Archive for December, 2013

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Please listen to this song prior to reading or listening! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZuJWQzjfU3o

Name TagThis post is what i will be sharing tonight at the Onething Campus New years Eve Celebration in conjunction with several others.

2 Corinthians 10:4-5 says, “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.”

In other words I am not fighting a physical battle but a spiritual one. It is a battle in my thoughts, a battle for my mind.

The devil is like a computer hacker trying to plant a virus in my mind. He is looking for the right password to gain access. So what’s your password? Sex, party, alcohol, pride, unforgiveness? How about cancer, financial lack, dissatisfaction?

1 Peter 1:17 commands each of us to gird up the loins of our mind. In Biblical times, men wore long robes and when they entered battle, they would tie them up so they would not interfere with movement.

Left alone, my mind goes in all directions, all kinds of thoughts. I need to gird my mind to keep it on the right path. I need… no I must learn to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

It’s called focus.

Where does it all begin? In culture today little emphasis is given to the meaning of a name give a child. In Biblical times a name was considered a predictor of character and destiny: Elijah (My God is Yahweh.), and Jesus (The Lord is Salvation.).

Many times names were changed in the Bible showing a new destiny.

  • Abram      (Noble Father) becomes Abraham (Father of Many Nations)
  • Sarai      (Princess) becomes Sarah (Mother of Nations)
  • Simon      (Like a reed) became Peter (The Rock)

Just maybe God wanted people to rise to new heights of effectiveness as a result of such name changes. For us today, our name – that of  “Christians” – means “to be Christ like.” We are called to live like Christ, to demonstrate His love, grace, peace, joy and forgiveness to a world that has lost its way and has no vision of its destiny.

So who am I? Some would describe themselves as, “I am a failure.”, “I am a mistake.”, “I am an addict.” or “I am rejected.” Maybe the devil is more subtle and has convinced us, “I am a carpenter/ nurse/ engineer/ homemaker.” But that is not where my value lies.

In Isaiah 14:12-17, we learn that the devil’s downfall was his pride, his desire to be equal to God, a “high thing that exalted itself against the knowledge of God”. Let’s not let the same thing happen to us. We combat it by knowing who we are in Christ:

  • I am loved. Romans 8:14 I am a son of God. Colossians 1:13-14 I am rescued from Satan’s kingdom.
  • I am forgiven. Romans 5:1 I have been justified and have peace with God. Romans 8:1 I am free of condemnation in Christ.
  • I am valuable. Romans 8:17 I am an heir of God and a joint-heir with Christ. Ephesians 2:10 I am His handiwork.
  • I am victorious. Romans 8:37 I am more than a conqueror. 1 John 5:4-5 In Christ I have overcome the world.
  • I am complete. 2 Corinthians 5:17 I am a new creation in Christ. The old things have passed away. All things have become new. Ephesians 1:3 I am blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
  • I am chosen. 2 Timothy 1:9 I have a holy calling. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 I am a minister of reconciliation between God and those I contact.

Jesus knew who He was. He declared, “I am the bread of life.” (John 6:35) “I am the light of the world.” (John 8:12) “I am the good shepherd.” (John 10:11) “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6)

He walked this earth with a confidence and strength that come from that knowledge. We can have the same confidence when we have learned what the Word tells us of who we are and then… we walk in it.

The Message puts it this way, “The tools of our trade aren’t for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture. We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5)

In Revelations 2:17, Jesus promises each of us a white stone with a name change, a new destiny. What name is on your stone? Redeemed. New Creation. Forgiven. In Christ. Child of the One True King.

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Today’s post and podcast are the real Christmas story from a biblical account of the events surrounding the birth of Jesus. It’s paraphrased from the New Testament books of Matthew and Luke.

Mary, a virgin, was living in Galilee of Nazareth and was engaged to be married to Joseph, a Jewish carpenter. An angel visited her and explained to her that she would conceive a son by the power of the Holy Spirit. She would carry and give birth to this child and she would name him Jesus.

At first Mary was afraid and troubled by the angel’s words. Being a virgin, Mary questioned the angel, “How will this be?” The angel explained that the child would be God’s own Son and, therefore, “nothing is impossible with God.” Humbled and in awe, Mary believed the angel of the Lord and rejoiced in God her Savior.

