PRAYER, FAITH AND SLOT MACHINES


SLOT     A casino is an interesting place to learn about prayer. Walking around in the twilight darkness, you see basically three types of players. First, are the drifters. These folks drift from machine to machine, watching others play until they see multiple players have tried the same machine with no luck. Then they move in. They are looking for the quick, easy score with the least investment. They figure, after all that play, it will pay off big for them. Next, you’ll find the vacillators. These are the ones that the drifters follow most frequently. They will play on one machine for a short period of time, then move on to another, hoping that the other machine will pay out bigger and more often. Finally, you have the homesteaders. These rugged individuals sit down in front of one machine and play until they get tired. If they lose, they keep putting in more. They are not going to give up until they hit the jackpot. They may lose all they have, but they will never give up.
In the old days, before the electronic slot machine, a player would put in the coins he wanted to bet and pull the handle. He would watch the tumblers spin in unison and stop, one by one, bells would ring and lights would flash when a jackpot was won. Coins would come spitting out into the tray at the bottom. Instant gratification. He could keep playing, or place his winnings in paper buckets and take them to the cashier. Or, he would watch the tumblers spin in unison and stop, one by one, and nothing happened. He would either drift, vacillate, or homestead, depending on his personal inclination. Now, most of the machines are electronic, with few, or no, coins involved, no handle action and no waterfall of coins on payout. The machine tells him how many coins he’s won and, when he’s ready to leave, his payout is received in a bar coded receipt which he can redeem at an ATM. He can still win or lose in much the same way he always could, but now it is more private and involves less human contact.
People tend to treat faith and prayer in much the same way as going to a casino. They are initially “in it to win it.” They enter into prayer with their pockets full of faith. They believe that all things are possible. They pray expecting. Or, do they all. As in a casino, you have three groups of pray-ers. Drifters, vacillators and homesteaders.
Prayer drifters tend to watch for the newest, or latest and greatest, prayer and faith teachers to tell them how to get immediate results. They watch, they listen to CD’s and read all sorts of books, trying to gain the knowledge of just the right formula to make God do just what they want. If that person’s ideas don’t work right away, they write them off as a fraud and move on to the next. They drift from teacher to teacher, from evangelist to faith healer. They never find a shortage of new ideas to try but never stick with anything.
Prayer vacillators find some success in their efforts. These are the ones who have “faith of a mustard seed,” but like to spread their faith seed. They will pray about this or that for a while, in earnest and fully believing that God will answer their prayers. After a while, they decide that God has heard their prayers and He is working on it, so they move on to something else. They may, or may not, come back to it again because “God’s ways are higher than our ways,” and He knows what He is doing, so they no longer press the issue. “It will all work out in God’s timing and I have more pressing issues at the moment,” they say to themselves. When God does answer vacillators, they are pleasantly surprised but caught off guard none the less. Yes, they were praying in faith believing, but history had taught them no expectancy. Their prayers had been a pacifier to calm them in times of trouble.
Prayer homesteaders, or, as they are known in Christian circles, the intercessors, are those who are in it for the long haul. They are determined to make their voice heard by God. They will not rest until they are absolutely sure that God has heard, and responded, to their plea. They rarely pray for their own benefit, but for the health, finances, safety, peace or salvation of others. They are relentless and, most usually, tireless in their efforts. They ask, they seek the scriptures for answers, they knock on heaven’s door until the doors and windows of heaven are opened wide. The answer is not always what they expected, but it is an answer, which they believe is directly from God, and that is what they were praying for, believing for and expecting, so they are rarely, if ever, disappointed by prayer. With every answer comes more faith and expectancy.
Jesus spoke about this with his disciples when discussing prayer in Matthew 7:7-11:
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”
Also in Luke 11:5-10:
Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; 6 a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ 7 And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity[e] he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.
9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”
We all have, or will, fit into one of these three categories at some time or another. We may begin as drifters, looking for the easy way to God, but as our relationship with Him grows, we will pass through vacillation and into homesteading. As we grow in our faith, we find it is less about what God can do for us, and more about what He has done. It is more about believing, knowing and trusting. It is more about Him and less about us.
There is, unfortunately, one other group of people. These are the ones who never enter the “casino.” They never take the chance to find out what faith in God and His grace are all about. They will always be waiting for some “Prize Patrol” to show up out of the blue and change their lives for no apparent reason, even if they never entered the sweepstakes.
© Simply Consider This, 2014.

