A response to Joel Huston Pt 2, a few things to consider.

Part Two: Defining Evolution, looking at assumptions 

One of the big stumbling blocks in the evolutionary debate is that the term evolution has more than one definition. On one side it refers to “change that happens over time”. Anyone that denies that things change over time is ignoring the abundant evidence plainly visible throughout the natural world. Evolution in this sense is visible, trackable, and testable. We see it everyday in all aspects of life, culture, fashion, and technology just to name a few. On the other side it refers to “the common decent of all life on earth through a single common ancestor via undirected mutation and adaptation.” The problem here is that this process has no evidentiary support. The main underlying assumption is that non-living chemicals somehow managed to merge themselves together in perfect alignment to, accidentally, kickstart life’s basic building blocks, forming amino acids. Then, through an entirely separate accidental and undirected process, these amino acids combined to form proteins, molecules, cells, and so on. This can sound amazing, even poetic, but what is being left out are the multiple levels of complexity that exist within each of these steps. The difference between these two processes is so large that the terms needed to be additionally clarified. To aid in this the terms Micro and Macro were added to  keep the two processes separate. Macro-evolution references the Darwinian process of common decent, and undirected biochemical development leading to life as we know it. Micro-evolution is limited to observable processes involving things like genetic variability. It also includes the processes of natural selection, adaptation, and speciation. None of the Micro-evolutionary processes are debated by either the Creation or Intelligent Design movements. In fact, they are completely consistent with the Biblical account and the concept of design. The problem is that when you say design it naturally requires a designer. In our minds there is no other way to explain the levels of complex programming found within each successive contributing layer of life.

A simple example of this complexity can be found within the cell itself. If chemicals can come together on their own, by accident, to form amino acids, and amino acids can, on their own, by accident, form proteins, and so on up to the first living, self replicating cell. Then how complex could a cell be. Think about it like this: cells replicate by a process of division. They literally make a copy of themselves. The “plans” for making this happen are located within the cell in whats called the mitochondria. More specifically, the mitochondrial DNA. This is not the same DNA that builds people. Thats found in your 46 chromosomes, which are also located within the cell. This DNA is specifically programed with all the information needed to regulate its own operation, and make another cell. So, the “blue prints” for making a cell are in the cell. Written in a biochemical language that has only four letters. At the same time the reason that the cell knows how to read and understand the language of the DNA is because the DNA contains directions for building the very “biochemical machines” within the cell that read, understand, and implement the instructions within the DNA code. The question that the Creation and ID movements are asking is very simple. How do you go from random elements floating in a pond to immeasurably complex, multi layered, biochemical programming without the aid of intentional design, a mind? It has been said that the probability of this happening by accident is about as likely as a tornado blowing through a junk yard and accidentally assembling a fully functional Boeing 747.

This, along with a host of other questions are what fuel the Creation and ID movements. While various groups will make the claim that we are anti-science, in fact what we are pushing for is to have the science currently being blocked and censored brought into the classroom; placed on the table for open discussion and debate. The difficulty with making that happen in our current scientific climate is that those in power are unwilling to even consider it. They claim to be protecting the public from religious indoctrination of researchers who may deliberately put their religious views into their findings. A question that we need to answer is rather or not their view is valid. I will deal with that in the next post.  



A responce to Joel Huston

A while ago I was listening to a song, done by Hillsong, called “So Will I”. I’ve heard it a hundred times on the radio and even thought about adding it to our churches worship song database. But, something about it just didn’t sit right with me and I could not put my finger on it. It has a pretty good melody, but a tad wordy for my personal taste. I was trying to look past all that because so many people around the world were enjoying the song.  What I didn’t like was the phrasing in the second chorus that says the stars were “Evolving in pursuit of what you said”. I just found that to be a very weird choice of lyrics. Shortly after that I ran into an article interviewing Joel Huston, the writer of the song. In it he was asked about some of the lines, as well as a post he put up on his twitter feed. His twitter post stated “Evolution is undeniable – created by God as a reflective means of displaying natures pattern of renewal in pursuance of Gods word”. It was at this point that I began to understand my hesitation. I can honestly say that I was deeply saddened to hear another global voice so willing to capitulate the authority of scripture to the deified ideas of Darwin. 