Mary most likely reflected on the words found in Isaiah 7:14 foretelling this event, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”

While Mary was still engaged to Joseph, she miraculously became pregnant through the Holy Spirit, as foretold to her by the angel.  When Mary told Joseph she was pregnant, he had every right to feel disgraced. He knew the child was not his own, and Mary’s apparent unfaithfulness carried a grave social stigma. Joseph not only had the right to divorce Mary, under Jewish law she could be put to death by stoning.

Although Joseph’s initial reaction was to break the engagement, the appropriate thing for a righteous man to do, he treated Mary with extreme kindness. He did not want to cause her further shame, so he decided to act quietly. But God sent an angel to Joseph in a dream to verify Mary’s story and reassure him that his marriage to her was God’s will. The angel explained that the child within Mary was conceived by the Holy Spirit, that his name would be Jesus and that he was the Messiah, God with us.

When Joseph woke from his dream, he willingly obeyed God and took Mary home to be his wife, in spite of the public humiliation he would face. Perhaps this noble quality is one of the reasons God chose him to be the Messiah’s earthly father.

Joseph too must have wondered as he remembered the words found in Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”

At that time, Caesar Augustus decreed that a census be taken, and every person in the entire Roman world had to go to his own town to register. Joseph, being of the line of David, was required to go to Bethlehem to register with Mary. While in Bethlehem, Mary gave birth to Jesus.  Probably due to the census, the inn was too crowded, and Mary gave birth in a crude stable. She wrapped the baby in cloths and placed him in a manger.

Out in the fields, an angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds who were tending their flocks of sheep by night. The angel announced that the Savior had been born in the town of David. Suddenly a great host of heavenly beings appeared with the angels and began singing praises to God. As the angelic beings departed, the shepherds decided to travel to Bethlehem and see the Christ-child.

There they found Mary, Joseph and the baby, in the stable. After their visit, they began to spread the word about this amazing child and everything the angel had said about him. They went on their way still praising and glorifying God. But Mary kept quiet, treasuring their words and pondering them in her heart. It must have been beyond her ability to grasp, that sleeping in her arms—the tender child she had just borne—was the Savior of the world.

After Jesus’ birth, Herod was king of Judea. At this time wise men (Magi) from the east saw a star, they came in search, knowing the star signified the birth of the king of the Jews. The wise men came to the Jewish rulers in Jerusalem and asked where the Christ was to be born. The rulers explained, “In Bethlehem in Judea,” referring to Micah 5:2. Herod secretly met with the Magi and asked them to report back after they had found the child. Herod told the Magi that he too wanted to go and worship the babe. But secretly Herod was plotting to kill the child.

So the wise men continued to follow the star in search of the new born king and found Jesus with his mother in Bethlehem. (Most likely Jesus was already two years of age by this time.) They bowed and worshipped him, offering treasures of gold, incense, and myrrh. When they left, they did not return to Herod. They had been warned in a dream of his plot to destroy the child.

For me no story of Christmas or Christ would be complete if the following was not included.

After Jesus was crucified, His body was placed in a tomb. A large stone covered the entrance and soldiers guarded the sealed tomb.  On the third day, a Sunday, several women went to the tomb at dawn to anoint the body of Jesus.

A violent earthquake took place as an angel from heaven rolled back the stone. The guards shook in fear as the angel, dressed in bright white, sat upon the stone. The angel announced to the women that Jesus who was crucified was no longer in the tomb, “He is risen, just as he said.” Then he instructed the women to inspect the tomb and see for themselves. Next he told them to go inform the disciples.

With a mixture of fear and joy they ran to obey the angel’s command, but suddenly Jesus met them on their way.  They fell at his feet and worshiped him.  Jesus then said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee. There they will see me.”

When the guards reported what had happened to the chief priests, they bribed the soldiers with a large sum of money, telling them to lie and say that the disciples had stolen the body in the night.

After his resurrection, Jesus appeared to the women near the tomb and later at least twice to the disciples while they were gathered at a house in prayer. He visited two of the disciples on the road to Emmaus and he also appeared at the Sea of Galilee while several of the disciples were fishing.

In closing… before Jesus ascended into heaven he gave the Great Commission, telling his followers to go and make disciples of all nations.

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With just a few days left before Christmas i thought this story may inspire us to take one last look at the gifts we’re giving and to whom we’re giving them and then… just maybe, we will add 1 more gift as we’re inspired by the story. Let me add this to the story before reading it. Last year there were over 46 million people at poverty level. That’s 15% of our population. 16.1% of that number are children. 3.9% of the number are people age 65 and older. It means that they made less than $24,000.00 for the year. By the way that’s gross income.

