Thoughts of a messed up Christian saved by God's grace

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Grammys, Soap Operas, and double standards

Everyone, including myself, was disgusted by this past week-end's Grammy awards, where a song mocking the Bible and a traditional view of marriage was played, while several couples were married...... including same-sex couples. And no, I didn't watch the Grammys. I read about it, and heard people talk about it who had watched it.

  Before I crawl up on my soapbox, let me make a couple of things clear:
1) Homosexuality is wrong. Period. God said so in His Word.

2) Gay marriage will be bad for so many reasons. And it is going against God's ideal, and only plan for marriage: One man and one woman.

  That said, I think the church has already lost the battle for traditional marriage. I heard a Christian comedian make this statement: "We are so worried that gay marriage is going to ruin the sanctity of marriage, but we heterosexuals did that long ago with sex outside of marriage, divorce, and abortion."

  There is a gay agenda that needs to be stood against. I just saw where a kid's show on Disney was going to have a lesbian couple on it..... and what other reason would there be for that, than to indoctrinate young minds that gay is OK. That is sad, and people SHOULD be upset about it.

 But why are we Christians so against homosexuality being portrayed on TV and elsewhere, but OK with heterosexual immorality? Many of the same people who had a problem with the gay weddings on the Grammys feed their minds on soap operas, which are nothing more than drama centered around adulterous relationships and fornication - which is sex outside of marriage. Why is no one bothered by those immoral acts? And they are immoral. The same Bible that says homosexuality is wrong, says any sex outside of marriage is wrong.

  TV didn't used to be that way. In the 50's on the popular I Love Lucy Show, Lucy and Ricky were shown sleeping in separate beds, and even though Lucille Ball's character on the show was pregnant and gave birth at the same time she did in real life, CBS was reluctant to use the word "pregnant" or show her obvious condition on TV...... wow. How far we have come.

  So there was a time when they started having couples cheat on each other, have sex outside of marriage.... where was the outrage from Christians and other moral people?

  A few years back, the first ever gay themed movie to be shown in movie theaters, Brokeback Mountain, caused a big stir. Churches boycotted theaters that showed it. Articles were written against it, it was mentioned in sermons, and Christians all across America were outraged.

  From what I heard about the movie, there wasn't much nudity, and other than the fact that two men, one of them married, carried on a gay affair, there wasn't much objectionable about it, other than the gay theme. Does that make it OK? No.

 But here is what I find ironic, and a double standard: There are countless movies out there that have nothing pertaining to homosexuality in them, that have a lot of nudity, bad language, terrible sinful themes in them, and no one cares. No church boycotts the theaters. In fact, I would wager a guess that many of the same people who boycotted theaters that showed Brokeback Mountain, watched movies with more nudity, sin, and bad language in than were in Brokeback Mountain.

  The gay agenda is bad for America. They don't just want tolerance. They want total acceptance. They won't be happy until commercials and ads show gay couples, kids are taught its normal in school from Kindergarten on up, til it is illegal to say it is wrong, til preachers have to marry them.......they won't be happy until it is completely normalized, and no one speaks out against it.

  Just like heterosexual immorality.

  That changed the whole fabric of society. Now people are mocked who wait til marriage for sex. Its unusual for couples to stay married for very many of years, and couples jump ship the second they don't get their way. Teenagers in school are handed condoms and encouraged to have sex, instead of saving themselves for marriage.

  TV has been filled with nudity, sex, adultery, and all kinds of sin and filth long before Will and Grace, Queer as Folk, and the more recent Grammys ordeal happened...... and from all signs, Christians were fine with that. But according to the Bible, all immorality is sin. The couple shacking up is in just as much danger of missing heaven as the 2 guys shacking up.

  So why are we so outraged by one, and not the other? According to the Bible, both are wrong. Why do we have no problem being kind to a heterosexual couple who are shacking up, but act so hateful towards a gay couple? Should we not love both? Should we not find them both sinful and immoral, but still people God loves and can redeem?

 I support bakers who don't want to bake cakes for gay weddings, photographers who don't want to photograph gay weddings, and wonder why a couple would even want someone to do something important for their wedding who doesn't want to and is only doing it to avoid a lawsuit..... although I suspect they have their reasons, and it has nothing to do with the good work those people do. It is about forcing people to accept their lifestyle, of making examples of Christians who won't give in. I don't know what the answers are to those situations, but I cannot do like some Christians and go against people for standing up for their beliefs.

