Things I preach to myself: Hypocrisy

“Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!” declares the Lord.  Jeremiah 23:1

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A sad and pathetic desperation to socialize and be accepted by man created a huge hypocrisy in my life and caused delays in my walk with God. As horrible as that may sound, this is actually a normal human condition. We all have a hypocritical side within us. It just isn’t advertised as such to our family and friends!

I think that we can all mark times in our lives when we have, whether directly or indirectly, declared “do as I say, not as I do”.  This is just a natural human issue that many battle on a regular basis.  Whether it is a conscience act, or subconsciously done, it is part of our fallen nature. Since God (and most folks around) wants us to live right and honest, and we do try, we still have that old sin nature within and it’s often easy to live two lives (hypocrisy) without too many woes.

In fact, this thing called hypocrisy has been going on for centuries, and is addressed in the Bible a number of times. Perhaps the greatest acknowledgement of hypocrisy comes from Jesus’ rebuke of the scribes and pharisees in the Gospels (particularly Mathew chapter 23). Sometimes called the “Woes of the Pharisees”, Jesus calls out the religious leaders of their time for being ‘high and mighty’ on the outside, yet contradictory in their hearts and lives. Essentially inner and outer moral states.

The leaders are supposed to be living examples of righteousness (right living under Gods laws). And, even though no one can keep the 10 Commandments completely, their position was to be above reproach…to teach and lead others in the proper ways expected by God.  But, once you intermingle human sinful nature with greed and lust and power, it doesn’t take much to compromise yourself and your beliefs.

Which leads me back to my self-preaching.

First of all, I am not a preacher/teacher/leader in any way. So, my matter isn’t about growing in stature in any way.  But, as a self-professing Christian, I do have a responsibility and commission from Christ to share the truth to the world (which can be the very next person I meet)…whether through my words or through my actions. But, since my actions don’t always correlate with my words, therein lies the problem! (Do as I say, not as I do)

The Bible doesn’t directly state to “be in the world, but not of the world“, but there are numerous verses that support this general ideology (John 15:19, Romans 12:2, 1 John 2:15, John 17:14, Colossians 3:2, Ephesians 6:12).  And here I am trying to “fit in”, as it were, yet also trying to “walk in faith”.  Thus, walking in two worlds. Hypocrisy.

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My hypocrisies are not any less or different from the pharisees of ancient times.  Though the Bible is clear that teachers and preachers are held to a higher accountability than the average Joe, that doesn’t dismiss my walking in two worlds.  God’s Spirit has been quite good at pointing out to me that my private world and public world can, at times, be contradictory to one another.  This is sin and this is to be confessed, repented of, and begin walking in a new light.

Not always the easiest to do, mind you, but acknowledging sin and looking to the Bible and praying for a changed heart and mind regarding these things is a first step.  We often regret our sins more than repent of them, but we need to keep taking steps forward with the help of the Holy Spirit, delving into the Scriptures for guidance and truth, and looking to Christ as our example!

Which leads to another topic, for another time:  The hypocrisy of (most) modern churches today.  Those leaders and preachers and teachers will have a lot of accounting to do before the Lord on judgement day!  Can we be the change needed to alter the downward spiral of the false teaching going on within the church?

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Things I Preach To Myself About…

The old statement of ‘when you point your finger at someone, three are pointing back at you’ is such a good reminder!  One of the great lessons taught in the Bible asks ‘how can you talk about the speck in your brother’s eye when there is a plank in your own’.  As much as I understand that concept, I have to remind my brain and heart of this often when I am inwardly judging people based on their actions, attitudes, attributes, and asinine behaviors!

That being said, I thought it would be a good (and hopefully helpful) idea to share with you some of the (many) things that I learn and preach to myself along this path in life!  I’d like to let you peak into my walk, see how my mind and heart are processing things, and share my insights (whether right or wrong) into how God is working in the life of this wretched and often-faltering man!

I say “preach to myself” because I find that all the wonderful gems and lessons I learn from the Bible, as well as the many great preachers and teachers, are things that I need to hear and apply…daily!  I have often come across people who quickly become judgmental of others in regards to new things they’ve learned.  This falls right along the lines of the pharisees in Biblical times.  They were a group of educated teachers of the Scriptures (old Testament stuff) who were quick to tell others “do as I say, not as I do”!  (Though Jesus was quick to point out their hypocrisy!)