THE SACRIFICE


sacrificeHe came to give his sacrifice. But he had nothing to offer.

“Lord,” he said, “I have nothing to offer you.  Not even a sparrow.  How can I be forgiven without a sacrifice?”  He  sat at the temple gates weeping. With no grain, meal, wine or not even a quadran– a quarter of a farthing– to buy even a half a sparrow to offer to his Lord.

“Lord,” he cried out once more in his anguish, “ I am a peasant.  I have nothing to offer you.  My life is meaningless. I barely have enough to keep me from starving from day to day. I am not a beggar but I am not a rich man.  What  can I give you, Lord, that would be worthy of your love?”

“Do you think I need bulls, or rams, or even sparrows to prove your love for me?  Those things are mine anyway.  That was just my way of having the people atone for their sins because they don’t really understand my love for them.  Ask and it will be given. Seek and you will find.”

“Ask what , Lord.  Seek after what? I just don’t understand.  What am I to do to please you?”

“You just have to give of yourself.  Give yourself to me and I will pour out my love on you so much you cannot contain it. Seek me and righteousness and all these things will be added unto you. Trust in me. You have already shown your willingness to please me and your humility in your attitude. Go and your sins are forgiven.”

The man looked around.  He was  physically alone and knew that he heard from God himself. He left the temple area not laughing at the others for their lack  of faith and understanding, but smiling knowing that his God was pleased with him and that he was loved for who he was.

©  Simply Consider This, 2013.

ACCEPTANCE


My Dad was in the military, so we moved around a lot when I was a kid.  I learned how to make friends pretty easy.  Of course, a lot of those friends were military kids too, so they were in the same boat.  You make a friend and soon your Dad, or theirs, would get reassigned.  I never got too close to anyone because I knew it wasn’t going to last.  Between 9th and 10th grade, Dad retired and we moved to a small town in Missouri.  There I found groups of kids that had known each other for several years some had known each other since kindergarten.  It was quite a culture shock.

Not only did they know each other all their lives, but they had formed groups that were  almost impossible to join.  It went beyond the jocks and the music department, the theatre group and the farmers, the hippies and the rednecks.  That was the type of groups I was used to seeing in San Antonio where I spent my freshman year.  Those were groups that banded together with a common interest.  Some of it was still there, but it wasn’t as well-defined.  Groups were based on friendships in this little hick town and it took a long time be accepted.  I just decided to try to be myself, mostly to be by myself.  It was easier that way.

All my life I wanted to be accepted.  I wasn’t an outcast but I wasn’t part of the “IN” crowd.  I wasn’t even on the fringe. In high school everyone seemed to know who I was, but no one wanted to get to know me.  Now, as an adult,  I keep trying to be accepted by different groups of people but never really fit in.

A good example of not fitting in came in an email from a potential employer at a job that I felt I was born to do.  It read, ”We have already engaged some other applicants that we feel would have been a better fit.”  Once again, I don’t fit in.  I seem to be the square peg and the world is a round hole.

No matter who you are, how old or young you are, well-educated or not, outgoing or shy, everyone is born with a need to be accepted. Children want to be accepted by their parents and are constantly saying, “Look what I can do,” to get their approval.  As we get older we might tell ourselves and others that we don’t care what others think of us, but deep down we want to be accepted.

Jesus wanted to be accepted by all people, but he knew he wouldn’t be because most were so caught up in doing things their way and being a part of their “groups” that his simple message of love was rejected by those who thought they had it all together.  Who would appreciate someone who accepts them without question more than those who have been rejected most of their lives?  The simple, the sinners, the ones who were considered to be less than ideal citizens, were the ones who came to Jesus most readily.  Why was that?  It is the same today as it was then.  It comes down to acceptance.