  I do believe we have already lost the battle. We have sat idly by and allowed Hollywood to put all kinds of immorality on for everyone to see. It is too late to do something about it when something we think is a worse sin comes on display.

  We have elected politicians who are anti-God, anti-Christian, and even anti-America, who in turn put in the same kind of judges..... then we are surprised when they legalize killing babies and same-sex marriage.

  Had Christians voted for candidates who lived by the Bible, or as close to it as possible, had stood up to Hollywood when they started introducing immorality, had prayed more, been more involved.... we wouldn't be facing gay marriage today. Abortion wouldn't be legal. It would be normal to wait for marriage to have sex.

 But Christians didn't live up to Biblical principles the way they should have. They didn't vote the way they should have, and they slowly became more and more like  the world, until they accepted sin, and now they are faced with a sin they consider worse than the rest, and they are stuck.

 Homosexuality is not the only sin we need to avoid. There are plenty others. And everyone should be more careful with what we view and allow in our homes. It is only going to get worse.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Top 12 things I dislike about winter

I don't like winter. Nothing about it, other than Christmas, and I'd be OK with celebrating it in a warmer season..... anyway, everyone is doing top lists, so here is mine:

1) The cold. I hate being cold, and would rather have summer. 70 is perfect, but I'll take hot over cold

2) Snow

3) Cleaning my car off after it gets covered with snow

4) Having to warm my car up to go anywhere when it sits outside

5) It is a proven fact - my doctor verified it for me when I was seeing her for depression - people are more depressed in the winter. I know I am.

6) Bad roads.

7) It never fails that a miniature piece of ice gets under my wipers and they won't make contact, leaving me with a dirty windshield I can hardly see through

8) Sloppy roads

9) Winter is harder on vehicles

10) My car gets filthy and I can't wash it

11) Heating bills cost more in the winter

12) Unless you're a glutton for punishment, there's nothing you can do outside. No nice walks, no games of corn hole, no browsing at yard sales....I just want to stay in

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Listening to the serpent

We all have done it at some point. Many of us still do it. It is the reason there is so much sin, pain, suffering, and evil in the world. Listening to the serpent. Eve did it first. The serpent told her if she ate the forbidden fruit, she would not die, but she would be just like God. She fell for his lies, and the rest is history. Sin entered the world because one person listened to the serpent.

  Some of the lies he tells are easier to ignore, at least for me:
Go ahead, steal that. No one will know
You won't get addicted to those cigarettes.
God doesn't exist.

You won't become an alcoholic if you drink that.
Abortion isn't murder

  And then there are the ones I have believed him on:
You're worthless
You're a failure
God doesn't love you
If you're a Christian, you'll be alone forever
No one likes you
There's no use in trying
You might as well give up

  And there are more. We criticize Eve, and rightly so. She and Adam had Paradise. Everything was perfect. They could do anything they wanted, except eat the fruit of that one tree. Then Satan lied to her and she fell for his lies and changed everything. Yet we do it.

God says He loves us. The devil tells us he doesn't, and we believe the devil.
God tells us we are worth everything, and died to prove it. Satan tells us we are worthless, and we believe him.

  Listening to the serpent will never have the horrible rippling effect for us that it did for Eve, but it can still have horrible long lasting effects. It can destroy marriages, hurt people, ruin us and others, bring jail time, sickness, death.

 Other lies won't have those effects, but can cripple us emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Why is it so easy to listen to the devil instead of God? He is called the father of lies, so he is really good at it. He seems to know our insecurities and plays on them. He uses the bad things that happen in our life to tell us God doesn't care, that God doesn't love us, that God doesn't exist.

  And the crazy part..... anything bad that happens is the devil's fault. He started it all when he tempted Adam and Eve.... yet he blames God, and we believe him.

  But the thing is, he is sneaky and oh so good at what he does. He camouflages  his lies so we think its just our insecurities and self esteem. And in part it is, but it is still lies and lies come from him.

  Believing some of his lies may not lead us to sin, but imagine what we as individuals, and as a church, could accomplish for God if we completely quit believing Satan's lies.


Thankful for a sound mind

As part of my job as a security guard at a hospital, I am around people in the psych unit and people being admitted to it. I can't say much about it, but I see and hear lot of sad things. Empty gazes, bizarre behavior, bizarre statements. I once had a woman try to hand me a paper towel with her feces on it . She wanted me to wrap it up and put a pretty bow on it.

