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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.

What would Satan do?

Listen. Sometimes you have to give an article a flashy title to get people interested, okay? In this case though, this is exactly what I’m going to be talking about.

If you have ever read the biblical account of Job, then you may know Job went through hell on earth by being tested through several trials, like disease, loss of family, loss of wealth, loss of respect and all at the hands of Satan. See my old post “What Happened to Job“, if you care to read about this great story. We learn in the book of Job that Satan has been allowed many “abilities”, some of which allow him to do great harm and manipulation in our world.

First, let’s backtrack and set the stage. Most of my readers live in the USA and for the most part we live in a culture that epitomizes the American Dream. The dream that we can make ourselves into whatever we want. We can work hard and get whatever we want. We can make it happen if we try. Sounds good on the surface doesn’t it?

Now, let’s dig into this ideology. We see words like ourselves and we in the definition above which equates to me, myself and I. Are you with me? Good. I thought this would be easy for you. Moving on, we can easily see that this American Dream concept has also translated into an “I want this”, and an “I want that” mentality. A mentality of materialism.materialism

Next, we can look at how we live. Why do we dream? Isn’t it to make money so we can buy something or earn respect in someone’s eyes or provide a grand lifestyle? I like a statement I’ve heard my pastor and others proclaim.

We work so we can buy something we don’t need, so we can impress the people around us that we don’t even like or even care to know.

How sick and wrong is that? Can you honestly deny that you’ve taken part in this mentality? Now let’s transition to the meat of this rumination. What does the church look like in your neighborhood?

Let’s think about all of the church splits, church arguments about money, doctrinal battles and overall strife among denominations. Where does this come from? Obviously in the church, it comes from having an attitude like that of Christ and the concept of loving your neighbor as yourself, right? Ha! LOL! Where does it come from people? You tell me. How about, “I want this”, “I want that”? Hmm.

Sorry to say this, but I contend that the idea of the American Dream is a tool that Satan has used VERY well to get us to forget the real mission of the Church (with a capital C), so that we would spend our energy worrying about MY church (little c) and what type of music SHOULD be played. Our churches have become materialistic, our attitudes revolve around this concept and it shows.

In the bible Job was a righteous man and he was tested in oh so many ways. He passed the test and came out better in the end. How are we doing in the midst of our testing?  What do our attitudes truly show?

Jesus said, GO AND MAKE DISCIPLES OF ALL NATIONS

….oh, I’m not called to do that…I can’t, I have a church meeting about the building project…isn’t that the job of missionaries?…here, have some money so I feel like I’m a part of the work…this year I’m going on vacation maybe next year…I can’t give now because I have a cable bill, cell phone bill, car payment and credit card bill due.

What would Satan do?

In this case does he even…..need…..to do…..anything..…else?

Snake Oil Salesmen Did it Right

Back in the day, and I mean BACK, small towns would sometimes be graced with the presence of the traveling salesman. Sometimes what was sold would be “snake oil” or something pretty good! These guys made their way across the country, working hard.snake-oil-salesmen Today, we could equate this work to a talented inventor working diligently to get his idea out there to make a difference in their realm of influence. And, on a larger scale, a company advertising hard to let the world know about their products so they could grow and make a living for their employees.

It’s funny to me how snake oil salesman was the first thing I thought of for this post. After all, many people have equated this profession to the world of religion. There is a huge distinction that I will make though and it will make complete sense if you stick with me. First, let’s take a look at the Great Commission again (see last post).

Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and the Holy Spirit… (Matt 28:19)

In today’s church culture, it seems that we stick to our church buildings. We might talk to a neighbor, or do some meaningful work in the city, but for the most part we are not sharing the gospel are we? Think about that. If you are a born again Christian, true Catholic or committed to your denomination, meaning that you have stepped off the podium of life and placed Jesus on it, then how many people have you honestly shared the gospel with this past week, month, year(s)? I have to ask this question of myself too.

Let’s think back to the salesman, or the inventor, or the company looking to sell their goods and ideas. How successful would they have been if they just talked about helping people and served some food, but never talked about the real product they were invested in? What would it look like if they rode into town proclaiming they were a salesman but never explained what they were selling? WOW. Let’s read that again in a slightly different way.

What would it look like to proclaim to be a Christian, but never explain to anyone what that meant?

Hi, I’m a Christian! Yep, my calling is to proclaim the gospel to all nations! Here’s $10, I’ll pray for you! Here, have a meal, the potatoes are great tonight! Oh, you have questions? Here’s my church address…and my pastor’s phone number…

Are you uncomfortable yet? I hope so, since this is the church for the most part in the USA today with a few exceptions. Go and make disciples…this takes effort, commitment and time…of all nations…this means leaving your town, your country and getting the word out if you are able…baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit…this means taking the next step, coming alongside a new believer and bringing them into the Kingdom.

It’s not just the pastor’s job, it’s every Christians’ job. Be like the snake oil salesman, not in the product that they sell, but in the effort in which the work was done. Have you ever considered why God has blessed the USA with so much money? Maybe it was so we would have the means to be able to fulfill the Great Commission, not so we could go out and buy one more thing that we don’t truly need.

Next up: Materialism and why the USA has already lost. Oh, this should be good!