Jesus accepts you where you are.  No matter who you are.  It doesn’t matter to him what you’ve done or what you’re involved in now.  He accepts us without conditions.  His only request is that we believe in him because he believes in us.  In fact, he believes in us so much that he gave his life for us.  He suffered and died on the cross to pay for our sins.  When he rose from the grave he had conquered death, hell and the grave.  It was sin that caused death for man in the beginning and caused a separation between man and God. By believing in Jesus and accepting him as our savior and redeemer, we can overcome any sin, be forgiven for that sin, and spend eternity with him.

We all have sinned and we all have to make choices on a daily basis.   Sometimes we don’t make the right choices and other people will condemn us for it, but Jesus loves us anyway.  He doesn’t expect us to be perfect when we accept him as our savior.  Jesus will forgive us if we ask him.  He loves the murderer and thief as much as he loves Billy Graham.  More importantly, he accepts us as we are.

If you’re waiting until you’re good enough for Jesus to accept you,  your wait is over.  You’ll never be any better in his eyes than you are right now.
Today is the day of decision. Acceptance from a loving God, or rejection from the world and an eternity without knowing or ever having experienced that love and acceptance.  Accept Jesus.  He has already accepted you just as you are.

©  Simply Consider This, 2013.

FIRE AND TEARS


fireanddropz2Fire and tears are born by passion
Fire and Tears understands compassion
Fire and Tears honors God’s heart
Fire and Tears sets one apart

Fire and Tears makes one bold
Fire and Tears completes the soul
Fire and Tears know no boundaries
Fire and Tears defeat all adversaries

Fire and Tears both fall like rain
Fire and Tears can break all chains
Fire and Tears come painfully
Fire and Tears cleanses thoroughly

Fire and Tears deeply loves
Fire and Tears moves the Father above
Fire and Tears the gap does fill
Fire and Tears a wall does build

Fire and Tears took all shame
Fire and Tears have conquered the grave
Fire and Tears truly war for men
Bringing to pass their redemption

Fire of Spirit and Tears of the heart
From saintly prayers never depart
Desperately seeking the face of God
Humbly bowed in wondrous awe
For the righteous they do plead
Justice against our enemies

Standing on God’s Word alone
Bringing His Word before His throne
Forever seeking til it’s sought
Until the answer has been brought
Fire & Tears continually plead
For the soul of all humanity…

©  Simply Consider This, 2013.

TOLERANCE


The Gutenberg Bible displayed by the United St...

