Like Stars, Forever

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“The wise people will shine like the brightness of the sky. Those who teach others to live right will shine like stars forever and ever.”

Daniel 12:3, NCV

“So our faces are not covered. They show the bright glory of the Lord, as the Lord’s Spirit makes us more and more like our glorious Lord.”

2 Corinthians 3:18, CEV

In my teenage years, my mom and I attended a series of services in a Christian commune.  (This would’ve been in 1972 -73.)  They all lived in a single house and had started a Christian rock and roll band. And they knew how to pray.

I was impressed with what I saw.  When they gathered together for worship, they began to ‘glow’.  I would stare at them and they became ‘illuminated.’ I had never seen anything like this before.  The presence of Jesus was there making Himself known in the hearts of His disciples. I had been given eyes to see the supernatural.

Since then I have heard many testimonies of that same dynamic at work.  Confessing believers engaged in prayer and worship, have their countenance changed while in the Lord’s presence.  Peace and joy and confidence affects them in a profound way.  Their physical appearance is altered, and they proclaim ‘a peace that passes understanding’ that can’t be explained in any other way.

Since I became a Christian in 1982, I have retained those images in my thinking.  I’m now very aware of the “witnessing presence’ of Jesus in the lives of His people.  And scripture itself, on several occasions, points to this wonderful dynamic in action in the lives of consecrated believers.

When the light comes, it can’t help but transform those of us in darkness.  Our faces, hearts, and countenances change. We’re the human vessels for peace and joy (especially knowing our sins are forgiven).

The prophet Daniel talks about ‘shining like a star’.  This isn’t possible in the mechanics of normal life as an unbeliever (at least for any real length of time).  That simply can’t be manufactured.  The only possible answer is the Christian’s faith.  Namely, that Jesus Christ who is indwelling every believer, reflects His presence out into a dark world.

A few winters ago I was out walking on the Alaska Bible Institute campus.  Twilight was settling in and 20-30 yards ahead I saw a child’s sled left in a snow pile.  In the monochromatic world of an Alaskan winter, the ‘shining’ sled glowed and couldn’t be missed.

You and I who bear His presence are to be fluorescent.  His activity in our hearts is to make us astonishingly conspicuous.  We can’t hide His presence (even with sin) We have been irrevocably changed by the Spirit’s residence.  We have become ‘glow-in-the-dark’.

Perhaps this is how it works?

You are the light of the world. A city on top of a hill can’t be hidden.

Matthew 5:14

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Panic Attacks Understood

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Anxiety (panic) attack symptoms can feel awful, intense, and frightening.  The good news is that while they can seem serious, anxiety attack symptoms aren’t harmful in and of themselves. That is something to remember.

Because there are many medical conditions that can cause ‘anxiety-like’ symptoms, it’s wise to discuss your symptoms with your doctor. If your doctor has attributed your symptoms to stress and anxiety, you can feel confident that your doctor’s diagnosis is correct. Anxiety attack disorder is relatively easy to diagnose and isn’t easily confused with more serious medical conditions.

Anxiety attack symptoms are NOT always indications of a serious medical condition. They are simply dramatic responses to being afraid. Being afraid causes the body to stimulate stress hormones. Since stress hormones are designed to prepare the body for action, the changes stress hormones bring about can cause the body to exhibit “symptoms” of this biochemical change. Anxiety attack symptoms are simply “sensory sensations” of this biological change. Again, they aren’t harmful, but they are letting you know that your body’s stress hormone levels are elevated.

Common anxiety attack symptoms include:

  • A feeling of impending doom, that something horrible is about to happen, that you are in grave danger
  • A strong feeling of fear, foreboding, panic
  • An urge to escape, to get out, to run away from danger
  • Blanching, turning white, looking pale
  • Blushing, skin blotches, turning red
  • Burning skin
  • Choking sensation, tightening throat, it feels like your throat is closing
  • Confusion
  • Depersonalization (feeling detached from reality, separate from oneself, separate from normal emotions)
  • Derealization (feeling unreal, in a dream-like state)
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, unsteadiness
  • Emotional distress
  • Emotional upset
  • Fear of going crazy
  • Fear of losing control, freaking out
  • Fearful thoughts that seem incessant
  • Feels like there is a tight band around your head
  • Hot or cold chills
  • Inability to calm yourself down
  • A knot in the stomach, tight stomach
  • Nausea
  • Numbness, tingling sensations in any part of the body
  • Pins and needles feeling
  • Plugged ear(s), stuffed ear(s)
  • Pounding heart
  • Racing heart
  • Shooting pains in the chest, neck, shoulder, head, or face
  • Shortness of breath, difficulty breathing
  • Sweating
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Trembling, shaking (visibly shaking or just trembling on the inside)
  • Upset stomach
  • Urgent desire to go to the bathroom (urinate, defecate)
  • Vomiting

There is a long list of anxiety symptoms. But because each body is somewhat chemically unique, anxiety affects each person differently. Consequently, anxiety symptoms vary from person to person in type or kind, number, intensity, and frequency. If your symptoms don’t exactly match this list, that does not mean you don’t have anxiety. It simply means that your body is responding to anxiety slightly differently.

For example, one person may experience only a few minor symptoms, while another person may experience the majority of symptoms to great intensities. All combinations are possible and common.

Anxiety attack symptoms can range from mild to severe, from only one symptom to all of them, and can be sporadic, frequent, and persistent. Again, all combinations are possible and common. My own attacks are intense, but I know they’ll go away in time.