The Dime…

Bobby was getting cold sitting out in his back yard in the snow. Bobby didn’t wear boots; he didn’t like them and anyway he didn’t own any. The thin         sneakers he wore had a few holes in them and they did a poor job of keeping out the cold. Bobby had been in his backyard for about an hour already.         And, try as he might, he could not come up with an idea for his mother’s Christmas gift. He shook his head as he thought, “This is useless, even if I do come up with an idea, I don’t have any money to spend.”

Ever since his father had passed away three years ago, the family of five had struggled. It wasn’t because his mother didn’t care, or try, there just never seemed to be enough. She worked nights at the hospital, but the small wage that she was earning could only be stretched so far.

What the family lacked in money and material things, they more than made up for in love and family unity. Bobby had two older and one younger sister,         who ran the house hold in their mother’s absence. All three of his sisters had already made beautiful gifts for their mother. Somehow it just wasn’t fair. Here it was Christmas Eve already, and he had nothing.

Wiping a tear from his eye, Bobby kicked the snow and started to walk down to the street where the shops and stores were. It wasn’t easy being six without a father, especially when he needed a man to talk to. Bobby walked from shop to shop, looking into each decorated window.

Everything seemed so beautiful and so out of reach.

It was starting to get dark and Bobby reluctantly turned to walk home when suddenly his eyes caught the glimmer of the setting sun’s rays reflecting off of something along the curb. He reached down and discovered a shiny dime. Never before has anyone felt so wealthy as Bobby felt at that moment.

As he held his new-found treasure, a warmth spread throughout his entire body and he walked into the first store he saw. His excitement quickly turned cold when the salesperson told him that he couldn’t buy anything with only a dime.

He saw a flower shop and went inside to wait in line. When the shop owner asked if he could help him, Bobby presented the dime and asked if he could         buy one flower for his mother’s Christmas gift. The shop owner looked at Bobby and his ten cent offering.

Then he put his hand on Bobby’s shoulder and said to him, “You just wait here and I’ll see what I can do for you.” As Bobby waited he looked at the beautiful flowers and even though he was a boy, he could see why mothers and girls liked flowers.

The sound of the door closing as the last customer left, jolted Bobby back to reality. All alone in the shop, Bobby began to feel alone and afraid. Suddenly the shop owner came out and moved to the counter.

There, before Bobby’s eyes, lay twelve long stem, red roses, with leaves of green and tiny white flowers all tied together with a big silver bow. Bobby’s         heart sank as the owner picked them up and placed them gently into a long white box.

“That will be ten cents young man,” the shop owner said reaching out his hand for the dime. Slowly, Bobby moved his hand to give the man his dime.         Could this be true? No one else would give him a thing for his dime!

Sensing the boy’s reluctance, the shop owner added, “I just happened to have some roses on sale for ten cents a dozen. Would you like them?”

This time Bobby did not hesitate, and when the man placed the long box into his hands, he knew it was true. Walking out the door that the owner was         holding for Bobby, he heard the shop keeper say, “Merry Christmas son.”

As he returned inside, the shop keeper’s wife walked out. “Who were you talking to back there and where are the roses you were fixing?”

Staring out the window, and blinking the tears from his own eyes, he replied, “A strange thing happened to me this morning. While I was setting up things to open the shop, I thought I heard a voice telling me to set aside a dozen of my best roses for a special gift. I wasn’t sure at the time whether I had lost my mind or what, but I set them aside anyway.

Then just a few minutes ago, a little boy came into the shop and wanted to buy a flower for his mother with one small dime.

“When I looked at him, I saw myself, many years ago. I too, was a poor boy with nothing to buy my mother a Christmas gift. A bearded man, whom I never knew, stopped me on the street and told me that he wanted to give me ten dollars. “When I saw that little boy tonight, I knew who that voice was, and I put together a dozen of my very best roses.” The shop owner and his wife hugged each other tightly, and as they stepped out into the bitter cold air, they somehow didn’t feel cold at all.

The hope is that this story stirred the spirit of CHRISTmas in you enough to do something you may not have planned or may not even be able to afford. I’ll close today with this…, Goodness is the only investment that doesn’t fail.

