Sunday, January 31, 2010
Recently in a Bible Study on the subject of sin that is described as SELF-RULE and RELIANCE, a British Christian commented on her perception of these traits as applied to Americans in general. She had observed that citizens of this country have a personal self-image of INDEPENDENCE and an almost inborn quality of SELF-DETERMINATION. This, she said, was coupled with ultimate recognition of a higher power. As I responded that she had truly captured the point being made, I went on to postulate that perhaps the very nature of this nation’s beginning struggle gave rise to such a trait down through the years. In further discussion, I recalled for the group the oft’ quoted line about successful men who had “lifted themselves up by their own boot straps” and the accompanying life lessons taught to children about becoming “more independent” as they grow, in order to “stand on their own two feet.”
Indeed, we have been correctly taught the biblical doctrine of freedom of will that God has built into our creative makeup. We are, in that sense, SELF-DETERMINING and free to choose, INDEPENDENT of any other individual’s will or purpose. Herein lies the tension. My British sister qualified her evaluation with the word about recognizing a higher power, and this is the matter which brings critical balance into the equation.
I often wonder when we teach our children such lessons about INDEPENDENCE and being able to stand on their own, if we fail to communicate properly for their real-life application that even such standing must BE DEPENDENT upon God as the true foundation upon which all must rest. Indeed, even lifting oneself “by his own boot straps” must be subject to the laws of the universe God has ordained. Gravity on this planet may allow for an instant’s “jump” while hanging on to the proverbial boots, but one will come down quickly. SELF-RELIANCE is only a “breath” long, and without a greater power in force, it does very little but exhaust the “jumper” in the process. When applied to life, it speaks of the one who’s life is in a constant state of grounded and weary depression spaced between momentary, and only empty “highs.”
Man as God’s fallen and sinful creation ever tries to reach the heights, usually attempting it without benefit or aid of the One Who made them. He is like a city-born individual who atrikes out through the jungle without a guide or the right provisions. Failure and disappointment is assured. The Book of Judges in the Old Testament is full of those of the nation of Israel who rejected the Lord’s reign over them. It is recorded, “the people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the Lord, that he did for Israel.” (2:7) But following the death of Joshua and that generation something else took over. “and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the Lord, nor ye the works which he had done for Israel. And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord…and they forsook the Lord God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods…and bowed themselves unto them.” (vss 10-12) Such is the kind of rule that every man is tempted to emulate individually.
The THRONE of a man’s life must be reserved for one Who can be consistently depended upon in every period and avenue of life. Man, by his very nature and imperfection, cannot be depended upon to RULE in the midst of forces that are constantly moving against his tiny kingdom. Though he can be INDEPENDENT to exercise personal SELF-CONTROL and choice, he is wise who takes the prayer of King Solomon to heart. “And now, O Lord my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in. And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude. Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?” (I Kings 3:7-9) The result, God gave him wisdom and a kingdom that has had no comparison before or since. Now, that’s a successful reign. And Who was on the throne? Not the child, but his God!
We have a twofold nature. That which is called “flesh” is that which denotes human actions and thoughts when we operate apart from the direct control of Christ. That which is the “spirit” refers to the inner man and has the direct line of command under the Holy Spirit of God. When we are made a part of God’s people through our repentance and confession of sin, and His forgiveness through the shed blood of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, on the cross, we gain access to the THRONE room of God and His direct control of our lives.
When we as His people “act out of our fleshy nature” and apart from His will, we reap the failure and consequences of sin. Paul says, “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. (Gal. 5:16-17) Those who say they can work of the flesh in control and still serve God are only fooling themselves, for even Christ said one cannot serve God and the flesh, for one or the other must have the mastery. (Matt. 6:24) One will be loved and the other hated. Jesus’ words of invitation extend to those who would ENTHRONE Him in their hearts. “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” Matt. 16:24-25)
In the same way that we are to be ever DEPENDENT upon the rule our Lord and King, we must also realize that our RELIANCE cannot depend upon our weak resources to sustain us. Success in life is victory in the spiritual, and Paul’s insight in his letter to the Corinthians states his personal recipe for strength to live under the right RULE. “And he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (12:9-10)
So, how are we to live? SELF-RULE and SELF-RELIANCE are not options that will bring us into joy-filled lives. Yet they are temptations that will face us each and every day. The flesh is a constant enemy that would have us yield ourselves to its control. Its appetites are ever a snare put us into captivity which only results in an unending misery. Like an addiction that drives one to consume to ease the driving appetite for that which one knows is destructive, we are engaged in an inner war that Paul also experienced and wrote about in Romans 7:22-24. “For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” Well, Paul found the deliverance and wrote about it in Galatians 2:20. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
Our answer to RULE and RELIANCE then? Submission to the only true King who was both able to conquer the fleshly, without sin, and be worthy to sit upon the THONE of every man’s heart and life. His is the only total wisdom of RULE for my life, and as the Creator of all that is, the only One Whose provisions are completely sufficient for all my needs.
