The simple truth…

I work in the Quick Service (read fast food) industry. Some years ago I heard it was one of the top ten most stressful industries in the US. We work hard and push for excellence in all we do at our restaurant.

Yet, what we do is not hard. Putting two pickles and a piece of chicken on a bun is not difficult. Now, for some guests that piece of chicken had been through the hands of ten of our team members – from truck delivery to bag handed to guest. None of the steps difficult, and yet the entire process not simplistic. Life with Christ is not unlike this job. Multiple steps that are simple resulting in an amazing experience.

The simple truth is that the Truth is simple. God is incomprehensible, yet what He asks is not really difficult. How easy was it for Naaman to dip in the Jordan! Summarized in short commands or precepts continually throughout the Word, God lays it out for us.

Fear Him and keep his commandments.

Love God and your neighbor as yourself.

Be Holy.

Give glory to God.

The just shall live by faith.

It is simple. The simplicity of the Gospel is underestimated and misunderstood. And the life we live should not be made more complicated.

I was posed a question this week. In reality the essence of the question was this: if the goal we are pursuing for the accomplishing of good cannot be obtained, should we join with and promote others whose morality is absent in order to have a hope of doing some future good?

I mean, read the question again. Does that sound even remotely simple? Don’t we as people complicate matters too often.

Paul keeps it simple in Romans 3:5-10. Asking the rhetorical question, should we do evil that good may come? In our words, do the ends justify the means? The answer of course is, “No.”

Life isn’t complicated. We don’t like that. We want an answer that more easily permits our desires. We muddle the water around a simple truth. We look for Gray area when the line is precise as can be.

That is pharisaical. You see, the Mosaic Law was “black and white” in stone and inflexible. The Pharisees bent and manipulated the law by adding tradition in order to accomplish their own goals. We don’t want to hear the simple answer because we don’t like it. We’d rather twist and complicate the matter to add exceptions and caveats so that there are all these subcategories and pretend it’s all gray. It really isn’t.

God wants us to do right. Pursue Him. Glorify Him. Be Holy. Consequences are in the hands of God. Do right. Every step and every move, every thought and every action – do right.

The simple truth is that the Truth is simple and we just don’t like it.

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Electing a pastor?

Tonight I don’t want to jump into all the details about the options but just wanted to comment on the thought “we aren’t electing a pastor.” Its true, but through the whole Bible, God blesses a righteous and godly leader and punishes the other. Proud kings and those that did evil brought tragedy to their nations. Godly men brought reform, revival, and healing. God used righteous leaders for revival many times, while the prophets and wisdom literature speak against a foolish leader.

Godliness is the priority in Scriptures. God doesn’t say “Asa did a good job with the finances or building the walls up.” (Sure it lists accompliments, but always after the summary of their life – be it good or evil.) They did right in God’s eyes or didn’t. That’s the measure of a true leader. God ordained government just like the church (Romans 13). So, yes, we aren’t electing a pastor, but we are looking for an individual to fill a God ordained position and the primary characteristic God seeks is a man after His own heart – like with David over Saul.

Saul was the man the people wanted. He looked like a good guy. He seemed humble even. He tried to do right. And he followed his own path. God wanted someone after his own heart. We don’t have to be Israel to see what God looks for in a person, how much more so in a leader.

A person of influence must always be held to the same standard. We see it through Scripture consistently. We see it laid out in the church and we see it in plenty of places laid out in the OT. We see the principles of servant leadership through the NT. God is looking for Godly men to lead.

Isaiah 66:2
But to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.

That’s who God is looking for. And here is what He desires in a nation.

Proverbs 16:12
It is an abomination to kings to commit wickedness: for the throne is established by righteousness.

The throne is established by righteousness – not good money sense…or anything else. This is God’s plan. And a lost person cannot meet it. A saved person will mess up and sin, but the power of a Godly leader should not be missed from Scripture. He might not accomplish some of the same goals we want. But God’s priority isn’t on a wall, or making America great. God’s priority is on having a relationship with Him. The same goes for our leaders.

I pray that Christians will have a Biblical worldview, rather than a Republican/libertarian/democratic or even American worldview.

