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Is There a Line Anymore?

Judges 21:25 says “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.

Historians will tell you that we must never forget the past, for when we do, we will surely repeat the mistakes of old. Have you ever personally done this? I know we can look through history and see example after example of people and countries trying to do the same thing that had already failed them once before. Maybe you know of some specific examples?

Today I’m challenged considering how over history, when people abandon God’s plan, they always end up coming back to God and begging for forgiveness. It does not fail. Over and over the Israelites went through this crazy cycle. Many people also personally go through this cycle of fighting God’s plan in their lives only to come to the foot of the cross in repentance when they realize the folly of their “own plan”.

So, how does this statement, “everyone did as he saw fit” from Judges, which is the very last verse of the entire book, become relevant today? In the USA I see this mentality becoming the norm. Don’t you? Nobody is allowed to tell anyone they are wrong. There are riots over the simplest things. The Satanic Temple is suing over a Nativity Scene, really! (1) Where is the line to be drawn? It must be drawn! We know this from history and we delude ourselves if we think it will not keep moving.Crossing-the-Line-300x191

The government in the USA is by the people, for the people and of the people. Too many of us do not care, and we are seeing the results. Believe it or not LAW is not TRUTH. Law is made my man; Truth comes from God. Laws change, truth does not. Argue about this fact all you want, but it’s true.

Everyone does as they see fit, and if they cannot, they throw a tantrum. So many of us are like whiny, undisciplined kids! Think about it! No one acts as a parent anymore, we all just run around with not an ounce of self-control and look where we are today. If you are thinking that things are great and so much better, you are one of those undisciplined kids who has truly missed the big picture. I’m so sorry.

When Israel got done whining about not having a King like all the rest of the countries around them (envy), God relented so they could learn a lesson. Israel ended up being split into 2 kingdoms, Judah and Israel, wars were aplenty, then came Persian and Babylonian enslavements, and the list goes on and on. All they had to do was trust in the Truth God presented. It IS that simple.

Is there a line anymore? Absolutely, so many of us just can’t see it, or chose to ignore it. It’s not okay to think everything should be okay; lines must be drawn or else everyone will continue walking off the cliff of ignorance.

(1) http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2015/04/07/satanic-temple-sues-indiana-county-over-courthouse-nativity-scene/

Spiritual Unemployment

I’ve been in too many grocery stores where it seems that a tornado went through and rearranged everything randomly so that I could have a “fun” challenge to find what I was looking for that day. Maybe you’ve shared my experience? My thoughts…? …Where are all the workers? Why are they not doing their jobs!!! How about trying to find an employee to ask a question at a hardware store? Yep, same question. Where is everyone? I need help after all!

Now, before you get too sucked into a handful of bad memories, think about some history. Maybe your history. Have you ever been in a job where you felt overwhelmed, felt that management should provide more workers to get the job done? What happens all too often today is what? Yes, the company cuts the workforce even further and expects you to work EVEN MORE! Crazy and infuriating, correct?

The fact of expecting more from workers is in the blood of our nation historically. This attitude is a failing and not a strength. Maybe you disagree, but I doubt it.

Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”LordofHarvest2_987450940

Jesus recognized the problem that we are all too well acquainted with! This passage from the end of Matthew 9 is regarding Jesus sending out the disciples. Whether you are a Christian or not, you most likely know that Jesus did a lot of work over a short period of time (3 years or so). If he hadn’t, then there would be no way the Christian faith would still be around today. Or am I wrong about that theory?

Let’s think this through. Jesus did turn a lot of heads and did die for ALL sin, so I’m not belittling the sacrifice. I am going to say that it wasn’t really Jesus who propagated the Christian faith. It was the workers. Read that passage again. Jesus tells his disciples to pray for workers to be send out. Doesn’t Jesus know that he IS sending out his Disciples? Of course he does! Jesus knows that there needs to be a lot of workers!! Note that in this instance he didn’t say to pray for those that needed help…he said to pray for workers. I don’t think we do this…and we wonder why there are billions of unbelievers and starving people around the world.  Hmm.

So, are you a worker? Do you pray for workers to go into the “harvest fields”? You see, in our culture we have failed to study, to really read the words of Jesus in many ways. We sit at home, we read about other people doing the work, we wonder why things aren’t getting better…. We are sickened at the disarray of the Church, sad that more people have not come to faith in Christ, and lost as to how to do anything about it…

In much the same way, we are baffled at poorly kept grocery shelves, no help to find the garage door part we need and having to do the work of three people. Do you see any links here?

  • We need to pray for workers to enter the mission field, Jesus said to do this.
  • We need to stop and listen and be a part of the solution
  • We need to look in the mirror at our culture to see exactly why our faith is so weak.