OH, FRIENDS, WON’T YOU TAKE THIS ENCOURAGEMENT AND SET HIM ON THE THRONE OF YOUR HEART.
Saturday, January 30, 2010
During the wars that have taken the lives of so many of our brave men and women, their families dreaded that day when that feared telegram would arrive announcing that their loved one was M.I.A., Missing in Action!
Though it left a margin of hope that they might still be among the living, the anxious hearts and minds would not allow for any normalcy of life or closure until some more definite word was given. Long after those wars ended, many still had no confirmation of the life or death of their M.I.A.s. And history’s record of some who were considered dead but found to be P.O.W.s long after the fighting ceased simply added to the lack of closure and the continuing grief for their families. Such is one of the great horrors of war.
As I thought about the spiritual application of this example in the life of the church and its people, I was reminded of the many references to the Christian’s place and task. The Lord’s “army of believers” daily fight against the enemies of God, the devil and his band of destroyers of all that is good. It is an ongoing war that requires more and more “soldiers of the cross” in the midst of the action.
One of the blessings of spiritual warfare, however, is that when those who are fighting lose their lives in sacrifice, become M.I.A.s as it were, responding faithfully to the orders from their Heavenly Commander, their WHERE.ABOUTS is truly known. It is a matter for rejoicing, for their part of the battle is won and they have reaped the reward of heroes, a crown of victory. The testimony of their lives is an inspiration for those left “in the trenches” to press on in the fight against sin’s domination of their lives and others’, too!
James, the brother of Jesus, writes this about the man who is tried and truth through the battle against sin’s temptation. “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.” (1:12) The Psalmist adds his word of hope. “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” (116:15) And Paul, too, gives his take on it personally. “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing.” (II Timothy 4:6-8)
The application of the term P.O.W. in the physical warfare of men is a symbol of those who have fought bravely, but been captured in battle. We honor their service and the sacrifice of freedom that their lives in such captivity’s cruel cells undergo. In the spiritual sense, the term P.O.W. has not the same connotation. It is not so honorable a position. In fact, it decries a willful, though sometimes deceived, submission to the enemy’s hold. They become PRISONERS OF WAR because they do not continue to WALK after the Spirit of Christ, taking their orders from His command. WALKING after the flesh, they commit such sins of OMISSION and failure to keep the faith as His good soldiers.
Paul’s words of positive challenge reveal the nature of their P.O.W. status. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1-2) And again, in Galatians 5:1, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”
The term A.W.O.L. does have the same connotation in both the physical and spiritual sense. ABSENT WITHOUT LEAVE is the status of one who leaves his post, be it as a deserter from the battlefield, his assigned post as a guard or watchman with the duty to maintain the security of a camp or any other duty or place of assignment. And of equal import is the serious infraction of “sleeping on watch.” Being A.W.O.L. or S.O.W. brought with it stiff penalties for those who were discovered and/or apprehended.
In the war against spiritual darkness and the arch enemy that broods over it, the army of Christ called the church, I am ashamed to say, has many who are the ABSENT WITHOUT LEAVE. The evidence is found on any given Sunday’s worship or Sunday School’s study of the Scriptures. When less than half of the church’s membership is ABSENT, and most without good cause, the battle goes not well overall. And though the remaining “troops” continue to faithfully carry-out their orders, the enemy’s forces wax stronger, and more of the souls of men are captured and doomed to an eternity of punishment in death. The evidence of a lack of “troop-strength” is found not only in those who are absent, but those who attend in a mock-loyalty, but in fact, do not listen nor apply the instructions given on how to better overcome the enemy and rescue his captives. They are like those who S.O.W. (i.e. SLEEP ON WATCH).