You might remember that in 2012 & 2014 another music artist, Mark Gungor, came out in favor of Darwin over Genesis. In several, very public, statements he wrote “I no longer have the ability to believe”… in either Adam and Eve, or the genesis flood. Even the TV preacher Pat Robertson, on his own show, made the statement that “people who believe in creation are deaf, dumb, and blind.” I find it very interesting that so many on the church are so willing to walk away from Genesis 1-11. Check out what we find in 2 Peter 3:3-6 3 “3 First, be aware of this: Scoffers will come in the last days to scoff, living according to their own desires, 4 saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? Ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they have been since the beginning of creation.” 5 They willfully ignore this: Long ago the heavens and the earth were brought about from water and through water by the word of God. 6 Through these waters the world of that time perished when it was flooded”(HCSB). We are warned that in the end times people within the church will begin to deny the accounts of creation and the flood. That may not seem like a horrible thing to some as a belief in a literal Genesis is not a requirement for the salvation of souls, or the forgiveness of sin. That authority lies with Christ alone. What so many in the church seem to overlook is that by walking away from Genesis, they also walk away from the authority of scripture. In essence they fail to consider some important questions. Such as, how to you get to Jesus without Genesis? How do we explain the need to be forgiven for the original sin of Adam and Eve if they are nothing more than fictional characters? How do you explain the genealogies that lead up to the real person of Jesus if those people never existed? More importantly, why would anyone place their faith in a book that begins with a fairy tale? This is all very troubling, and without a doubt, it will cause lasting problems for the church. As our Christian leaders around the world continue to yield the authority of Gods word in favor of the word of man we should expect nothing less than dwindling congregations, crumbling buildings, and increasing hopelessness. All of which we see throughout the “enlightened” world.   

It should be known as we continue that I am, unashamedly, a long time young earth creationist. I believe in the complete inerrancy of scripture and I fully believe that the natural world supports the word of God in all of its detail. It should also be stated that I did not come to this by means of my faith. I began to doubt the Darwinian concept while taking earth science in the 7th grade. I can remember clearly reading two contradictory statements about the age of rocks and fossils in the same chapter of my textbook, and both claimed to be fact. I have always had a love for all areas of science and the understanding of the natural world. Throughout high school I was fortunate enough to have science teachers willing to teach Darwinian evolution as it should be; a widely accepted theory that contains a host of problems, unfounded assumptions, and some plain old guess work that few in the scientific community are willing to acknowledge. To better understand what I mean by this I recommend Ben Stein’s movie “Expelled, No Intelligence Allowed”. It will help you begin to understand the degree of silence within the scientific community surrounding this topic. Even while I was in middle school I could see the contradictory nature of the “evidence” given, and the mountains of unanswered questions that are simply ignored or suppressed.

The problem is not, as some in the church have suggested, stupidity on the side of the scientific community. These are well educated individuals, with advanced degrees, and we should give them the respect that they deserve. Having said that, there is a very large problem that most people, in and out of the church, are not aware of. The problem is within the organizations controlling the funding, and publication, of scientific research information. For many decades any research that contradicts the Darwinian concept has been suppressed or censored. At the same time many of the researchers are being ridiculed and harassed. One of the largest culprits being the National Academy of Science. This group has control over much of the information taught in our public schools and universities. They have stated in their own publications that they will not support, in any way, research or papers, peer reviewed or not, that contradict Darwinian evolution. I am talking about documented research, catalogued, and peer reviewed for accuracy. If it in any way contradicts the Darwinian concept it finds itself academically ignored, or worse publicly ridiculed. If you doubt this statement I recommend the book “Slaughter of the Dissidents” by Dr. Jerry Bergman. It is available at the creation.com bookstore and Amazon.com. The problem is not that the evidence refuting Darwin does not exist. The problem is the unified effort to keep it out of the public consciousness. This should cause us to question the reasoning. If the evidence is so clear and overwhelming it should not have the need to be protected against scrutiny. 

Over the last 20-30 years great strides have been made in the areas of Creation Science, and Intelligent Design. Although the two are very similar on a foundational level, it should be understood that they are by no means the same thing. Creation Science is strictly geared toward the special creation, and global flood narratives, outlined in Genesis. The Intelligent Design movement, more commonly known as ID, in simple terms is geared toward the view that life is the result of intelligent causation. That the massive complexity within the genetic programing of even the simplest form of life could not have happened through a random chance process. The concept of ID is where my journey, as well as many others, began. For me it did not begin in the world of Theology or Doctrine, but in the observations of the natural world. Especially those which stand in stark contrast to the “Goo – to -you” theories.

