I never did post pictures of my cousin’s new grandchild. Jonathan was born Dec. 17. Click on each to make it larger.
The first is Mommy Becca and Jonathan. The second is Becca’s older son, Christopher, great-Gram Krista (my mom’s younger sister), and Jonathan.
Next is great-grandfather “Pappa” Wayne (Krista’s husband). The last pic I posted back in October, at Holly’s shower. I don’t have a recent picture of the daddy, Thomas. But the last pic shows his sister, Kaitlyn, his mom Jill (my cousin), his grandmother Krista, and wife Becca. Jill is married to Tom (the soldier in my slide show on the left). Ross (the other soldier in the slide shows), is Jill’s brother.
And of course, the star of the show…..Jonathan.
There will be a test on my family later
(My condensed verson of our Sunday morning sermon. Plus I embellished a little. Or maybe I should say reworded. Herb didn’t talk about teaching our children – he used the example of teaching his students in school. I added the examples of getting burned by various other things, but I know he would not mind. )
Rom 1:18-32……18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator-who is forever praised. Amen.
26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.
28 Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. NIV
When our children are little, we can’t expect them to know right from wrong. We have to teach them. We spend a lot of time telling them things like “don’t run out in the street” or “don’t touch the hot stove.” Before they know these things, we have sympathy for them if they get hurt doing something they shouldn’t do. And we have to teach them these kinds of truths over and over.
When they reach the point that we know they understand what not to do, and they do it anyway, then we have less patience with them. The discipline is more severe. And if they continue to do things they should not do, their actions could harm others in addition to themselves.
God is the same way. He gently teaches over and over. But His children don’t always learn the lessons right away. And there are some who just flat won’t obey the teaching for anything. They thumb their noses at God.
People tend to think that their sins only affect themselves. But that’s not true. A sin always affects other people. If a husband cheats, it hurts his wife. If a child disobeys their parent, and runs out in front of a car, they not only hurt or kill themselves, they permanently scar all who love them. There is always a consequence of sin.
God will eventually unleash all his anger on those who refuse to believe and obey, as the above scriptures show. He made himself evident by His very creation, yet some refuse to believe.
Not only do they refuse to believe, but they do all manner of evil while they are living. We tend to think of sin as whatever the other people are doing, that God said not to do. We don’t think our sins are that bad. But anything that God said not to do is sin.
John 3:18-21…… 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.” NIV
So many people have areas of their lives they try to hide. They try to keep it in darkness. But hiding things gets us into trouble. Much “mental illness” is actually “spiritual illness.” People suffer guilt from hiding things, and pretending to be something they are not. After all, if you try to create a false front, it’s very difficult to remember all the details of the fake person you have tried so hard to create. You can’t remember what lies you’ve told. That’s bound to drive you crazy.
Our lives, as Christians, should be open and honest. When our pastor first came to us, he said he wanted his life to be open. There is nothing he needs to hide from anyone. And we should all be that way. Now, there are personal things we don’t want to shout from a street corner, but I think you get the idea here. You can’t pretend to be a Christian on Sunday, and go out and rob banks on Monday. You can’t pretend to be a dedicated servant of God on Sunday, and cheat on a spouse on Monday.
Ps 139:13-16……13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, 16 your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. NIV
God knew us before we were born. He saw us as we were being formed. He even knows the number of days we will live. So of course, God knows everything we have done and everything we have said. Even everything we have thought. Yet He loves us….that’s the amazing part.
Rom 1:21……21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. NIV
A darkened heart is less able to recognize the truth of God. See…He give us truth throughout our lives. He tells us about Himself first in His creations. Then He tells us about Himself in scripture. He tells us about His love and His sacrifice, by giving the life of His own son. And when people refuse to obey, and they reject His gift, He not only doesn’t give them anymore truth, He may take some of the previous truth away. He will allow their foolish hearts to be darkened and not recognize truth. Since God is truth, they won’t recognize God. A person does not have unlimited chances to believe.
People don’t go to church – something God tells us to do – because they really don’t want light shined on their darkness. They don’t want their deeds exposed. They don’t want to hear that what they are doing is wrong. Kind of like a little kid that sticks his fingers in his ears and says, “I’m not listening!”
They somehow think they can keep God from finding out the things they’ve done, but He knows. Nothing is hidden from Him…not even a baby forming in secret.
He doesn’t tell us to go to church, just so we can dress up one day a week, or so we can make a good impression on others. It’s not so we can look pious. It’s so we can worship Him, gather strength from other believers, and learn more about Him.
Heb 10:25……25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near. NLT
Churches are not for perfect people, because there are not any perfect people in this world. But they are for imperfect people who want to be open and honest with God. I’ve heard (and read) a lot of people say, “I don’t go to church because I’ve gotten burned in churches before.” It’s such a common excuse. Hogwash. If you “get burned” by a date, you’ll still go out on another date with someone else. People who get burned by a spouse, and divorce, will get married again. If you like movies, and go see one you thought was a waste of money, you’ll still go see another movie. The real reason you won’t go back to church is you don’t really want to hear what God has to say about your life. At least be honest with yourself.
Is your life an open book? Or is your life a lie that you have to continually cover up? God knows. You aren’t fooling Him.
It’s not too late to turn it around.