I’m Dr Ed Peterson and you’re reading or listening to meandIAM. Thank you and have a Merry Christmas

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Let me start by saying that today’s post is more jolly than it is holy. I’m going to begin with a few Christmas sentiments shared by famous people.

Calvin Coolidge said, “Christmas  is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill,  to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of  Christmas.”

Bernard manning said, “I once bought my kids a set of batteries for Christmas with a note on it saying, toys not included.”

Dale Evans said, “Christmas, my child, is love in action. Every time we love, every time we give, it’s  Christmas.”

Bing Crosby said, “Unless we make Christmas an occasion to share our blessings, all the snow in Alaska won’t make it ‘white’.”

Bob Hope said, “If  you haven’t got any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart  trouble.”

Now PLEASE, don’t get your feathers rustled with today’s posts or podcasts, as i will share the real story of Christmas on Monday.

A Visit From St Nicholas… or better know as The Night Before Christmas is the classic Christmas reading. It has the most colorful history. We know when it was first published, but there is some controversy about who actually wrote it. That said, the poem reshaped the nation’s view of St.Nicholas, and even helped the celebration of Christmas, at a time when the holiday had been drifting into neglect and even disrepute.

By the time that the Troy Sentinel first published this poem anonymously in 1823, Christmas celebrations were in some decline. In some circles, year-end parties had become so promiscuous that Christmas was no longer really a “family” holiday. In other, more religious circles, some wanted to wipe out, not only the promiscuous year-end celebrations, but also Christmas itself, which was “guilty by association.” Even poor St. Nicholas was not the cheerful, red-robed, chubby soul that we imagine today – rather he often dressed in brown or green, was relatively slender, and was as likely to dole out punishment as gifts.

The poem’s clever verse and fresh view of “St. Nick” were well-received. “A Visit from St. Nicholas” was republished anonymously several more times before 1937, when it was first published under the name of Clement Clarke Moore, a well-known clergyman.

In the meantime, another prominent family, the Livingstons had always understood that their father and grandfather, Major Henry Livingstone had written the poem. After learning that Moore had claimed credit for the poem, several generations of Livingston’s heirs tried to “set the record straight.”

There is no controversy about the success of the poem. Many believe that the poem eventually changed the way Americans thought about St. Nicholas, and even about Christmas. From the first publication, the poem’s refreshing approach, cheerful imagery, and memorable lines caught the imagination of young and old. Within a generation, the American public’s image of “St.Nick” had begun to evolve toward something like the plump, reindeer-driving, red-gowned, universally cheerful icon we know as Santa Claus. And Christmas had begun to be something more like the family oriented holiday we think of today.

The poem is still fresh; except for references to shutters and other things we don’t use so much anymore, “A Visit from St. Nicholas” could have been written in my lifetime, instead of nearly two centuries ago. In fact, Dr. Suess used the same rythm in much of his poetry, including “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

A Visit From St. Nicholas

by Clement Clarke Moore

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;

And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap, had just settled down for a long winter’s nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash, tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

With a little old driver, so lively and quick, I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came, and he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

“Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer and Vixen! On, Comet! On Cupid! On, Donder and Blitzen!

To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!

Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly, when they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,

So up to the house-top the coursers they flew, with the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof, the prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

As I drew in my hand, and was turning around, down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot, and his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;

A bundle of toys he had flung on his back, and he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes — how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!

His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow, and the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, and the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;

He had a broad face and a little round belly, that shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf, and I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head, soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work, and filled all the stockings;

Then turned with a jerk, and laying his finger aside of his nose, and giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle, and away they all flew like the down of a thistle.

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,

“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night.”

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i had to do a refresher regarding Achan. After the victory of the Israelites at the battle of Jericho, Joshua ordered that all of the goods and the wealth of the city were to be devoted to the Lord.  The people could keep nothing for themselves.  The city of Jericho and its wealth was to be offered as the first fruits to the Lord.  It was as if it were the tithe offered from the land of Canaan.  In Joshua 7:1 it says, “But the Israelites acted unfaithfully in regard to the devoted things; Achan, the son of Carmi of the tribe of Judah, took some of them.  So the Lord’s anger burned against Israel.”  As a result of this crime Israel was defeated in their next battle.  When the sin of Achan was later discovered he, like Ananias, was punished by being put to death.  The Lord will not be mocked.  He will not tolerate sin, even though it seems like He’s doing so today.