Today, with so may resources available, is hard for me to believe that any serious seeker could take the Darwinian concept seriously. And that is where I find the source of the problem. Most people do not seek to understand on their own. As a society we tend to believe whatever a so called ‘expert’ tells us. So, like Mark Gungor, Joel Huston and others, if someone in a lab coat says we evolved from goo… then from goo we came… Then to make ourselves feel better we say that “God uses evolution” or that God “guided” evolution. What so many fail to do is ask the more difficult question: “do I fully understand what evolution is, and what its claims are?” The prevailing answer to this question throughout the modern church is a resounding “NO”! It makes me wonder how so many, can be so willing to walk away without a fight? When someone says that our Bible, Gods word, is wrong, we just give up and walk away without asking them to prove it? Is that really what is happening? It is extremely difficult to see it happening so fast, and so willfully. Especially when around the world we find researchers who are not only Christian, but Agnostic, and even Atheist who are standing against those forwarding the Darwinian process as only viable explanation for the origin of life on earth. 

How is it that so many Christians are willing to dismiss the word of God for a theory that a growing number of scientists around the world are walking away from? In my next post I will begin to walk through some of the apologetic problems that come with removing the Genesis account from our Biblical thinking. For now I would encourage you to do some preliminary reading. A few titles I recommend in addition to the ones listed above, and below, are “Darwins Doubt” by Steven C. Meyer, “Gods Not Dead” by Dr Rice Broocks, and “Replacing Darwin” by Dr Nathaniel Jeanson.

Here are a few quotes from some great books I recommend to anyone serious about looking into this topic.. 

Michael J. Behe, Darwins Black Box: the Biochemical Challenge to Evolution. 

“The conclusion of intelligent design flows naturally from the data itself – not from the sacred books or sectarian beliefs. Inferring that biochemical systems were designed by an intelligent agent is a humdrum process that requires no new principles of logic or science. It comes simply from the the hard work that biochemistry has done over the past forty years, combined with the consideration of the way in which we reach conclusions of design every day” 

David Berlinski, The Devils Delusion: Atheism and its Scientific Pretensions 

Has anyone provided proof of Gods inexistence? Not even close. Has quantum cosmology explained the emergence of the universe or why it is here? Not even close. Have our sciences explained why our universe seems to be fine-tuned to allow for the existence of life? Not even close. Are physicists and biologists willing to believe anything so long as it is not religious thought? Close enough. Has rationalism and moral thought provided us with an understanding of what is good, what is right, and what is moral? Not close enough. Has secularism in the terrible 20th century been a force for good? Not even close, to being close. Is there a narrow and oppressive orthodoxy in the sciences? Close enough. Does anything in the sciences or their philosophy justify the claim that religious belief is irrational? Not even in the ball park. Is scientific atheism a frivolous exercise in intellectual contempt? Dead on.”  



Pick up your sword

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow, it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”- Hebrews 4:12.

 

My husband likes to watch the show Forged in Fire. Have you seen it? It’s a reality TV show where some of the finest bladesmith’s in the nation compete for a cash prize by hand making replicas of ancient style weapons such as swords and knives. Their weapons are judged in many areas such as sharpness and durability. The judges test each competitors weapon and the winner is the one who’s weapon proves to hold up the best while cutting, slicing, stabbing, throwing, and killing (on dummies of course). The process of forging is defined as heating and hammering, to beat into shape especially by concentrated effort. Dull, heavy, ragged sheets of metal are heated to extreme temperatures in order to form and shape into something that resembles a blade. After the forging process is complete the sharpening comes, metal against metal, iron against iron until the blade is so sharp it’s battle ready.

 

The above verse has been a pinnacle for me in the last week. After Andrew Eastmond spoke his word of knowledge (thank you Pastor George for the lesson on that) over me this past Sunday, it spurred me on so much that I have a new heightened sense of the time I’ve been wasting. I’ve been refreshed in the Spirit and encouraged to surrender myself to my Heavenly Father’s pruning in this concentrated area. In light of God’s word I’ve realized there are areas of my life that I’ve allowed to be stifled and have been dormant, overgrown and weeded in by things that do not glorify God. I need the double edged sword that His word is to come and remove the twines that bind so that light will shine in areas where it hasn’t in a long time and new growth can take root. I have a freshened desire to learn and be more like Him. I imagine most of us who received prayer from Andrew feel much the same way. I had become so complacent in many areas while still believing that how I was doing in other areas was good enough. Red flag…THAT’S A LIE!!! Even at our best we are NEVER good enough, not in comparison to the gleaming crown of glory, our Savior. He doesn’t want us to live in comparison with anything or anyone other than His word. We absolutely MUST allow ourselves to be in constant comparison to only His word because it is the one thing that will lead us and keep us on the path He has for us.

