Thursday, October 31, 2019

Imitator or Imposter...are you?

I am like Gandhi "I like your Christ; I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ." Like many of my conservative Christian brothers and sisters, I spend a lot of time begging God to reform the church from the inside out. I preach a gospel of redemption and deliverance. However, I am growing weary of Christians who think it is their job to misinterpret scripture. To cherry-pick what they think the scripture is saying about a topic.

My discouragement came to a head tonight when I went to chat with some "Christian" friends. The topic of their discussion was Can a person be homosexual and still be a Christian? and "Do homosexuals go to heaven?" I sat in the discussion for a while, just listening, I knew better than to open my mouth because these are the same people who bash Catholics for being Catholic without knowing their doctrine.

As I sat there, a friend, Tina asked me "So, Rai, what do you think? Can you be homosexual and Christian? Can you be homosexual and get into heaven?" My immediate answer was "I can't join this conversation." I didn't feel comfortable joining the conversation. I told them "When the topic changes, I'll join." But the room kept pressing me, so I told them, I believe what we have in our book of discipline "The UMC acknowledges that all persons are of sacred worth, and all people may attend worship, participate in programs and receive the sacraments. However, it is the practice of homosexuality that is incompatible with Christian teaching. There for it's self-avowed, practicing homosexuals that can't get into heaven and can't be saved, because they haven't turned from their sin."

Next thing I know I am being told "Look at Matthew 5:28! If they even think of someone with lust they have acted upon their sin!" First off, everyone has struggles. 1 Peter 4:12 even tells us "Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you." Peter himself tells us that trials and temptations will come against us. No where are we told that we won't be tempted. Even Matthew 6:13 says "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." Now if there wasn't going to be temptation, do you think Jesus would have taught us to pray that we would be delivered from temptation.

The sad thing is that as Christians, we forget that we have directives; one such directive is Ephesians 5:1 "So imitate Go. Follow Him, like adored children. (2) and live in love as the Anointed One loved you--so much that He gave Himself as a fragrant sacrifice, pleasing God.(Voice)" We are to imitate God! But how do we imitate God.

Matter of fact, it shouldn't even be a question-There is no question among orthodox Christians, i.e. those who believe and obey God's Word, who believe the catholic creeds, who have a substantial connection to the ancient church, whether Christians, ought to seek to imitate Christ. The questions we need to ask are: How do we imitate Christ and to what end do we imitate him?

The first thing we must realize, is that we are not born righteous. Our righteousness is through Christ Jesus. Jesus' faith and our faith are not equal, Jesus was born sinless, we are born in need of regeneration. God, the son, was born innocent, righteous and holy and holy not for himself but for us (pro nobis). Matter of fact, according to the Heidelberg Catechism, all of Jesus' righteousness (HC60) is credited to believers so that it is as if they themselves had done all that he did. In Christ, sola gratia, sola fide, it is as if we have never sinned or had any sin.

When we talk about our faith, we are talking about the faith of fallen, sinful, mere humans. 
So my question has become are we imitators of Christ or imposters? It reminds me of a story about a Bald Eagle, One day a turkey farmer happened upon an injured baby eagle in the woods. He took the baby eagle home and cared for it. He put the little eagle in his pen with this turkeys in hope that they would adopt and care for the little fella. Many months later a forest ranger happened by the turkey farmer's place and saw the eagle scratching and pecking the ground like all the other turkeys in the pen. He was amazed at how this great, majestic, wild bird could be so tame as to peck at the ground like a domesticated turkey. The moral of the story is that this eagle has become just like what it had seen.

The same is for Christians. We become exactly like what we see in front of us. The Webster's dictionary defines an impostor as "One who imposes upon others; a person who assumes a character or title not his own for the purpose of deception, a pretender and impersonator. There is a story that is told of Alexander the Great that one restless night he awoke from sleep and took a walk around his encampment. He happened upon a young man who was sleeping on guard duty. (The punishment for this “crime” was instant death.) Alexander woke the young man. The young man, aware of who it was stood before him, was terrified. Alexander asked the young soldier, “What’s your name?” The young man answered, “Alexander.” To which Alexander the Great answered, “Either change your name or change your conduct.”

So I have started to think, does Jesus, when He looks at us think, You need to either change your name or change your conduct?