Sometimes all we can do is accept the issues that anxiety brings.  We must understand that the Holy Spirit knows us fully and that He will bring us through.  Be confident in His grace and receive His mercy.

 “I’m sure about this: the one who started a good work in you will stay with you to complete the job by the day of Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 1:6, CEB

I am certain that Jesus will carry you the distance.

If your anxiety gets really bad a good number to call is 1-800—NEED-HIM. I believe they’re up 24/7. It’s a good number to remember.

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Much of this particular post came from the internet and I can’t remember the address. 

 

The Awful Weariness of It All

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“For my life is full of troubles,
    and death draws near.”

Psalm 88:3

Not really ‘positive’ is it? There is often a very dull, desperate tedium that saturates our lives–especially those among us with profound mental and physical issues.  It never lets up, the grind is constant. Depression, confusion, paranoia, and mania weave in and out of our lives.  Sometimes they seem to have ‘moved in’ with us.  (And, they intend to stay.)

There can be a hopelessness present–an ugly realization that there is no hope for today, and that tomorrow will not be any different. Some consider ending it all–rather than continue without hope. It is a terrible way to live, but hopelessness isn’t something humans can handle appropriately.

Contained in the scriptures are many stories and parables about wedding feasts and the king’s banquets.  On one occasion, somebody ‘finagles’ his way into the party. But it is then he is strongly confronted.  The bouncers bind his hands and feet, carry him out.  He is thrown out into the “outer darkness.”  The charge prompting this was his attire, it was all wrong.  He wasn’t dressed for the wedding. He did not belong there.

“But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. 12 And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Matthew 22:11-14, ESV

Many have given in to their despair, they now reside in “the outer darkness.”  They are no longer dressed for the banquet. They’ve stripped themselves of their wedding garments. How tragic. They have given up.

I’ll be the first to admit that mental illness and discipleship don’t always blend well together.  But the Father understands and increases his deposit of grace to make up for this deficiency. He doesn’t treat his beloved sons equally. Extra grace is given to the chronically ill.

Those who limp are given extra help as they follow Him.

God has created us for a wedding feast. And it is with confidence that we look forward to this feast, for in Christ we will not be found naked but clothed in the white garments of His righteousness.  He took my dirty and filthy clothes and exchanged them for his own white ones.  We wear his gift, and oh, what a wonder we are!

It’s time to get dressed.

“I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God!
      For he has dressed me in the clothing of salvation
      and draped me in a robe of righteousness.
   I am like a bridegroom in his wedding suit
      or a bride with her jewels.”

Isaiah 61:10, NLT

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Preparing Yourself for Water Baptism

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“Those who accepted his message were baptized.” (Acts 2:41)  

 “Repent and be baptized.” (Acts 2:38) 

 “Having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your  faith in the power of God.” (Col. 2:12)  

Perhaps the most significant and vital decision we make is to follow Jesus Christ into the waters of baptism.  This is just obedience to the Lord’s command to be baptized. Discipleship begins when we appropriate baptism into our faith.

Baptism becomes a public pronouncement or declaration to the physically seen world and to the invisibly unseen world of the Spirit. 

It takes faith to be authentically prepared for baptism.  You will be taking a stand. By faith, you’re making public your allegiance to Christ. It is a step of something living.

“Baptism was to put a line of demarcation between your past sins when you are buried with Him by Baptism–you are burying your past sins–eradicating them–putting a line in the sand saying that old man is dead and he is no longer alive anymore and I rise up to walk in the newness of life.”

T.D. Jakes

I suggest that you prayerfully attend to the process listed below.  You will find there is a big difference to truly being baptized, and just getting wet!

A word to “older” believers: There may come a time when you feel that you would want to be baptized again.  I believe that this is not only allowable but commendable.  You may have not had a good understanding of the baptismal process, but now it makes sense.  I would encourage you to follow your heart. God will honor your rededication. Ask your pastor or elder what they think.

The Interrogative Process

I.  A series of questions are then asked, to which the reply is always “I renounce them”:

  1. Do you renounce Satan and all the spiritual forces of wickedness that rebel against God?
  2. Do you renounce the evil powers of this world which corrupt and destroy the creatures of God?
  3. Do you renounce all sinful desires that draw you from the love of God?

II.  The second half of the query is asked, to which the reply is always “I do”:  

  1. Do you turn to Jesus Christ and accept him as your Savior?
  2. Do you put your whole trust in his grace and love?
  3. Do you promise to follow and obey him as your Lord?

“Indeed, baptism is a vow, a sacred vow of the believer to follow Christ. Just as a wedding celebrates the fusion of two hearts, baptism celebrates the union of sinner with Savior.”

–Max Lucado

III.  The Apostle’s Creed can be recited publicly (or privately in prayer). This is our faith ‘boiled down’ to its very essence. This declaration helps set us apart from the World, the flesh and the devil:

“I believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,

who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, who was crucified, died and was buried.

He descended into hell. and on the third day, He rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father. From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church,  the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.”

This needs to be understood and accepted as true. I suppose we will develop these into living discipleship; you’ll that water baptism is analogous to a master key that opens the door into a special joy. Obeying the command to be baptized pleases Jesus. And that is what we long to do.

Baptism is an outward expression of inward faith.

–Watchman Nee

Baptism separates the tire kickers from the car buyers.

    –Max Lucado

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