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

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. 

Prayer Is Surrender

Now, this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” (1 John 5:14)

Nothing lies outside the reach of prayer except that which lies outside of the will of God. God will only answer the request He inspires. You see, prayer is surrender—surrender to the will of God. It’s cooperation with His will.

Who Cares?

As I get more chronologically challenged [PC for getting older] I am discovering that life is a lot about balance. Hobbies are great but they must be balanced with work and family responsibilities. My doctor once told me it isn’t so much what you eat but rather how much you eat. One slice of pizza [may be two] is fine but not four or five = balance. 

Sometimes a person will say that the Bible is full of contradictions. They quote one verse and then quote another which seems to contradict the first. Allow me to give you an example. 

We should not care what others think of us. Proverbs 29:25 “It is dangerous to be concerned with what others think of you, but if you trust the Lord, you are safe.”  From an early age we work to get approval, whether it was proving to our parents that we could ride a bike without training wheels, or taking our first step—caring what other people think seems evitable. We need to get to the point where we don’t care what the media says, how colleagues feel about us, or live in a state of constant fear or agony of what others think. Do not allow others opinion of you dictate how you live.

We need to care what others think.  On the other hand, Proverbs 22:1 says, “A good name is to be more desired than great wealth, favor is better than silver and gold. If we’re not careful, our effort to not care about what others think can subtly turn into not caring about anyone. John Maxwell said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” When people know that you care about them, you will have a platform to share the Gospel. We must go out of our way to present ourselves in the best light possible, not because we are people pleasers but because we are God pleasers.

The bottom line is balance.

  • Don’t allow people’s opinion of you put you in an emotional, spiritual straight jacket.
  • Live in such a manner that people know that a genuinely care about them. 

Three Pounds Of God, Please

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I came across this poem recently –  and wanted to share it with you.

I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please.
Not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep,
but just enough to equal a cup of warm milk
or a snooze in the sunshine.
I don’t want enough of God to make me love a black man
or pick beets with a migrant.
I want ecstasy, not transformation.
I want the warmth of the womb, not a new birth.
I want a pound of the Eternal in a paper sack.
I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please.
— Wilbur Rees

My first thought when I read this was, “EXACTLY!” Isn’t that exactly how Christians act? We want all the benefits of the title “Christian” but want nothing to do with any of the sacrifices that would come with more than just a small portion on our plate. Study after study shows that there is little difference between the Christian and the non-believer in the way we act when it comes to divorce, pornography, domestic violence, charity, volunteerism, or basically any other category you want to pick. The reason? For the most part, we’re $3 Christians. The key line in the poem is this: I want ecstasy, not transformation. People want to be happy, not Christ-like.

I am thoroughly convinced that the majority of people who profess to know Jesus Christ as their Savior do not. Allow me to explain. I believe that they (and most ‘Christians’) have conformed to a lifestyle without being transformed by the Holy Spirit! They know that being a believer means you do certain things [read your Bible, attend church, give money to the church, etc] but they have not been transformed; there has been no change internally. 

When you talk to them about a real, dynamic relationship with Christ; they stare at you like you are speaking a foreign language and you are. ” But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” They cannot understand because there has been no change in their spirit. 2 Cor. 5:17 

For many $3 is all they’re willing to pay. But for them I ask this simple question: When you die and stand before Jesus (and you will) what are you going to tell him? When Jesus asks you why you didn’t go all in knowing what he expected of you and instead you chose to be a $3 Christian what are you going to say?

Don’t be a $3 Christian. Stop conforming to the pattern of this world! Make God and His ways your priority! Allow God to transform your life – go all in. 

God With You

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Somewhere the Church has wrongfully presented the Gospel as the answer to all your problems. If you repent of your sins and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior; God will protect you and you will never face any difficulty. As they say down South, “Sorry but it ain’t so!” Country western singer Charlie Pride was right when he sang, “I never promised you a rose garden.” 

Many Christians {especially new convert} begin taking their spiritual pulse when things go wrong. Why is this happening to me? Is God punishing me for some wrongdoing in my life? Is God displeased with me? Nowhere is this fallacy seen more clearly than in the life of Joesph as recorded in the Book of Genesis. Space does not allow me to unpack this truth completely; so read the complete story for yourself. 

One phrase stood out to me as I read this story: 

  • Because of Joesph’s brother’s jealousy, he was sold into slavery but The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered… Genesis 39:2   Acts 7:9
  • Joesph became a slave in an Egyptian household but The Lord was with Joseph and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, Genesis 39:3 
  • He was falsely accused of rape and put in prison but The Lord was with Joseph Genesis 39:21

If you read the biographies of great Christian leaders you will discover that many (if not all) faced great difficulties. The next time something goes “wrong”, remember you are in good company! 2 Timothy 3:12