What is accountability?
Who do we feel we need to be accountable to?
These were just a few of the questions that were asked during one of our youth group meetings. We often forget that once we make the biggest decision of our lives in declaring Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior that He is the ONE we need to be accountable to. By choosing Him to follow, our accountability to Him and all the other people in our lives will all fall into place.
Accountability to God will allow us all to reach accomplishments that we had no idea we could reach. We will be inspired and have new powers way beyond our capacity to understand. This sounds like a no brainer but the world and its beliefs enter into the scenario and we begin to struggle with our accountability to God.
We need to first and above all place Jesus, his teachings, and his church in the center of our lives. It won’t be easy because we will go through a lot of testing but also growth. Romans 14:7-9 says, "For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living."
We also need to recognize that true happiness comes from what we are, not from what we have. Real joy comes from making decisions that are pleasing in God’s eyes. Good decisions will help define who you are and what is important to you. If you chose to follow God’s ways and not the world’s ways no matter what pressures we face, we find extreme happiness.
Also, we need to be careful and stay morally clean. 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 says,
“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.”
Look at the tv shows and movies that we watch. The world is telling us that it is okay to act that way because everyone is doing it. It is the devil’s way of using rationalization to destroy us. We need to set standards and stay true to those standards no matter what the Satan is tempting us with. Love as defined by God, it elevates, protects, respects, and enriches another. The Lord will richly bless us and will help us keep clean and pure.
Well this sounds easy, but I think we could all use help with this. First surround yourself with people who share the same decisions in their life. Chose people who are chose to live a life of order and restraint. Surround yourself with friends who accept you the way you are and leave you better because of the association. It says in Ecclesiastes 4:12, ”Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” With numbers comes strength. When we hang together with the same truths of accountability to God we become like a mighty machine. We will not be overtaken.
Accountability to God will have such great reward. He will raise us up to new heights and ignite our spirit. When we use our accountability to honoring God in our everyday life, we will be raising the vision of others, helping them see their own capability of accountability. Like a magnet you will draw others to a higher standard of life. Matthew 28:19-20, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
We know this is not an easy journey. But like driving a car, when you first start, you are hesitant and careful, but the more you drive the easier and more automatic it becomes. This holds true to accountability to God. The more we stay true to him the easier it becomes and eventually our good decision making becomes automatic.
The first real feel of spring….50 degrees and sunshine after a long, hard winter! How symbolic! I do not have to go to work, or anywhere else today, until 3:15pm, so I am thoroughly enjoying this.
In the past, I would say, “I'm so thankful I was off and wasn't scheduled to work today. I got lucky!” That's crap. See, I followed God, my inner guidance/spirit/soul, CONSCIOUSLY, INTENTIONALLY, and not without fear AND courage. Both can and do exist at the same time. It's not always one or the other. I used and tapped into my intuition and sensed the gentle, calm, peaceful guidance to step down from one of my jobs a few weeks ago, when it made no logical sense at all, AND it was scary in terms of what that COULD mean financially. Nevertheless, even beholding a bit of fear, I stayed true to it. THAT was a factor in WHY I am able to be here, in the woods, soaking up the sun, the serene energy, and bring needed healing. Also, I had no idea in my ego state awareness that literally this would be EXACTLY what I needed today. As I, in the present moment, am tapped out emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually a bit. I just had two long, yet enjoyable, weekends back to back of intensive training, away from home for three days each time, AND got the flu on my way home from that training three days ago. That combination depleted my energy system all around. I had no way of knowing that I would need this today, in its perfect timing, when I listened to the feeling of my inner voice; no matter what it seemed like at that time. But that voice knew. It always knows what's best for us. And when we listen to it, we do not walk blindly, with our subconscious programming controlling us like a puppet on strings. No, we are active participants. Co-creators with the Spirit. Consciously and intentionally active in the process by using our free will to align with our inner spirit. That voice is always in alignment with love for self and others and being as motivation. We can gauge it this way.
This voice does not demand perfection as a prerequisite. I am sitting here, on a tree stump, with many aspects of myself that scream imperfection all at one time. One aspect of me is highly aware of the beauty, the metaphors of life dancing all around me, soaking in gratitude to the depths of my being, appreciation the abundance of wealth in nature. Another aspect is still clinging to old ways, holding a cigarette in hand, damaging the beauty that the other aspect is fully able to clearly still appreciate and withhold. There is also the aspect of me that is a little ceremonial, a little ancient, so to speak. This aspect enjoys ritual, scent, honoring God and Spirit in this way by lighting a sage stick and saying prayers of gratitude and prayers for others during this time, too. Oh, and of course… there's another aspect of me that didn't think through that I would need water proof boots to be out here as my feet are now wet and cold. But I'm not beating that part up or condemning it. I'll learn. This doesn't mean that I deny the aspects of myself that I want to change and be healthier either. It will come because my spirit and soul already want it, already contain these refined ways. I just acknowledge those truths, ask for healing, and surrender it all into the timing of the Divine's hands, then continue to hold this previous space.
And see how these aspects can all work harmoniously together as is, as a whole without judgment and condemnation toward each other or toward what it “looks” like maybe to others? This is such an important lesson to me on how to see the world as a whole, the people and the aspects of everyone, all as one. All through the lenses of agape love. Until we can see ourselves in this light we will continue to stumble in having and holding unconditional love for others that bears no judgment. This doesn't mean we have to agree with everything that everyone is or does. We CAN turn those judgments inward though and realize that it just means that what we're thinking and feeling toward others in projection is really just our own unique value system, and we can just let others be. This truly brings peace and freedom in ways that no words can ever capture the essence of.
