Stumbling blocks revealed

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Romans 14:13

Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this–not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way.


Isaiah 57:14

And it will be said, “Build up, build up, prepare the way, Remove every obstacle out of the way of My people.”


1 Corinthians 1:23

but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness,


Malachi 2:8

“But as for you, you have turned aside from the way; you have caused many to stumble by the instruction; you have corrupted the covenant of Levi,” says the LORD of hosts.


Matthew 16:23

But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”


Matthew 23:13

“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.


Luke 11:52

“Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge; you yourselves did not enter, and you hindered those who were entering.”


1 corinthians 8:9

But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.


1 John 2:10

The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him.


And a final stumbling Block I believe is ever-present is the Bible itself and how it has been passed down from people to people and generation to generation. It would appear that because there have been so many “chefs in the kitchen” that the recipe has been tainted,…. but oh contraire!

Didn’t Father God, our creator of ALL the heavens and ALL the earthly things and EVERYTHING in between have unfathomable powers when He did this? And is He different today?

So shouldn’t we then believe He has His mighty hand on this as well?  Was it then man or Spirit that wrote and translated the word of God over these many years?

Don’t you think that something so necessary and influential has been guided by the Maker?

Don’t trip over this, your pride may be too heavy to lift back up!

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Beware “The Pharisee Syndrome”

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A great debate is occurring in the religious world today that swirls around the belief in the Bible as the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
To those who choose to believe that the Bible isn’t true, there’s nothing I can do to persuade you otherwise, only God can do that and I get that, so I will continue to pray for you, as we are ALL God’s children and I know that He longs for the return of every lost sheep, even those who deny. But for those of you who believe in the Bible, whether wholeheartedly of even in the slightest, I interject this into the debate, beware the Pharisee syndrome.

So what is the Pharisee syndrome?
God first gave Moses the commandments, who then gave them to the people. The people then, with the help of God through prophets at times, added to those laws to what became the 613 laws of Moses. Over the many, many years of human-pride development and personal curiosity the leaders of the temples that God first created through the Levites began putting these laws under the microscope more and more often. This continuous scrutiny of God’s original words that were inspired by Him to be written by men, coupled with the lack of God’s purposeful non-guidance, are the main contributors to what I call the Pharisee syndrome.

This self imposed position occurs when people dissect His words over and over to the point of misinterpretation, all too often for their own personal gain without them even knowing it. Having been redeemed for only a year and a half,

(click my story/witness of the Father, then older posts for details)

I certainly haven’t had enough theological education, formal or otherwise, to fall into this category. I am only bringing to light what has become glaringly obvious to my recently Spirit-opened eyes.

Let me be clear, the actual written word is NOT what I am referring to as what has been clouded here, it is how the word is spoken to others and how we are being told to interpret it that I reference. You see, in the spiritual development of Jesus, He was led by the Father first to the elders of the temple to be taught the words of God, but at some point He saw this condition and began to expose it, but because the temple leaders of the time were a “highly educated” group of religious theologians, they automatically rejected Him and what He was attempting to enlighten them to. They were in essence leading the masses astray, with the support of course of their own personal pride, very similar to what we see today in mass except I hope this is being done more unintentionally.

This present day lack of Spirit-inspired work does nothing but fan what has become a wildfire flame of hypocrisy for the seemingly few true Christians to try and contain for the sake of Christ’s church, (as if trying to be heard over the overbearing secular media noise isn’t enough).
Since having been made an entirely new creature by God, for reasons only known to Him, this notion has been brought to my attention several times. I am in no way paralleling myself with my Savior, but I am now inspired myself by the Holy Spirit to raise this subject to light because along with it comes what I hope is mostly unintentional doubt about God’s existence, for where one doubt is raised against God’s word, others are sure to follow.

To me the bottom line is this….God speaks to us through the Bible and He has a different conversation with each of us individually, just as you and I have an individual rapport with Him. That is the incredible beauty of the word of God. Therefore ,who is to say to anyone how God is speaking to them through His word?

I am not pointing any fingers at anyone in particular, I am merely just saying to ALL, beware the human condition,”the Pharisee syndrome”.

 “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:”

Philippians 2:3-5

 

How to TRULY forgive

How can I forgive the fact that a person has stolen something of great value to me, or has done me a deeply felt trespass? How can we truly forgive someone?

True forgiveness can only be had from God if we first forgive those who have sinned against us. We as Christians have been taught this by Jesus from understanding the Lord’s prayer, “and forgive us of our sins as we forgive those who have sinned against us”….so how do we forgive someone?  After all, it’s apparently pretty important!  Here’s how, and it’s really quite easy once you understand it as a gift.

Having been led to the truth and been given a wholehearted and true faith I have come to know that God has a plan and that it is truly inconceivable to man. I also know that it must simply be accepted, so I do. In this acceptance I also realize that whatever part I play in it, I must also accept that as well, both in the calm and the storm. So with this in mind I know that what I may perceive as “bad” is actually for the better for God’s children, as is stated in Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God”. So, in keeping this at the forefront, I know that whatever has happened to me has been God’s will, and in knowing this, I am thankful for whatever He has gifted me with, both “good” and “bad”. With this knowledge how then can I not forgive? Here’s an example from my life.