  I've heard them tell things they have gone through, tell the drugs they are on, etc.... and it makes me sad. I don't laugh at them, though the incident I mentioned WAS funny. Funny, yet sad. I have silently prayed often for a patient as I stood on stand by as a nurse or doctor took vitals and got information. Will it do any good? I hope so. As I walk through the psych unit, I always try to smile and/ or speak to those who seem aware.

  It is a sad thing to not have a sound mind. Whether it be from drugs, or for other reasons. And so many of the patients are repeats. Pills and counseling can help, but not always. Jesus is the true solution, but most, maybe none of them, know that. So I pray.

  And it has made me thankful. I have thought of myself as stupid in the past. I've had times when I was frustrated with life and the way things were going. But I have always been able to think for myself, to have coherent thought. I have never had to be admitted to the hospital because of my mental state. I have never had to be put somewhere that I couldn't hurt myself.

  It is popular to joke about people who don't seem very bright, but it isn't kind. If nothing else, working in my current job has made me thankful that I have a sound mind. That I am capable of thinking for myself, and that I know the answer to all problems, even mental: Jesus.

Monday, January 20, 2014

The sacredness of music

There's a trend,  or maybe you'd call it an idea, that seems to be gaining popularity today that bothers me. A lot. I've heard people say it, read it in books, and just read it in a book this past week,    Jesus > Religion by Jefferson Bethke.

 The idea comes in a couple of forms or different statements: There really isn't such a thing as Christian music, and all music can draw you to Christ and make you think of Him. I really hope those people are excluding Madonna, Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga and the like from that statement. I am hoping and assuming that they mean clean lyrics, though the author mentioned above specifically mentioned rapper Lil Wayne, which doesn't seem appropriate for a Christian to listen to.

  This author, and many other people, feel they can listen to secular music and it is just as good for them as Christian, and many of them even knock the term Christian music and seem to have the idea that all music is equal. Well it isn't.

 I rarely listen to secular music. I have 7336 songs on my iPod and ITunes. Of those 7336 songs, 271 of them are secular songs. Country, actually. And I am picky about the country songs I listen to. Clean, positive, no drinking and running around songs. Maybe that's why I have so few..... there are so few that are worth listening to.......

  I was raised very strict. I heard preachers preach against country and rock music. I even heard preachers preach against my favorite music: Southern Gospel. One of my pastors, when I was around the age of 19-20, made the following statement in a sermon after my family attended a Cathedral Quartet concert that he seemed to know we went to: "I would not want to be at a Cathedral concert when the rapture happens." I thought the statement was ludicrous then, and even more so now.

 Christian and secular music are not the same, but Christians can listen to secular music, but I don't believe it should be their main music. I asked a simple question on Facebook once, and you'd have thought I had announced child molestation should be legalized (which I don't): I had noticed many Christians have tons of secular groups and bands listed as favorites, and some of them have none, or hardly any, Christian ones. Wow. I got slammed hard. Lots of righteous and non-righteous anger directed at little old me. I had just made the observation and wondered why.

  Here's what I don't get. And I am not being judgmental here. I honestly don't get it: If a person is serving God, loves God, is really serious about being a Christian........ then why wouldn't they want to listen to mostly Christian music? Why wouldn't they want to listen to music that truly glorifies God and puts the heart and mind more in tune with Jesus? If you're discouraged, why would you listen to secular music? If you're wanting your heart to draw closer to Jesus, why listen to secular music?

  There is a Christian author who I read some, but not a lot. He sometimes posts his "writing soundtrack" - a list of songs he listens to as he writes. And they are always secular. So here is a Christian guy who is writing a Christian novel, and he listens to secular music as he writes. Go figure.

 I have struggled a lot spiritually in my life, but there is one thing I could never get away from: Christian music. My music tastes have changed somewhat over the years. Some groups I used to like, I don't listen to as much anymore. I used to listen to 100% Southern Gospel, but have branched out and listen to some CCM and have been making an effort to listen to more Praise and Worship music than I used to...... as much as I like SG music, P&W music does something more for me. Well, depending on what it is like. Not all P&W music is equal.

 And not all Christian music is worth listening to. I was in charge of the music department when I worked at a Christian bookstore a few years back, and shocked the owners and my co-workers when I said if I had kids, I would rather they listen to secular music than some of the so-called Christian music we sold. And I still feel that way.

 Other than not getting why Christians don't want to listen to Christian music, here are the two main issues I have with listening to much secular music:

1) Content. Philippians 4:8 says "And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise."

