It’s All About Me Me Me

This is a minor departure from things I preach to myself about. Though this can be a preaching topic, it’s more of something that we all complain about from time to time. We observe this, yet can also find ourselves guilty of the very issue.

As we make our day-to-day travels, whether to the local store or to work, we are out and about sharing the highways and byways with our fellow humans. Because two solid objects cannot share the same place at the same time, we attempt to skillfully whisk by each other…sometimes at a “personal space” distance, sometimes too close for comfort. Either way, we try to respect the other person’s space.

But, as mankind has evolved over the centuries, we have become smarter, wiser, stronger, and more advanced exponentially. I believe this has created a greater egocentric mentality. Though not unique in human history, man seems to have grown even more ‘wise in his own eyes’ and became a chronic narcissistic in personality, even though since the beginning of time, self-exultation has been the norm.

Because of this self-adulation, people put themselves first over those around them. As a king would wave a hand to move commoners away, many have become so self-absorbed that putting others first is almost a chore, if done at all.selfish-leader-power-motive-900x400From as early as the accounts in Genesis through the final period in Revelation, the Bible has recounted stories of man’s arrogance. Not just toward God, as in man’s sin nature, but also toward each other. Many triggers are explained as to what causes men to act the way he does. From self-righteousness, greed, desire, and pride, humankind has an innate desire to ‘pat himself on the back’ and raise himself up as ‘the best’.

 

casting_the_first_stoneAll of this self-driven behavior though has caused more problems than anything else. Cain killed Able because he felt slighted by God. As in the days of Noah, everyone was wiped out except Noah’s family because of the wickedness of men…rambunctious for self-gratification. Many kings and leaders rose to power, grew egotistical, and created wars and atrocities…including their own demise…over people. Even in the end times recorded in the Bible, it’s the pinnacle of selfish pride that brings the final days of man.

Where has all this come from? If we are called to give, love, share, and ‘do unto others’, why, then, is there such a gross level of ‘me, me, me’ going on?

From the highest levels of world leaders and business greed to the simplest of people who think they have to park in three spots or cut off others in traffic because it’s all about ‘them’, humans have steadily become so selfish that even the daily commute or simple shopping trip creates such bitterness, anger, hostility, and anxiety. We all experience it, we all struggle with others and their self attitudes.

So what does all this say? It says that we need to buckle up, put on our patience-pants, learn to keep moving and stay focused! Why? Because this has been going on since time beginning and is going to continue till time ends. Absolutely nothing that you or I can say or do is going to stop the insanity of the inconsiderate egos who try to make life on this planet all about them.

You may vent until your heart’s content, but people are people, blinded by the god of this world, thinking that the more they glorify themselves, the better they will feel. They boast and puff themselves up in the hopes of gaining respect, admiration, and glory. This is exactly what the devil has been doing since the Garden of Eden. “If you…then you will be like God”. Mankind has striven for that since.

welcome2

The quickest and clearest example is: Hollywood. If ever there was a cloister of people who try to exalt themselves over everyone, it’s the ego maniacal minions of that entertainment world. They poise themselves above everyone else. They have to be first, have the best, have the most, be the biggest, be the most glamoured, be be be…me me me!

And that very mentality and existence doesn’t end there. The infection is as close as your backyard. Your neighbor, your co-worker, your children, the people we meet each and every day on those highways and byways I mentioned before.

Nothing you can do. Just be patient, love, pray, set examples, be humble, and stay focused the best you can.

Believe it or not, we all have that disease of self. With some, it shows more abundantly. But, we all have it. And until our self is quenched, we battle it inside and out every day. To overcome that problem through God, we’re taught to “put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (as stated in Ephesians 4:22-24).

But with so many who don’t seek God’s Word of redemption, the world continues to show the rampant display of selfishness, as is stated in 2 Timothy chapter 3;

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” (underline of verse 2 mine for emphasis)

We see that in every direction we look these days. Through the help of God, we can put off our old self, and walk in newness with love, peace, joy, humility, and unselfishness. Though we might not be able to fix others, we can certainly start with ourselves! Amen

Fotolia_859018_XS_jpg_cropped525x195o117,0s276x195

 

 

Big you, bigger God

The UniverseWhen we look into the vastness of space, gaze at the billions of stars, and reflect on just how big the universe really is, we tend to feel very small…insignificant almost.  This feeling can be quite overwhelming to some as we wonder how we can measure up when compared to the complexities of the grand universe.  Because most of us will never achieve even world fame and fortune, we might think that we don’t matter…that we are just a cosmic speck in the grand scheme of things.

And then to look at our planet and all of creation around us, I think “how it is that God can see little me in all this?”  He’s the God of the universe! He created all things! So how do I fit within the expanse of time and space in God’s creation? Does God even see me? You may not feel like you are special, but I have some news for you!

Let’s think about Zacchaeus from the Bible story in the Gospel of Luke. He was a Jewish man, very short in stature (Bible’s words, not mine), who worked for the Roman government collecting taxes from his fellow Jews. Not only was he good at his job, he was the chief collector in the city of Jericho. This is not a very popular man!  Most of the collectors back then were cheats and often collected more than they should to pocket the overage for themselves. By society standards, they were frowned upon and even shunned.

And though Zacchaeus was a wealthy man, he was also reported to be a very honest and Godly man. (Yes, there can be honest, Godly people that do unfavorable jobs!)  I imagine that outside of family though, he was a lonely individual. We know that he followed God’s rules, lead an honest life, and that God knew him, but he wasn’t looked up to or admired.

