Pray for Honest and Sensible Leaders

Have you ever read through the book of Proverbs? It’s full of wisdom. And it’s interesting to see the same Proverb in the various translations and versions. Take Proverbs 28:2 – here are a few different versions…

The Message:

When the country is in chaos,
everybody has a plan to fix it—
But it takes a leader of real understanding
to straighten things out.

New International Version:

When a country is rebellious, it has many rulers,
but a ruler with discernment and knowledge maintains order.

The Living Bible:

When there is moral rot within a nation, its government topples easily; but with honest, sensible leaders there is stability.

The Amplified Bible:

When a land transgresses, it has many rulers, but when the ruler is a man of discernment, understanding, and knowledge, its stability will long continue.

I pray that the members of Congress and the President sit and read through the Book of Proverbs and that they all get a dose of common sense and honesty.

 

Soli Deo Gloria!
Giselle Aguiar

 

 

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Pray for the Peace of Washington D.C.

Cover of "The Secret Power of Speaking Go...

I picked up a great little book that I take with me to church and sit in the prayer room during the second service. It’s from Joyce Meyer Ministries: The Secret Power of Speaking God’s Word. I bought it when Joyce was here in Phoenix a few years ago. What makes this book different is that it puts scripture into the first person and it’s divided into topical sections.

In the “Civic Responsibility” section I like to take the 3rd one down and give it my own spin:

“I pray for the peace of Washington D.C.! … May peace be within your walls and prosperity within your palaces!” (based on Psalm 122:6-7)

If Christians in the U.S. pray this several times a day, maybe we’ll see a change.

Here’s another…

I am one of God’s chosen people. I am called by His name. If I humble myself, pray, seek, crave, and require of necessity the face of God and turn from my wicked ways, then will God hear from heaven, forgive my sin, and heal my land. (based on 2 Chronicles 7:14)

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” ~Matthew 11:28 (MSG)

Prayer is a powerful tool.

We may feel that we can’t do anything to change anything in Washington D.C. We may feel that our representatives and senators aren’t listening to us or putting the needs of the people first instead of politics. We may feel helpless, but we’re not. We’ve got the power of prayer.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ~Philippians 4:6-7

We don’t know what God’s plans are. We can seek his Will for our lives and pray for the lives of others. And when we do, we will feel “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding” and that is an awesome feeling. What happens in the world, doesn’t matter. It’s in God’s hands.

Soli Deo Gloria!
Giselle Aguiar

 

 

Are you a Cultural Christian?

What is a “Cultural Christian”?

A Cultural Christian is someone who may be born again, believes Jesus Christ is their Lord and Savior, may have been baptized by immersion, yet still accepts, lives in sin and/or condones what the current culture accepts as proper, OK, passable, not a sin — knowing that it’s against God’s will and law and does nothing about it.

It’s like you have one foot in God’s Kingdom and one foot in the world.

The problem with that is that once you become a born-again believer, you are a Citizen of Heaven and you cannot continue being a citizen of world.

I was a cultural Christian for many years. Of course, I knew my ticket to heaven was secure, but I thought I could continue to do some of the things that I did before and it was OK. It’s wasn’t. I was in a relationship with an unbeliever and after each “encounter” I had this guilty feeling. That was the Holy Spirit inside of me convicting me – telling me that what I was doing was disappointing God. It was against his rules for living a righteous, Christ-like life.

I was a liberal Democrat. I had the attitude of “to each his own” – but condoning and accepting bad behavior is also against God’s will. Now, I’m a Christian Conservative and what’s happening in our country and the world makes me angry. Actually, I’m incensed and disgusted! I don’t recognize America any more – I know our Founding Fathers wouldn’t either. 

A Cultural Christian thinks same-sex marriage is OK. In God’s eyes it is NOT so it shouldn’t be so in your eyes.

A Cultural Christian thinks abortion is OK. It is not in God’s eyes – it’s the murder of innocent lives. It doesn’t make sense that when a pregnant woman is murdered it’s two counts of murder, yet society condones the murder of innocent babies like they were trash.

Get the point?