Imitate according to Webster’s Dictionary means “to follow as a pattern, model or example; to copy or strive to copy in acts of manners. (to act like).

To imitate God, we must take Jesus as our model as we strive to live sacrificially for one another. That is our challenge, and it will take more than the rest of your life to live out that calling. If you call yourself a Christian and are not an imitator of Christ you have two choices: you either change your name or change your conduct.

John 15:4 says Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.

So my question has become when I look at those that call themselves Christians is are they abiding in Christ? Are they trying to imitate Christ? And more often than not, my conclusion is no. They are not abiding in Christ and they are not trying to abide in Christ.

And how can we condemn people, when John tells us that Christ didn't come to condemn the world? (John 3:17). Isaiah 43:25 tells us that God blots out sin and remembers it no more; so why do we feel the need to remember the sins of people?

I don't have the answers to the question; instead I think I am going to start focusing on becoming an imitator of Christ and not an imposter--one who has the look of godliness, but denies the power that can change them...even Timothy tells us to stay away from people like that. (2 Timothy 3:5)

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Single, Lonely but why?

Tonight I decided I wanted to write a blog post in response to the fact that I keep seeing so many young women talking about being alone, being single, being in a season of waiting and praying for the love of their lives. I have never once seen one of these women say "I am praying that God's will is completed in me." or "I am praying that as I pursue holy singleness, that God's spirit will fill that hole in my heart."

It wasn't so long ago that I became the last single lady in my single ladies bible study. Matter of fact, it's been only weeks. Each one of my friends, Kayley, Ellie, Elizabeth, Jessica, Tosha, and Marilyn all married the loves of their life. I am friends with each one still (except one) and their husbands. I am treated as an equal among my friends; and I don't feel as if I am any less because I am still single.

However, I do believe that the church has taught young women that they must be in a relationship to be complete. There is nothing true about that. Matter of fact, the Bible teaches completely different. 1 Corinthians 7:32-35. I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. An the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious worldly things, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.

Just prior to this Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 7:8 To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am.

Matter of fact, I like how Joy Beth Smith said it "Singleness is not simply a season to be weathered, a waiting room, or a holding cell. It's not temporal by design, and it doesn't exist only to usher you into something great. Singleness is a valid life stage." She goes on to say in her book "Party of One" "We put too much aside if we wait for marriage."

I think one question that comes to mind for singles is how do I honor and serve a God that has the power to change my circumstances but chooses not to, causing me immense loneliness and pain? I'll be quite honest and tell you I don't have the answer; for me it was praying that I could understand why at 40 I was still single, when all of my friends were getting married. It is okay to be single; maybe you aren't in a season of waiting, maybe you are in a season of service to God. Instead of praying that God releases your future husband, pray that God shows you exactly why you are still single. I know for a fact that if I was married, I wouldn't be where I am in ministry. I wouldn't have been able to grab life, yes, it has been lonely, it's been hard, but I wouldn't have been able to go to Ireland, the Bahamas, Kenya, because my life would have to be dedicated to my husband. I wouldn't have been able to serve God without distractions.

So tonight, I want to encourage all the single ladies who are aching for love to remember you are loved; you are priceless and above all, this is a valid life stage...what are you putting aside while begging God for something He may have already said no to?

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Organic Ministry to Women--A Kregal Book Review

**UPDATED REVIEW 10/20/2019** I did finish reading the book. While previously I didn't think that I would be able to finish it, I had some time this week and weekend to give each topic some thought. While many who agree with the transformational model probably will enjoy this book, my original thoughts towards the book stand. I was excited to get the book and especially excited that the book was geared towards women. My disappointment started as I began reading and came across the question "Is Jesus asking us to change?" I think this is a loaded question; especially in that Jesus asks us to change, but His words don't change. I can tell you that this book focuses a lot on leadership and teams/committees. I think the book has some potential, especially in our "Purpose driven society" and our post-modern megachurches--however, in our smaller rural congregations, seeing how we can implement things is quite harder. I can't say that I recommend this book, unless you are in a larger church or you have loads of ministry geared towards women. At present, after reading the entire book, I can say that my original thoughts stand, the book is too liberal for me, but somewhere out there is a ministry that could benefit from the book. 

