Forum Posts

Tiffany DeMars
Feb 21, 2022
In In this together
Is happiness a choice? Is it a responses to one's situation? Many struggle with this looming question when going through very trying times. "Is happiness a choice and if am unhappy - have I failed to make the choice to be happy?" Defining "Happiness" might help us some. According to Merriam-Webster, "Happiness" is Defined as: 1a: a state of well-being and contentment : JOY b: a pleasurable or satisfying experience "I wish you every happiness in life." According to an article I recently read in Psychology Today on this very topic. Some "prominent voices on the subject of happiness Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage says this, "What I want people to realize is happiness can be a choice, and it’s something you can practice. But if you’re feeling unhappy, that’s not failure. What we want to steer people away from is apathy, which is that loss of movement. So, we want to focus on getting people back towards movement..." Michelle Gielan, author of Broadcasting Happiness goes on to say, "It’s about being conscious about how we devote our mental resources and training our brain to do it." Is happiness that simple? Can happiness truly be found by consciously devoting our mental resources and training our brain by practicing? This might be a good place to start, but "Happiness" goes much deeper then just mental determination - and in the midst of our struggles and pain - having to put more effort and mental determination into willing ourselves into a "happy" state is just not that simple. In the book of Matthew 5 Jesus suggests a much more unconventional way to find happiness. Let's look at His famous Sermon on the Mount on the very topic of "How to find Happiness" "1 Jesus saw the crowds and went up a hill, where he sat down. His disciples gathered around him, 2 and he began to teach them. 3 “Happy are those who know they are spiritually poor; the Kingdom of heaven belongs to them! 4 “Happy are those who mourn; God will comfort them! 5 “Happy are those who are humble; they will receive what God has promised! 6 “Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires; God will satisfy them fully! 7 “Happy are those who are merciful to others; God will be merciful to them! 8 “Happy are the pure in heart; they will see God! 9 “Happy are those who work for peace; God will call them his children! 10 “Happy are those who are persecuted because they do what God requires; the Kingdom of heaven belongs to them! 11 “Happy are you when people insult you and persecute you and tell all kinds of evil lies against you because you are my followers. 12 Be happy and glad, for a great reward is kept for you in heaven. This is how the prophets who lived before you were persecuted.?" **Disclaimer** I am in NO WAY encouraging anyone to stay in a relationship or situation that is emotionally, mentally, physically or spiritually abusive and dangerous. I have spent enough time with women and students to know that many stay with abusers because they believe they can "save" their abuser, or keep their abuser happy, or that in some way it is the "Christian" thing to do, to stay and "honor" an abusive parent or spouse/partner. IT IS NOT - get out and get help. Find a church, a domestic violence advocate, police, trusted friend - or Anyone - that will help you get out and get safe. Now, what I am writing about today is: Can we experience happiness when we are in the midst of difficult days and if so, how can we find and experience happiness? In the next several blog posts we will look at each "Happy are those..." statements to hopefully discover why God would suggests we follow this way of living. But for today - know this - in the first verse of this passage, it tells us a very important truth that anyone who is hurting needs to hear and know - "Jesus saw the crowds and went up a hill, where he sat down." Jesus sees you Jesus comes to you and helps you where you are at Jesus sits with you and will not leave you. 1. Jesus sees you - God's word tells us that His eye is always on us. For some that may be intimidating - God sees everything I do? Yes- it should be a bit intimidating - yet at the same time it should comfort you- to know that you are never lost from His sight. For others, knowing that God sees them in their suffering and doesn't stop it can can also bring about other feelings - like anger or confusion. I will discuss this more in another post - but for today- try to let yourself be encouraged that God sees your suffering and is working in the midst of it and does care about your pain and if you can have just a little bit of faith in Him - it can move mountains (Matthew 17:20) "The eyes of the LORD watch over those who do right; his ears are open to their cries for help. Psalm 34:15 “For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” 2 Chronicles 16:9 2. Jesus comes to you and helps you - God's word not only tell us that He sees us (in our good times and hard times), but that He is always with you and actively drawing you nearer to Him and actively at work to care for you and help you. "Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10 "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God." Romans 8:26–27 3. Jesus sit with you and will not leave you - God tells us throughout His word that "He will never leave you forsake you" Deuteronomy 31:6- and that "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Psalm 46 and that we can "Be strong and courageous and not be frightened, or dismayed, because God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 Trusting in these promises that God will never leave those who are His, can and should help comfort us when we are in a fog and we "feel" alone, hurt and left wondering if we will feel happy again. Talking to God about what is causing you sadness or pain can help, reading through the Psalms can help, talking with and surrounding yourself with trusted caring friends can help you as well. Knowing that in your pain you can be find moments to smile and laugh - and have moments of happiness -can help you get through dark days - one moment at a time.
Is Happiness Possible? content media
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Tiffany DeMars
Feb 07, 2022
In Search for Truth
"A man is not called wise because he talks and talks again; but if he is peaceful, loving and fearless then he is in truth called wise." Buddha When studying Buddhism over the years, I have found it to be one of deep philosophical thought. Buddha - like many other great thinkers and religions understand that a human's mind is composed of : emotions, intellect and will, but in Buddhism - the mind is the key to ones eternity - not an external god. The essence Buddhism is to reach the state of Nirvana or Enlightenment where one's mind is free and pure and to live a virtuous life ridding oneself of bad deeds. Thus the mind is crucial to a Buddhist because if one cannot control one's emotions, intellect, and will, one's life will not function harmoniously in life and one will never discover their true self. Buddha's teachings are spiritual disciplines and practical methods that help a Buddhist learn the discipline of being fully responsible for their individual lives so they can better control their thinking and emotions. Which is their ultimate goal - Nirvana - where one can fully attain control so they can remove all suffering and gain happiness. In Buddhism, nothing is permanent and all actions have consequences. They aim to live a life free from external conditions determining one's emotions, actions, and thoughts. Buddha had Four Noble Truths one lives by: First Noble Truth: True Problems Although there are many joys to be had in life, every being – from the tiniest insect, to a homeless person, to a billionaire – faces problems. In between birth and death, we age and get sick, and our loved ones die. We face frustration and disappointment, not getting what we want, or encountering what we don’t want. *To live is to suffer (Dukha or anything that is "unpleasant, difficult, or painful) Second Noble Truth: True Cause of Problems Our problems arise from complex causes and conditions, but Buddha said that the ultimate cause is our own ignorance of reality: the way our minds project impossible ways of existence on to ourselves and everyone and everything else. *Suffering is caused by desire (Tanha, or “attachment”) Third Noble Truth: True Stopping of Problems Buddha saw that it was possible to get rid of all our problems so that we never have to experience them again, by destroying their cause: our own ignorance. *One can eliminate suffering by eliminating all attachments Fourth Noble Truth: The True Path of Mind Problems stop when we eliminate ignorance, by understanding reality correctly. We do this by realizing that everyone is interconnected and interdependent. On this basis we develop love and compassion for all beings equally. Once we’ve eliminated our confusion about how we and others exist, we’re able to act beneficially for ourselves and others. *This can be achieved by following the noble eightfold path which consists of having a right 1) view, 2) intention, 3) speech, 4) action, 5) livelihood (being a monk), 6) effort (properly direct energies), 7) mindfulness (meditation), and 8) concentration (focus). Buddhism is one of the leading world religions and was founded by Siddhartha Guatama, who was born into royalty in Nepal around 600 B.C. Much of his life are legendary, but he is still considered an actual historical figure. Guatama was a deep thinker and had little exposure to the outside world as his parents wanted to protect him from pain and worldly suffering. Guatama had four visions, or what is know as: The Four Signs: An aged man A sick man A dead man A religious ascetic His fourth vision was of a peaceful monk. He saw that the monk was at total peace, so he decided to become one as well; one who sets himself apart from worldly living and desires, and abandoned his life of wealth and affluence to pursue enlightenment -through his own means and became known as the Buddha (“awakened” or “enlightened” one). - Buddhism and Hinduism are very similar in that they both involve reincarnation, karma, Maya (unreality, distinct from the reality represented by God or Brahman; the world is an illusion, a play of the supreme consciousn. -In Buddhism, sin is more understood as ones own ignorance. So sin is seen as more of a “moral error.” Buddhist - like Hinduism, practice Karma, which is nature’s balance. Like Hinduism, Buddhist adhere to good work "ethical living" and focus on meditating and turning to spiritual beings with the intent of "hopefully" achieving enlightenment and ultimate Nirvana. -Buddhism has a complicated theology of deities and spiritual beings much like Hinduism. Buddhism can be hard to define its view of god. Some sects of Buddhism would be called atheistic, while others could be called pantheistic. -"The" Buddha never exclaimed or defined himself to be a god; instead he considered himself to be a ‘way-shower' for others. It was only after his death that some of his followers exalted him to a god status by, though not all of his followers view him this way. -They are taught that people do not have individual souls, since self is an illusion. As we look back over some basic tenets of the Buddhist world view, sadly they are taught that tanha, "desire" or "attachment," is the root of suffering and is to be removed. But are there not many good things that come from desire? Friendship, family, romance, care or compassion are all grounded in love. Love is the desire to care for and do good of another (John 15:13; 1 John 4:7-12). Could we truly love if we had detached desires or could we truly care for another's well-being. Jesus taught us that desire is good when it is lived out in a way that honors His Father. Paul urges Christians to "desire the greater gifts" of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:31; 14:1). David writes in the Psalms, of his worship and adoration of God and the longing to have fellowship with God (Psalm 42:1-2; 84). Above all - God is love - God desires a relationship with us - His creation - (1 John 4:9; Psalm 136; John 3:16). Sacrificing desire throws out the gift of God's love and a living relationship and we miss out on true intimacy in general - all for the sole purpose of avoiding suffering.