As a Christian, you MUST read the Bible DAILY! 

With so many Bible apps & websites, there really isn’t any valid excuse not to. Check these out:

You must attend and get involved in a bible-based church.

“Bible-based” is the relevant keyword here. Make sure the church leaders and pastors don’t pick and choose what Bible verses to teach and ignore the ones that God needs believers to hear. Strive to seek the truth.

Live a WWJD? life.

Stop and think before reacting. Say to yourself, “What would Jesus do in this situation?” “How would Jesus handle this issue?” What would Jesus say in response?” “Would Jesus watch this show?” “Is God smiling or is He disappointed in me and my behavior?”

Connect with Christians on the social media sites.

Follow them on Twitter, subscribe to their blogs, like them on Facebook. You become like those you hang out with. Striving to be Christ-like is not easy. But it helps when you get together with other committed Christians and talk about the latest news, how you feel and how your friends feel about the issues.

This world is not all there is – Thanks to Jesus!

When I look around at this sin-sick world that I live in, I thank the Lord Jesus that this is not all there is. That I have a HOPE like no other in Christ of an eternal life in a Paradise called Heaven. I like reading Revelation 21.

Here are a few of my favorite passages from that chapter:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared…I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”

Jesus meeting believer at the gates of heavenAnd the one sitting on the throne [Jesus] said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.

“But cowards, unbelievers, the corrupt, murderers, the immoral, those who practice witchcraft, idol worshipers, and all liars—their fate is in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” Rev. 21:1, 3-8

You can take the wide gate just to be popular and accepted into today’s society and culture or you can truly live the Christian life and enter Heaven through the narrow gate:

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

 It’s Your Choice.

Here’s a hint: Jesus wins in the end! Don’t you want to be on HIS Side? Click here to get to know Christ personally – it is about a personal relationship, not about religion.

Great Blessings!
Soli Deo Gloria!
Giselle Aguiar
Christian, Award-Winning Author

New Year’s Resolution: Get Good Habits-Lose the Bad Ones

…they get into the habit of being idle… ~1 Timothy 5:13

Habit is a cable; we weave a thread of it every day, and at last we cannot break it. ~ Horace Mann

English: Portrait drawing of American educator...

English: Portrait drawing of American educator Horace Mann (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One great enemy of effectiveness in the lives of those who would ask, “What Would Jesus Do?” is our tendency to bad habits. As Horace Mann, the father of public education, observed, habits are woven daily until they have the strength of a strong cable in binding us.

Jesus had no bad habits. The Apostle Paul said he would not “be mastered by anything” (1 Corinthians 6:12). As we learn to ask “What Would Jesus Do?”, we’re developing a good habit.But we must also deal with those cables of thread–the bad habits–that we’ve accumulated over the years.

Many Christians, in an attempt to be free from wrong habits, resort to will power–only to fail again and again. The road to freedom from the threads that bind us is to grasp the full meaning of Jesus’ words, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (john 8:36). Today, let’s walk in the same freedom from bondage as did Christ.

365 Daily Answers to WWJD? Excerpt from 365 Daily Answers to What Would Jesus Do?

So what bad habits do you want to be rid of?

What good habits should you pick up? How about:

  • Walking a bit each day
  • Spending more time reading the bible
  • Spending more time with family
  • Eating more fruits and vegetables
  • Asking “What Would Jesus Do?” before making a decision or responding to something.
  • Getting closer to God

It’s your choice.

Great Blessings!
Soli Deo Gloria!
Giselle Aguiar
Christian, Award-Winning Author
Follow Giselle on Twitter

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Christmas when even the hardest hearts are softened

Nativity from Duccio’s Maestá, 13th century, a...

Nativity from Duccio’s Maestá, 13th century, a compromise shed-within-a-cave (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

 

…and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. ~Luke 2:7

There are some of us…who think to ourselves, “If I had only been there! How quick I would have been to help the Baby. I would have washed His linen. How happy I would have been to go with the shepherds to see the Lord Lying in the manger!” Yes, we would. We say that because we know how great Christ is, but if we had been there at that time, we would have done no better than the people of Bethlehem…Why don’t we do it now? We have Christ in our neighbor. ~Martin Luther

It’s interesting that Jesus begins life not just in a stable, but in the stable of an inn where there’s no room for His advent. Two thousand years later, there is still no room for Him in many hearts. But if we would make the same visit to see Jesus as the wise men, we may do so by visiting Him in our neighbor.