 

When we stop opening the Word, pruning stops, weeds creep in, light dims and the path becomes unclear and overgrown. If you find yourself discouraged because you didn’t go up for prayer or you had missed an opportunity to get a word of knowledge this past week the good news is, though it’s encouraging and a boost to our faith walk, we don’t need a word of knowledge from Andrew or someone else to move forward in the pruning and growth process. It’s a wonderful blessing to be encouraged by other believers who can speak into our lives, whether they be complete strangers or dear friends or family and we should always be looking for opportunities to do that for others, but that doesn’t mean if we don’t have that that we can’t grow because the basic truth of it is the only one we really need to hear from is God and all we really need for growth and reflection is the Bible.  

 

Maybe you’re like me and you want to be good about getting in the Word but you don’t know where to start. Start with a self-assessment. What’s the first thing that comes to mind that you know is not of God or needs work. Maybe you aren’t sure. Do you have an immediate pain or need and lack the faith that God will meet you there or provide? Maybe it’s a fear you have. Whatever it is, take that one word (fear, faith, guilt, forgiveness, suffering, grace, etc.) and begin doing a study on that area. God will show you amazing things as you begin to focus in on His word. You’ll know you are doing something right if it hurts at first. Like the verse says about God’s word, it’s alive, it’s a sword, it penetrates. Allow it to. We must surrender to the process, if we are resistant then change cannot take place. Don’t give up when the pain gets to be too much, let it penetrate even further and deeper to the marrow asHis word says. The deeper the sword gets, the closer God is. I have a visual of two soldiers fighting and as one penetrates the other with his sword, it’s physically impossible for him to stay an arm’s length away. If he wants it to penetrate to the marrow and cut through to serve its purpose, he absolutely must come closer. So close that their breath exchanges. God is not our enemy, He doesn’t want to kill us but He does want us to be willing to die to self. That can be a struggle but He sent His Spirit to remind us of His word when we struggle. We need to use the Word to slough off the old and put on the new. Dying to self can be a very painful process, but worth it. Be sharpened fellow followers because as a church family, we are no doubt at some point going to need one another for sharpening. Whether you believe it or not, YOU do have something to offer and what you have to offer, someone else just may need in a time of desperation or trouble someday. Let’s vow to fill ourselves with His word so that we can be a flowing vessel for others in their time of need.

 

Blessings,
Leah Parkin

June 1, 2018

 



The Helper

“The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”  John 14:26

 

If your faith walk was represented by an audible noise, would there ever be times that it sounded like a flat lined heart monitor? Beeeeeeeeep…then silence-until the rushing in of help.

 

We know the above verse to be some of Jesus’ last teachings and words to His disciples before he left earth for Heaven. Though the disciples heard Jesus tell them about this Helper, it aroused confusion. At that time the Helper had not come yet because they still had Jesus himself, in the flesh walking the earth with them. HE was their helper until…He left.

 

Can you imagine being one of the disciples in the moment when Jesus, God in flesh who had been leading and guiding their every step through ministry told them He is going to be leaving them but not to worry because He will send a helper? My response might be something like, “A helper? I don’t want a helper, I want you! You stay and be my helper.”

 

Last week, I had an experience with a man so strong in the Lord that his very presence made me feel as though I had just spent an hour with God himself. I was blessed beyond anything I can explain from our conversation and time together, it was as if God said “I hear the monitor of your faith Leah, you are flat lining, I am coming to your rescue” and He actually stepped into my workplace to remind me of the things He has said to me and about me through this man, a complete stranger, but kindred spirit. This appointment was put on my work calendar a month ago, but little did I know that it  was actually scheduled by God long before I was ever born. This man did not know I needed to hear these things but the Spirit did. Now, I know that this man was not The Helper that Jesus was telling His disciples about but he certainly had that same Helper in him which allowed him to so easily speak the words I needed to hear. It’s a wonderful and beautiful thing how God works isn’t it? I needed to be rejuvenated in my faith, I needed to hear the Word that would stir up the settling of my soul because my own attempts at reading and praying hadn’t been enough lately.

 

Have you been there? Just going along in life, maybe nothing is going badly but your faith has become stagnant, your well is running dry? You need a helper and maybe don’t even know how badly until someone comes along and actually helps. I’m so grateful for the encouragement of the Holy Spirit! I’m so grateful for those kindred spirits, the hidden heavenly gems that grace our world when we least expect it who can speak life into us where maybe a loved one hasn’t been able to. I’m so grateful for all the helpers in flesh over the span of my lifetime, helping me with the physical things of this world but  I’m even more grateful for the Spirit Helper who rejuvenates my soul and breathes life into my dry bones and adds water to the desert valley. If you currently find or have ever found yourself in a valley of dusty faith, then pray this with me today…Father, thank you that You finish what you begin, that when you planned to have Jesus return to you, you also had a plan to leave a Helper for us, it has always been part of your plan to never leave us all alone down here. Thank you for Your Helper and for the kindred spirits that bless our journey when we least expect it. Thank you for being a fresh drink of water just as we are choking from being parched. Your Word NEVER comes back void Heavenly Father! When you told us to store it up in our hearts You would bring to remembrance just what we need to hear at just the right time, you care about every detail of our lives and I am so grateful to you for perfectly positioning others in my life, even others I’ve not yet met that come with purpose for the rejuvenating of my tired and weary soul, even if they are just passing through Lord, they are ordained by you. Help me to be keen to your nudging when you’d like to use me as a vessel for the Spirit in other’s lives as well, to be a giver and not just a receiver. Finally, thank you God, that your Holy Spirit never leaves me and will be my Helper until I no longer need one because I am face to face with You.  Amen.