To say that the God of the Old Testament is a vengeful and violent God and that the God of the New Testament is a God of love and grace, would be to say that i have never read the whole book!  The God of the Bible is the God and Father of my Lord Jesus Christ.  He is the Sovereign One.  He is the Holy One.  Apart from his grace, i am the same as Achan at the battle of Jericho and Ananias and Sapphira in the early Christian Church.  Is it any wonder that Acts 5:11 says, “Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.”

When it says, that to “fear the Lord” is a good and proper attitude, it doesn’t mean i am to be “scared” of the God and regard him as unapproachable.  To “fear the Lord” is to have the wisdom to know that He is holy and sovereign and i am not.  Holiness and sovereignty demand respect.  The Lord loves me and i can love Him because of His grace shown to me.  The Holy Spirit awakens my stubborn and sinful wills to know and experience His powerful love. It’s only because of the Holy Spirit that I can do the good God requires of me.  In Romans 2 verses 8 and 10 it says that “for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.  … but glory, honour, and peace for everyone who does good.”  There are three criteria for any work to be considered “good”.  First, it arises out of true faith; second, it conforms to God’s law, and third, it’s done for his glory.  Only under the influence of the Holy Spirit can i meet this criteria.  Where Ananias and Sapphira failed is in the third criteria.  There action was not done for the glory of God but for the glory of themselves, Impression Management.

Let me share three truths,

Truth about God – Ananias and Sapphira showed contempt for God.

Truth about ourselves – They showed themselves as being filled with vanity and ambition.

Truth about others – They showed total disregard for others by the corruption which they were bringing into the society.

Psalm 103:10 says that the Lord “does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.”  That’s grace.  Grace is not something we can demand from the Lord.  It’s not something we can earn.  So why was this couple denied grace and made to pay for their sin with capital punishment?  Ultimately the answer to this question is left to the Lord himself.  However, perhaps there would be benefit from seeing this story in light of the miracles which happened in the book of Acts.

Before and after this story, Luke tells about miraculous healings which the apostles and in particular Peter, were enabled to perform. Immediately after Ananias and Sapphira’s story it says in Acts 5:15 that the apostles healed so many that people brought their sick into the streets so that “at least Peter’s shadow might fall on them” as they lay in the street.

Each day that i wake up and go about my daily routines is a gift of His grace.  It is the undeserved favor of God shown to me.  Each day a day of grace.  A day to bring glory to God and a day of asking for his Holy Spirit to guide me in all my living.  God is sovereign.  He is holy.  He fills me with His HOLY Spirit.  i in turn become an agent of his grace.

In closing… just in case i have not made clear what “Impression Management is let me summarize it. “Impression Management is defined as MANIPULATING OTHERS opinion of us?

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“I feel like a big faker because I’ve been putting my life back together, and nobody knows.”   ―     Stephen Chbosky

That’s Impression Management… Did you give it any thought? i wonder…. how many of us actually practice it? Come on let’s be honest, don’t we all do it at one time or another? How about this? we tell someone we don’t want to do something or go somewhere because… and we fill in the blanks with something that won’t make us sound… bad. If we can explain that we’re busy or something that sounds important then we don’t have to worry about looking bad. Nobody wants to look bad! That’s impression management. As i look back on things i see where i have used Impression management quite often. Fortunately without the same results as this husband and wife, yet… i ‘m fairly sure there will be a judgment at some point.

i think that Luke tells this story of Ananias and Sapphira’s judgment in the midst all the other stories which are about the spread of the gospel and the power of the Holy Spirit in people’s lives, because he wants me to know that the Spirit at work among God’s people is a HOLY Spirit and God will not be mocked by my sin!  i tend to think that God is safe, that i am safe and that i can get away with treating him as less than what He has revealed himself to be. But here i’m shown an example that i am not safe, or covered by grace and mercy when i intentionally deceive Him. He is Holy and He is Good, but He will not be trifled with.  God will not be mocked.

Back to the title, “Impression Management”. After the introductions and situation are given in verses 1-2, Peter confronts Ananias with his crime in verses 3-4.  He says, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit …”  Then at the end of verse 4 he says, “You have not lied to men but to God.”  We’re at the heart of the matter.  The real crime in is not that this man and his wife kept back some of the money.  Their crime is that they have lied to God. Ananias and Sapphira lied to God the Holy Spirit while attempting to make themselves look better than they were, thus Impression Management.  It is the sin of hypocrisy.  Peter says to the husband, “Didn’t (the field) belong to you before it was sold?  And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal?  What made you think of doing such a thing?”  Hypocrisy within the community of God’s people can destroy the community. Theologian John Stott says, “Ananias and Sapphira were not so much misers as they were thieves.” They wanted the credit and the prestige for sacrificial generosity, without the inconvenience of it.  So, in order to gain a reputation to which they had no right, they told an intentional lie.  Their motive in giving was not to relieve the poor, but to fatten their own ego.” Impression Management!