Paul addresses this circumstance with a call to don our armor and do our duty. “Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.” (I Thessalonians 5:5-9)
A final word of counsel comes from Paul regarding our position. “Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please Him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.” (II Timothy 2:1-4)
BE ENCOURAGED, MY FRIENDS, THE BATTLE VICTORY IS SURE!
Friday, January 29, 2010
One of the early lessons of living in a fast-paced society filled with people all trying to get someplace quickly is recognizing the SIGNALS that help coordinate the flow of traffic. This lesson is aided by the presence of numerous law enforcement officials who’s task it is to see that everyone obeys the rules of the road.
I’m reminded of one such very dedicated official that took his job very seriously. Barney Fife of “The Andy Griffith” sitcom, despite all of his misadventures in “fighting the crimes” of Mayberry, was a stickler for the laws. Most memorable in my mind was the oft’ repeated situation of him calling a Mayberry citizen to task for JAYWALKING, and promptly writing him a ticket for the misdemeanor. In Mayberry, such enforcement seems ludicrous. New York City, maybe, but Mayberry? Laugh though we do, we cannot fault his attention to duty and the rules he pledged to enforce. And who can say, but what some speeding pickup might round the corner of that small community and land that same JAYWALKER in the hospital or worse. My hat’s off to you, Barney!
Yes, we grow up learning the rules and the SIGNALS designed to keep us and others safe in the midst of our scurrying to and fro on the road of life. Three very important and common signals we find on almost every street corner, except perhaps Mayberry, are those that tell us CAUTION! STOP! or WALK!
These signals also give individuals a series of warnings and counsel on the way they are to move through their daily lives and do so with better opportunities to do so with safety and with joy. Failure to do so can lead to a person’s danger, heartache and wasted time and life, not to speak of the potential hurt to others who may be encountered.
The CAUTION LIGHT is a very critical signal for it warns of potential danger with forward movement. It is frequently seen controlling the movement of ongoing traffic, but it may tell of a crisis on the road ahead that could threaten. In life one who does not heed such a signal from God’s Holy Spirit or His Word, could be heading into a spiritual maze of Satan’s making. Peter gives counsel regarding being serious and watchful, “because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about. Seeking whom he may devour.” (I Peter 5:8)
When you come to those crossings in life’s road, where there are choices to be made regarding your direction, be CAUTIOUS and weigh carefully which road is God’s direction and which is a route desired by Satan, and meant to rob you of the joyous life God intends. God would have you no longer walk in the way of the ungodly or those who persist in a willful and sinful way, for these will not stand in the day of judgment. (Psalm 1:5) Consider your life today. Are you “throwing CAUTION to the wind” when temptation to sin comes your way, or are you calling upon the name of the Lord to help and guide you in the right path and proceeding therein!
The STOP LIGHT could be said to be a warning, as well, keeping one from stepping into the path of destruction. All too often in life, however, CAUTION “has been thrown to the wind” and sinful action taken. Far too many regret the day when such was a bad choice made and it landed them in a life of disabling spiritual defeat, suffering the consequences of foolish walking in the flesh. With Christ, however, even one who has stepped out onto sin’s road has the possibility of redemption. The STOP LIGHT gives warning but it also issues a command to STOP WALKING on sin’s pathway.
Paul’s counsel to the Ephesians in Chapter 4 challenges us to STOP, “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.” (vs 14) We’re told to STOP and put away lying, sinful anger, the giving of place to the devil, stealing, corrupt and evil speaking, bitterness, wrath, malice and the grieving of the Holy Spirit. (vss 25-31) And the apostle John then gives us this blessed promise, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9) With this and our Lord’s new path before us, we will find another SIGNAL given!
The GREEN LIGHT to WALK is a signal that shouts “all clear to proceed” to the one facing it’s light. Even though sometimes it seems the light will never change in our favor, and we are tempted to move against its directive, spiritual wisdom counsels that waiting on God’s SIGNAL is a far better choice.