Run away, now!

satanTemptation.  You know, Snickers bars, buttery popcorn, ignoring speed limits, yelling first asking questions later, even pretty ladies.  We all deal with temptation in our own way.  How do we overcome it?

Here we go!  Let’s look at a guy named Joseph.  He gets sold into slavery and bought by a rich family.  He’s a really smart guy and the man of the house sees it.  Joseph is given incredible responsibility to run the household because he does it so well.  The family prospers.  You must also know that good ole Joe is a pretty handsome guy too.  His owner’s wife notices this fact.  Uh Oh.  She wants Joe to pay attention to her if you know what I mean.  Joe isn’t into that at all, and he runs away from her repeatedly because he was taught to not mess around with another man’s wife!  Eventually, this lady is so fed up she traps Joe and he gets away, but he has to leave his coat because she is holding on to it.  Talk about a prima donna who must have always gotten her way!

Well, this lady goes on to tell a lie to her hubby.  She says Joesph tried to rape her. This leads to Joseph getting tossed into jail.  Fun, right?  Well, this all ends well.  Joe is so smart he is given a high place in running the jail, he helps others in jail and eventually is noticed by the King.  In the end Joseph is 2nd in command of the entire land and he helps everyone survive a severe famine.

Here’s the moral of this story.  No matter what evil temptations are coming your way, run from them.  You may have guessed this is a paraphrased version of the Biblical account of Joseph in Genesis 39-42.  God blesses Joseph in all that he does and even the bad circumstances lead to even better situations.

Do we trust God that much?

 

Death & the Proof of Your Untimely Demise

Uh oh, maybe titling a post in such a way was a bad idea, maybe not.  The ultimate statistic in life is that 10 out of 10 people will die!  Sadly, it’s one of the most predictable stats, yet for many people one of the least cared about facts of life.grave 1

We don’t know our expiration date.  Sure would be nice, then I could be sure to get all my housework done beforehand.  Or maybe I could be sure to finish off my bucket list in the nick of time.  So, why do we often seem to brush off the idea that we will die and replace it with the notion that we have lots of time left?  Do we think it’s too morbid to consider our own death?  I think it’s quite the opposite.  We need to be aware and we need to be ready.

No matter your spiritual beliefs or thoughts on the afterlife, or lack thereof, something will happen upon our time of death.  From the Christian perspective it’s very clear, but I wonder how many Christian’s are confused about death?  The Bible (God’s word) clearly proclaims that “the wages of sin is death” and “all liars will have their part in the lake of fire” and Jesus told a man “you will be with me in paradise”.  How do we reconcile these thoughts?

First, we must understand sin.  Sin isn’t exclusive to convicts in jail, child molesters and plain old “mean people”.  Sin is a part of everyone’s daily life.  Yes, everyone.  Think of the basic moral laws summed up in the Ten Commandments.  Do you know those laws?  Don’t steal (no matter the value), lie (a lie is a lie), murder (hate), take God’s name in vain (GD), covet (be overly jealous), commit adultery (lust), you know some of these, right?  Well, God is so holy that we cannot be in his presence even if we have broken one commandment one time.  Whoops.

grave 2So, how do we deal with this fact?  Personally, swimming in a lake of fire sounds pretty hot.  I’ve lied too many times in my past.  Now, what’s to be done?  Ah, here’s where your Christian training comes into play.  This Jesus thing, right?  Jesus took our punishment so that we CAN be with God.  We just need to humble ourselves and place our faith and trust in Jesus as the Lord (leader) of our lives.  Once we are baptized into the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we are “new” people with “new” desires.  To some this all seems foreign and confusing, but in actuality it’s quite simple.

In the end, we all die.  Do we plan to enter the afterlife standing on our own grave or on the empty tomb of Jesus?  Die hoping our own lives will merit some inclusion in “heaven” or die knowing Jesus has already prepared a place for us in heaven?

The Great I AM

-Before the power and the presence of the Great I AM-

You know many of us are pretty pitiful as Christians.  We believe (hopefully) in God who is out of this world powerful and his mere presence makes

mountain  4-The demons run and flee-

just

-At the mention of his name, King of Majesty-

Do we understand that?  Really?

-The mountains shake before him-

Is there –any who can stand-?

Too often I think we actually sit back and think that “WE” actually have it all figured out!  “WE” have the solutions and “WE” just ask God to watch us do “OUR” wonderful works. Bless us God!!!!!!!!!!!…….we say.

So, let’s get this straight…-Before the power and the presence of the Great I AM- we are going to simply do what we want or do what we think that God wants, THEN pray about it and ask for God’s blessings, AND wonder WHY things didn’t work out?  Some of us get upset with God when something doesn’t work out.  We pray to the Great I AM asking him why?!?  WHAT IN THE WORLD DO WE EXPECT?!?

“But seek FIRST his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

“You do not have because you do not ask God.”

“When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”

Yes, -the demons run and flee- through the power and the presence of the Great I AM.  Mountains shake…but do we first ask God what he would have us to do, OR do we first make OUR plans, then seek God’s approval?  Do not let PRIDE, because that is what it is, get in the way of putting God first!  Do not let pride deceive us into following wrong motivations.  God should be #1 because he is #1.

-Lyrics between “-“ marks in italics are from the song “The Great I am”.  Take a listen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_VR-zwp2KA