World Religions at a Glance - Buddhism content media
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Tiffany DeMars
Feb 04, 2022
In In this together
Don't you hate it when a piece of your puzzle is missing? You spend hours searching, sorting, grouping, and slowly piece by piece your puzzle begins to come to life and you begin to see what it was intended to look like all along - and when you finally reach the end - you look for that last piece and nothing - Where is that last piece?! Did it fall on the floor? Did your dog eat it? Is your child or spouse hiding it on you so they can claim the victory in finishing the puzzle! It's just not complete until you have last piece! Why? Because that's not how it's supposed to go - you must find that piece - to have peace. I last spoke about how crucial it is for our healing process to acknowledge the reality of sin in this world and how it affects everyone - When sin entered the world, death came with it (Rom. 5:12). There was an immediate Spiritual death that happened in the garden that day to Adam and Eve (Genesis 3) Which brought about Physical death. Which brought about Emotional death and Mental death. Just like the creator of that puzzle - God envisioned how He wanted to create you. How you would look, how you would smile, how your laugh would sound, the color of your eyes and hair - whether curly or straight - blonde or brown - every amazing piece that makes you - you. You are a Masterpiece - Created in God's image. (Genesis 1:27) Yet because sin entered the world - we don't always feel that amazing - we don't feel special - we don't feel like we have great value and worth to anyone, let alone God - and in the process we grow old, we get sick, and then we die. The consequence of sin is death at every level. Remember dear one - If we can begin to accept that sin exists and is at the root of our pain - and is the cause of all suffering - whether by our own sinful choices or by another's sinful behavior and treatment towards us - that is a healthy first step. We were designed by God in His own image (Genesis 1:27) We are His masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10; Psalm 8:4–6) and We were designed to have a loving, safe, fulfilling relationship with our Abba Father, Creator God. So how is Jesus the missing piece of our puzzle? Jesus came for many reasons - but I want to focus on only a few for today. 1. Jesus came to bring us life - In (John 10:10), Jesus said, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” What did sin bring with it? Death right? Remember the puzzle we are trying to finish off - finding that missing piece? Sin is a thief and destroyer of your puzzle - The thief of our "piece" and "peace" is the enemy of God - Satan, and the Lord Jesus Christ conquered death on the cross (Romans 6:23, Revelation 20:11-15.) He came to give of Himself. He came to bring us back to life so that we can live fully alive in Him starting today and life eternal with Him and His Father - filled with meaning, purpose, joy, and freedom. 2. Jesus came to set the captive free - (Luke 4: 16-21) tells us that "Jesus came to Nazareth where He had grown up" and that "He went into the Jewish place of worship on the Day of Rest." While He was there "He stood up to read," so "Someone handed Him the book of the early preacher Isaiah-" and "He opened it and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is on Me. He has put His hand on Me *To preach the Good News to poor people. *He has sent Me to heal those with a sad heart. *He has sent Me to tell those who are being held that they can go free. *He has sent Me to make the blind to see and *To free those who are held because of trouble. *He sent Me to tell of the time when men can receive favor with the Lord.” Then "Jesus closed the book. Then He gave it back to the leader and sat down. All those in the Jewish place of worship kept their eyes on Him. Then He began to say to them, “The Holy Writings you have just heard have been completed today.” 3. Jesus came to destroy Satan’s power - (Hebrews 2:14) tells us that "It is true that we share the same Father with Jesus. And it is true that we share the same kind of flesh and blood because Jesus became a man like us. He died as we must die. Through His death He destroyed the power of the devil who has the power of death." Read that last statement again - Jesus is our Savior! Jesus has won the victory for our freedom on our behalf! Jesus is the hero in all of our stories - we just need to put our trust in Him and acknowledge that we too are sinners in need of His saving grace - and the process of our freedom and healing and victory in the areas that hold us in bondage - will begin to unfold. 4. Jesus came to take away sin - There is no one here on earth that can remove the sting and stain of sin - only Jesus and that is why He is the missing piece to your puzzle - who will bring you wholeness and peace. "Jesus came to take away our sins," because, "there is no sin in him." (1 John 3:5) 5. Jesus came to help us know what and who is true - The more we open ourselves to the possibility and reality of God's love for us and His goodness and His truth - the sooner we will begin to experience hope that we can face our trials, over come our fears and pain, and begin a new life free from our past and baggage. (1 John 5:20) tells us that, "We know that the Son of God has come, and he has given us understanding so that we can know the true God. And now we live in fellowship with the true God because we live in fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only true God, and he is eternal life." As we close for today, I want to share with you briefly of a man named Job - you can read more about him in the Bible - he has his own book. Job's story is one of great loss and intense pain - a story of a man who wrestled with trusting God after all he lost and the grief and pain he had to face and endure. He had some good friends and some not so good friends who tried to give him advice in the midst of his suffering - Here was the advice of one of his friends that I will leave you with today - though the pain you may be experiencing is not because of your own sin - after what we learned today - confessing your need for God's saving grace will still set you free. Job 11:13-19 “If only you would prepare your heart and lift up your hands to him in prayer! Get rid of your sins, and leave all iniquity behind you. Then your face will brighten with innocence. You will be strong and free of fear. You will forget your misery; it will be like water flowing away. Your life will be brighter than the noonday. Even darkness will be as bright as morning. Having hope will give you courage. You will be protected and will rest in safety. You will lie down unafraid, and many will look to you for help."