Again, in the Ephesian letter of Paul, Chapter 4, he speaks of the GREEN LIGHT of the Christian’s WALK. “Be renewed in the spirit of your mind…put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness…speak every man truth with his neighbor…working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth…let communication proceed out of your mouth…which is good to the edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers, and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” (vss 23-32) The apostle John also gives this word of challenge regarding the Christlikeness of one’s WALK, “He that saith he abideth in Him (Christ) ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked.” (I John 2:6)
DEAR FRIENDS, BE ENCOURAGED TODAY IN YOUR WALK! God’s truth applies everywhere, even in Mayberry!
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Were you able to get your tongue around that title? I know, I know. I’m stretching the bounds of poetic license, but I’ve a reason for it. I’ve been blogging the last few days with regard to some personal soul searching. I started with THINKING, moved into my ATTITUDE and most recently, my TALKING. The next logical step is how these three begin to affect my RELATIONSHIPS. I’ve heard it said that the word FELLOWSHIP can be described as “Two fellows in a ship”, so I’m borrowing THEIR SHIP for a few minutes to LAUNCH my THOUGHTS. Sorry, I’m doing it again!
And speaking of SHIPS, I served on board a ship in the Navy back in the 60s. I was a clerk in the office of the Executive Officer in charge of what was called the SHIP’s COMPANY of men. It was a hospital ship so there was actually two separate “commands” or staffs, in landlubber terms. One was hospital and the other, ship’s company in charge of maintaining the ship itself. It was an unusual ship because, although it had seen ocean service, it was, for my time, a permanently docked base hospital. Its engine was even disconnected and it had to be “towed” to dry-dock to clean the hull. This was OK by me, for the one time I had gone on a brief one-day cruise on a friend’s ship, I was sea-sick the whole voyage. All this to lead-into my point for this blog.
I’m afraid that in the matter of RELATIONSHIPS many have the same reaction and exit the scene before the voyage ever gets started. As long as it is just maintenance work in keeping “the decks” relatively clean and the “crew” clothed and fed, leave the ups-and-downs of “sailing” to others, is often the response. It reminds me of the typical response of Raymond on “Everybody Loves Raymond” when his wife wants to talk about their relationship more deeply. He throws up his hands, cries “Oh, no!” and exits, stage left, and I mean left. That’s where the kitchen is, and the “frig”. Is there a play on words there? I mean, COOL and RELATIONSHIP? That aside, you get the point? Raymond has one train of THOUGHT and it has produced an ATTITUDE that results in TALK and WALK that keeps his SHIP of RELATIONS in dry-dock!
A ship is built to SAIL, not be tied to the dock! Yes, it performed a service of good deeds, but it was still a SHIP designed for SAILING!
As I have pondered this in relation to my own life, I realize that there are times that my own predisposition has been to avoid the ROUGH WATERS of life with the “crew” that God has seen fit to be with me in the boat from time to time. Sometimes our SHIP sails into pretty cold waters. There are difficulties that many have in forming new relationships, BREAKING the ICE, so to speak. There are others that SAIL into very heated relational climates that seem to have no refreshing winds to cool the tempers that flare up, and the voyage is stalled for lack of such winds, too. And to carry the analogy one compass point further, there are times that the crew responsible for sailing the ship in the right direction, for whatever reason, chooses a route that takes them dangerously close to SHIPWRECK on the rocks of wrong relations. The result I leave to your imagination.
Stepping aside from the analogy I’ve used, I’ve begun to examine my own life in connection to others. As I have done before, I refer to thoughts shared in Frizzell’s book, “Return to Holiness” that I’ve mentioned before in these blogs. When he refers to the category of relationships as a point where sin’s cleansing is needed, he cites problems such as hurts or offenses that may have been done to others. These, he says, can create rifts between Christians that result in quenching the Spirit for the whole church. The words of Jesus in Matthew 5:23-24 are good counsel, “Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and then remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”
Unforgiveness is also an area where needed cleansing exists. How many time have we heard even Christians say, ‘I just can’t forget so I can’t forgive.” Jesus’ words again challenge, from Matthew 6:14-15, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Makes you think, doesn’t it? And as to forgetting, our heavenly Father’s forgiveness through Jesus Christ puts the sin away from His mind as far as the east is from the west. Our act of will in forgetting is to follow His example and put it as far away from our THOUGHTS as we can, through putting our THOUGHTS consistently on His love for us and our love for others.