Leah Parkin

March 12, 2018



Seasons

“Two are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.” –Ecclesiastes 4:9-10.

 

Seasons come and seasons go. Just in typing that I get an image of the swaying tide, washing in and out, sometimes smoothly and quietly rolling across the sandy beach then slowly drifting back out to sea taking nothing with it and leaving only the desire for it to come again, yet other times you can hear it roaring in from way out in the ocean. With every inch of distance it gains it grows in strength and size raising it’s foaming head before it finally comes crashing in against the rocks. It comes in farther than the quiet, peaceful tide. It hurts as it slaps your legs, knocking you off balance, gripping whatever is below and pulling it back out to sea as it scrapes across your skin, burning and stinging, no doubt leaving scars. The once calm sand and settled rocks have been so disturbed by it’s violence that they’ve been changed and shifted never again to lie exactly where they were before. You were standing when it came in but it’s tossed you around so much that you’ve now lost your footing and are down, you try to stand before it sweeps you completely out to sea. The next moment dictates if you will die or survive. There’s a lighthouse that both can see, yet only one keeps their eyes on the light. Those that have nothing to grab hold of to keep their head above the water or that refuse to grab hold of because they think and/or believe they can swim their way out will surely die. The other, have an ever present help in the time of trouble, a permanent floatation device and though they might swallow a bunch of salt water in the process it only adds to their seasoning flavor that they will someday sprinkle all over the earth after the storm settles.

 

What season do you find yourself in right now? Are you wading in the calm waters, enjoying the playful, gentle waves where your focus and perspective is on the joy of it all? Or, are you bleeding and bruised from the beating and wishing it would end soon? Let me reassure you that if you find yourself currently in the eye of the storm and there’s no end in sight or if you’re just coming onto shore but have been left tattered and worn you are not alone. The same is true for those who aren’t going through a storm right now, we may not feel the need to reach out because things are well for us at the moment, we don’t need a lifeline right now. But what if we looked at that like we needed to reach out more than ever because we ARE the lifeline, the floatation device is in OUR hands? I can say for myself right now that I am in a season of calm waters but it’s because my boat is not rocking that I can see others all around me who are really suffering. I know it’s in those moments of calm that I’m not left to myself to just soak it up and ignore those that are struggling, but instead I’m to weep with those who weep, pray for those who need prayer, encourage, love and speak life.

 

This message is for all of us, those going through the storm and those enjoying the calmer waters. I’d like to encourage you, in whatever season you find yourself, that there is purpose in every season, whether it be pruning and tough molding or blessings beyond blessings. I like to keep the perspective that we must be going through this specific thing not just for us, but because someday God is going to put me in the path of someone who is really going to need what I’ve learned through this very storm. It keeps us humble doesn’t it? It keeps us dialed in at all times, knowing that no matter what we are going through, though it’s happening TO US, it’s actually not always strictly just FOR US. If I’m finding myself in a season where my cup is running over with blessings, again, it’s not just for me to keep to myself, I’m to share it with others. I’m to pour it out just as it’s been poured upon me for it’s only when we empty ourselves that we can be filled again. Sure, it’s fun when we get to bless others, but not fun when it’s dying to self and allowing God to prune those dead branches. Am I right? But we’ve ALL been there. A season doesn’t come to stay, He is the God that gives and takes away and we can live expectantly in His truth knowing that whatever it is we are facing, He loves us enough to put others in our path to help us along. I pray that your current circumstance, whatever it may be, would give you a perspective of hope for how you can be used in the future because of it.  I pray the only chains that you’d be bound by are the chains that hold you ever so tightly to our anchor in the storm, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We do not suffer for nothing, there’s purpose and reason behind the pain that will shine like the morning sun as soon as this storm passes and it will pass. Don’t get caught up on the when or you might just miss out on the how.