Finding The Missing Piece - To Find Peace content media
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Tiffany DeMars
Feb 02, 2022
In In this together
I titled this Forum "In this together" because life is like a puzzle and we all have missing pieces that need help being put back together. None of us will go unscathed in this life. Everyone will face some level of pain and suffering, addiction or unhealthy habit. So - we are all in this together - and Jesus joined us on earth by leaving heaven, to walk in our shoes, to face painful trials, to feel and experience our pain, so He can relate with us in our times of suffering and pain, and to teach and show us how to love and care for others in and through their pain. And - ultimately to point us to the missing puzzle piece in our lives that can and will put all our puzzle pieces back together and truly complete us - His Father - Abba God. Jesus tells us in His word, "Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” Mark 2:17 Jesus was and is the model we are to look to for every area of our lives. He was and is the perfect Son of God who loved and obeyed His Father all the way to the cross for our benefit. He paved and paid the way for us to find hope and freedom, healing and joy in His Father. Yes- we all have unhealthy ways of dealing and coping with life - but you might be surprised how Jesus may help you in your journey to healing and freedom. Let's start at the core of our suffering, pain and addictions. At the core of all of our suffering is sin. What is sin? 1. Sin is defined in the Bible as an act that goes against the law of God (1 John 3:4) and rebellion against God (Deuteronomy 9:7; Joshua 1:18). 2. Sin began with Lucifer, who was the most beautiful and powerful of all the angels. He was very discontent with his position and desired to be higher than God - thus the beginning of sin (Isaiah 14:12-15). Lucifer - later renamed Satan, brought sin to the human race in the Garden of Eden, where he tempted Adam and Eve with the same enticement, “you shall be like God.” Genesis 3 And in Genesis we read of Adam and Eve’s rebellion against God. 3. All humans have inherited sin from Adam and Eve since they were the first humans to exist and rebelled, God. In Romans 5:12 we are told that through Adam sin entered the world, and so death was passed on to us all and the punishment for sin is “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). 4. Through Adam, we are all inclined to sin and our inner nature was transformed. So, we are sinners not because we sin; rather, we sin because we are sinners. In a way you can look at it like this: We inherit physical characteristics from our parents, just as we have inherited our sinful natures from Adam. Psalm 51:5: “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” 5. Sin is "any thought, action, or attitude that falls short of God’s holiness" (Romans 3:23). Here are some examples of sin: Murder, adultery, and theft (Exodus 20:1–17). Even the desire to commit these are sins (Matthew 5:21, 28). Yet you may say - I have never done any if these - yet Romans 3 tells us we have all fallen short of God- that means jealousy, lying, hateful thoughts and feelings are just as sinful. If we can begin to accept that sin exists and is at the root of our pain - whether by our own sinful choices or by another's sinful behavior and treatment to us - that is a healthy first step. Dear one, we were not created to be sinful. We were designed by God in His own image (Genesis 1:27). We are His masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10; Psalm 8:4–6). We were designed to have a loving, safe, fulfilling relationship with our Abba Father, Creator God. Let's begin this journey towards walking in freedom and healing by being open to the Lord to move in our hearts, guide our thoughts, and allowing Him to help us move towards trusting Him and His perfect will for our lives.
Missing Puzzle Pieces content media
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Tiffany DeMars
Feb 02, 2022
In Search for Truth
Understanding the human experience through the eyes of God and His word has always been a passion of mine - even since I was a young girl. I would always ask really challenging questions to my pastors and even debate them if what I was told things that didn't sit right - not because I disrespected them - it's just that I have always had a passion to pursue truth and learn and understand people, life, and the world better through God's eyes. Maybe you have noticed that as we have been going through the world religions so far that there are some similarities between the Christian faith and other religions. Islam and Christianity both believe in an eternal Creator God and a judgment to come after death. Judaism and Christianity both worship the same God - yet Judaism rejects Jesus as God's Son and Savior to all mankind. Both Jesus and Confucius (we have not yet covered Confucius - but are getting there) taught a version of the Golden Rule, and both Christianity and Confucianism teach respect for one’s parents. Many today will say since they are all so similar– that must mean we all have the same god – but as we have been reading and learning - that’s not the case – What is true is that all humans have been created by the one true God in his image (Gen. 1:26–27; 5:1–2) and that God has revealed himself in a general manner to all peoples through His Creation (Ps. 19:1–4; Acts 14:15–17; 17:22–31; Rom. 1:18–32; 2:14–15). As we continue to take a look at more religions you will find that the differences between Christian faith and other religions are greater and more significant than any of their similarities. It can be somewhat difficult to break down the religion of Hinduism since Hinduism contain beliefs and teachings of almost every theological religious system. There is no founder of Hinduism and it is one of the oldest religions and as I just said - very complex and very broad. Hindus all believe in one Supreme God who is known as Brahman, who created the universe. He is considered to be omnipresent (in all things and is everywhere). This supreme god created many others gods - 330 million gods - and spiritual beings to be his helpers. Because Hindus have so many gods they are very tolerant and open to other religions, believing that each has its own pathway to the "One God." Since Hindus believe that god is omnipresent - that means God is not far away, but is instead living inside each and every soul, in the heart and consciousness, waiting to be discovered. Hinduism is both monotheistic (belief that there is only one god) and henotheistic (the worship of a single, supreme god while not denying the existence of other gods.) They are not polytheistic (belief in multiple deities,) in the sense that there are many equal Gods. From this, we can gather that they worship one God - without denying the existence of other lesser gods. The Hindu soul is believed to be immortal and is rebirthed time and time again which is known as "reincarnation." Through this process, they grow through life learned experiences and evolve spiritually until they "graduate" so to speak. Once they have evolved to the level where all life lessons have been learned, they attain what is know as "enlightenment and moksha, liberation." Meaning the person has been freed from the physical body's cycle of life and death and rebirth and now the "person/being" will still exist, but will no longer be pulled back to be born because they have finally found one's true self. Hindus also believe in Karma - which is a cause and effect life cycle. Their actions, both good and bad, come back to them in the future, helping them to learn from these life’s lessons to become better people. They believe it is a divine system of justice that is controlled by oneself and perfectly fair. Meaning when something happens to a Hindu that is bad, sad or hurtful or simply unjust, it is not their god punishing them, it is simply the result of their own past actions that automatically creates the appropriate future experience in response to the current action. The Veda, which means “wisdom" is their “Bible," which they believe to be the revealed word of God. The Veda has four Hindu sacred texts which contain hymns, incantations, philosophies, rituals, poems, and religious mythology stories which interweave myths, theology, and history to achieve a story-form religion deeply rooted to their culture. Some other basic teachings of Hinduism are: -Brahma - Is the impersonal and unknowable god who exists in three separate forms: Brahma—Creator; Vishnu—Preserver; and Shiva—Destroyer. -Hinduism views mankind as divine and because Brahma is everything, Hinduism asserts that everyone is divine. -Atman, is one's true self, who becomes one with Brahma. The atman is eternal and is itself the core essence of each individual, the personality. The atman provides humans with their consciousness and gives them divine qualities. According to Hinduism, “The Supreme God is situated in everyone’s heart . . . and is directing the wanderings of all living entities, who are seated as on a machine, made of the material energy” (Bhagavad Gita, 18.61). -The spiritual goal of a Hindu is to become one with Brahma, thus being released from it's "unreal self" to find their version of “individual self.” This freedom is referred to as “moksha.” Until moksha is achieved, they will go through a lifetime of reincarnations in order that he/she may work towards self-realization of the truth. To a Hindu, sin is a serious matter as they believe in reincarnation of the soul so that the debt of sin can be paid back. In the Puranas (Hindu religious books) states that a Hindu person can be re-born millions of times to pay back the negative karmas of one life and even then there is no guarantee that in the next birth there is no sin at all. So, to a Hindu, moksha (salvation) is almost unattainable, even though one works very hard for it. - Yoga – is a discipline which enables individuals to connect with the god within to control the body and emotions to help reach nirvana. “Om” pronounced “Aum,” is similar to “Amen.” This is an approach that will initiate to the path of wholeness and higher states of consciousness. - Nirvana – is the final stage of one's life cycle attained only when they are broken free from the chains of their rebirths. - There is no sense of self or one’s own identity – Hindu's believe all are one. - Hindus live within a Caste System - which are social classes based on heredity. The caste system was developed by dividing up society into a hierarchy according to professions and trades. Individuals are basically assigned to a caste at birth based on the caste of their parents. This life style is handed down from generation to generation and marriages occur within castes. One can identify ones caste by their skin color, manner of dress, surname, occupation and village or neighborhood. The caste system is technically illegal but widely practiced. The main difference I would like to close with is that in Christianity God has made it very clear that He cares about what happens to each of us and is personally involved in our lives and loves us with a perfect flawless Father’s Love. God showed us His love by sending His Son Jesus to live with and amongst us and to die on the cross on our behalf so that He could be the bridge for us to have a relationship with His Father. Christianity is based on humans being created in the image of their Creator God – with great worth and value and purpose, whereas in Hinduism there is not individual worth or purpose as all are one in pursuit of emptying themselves to become Brahman. Finally - salvation to a Hindu person is attained in one of 3 ways: knowing one is a part of the ultimate Brahman and not a separate entity, (all are fully one) devotion, love and obedience to a particular deity, works & ceremonial rituals – with the continual cycle of rebirths until you get it right. Christianity salvation is a gift of grace offered from a Holy and perfect God to humans who cannot ever attain perfection on their own but through the power of God’s gift of His Son who came to die and pay for our sin so that we can have a right and united relationship with our Creator Father God