I get excited over books that I think will help me grow in ministry and I was completely excited when I read the title of the book. At first, I thought “YES! This is a great book, we can teach women by using traditional methods and it will work! Finally authors who agree with me.” I stopped reading by page 30 due to the question “Is Jesus asking you to change?” It goes on to talk about how our methods of traditional preaching aren’t reaching postmodern women. Yet study after study shows that when we change our methods of preaching and teaching from traditional to secular we are not meeting the needs of the church. The threat to the church isn’t our traditional teaching, according to Timothy Lawless it is “A number of problems face the modern, western Church, including loss of faith in the Church as an institution, the growing influence of liberal theology and mainline denominations, the cultural shift to postmodern philosophical and religious views, and the rejection of absolute propositional truth.”

Since I didn’t read in-depth past page 30 and only skimmed the topics, I can tell you that the book discusses various models to ministering to women. Models that they [the authors] think are working, yet when you research them through various online sources you see that they are declining. This book is geared towards colleges wanting to set up small group ministries which are also outlined in Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Church. Small groups are fine, but you risk denigrating others who are not in your clique. 

I had high hopes for this book; my expectation was a book that would address what we are doing right. Instead I found models that I had read in other books, or have experienced for myself and the failure of how those models worked. I continued to skim through the book, but never found a model that I felt would work for my rural NC congregation. In my researching, what I found instead is that even in our postmodern age, young women are joining more traditional, liturgical denominations—notably the Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Orthodox branches of the faith. This trend is deeper than denominational waffling: it’s a search for meaning that goes to the heart of our postmodern age. The postmodern generation is seeking a holistic, honest, yet mysterious truth that their current churches cannot provide. Where they search will have large implications for the future of Christianity. Protestant churches that want to preserve their youth membership may have to develop a greater openness toward the treasures of the past. One thing seems certain: this “sacramental yearning” will not go away.

So while the book may have some benefit to local college campuses in helping set up small groups, it doesn’t provide any real lasting solutions to ministering to women. 

This book was provided to me by the publisher for a non-biased, honest opinion.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

When God says No

We want very much by the end of our days to have _________________________ (fill in the blank). However, it may well be that we will die with that desire unfulfilled. Should that occur, it will be one of the hardest things in the world for us to face and accept. David heard the Lord's "no" and quietly accepted it without resentment. That's awfully hard to do. But we find in David's final recorded words a life-sized portrait of a man after God's own heart.

After four decades of service to Israel, King David, old and perhaps stooped by the years, looked for the last time into the faces of his trusted followers. Many of them represented distinct memories in the old man's mind. Those who would carry on his legacy surrounded him, waiting to receive his last words of wisdom and instruction. What would the seventy-year-old king say?

He began with the passion of his heart, pulling back the curtain to reveal his deepest desire—the dreams and plans for building a temple to the Lord (1 Chronicles 28:2). It was a dream that went unfulfilled in his lifetime. "God said to me," David told his people, "'You shall not build a house for My name because you are a man of war and have shed blood'" (28:3).

Dreams die hard. But in his parting words, David chose to focus on what God had allowed him to do—to reign as king over Israel, to establish his son Solomon over the kingdom, and to pass the dream on to him (28:4-8). Then, in a beautiful prayer, an extemporaneous expression of worship to the Lord God, David praised the greatness of God, thanking Him for His many blessings, and then interceded for the people of Israel and for their new king, Solomon. Take some extra time to read David's prayer slowly and thoughtfully. It's found in 1 Chronicles 29:10-19

Rather than wallowing in self-pity or bitterness regarding his unfulfilled dream, David praised God with a grateful heart. Praise leaves humanity out of the picture and focuses fully on the exaltation of the living God. The magnifying glass of praise always looks up.
"Blessed are You, O LORD God of Israel our father, forever and ever. Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Yours is the dominion, O LORD, and You exalt Yourself as head over all. Both riches and honor come from You, and You rule over all, and in Your hand is power and might; and it lies in Your hand to make great and to strengthen everyone." (29:10-12)

As David thought of the lavish grace of God that had given the people one good thing after another, his praise then turned to thanksgiving. "Now therefore, our God, we thank You, and praise Your glorious name" (29:13). David acknowledged there was nothing special about his people. Their history was one of wandering and tent-dwelling; their lives were like shifting shadows. Yet, because of God's great goodness they were able to supply all that was needed to build God a temple (29:14-16).