Until then…the rest of us will be glad and willing to throw you a lifeline. Just grab hold and don’t let go because when the tide shifts my friend, it may just be us needing that lifeline.

Leah Parkin 

Jan 30, 2018



Giants Will Fall

2 Samuel 22: 2-4

“The Lord is my protector, He is my strong fortress. My God is my protection and with Him I am safe. He protects me like a shield, He defends me and keeps me safe. He is my Savior, He protects me and saves me from violence. I call to the Lord, and He saves me from my enemies. Praise the Lord!”

 

The above verse is actually David’s song to the Lord after having been to war and he and his men having killed many giants. Scary, intimidating giants. The fear they must have had is unimaginable. But look at how many times David calls the Lord his protector or says He provides protection. Several times, over and over. Isn’t it encouraging to know that along with the many other wonderful attributes of God, He always speaks right to our fear, sometimes the biggest giant we face of all.

 

We all know the story of David and Goliath, but it’s not often that we hear that David and his men defeated MANY giants. That’s encouraging to me and lays a very visual, spiritual tapestry for my own life because isn’t that how life can be? We typically find ourselves faced with giant after giant when we are going through season’s where God is working something out in us/through us. In the molding, pruning, sharpening process it’s encouraging to know, especially during our fasting time, that we too can bring down giants just like David did. We can also sing a song of praise to our Lord even as our giants stare us right in the face, before they are even defeated because we have confidence in our battle buddy, Christ, that they WILL be defeated. (Just as I write this, it brings to mind the song by Francesca Battistelli, Giants Fall. Take some time today and youtube it. Soak the words in.)

 

What happens though when we lose our confidence in our battle buddy and let fear slip in? Those giants get bigger right? They get scarier. I encourage you today, as you spend time with the Lord to imagine those giants falling before you as you step out in faith towards overcoming them. Whatever your giant/s may be today, remember that we are given the power of the Holy Spirit, He lives inside us, we don’t have to wait for Him to get there, He’s already there, so step out in your fear by stepping out in faith. Trust that, just like David said, He is your protector, He defends you and keeps you safe and will save you from your enemies. Praise the Lord!

Leah Parkin

January 5th, 2018



Where Does Our Faith Come From?

Romans 12:3 “And because of God’s gracious gift to me I say to every one of you, do not think of yourself more highly than you should. Instead, be modest in your thinking and judge yourself according to the amount of faith God has given you.”

 

There have been many times in my life where I have found myself wishing I had more faith to get through whatever it was I was going through. Romans 12:3 helps to reign that thought in as I’m reminded that God gifts each of us according to which He sees fit for us at just the right time. When I begin to think, “but it’s not enough, this is too hard, I need more”, then,  I’m also reminded of 2 Corinthians 12:9 that says “for my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness.” Faith and grace, both gifted to us by our Heavenly Father, just the right amount for just the right time.

 

As I’ve grown in the Lord, so too has my faith, HIS faith in me. He is the provider and sustainer of my faith and my cup is only full when I am in Him, for when I am not in Him, my cup is empty. We do not create or grow our own faith and when we humbly remember that God is the giver and taker of all, we are kept in a spirit of humbleness that keeps us from boasting about the amount of faith we have that gets us through those difficult times, it immediately brings us back to Him as we look to the source from which our faith comes. When we are able to recognize, that in our weakness He is made strong, then we can live in the midst of those difficult moments with a trusting attitude, knowing He’s got us, knowing as we fold into Him, He rises over us as our strong shield and fortress. Everything about our walk, even the amount of faith He’s given us to get us through should always be used to glorify Him. Might we always know and remember where we come from, Whose we are and what we’ve been given, keeping us in an attitude of humbleness, graciousness and thankfulness.

 

“Thank you Heavenly Father for providing even a mustard seed size of faith, for which we know even with that we can move mountains. We take your Word as Truth for our daily lives, soaking it in, drinking it in and letting it absorb into the deepest of places within our spirit, soul, mind and heart knowing that as we consume your Word and truths we are growing the faith you’ve so graciously given to us to face whatever comes our way. Help us O’ God to keep a humble attitude and glorify only You for what’s been given to us. Amen.”

 

Leah Parkin

12-11-2017



To Conform, or Not To Conform

Romans 12:2 “Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind. Then you will be able to know the will of God-what is good and is pleasing to Him and is perfect.”