“Mindfulness helps us get better at seeing the difference between what’s happening and the stories we tell ourselves about what’s happening, stories that get in the way of direct experience. Often such stories treat a fleeting state of mind as if it were our entire and permanent self.”   ―     Sharon Salzberg

In closing, There has never been a time when any of God’s people were perfect.  But i need to be on guard against the work of the unholy spirit.  F.F. Bruce writes, “The story of Ananias is to the book of Acts what the story of Achan is to the book of Joshua.  In both narratives an act of deceit interrupts the victorious progress of God’s people.”

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Impression Management…, sounds…, i don’t know, somewhat impressive? It just rolls off my tongue, “What do you do?” “i’m in Impression Management.”

This weeks posts and podcasts will come from Acts 5:1-11. It’s there that i found a story about the deaths of a husband, Ananias and his wife, Sapphira?  This story could seem out of place in reference to what is shared in the first four chapters of Acts. Upon reading the first part of Acts i found that from the beginning, Luke has been sharing about the things the disciples were enabled to do and teach after the ascension of Jesus.  Luke tells about the power of the Holy Spirit in the apostle’s lives and the phenomenal growth of the Church.  In Acts 4:33 he summarizes everything by saying, “With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all.”  It’s a picture of the community of God’s people working to it’s fullest.  But then comes Acts 5:1-11, the story of Ananias and Sapphira and their deaths and it just doesn’t seem to fit with what was described previously.

Is this a deviation? Is it an interruption in this community? And is this story really as depressing as it sounds?

First off, it’s not a deviation nor an interruption and as for depressing or not, you’ll have to decide for yourself. But a man named Ananias—his wife, Sapphira, conniving in this with him—sold a piece of land, secretly kept part of the price for himself, and then brought the rest to the apostles and made an offering of it.” No problem with that…? Or is there?

Acts 4:36-37 tells of a man named Barnabas who sold a field and gave the money to the apostles so that it could be used for distribution among the believers who were in need.  He must have gotten praise and thanks from the community.  In fact, his name was actually “Joseph”, but the apostles called him “Barnabas” which means “Son of Encouragement”.  It is this event at the end of the chapter 4 which leads into Acts 5:1-11. Ananias, having seen Barnabas do what he did, decides along with this wife, to do the same thing.  There’s just one small, teensy weensy, difference. His action is motivated by a different spirit than that of Barnabas. Barnabas was moved by the Holy Spirit to do what he did, and because of that he won much praise and favor from God and men. Ananias did the opposite. Being moved by a different spirit, an unholy spirit, he received no praise, but only severe judgment.

The fact that Luke puts the story of Ananias and his wife in this book, indicates to me that his purpose was to present an accurate and historical account of the first century Christian Church.  Seriously, what author, would include a story which might cause offense to those who hear it?  To many people this story sounds judgmental, harsh, cruel, and that perhaps should not be included when trying to communicate the good news of Christ.  Their thoughts may be, “Isn’t the Lord supposed to love everyone?  Doesn’t his grace come upon all people?”  Even some theologians have said that they hope this story is a legend and not true because it makes the apostle Peter seem harsh and God’s judgment severe.

On with the story. Verses 3 and 4, “Peter said, “Ananias, how did Satan get you to lie to the Holy Spirit and secretly keep back part of the price of the field? Before you sold it, it was all yours, and after you sold it, the money was yours to do with as you wished. So what got into you to pull a trick like this? You didn’t lie to men but to God.”

There was nothing demanding or being asked of Ananias regarding this offering so Peter wants to know how Satan got him to lie. “Before you sold it, it was all yours, and after you sold it, the money was yours to do with as you wished.” So the question is why? This comes the title of this post, “Impression Management”. I’ll get back to that.

Verses 5 and 6, “Ananias, when he heard those words, fell down dead. Don’t you know, that put the fear of God into everyone who heard of it. The younger men went right to work, wrapped him up, then carried him out and buried him.”