I don’t want to be a hypocrite, at least no more that I’m sure I am!

So, after a quick introduction, I would like to start with something that is seemingly simple on the outside, but a deep well of study that is too much for this humble blog.

First and foremost: I am not a formally educated preacher/teacher/theologian/scholar! I do love researching and studying everything and anything, but the contents of my ramblings are simply my learning, understanding, and interpretation of what has most recently slapped me in the face! I don’t stand on any particular platform or denomination.  For myself, I am basing things strictly on the Bible and what the Word has to say!

That being said, there is no doubt that people will disagree with my understanding of things. And, that is something that I am perfectly at peace with. I am not here to dissect the deeper, theological treatises and philosophical camps. I’m just here to say; “This happened, this is what I learned, this is how I see it, and this is where I’m at!”

The starting point in anything is always the root…the very beginning. My start has been hot, cold, and lukewarm for many decades. Thankfully, God’s beginning for everything is right on point every moment of every day! Genesis 1:1 says “In the beginning, God…”

If you stop right there and ponder that often gleaned-over piece of scripture, there is a volume of awe! Before anything and everything, there was God! Wow! When I think deeper about that, and then think about how lackadaisical I am in my attitude toward God regarding having reverence and respect…it’s a wonder I am still breathing on this planet!

But, thanks be to God for his amazing love! He loves us! He loves me! And, though I don’t understand all the why’s and how come’s and such, it is enough to know that as God looked across the years, he planned me, he knew me, loved me, and did amazing miracles to get me to this point! I’ll just leave that right there and relish the thought of the creator of the universe knowing me!

Getting a grasp on the sovereignty and grandness and holiness of God should be humbling and awe-inspiring to us. Unfortunately, though, we tend to treat God like a cosmic vending machine. We pray/ask for this blessing and that all the time, and then when we’re done, put him back into some out-of-sight/out-of-mind bottle and shelve him until the next time we need something. Sad, and wrong!

If you think about that, we treat everyday people a hundred-fold better than we treat the God who created and sustains everything in the universe!  We worship the created instead of the Creator! I don’t know about you, but this revelation hit me like a ton of bricks and almost made me sick!

Don’t get me wrong, though. I didn’t grasp this truth and then suddenly walk around with a glow of reverential fortitude in my day to day life! The knowledge was humbling and caused me to stop and re-think many things, but, I still have that selfish, go-about-my-business mentality most days…something I am still working on daily!

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I am a work in progress. Clay that needs to be more submissive and flexible for the Creator to create! He who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it! I just need to open my mind and heart more and receive! The process is slow in some, faster in others, but the sanctification process is just that…a process (meaning that it is moving and happening!)  I just wish most days that the process worked faster in me!

But…God’s timing! After all…He is the Creator of the Universe and definitely knows better how things (and myself) should work! Amen and Amen!

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Ichabod: Where did the Glory go?

The safest road to hell is the gradual one – the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.    -C. S. Lewis

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As many permit themselves comfort from the woes of this world, there exists a jagged edge that they drift dangerously close to, careless to the reality of the fall that awaits them.  As gloomy as this sounds, I must persist in casting some reality toward you in the hopes of jarring your slumber!

In ancient biblical times, wars existed between the factions of believers in God and believers of everything else. Though the spiritual realm has its casualties, there was also an effect to the physical as well.  Death tolls in these wars, per the accounts of history and Bible, were in the 10’s of thousands! The followers of God, the Israelites, had won a fair share of battles, but also suffered great defeats as well.  In most cases, the stories relayed the importance of God and his following his commandments.

In one particular situation, Israel was facing one of their great foes, the Philistines. In 1 Samuel chapter 4, the Israelites had taken a beating and decided to bring up the Ark of the Covenant to the battle front. This represented God’s presence more than anything.  The wild cheers of elation rallied the troops and even the Philistines feared God showing up.  But…to no avail.  Israel got their butt kicked and the enemy ran off with the Ark.