World Religions at a Glance - Hinduism content media
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Tiffany DeMars
Jan 27, 2022
In Search for Truth
So, what is Islam? Is it like Christianity? Do they have the same God? I have had a few Muslims friends over the years and we have had conversations about how we are similar and how we differ. I have learned why many feel that Christianity and Islam are similar. My hope for you as you read through this post is to learn some things that I have learned in my journey to know, understand and love the One true God better on my journey to seek and discern truth as God's word lays it out for us all. In my conversations I have heard some say, "Well what really matters is that we serve the same god." But do we? Yes, Islam has some similarities to Christianity but the differences between the two are what we really need to take note of and analyze - and to understand the weight of those differences in ones eternal destiny. Like Christianity, Islam is monotheistic. However, Muslims reject the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. So, if we follow the same god- then we must believe in the Trinity since God's word tells us He is three in one. This point of difference is crucial and will have drastic differences from here on out in this post. Another crucial point of difference is that Muslims believe that Jesus was one of the most important prophets - (Isa - the Islamic word for "Jesus") just not the Son of God. Muslims believe that Jesus was created like Adam - even though the Bible has a very clear account of the life of Jesus - that Jesus was born of the virgin Mary. Muslims also do not believe that Jesus died on the cross. They do not believe that Allah would allow Jesus to die a torturous death. Yet once again, the Bible clearly tells us of how this was God's plan from the beginning of time and that Jesus’ the death was necessary to make a way for salvation for all - the perfect Son of God had to pay for the sins of the world (Isaiah 53:5-6; John 3:16; 14:6; 1 Peter 2:24) So even though Islam and Christianity may sound like they are similar - the differences are clear enough for anyone to see that Christians do not worship the same god as Muslims do - even though they both have core beliefs, rules, and standards - only Islam's regulations must be mastered in order to achieve a desired end in eternity with Allah - whereas in Christianity - God came down in human flesh to take our place knowing we could never meet the standards necessary to spend eternity with God. The follow are The Five Pillars of the Qur’an that Muslims strive to keep to reach their eternal destiny: 1. The testimony of faith: “There is no god but Allah. Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.” 2. Prayer: Five ritual prayers must be performed every day. 3. Giving: This almsgiving is a certain percentage given once a year. 4. Fasting: Muslims fast during Ramadan in the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. They must not eat or drink from dawn until sunset. 5. Pilgrimage: If physically and financially possible, a Muslim must make the pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia at least once. This is performed in the twelfth month of the Islamic calendar. Thankfully God's word tells us "That it is "by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast." Ephesians 2:8-9 And that "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9
World Religions at a Glance -
Islam  content media
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Tiffany DeMars
Dec 10, 2021
In Search for Truth
Let us begin with some basics- before we get into the meat of Christianity - (which you will find even this first part quite meaty to chew on) Christianity is monotheistic, meaning there is only one God. Yet - in Christianity God exists in three persons. The “Trinity” (this word is not found in the bible. It is a term that is used to help describe the triune God) —three coexisting, co-eternal Persons who are one God existing in 3 Persons. God the Father -John 6:27; Romans 1:7; 1 Peter 1:2. God the Son - John1:1, 14; Romans 9:5; Colossians 2:9; Hebrews 1:8; 1 John 5:20. God the Holy Spirit - Acts 5:3-4; 1 Corinthians 3:16 When one first looks at Christianity it seems to convey that it is a religious system much like Islam and Judaism are religious systems. They all have religious structures, foundational beliefs, rules, leaders, written text, and standards that must be mastered in order to achieve some ultimate "happy ending" and ways to avoid a "bad ending." Yet Christianity does not fit that definition - it stands out like no other. Why? You may ask - Firstly, Jesus did not come into the world to start another religion. He did not receive some divine vision, He did not happen upon some sacred tablets, He did not have some unpleasant upbringing where He sought the spirit world for power to rule over those who oppressed Him and His family and community. Jesus came to be a witness to the truth (John 18:37), to seek and to save the lost—those separated from God by their sin (Luke 19:10)—and to “give his life as a payment for all” (Mark 10:32). Jesus is the very Son of God- born of the virgin Mary - (Matthew 1:18-2:23) You see, there were already plenty of religions (Acts 17:22–23), including Judaism - the very religion that foretold of the coming Messiah - who is in fact Jesus Christ - the Son of God and Savior of the world found in Christianity. Judaism had begun as a relationship with God but over time turned into just another religious system (Matthew 15:8). What makes Christianity stand out amongst the others is that it was not a religion started by a mere human. It is the only "religion" where God came to man and not man reaching or searching to find God. It is not a religion in the sense that we have to attain some level of goodness to make a god or gods appeased - there will never be enough good that we can do on our own to attain the level of the Most High God - who is holy. Why is this so important to know and understand? "God’s holiness is what separates Him from all other beings, what makes Him separate and distinct from everything else. God’s holiness is more than just His perfection or sinless purity; it is the essence of His “other-ness,” His transcendence. God’s holiness embodies the mystery of His awesomeness and causes us to gaze in wonder at Him as we begin to comprehend just a little of His majesty." The purpose of Christianity is the opposite of all others - Christians are not to focus on their abilities or their efforts in reaching some level unknown - transcendent - unspecified goodness. No - Christianity is the realization we cannot hit the mark of perfection on our own efforts -but that we can rest in the One who can and did - Jesus Christ. Christians are those who are forgiven of their sins and who have entered a personal relationship with Almighty God through faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8–9; Romans 10:9–10). The very thing that makes us "accepted" by God is to surrender our human, striving, works oriented, self focused, lives to a good and loving - holy God - who sent His Holy Son - Jesus Christ - to die on a cross on our behalf as payment for our sin so that we might have eternal life in heaven. Let's break it down even more simply : • Jesus is the Son of God and is equal with God (John 1:1, 49; Luke 22:70; Mark 3:11; Philippians 2:5–11) (the promised Messiah) • Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life (Hebrews 4:15; John 8:29) • Jesus was crucified to pay the penalty for our sins (Matthew 26:28; 1 Corinthians 15:2–4) • Jesus rose from the dead (Luke 24:46; Mark 16:6) • We are saved by the grace of God; that is, we cannot add to or take away from Christ’s finished work on the cross as full payment for our sin (Ephesians 2:8–9) One of the more difficult aspects of Christianity is when Jesus made this claim - “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6) At first glance this may seem very arrogant and narrow minded. For many it becomes a stumbling block to faith. Many believe that Jesus was very arrogant in saying this - yet He said it out of great compassion, not arrogance. Christians believe that when you look closer at this statement - it makes ultimate sense. Christians would most likely agree that this statement is one of the most critically important bits of information ever given to you personally. So why is this claim so controversial? Because it hits a "all roads lead to the same god nerve." Many believe that if you strip all religions down to their basic beliefs, all religions are fundamentally the same thing — so it doesn’t really matter which one you follow. In other words, all spiritual paths lead up the same mountain because all religions basically teach the same thing. But do they? Jesus said that in order to inherit eternal life one must be “born again” (John 3:3). To be born again is a work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of one who repents of their sin. (2 Corinthians 5:17). God came to us to draw our hearts back to Himself through conviction of sin and hope and confidence of forgiveness (John 6:44). When we surrender to God and repent of our sin (Acts 2:38), God takes the blood of His own Son and cancels the debt we owe Him (Colossians 2:14). Thus God pronounces us “not guilty”; meaning He justifies us (Romans 4:5). Christianity calls this - Salvation - which is the divine exchange: Jesus becomes our sin so that we can become His perfection (2 Corinthians 5:21). This is the gospel of Christianity. So, if the path to God (in Christianity) is through Jesus, then Christianity cannot be joined with any other religion. This uniqueness of Christianity is rooted in the uniqueness of Jesus Himself. It has been said that other religious leaders say, “Follow me and I’ll show you how to find truth,” but Jesus says, “I am the truth.” Look at how other religious leaders speak "They would say, “Follow me and I’ll show you the way to salvation,” but Jesus says, “I am the way to eternal life.” They would say, “Follow me and I’ll show you how to become enlightened,” but Jesus says, “I am the light of the world.” They would say, “Follow me and I’ll show you many doors that lead to God,” but Jesus says, “I am the door.” Then, He simply invites us - “So follow Me.”" Do you see the difference? Jesus is the one person who can speak with real authority and experience concerning the afterlife since He came from there: “No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man” (John 3:13-3:17) “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.” (John 14:1–3).