At Christmastime, many normally hard hearts are softened. It is a perfect time to express the love of Christ–just as Jesus would do it.

That’s really all He wants for His birthday.

365 Daily Answers to WWJD? Excerpt from 365 Daily Answers to What Would Jesus Do?

WWJD? The Revival on Facebook
Twitter: @wwjdrevival

Check out these other great blogs:

Deo Volente! (God Willing): Love in the First Century by Giselle AguiarIf you enjoyed this, you’ll love Giselle’s award-winning Christian novel: Deo Volente! (God Willing): Love in the First Century a historical novel about the early church check it out! $1 from the sale of each book – no matter what format, benefits StreetLight Phoenix to help eradicate child sex slavery. www.giselleaguiar.com/novel1

 

Great Blessings!
Soli Deo Gloria!
Giselle Aguiar
Christian, Award-Winning Author
Follow Giselle on Twitter
https://twitter.com/giselleaguiar

 

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Advent Conspiracy – Worship Fully

by Chuck Foreman, Teaching Pastor, First Christian Church of Phoenix

Advent Conspiracy - Worship FullyNone of us would dispute the observation that Christmas has been hijacked by consumerism. Even Christians get caught up in the hustle and hassle of buying more stuff than at any other time of year. We agree that Christmas should be about giving not receiving, but what kind of giving exactly? Am I really giving something worthwhile or am I just spending?

How many of you have ever received a gift you didn’t need?
How many of you have ever received a gift you didn’t want? Didn’t even like?
How many of you have pretended to like it anyway?
How many of you still have it because you can’t get rid of it and still live a happy life?
How many of you have ever given a gift to someone and you know they didn’t like it? …because they told you so. 
How many of you remember all the gifts you bought for people last Xmas?
How many of you remember all the gifts you received and from who last Xmas?
How many of you have ever far exceeded & essentially destroyed your normal monthly budget in December buying Xmas gifts?

How many of you long for Xmas to be different—less hectic and more restful, less commercial and more worshipful?
How many of you know how to make that change happen?

Sermon 12-2-12 from First Christian on Vimeo.

It’s a difficult subject to even talk about, isn’t it?
The way we do Xmas has become part of our culture. But something un-Christian has happened to Christmas…
Americans spend $45 billion on Xmas presents every December! Really?!
I wonder how many of those gifts actually meet a genuine need? Or do they fall into the category of stuff we don’t even want, and we can’t even remember who gave it to us?

Imagine the incredible good that could be done in the world, in our communities, in our churches, if even a fraction of that $45 billion was redirected to meet real needs of real people.
If Jesus is the Reason for the Season, why do we spend so much money buying so many things for so many people who don’t have any real needs?

What if this Christmas you went into your living room on Christmas morning and joyfully announced, “I didn’t buy anybody anything this Xmas because everybody already has everything!”

What if this Xmas you found people who don’t have what they need—people who aren’t getting by so well, and you redirected your normal spending—even just some of your normal spending— to meet some real needs of real people?
(Some of you have done that with the gift tags off our Christmas Tree…)
In Acts 4 there’s an almost shocking description of the early Church that always haunts me. Let me read it to you… Acts 4:32-35
I’d like to suggest this morning, as we enter the Xmas Season here at FCC, that that kind of giving is what Xmas—True Christian Worship is all about. We raised over 30K for missions overseas in our Thank Offering. That’s a good thing …But we also have some families at FCC who have some real needs right now, which we’re going to try to help meet too.

For the next 4 weeks leading up to Xmas, we’re going to be talking about how to:

  1. Worship Fully
  2. Spend Less (on ourselves)
  3. Give More (to those in need)
  4. Love All People

at Christmas time.