  We Christians need to use this verse more than we do. It should affect what we read, what we view, what we listen to...... there is secular music that is clean and there is nothing wrong with it. But there is a lot that there is. If we listen to secular music, we need to be careful of what the lyrics are saying.

2) Singers lifestyle. This especially applies to kids and teens, but should apply to adults also. I believe we should be careful what kind of people we spend money and time on listening to and buying their music. Madonna may have a few songs worth listening to - I have no idea - but her lifestyle, the things she says and does, the mockery she has made of Christianity and God are reason enough that a Christian shouldn't listen to her music......... and she isn't alone. There are country singers whose lifestyles are nothing I would want to emulate, nothing I want a part of, and that is reason enough to stay away from their music.

 The radio station K-Love has issued what they call the 30-day Christian music challenge. They are challenging people to listen to only Christian music for 30 days and see what a difference it makes in their lives. Not difficult for me to do. With the exception of secular Christmas songs, I can't remember the last time I listened to a secular music song.

  I am definitely not knocking Christians for not listening to all Christian music, but if a Christian does listen to more secular than Christian, why? Why would we not want to listen to music that talks about what should be most important to us: Jesus. Why would we not want the most uplifting music to be what we listen to most often?

  Martin Luther said he gives to music the next place of importance after theology. And I think he is right. If he is, then why would we want to fill our hearts and minds with music that doesn't even mention Jesus? That doesn't glorify Him?

  Do you know what music they had in Bible times? Read the book of Psalms and you'll get an idea. There was no Eminem, no Lady Gaga, no Creed, no Jonas Brothers, no Brad Paisley...... there was just songs about God. And I believe we'd all be better off to listen to more songs about God, and not what the world offers.

  And in closing, again: I am not criticizing people for listening to secular music. I am asking why a Christian would want to listen to it more than Christian, and I am saying we should be careful what we listen to........ and we'd be better off listening to more Christian music.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Loving God, loving each other


  There's a song one of my favorite groups, The Gaither Vocal Band, recorded back around 1997, Loving God, Loving Each Other:

Loving God, loving each other,
Making music with my friends;
Loving God, loving each other,
And the music never ends.

They pushed back from the table
To listen to His words,
His secret plan before He had to go.
It's not complicated;
Don't need a lot of rules,
This is all you'll need to know.

Loving God, loving each other,
Making music with my friends;
Loving God, loving each other,
And the music never ends.

We tend to make it harder,
Build steeples out of stone,
Fill with explanations of The Way,
But if we'd stop and listen
And break a little bread,
We would hear the Master say

Loving God, loving each other,
Making music with my friends;
Loving God, loving each other,
And the music never ends.

  It seems rather simplistic, does it not? Just love God and each other. But love is what it is all about.

  God created Adam and Eve, and gave them something He didn't have to: choice. He loved mankind so much, and wanted them to love Him, that He didn't want robots. So He gave them choice. Adam and Even blew it of course, and sin entered the world.

 To keep people in line, God made some rules. A lot of rules. And then He did something that doesn't make sense. He sent His Son to die on a cross for the sins of the world. Because God so loved.

 Jesus was once asked what the greatest commandment was, and He said what the song I mentioned said. To love God with all of your heart and love your neighbor as yourself.

  I grew up in a church with a lot of rules. And I'd go to camp meetings and revival services and hear even more. A former pastor of my church, before my time, preached from the pulpit telling the congregation to not shop at the local Christian bookstore. Why? They sold Christian rock, which he was against.

  I've run across some people who seem proud of what they are against, which is sad. Christians should be known for what we are for, not for what we are against.

  For most of my life, Christianity has been done the opposite of what the song says. It has been complicated. I tried keeping the rules, and felt pretty good about myself, but inside I was a mess. I had my secret sin and struggle, but as long as I looked the part, I tried to convince myself I was OK.

  I constantly doubted God's love and wondered how I could ever live up to the high standard that had been set. The message I got was that it was nearly impossible to get into Heaven, and that no matter how hard I tried to be a Christian, I'd most likely miss it in the end due to some minor thing.

 Not all preachers made me feel that way, including my current one. It was usually the evangelist that came for revival or camp meeting services. They seemed intent on scaring as many people to the altar as possible.

  I felt I had to work to convince God to forgive me, and He was just waiting for me to mess up so He could toss me out on my ear.

 I tried and tried to serve God and failed so often. I was trying to be religious and serve God without believing He loved me, and I was in more bondage than the people who had never served God.