World Religions at a Glance - Christianity content media
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Tiffany DeMars
Dec 08, 2021
In Search for Truth
Maybe you are like many others; you are someone who is searching for God or searching for some spiritual clarity. I understand that that this journey can be quite difficult and confusing for a variety or reasons. I'm sure you have heard it said, "All roads lead to the same God." But is this true? Is it possible for this to be true? For the next few posts, I would like to invite you to walk through some world religions with me (at a glance, because to delve into all that goes into each of them would be far too great for this blog.) Let's begin with Judaism since it is the beginning point for other religions like Christianity and Islam. Through historic writings, it was written that God spoke to Abraham (Genesis 12) and commanded him to recognize the singularity and omnipotence of God. Abraham accepted, becoming the father of many nations. Abraham was not just the first prophet of Judaism, but also of the Christian and Islamic faiths. Judaism is one of the oldest monotheistic world religions and one of the first ethnoreligious groups that followed God's command to turn away from idolatry or paganism and worship God alone - a single deity. The Jewish faith is based upon a covenant between Abraham and God (Genesis 17) to renounce worshipping other gods and worship God alone. God promised to make Abraham’s offspring a “Chosen People.” This Chosen People would become the Children of Israel, and eventually, the Jewish faith. Exodus 19:5 says that God selected Israel to receive and study the Torah, (Jewish scripture), to rest on the Sabbath, and to celebrate the festivals. Jews were not chosen to be better than others; they were simply selected to be a light to the Gentiles and to be a blessing to all the nations. In the Torah—the first five books of the Bible—Genesis 14:13 teaches that Abram, was recognized as the first Jew. The name “Jew” comes from the name of Judah, one of the twelve sons of Jacob and one of the twelve tribes of Israel. A Jew is one who has a Jewish mother or one who has formally converted to Judaism. In Judaism there are “Thirteen Principles of Faith” 1. Belief in the existence of the Creator, who is perfect in every manner of existence and is the Primary Cause of all that exists. 2. The belief in G‑d's absolute and unparalleled unity. 3. The belief in G‑d's non-corporeality, nor that He will be affected by any physical occurrences, such as movement, or rest, or dwelling. 4. The belief in G‑d's eternity. 5. The imperative to worship G‑d exclusively and no foreign false gods. 6. The belief that G‑d communicates with man through prophecy. 7. The belief in the primacy of the prophecy of Moses our teacher. 8. The belief in the divine origin of the Torah. 9. The belief in the immutability of the Torah. 10. The belief in G‑d's omniscience and providence. 11. The belief in divine reward and retribution. 12. The belief in the arrival of the Messiah and the messianic era. 13. The belief in the resurrection of the dead. *Note you might have noticed that when I typed in God- I left out the "O" in G-d. Why did I do this? Jews believe that writing G‑d’s full name could lead to erasing or disrespecting G‑d’s name. The first five books of the Hebrew Bible were revealed to Moses by God. Christians base much of their faith on the same Hebrew Scriptures as Jews do - yet with some differences : Jews consider works to be main focus of belief and Jews do not believe in original sin (the belief that all people have inherited Adam and Eve’s sin when they disobeyed God’s instructions in the Garden of Eden). Moses is another famous Jewish name many are familiar with. He was known as one of the greatest prophets who ever lived. Moses transcribed the Torah (also known as the Five Books of Moses God gave Moses the Ten Commandments that you can find in Exodus 20:1-17 and Deuteronomy 5:6-21. But interestingly enough, the Jews were so determined to not break any of those God given laws that they added and kept adding laws on top of laws to insure not breaking the original ten that were given. Jews have 613 commandments /rules found in Leviticus and other books that rule all aspects of Jewish life. God also called Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt from slavery and bondage. There are books filled with many historic accounts of generations of judges and kings, times of conquest from outside nations, and Jewish migration throughout several nations around the world. According to Jewish sources, Judaism was the first great faith to believe in one God and Jerusalem was their spiritual capital of the ancient world. In closing, my desire in all these posts is to focus on main beliefs, a bit of history and what their beliefs are, who Jesus is to them, and to lean their beliefs about the after life so that we can understand them a bit more clearly - but also understand - ultimately - that they do not all lead to the same God and they do not lead to the same after life. What do Jews believe about the afterlife? There is no definitive answer to the Jewish afterlife. There are three thoughts in my research in regards to this question. 1. The righteous will go with God somewhere- no definitive Heaven 2. The evil will go to a place of Torment & fire temporarily 3. Everyone in between will got to some kind of purgatory Judaism is a beautiful religion- woven together with faithful followers and the power and beauty of the Almighty God and His great love and provision for His chosen people. The ancient texts are an amazing testimony of God's goodness and faithfulness. Judaism shows the Jewish believers desire to live and purify their lives and draw closer to God by fulfilling the Ten Commandments - yet Judaism is sadly missing the key link to their religious belief - they have no Savior; there is no available mediator between man and God. "The Jews believed that the Messiah, the prophet which Moses spoke about, would come and deliver them from Roman bondage and set up a kingdom where they would be the rulers...The people of Jerusalem also thought He would deliver them. They shouted praises to God for the mighty works they had seen Jesus do and called out, “Hosanna, save us,” when He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey (Matthew 21:9). They treated Him like a conquering king. Then, when He allowed Himself to be arrested, tried, and crucified on a cursed cross, the people stopped believing that He was the promised prophet. They rejected their Messiah (Matthew 27:22)." Their belief in regards to Jesus vary considerably. Some view Him as a great moral teacher. Others see Him as a false prophet or as an idol of Christianity. Some sects of Judaism will not even say His name due to the ban against saying an idol’s name. Yet, many Jews are turning to Christ today. The God of Israel has always been faithful to keep a “remnant” of believing Jews to Himself.