Worship Fully?   How do you do that?   Do we ever, really?
One thing for sure, you can never worship God fully if there are distractions in the way—or substitutes for him.  If money and possessions come before God, we’re in trouble.  Jesus said, Luke 12:15
Somehow we’ve got to free ourselves from the hold that money & possessions have on us.  The best way to do that is to GIVE it away—but give intentionally and thoughtfully to meet real needs of those less fortunate than we are.

In the Bible, God makes the connection for us between:
Worship————->Taking Care of the Needy
but I’m not sure we’ve paid attention.  Let’s take another look…

What kind of Worship does God really want?
Isaiah 58:1-11
How did Mary worship God?
Luke 1:46-55
(She paid attention, acknowledged what He was up to…)

How did the Wise Men worship Jesus?
Matthew 2:11

How do we give to Jesus now?
Matthew 25:31-46  (summarize)

Joseph’s Dilemna.. When the incredible story of Christmas was just beginning to unfold, Joseph, Mary’s fiancé, had a huge problem with the way God was going about things… (Explain…)

God’s Solution:  Matthew 1:21
Jesus (Gr.) = Joshua (Heb.) = Savior, Deliverer.  Jesus was “God to the Rescue”.  He is our Hero, the One who can Deliver us from all our bondage caused by sin!

And just as Jesus is our Deliverer, so we, as His Followers, are Deliverers too!  With whatever means and power we have, we are to help the helpless out of whatever holds them captive, so they too can enter into the life of freedom and joy God created them for.

The Central Miracle of Christianity?   is not the Virgin Birth.  It’s not the Resurrection, or any of Jesus’ other miracles…  It’s Xmas!

It’s   The Incarnation—“God with us”      Matthew 1:23
The Central Miracle of Christianity is the very idea that God would become one of us.  This is Christianity— that God gave the ultimate gift— He gave Himself!

And as His People, that’s what we do too.  (slide-build bold) We Are Givers.
“Freely you have received, freely give.”  Jesus gave his 12 Disciples a very demanding, draining ministry.  But listen to what he told them:  Matthew 10:7-8

Following is Costly (and “salty”).  He talked about what it would cost to follow him: (slide) Luke 14:33
He said it not me!  This is not figurative language with some more palatable, hidden meaning.  Preachers are often tempted to explain this away…  But you’re not going to get any help from this preacher to make this easier for you.  You’re on your own.  Go figure out what this is going to mean for you.
Then Jesus referred to us as “Salt”.  Luke 14:34

“As my Followers, you are to be like salt—you’re either noticeably present or noticeably absent. (Ever had popcorn w/o salt?)  You are the ones who make a difference in this world.  If you aren’t making a difference, you’re like unsalty salt. You’re of no use. You’ll be thrown out.”  (He said it…!)

Giving is better than receiving.  Paul’s example about working to help the weak: (slide)  Acts 20:34-35
We need to reconnect our ideas about Worship with helping those in need.  When we help others, we are worshipping God with the very way we live.

When you give to FCC, you are giving to those in need.  We have a significant portion of our budget that is dedicated to helping people who are struggling financially.  Every year when we plan our budget, we plan to give away a lot of it.  And we always end up giving away more. And God always provides.

I believe that Following Christ means being a regular Giver.  Following Christ means that you understand that what God gives you, he gives you to manage for Him.  He doesn’t give it to you just for you.  You are a conduit of his blessing to others.  If you don’t give to others, neither will God give to you.  It’s that simple.

Jesus said, The Key to Finding Your Life is to Deny Yourself
Matthew 16:24-25
I have to ask:  How often do we deny ourselves anything in this country?
What about generosity?  How do you define generosity?  What’s the dollar amount cut-off, above which you have just become a generous person, or a “sacrificial giver”?
C.S. Lewis talked about what it means to be generous: (Mere Christianity)
For the Xian, there ought to be some things we just do without.  We simply decide that there will  be some things we won’t have, may never have, may never do, because we’ve chosen to give away enough of our income so that those things, whatever they are, are denied to us—they’re beyond our financial reach, on purpose.

And we’re OK with that, because we know, that just like the One we Follow,
We are Givers!