Improper relationships, too, warrant some attention here. If we allow our minds to become involved in THOUGHTS that are unhealthy or destructive to our relational commitments, be it our immediate family, or church family, it can alter our ATTITUDES and our TALK and WALK with those people, and ultimately with God, Himself! The scriptures teach us that relationships are to be worked at consistently. “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for it.” (Eph. 5:25) Wives and husbands both are to work daily on a love relationship that grows deeper with the passing days and years. Children, who are commanded to honor their parents, also need the stability of such good role models that are worthy of honor paid.
And, as to the church family, the same kind of counsel applies, and even more so, as we see time and the relationships of this world growing more difficult. Hebrews 10:25 gives good advice to those who’s relation to a local church is less than proper. “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more, as you see the day approaching.” The relationship of believers to believers is truly a strengthening blessing to all, and keeps each one on the RIGHT COURSE AND HEADING in life.
And speaking of RIGHT COURSE AND HEADING, my own SHIP of RELATIONS is one that I am committed to STEER with God’s COMPASS, His Word, toward the HEADING He’s given us, and it’s His WIND of the Spirit that fills our SAILS. As SHIP’s COMPANY, we’re doing our best to keep the decks maintained and clean, the crew fed, and the LOOK – OUTS in the CROWS NEST – waiting and watching to lift their CRY – LAND HO!
BE ENCOURAGED IN YOUR OWN REAL.LATION.SHIPS, ME HEARTIES!
Monday, January 25, 2010
So, THOUGHTS and ATTITUDES! Now where? The next logical step in self-examination is my TALK. What I think and how I feel usually will find a way of getting their message out, regardless the wisdom of it, or its consequences.
I saw a quote by Plato the other day that grabbed my attention. “Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something.” Now, that’s a mind jerker for one who’s calling involves TALKING. I had to stop and reflect on how much unnecessary YADA YADA I may have done in a day’s time, all because I thought I had to “have something to say” every time I found an opening in the conversation. I think whoever said “silence is golden” may have a lot of wisdom.
I have discovered in my years of ministry that the best thing I can do very often is use my ears more than my mouth, other than to eat that is, and it is probably wise that I take more rest in that area, as well, if you get my meaning. Well, I’m working on that issue, too, but that’s “fodder” for another blog. LISTENING while others TALK accomplishes several important tasks. First, it acknowledges the other person’s importance, as well as, what they have to say. It also gives the listener a base of information from which to act or respond. And, of equal value, it provides the listener with time to insure that what he does say is the very best.
What can I say? For those of you that know me, you know I like WORDS. I am fascinated by new words, by the words that I hear, and the way that they are used in conversation. You couple that with my drive to YADA YADA and you have a periodic attempt at humor launched mid-conversation. Example. Last night my wife and I returned home after church and she noticed she’d left a light ON, so made that fact known to me in a very simple statement. “I left a light on.” My “bent” kicked-in and I responded, “ON WHAT?” She, of course, being used to my verbal antics, plays the role of naivete and I am allowed to “carry-on” a bit longer, sometimes launching into a whole other word direction. It’s a game we play, though sometimes I realize that I’m being “humored” more than initiating a “game” that has an equal amount of joy experienced by the other person. Herein is my first point of discovery about the subject of RIGHT WALK TALKIN’.
“It’s just who I am!” comes to mind as my first excuse. But I know that deep down I sometimes, shall we say, “Go overboard!” Humor is certainly not wrong, nor is learning new words and their proper use. I write stories, poetry and songs and words are a necessity to communicate properly their meanings. And practicing words, even ‘mid humor injected in conversation has its benefits. It can be a release valve for tension that develops in a group or one on one. If two persons engage in a friendly exchange of banter built on words and their ‘oft humorous use, it even has a skill building benefit. Example: My Broco (aka, Brother-Cousin) Ray and I have an unwritten commitment to begin a light-hearted session with a fast-paced word exchange, one word building on another. Well, you’d have to be there! But you get the point! Now, back to “going overboard” – I am convicted that I must be careful to watch my TALK merely for TALK’S sake, lest I begin to destroy the witness of my true THOUGHT and ATTITUDE, and most of all my TRUE WALK with my Lord. I am counseled by Scripture to put away from my TALK, “…foolish talking…jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.” (Eph. 5:4) There ARE times it is convenient, and there ARE times when it is not. Plato and Paul are in agreement on that point.