World Religions At a Glance- Judaism content media
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Tiffany DeMars
Oct 18, 2021
In Search for Truth
What are some questions that a skeptic of Christianity might ask? 1. “How do we know God exists?” 2. “Why does a good God allow evil to exist?” 3. “Is Jesus really the only way?” 4. “Why is Jesus the only way?” 5. “Why should I believe that Jesus is the Son of God?” 6. “If Christianity is so great, why are there so few Christians? 7. “Don’t all religions basically teach all the same stuff?” 8. “Haven’t Christians done some really awful things in the past?” These are all really good questions – we all have these questions to a certain degree – some more than others – And that’s ok! A spiritual journey is a part of life - whether we realize it or not - we are all on one. Trying to understand the spiritual aspect of our human nature does not come naturally, in fact, if you were to read 1 Corinthians 2:14 in the Bible we are told - "People who do not have God’s Spirit do not accept the things that come from his Spirit. They think these things are foolish. They cannot understand them, because they can only be understood with the Spirit’s help..." For many, when we get to something difficult or something that may not fit into our normal way of life in our spiritual journey, we walk away instead of digging and really studying. We stop investigating and asking questions and seeking God. Many convince themselves it is just not worth the time and effort and not that important or that no one would care to help you figure it out, so many stop seeking and caring about their spiritual well being. For those of you who may be new to this sight - my desire is for all to understand that one's physical, mental, emotional well being are all tied in with their spiritual well being. We were created as a one beautifully woven tapestry - and all areas are crucial to take care of. QUESTION : Have you ever been in a situation where you caught someone lying, or heard some gossip of a friend? - Did it bother you? - Did you try to find out if it was true so you could clear up the false gossip? - How did you figure it out the lie or the truth about the gossip? - Or would you even try to figure out if it was true or not? It is important in your spiritual journey to ask questions to those who you trust that may know more than you in that area, do research on books to help you in your spiritual journey (outside of the Bible - though that is the best place to get to know the real God and His story.) The Book, "Cold - Case Christianity" by J. Warner Wallace tells us there are four areas we need to look at when investigating Christianity. https://www.amazon.com/Cold-Case-Christianity-Homicide-Detective- 1. Control your assumptions – Understand that you bring a lot of your own thoughts and beliefs into your spiritual quest for truth, so try not to think you know everything and be willing to listen. 2. Abducting reasoning – Understand the difference between what is possible and what is reasonable. 3. Direct Evidence – Investigating crimes involve talking to eye witnesses (we obviously cannot do this today as Jesus lived a couple thousand years ago - but we can read the testimonies of eye witnesses of His life, His death and His resurrection. 4. Circumstantial Evidence – The nature of cold cases are based old cases, so they have to use as many pieces of evidence they can to build their case. God desires a relationship with His creation. He desires us to truly know Him so He had 40 authors write the Bible over a period of 1,500 years. These Bible writers wrote as they were inspired by the Holy Spirit 2 Timothy 3:16-17 . Luke 1 “Many people have set out to write accounts about the events that have been fulfilled among us. 2 They used the eyewitness reports circulating among us from the early disciples. 3 Having carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I also have decided to write an accurate account for you, most honorable Theophilus, 4 so you can be certain of the truth of everything you were taught.” 2 Peter 1:16 “For we were not making up clever stories when we told you about the powerful coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. We saw his majestic splendor with our own eyes” Acts 17:11 tells us that we need to study and "receive the message with great eagerness" and "examine the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul (and all scripture) is true. Why study? Why should you keep pursuing truth? Because it is written in our soul to find truth, purpose and our Creator- it is the longing of our heart and the place where ultimate peace will be found. So, why might we all struggle to seek for truth about God ? 1. The struggle with absolute truth 2. What or who to believe with so many world views, religions and varying arguments for everyone’s "own truths," in our world today- 3. Past hurts and disappointments with religion and or God 4. Trusting those who say they are experts can be hard when there has been corruption, deception, abuse, and scandals within religions 5. Or maybe because we just don’t see enough Christians actually being Christ followers 1 John 4:20 says it best, "Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen." Mark 12:30-31 tells us that to truly live like God calls us to live we need to understand loving Him is where true love will pour out from us so that we can better love others they way He first loved and invited us to have a relationship with Him. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” If you are searching for the truth of Christianity - starting with Jesus is the best place. I would encourage you to not just look at Him as a teacher or the greatest humanitarian that ever lived, but to ask God to show you Himself in His Son Jesus, and how Jesus spoke about His Father God and the Holy Spirit and how they all are One and in a perfect unified relationship - a relationship God is inviting you to be a part of as well. Here is a great video by J. Warner Wallace "Why Every Spiritual Seeker Should Start with Jesus" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YbcOaM5huv8
Skeptics of Christianity Part 2 content media
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Tiffany DeMars
Oct 11, 2021
In Search for Truth
Though many in our nation and even in your community would claim to be Christians - In a world of instant access to information all around the world through our phones – 24 hours a day - many question whether Christianity is in fact - true - or maybe it is just one of many ways to “Heaven” or some sort of after - life - if there even is an afterlife – maybe we just die and cease to exist? Many would say that Christianity is just a claim about an event and person from long ago - which there is little or no (forensic) evidence for. With all the information out there, how does one really know what to believe? What is truth? 2. Is there absolute truth? 3. Can anyone trust those who say they are experts when there has been corruption, deception, abuse, scandals, varying arguments for everyone’s “Own Truth?” God doesn’t ask us to follow Him blindly – In the Bible we are told in the book of 1 Thessalonians 5:21 “to test everything; hold fast what is good.” And in the book of Acts 17:11, we are told that when we hear and "receive the word with eagerness, we need to always be examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things are so.” As humans we view life through our own human lens - so when dealing with questions about spiritual issues, we need to try to remove our human lenses slightly and put on spiritual lens and be open to hear and see life from a different set of lenses - (Not that we stop thinking and processing information) - but in order to begin a spiritual journey - we have realize it's not our domain and that we need to seek to find the Creator of that domain - and that Creator is God. So as we begin, I would encourage you to: Ask - Seek - and Knock - because God promises to reveal Himself to a heart that truly seeks Him. “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. - Matthew 7:7-8 Questions: 1. How do you define “Faith?” – Hebrews 11:1 “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the confidence in what we do not see.” Example- When you go to sit on a chair- is your first thought - Will it hold you? Most likely not, you just sit on it. (Unless it is a very small child's chair, then maybe not.) How do you know that you can sit on that chair? -Past experiences, chairs are made to hold people (to a certain weight), you have seen others sit on chairs and chairs don't often times break, you have been taught how they have been made and what materials they were made with that are sturdy. Most often, we don’t even question it or think about it because it’s just what we have always done - we have faith it will hold us based on the previous reasons. 2. Is putting your Trust in Jesus easy? John 6:47 “He who believes in Me has everlasting life.” People all over the world have heard stories about Jesus. Many have have been taught about Jesus, raised in Christian homes, or have experienced some good things because of Jesus and Christianity, or have seen how Jesus has had a positive and healing impact in other’s lives. Maybe you agree with a lot of what Christianity stands for and defends and fights on the behalf of - or maybe you have never questioned it and just simply believed it to be true because you were just raised in it. But for many, you just don’t know what to believe and don’t know what to even think about it. 3. Is just believing enough? 1 Corinthians 15:1-7 “Let me now remind you, dear brothers and sisters, of the Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then, and you still stand firm in it. 2 It is this Good News that saves you if you continue to believe the message I told you—unless, of course, you believed in vain.” Example - Just because you believe the chair will hold you – doesn’t actually make you true believer in the chair until you put your belief into action and go - and actually sit on the chair that you have placed your “faith and trust in” – then and only then – are you a true believer in the chair and all that comes with that chair. - What does “Believed in Vain” mean? It means that we can believe in something but it is an empty faith – a meaningless faith- like you saying you believe the chair will hold you – but never actually going and sitting on it – therefore you will continue to stand and your feet and body will not find relief from putting your trust in that chair. Empty faith in God will not accomplish anything in your life and will leave you empty as well – tired from never going to Jesus and surrendering in faith that He will take you and receive you and give you rest. “Faith” means more than just believing some facts - It means you are depending, trusting, and relying on Jesus. Putting our faith in something and someone - especially in God - can be for many incredibly difficult and even scary because of past hurt, disappointments, abuse and false teachings that have caused you pain. Here are a few things to leave you with for this post: It is possible for Christians and non-Christians to believe the first 3 of the following statements – 1. Jesus died on the cross and was buried 2. Jesus’s tomb was empty and no none ever produced His body 3. Jesus’s disciples believed that they saw Jesus resurrected from the dead **But - only the 4th one is the game changer** 4. Jesus’s disciple’s lives were transformed due to the resurrection of Jesus – and so was culture following the resurrection Many can believe certain truths about Jesus – but that doesn’t make them true followers Just like with the 4th statement – “Jesus’s disciple’s lives were transformed due to the resurrection of Jesus – and so was culture following the resurrection” Some things to ponder over after Christ rose from the dead: 1. He appeared to more than 500 at the same time, most of whom are still living” I Corinthians 15: 3-6 tells us this. 2. The explosive growth of the Christian movement. Within a few weeks after Jesus was crucified, a movement arose which, by the later admission of its enemies, “upset the world.” What happened to ignite this movement shortly after its leader had been executed? 3. The disciples’ changed lives. After Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion, most of the disciples fled in fear. Peter denied three times that he was a follower of Jesus. (The women were braver and stayed to the end.) Yet 10 out of the 11 Disciples (Judas committed suicide) were martyred for their faith. According to traditions, Peter was crucified upside down; Thomas was skewered; John was boiled in oil but survived. What turned these cowards into heroes? Each believed he had seen Jesus alive again. The disciples didn’t just believe in Jesus because they saw cool things with Him, or heard Him preach and felt inspired by feel good messages. So, what made them true believers in Him? I would encourage you to find a bible online or buy one in a store and begin reading about what Jesus's disciples did with Jesus in their own personal lives and how they lived out their lives to the best of their ability with the God’s help – living obediently for Him and putting their trust in Him – even for many throughout all history – to their awful deaths.