I lost my first family through a painful divorce many years ago. At the time I, and my dream of how my life was going to be, was shattered. I barely ate or slept for two weeks. It seemed unfair and I suffered immensely. But, I am now in another even more miraculous dream that I had no idea even existed. Father God had a plan for me that was beyond my ability to comprehend at that time and His dream was to make beauty from the ashes of my sufferings. I simply could not have understood it from the vantage of my position at the time.

From that experience I know now that trying to understand and therefore predict God’s will is foolish, so I now just accept it, and in doing so, how can I not forgive those who have sinned against me? They were an integral part of the plan for me to be in this miracle that I now live in. I am actually thankful for what they have done as I now see that if it weren’t for what happened at that time, I wouldn’t be in this wonderful life that I have today.

Maybe now you can look back on your journey and see where this may be true for you as well. Also, I hope you can take heart in knowing this. If you are in a less-than-desirable place today, stay calm, because much, MUCH better is in your future as long as you take the high road, love and pray.

And if this is still a bit blurry then remember thisdownload

ONLY TWO rules to success….

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Christ Jesus was given to us as an example. He wasn’t sent to judge or condemn, He is our shining role model of how God wants us to be. He talked the talk and walked the walk showing us all, (the people of the time and everyone that the Father leads to Him), that walking blamelessly isn’t just something that we can aspire for, it is achievable! He was fully human, meaning He experienced the exact same feelings and seemingly irresistible temptations and CHOSE WITH HIS FREE WILL to do the right thing, and so can we. But it starts in your mind. Perspective is truly everything.

Live by the golden rule that we all learned in kindergarten, treat others as you want to be treated, and if you are stuck on what to do, ask yourself, what would Jesus do?  Can you imagine if everyone did this, how different this world would be………..

we are his children, plain and simple

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It has been stated many, many times that God will not love you any more or any less than he ever has, no matter what you do, and it’s true.  But do we really know what that means?  Do we really, really fully comprehend this statement?  I know I didn’t until it was made absolutely clear by God Himself, and I hope to relay this to you.  In fact it seems to be the reason for my existence lately.

I know I have tried to make this clear already but I want to make sure you got it.

I want you to close your eyes and think about your own love for your own children.  If you don’t have a child then try to think about something that you love very much and unconditionally and you will be there.

Now I want you to realize that God made us in His own image and this will help you realize that He has emotions too, the exact same ones actually.  Now internalize that we are His children and know how you can’t love your children any more or less no matter WHAT.

This is what it means…..

kings beware


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Therefore, you kings, be wise;
    be warned, you rulers of the earth.
11 Serve the Lord with fear
    and celebrate his rule with trembling.
12 Kiss his son, or he will be angry
    and your way will lead to your destruction,
for his wrath can flare up in a moment.
    Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

Psalm 2:10-12

What is success?

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It has been said that “If you aren’t receiving what you want in life you’re probably wanting the wrong things”.

Every man-made problem in this world  can be first helped and then eventually solved if we just take what is stated in Matthew 6:33 to heart.

 “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

So what does it mean to “seek first the kingdom of God” anyway?

First of all what are “these things” Jesus is talking about?  If we read the prior passages we find that He is speaking about our desires of this world.  We may think that we need some material thing but our Father truly knows what we need and if we truly love Him, He will give it to you.  Which leads me to the one thing that has resonated most with me since the beginning of His presence in my life.

I have come to understand that God is no different from any loving father.  If you want to imagine how God feels about you then just think about how you feel about your child.  Now, back to the question at hand, what does it mean to seek first the kingdom of God?

Some people believe it to mean “We are to seek the things of God as a priority over the things of the world.” which in my opinion is too general so let me narrow it down.

Every day when you rise up out of your bed, simply and gratefully give your first fruits of the day to Father God.  This means to give thanks to Him for another day to be His light and ask Him to make plain to you His will for you so that you may do His will and not yours.  The acceptance of His will over yours is a key as we read in Romans 8:28,  “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  And so we know that even though it may hurt at the time, it is for the best so it must be accepted.

Now in taking this approach you have put your focus in the right perspective and “His will be done” has become more than just something we say and pray, it is what we truly now accept and strive for.  Then, when you strive for His will over yours, peace is achieved because the gospel of John 5:14, which tells us; “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” becomes truth.

I am not saying you will achieve fame or fortune and I’m not saying you won’t.  I don’t know the will of God for you. But I can assure you this, you will have peace and joy. and isn’t that really all that you need?

It really works but here’s the first hurdle.  Throughout the course and trials of the day keep referring back to Him in this way.  Seek His will.   In doing this without hesitation you will be seeking first the kingdom of God.

The second challenge is to remain patient and diligent in Christ believing without doubt.

“Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.”

