKJV).

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I love the Word of God… I love the Words of Jesus… His words are always true. He doesn’t try to sugar coat anything. He just tells it like it is. “These things I have spoken to you, that 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). 

When I was younger, I remember being told that if you’ll just come to the Lord, your life will be so much happier, so much easier. So, when I first began this journey with Christ, I was wearing rose colored glasses. I really thought everyone at church would love me, and that my family and everyone else who knew me would be as happy for me as I was. Bless my heart! I was so naive. Was anyone else out there as ignorant of the truth as I was?

I quickly learned the cold, hard truth when I got home after church on the Sunday that I was born again. I was around 12 or 13 years old, and I was so overjoyed as I ran into the house after getting off the church bus. “Mom, Dad – guess what?” I shouted as I ran into the den. “I got saved today – I’m born again!”

I’ll never forget my mom’s reaction as she and Dad exchanged a look (You know the kind of look I’m talking about, don’t you? A look that says, “Oh no! She’s really lost her mind this time – she’s gone off the deep end!”), then Mom said very coldly, “I do hope you’re not turning into one of those holy rollers like the Whites (Mr. & Mrs. White were the church bus ministers who were instrumental in leading me to Christ. They were living testimonies of the love of Jesus and I can only pray that I can be as Christ-like as they were.), because if you are, you’re just going to have to stop going to that church.”

So much for everyone being happy for my new found joy! I was totally unprepared for the response I received, and as I look back on it, I see that my ignorance about the reality of living a life with Christ led to much confusion over the years, as I eventually backslid because I couldn’t really be saved and be so hurt by people who loved me, could I? 

When my stepfather, the man that I loved and thought of as my Daddy molested me a short time later, I was certain that God didn’t really love me, and that I must be too wicked for Him to love and save me. I remember trying so hard to be a good person so that I could earn His love, but failing miserably as I was a slave to the rebelliousness, sin and pain that shackles people who have been abused.

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By the time I was in my mid to late teens, I fell away from the Lord. Oh I still believed in Him – that faith never wavered, but I didn’t believe that He could really love me. And I couldn’t change myself, no matter how hard I tried. You see, in my naivete, I didn’t realize that I was in the midst of a war for my soul. I had no idea that the enemy was persecuting me, and because no one had taught me what to expect and how to combat it, I felt like dying…

BUT GOD! I didn’t know it then, but Jesus had chosen me! And He had no intention of losing me to the enemy. “My sheep recognize My voice; I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them away from Me, for My Father has given them to Me, and He is more powerful than anyone else. So no one can take them from Me” (John 10:27-29 NLT). 

Oh, to be sure, I lost my way for several years, and yet every time I sinned, there was a war raging inside of me. When I got drunk for the first time, I heard the voice of the Lord telling me, “Don’t do it,” but I ignored Him and did it anyway. When I got high for the first time that same night, again I heard Him speak, but I didn’t recognize His voice. I didn’t want to hear what He was saying to me, so I continued to ignore Him. When I committed the sin of fornication, I heard His voice again, telling me, “No Cheryl, don’t do it,” but I did it anyway. And when He told me not to be unequally yoked, I argued with Him and told Him that I would change my future husband’s heart. I’ve been married to that man for more than 31 years now, and the only one who has changed is me!

But do you see? He never let me go! He kept loving me, wooing me, drawing me and I was like a moth drawn to a flame… I couldn’t resist Him. Out of everyone in the whole world, He was the only One who knew every dirty detail about me, and He still wanted me! Such love is hard to resist… He loved me through my own private hell… He loved me when no one else did! He loves me with a love that won’t let me go!

And because of that unrelenting love that He has shown me, I, like the prophet Jeremiah respond to Him saying, “O Lord, You induced me, and I was persuaded; You are stronger than I, and have prevailed. I am in derision daily; Everyone mocks me. For when I spoke, I cried out; I shouted, “Violence and plunder!” Because the word of the Lord was made to me A reproach and a derision daily. Then I said, “I will not make mention of Him, Nor speak anymore in His name.” But His word was in my heart like a burning fire Shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, And I could not. For I heard many mocking: “Fear on every side!” “Report,” they say, “and we will report it!” All my acquaintances watched for my stumbling, saying, “Perhaps he can be induced; Then we will prevail against him, And we will take our revenge on him.” But the Lord is with me as a mighty, awesome One. Therefore my persecutors will stumble, and will not prevail. They will be greatly ashamed, for they will not prosper. Their everlasting confusion will never be forgotten (Jeremiah 20:7-11 NLT).

So you see, my beloved brothers and sisters, in this world we will suffer for Christ, but His never ending love makes it all worth it! “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:10-12 NKJV).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6I16L_O49Y

© 2012

Cheryl A. Showers