This post may seem like it borders on the political.  It is not.  It is a call to prayer.  It is a  call to action.  It is a call to the Church to be prepared for the days to come.  It is a call to all people calling themselves Christians to stand up and DEMAND that they be heard.
The United States is heading for a fall similar to that of the Roman Empire. This is not a new statement, nor is it any prophetic revelation on my part. It is just a simple fact. As we watch our country’s leadership fight over the economy, LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bi-sexual Transvestite)  rights, abortion, gun control, military and financial support of other countries, and dozens of other issues that “plague” our nation today, one thing is never discussed in the media.  That is the subject of religious freedom.
Religious freedom is the main reason that the Puritans left England, went to the Netherlands, and finally came to this country.  They were looking for more radical changes in the Church of England than was accomplished through the English Reformation.  Like the Pilgrims, as Protestants, they wanted to be free to worship in the manner of their choosing and not be forced to owe their allegiance to, and follow the practices of the Church of England.  Is it not strange that, nearly five hundred years later, their freedom of religion has been replaced by the freedom from religion?
You might say, “There isn’t any persecution of the church in THIS country.  We are free to worship however we choose and. oddly enough, anything we choose.  It is our choice how, and whom, we worship and the government can’t take that away.”  WAKE UP!!!
As the baby boomers get older and die off, so do the moral values of  that generation and the generations before.  There is still a remnant of believers from teen to middle age, brought up by those dear Saints of God. but they are vastly outnumbered by the up and coming agnostics and those who profess to be atheists.  Why do you suppose that is the case?  Tolerance.
Those who lay waste the ideals and values of Christianity are the very same who claim that Christians are intolerant, bigoted, selfish people who think that their way is the only way to live.  They feel that Christians want to push their beliefs on others just to add to their numbers.  If they are unsure of what they believe, as with agnostics, those Christians will stop at nothing to convince them that their own beliefs are flawed.  Most serious Christians will stand up for their beliefs and defend them to the death, or will they in the U.S.
We have stood idly by and watched as prayer was removed from schools.  In fact, in most cities and small towns today, the Baccalaureate Ceremony held in years past, prior to graduation from high school, has been abolished or must be subsidized by a local church, but can not be sanctioned or required by the school.  This is in direct response to the misguided impression that our Constitution says that there must be separation of Church and State.  There is no such law on the books.  The Constitution says that Congress shall make no law concerning religion (paraphrased).
If that is the case, why would there be any stipulations on a 501(c) 3 organization  if a leader speaks out against the LGBT lifestyle?  If a Pastor stands before his congregation and states Biblical references about how God feels toward ALL immorality, then spells out exactly what that means, especially in regards to LGBT, that Pastor runs the risk of losing the tax exempt status of the church if someone is offended and takes it to court.  The reasoning: Sexual orientation is protected by the Federal Government and can not be disputed. (Please correct me if I am wrong.)
If this were not the case, why did the Pastor who was asked to give the invocation at the recent inaugural decline, when it was learned that he had once, twenty years prior, spoken the Biblical truth about homosexuality.  Now, it seems, that nearly every television program you watch on the four major networks, either has LGBT characters, or some sexual reference, either outwardly presented or embedded within.  Homosexuality has been with us since nearly the beginning, but now it is presented as The New Normal.  I DO NOT hate, or even dislike, those in the LGBT community.  I have my own sin to deal with.  God loves the sinner, but not the sin.  This is not about LGBT rights, it is about sexual immorality, which we are to TOLERATE because it is the way the world is leaning.
We, as Christians, stand by and watch our society deteriorate. We are to be a “peculiar people,” set apart from the world.  If we are continually bombarded with the world telling us that we are the intolerant ones, soon we start to believe it. We back down on our principles and beliefs. We start to tolerate more and more of the ideals of the world around us and try to incorporate them into our theology.  The more we twist the Word to suit the world’s needs, the more twisted it becomes, until we don’t even know what we believe any more.  Then the Truth we were once grounded in becomes shallow and meaningless. The world has won.  Another agnostic is formed.
So, what can we do to “change the world?”  Of course, pray.  Pray like there is no tomorrow, for there may not be one.  Stand up for what you believe.  People all over the world are being persecuted and killed DAILY for their Christian beliefs.  It is coming to this country, too.  Be prepared for the soon coming day when our government is no longer led by God.  God-less-ness is on the upswing in the United States.  Anarchy and chaos will follow. Who will be blamed for the problems of the day?  Christians.  Just as Nero had the city set on fire and blamed the Christians for the act.  It will happen here. The government is trying to blame guns for violence as we speak, instead of holding the gun pointer accountable for his actions.
And here is a novel idea: Contact those pollsters who are all saying that Christianity is on the decline and demand a recount.  Demand to be heard. Yes, let us be intolerant when it comes to OUR freedom, while we still have it.
If  anyone is offended by anything I have said, remember that this country was founded on Biblical principles:
The Bible is the most offensive book ever written.  It offends the intellect of the so-called wise. It offends the heart of the hardened criminal.  It offends the soul with a call to repentance.  It points out flaws and gives us hope with wisdom that is hard to accept at times.  All we have to do is to believe and it can lead us to a personal relationship with the Living God.  Accept and live with Him forever, Deny and Perish.  It’s in the Book.

©  Simply Consider This, 2013.

THE ME HE SEES


jesus_holding_manI am not I AM.
Not even close.
But I keep on hanging on.

If I lose my self
Then who would I be?
The whole idea seems wrong.

A clean slate
For God to work with.
Is that what He requires?

What about me
And my ideas?
What about my hopes, desires?

Do I just turn away
From being me?
What does this all include?

And how do I
Make the change?
In spirit and in truth?

Do I pretend
Until I become
The me that Jesus sees?

I can’t, I won’t
Put on an act
To make myself  believe.

I must decrease
So He can increase.
It is a gradual obsession.

Not just today
But many tomorrows
To finally learn God’s lessons.

©  Simply Consider This, 2013.