II Corinthians 8:9
http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=000000&IS2=1&bg1=FFFFFF&fc1=000000&lc1=0000FF&t=singresoguid-20&o=1&p=8&l=as4&m=amazon&f=ifr&ref=ss_til&asins=1449756182
The richest people are those who give—of themselves—to others.

So Let’s Give!    Let’s really Worship!

Let’s rethink Xmas this Xmas.

Right On!

WWJD? The Revival on Facebook
Twitter: @wwjdrevival

Check out these other great blogs:

Deo Volente! (God Willing): Love in the First Century by Giselle AguiarCheck out Giselle’s award-winning Christian novel: Deo Volente! (God Willing): Love in the First Century a historical novel about the early church check it out! $1 from the sale of each book – no matter what format, benefits StreetLight Phoenix to help eradicate child sex slavery. www.giselleaguiar.com/novel1

Great Blessings!
Soli Deo Gloria!
Giselle Aguiar
Christian, Award-Winning Author
Follow Giselle on Twitter
https://twitter.com/giselleaguiar

 

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Book Review: Not A Fan by Kyle Idleman

Not a Fan by Kyle IdlemanIn preparing the book proposal for “The WWJD Church,” a 12-week small group study based on the 1897 book by Charles M. Sheldon, I was made aware of “Not A Fan” by Kyle Idleman. When writing a book proposal, you need to find similar books or books that may be considered competition. So, I read it.

Then one night, by accident (of course, with God there are no “accidents”), I came across “Not A Fan” TV show on TBN. The author, Kyle Idleman, a pastor of a church in Kentucky, told the stories he wrote about in the book. Pretty neat. Write a book – get a TV show! It was short-lived, however, as once the books stories were told, there was not more to tell.

The Idea of “Not A Fan”

Are you a true follower of Jesus or just a “fan”? Idleman defines a fan as a person who believes in Christ, but still wants to live the old lifestyle. Kind of keeping one foot in the secular world and the other in the Christian. These are also known as “Sunday morning Christians” or “Cultural Christians”. They go to church regularly, listen to the message, make a donation, even volunteer to serve somewhere, but when it comes to the rest of the week, they’re living the sinful lives that they should have left behind when they accepted Jesus Christ as their savior.

“Fans are happy to follow Jesus as long as that doesn’t require any significant changes or have negative implications….

“Instead of following Jesus, they are following religious rules and rituals. They have confused the targets…

“Our punishment was taken by Christ. He has made a way where there was no way so we live with a freedom and an appreciation of what has been done. Fans are about the ‘do’ but followers celebrate the ‘done’.”

There is a cost to following Jesus.

Blessed are you when people hate you,
when they exclude you and insult you
and reject your name as evil,
because of the Son of Man.~Luke 6:22

In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted…~2 Timothy 3:12

For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him…~Philippians 1:29

The book tells the story of one of Idleman’s parishioners who has a heart attack that “scares him straight.” He survives, but his close bout with death changes him. He goes from fan to follower. Instead of ignoring a beggar outside a store, he helps them.

To be a true follower of Christ you need to be “all in” — not just a Sunday morning Christian. Your old life has to die and you must be reborn as a righteous person.

The book also offers several testimonies of ordinary people who realized the difference between being a fan of Jesus and being a true follower.

Striving to be Christ-like is not easy. But God gave us the best teaching tool in the world – the Bible.

This book will also help. I highly recommend it.

WWJD? The Revival on Facebook
Twitter: @wwjdrevival

Check out these other great blogs:

Deo Volente! (God Willing): Love in the First Century by Giselle AguiarIf you enjoyed this, you’ll love Giselle’s award-winning Christian novel: Deo Volente! (God Willing): Love in the First Century a historical novel about the early church check it out! $1 from the sale of each book – no matter what format, benefits StreetLight Phoenix to help eradicate child sex slavery. www.giselleaguiar.com/novel1

Great Blessings!
Soli Deo Gloria!
Giselle Aguiar
Christian, Award-Winning Author
Follow Giselle on Twitter
https://twitter.com/giselleaguiar