There are, of course, other concerns with regard to our RIGHT WALK TALKIN’. In the book RETURN TO HOLINESS that I have mentioned before in my blog, the author has drawn my attention to other types of TALK in his third category, namely, Sins of Speech. Paul’s letter to Ephesus is referenced related to “corrupt and filthy” words. (4:29; 5:4) “Lying” is yet another form of ill-used TALK that destroys one’s witness of the truth. (Col. 3:9) These show that our former WALK as unredeemed still spills over into our new life in Christ, and reflects negatively on Him. Oh, My, stop and consider the weight of that issue. Other WALK TALKS such as “gripe and complaint. bitterness, wrath, anger, evil speaking” and the contentious spirit that accompanies them, also warrant our watchfulness and guarding of TALK, lest we give the world more reason to reject the Saviour than they already possess. (I Cor. 10:10;I Thess 5:18; Eph. 4:31; I Cor. 1:10)
We are counseled by Paul in “speaking the truth in love” that we “may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.” (Eph. 4:15) And again, “be angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath.” (Eph. 4:26) There is righteous anger but our TALK is to be in truth and that which becomes Christ’s mind. A final word of challenge to my heart and yours from Paul, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearer.” (Eph. 4:29)
You know, as I reflect upon the TALK of our Lord, I believe He laughed and appreciated a good joke with the disciples with whom He WALKED. But He also knew the critical shortness of time that He had to be with them. His TALK mirrored a perfect WALK, and He never spoke just to be TALKIN’. Even His light moments had a depth of meaning. Oh, Lord, may mine be so, too!
BE ENCOURAGED IN YOUR RIGHT WALK TALKIN’ TODAY!
Sunday, January 24, 2010
"Aircraft performance is accomplished by controlling the aircraft attitude and power output. Aircraft attitude is the relationship of its longitudinal and lateral axes to the Earth’s horizon."
This highly technical statement speaks of ATTITUDE or level of flight. It has a direct relatonship to the power output which controlls the plane's ALTITUDE. It occurs to me that my life needs to have the Lord's control to level and empower me if I am to increase my spiritual ALTITUDE!
Yesterday I was THINKING. Today I’m wrestling with my ATTITUDE. Have you ever heard someone remark, “Well, he/she sure has an ATTITUDE!”? The interesting thing about that statement is that it applies to everyone. The only difference is the tone in which the statement is made. Usually we hear it as it refers to one who is exhibiting a less than good one. Be it haughty or naughty, it’s never nice.
As I weigh my own ATTITUDE I recognize that the times when it fits the less than “nice” category are the periods when I allow the circumstances around me to take control of my mind. For instance, I have observed in comparing “happiness” to “joy” that “happiness is measured by surface happenings” while “true joy springs from deeper sources within” the life. The superficial happiness is a roller-coaster ride of ups and downs as the emotions are allowed to blow where they will with every wind of change.
It reminds me of the lyrics to a scene highlighted in the television comedy series, HEE HAW. Four overalled hayseeds singing “Gloom, despair and agony on me. Deep, dark depression, excessive misery. If it weren’t for bad luck I’d have no luck at all. Gloom, despair and agony on me.” We laugh about it, but if the truth be known, we laugh because there may be more truth than comedy in its application to our lives. Misery loves company, and perhaps levity hides the fact that many often feel it’s the only luck they have.
I’m just glad that my life is not guided by luck or arranged by fate. If it was, perhaps I might see that song as viable. No, my destiny is guided, not by the throw of a pair of dice, but by the very same Hands that reached down to this created earth and shaped man from its clay, and by breathing into him life filled with His own likeness, set his feet on the path of intimacy with Himself. Why, that truth alone gives me a reason to rejoice! You see, that God Who took such pains with man’s creation knows and loves me, and works out my destiny always for His good pleasure and my good. I call that having an ATTITUDE and I want to keep it ever as the character my life portrays.
A problem exists, however, that challenges this ATTITUDE’s ongoing victory in my life. In my last blog I mentioned my friend’s “categories of sin”, the first of which was Sins of Thought. The second he mentions follows right on its heels, and in fact grows out of sinful thought. You guessed it, Sins of ATTITUDE!. I must maintain a prayerful watch on my THOUGHTS, even as I begin to deal with my ATTITUDE. They are linked as foundational building blocks of holy living. What THOUGHTS begin, ATTITUDES continue to build upon.