Hebrews 10:22

God’s peace be with you……

why are you an atheist or agnostic?

It has been said that the seed of atheism is created by hurt and then fertilized by pride.

When I went through my divorce and lost the ability to communicate with my children, then 4 and 5 years old and in need of solid ground, I saw this as extremely painful and unfair in accordance with what I saw as the future for both me and them.  No doubt this is a stinky life situation that could easily justify in the mind of man a hurt delivered by God, don’t you think?  But now some 20+ years later here I am raising 3 beautiful children and married to a wonderful person living what seems to be a dream.  And oh ya, I maintain a healthy relationship with both of my older children now and they are just fine.

My point is this, we all go through storms in life for what seems to be no reason good enough to swallow but in the end it always works out for the best.  The “best” may not come as fast as our will wants it to but it does always come.  Even if we bring the many atrocities that have happened throughout history onto the table, haven’t they all worked some sort of miracle for someone, somehow?  The civil war, the genocide of the Jews and Native Americans, WWI and WWII, tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires and so on and on.  No doubt on the surface they are horrible but after time we can see that miracles of one kind or another do eventually come.  It may be hard to see the silver lining, but no matter how hard to persevere through, it is there if you are honest enough with yourself to see it.

Unfortunately, there in the midst of the pain we have a human nature that wants to place blame but in our human haste too many times the wrong person or energy source receives it.  We must always remember that there are two forces at work in this world, both good and evil.  One needs to look no further then the recent mass killings in this nation alone to see the evil, but why must we focus on the good and place the blame there?  Strange don’t you think?

Then, when human self-pride is sprinkled onto the seedling we have a problem of a more permanent nature.  Why? Because no one wants to be seen as wrong or foolish.  Wrong to have made an incorrect decision that carries great gravity.  That would look foolish now wouldn’t it?

But what if you discovered that to be foolish is actually defined by not changing your mind when you have discovered that your initial decision was the wrong one?  And that by now making the right choice in accordance with what you know to be true in your heart is not only wise but shows incredible strength as well.  Wouldn’t you change your mind?  pruning

When a branch is pruned it is painful to both the branch and the vine, but in the end they are both strengthened and produce a great fruit for harvest 86518136_XS.

God’s peace to you and all of humanity

Unexpected Spiritual Change

winchester 2013 024Unreal, incredible, unsolicited, undeniable.  These are all still words that come immediately to mind when I think back to how this all began.  My happy-go-lucky life wasn’t completely on track, but I certainly wasn’t stressed to the point of seeking help from God, and yet He came and in an instant everything changed.

Happily married with a wonderfully developing family, I was almost entirely satisfied with my life at the time.  The only thing that was out of whack was the fact that I was not employed but even that wasn’t really a concern to me.  After all, I had seen much worse times in my past and had always somehow come out just fine.  This lack of employment wasn’t any different in my mind.  We were going to be just fine no matter what.

I had ran a landscaping business for five years prior to the recession but it didn’t last.  This was indeed a failure, but to my wife and I, this was completely acceptable. The removal of the intense stress of running the business was a good occurrence. We were not in debt over the loss so we chose to view it positively.  We saw it as a life change that would enable me to stay at home and raise our son in a healthy environment rather then putting him into an expensive daycare and trusting them to. The trade off was as welcomed as a steak into my dog’s dish.  Our stress level had been reduced and yet for some unknown reason God chose to begin my transformation at that juncture of my life.  This was and still is very strange to me because it’s in direct contrast to all of the “born again christian” testimonials that I had heard.  I wasn’t at a low point, I was happy and on cruise control, so the question of why began to haunt me and still lingers.

As far as my spiritual background is concerned, it is as sorted as the next guys I suppose.  I was raised a christian, but always had my doubts.  At the time of the “awakening” I was attending a Lutheran church that my wife and I were married at, but I wasn’t really a church goer.  An avid football fan is what I was, so my attendance was determined by whether or not my fantasy team was doing well and if my wife could talk me into going. I was a “challenged” believer to say the least.  I was in all actuality a believer “just in case” and I was fine with that because I didn’t know there was a possibility of anything more.  I wasn’t actively trying to become more faithful or more spiritually righteous because I didn’t know that I could be.  Then in came The Helper and my life did a complete 180 and God has been in me ever since, that is except for a 24 hour span that I’ll never forget.  This day long unbelievable happening prompted me to turn what had begun as a journal, into a currently unpublished book.

I initially started my journal just to try to make better sense of what was happening to me because as I stated before, I wasn’t seeking change, and yet it started to happen.  When the Spirit began His work on me I was as confused as Adam on mother’s day, and so was my family.  I have since decided to write it as a book so I could hand it down to my children so they can then hand it down to their kids, therefore keeping God at the forefront of my family’s lives because I know that if one seeks first the kingdom of God then all other things will be given unto them.  I also want my children to know just what happened to their dad and why I am so in love with Jesus and Father God.

I will begin posting my book/journal next week in hopes to inspire those that God brings to it.

God’s peace,

Tom McGraw