Two Wolves Within

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An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life: “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. ”It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil–he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”

He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you–and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf will win?”The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 7  That every Christian possesses two natures. We were born with an earthy, fallen nature. The moment a person trusts Christ as their Savior, he gains a new nature (in addition to the old) by spiritual birth. John 3 That is when the struggle begins. The fight between two wolves [natures] is eternal. Both wolves[natures] will always be there. Because every Christian has two natures, he has the choice of following the old man or the new man.

Many new Christians are unaware of this Biblical teaching and try to feed both natures. One day they pray, read the Bible and go to church. At other times they surrender control of their lives to their lower, earthy nature. IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO FEED BOTH NATURES AT THE SAME TIME!

One truth to remember is that it’s so much easier to feed the first wolf – the first wolf is there to encourage the easier options in life; it comes ‘natural’. There is almost no effort required to do those things, and you’re getting the reward with the sensation of relieving and instant gratification without much an action.

The second wolf [our new nature] is very different; it’s harder to feed. It’s challenging, tiring and time-consuming to do things like learning, teaching, inspiring, sharing or simply sticking to the new behavior. And you don’t usually see immediate results from them.

Which wolf [nature] you choose to feed will define who you are, and we all know we should feed the second wolf [nature]–even if it’s harder. Feeding the second wolf is how we end up feeling a sense of accomplishment and success at the end of the day. By conquering the temptation of the first wolf we opt for a much more challenging (but right) option in life.

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I Am Too Busy

If someone asks “How are you?” we no longer say “Fine” or “I’m well, thank you.” We often simply reply “Busy!” And I am sure they were speaking the truth. Americans are working longer hours than at any time since statistics have been kept, but now they are also working longer than anyone else in the industrialized world. And while workers in other countries have been seeing their hours cut back by legislation focused on preventing work from infringing on private life, Americans have been going in the other direction. In 1999, more than 25 million Americans reported that they worked at least 49 hours a week, and 11 million of those said they worked more than 59 hours a week. Our culture equates busyness with success.

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Being busy is not a 21st-century phenomenon. Jesus knew what being busy was…
Mark 1:45 Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere.
Mark 3:20 Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat.

We must realize that the Four Gospels records only a short time frame of Jesus’ earthly ministry. Someone calculated (I tried to verify but could not) that if we combined all the Gospel passages about His ministry; we only have 30 days recorded! Many people are unaware of what John 21:25 “Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.”  Needless to say, Jesus was a very busy man. People everywhere were clamoring for His time. hSo, what’s my point? Even though Jesus was extremely busy; He always had time for want was important. Often we confuse the “urgent” for what is really important.  Managing your time is all about priorities. Jesus always made time for:

1] Communing with the Father. At the end of an exhausting day, the disciples rested but Jesus but Jesus slipped away and prayed all night, Luke 6:12 Jesus would rise early before anyone else to have time with Father. Mark1:35

2] Jesus always had time for people. While we often see people as an interruption to our plans but Jesus saw an opportunity to minister because He cared. Matthew 19:13

So, the next time you say you are too busy; remember God is the One that orders your day. Psalm 37:23

Clear Vision

And from the time John the Baptist began preaching until now, the Kingdom of Heaven has been forcefully advancing and violent people are attacking it. Matthew 11:12

I don’t know what Bible you’re using to read today’s Scripture verse, but mine says that “violent men” take the kingdom of heaven “by force.” What a bold description! The first-century church had issues, just like the church does today, but they were full steam ahead. They had a clear picture of what they wanted—God’s reign—and they went after it.

Men need something to fight for, something to fight against. It’s how we survive the storms that are bound to batter us now and then. Without a vision, a man will waste his life. But with a clear vision, he’s a force to be reckoned with. I believe that the reason men do not attend church is they don’t see anything to challenge them.  

I love the classic scene from The Blues Brothers when Elwood Blues announces: “We’re on a mission from God.” It’s a mission from God that keeps us on the straight and narrow. When we are busy with the Father’s business, we can’t be sidetracked. A mission from God not only motivates us to do the right thing, but it also demotivates us from doing the wrong thing.

If you aren’t on a mission from God, you aren’t really living—you’re dying. You aren’t just wasting your God-given potential, you’re wasting space. You’re dead weight.

On A Mission

I love the classic scene from The Blues Brothers when Elwood Blues announces: “We’re on a mission from God.”Image result for blues brothers It’s a mission from God that keeps us on the straight and narrow. When we are busy with the Father’s business, we can’t be sidetracked. A mission from God not only motivates us to do the right thing, but it also demotivates us from doing the wrong thing.

If you aren’t on a mission from God, you aren’t really living—you’re dying. You aren’t just wasting your God-given potential, you’re wasting space. You’re dead weight.

You need a vision for a mission. Ask God to give it to you.

Headhunters

I find it amazing how each generation creates new words and meanings. Whoever heard of a “selfie” 20 years ago? While the word “Uber” has been around a long time; this generation has given it new meaning.

There is one new term I find fascinating, it is the word “head-hunter.”  WImage result for headhuntershile I was growing up, the word referred to a primitive tribe of people who would take the head of their enemy, shrink that head and display it as a trophy.