You may be employed at a job, but are you spiritually unemployed? What are you going to do about it? You might want to consider starting to pray. After all, in many places like South Korea they fill stadiums up at 4am to do nothing but pray. What are we missing?  They fill stadiums just to pray.  We ARE missing something.

Thanks God and to David Platt whose book Radical inspired my thoughts today.

The Lost Ability to Cope

https://i2.wp.com/glamslamtennis.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/Anger-Post.jpgI had to cope with waiting in line at the BMV – boring!  I had to cope with riding in the car for 1 hour with nothing to do!

The idea of coping with things in life has almost gone by the wayside.  Let me explain.

Technology now allows us to have entertainment at our fingertips 24/7.  No more boring waiting rooms, or heaven forbid the need to read a magazine.  No more gazing out at the countryside as the car travels quickly down the interstate.  No more coping skills being developed…

Have you ever considered that developing coping skills may be extremely important?  I believe that a lack of coping skills helps to develop a world class complainer.  Waa Waa Waa.   Sure, coping with losing a game on a DS or 3DS can be oh so traumatic, but wait, all we need to do is reset the game and start over until we get the result we want….again, no coping skills being developed.  Sports allow for some coping skills to be learned, but really, when EVERYONE gets to make the team nowadays how is that realistic for training a young person for life?  Do we even pray anymore?

Will your young one be yet another young adult who feels entitled to everything life has to offer?  You might ask how in the world I can jump from coping with riding in a car or losing a video game to how a young adult may struggle in life after mommy and daddy?  I tell you (and you know it) real life is full of disappointment and the need to know how to gracefully deal with it.  We don’t need to be raising a bunch of complainers.  I know because my generation was on the “imaginary line” between dealing with real life all the time and having instant comfort all the time.

My faith even warns me of this time:

2 Timothy 3:1-5 (NIV)
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

Whether you adhere to the the words of the Bible or not, I’m quite sure we don’t want the next generation to be whiny, lacking self-control, complaining all the time and unable to cope with the real world.  I see it in my son, even with all my efforts to teach him, he is unable to cope with everyday life much of the time.  He has many outlets, TV, video games, but he has healthy responses too like reading and hobbies learning about and watching birds.  I pray I am able to give him balance, since he must also live in this fast paced self serving world… This world where it is all too apparent that the love of pleasure in all forms has replaced the idea of loving God.  I struggle with this!

So, how do we cope with life?  Have we forgotten to teach about gazing upon the wonders of God’s creation as we drive down the road?  Have we forgotten the Spirit of sharing our faith with our neighbor in line at the BMV?  Have we tossed in the towel and become self serving without realizing it?  Are we boastful and proud, lovers of money, rash, conceited and most of all have we grasped a hold of a form of godliness but denied it’s power (i.e. giving to a good cause yet never being an active part of the cause)?  A huge part of life is learning to cope and handle the challenges placed before us, not to ignore them and bury ourselves in something “that we want to do“.  Digest this challenge and make changes to your life first, then show your young ones what it’s all about.

Parables that can really make you think

Have you ever completely ignored advice or someone’s request?  What was the situation?

In reading Mark 12 today, I came across the parable of the tenants.  This reading made me consider something I’ve never thought about before (imagine that!).

So, here’s the setup.  A man buys, sets up and grows grapes to make a nice vineyard.  He leaves and “rents” it out to some people.  He keeps sending some of his servants back to the vineyard to get some of the grapes to bring back home.  The tenants keep beating or killing the servants and the owner never gets any grapes.  Finally, the owner sends his son thinking the tenants will respect him.  Nope.  They kill his son.  The owner is a bit upset, and the tenants get what they deserve, death.  The owner then gives the vineyard to others.

So, the question, how does this apply to me?

Think about it.  How often have you been approached by someone to give of yourself for some cause?  How often have you been nudged to consider going on a mission trip to help someone or some project?  How often have you been asked to get involved at church?  How often have you been asked to give monetarily to a worthy cause?

God gave us all WORTH, VALUE.  We have godly GIFTS, if we have the Holy Spirit in us.  These gifts are different than our human talents.  God gave us these SPIRITUAL GIFTS and God expects us to use them!  If we choose not to use them, then we choose to beat, kill and kick out the servants of God who come and ask us to give back some of what God gave us.

I’ll repeat that.  When we ignore the requests, the opportunities to use our God given gifts, we spit on God and what he gave us to use.  If you don’t know what SPIRITUAL GIFTS you have been given, then are you truly saved?  Do you even care about the “vineyard” you are renting?  Are you standing knee-deep in the winepress and don’t even know your legs are stained?

What happens to those who ignore the gifts God offers?  Death.

