Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Seeing the Distortion

It is said that you can throw a frog into a pot of boiling water and it will immediately jump out, but you can put a frog into lukewarm water and gradually heat the water to a boil, and the frog will leisurely swim until it dies. The same thing happens to the church as we become more and more accustomed to seeing distortions and accepting distortions as reality. I am referring to whatever is a distortion from the principles and commandments of God’s Word. We have to learn to see the distortions of sin and recognize how we are going to correct the distorted view to others and ourselves. Flanner O’Connor wrote, “The novelist with Christian concerns will find in modern life distortions which are repugnant to him, and his problem will be to make these appear as distortions to an audience which is used to seeing them as natural.”

We are seeing in our culture a compensory righteousness that is completely arbitrary. It is not based on the word of God but rather on the feelings of people. It reflects our culture. In political correctness we are seeing a whole new standard of righteousness.

It is a terrible sin to be a smoker, but alcohol is fine, though you don’t have to worry about a smoker killing you on the highway because he is smoke drunk.  Our teenagers are told junk food is terrible for them, but being sexually active is totally normal and natural. The whole country is concerned about texting while driving, but viewing pornography in our public libraries is just fine. Spirituality has never been more in vogue, but the name of Jesus has never been more banned. Students are encouraged to be open to culture and world religions but prohibited from sharing their faith in Christ. The Caucasian race is being told to accept the guilt of slavery in this country or face shame of being called racists. Never mind that we fought a war with over 600,000 soldiers dying to win freedom for every person in this country. Christianity is demonized for oppressing women in a country where women are more free than any other place in the world, but not a word is said about Muslim countries where women live in the same bondage they have for two thousand years. A man who kills 13 soldiers and personnel at Fort Hood in the name of Allah is only guilty of workplace violence, but a baker or florist who refuse to participate in a gay wedding are guilty of hateful discrimination and deserve to be punished. Over 1200 wavers have been granted to companies to not participate in Obamacare, but none to Hobby Lobby who refuses to pay for abortions for their employees.

When you throw out God’s standard for righteousness, you come up with your own. The prophet Isaiah gave a warning in these words: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter” (Isaiah 5:20).

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Joy is a Verb

Although the word “joy” appears as a noun in the dictionary, it is really a verb, that is in the sense I am describing here. What I mean is that we have a responsibility to make joy happen in our lives. Paul wrote to the Philippians, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4). Paul said this in a context of tension. A strong disagreement had arisen between two leaders in the church. As Paul asks the leaders to work out their problem, he encourages the believers to rejoice. Then Paul gives a prescription of what we have to do if we really want joy.

The first thing we are to do is to maintain an attitude of gentleness, “Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near” (Phi. 4:5). Simply by taking the initiative of maintaining a gentle and patient attitude, we can help create the environment for our own joy. We can refuse to allow the attitudes of frustration, anger and selfishness to dominate us. Secondly, Paul says we are to remind ourselves that “The Lord is near” (Phil 4:5). Knowing that Jesus is near us in all our situations changes us. There is no leaving him at church—he goes with us in all aspects of our lives. Knowing that Jesus is with us motivates us to have better self-control. Jesus is our highest motivation for living right.

The third step of action is prayer, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Phil. 4:6). First, develop the right attitudes, then pray about everything that comes up. Instead of getting mad, frustrated, fearful or discouraged, just pray. Paul says we should do it by presenting our petitions to God and then give thanks.

What follows next is exciting, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:7). With right attitudes and with the action of prayer, peace will become the sentries guarding our hearts and minds against intruding thoughts.

Jesus gave us a great illustration of what peace looks like. He talked about the things that seem to worry us the most, our food, clothes and how we look. Jesus said the key to having peace is to understand how valuable we are to God.

Matt 6:25-34
25 "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
28 "And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

An anonymous writer penned these words:
Said the robin to the sparrow
I should really like to know
Why those anxious humans beings
Rush about and worry so.

Said the sparrow to the robin,
Well, I think that it must be
That they have no heavenly Father
Such as cares for you and me.

Friday, September 13, 2013

My Investment Portfolio

On Friday, September 6, 2013, our fifth grandchild joined our family. His name is Boyd Josiah Brooks, named after his father and his grandfather. He weighed 8 lbs and was 20 ¾ inches long. He is a very handsome boy. He has two big sisters, Adela age 5 and Eliana age 3, who are very excited about their new brother. We are all excited to watch him grow and develop in the special way that God has designed for him.

I have had the opportunity to hold him and gaze into his little face with wonderment. Each time I hold one of these grandkids I stand in complete awe of the creator-God. He has formed them and has made each so unique. Holding little Josiah, these words from David seem to take on new meaning:
 Psalms 139:10-15

13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

I really enjoy these grandkids, and I spend as much time as I can with them. They bring so much joy and excitement to our lives. I never know how they will respond to my questions and teasing. Most of the time, I am completely speechless.

I consider my grandkids to be my primary investment portfolio in life. I don’t how many years I have left on the earth, but ever how many they are, I want them to be fruitful. I want to be able to invest in the lives of these special people the way Marilyn and I did into our children.

We often hear about the risks and disappointments of getting older. I want to tell you that one of the best things that has happened in my life is becoming a grandpa. I intend to enjoy this to the hilt.

I don’t get see my California grandkids as often as I would like. However, they will be coming to Missouri in November, so I plan on spending some time with Donovan age 6, and Caitlin age 3.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Something to Boast About

Human beings have a propensity to boast and are often unaware of where pride may take them. Solomon warned, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom” (Proverbs 11:2). God knows the areas we are most tempted to vaunt ourselves. That is the reason God said, “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches.” However, he did tell us what we could boast about: “but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,"  declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 9:23-24). What God gave us here was three no’s and six yeses.

There are some 35 pyramids thousands of years old that testify to the boast of the Egyptian Pharaohs’ wisdom and power. The Pharaoh of Exodus arrogantly asked “Who is the Lord, that I should obey him?” (Ex. 5:2). Samson was one of the strongest men who ever lived, and he showed by his lifestyle that he was boastful of his strength. He began an illicit affair with Delilah who was determined to take him down, and yet Samson was completely gullible to her intentions. Samson played a game with her, and all the while his pride blinded him to the dangers around him. Finally, he was trapped, and the scriptures say this about him, “Then she called, "Samson, the Philistines are upon you!" He awoke from his sleep and thought, "I'll go out as before and shake myself free." But he did not know that the LORD had left him” (Judges 16:20).

Luke describes a rich man who fared sumptuously while ignoring the needs of others around him. He felt so confident and secure in his riches. However, upon death, he quickly learned that his riches had no eternal value. His story is one of utter regret (Luke 16:19-31).

Hunters once trapped turkeys by placing a net low to the ground and sprinkling corn all around. The turkey would bend down and get under the net to eat the corn, but when he was full and satisfied he didn’t know how to bend down to get himself out of the net. That is exactly the description of a proud person. It is no wonder that God warns us to not boast about ourselves but to boast about Him.

To know God is to know the greatest riches, wisdom and strength there is. To know that he is our provider, our protector, our peace, our righteousness and our sustainer is to have something to boast about. God says to us I want you to boast about these six things:

1) That He Understands and Knows Me

2) Yes, Boast Because I Am Jehovah

3)  Yes, Boast Because I Exercise Kindness

4) Yes, Because I Exercise Justice

5)  Yes, Because I Exercise Righteousness on Earth

6)  Yes, Boast in These Things For in These I Delight, Declares The LORD (Jer. 9:24).