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. 

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Three Pounds Of God, Please

See the source image

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

Image result for Genesis 39:2

 

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

If You ask Me…

In my last blog, I spoke of two different views on life: a worldview and a Biblical view. Whichever view you choose it will dictate the decisions you make and how you live your life. In today’s culture, most people view truth as relative.  That is what is true for me is not necessarily true for you. But the truth is NOT relative. Take, for example, Jesus said that He was the only way to the Father [Heaven.] John 14:5-7 Many people do not accept that. They feel there are many ways to heaven and their way is just as viable as yours. 

So often we look to “experts” to determine what is true or false. I once had a person ask me a question concerning a relational issue they were facing. They asked what I thought about the issue and I said,“Well, the Bible says...” They cut me short with, “There you go again always bringing up what the Bible has to say!” I asked for your opinion!”  If you ask me my opinion on what color to paint your living; no problem, I will give you my opinion. But if you ask me a question that Bible addresses; I’ll tell what Scripture says!

The Bible was given to us, not as a law book, but more as a manual for living. When we violate a Biblical Principle (knowingly or unknowingly) there are consequences. So it pays us to study God’s Word. Jesus says both knowing and applying the Word creates the foundation for our lives: “Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock” Matthew 7:24

Your Life View

We have all heard the question, “Is the glass half full or half empty?” It sounds like a trick question but it isn’t. Either answer is correct, that is according to your perspective.

Your perspective on life is called your ‘life view.’ It is how YOU see and interpret life. (Half full / Half empty) Most people are not even aware they have a life-view but they do.

Basically, there are only views of life: a worldly view and a Christian view. Your view is critically important because it dictates how you live your life! This is why two totally different people can experience the identical situation and respond in a “Don’t be like the people of this world but let God change the way you think. Then you will know how to do everything that is good and pleasing to him.” Romans 12:2.

I remember reading a perfect illustration of this. Matthew Henry, a renowned writer, and minister he wrote of a man who once stole his wallet. In reflecting on the incident, Henry said, “1.) I am thankful that he never robbed me before. 2), I am thankful that although he took my wallet, he did not take my life. 3) Although he took all I had, it was not much. And 4), I am glad that it was I who was robbed, not I who did the robbing.” Matthew Henry knew how to make lemonade out of a lemon — how to be grateful despite a bad experience.

Choices

Choices. We make them every day. Some choices are intentional, while others are not. If you do not have a work uniform, you choose what you are going to wear to work. Breakfast? Hmm. Cinnamon roll or whole wheat toast? Choices. Read my Bible or watch Fox News? Choices. You are tempted to share a “juicy” bit of gossip. To tell or be quiet? Choices.

I have been thinking about making choices all week. We all know there are some choices that are right or wrong; black or white. But I wonder if we give much thought to the consequences of our choices? Much (if not all) the decisions we make have consequences. Take that choice at breakfast. Nothing inherently wrong with eating ONE cinnamon roll but that choice can have consequences; weight gain. I cannot tell you how many of our friends look back on their ruined lives and regretted their wrong choice.

I think if we were to give more attention to the consequences of our choices; we would make wiser choices. In the spiritual realm, we are tempted to instant gratification but we do not think where it will lead us. Someone once said, “Sin will take you farther than you intended to go, cost you more than you expected to pay, and keep you there longer than you planned.”

I guess it’s human nature to think we are the exception to the rule. It won’t happen to me! I can handle it! I can walk away any time I want. Really? I cannot tell you how many of our friends look back on their ruined lives and regret that wrong choice. They never thought it would end this way.

I am reminded of all the choices that are recorded in God’s Word. Some were wise; others foolish. God wanted them recorded so we would make wise choices. Choices cannot be avoided; so choose wisely.

 

Heart Health

Image result for heart health The last several years the medical field has made tremendous advances in the area of heart health; proper diet, new medical procedures and the importance of exercise. Without exercise, our muscles atrophy. They become weaker and get stiffer at the same time. Without the benefit of regular exercise, our muscles deteriorate until they cannot perform the regular functions they once maintained.

Our heart muscles work the same way, both literally and figuratively. When we’re not praying, giving, serving, and loving on a daily basis, it becomes harder and harder to feel connected to God, to relate to other people, and to feel the joy that comes from serving.

The Bible warns us, “Guard your heart more than anything else because the source of your life flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23 GW Stone hearts don’t harden overnight. They gradually atrophy until we find ourselves with a heart as cold as granite. Regular exercise allows us to love more deeply and serve more humbly. It keeps our hearts tender and compassionate, alive and grateful.