How do you see yourself?
Are you as compassionate to yourself as you are to others? I think we often misinterpret what it means to “love yourself”. See yourself, greet yourself, MEET yourself through the lens that God says He sees you in. Interpersonal intelligence is more common than intrapersonal intelligence, but the latter bears great importance in terms of individual peace, happiness, and success. It isn't often talked about. What can you do today to cultivate this in your own being? With God's help, nothing is impossible, and joy always follows. It's not always easy to love ourselves with this love like we can do for others. Let me tell you though, it is most definitely worth it.
In Luke 17 we learn of Jesus healing of the ten Lepers. After the healing of the ten, only one returned to give thanks to Jesus for his healing. I often wonder, do we give enough thanks to our Heavenly Father? Are we like the nine lepers who did not return to show our thankfulness or gratitude for all the things that we receive on a daily basis? Our youth groups discussed this topic and wondered what did Jesus think when only one of them returned and fell to his knees thanking God. These ten lepers were all healed of a terrible disease and were able to return home and live a normal life. The leper that returned shows us all how to live a life with an attitude of gratitude. We have so many things to be thankful for each and every day but we often forget to come to God with a heart filled with gratitude. God has done so much for us. He loves us, protects us, and provides for us. He even sent his Son to die for us. Yet we often forget to thank him for all these things. We need to remember that God deserves our gratitude. This means we need to live in a way that shows thankfulness to God for all that he has done. Let us be more like the one leper who returned and gave an attitude of gratitude.
As we prepare to spend a weekend at Silver Birch Ranch, you can feel the excitement building.I am anticipating a weekend filled with incredible worship time, relationship building, and allowing the Holy Spirit to work in all of us. Please keep us in your prayers for safe travels, that we feel God's presence with us, and that lives will be transformed.
The first two commandments of the Ten Commandments tell us that we are not to worship other gods beside the true, living God who gave these commandments. These other gods are known as idols.
Just what is an idol? It is a thing or person loved more than God, wanted more than God, desired more than God, treasured more than God, enjoyed more than God. These other gods call us to bow down and worship them. Idolatry affects all of us. We Christians who live in a consumeristic, materialistic society battle this as well as those Christians who live in the poorest of nations. The question for us is this: how can we overcome idolatry? How can we leave behind empty things and serve God alone?
First, we need to receive a new heart. Since the demise of humanity in the Garden of Eden, our hearts are given over to evil and self-worship (Genesis 6:5), and we need to receive new hearts (Ezekiel 36:26-27). Put another way, we are dead in our sins and need to be made alive with Christ (Ephesians 2:1-5). Jesus died for our sins and rose from the dead that we might have a new heart. All we need to do is trust in Jesus as our Savior and Lord. A new heart comes by faith apart from works (Ephesians 2:8-9). This is the foundation to overcoming idolatry.
Second, we need to continually look to God. God gives us a new heart for Him, and He will help us overcome idolatry. Psalm 86:11 says, Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. The psalmist is crying for God to give him an undivided heart. This needs to be our cry. We need God’s help.
Third, we need to identify, guard, and run. Through Scripture and prayer (Hebrews 4:12 and Psalm 139:23-24), we identify our gods. Once we know the idols that call our name, we can guard against them. If we do not guard our hearts, we can easily be led astray (Deuteronomy 11:16). Then when the temptation comes (and it will), we must run. I Corinthians 10:14 tells us to flee. A good thing can become an idol in your life. If that happens, you may need to just walk away for some time. We must play defense with idolatry; we must identify the enemy, guard against it, and retreat. We cannot, however, stop there.
Fourth, we need to renew our minds. Romans 12:2 tells us not to be conformed to the world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. If we think consciously or subconsciously in our minds that an idol is better than God, we will serve the idol. We will serve that which has our affections. We need to have our thinking changed; that is, we need to have our beliefs changed. This too is a work of God, but we can cooperate with Him as we immerse ourselves in his Word, spend time with Him in prayer, praising and thanking Him, and participate in godly fellowship that encourages us to treasure God above all else.
When we honestly believe that God is the best, we will desire Him more than anything else, and we will then live for Him. The world will parade false clues leading to false treasures before us. Therefore, we must be discerning lest we be conformed to the thinking of the world rather than transformed by the renewing of our minds.
Finally, we must cherish Christ. This is the goal of renewing our minds. The more we cherish Christ, the more idols will lose their appeal. As the great hymn reminds us, when we survey what Christ has done for us on the cross, “All the vain things that charm us most” simply lose their appeal.
Take some time today or this week to seek God’s face, and confront the idols in your life. You will be glad you did!
Bethel has been full of activity on Wednesday nights! Our Junior High Group averages between 40-50 students and our Senior High Group has between 20-30 students attending each week. We have many topics and activities planned for these groups.
Recently, we had our Soup Supper & Cake Auction fundraiser which was a huge success! Thanks to everyone who supported us!
On November 7, our youth groups will be hosting a Bunco night for all those in our church and community that would like to have fun while getting to know the youth of our community.
It's amazing how God is truly working in this program.