Think about it, Ananias was not even given a chance to repent before he was struck down.  Then the apostles didn’t even take the time to inform his wife about his death.

Verses 7 – 10, Not more than three hours later, his wife, knowing nothing of what had happened, came in. Peter said, “Tell me, were you given this price for your field?” “Yes,” she said, “that price.” Peter responded, “What’s going on here that you connived to conspire against the Spirit of the Master? Imagine the surprise when Peter says, “The men who buried your husband are at the door, and you’re next.” No sooner were the words out of his mouth than she also fell down, dead. When the young men returned they found her body. They carried her out and buried her beside her husband.” That’s some kind of pastoral care!

Perhaps we, i mean i could use a dose of that type of reality because verse 11 says, “By this time the whole church and, in fact, everyone who heard of these things had a healthy respect for God. They knew God was not to be trifled with.”

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When my children were young we had a discipline that worked well for us when they did something they knew was wrong. We didn’t count to three but i suppose it was built-in and not as obvious as it is today. Our intent was to instill good behavior and not emphasize the bad. We decided that they would write the truth or the good behavior according to the bible, thus confess what was to be their words and actions versus the wrong. Example, If one of them spoke unkind to mom or dad they would write… “I honor my father and mother.” It started out when they could barely write with having to write it 10 times and at the last time used it was 5,000 times of whatever the correct behavior was. There were a couple other twists as well. Once the assignment was given all privileges ceased. All of them, even a trip to Dallas to be with grandparents held no privileges until all 5,000 times were written. During that incident we knew we had accomplished something as my son volunteered to help my daughter write so they could enjoy the trip. I said there were a couple twists and the second one was how the verses had to be written. They could not write a column of I and a column of honor and so on. They had to write it as a sentence and they had to say it as they wrote it. Get caught not saying it or writing it in columns and it was torn up and started over.

i have been disciplined by someone whom i have put in the position of authority over me, someone whom i have given permission to correct me. The following are the words of that correction.

“I am going to make an observation that will require you to read between the lines. God has brought great changes into your’s and Ann Marie’s life in the last three months especially. You have been fasting and allowing God to make the adjustments that He wanted to make and you guys have grown leaps and bounds.  But the real test is when you walk into circumstances that surround you with the relationships and circumstances that locks you into an old way of thinking and relating. Then you find out just how much of the change has become permanent.”

Thus todays post is applying my own method of correction to myself. With-out going into detail of my bad, i am writing or in this case typing word by word what the proper behavior is for my bad. It would seem that not enough of the change has become permanent.

i do not allow myself to get fatigued doing good because at the right time i will harvest a good crop if i don’t give up, or quit.

i do not allow myself to get fatigued doing good because at the right time i will harvest a good crop if i don’t give up, or quit.

i do not allow myself to get fatigued doing good because at the right time i will harvest a good crop if i don’t give up, or quit.

i do not allow myself to get fatigued doing good because at the right time i will harvest a good crop if i don’t give up, or quit.

i do not allow myself to get fatigued doing good because at the right time i will harvest a good crop if i don’t give up, or quit.

i do not allow myself to get fatigued doing good because at the right time i will harvest a good crop if i don’t give up, or quit.

i do not allow myself to get fatigued doing good because at the right time i will harvest a good crop if i don’t give up, or quit.

i do not allow myself to get fatigued doing good because at the right time i will harvest a good crop if i don’t give up, or quit.

i do not allow myself to get fatigued doing good because at the right time i will harvest a good crop if i don’t give up, or quit.

i do not allow myself to get fatigued doing good because at the right time i will harvest a good crop if i don’t give up, or quit.

That’s verse 9 of Galatians 6 but verse 10 goes on to say, “Right now, therefore, every time i get the chance, i am to work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to me in the community of faith.”

i spent this morning grumbling and complaining, to myself of course, that i was tired of who i am and what i do. i tried as hard as i could to think of who i would rather be or better yet what i would rather be. my conclusion is that i have been this and done this for so long i can’t even imagine something else. It seems like all i do is give, that i am always watching out for and thinking of others and i am tired of it… thus the writing assignment.

Well i won’t bore all of you by continuing with my writing assignment in this post or blog. i’ll let you get on with your day and i’ll get back to the assignment which i’m thinking is 100 times.

i do not allow myself to get fatigued doing good because at the right time i will harvest a good crop if i don’t give up, or quit.