 I have come to realize its not about rules. Christianity is more than a bunch of do's and don'ts. It is a relationship with God. I am starting to care less what people think about me, and care about what God thinks of me. He loves me. I'm finally getting that, and I want to please Him, not my church, not my family, not anyone else.

  It is as simple as loving God and loving others.

  But on the flip side of Christianity not being a bunch of rules, we cannot ignore the fact that God still has rules and guidelines. And we aren't free to do whatever we want.

  I see two extremes from where I sit. There is the extreme that our church has to tell us what we can and cannot do, because we can't get our own beliefs from God. The other, is we can do anything we want. We are not under the law, but under grace.

  However, if we truly love God, we are going to seek His will on things. There should be some things we don't do because we are a Christian and we are better off not dressing a certain way, watching certain movies, listening to certain kinds of music, etc. We should not be bound by rules, but we should also not see how close we can get to being just like the world.

  There is a common misconception that if the Bible clearly doesn't tell us not to do something, we can do it. Today almost sounds like how the book of Judges starts out "Every man did what was right in his own eyes." But there are things we are better off not doing for our spiritual well being, and for the second part of what Jesus said: loving our neighbor as ourselves.

  If we love our neighbor as ourselves, it is going to influence some things we do. We aren't going to invite  them over for a movie and show them a movie that could trip them up. We aren't going to dress in ways to tempt our Christian brothers and sisters...... I've heard a lot about the modesty issue and that it is totally the guy's fault if he battles lust with a woman dressed immodestly.... if it was YOUR son, or YOUR husband battling lust, how would you want the women working around them dressing? If you knew the guy across the street was a sex offender, how would you dress, how would you dress your daughters? Or sons. Modesty isn't just for women.

  The Bible is a guidebook. It doesn't have everything spelled out in black and white, not that it matters anymore, people find ways around it anyway - but it has principles. I don't want to do anything just because my church says to, or because my parents do it, but neither do I want to throw everything out the window and live calloused to what God might want. I want the Bible to be my guidebook. I want God's will on how I dress, what music I listen to, what I view. How I spend my money and time.

 See, if we follow what Jesus said is the two greatest commandments, we aren't going to try to get by with as much as we can.

 I'm not married, nor will I ever be, most likely. But I know if you love your wife or husband, you aren't going to try to get by with as much as you can that might pull you away from them. You will try to find out what they like and do as much to please them. The Bible says if we love Him, we will keep His commandments...... and I believe if we love Him, we won't try to get by with as much as we can. There WILL be things we don't do because we are Christians, but what we don't do should never define us, it should never be our religion.

 One of the biggest traps we can get in, is trying to live by others' expectations and rules. I don't want to do that anymore. I want to serve God out of love, and do or not do certain things to please Him. Not the church.

  When I stand before God some day, He isn't going to judge me by what my church expected out of me and told me was right and wrong. He isn't going to judge me by what any man expected out of me or told me was right or wrong.  He is going to judge me by how I lived according to what He said was right and wrong.

  Jesus died on a cross for my sins. Its time I started going by what He wants, not man. If we truly love Him, it will all fall into place. He'll guide us, let us know how we should live. And if we love Him, we will love others.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

He turned the water into wine

I've heard many people say they have read the same Bible verses over and over, and they suddenly learn something new from it, or see something in a different light.

  That happened to me the other day. I hadn't even read the Biblical account of Jesus turning the water into wine, but had seen someone bring it up as an excuse for Christians to drink. And I got to thinking about the story. It is the first recorded miracle that Jesus did. If He did any previously, they are not recorded, but it was most likely His first miracle.

 I'm not Jesus, but if I had the power to do anything, and was going to perform my first miracle, I think I'd go for something bigger. Something more meaningful than turning water into wine at a wedding. Think about it...... had He not turned the water into wine, what would have been the result? The people would have had to fall back on water. No biggie. No one injured, no one's eternal destiny was in play. Someone would have been embarrassed, and someone may have been in trouble for not having enough wine, but really in the grand scheme of things, so what?

 In modern times, it would be equivalent to running out of food at the wedding reception, or not having enough cake for all of the guests. The bride and groom would be embarrassed, and people would talk about it, but again.....nothing that major.

  Yet for His first miracle, Jesus did something that pretty much just saved someone from embarrassment.

  It is easy to think that our problems are too little to bring to God. He has bigger and more important things to do than be concerned with our little problem..... but if He was concerned with a wedding running out of wine, and performed His first miracle to save someone from being embarrassed, then surely none of our problems are too small for Him.