Pitfall of winning

Today in class we talked about having a Biblical Worldview in regards to politics. In light of recent events – Trump winning a Republican primary in what is considered to be a known conservative Christian state – it is incumbent upon us to consider our worldview in regards to political views.

Not to rehash the entire discussion, some of the highlights are below:

1. We must talk, post, think, vote, and pray with the mind of God.

2. We must not align ourselves as children of God with a child of the Devil.

3. We must spend ourselves in prayer for our country. We pray not that God would be unjust but that He would continue his longsuffering and mercy towards us in postponing the judgment we deserve and that is coming.

The question was posed, which I have heard before and is a good question and worthy of discussion. It is a question I heard four years ago and even in another discussion early this morning. To summarize: Isn’t it better to have Trump than to have Hillary?

To answer, I ask another. Is one child of the Devil better than another? And here is where I think we misunderstand the true conflict. Every four years we have a battle but it is not between two parties. God does not win if Republicans win. And God does not lose if Republicans lose. Having the “lesser of two evils” is not God’s idea. Evil is counter God.

I’ve encountered many who believe this way, and I’m not set to change minds today but to challenge a problematic mindset that leads to that view. Perhaps this isn’t where your mindset stems, but for some I believe it can be found here.

Trump beating Hillary is not a win for God, for Christians, for conservatives, or even Americans who desire greatness. There is no win. It is a true lose-lose situation. But when we align ourselves on one side, we want that side to win. We need to be careful how we align ourselves. We may be registered as Republican but we must be Christian first. A republican win does not mean I win.

What of us then? Do we look for a win because we don’t like to lose or do we desire righteousness because God is holy? They don’t go together. One is a trick of the Devil. The other is the mind of God. I pray for God to grant a righteous person to lead our nation.

Power of importunity

Are you tired of it yet? Are you tired of the posts, the pictures, the videos, the guilt? I hope you aren’t.

(While I do hope not, the whole idea is backwards, illogical, and counter-God. How dare we begin to think “it’s too much,” or “enough already” regarding the proliferation of posts and videos callng for the abolishing of Planned Parenthood. The correct context for those statements is: PP has slaughtered millions of babies. It is enough! To think of the innocent lives lost due to selfishness is too much! It ought to make our hearts break and stir us to unrelenting action. The other idea is pure ridiculous, but to continue…)

I hope you are not discouraged that “no one is changing their mind.” We must recognize that this is a marathon and we are still in the first 5k.

The internet makes it incredibly easy to hide and ignore anything that might offend our senses and offers up a billion distractions to our minds to forget anything that might move us to action.

But that is where we find the opportunity for importunity!

Luke 11:5-8
And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; [6] For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? [7] And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. [8] I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.

The point here is not even that the neighbor needed to get up and give it. It isn’t that it was deserved or right or black/white. It is that he continued to knock on his door! We keep knocking. And we keep pounding. And we pound louder and louder and we don’t stop. More posts. More videos. More poems. More laments. More articles. More pictures that rightly make us sick. Reposts. More sharing. Disciplined commitments – example: for every idle wasted post (that we will answer for), three posts calling for the abolishing of planned parenthood. Boycott – seriously, is your coffee so precious to you you will buy from those giving to murderers?

Make them sick of it. Make them scared of the next video’s release. Make them worried when they will get another customer who refuses their product. Make them tired of it. Show you are persistent. The world does not understand this. In this parable God uses a truth about humanity to teach us, and the truth He uses is that persistent annoyance works.

Keep pounding on the door, and trust in the Lord with the result. You don’t know when the neighbor will get out of bed. God does. Leave that to Him. Keep knocking.

He answered nothing

Christ answered them not again. Consider here the self-control of our Savior! Accused of many things, before Anna, Caiaphas, the Sanhedrin, Pilate, Herod, and finally Pilate again, he answered nothing. As a sheep before his sheerers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth. How long would we have been able to hold our tongues? How long would we have even attempted to? Jesus had complete control over his spirit, emotions, and temper. Innocent and charged with all sorts of nonsense, He did not respond. We see here Christ set forth as an example of self-control. In these things, he demonstrates something that is highly esteemed throughout the Scriptures.

Galatians 5:22-23  “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”

2 Peter 1:5-7 “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity”

Proverbs 16:32 “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.”