The typical biblical pattern for receiving the Holy Spirit is through Baptism.  Baptism is modeled as something you do when you REPENT and BELIEVE in Christ as your Savior.  Have you been baptized like Jesus was?  Immersed.  Have you been baptized when you had a knowingly repentant heart full of belief in the Savior?  Sorry, as a baby you didn’t repent or believe.  Think about it.  Again, the Holy Spirit is promised at the time of baptism, and the Holy Spirit is what gives you your Spiritual Gift(s).  Yep, it can be complicated, yet it can also be so simple.  Here I go getting into baptism again when this post is really about Spiritual gifts!!!!  Don’t beat and kill the messenger!

One of many surveys that help you pinpoint SPIRITUAL GIFTS. The key is to answer these questions honestly and maybe even ask someone close to you what they think the answer is regarding you.

BLESSINGS!

Your Family & the Living God

A couple phrases from I Timothy 3 that caught my attention.  The first,

“If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?”

is a pretty tough, yet relevant observation that Paul writes!  Paul is writing about church leaders, elders, deacon, etc.  Is your church leadership “above reproach”?  In layman’s terms, are they honorable? Trustworthy?  I think this observation should also be considered by every Christian.  Are you taking care of your own family?  Are you placing yourself first, where you maybe shouldn’t be?  If you can’t manage your own family, how then can you take care of your relationship with God?  Hmm.

Also, at the end of this chapter I read,

“the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.”

I’m not sure why, but I had to keep reading this part.  “living God”.  We are the Church.  We are the Church of the Living God.  Do you grasp that?  Every Christian needs to reflect on this.  The pillar and foundation of truth.  Truth is held on high on a pillar.  The Church of the Living God is its foundation and the means by which the Truth is raised up upon a pillar.  Think about how important that is.  Reflect on these thoughts today.  Please do.

If the Church is not lead by honorable leaders, then it’s foundation falters and the Truth is lost.  If your family is not lead in an honorable fashion, could it too be lost?

One God, One Mediator

I’ve been reading the same short chapter over and over this week.  Maybe it was an experiment.  I really felt that God would place something on my heart.  I felt He would make something in this text really stick out.  Well, it worked.  It may be controversial.  I will be obedient and share.  Who do you pray to?

From 1 Timothy Chapter 2 (NIV)

I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone–
for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.
This is good, and pleases God our Savior,
who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,
who gave himself as a ransom for all men–the testimony given in its proper time.

Obviously, Paul is discussing prayer here.  He’s writing to Timothy.  It’s actually a great model to remember.  We must pray for our leaders, for everyone, but that is not what is on my heart.

I have long been uncomfortable with some other denominations & Catholic family & friends praying to Mary or to a dead relative to “intercede” or “deliver” a prayer to God.  Jesus was and is the mediator.  We are even told in Romans 8:26 that the Holy Spirit will “intercede” or “correct” our prayers when we don’t know what to say.  So, we have Jesus as the only mediator, we have the Holy Spirit in us, yet some pray to dead humans?  I don’t get it.  We can pray directly to Jesus and the Holy Spirit will help us in our prayers.  Why not pray to The Creator?  Seems like a much better option.  Kind of like if the President actually asked you to call him on his personal cell phone anytime and he would listen.  Would you instead call an aide, or your Congressman?  Actually, that’s probably a bad example as I wouldn’t call our current President, but that’s another issue.

To me, praying to others like Mary has always felt like ignoring your bosses open door policy and instead writing an email to the secretary.  Does that make sense?  I really don’t mean to offend anyone, yet I do challenge you to think about it.  To me it feels like setting an idol up in front of you that you are more comfortable with instead of praying to God who you cannot see.  My thinking says if you ask your dead relative or Mary to help you, then you are replacing God with something else.  That is clearly idolatry to me.  If you argue semantics and try to justify praying to someone other than God/Jesus, then I think you really need to study this subject from a biblical standpoint.  I know I’m not perfect and may be missing something, but I don’t think so.  Again, I challenge you to think about this, that is all I hope to stir up. However, feel free to post a comment for discussion!

What’s in a Commandment? #10 – Coveting

How many of you were just waiting and waiting and wanting to read this last post of the Ten Commandments?  Come on. Were you coveting this post?  If you were, please reconsider your day job.  :)

10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

In a nutshell, we aren’t supposed to sit around thinking about what someone else has, you know the phrase, “Keeping up with the Jones”?  They have it, we want it, we go out and buy something to make ourselves feel good…we can now say we have it too!  Doesn’t this stem from coveting or wanting what our “neighbor” has?  Do you like their new pool?  How about that new lawnmower?  We know it’s wrong to steal (we talked about that commandment already), so coveting doesn’t get the job done.  We head out and buy something and this fills the void until we covet again.

We all know that having strong desires can lead to murder, stealing, lying etc.  Coveting kind of falls into the “pre-existing” condition category of many other sins.  When we covet what someone else has, it can lead to all sorts of bad actions.