Palestine_Jericho3_tango7174But God knew him so well, that long before Zacchaeus was even born, a sycamore-fig tree seed was planted in a particular spot. Then, God watered and took care of that seed until it grew to be a full-size tree. All because one day, in the future of that planting, that man named Zacchaeus would have an encounter with Jesus, the Son of God!  God knew that Zacchaeus would be so eager to see Jesus coming that he would climb the tree God placed years ago to get a glimpse of the Messiah. That event lead to Jesus calling to Zacchaeus and having a blessed dinner with him and his family!

The same thing applies to us, individually! God knows us personally and intimately. Luke 12 states that God knows us so well that even our hairs are numbered. He knows even the smallest of creatures like sparrows.

One of my favorite songs is from singer Betty McDaniel, a treasured Gospel singer out of Canada. It is titled “He looked across the years”.  The song reflects what I am trying to convey here: that God looked across the vastness of time and space in His creation and saw you!  He not only knows us, but also made a way to remedy the sin in our lives that separates us from Him.  Jesus looked across the years from the cross so that we can be restored to a right relationship with God through Jesus!

God is so big!

The question I have is this: if God is so awesome and powerful to create everything into existence, and yet personal enough to know each of us individually…then why are we so complacent in our relationship with Him? Why do we ignore His sovereignty? Why do we treat Him like a cosmic vending machine wanting only blessings and fortunes and such, yet don’t submit to His will and ways?

This is truly a much deeper topic than what can be covered here now, but as I explore this in my life, I look back at all the little things God has, in His infinite wisdom, done for me. He has directed my paths much differently than I would have walked on my own. God’s ways are not our ways. But I’m pretty sure that He knows what’s best for me better than I know myself!

As He looked across the years at Zacchaeus, as He looked across the years at me, as He looked across the years at you…He set up everything in advance because He loves us and knows us and wants us to acknowledge Him with fellowship and love! The old Puritan catechism question is this:  What is the chief end of man? Man’s chief end is to glorify God (1 Corinthians 10:31), and to enjoy Him forever (Psalm 73:25-26).

May we acknowledge the sovereignty of God in our daily lives. Amen

God-knows-my-name-960x350

Things I preach to myself-Hypocrisy pt2

cellphone progress

The knowledge that the world gains daily has grown exponentially over the last several decades. This has been clearly seen just by looking at the progressive growth of electronics and computers! Incredible intelligence continues to multiply as man builds better and smarter devices! Look at the evolution of the phone! Whew!

Yet, as I have tried to convey over the many years here, we may be getting smarter, but the one thing that hasn’t grown…Common Sense!

I recently re-read a piece of Scripture that puts our current plight into perspective: Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” (1 Corinthians 3:18-20)

We may think ourselves wise because we are smart, but it is pretty clear that we are not. It’s clear that God has ‘confounded the wise’ of this world because they don’t seek His wisdom.  Having information locked into the brain doesn’t guarantee that we are capable of utilizing it in a productive manner! To say “yeah, I know” and not apply it wisely just makes us a fool.  And to claim ourselves wise and not follow God’s wisdom just shows that we are chasing our own tail for no end purpose! We can sit on the mountain top doling out wise sayings, but does that really garner the inner peace that our souls seek and strive for?

cropped-guru12

Before you go and accuse me of being judgmental, remember what the title of this blog is!  I have traipsed around this world, gathering knowledge and various insights of many things, and have garnered some wisdom in my experiences, and yet I find myself unwise when it comes to my day-to-day life. The Lord knows that I have tried to be “wise in my own eyes” most of my adult life. It’s truly a wonder that I’m alive at all! But, wisdom (and common sense) just doesn’t come overnight! And even when you have some wisdom and knowledge, if you don’t apply it, what value is there in it?

There are many wise ways, but are they of value to your life and eternal life? And with knowledge and wisdom, even if it is from God above, if its not applied in your day-to-day life, doesn’t mean a thing!  I can spout off all sorts of facts and wise sayings all day long, but will be seen as nothing less than a hypocrite if I don’t “walk the talk”!

It comes down to two main points that the Bible teaches. First, let him who is without sin, cast the first stone.  Arguably simple in its meaning.  Who am I to judge when I am yet a sinner? Many live the “do as I say, not as I do” mentality that I wrote about in my previous blog.

Secondly is how can I talk about the speck in my brother’s eye when there is a plank in my own? We get so focused trying to correct others by showing that we know better, that we are wiser and smarter than they are.  But, in reality, we are just being a hypocrite.  We need to literally practice what we preach!

Thus, why I share these things I preach to myself about!!! I am in a constant state of learning to acknowledge that I have faults and failings and falter in life. But, with God’s leading and teaching, through His Word and the Holy Spirit, I strive to become a better man of God and a better man to those in my life!

I am a work in progress…we all are! But, if we are not able to identify, admit, correct, and grow through our shortcomings, what’s the point? God is clear that he wants us all to learn and grow! But, we must first admit that we need His guiding hand to get us through! For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. No one is smarter, wiser than anyone else!

We all come into this world the same way, we all leave this world the same way.  It now comes down to what we do between those two points in our lives! As for me and my household, we will worship the Lord! Amen.

birthtodeath

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

Pharisees

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.

two-faced-clipart-7

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?

wpid-do-as-i-say-not-as-i-do-jpg-1

 

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!

Clay-Forming-Vase-300x200

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!

prayer-difficult-remedy-here_1

 

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

conceptual sign post with, danger slippery slope

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!

exorcism-e1476509452483

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.

 

 

Fotolia_859018_XS_jpg_cropped525x195o117,0s276x195