David was surrounded by limitless riches, yet all that wealth never captured his heart. He fought other battles within but never greed. David was not held hostage by materialism. He said, in effect, "Lord, everything we have is Yours—all these beautiful elements we offer for your temple, the place where I live, the throne room—all of it is Yours, everything." To David, God owned it all. Perhaps it was this attitude that allowed the monarch to cope with God's "no" in his life—he was confident that God was in control and that God's plans were best. David held everything loosely.

Next, David prayed for others. He interceded for the people he had ruled for forty years, asking the Lord to remember their offerings for the temple and to draw their hearts toward Him (29:17-18). David also prayed for Solomon: "give to my son Solomon a perfect heart to keep Your commandments, Your testimonies and Your statutes, and to do them all, and to build the temple, for which I have made provision" (29:19).

This magnificent prayer contained David's last recorded words; shortly after, he died "full of days, riches and honor" (29:28). What a fitting way to end a life! His death is a fitting reminder that when a man of God dies, nothing of God dies.

Though some dreams remain unfulfilled, a man or woman of God can respond to His "no" with praise, thanksgiving, and intercession ... because when a dream dies, nothing of God's purposes die.

**The first part of this article was printed by This article published on July 27, 2011. Content provided by

There are many reasons why God says “No” to certain things that we ask for. 

God has forbidden it. God won’t contradict His Word or will, so praying for something prohibited in Scripture is futile. Because of Moses’ disobedience, God had decreed the leader wouldn’t enter the Promised Land. Moses asked Him to reconsider but was told not to speak of it again (Deut. 1:37Deut. 3:23-28).

It’s for our protection. Because of the divine revelations Paul received, God allowed a “thorn in the flesh” to remain in order to keep him from exalting himself. The Lord prioritizes our spiritual protection over physical comfort.

God has a higher goal for us. Christ’s power was displayed in the weakness caused by Paul’s thorn. Knowing the higher goal for his suffering allowed Paul to be content and even appreciative of his weakness for Christ’s sake.

The Lord has something better for us. Jesus didn’t immediately heal Lazarus. Mary and Martha couldn’t yet understand that He was going to do something even greater—raising Lazarus, which would glorify God (John 11:1-44).

Our motives are wrong. James says one of the reasons we don’t receive our request is because we’re asking for selfish reasons and not according to God’s will (John 4:3).

Do you keep getting a “No" from God? Have you examined your motives, is it for your protection, does God have something better for us? He evidently had much greater things in store for David…what does a “no” from God mean for you? 

I'm Sorry, but people don't become Angels

In an effort to comfort the grieving we often hear "Your child is now your guardian angel." Or "Your child has gone on to be an angel." It's a well meaning sentiment; however, it lacks understanding that angels are their own created order in heaven. The Bible tells us that God created Adam after his own image (Genesis 1:26), but it is never said that angels are created after his image. 

Hollywood has fostered this imaginary world by making angels seem human-like, and depicting them as people who have died and performing good works so they earn their wings (i.e. It's a Wonderful Life). 

But what are angels really? We are told that angels are messengers who do the will of God, but people are redeemed by God. Angels are never said to be redeemed by God; in fact, the Bible doesn't even mention redemption of angels when they were cast out of heaven with Lucifer.

I imagine that angels can be fearsome creatures, for the first thing they tell people when they appear is "Fear not!" Why do you suppose the angels (and the writers of the Bible) think our first reaction will be fear? Why would we be afraid if it’s good news? Granted, seeing a paranormal apparition might be startling, but I don’t think that’s the reason we need reassurance. I believe the angels know we shrink from anything unfamiliar, even if it’s for our greatest good.

Another reason I think that angels aren't people is the fact that 1 Peter 1:12 tells us that the angels long to look into things regarding the gospel. If they were people who were good and saved and became angels, then it would make no sense to say they desired to look into the things regarding the gospel. 

Jude 6 tells us there were angels who "abandoned their proper abode" and were then reserved for judgment. This "proper abode" would not be the human realm but the angelic one. So, this would tell us that the first abode of angels is not earth, which would negate the idea of people becoming angels. 1 Corinthians 6:3, "Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life?" 