 

With continuing to focus on being a Roman’s 12 Christian, verse two has always been one of my favorite “life” verses. It’s what I cling to in seasons of secular struggle, which, because I’m human, is daily. When we call ourselves Christians and are actively striving to daily live out His word, we are most definitely going to be faced with opposition about many things that contradict our way of thinking, acting, believing. In that moment we have a choice. Do we conform to the pressures of society given that many times it’s just easier, less painful? Or, do we stand firm on that solid foundation knowing it may bring backlash? Where is the real worth and value? Is it in the less painful road or in the backlash because we stood firm? I bet you can answer that.

 

I’ve found for many years now, especially since I’ve been a parent, that when I seal this verse tightly to my heart I am more equipped to face the pressures to conform. There are so many things that we face in this area as a Christian family when practicing very different morals and values than those who do not have a moral compass guiding them.  I’m reminded that in Him I am set apart for purpose and reason beyond what any amount of conforming can fulfill. It’s harder for my kids to see this, but because it’s been a common, repetitive verse in our home, they understand. It doesn’t always make it easy, but Christ tells us it’s not going to be and when we are prepared with the knowledge that struggle is just part of life, somehow, it makes it easier. Not always, but there’s less surprise when we live in an expectant mode.

 

My mom used to tell me and my sisters when we were kids, “just blame your dad and I” whenever we would be at a friend’s house and be exposed to something we shouldn’t be watching. I fall back on that with my Heavenly Father too, it’s so much easier knowing that He’s got my back, He gives me an out every single time. When we live our lives accountable to the One who sees it all, then there’s purpose in our reactions to those uncomfortable situations.

 

In the eyes of the world, my firm stance in refusing to conform looks like rebellion and stubbornness but in the eyes of my Lord, it is obedience and protection. What our actions are telling God when we refuse to conform is that we trust You, we believe You, we want Your way. If we can just get past the immediate uncomfortableness of not giving in, then we walk into the blessing of pleasing Him. Just as the verse says, we will be able to know the will of God-what is good and is pleasing to Him. That should be enough! But boy oh boy, when we are fighting those fleshly desires, sometimes it’s hard to see clearly past the temptation of just wanting to do what everyone else is doing. We want our flesh to be comfortable in the moment so instead we pass up the opportunity to glorify Him. You don’t struggle with that battle alone friend. Of course it’s much easier to give in, that’s satan’s best tactic…the easier, broader path. It’s how he coaxes us to follow, enticing us with a detour around those difficult decisions, telling us lies that say if we just give in it is much more pleasing to our carnal minds/bodies. Thankfully though, Jesus didn’t detour struggle, He willingly took on the ultimate struggle because He believed whole heartedly that if we stand firm against the winds that want to blow us here and there that we will get to experience the blessing that comes from inward change. The application here though is actually being willing to let God do the transformation. It cannot come from us, on our own or it will never really be complete inward change because only He has the power to cause real, lasting change.

 

What will you refuse to give in to this week? What does it look like when you consider not conforming to the standards in your immediate world? Work, school, even home maybe. Will you draw a line in the sand and protect the sanctity of real change and the glorification of God our Father or will you go weak at the knees and fulfill your fleshy desires to just fit in? I promise you this…whatever it is that comes to mind while you are reading this, if it’s uncomfortable to even think about what the right thing to do is, then you already know what you should do. Choose Christ and His ways and send the devil packing decision by decision, choice by choice, struggle by struggle. Your action to stand firm will not go unseen by the ONLY One who matters anyway.

Blessings for a fruitful week,

Leah Parkin

November 27

th

, 2017


Romans 12

Have you ever heard the saying, “be a Romans 12 Christian”? I’ve heard the expression a lot lately and so have decided to study what it really means to be a Romans 12 Christian. Romans is one of my favorite books in the bible because it very clearly explains Christian conduct and well…I need that reminder a lot of times in my day to day activities. Whenever I’m faced with a situation that is uncomfortable or that I’m unsure of how to respond or when I’m feeling so pulled by my fleshly desires to be just that…flesh, instead of spirit. There are so many wonderful references in Paul’s letter to the church that I believe we all can lean on and use to anchor us in those swaying times. I would like to share what I’ve learned in  Romans 12 as part of the devotional for the next few months, verse by verse, in hopes to encourage you as we all walk this path together. Verse 1 perfectly aligns with Pastor George’s sermon yesterday, so I thought it fitting to start the week off on. God works and His works are ALWAYS good.

 

Romans 12:1

“So then, my friends, because of God’s great mercy to us I appeal to you: Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to His service and pleasing to Him. This is the true worship that you should offer.”