 The Bible says He sees the sparrow when it falls, so surely He sees our fears, worries, our small problems...... and I'd wager a guess that He is pleased when we come to Him with even the little things.

  Maybe only a guy like me who has doubted God's love all of my life, feels like my problems are too small for God, but I doubt it. And maybe that is why I got to thinking about this story, to help reaffirm that I do matter, and God does care about even my small problems.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A New Year's resolution for all of us

The time of year has come when many people make New Year's resolutions. Then within a month, they are broken.

  I have made them, and promptly broke them. This year, I decided to make goals, and not necessarily complete them in 2014, but work towards them.

  However, I have come up with a good resolution for all of us to make. To make it and keep it. It is something we Christians should already be doing, but I don't think we do it enough. What is it?

  Prayer. Specifically, prayer for others.

  It is so easy to say it. Someone asks you to pray for them, and you promise to, but how many of us really do? More than just the day they ask us to? I ran across the picture in a book I have, and though it is humorous, it is also a sad commentary on the way too many of us carry through on praying for people:

   Just in the last few months, I have had some people confide some things in me that shocked me. A couple of those times were to ask for prayer, and I have done my best to pray, but it has reaffirmed something for me: The people we rub shoulders with are often going through things we have no idea about. If someone asks for prayer, they need it. They really need it.

  Just today, someone who is a Facebook friend sent me a message and asked me to pray for her and why. I was shocked. She had asked for prayer from everyone before, but never said why. I promised to pray and tried to say something encouraging, but you know what it sad? It is sad that it took her telling me what was wrong, for me to actually pray for her. And I doubt I am the only person like that.

  Occasionally, my pastor will ask for special prayer for someone he doesn't name. There have been a couple of times when we found out later what it was, and it was always big. The break up of a family we had no clue was having trouble. A serious health issue no one knew about. As I told a friend of mine recently, when our pastor has a special prayer request, it is most likely serious.

  If you got to my church, you may want to skip this next section, for I am going to be bluntly honest:

  I deal with some heavy stuff. The last 5 years have been even worse, with dealing with depression, unemployment, bankruptcy. It has been bad. I have been fairly open about the depression thing, and several people know about the other "stuff", but for the most part, my church has been useless to me these last 5 years. I may as well have stayed home.

 There are a few people who are the exception, and they know who they are, and when I was able to go, Sunday School was a big help in my feeling connected, but what good is the family of God if when you are at your worst, they pretty much ignore you? What about "when one has a heartache, we all share the tear?"

  In the last few months, I have made great strides with God and my lifelong struggle to believe in His love and truly grasp grace...... and it has been completely independent of my church. Books have helped, prayers of some people have helped. Church? Not so much......

  Now this is not a commentary on my church. But imagine if my church stepped up to the plate and prayed more, did more to lift people up who was going through a hard patch, or had a big struggle such as I do. I have had a few people really pray, a couple of them connected to my church, and a few of them not.

  What good is the family of God, if we don't reach out more to each other? Pray for each other, lift each other up? Ask someone how they are REALLY doing, and mean it? What good are we, if we promise to pray for someone, and don't? What good are we if we don't pray for people without them asking for it?

  The Bible tells us to pray always, and we know that doesn't mean 24/7. We wouldn't get anything else done, but what if we prayed for people more. What if, when you're on Facebook and you are reading what people post,  you say a prayer for the people whose posts you are reading. That would truly be a good use of social media.

 I heard a story about a young lady who would take the newspaper to her prayer time. She would read the marriage announcements, and pray for the new couple. She'd read the birth announcements, and pray for the new baby and parents. She would read the obituaries, and pray for the bereaved family and friends, and so on. Neat idea. Who knows the difference she may have made in the lives of people she never met.

  We should be people of prayer. Not just for the person we see in the mirror, though that is important, but for our friends, co-workers, random people who cross our paths. And for the person who posts on Facebook, "I could really use some prayer." Chances are, they REALLY need prayer. You may never know why, but don't let that deter you from praying for them.

  I am thankful for those who pray for me, whether I know they do or not, and am trying to do better with praying for people.

  As this New Year begins today, a good resolution for us all, would be to pray more for people. And not just the ones in our family or clique'. We should pray for our fellow church members. Take out your church directory once in a while and pray through the names. Go down through your list of Facebook friends and pray for them. Pray for your co-workers, the guy who bags your groceries, the bank clerk......and especially those who ask for it.

  It has been called a tool and a weapon, but do we use it enough? Let us strive to use it more in 2014 for others. That is what the family of God should do.