It would not make sense to say that we (people) will be judging the angels if the angels were really people who became angels. Furthermore, if people became angels, it would create a problem dealing with the nature of being human. Everything that exists has an essence, and we are able to distinguish between things because we can recognize differences in things. An angel is different from a human. If a human becomes an angel, then he's no longer human. Essentially, this would mean he stopped being one thing and became another; he stopped being human and became an angel. People might mistakenly equate humanity merely with the biological function and attributes as it relates to having a human body. But being human is not restricted to physical form since our human souls can be separate from the body and to be at home with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8), and we are still human in essence as is exemplified in Luke 16:19-31. (

*I'd like to thank my friend Matt Slick of for the usage of his text

Monday, September 9, 2019

Why is the church dying?

Over the weekend I went to train as a lay servant of the United Methodist Church. During our first conversation about being a lay servant the question came up, "Why do you think the church is dying?" Everyone had their answers and most surrounded that there are no youth in our congregations. 

That is a good start, but how about let's get to the heart of the matter. How about we actually look at why the church is dying!

It has been nearly 8 months since the special general conference of the United Methodist Church voted to retain the definition of traditional marriage as between a man and a woman. It is also the year that we voted to retain that homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.

Over the summer, I went to Kenya, and today news came out of Kenya that broke my heart. Men of God, had voted to become a reconciling congregation. Maybe this congregation believes that being a "reconciling congregation" will make them popular, it will bring more money in. And it's true, it probably will. Yet, it will also kill the souls of the people. They are voting to allow Satan to walk among them every week, devouring whomever he can. 

You see John 10:10 even says "The thief comes to kill, steal and destroy..." and that is exactly what happened on Sunday, September 1, 2019. The thief came and he destroyed one church's ministry in Kenya. But all is not lost, at this point all they have to do is repent, and seek the truth. 

So why is the church dying?
The church is dying because we are losing our identities in Christ. We are losing sight of the life-changing identity that Christ has given us. 

Knowing our identity is in Christ is one thing, but understanding how that practically changes the way we live is another. We no longer chase after the desires of our flesh but instead seek to bring God glory in all areas of our life.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions is not from the Father but it is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15-17)

If we are not seeking to find our identity in Christ alone, then we are seeking it in something else. However, when our identity is in the eternal things of Christ, we will not be crushed by our failures and weaknesses, fall into pride from worldly success, or despair over disappointments or tragedy. We won’t get lost seeking the attractive but empty things the world offers because Christ gives us a stable and eternal hope in a world of unstable hopelessness.

1 Peter 2:9 says of our identity in Christ: But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

How do you expect to glorify God when you are willing to sell your soul for a bit of recognition among man? 

Our churches are dying because the world sees us living just like them and they ask “WHY CHANGE?” This is why our churches are dying! We are no longer delving into the word of God, we are chasing after our own flesh and desires…so much so that we are willing to join the world at a far riskier price than simply following God’s holy ordinances! 

As A.W. Tozer said "One compromise here, another there; and suddenly man can't tell the church from the world." 

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Spiritual, Psychological, and Physical Maintenance

3 John 1:2 states Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul. 

I have been gone for nearly a month from my blog. Mainly because I have been blogging on health on a different site. That doesn't mean that I don't want to write about theology/religion any longer, however, it has been nice taking a break from theology to write about becoming healthy. One thing I didn't realize was how even though I'd say that I am spiritually healthy, I am mentally and physically lacking. To be truly healthy, as John says we must be in good over all health.

Since March, I have been on a journey. A journey to get more healthy, to lose weight and to find happiness that had been lacking over the years. As of today, I can proudly say that I have lost 56 pounds. While that may not be much, it is HUGE for me. It is huge because I am noticing a change, this has given me a new understanding of life.

Like many people, I was looking for a quick fix. I thought being ultra conservative would make me happy, it didn't. I thought being hyper-spiritual would be what I needed; it wasn't. I am definitely not the same person I was before I went to Kenya. In fact, I am closer to knowing where I believe God is calling me. However, if I hadn't started this journey of health, I wouldn't know.

So if I don't write here as often for a while, please forgive me; I just need to be away for spiritual maintenance.

Imitator or Imposter...are you?

I am like Gandhi "I like your Christ; I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ." Like many of my conservative...