I’ve already mentioned the ATTITUDE of joy. Others which may be weighed are those which are revealed in one’s love and passion for God, and love and compassion for others. These primary ATTITUDES cover a multitude of applications and are the subject of God’s primary directive for us. Do you remember what Jesus said was the greatest commandment? “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” And the second, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” (Matt. 22:37/39)
These primary commandments, when followed consistently in truth, are the foundational THOUGHTS that result in Holy ATTITUDES. When I fail to keep my mind upon that which is Holy and full of joy, the result is ATTITUDES like pride, self-righteousness, spiritual complacency, self-centeredness, prejudice, unforgiveness, worldliness and even unbelief. It’s disturbing how the list goes on! Have you ever built your life with such ATTITUDES? I am ashamed to say, I have, and it’s no wonder why bouts of depression set in as a result. Been there? Done that?
So, today, I’m beginning anew to let the Lord search out my mind and heart, and cast out the ATTITUDES that rob me of the joy I find in Him. How about you? Why not let Him work His will in you today?
No, I did not forget my TITLE LINE. When I begin to THINK of my Lord and rejoice, my ATTITUDE takes wings and my ALTITUDE changes. Paul said it best. “But God, who is rich in mercy…when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ…and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” (Eph. 2:4-6) And that’s past tense with continued action. Now, that’s what I call ALTITUDE!
BE ENCOURAGED, MY FRIENDS!
Friday, January 22, 2010
Monday, January 18, 2010
(That's me THEN, old no. 21!
(And our 1958-59 team -front row - that's me 3rd from the right -
and my brother 3rd from the left.)
During my Senior year I did not play, but turned my talents from the court to the typewriter, where I wrote the play by plays as Sports Editor of my high school newspaper. However, I would not trade that year of work as a member of the team for anything. You see, I was on the “B” team, and did get to play in games scheduled for that group of players. But with the whole team, I participated in all of the practice sessions, running plays to develop skill and unity on the court, and even running “the bleachers” to develop endurance and stamina, as well as, to pay for missing any of the 50 “freethrows” required at each practice. The team was pushed hard to excel, and excel the team did! I actually became quite good at those “freethrows”, sinking one after another without missing too many. One lap on the bleachers for each one missed was a good motivator. On reflection, perhaps more laps plus excellence with the ball might have helped my performance during the games. As I look back, all in all, it was a significant time in my life and well worth the effort.
As I sat listening during the awards banquet, our former coach rehearsed our team’s success, and I recalled those days some 51 years past now. Many were named out of the school’s past for individual achievement, and with each one, I felt a mixture of humility at being counted among them, but pride because as a part of a team of excellence, perhaps in my small way, I helped in that process.
Weighing the lessons recalled and learned, one valuable truth stands out in my mind. In spite of the many whose names individually are lofted on the honor rolls of excellence, the key to their performance is their participation and unity that comes with being a part of the team. In fact, each of the individual honorees that spoke on receiving their recognition said that only as a part of the team could they have been so honored.
Today, as I reflect on the experience and my part in it, I am once again reminded of the truths that the Word of God giveS us. Paul was passionate about the importance of the TEAM called the Church! In I Corinthians, chapter 12, he writes these important words about the body, the Church. Note that for this point I have replaced the word BODY with TEAM to show the application of this truth.
“For as the TEAM is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one TEAM, being many, are one TEAM: so also is Christ.” (vs 12) “But now hath God set the members every one of them in the TEAM, as it hath pleased Him. And if they were all one member, where were the TEAM? But now are they many members, yet but one TEAM. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee; nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the TEAM, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: And those members of the TEAM, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the TEAM together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: That there should be no schism in the TEAM; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.” (vss 18-26)
I pray that today you who are members of His body may BE ENCOURAGED THAT AS MEMBERS OF HIS SPECIAL TEAM YOU HAVE ALREADY BEEN INDUCTED INTO HIS HALL OF FAME, AND ONE DAY WILL BE SEATED AT THE HEAVENLY BANQUET TABLE OF THE LAMB, AND THERE TO BE HIS TROPHY OF HONOUR!