But today’s generation uses that term in a totally different way. Today, a headhunter is a person “who identifies and approaches suitable candidates See the source imageemployed elsewhere to fill business positions.” You can sign on to their website http://www.headhunter.com and they will assist you in finding the right person for that position.

Today’s headhunters would examine the candidate’s formal education, their success in their current position, if they are a “team player”, and will they fit be accepted by others?

Allow me to use my imagination and apply this process to how Jesus Christ choose His disciples. First, think about the ‘candidates.’ None had a formal education Acts 4:13. They were common laborers with no experience in leadership. James and John were nicknamed “sons of thunder” given because of their quick tempers. Then there was Matthew, the tax-collector, who regularly collected more than required. Then there was Peter, the impulsive fisherman, who often reacted without thinking. John 18:10. And last, there was Judas, the one who would ultimately betray Jesus. He also was the Treasurer of the group and he helped himself to the money (thief). John 12:6

But Jesus did not look at what they were but He saw what they could become. He looked beyond the outward and saw what was in them.   Jesus was unique in the sense He could discern what was in a man. John 2:25 This should encourage everyone that God can use us despite of our weaknesses. 

Stand Out? Fit In?

Have you ever wondered how the twelve disciples were able to turn their world upside down while today’s Church, with its millions of members, seem to have little impact on their culture? I am sure that the answer to that question is more complex than I could answer in this blog but allow me to share a thought for your consideration. 

We live in a culture that wants everyone to blend in. Everyone should have the same philosophy of life and the same values. But the Bible clearly teaches that Christ-followers live by a different standard. John 17:15-17 

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”  Romans 12:2 The problem is many Christians have adopted a worldview of life that is totally opposite to the Biblical view of life to the extent that it is difficult to know the difference. 

We go to see the same movies, watch the same TV programs and follow the fashions of Hollywood. We listen to the advice of Dr. Phil rather than God’s Word. And I believe this is a major reason why the Church has little impact on the world. If you look at the people God has used, you will find they did not conform to this world but stood out for Christ.

  • Moses stood out by choosing to follow Israel rather than Egypt
  • Daniel stood out from all the Babylonians 
  • The three Hebrew boys stood out by refusing to worship a pagan god
  • Jesus’ disciples stood and fearlessly preached the Gospel

August Landmesser was a German laborer that lived during WWII.  Like thousands of his countrymen, he joined the Nazi party as Adolf Hitler began to take over Germany. When he finally learned of Hitler’s true intentions for Germany, he resigned from the party and refused to accept Hitler as leader of Germany. He became famous by standing out in a large political rally by refusing to salute Hitler and pledge his loyalty.   

Today, Acts 1:8 could read “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will “HUDDLE in the four walls of your church, you will hide your Christianity from others, no one will ever know you are following me, you will be afraid to let to the power of the Spirit work through you, you will never be a witness to those around you and you will blend in to society.”                                                                                                                                   

Christ calls us to stand out with the power and leadership of the Holy Spirit.    The New York Times reported that CVS the country’s largest drug store  will no longer fit in with society, but rather they will stand out. The company announced that as they move towards becoming more of a health care provider, that it would stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products by Octo The Company estimates it will lose 2 billion dollars in sales from customers who buy tobacco products and other things like gum.

   

To tell the truth

Years ago there was a game show called To Tell the Truth. The show in which four celebrity panelists are presented with three contestants and must identify which is the “central character” whose unusual occupation or experience has been read out by the show’s moderator/host. When the panelists question the contestants, the two “impostors” may lie whereas the “central character” must tell the truth. Wikipedia

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“Lying” was acceptable as it was part of the game. In today’s culture lying is acceptable in most people’s lives: Children lie to their parents, workers lie to their employer, and let’s not forget our politicians! I was brought up knowing lying was wrong and honesty was the best policy.

As I was doing some work on the computer, I was listening to a news commentator commenting on current individuals who had lied under oath to a Congressional hearing. The FBI gave indisputable evidence they had lied. Result? Nothing. But apparently, some are held accountable while others get a free pass and are not prosecuted. A law to be a law must be applied to EVERYONE or it isn’t a law. But the Bible does not think lying is acceptable.

    • Proverbs 12::22 The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in those who tell the truth.
    • Proverbs 19:9 A lying witness will not go unpunished. One who tells lies will die.

What if all liars were given the death penalty? You wouldn’t have trouble finding a parking spot at Wal-Mart on Saturday night! The truth about being truthful is that everyone has a fallen nature and we struggle sometimes telling the truth all the time.  For reasons I do not understand, I grew up with a problem telling the truth. I would often exaggerate the truth. Maybe it was an attempt to make myself look better in other people’s eyes. Sometimes I would lie for no apparent reason. 

When we are ‘caught’ in a lie, people will always question if our next statement is true or not. Honesty is marked as being free from deceit or untruthfulness, being sincere. The Christian life should be one marked with integrity and honesty.

Matthew 7:16 tells us that we are known by our fruit. Let us be examples of a God of truth and life by living lives of integrity and truthfulness