Skeptics of Christianity Part 1 content media
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Tiffany DeMars
Jul 16, 2021
In Search for Truth
So- what does it mean to fall in love with Jesus? How and where do you start? Like with any relationship, you need to get to know Him. That kind of knowledge takes time and commitment, just like with any close relationship you have. Jesus invites you to “abide” in His love — to rest and stay in His love always knowing you are in His arms and under His protection — in Christ. God doesn’t want you to stand at a distance looking at Him; he wants to draw you in and for you to come to understand He is closer than a whisper. In John 15:9, He said, “‘As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now REMAIN in my love.’” -Obedience is the best place to start. When we are right with God we are at peace. No healthy relationship can have tension or division. -Talking with Him like you would with any other person you know, love and trust is crucial to getting to know Him and build your relationship. -Reading His word is an absolute must- how else will you grow to know His heart and will and His ways? Jesus wants our affections and our emotions; to be the longing of your heart. For many, following God is a head knowledge, intellectual, and academic experience. They go to church, they may read their Bibles, they say their prayers before meals and before bedtime, and sometimes in between, but that’s as far as it goes. They know who Jesus is, believe He is the Son of God who died for their sins and choose to follow Him and do their best to live good moral lives. But... to fall in love with Jesus; it must move from your head to your heart. Jesus is a real person, not just someone to be studied. Think of a person that you love dearly, that you feel close and safe with, someone you trust with everything, that you can talk about anything with, knowing they will love you, and encourage you, and always be there for you. Do you feel loved by this person? Do you love being with this person? Do you look forward to spending time with this person? Of course you do because it is a two way loving relationship. They love and care for you, and you love to love and care for them. Maybe you’ve heard this saying, “The longest journey is the 18 inches from your head to your heart.” Think about what that is saying: What you think and what you feel are totally different. There can be a disconnect, and it may feel like a long way apart. So, “The gospel is in my head, but it isn’t in my heart.” If you feel that the gospel hasn’t grabbed a hold of your heart or really changed you, you’ll be tempted to keep looking for some kind of emotional experience that will that void. The problem isn’t that the truth needs to make a long journey from the head to the heart. The problem is that the gospel truth your the mind isn’t big enough or real enough to capture your heart, so it makes very little difference to how you actually live your life. So, when you read about Jesus standing by a shamed woman, in John 8, calling out the sin of others as they were wanting to stone her; put yourself in her shoes and Jesus doing that for you. How does that make you feel? If this was the person I asked you to think about earlier, how would you respond to that person? How would it move your heart towards them? What feelings would this well up within you? Remember when Jesus stood at a well in John 4, talking to another woman who had been shunned because of her life choices; picture Him talking to you despite how others may talk based on your life choices. Then stand stand in the crowd and watch, listen, and experience Jesus endure false accusations, being betrayed by His friends, being beaten and then nailed to a cross; all the while knowing it should be you, and that His Father’s face turned away from His precious Son, so you could be free from the punishment of sin- Oh, how that should move your heart to love Him more. (Read more here - https://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-stories/crucifixion-of-jesus-bible-story.html) Another way to help you fall in love with Jesus is to look back on your life and to see how He has cared for you by putting people in your life that have loved you, cared for you. This should stir in you to live with a grateful heart for His grace and goodness, and His kindness and new mercies upon you each day. There are so many reasons to love Jesus. As you awake each morning, ask Jesus to open your eyes to see His beauty, and to fill your heart with His love so that your love for Him may abound more and more as you abide in Him, by walking in His ways.
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Tiffany DeMars
Jun 27, 2021
In In this together
There comes a point in all our lives that we become aware of what I call our "balls and chains." What do I mean by this? Merriam Webster's Dictionary defines it as this: "Something that limits one's freedom or ability to do things." For some that ball chain could be drugs, or pornography, or an eating disorder. Maybe yours isn't "that intense." Maybe yours might just be a bad habit that you have not been able to break from that keeps pulling you back into unhealthy behaviors or causes you to make bad decisions. You might be shocked to hear that we all struggle (to some level) with "ball and chain" behaviors and lifestyles. Stop for a moment and think about one thing you'd like to see change or find freedom from in your life because it drains you, causes you pain, regret and/or shame, or it simply just keeps you feeling stuck. Our ball and chains can cause us (and others) great pain and haunt us for years. They can also cause us daily pain and mess up our lives. Join me in this first step in finding freedom: 1. Do what was just suggested - stop and think and look at your life. 2. Begin a devotional journal that you can write out the steps that God is going to lead you on in your journey towards freedom and maybe some scripture that will help in that area. 3. Pray and ask God to show you areas and truths you need to see about yourself, those around you, and anything that is attached to ball that you are chained to. 4. Read the Bible. Start with small portions. Start in the book of John to learn more about Jesus. Look up or Google bible verses that pertain to your struggles, freedom in Christ, God's healing and peace, etc. 5. Invite a trusted friend or family member to walk alongside you to care for your heart and mind and to hold you up in prayer as you go through this journey. If you don't have one - message me - find a church our counselor to talk with. 6. Finally - put whatever level of trust you may have or can muster into God's hands - and start telling Him all about whatever it is you are feeling and going through - God can handle your anger, hurt and honesty. Let's look at Isaiah 57:18 NET "I have seen their behavior, but I will heal them. I will lead them, and I will provide comfort to them and those who mourn with them." Let's break this down: God sees us and our behaviors and decisions He chooses to heal us He will lead us. He will provide comfort to us *and to those who mourn with us. This is good news my friend! I know many wrestle with the reality that God sees us in our suffering and "doesn't do anything to rescue us." That topic is for another day. Today I want you to rest in these truths: -God sees you and will heal you- -Then He promises to lead you and provide comfort to you at ever level of your being - even to those around you who love and care for you as well. In Luke 4:16-21 "Jesus went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day He went into the synagogue, as was His custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah (61) was handed to Him. Unrolling it, He found the place where it is written: 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Jesus came to set captives free - let's begin that journey together today. Will you take a step of faith towards Him? He took the first step towards you by inviting you to get to know Him by sending His Son Jesus. He has given us His word to give us wisdom, direction, comfort, truth and to repeatedly speak of His great love for us. Let's pray and invite Him to help us begin this journey towards your healing. "Lord, we come to You with our hurt and pain, and our distrust and fear and invite You to come into the mess of our lives and begin the process of healing and freeing us. Thank You for Your desire to love us in our mess. Amen" “The Lord is my strength and my song; He has become my victory. He is my God, and I will praise Him. He is my father’s God, and I will exalt Him! The Lord is a warrior; yes, the Lord is His name!” Exodus 15:2-3
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Tiffany DeMars
May 26, 2021
In Search for Truth