 

When I read the phrase living sacrifice, I think continual, a symphony that never stops. It doesn’t say dead or dying sacrifice, it says living. As long as there is breath in my lungs and a beat in my heart, God calls me to offer my WHOLE life up as a sacrifice, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day. Just as Pastor George said yesterday, everything that we do, say, even chose to listen to, watch or allow into our minds/thoughts and let roll off of our tongues becomes either pleasing or displeasing to God. His pleasure should be our first concern. The life in us as Christ followers comes from and through Him so the aroma of our lives should naturally be sweet as we allow it to filter through His holiness. It should not be stale like death for He is not death. The only death within us should be of our old selves and when we are in Christ that stench does not linger, it is covered by His purity, making us as Him. There is no exhaustion in sacrificing in this continual way because we are connected to the Source, a constant. It is only when we are not connected that we begin to emanate an unpleasant aroma and become weary in well doing.

 

Lastly, so many times I find myself wasting energy on trying to be a people pleaser, because honestly, that is often what is immediately comfortable. If those around me are happy or “fixed” (my pride tells me I need to fix those nearest to me) then things will be much better. Yikes! Danger zone. The Christian life isn’t about being happy and fixed. Quite the contrary. The Christian life is instead about being blessed and free. Infact, it’s often after our acceptance of Christ that we are first broken down to rid ourselves of what is not acceptable to Him. The pruning begins and often times hurts. We may question ourselves, “what did we just do?” “Why is this happening?” But, in keeping perspective and focus on eternal things, society’s “fixed” lifestyle does not constitute Godly worship. What a difference those words blessed and free make as opposed to happy and fixed. Sure, happy is a wonderful benefit/side effect of living a blessed and free life in Christ, but if happy is just an outward expression and is not true inward joy than my efforts of people pleasing really haven’t done much at all have they? And here’s the kicker…I am not the one where true joy comes from. I am not anyone’s source of TRUE joy. So when I read this verse, the first thing that stuck out to me was to be dedicated to HIS service and pleasing to HIM. When I’ve freed myself to please HIM first, then all other pleasantries will follow suite, leaving an aroma for others to navigate towards, people pleasing simply becomes soul winning. When we enter a new day knowing that it’s not us, but HIM that sets the standard for our day then we find that everything out of that  is true worship, pleasing to Him and joyful for us.

 

Blessings,

Leah Parkin

Nov 6th, 2017



Momentum

Momentum
 
“How to gain momentum by stopping.”
mōˈmen(t)əm,məˈmen(t)əm/
noun
1.PHYSICS: the quantity of motion of a moving body, measured as a product of its mass and velocity.
2.the impetus (force or energy) gained by a moving object.”the vehicle gained momentum as the road dipped”
 
Momentum.
Stopping.
 
Normally, it doesn’t make any sense, if you want to see progress, to slow down or even stop what you are doing. Momentum is all about progressing…moving ahead. We can imagine an object picking up speed, gaining ground, going faster, going forward.
However, this law of physics doesn’t work as well in the Kingdom of God.
Truthfully, the busier we are, the more often we feel like we are losing spiritual ground (momentum) precisely because we do not take the time to STOP (or at least slow down) and spend some intentional time with God. Granted, there may be many important things going on in life, some of which we have little control over that beg for our time and attention. But more often than not, we do have control over how we spend a lot of our time. We certainly find time to watch television, exercise, view social media, have coffee with friends, or even to read a good book. We neglect to stop long enough to really get filled up with the very presence of God and receive the refreshment He alone can provide. Most of us would say we want more of God, more of a close relationship with Him, more of hearing His voice. We want the results of the end goal without the actual pursuit of it. In her book, “Unseen”, Sara Hagerty says this: “Quiet doesn’t just happen. Ever.” “Internal stillness takes practice…and it needs to be cultivated.”
There is an important word within the word momentum, and that word is
MOMENT
Moment. Even when it seems impossible to carve out a specific time to sit at Jesus’ feet, surely we can pause at any time of even the most ridiculously busy day to acknowledge Him, to look toward Him, to bask in His love, and to think on His promises and His word. We need these moments both to strengthen our own hearts and to feel reconnected with Him.
Often when we are feeling SPENT, it is because we have not SPENT much time with God.

I don’t know about you, but I miss the time with Him when I don’t take it….especially if it happens day after busy day. It becomes apparent when I have not taken the time to intentionally sit at His feet. I start to feel distant, worn out, run down, not as alive, and in all honesty, angry. I can find myself very frustrated when things don’t go my way. My fuse becomes much shorter than when I have spent quiet time with Jesus.

While we continue to have to walk through busy seasons, let’s make the deliberate choice to slow down, to STOP what we are doing at times, to give God our time and attention, so that by getting refreshed, we might make some progress, gain some MOMENTum, and become more alive again.
This is kingdom physics: slowing down=spiritual momentum
Peggy Lago – November 6, 2017