The high priest and judge of Israel, Eli, lost two of his sons in the battle. That information, along with the Ark being taken, literally killed the poor guy.  His daughter-in-law was so despondent about the losses that she gave birth and died.  The midwife names the boy Ichabod, meaning ‘the glory of the Lord has departed’.  Great start to life! (Sarcasm intended!)

It seems historically that when a people decide on their own volition of self first, it isn’t too long afterward that their demise hits. The United States of America was essentially founded on a basis of the Bible as the core moral and spiritual compass. The founding fathers forged our first governing documents on the whole of scripture, keeping that, with God, all things are possible. But, as with any great nation, corruption seeps in…slowly, assuredly, and with a purpose of demise. Even the learned institutions, such as Harvard and Yale, started out as seminary schools teaching the Bible! Yet, now, you would be fortunate to find scripture anywhere within the walls of the university. We are on the safest road to hell!

So, how did this happen?  How did we get to this drowning point? The primary place to point out the failing is our own ‘churches’.  Now, I am not going to get all denominational or call out particular names.  That is not the intent of this.  But, I will shake a fist to any and all who claim Christianity as their faith, yet deny the Bible as the word of God.  Without the Bible, we do not have the compass of direction. Without the Bible, we do not have instructions. Without the Bible, we do not have a reference point to keep ourselves on the correct path!

All that said, when we cast aside His Words to us, we begin to wander aimlessly.  We become “I Chabod”….without the Glory. When we are travelling and feel uncertain about our direction, we consult a map. Now days, we are constantly looking to our smart phones for information and direction. Well, the Bible is our map. The Bible is our smart phone that has all the answers we need.  And without it…well, we rely on our own understanding. Our own views. Our own mess!

The father of lies, the great deceiver, has crept into the fabric of God-fearing churches and cast doubts, dissensions, and destruction from within.  And since pushing aside the Bible as the beacon of truth, these churches have turned into social clubs and feel-good parties…with no truth being taught! Whitewashed Tombs! Pretty on the outside, empty and dead on the inside!

Mark 7:9 And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!”

The churches today (not all) have essentially rejected the Bible as the Word and have, instead, decided that soft, gentle talks regarding social issues are more important than knowing God and His Word!  And with the disregard of God’s Word as authoritative and commanding, man has put himself in God’s place and now determines what is and what isn’t sin! What was once revered as Gospel has since become edited so as not to offend anyone! Sins are acceptable and they just avoid talking about His Words and commands!

The Glory has departed! And with His departing, so has His hand which has held back the enemies of God’s people!

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One of the greatest preachers of all time, Jonathan Edwards, in 1741 preached a sermon that shook the very core of believers and unbelievers alike. That sermon, titled “Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God” was filled with fire and brimstone that convicted people to remedy, or assure, that their relationship with God was of utmost importance!  We have fallen so far from that reverence, passion, and belief in the God of the Bible, creator of all things, through his Son, by which we have forgiveness and restored fellowship.

There is nothing that keeps wicked men at any one moment out of hell, but the mere pleasure of God.  – Edwards

So, I ask: Why?  Why has the Word of God been rejected by the very people who claim to believe in God? Why have we allowed His Glory to depart from us? Are we so delusional as to think that God would never cast anyone into hell? Because, if we are sitting at such a comfort level, in disbelief of God’s wrath, as to think that…I really suggest you reconsider what His Words really do say!  There is no free rides to Heaven! The Bible is very clear on that! His own people, the Israelites, were destroyed in a battle because of their own complacency and denial of His Supremacy!  YOU are no different. The church is no different.

God has never promised to save us from Hell, except for those contained in Christ through the covenant of Grace.  – Edwards

The churches have rejected God’s Word.  The Glory has departed.  Man stands alone on a wayward path leading toward destruction of soul:  hell.

I guess I challenge anyone to look at their ‘churches’ and ask the question:  Do they fully accept God’s words as complete revelation from God, or are they picking and choosing what they want to keep and what they don’t?  It literally is an “all or nothing” situation.  You either believe in the Bible or you don’t. And, as Edwards based his sermon from in scripture, ‘their foot shall slip in due time’ (Deut 32:35), there isn’t a middle ground with God.  You (and the church) are either hot or cold. Lukewarm is the path that leads to destruction.

 

 

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