1. God tells us in His Word that His Son, Jesus Christ, had to die for our sins: (1 Corinthians 15:3b-4) "Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” 2. God also tells us through His written testimony of His Son that Jesus was sinless - (2 Corinthians 5:21) "For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ." 3. God created earth and humans perfectly, but shortly after creation, Adam and Eve were led into the temptation by Satan and disobeyed God. Ever since Adam’s sin, sin has infected the human race like a destructive cancer. Each person is guilty: (Romans 3:23) “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” 4. Since God is altogether holy, sacred, set apart or separate from His creation. God is totally different from us as He is spirit and He is the standard of perfection and goodness. Therefore He sets the standard and because He is holy- there is no sin found in Him. (John 4:24) "God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” (1 Samuel 2:2) “There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God. Since we have the curse of sin within each of us, we can never reach the level of perfection that God would need for us to have to allow us into heaven. Does this sound cruel? God's reasoning for this is not cruel at all. Let me explain why. When you hear people say, "God is love," or "God is good," you have to understand what those words mean. If God is love and if He is truly good, than He must punish sin, otherwise He would be cruel and evil. A judge who let's abusers, rapists, liars and swindlers off the hook is not a good judge- he is an evil or crooked judge. Likewise, God is the ultimate judge and He will not overlook sin. Those who choose reject God's love, goodness, and the grace offered to us by way of His Son's death, will pay for their sin by suffering eternal death in hell: (Romans 6:23a) “For the wages of sin is death.” This is why Jesus had to die. On the cross, Jesus took upon Himself the punishment of our sin and upon His death, He cried out, “It is finished”(John 19:30b) . Jesus finished paying the punishment for sin as the perfect Lamb of God. 5. God tells us that, (Romans 5:6-8) "While we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Jesus had to die because He is the only perfect human to provide the only way to eternal life. Jesus is eternally one with God, so God the Father sent His Son to earth. (John 3:16) "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." Jesus was born in human flesh to a virgin named Mary and God tells us again in (Matthew 17:5) "...a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” John the Baptist also tells us of His experience with seeing Jesus, (John 1:29) "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! If God has been nudging at your heart while you have been reading this, or maybe He has been nudging you to consider Jesus and what He has done for you already and that is what led you here. Here are next steps you need to take to make that relationship with God complete and start experiencing the freedom and love that comes in a relationship with Christ. The Romans Road to Salvation Meaning: All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). The wages of sin is [eternal] death (Romans 6:23). The free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23b). Confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead (Romans 10:9). If you have never understood how to become a follower of Christ verses just being religious or spiritual or attending church, today would be a great day for you to begin that relationship with Jesus - It's quite simple - have a conversation with God - about the 4 steps above. There is no magical prayer - just these A.C.T.S of the Romans Road 1. Acknowledgement of you are a sinner and in need of the saving work of Jesus 2. Confessing that Jesus is Lord like Romans tells you 3. Thanking Christ for His death and resurrection on your behalf so that you can be in a right relationship with God the Father 4. Seek Him daily through His word and prayer and getting involved in a bible preaching church and community of Christ followers who will encourage you, pray for you, and walk this journey alongside you
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Tiffany DeMars
May 14, 2021
In Search for Truth
Today I want to share a video with you that I found to be helpful in trying to understand God better. Many have heard of Jesus - But what do many believe about Jesus? Who do they say he is? Here are some perceptions of Jesus, based on recent Barna Group research. 1. The Majority Believe Jesus Was a Real Person 2. Younger Generations Are Increasingly Less Likely to Believe Jesus Was God - That He Was More of a Moral Teacher 3. Many Are Divided on Whether Jesus Was Sinless 4. Many Are Conflicted Between “Salvation by Jesus Alone” and “Doing Good Deeds” as the Way to Heaven The following is a quote to lead you into the video to follow. C.S. Lewis Quote on Jesus as Liar, Lunatic, or Lord from Mere Christianity “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him [that is, Christ]: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic–on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg–or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse…. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” This video gives us a good look at the real Jesus and some really good things to ponder. I hope it blesses you and helps you, or someone you know who is wrestling with questions about, "Who the real Jesus is" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oWvc7WLKRKk&t=23s
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Tiffany DeMars
May 13, 2021
In Search for Truth
I last shared on how creation is evidence for the existence of God. Psalm 19:1-2 says, "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge" I also shared that "The fact that at some point in our lives we will wrestle with this question, reveals that God has written into our souls a longing for there to be a God. Ecclesiastes 3:11 "He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet, no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end." Today I invite you to think with me for a moment on just how amazing the human body is and how truly incredible it is that we have such a diverse amount of living species that dwell among us. Truly, it is mind blowing to think about. The mighty king of the jungle, with his lion's mane and piercing eyes, and the force of his roar that causes dust clouds. Oh what a beast to stand in awe of - that is some force! Surely one to be reckoned with! The lanky, spotted, long necked giraffe with legs standing six feet tall as well as their necks, and their hearts are a thumping two feet long - truly remarkable animals. Did you know that despite the enormous size of a baleen whale, they typically have very small throats, roughly the size of a quarter? Or that a blue whale cannot swallow an object wider than a beach ball? Did you know there was such a thing as a Venezuelan poodle moth? I sure didn't, but when you google, "Most unique animals in the world" you'll find him, along with many other amazing animals like the Saiga Antelope who is a goat-like small animal with a huge nose whose insides are very complex says National Geographic. If you have time, hop on the internet and read up on some of God's unique species- or better yet - get out on nature walk and see what evidences of His handy work you can find on your own and then read up on them. The vastness of God's creative design amongst His creation is endless. Only One who has an intellectual mind could design such magnificent creatures of all sizes and shapes with such unique distinctions - and I have not even gotten to His prized creation - Humans. Psalm 139:14, "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." The greatest of all creations are the human race. Just think about your brain and all it is doing at one time- Our brain is the center of the most complex computer system - more wonderful than any "greatest computer system" built by man. Have you ever thought about the complexity of your ear and how that operates? The sound we hear is being played on a perfect little musical instrument inside our ear. How amazing is that! Every organ and every muscle, every hair and every cell, with life giving blood pulsing through your veins. Now add our diverse personalities, talents and interests - likes and dislikes - feelings and thoughts. The beauty of God's diverse color of skin tones and cultures. And in case you didn't already know this - you are a spiritual being with a soul and conscience - and knowing of what is right and what is wrong written deep with you that was meant to guide you to keep you safe. All of this mixed together is truly a miracle that no human could create on their own - living beings this complex could not come from nothing - only One with supernatural power, intelligence, and creative purpose could design and form such unbelievable creatures. The human body and all of God's uniquely formed living beings are wonderful creations, made with thought out purpose and design for life to coexist on this planet and to benefit each other and to point us to a Creator to be amazed and in awe of His goodness and beauty and power. The fact that animals and humans can coexist and how our bodies work, is a complete demonstration that they are the work of an intelligent and skillful designer, God Himself. "So, God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him, male and female He created them. Genesis 1:27
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Tiffany DeMars
May 05, 2021
In Search for Truth
The fact that at some point in our lives we will wrestle with this question, reveals that God has written into our souls a longing for there to be a God. Ecclesiastes 3:11 "He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet, no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end." From God's vantage point we hear Him telling us how He has revealed Himself through the written Word of God. Let's look at one point today: 1. He has revealed Himself through what he has made. Psalm 19:1-2 says, "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge" Romans 1:19-20 Paul adds, "For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse." Psalm 139:13-18, "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand— when I awake, I am still with you." Nature points us to Him. Our human bodies point us to Him. The galaxy itself shouts there is a God! Just look at all of God's creation in all it's beauty; from a fragrant flower to the vast galaxy, from a sweet, juicy peach to the fierceness of the lion's roar, from the baby in a mother's womb to the smallest of amino acids, God has designed it all exactly how He desired it to be - displaying His wisdom, His beauty, His creative mind, and His power, and so much more. What you believe about God will have a direct impact on how you view your identity, your purpose and your values that will affect almost every area of your life, including how you: 1. Think and feel 2. The way you react to circumstances 3. How you approach God (and other relationships) To help guide you – you have to ask yourself some questions: 1. What is guiding your core beliefs? Are they grounded in truth or feelings? Are they based on what others believe about you? Are they based on passed life experiences (good or bad)? Are they influenced by your culture and peers? Are they constantly shifting with the opinions of others or your own emotions? 2. Or, is what you believe about God found in the truth of God’s word and who HE says He is?
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Tiffany DeMars

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I'm just a girl who has come to know the deep love of God

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