Proverbs 25:28 “He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.”

Christ was moved with compassion many times. He was moved to anger at points. He allowed righteous emotion to move him. Yet, he was not controlled by it. There are times, places, and emotions that are good and right to express. But we are to rule our spirit. We are not to let our spirit rule us. Our fear, grief, anger, pity, or happiness (to name a few) should not be the thing that controls us. If we are to let righteous emotions move us, and not all emotions, we must have a control over ourselves to filter them. We should not allow our spirit to control us. The Holy Spirit should control us.

I think often times we have a mistaken mindset that we are exercising self-control (temperance) and walking in the fruit of the Spirit as long as we don’t “lose our temper.” But losing our temper is the extreme form of not ruling our spirit. We are not ruling our spirit if we allow ourselves to act in anger/frustration/fear/etc. The difference in my children when they “throw a fit” and scream yell and kick their legs or when they silently turn their heads, avoid eye contact, and refuse to eat is noticed by the senses. My ears, eyes, and often hands and arms struggle when one of my children throws a fit in anger. When they stew in anger it is much quieter and less disruptive. Regardless though, they are acting in anger and sinning. We adults do the same thing. God does not excuse our actions in anger because “I didn’t lose my temper.” God doesn’t excuse our lack of panic when we are still acting out of fear. God doesn’t excuse a perversion of justice because we feel sorry for a person.

Over and over in the Scriptures we are told to control ourselves. This can only be done by walking with the Lord. And walking is only done over time. There is no easy solution if you are prone to anger. There is no easy solution if you are prone to fear. There is no easy solution if you are prone to depression. A walk is a daily, moment by moment thing. It is a continual step by step. And when we say we “missed a few days in the Word/prayer,” we need to be honest that we have stopped walking.

It may not be easy, but it is simple. Read your Bible and pray every day. God loves you. God will give victory. So, read His Word. Talk to Him. Ask Him to rescue you from these things that control you. Ask Him to give you the control of your spirit. Ask Him to take control of your spirit. Thank Him for His faithfulness to do these things as we walk with Him.

What God is doing

At my work meetings each week we begin with a section titled “what God is doing.” This is usually presented by one person, asked before hand to share something. But I’m a literal person, and without the added modifier of “in your life” I find myself considering this question with a very broad scope.

God is saving souls. He is maintaining the heavens and the earth. He is holding our lives in His hand. He is watching everything that takes place and is currently and at all moments present with us. He is laughing at the wicked. He is sorrowing over sin. He reigning omnipotent. He is giving grace. He is bestowing mercy. He is answering prayer. He is judging sin. He is restraining evil and the devil. He is convicting of sin. He is opening eyes. He is growing believers. He is loving His own. He is forgiving sin. He is pardoning iniquity. He is seeing us with Christ’s righteousness. He is holding us in His hand. He is healing the sick. He is teaching the church. He interceding for me.

God is busy. But never too busy for me, and you. God is a personal God. While God is doing all these things, He cares for you (and me). It is one of the most simple yet powerful truths. God cares for you. Consider that this Lord’s day. It can encourage your heart and bring your soul to worship.

“Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

What’s the point?

About a week ago I was in a discussion about a popular conservative blogger. This discussion bloomed, as many things often do, into a discussion of the current trends in blogging. 

A simple understanding of people is all that is required to realize many posts are just attempts at getting attention. You don’t need to understand SEO (search engine optimization), keywords, tags, hits, or Google’s set of rules for these things in order to recognize that many posts are titled purely for their shock and awe factor that will get you to click on them. Current popular methods in conservative circles (I wouldn’t know other circles. It could be similar but I’d guess it is bigger in conservative circles) include:

– writing a title that seems immoral and contrary to conservative values. Example: “couple spots man on date with someone not his wife, leaves note.”

– writing a title full of conflict and drama. Example: “this man follows his wife to work every day. The reason? Tore my heart up.”

– sharing or promoting the above stories within conservative circles to make more conservatives, who normally wouldn’t dare read such a thing, curious “why their good conservative friend would ‘like’ such a thing.”

Simply put, I’m not a trend follower. I’m tired of seeing these things in my feeds. I don’t want to read them and usually ignore them. The grammar is regularly poor, depending on what site you eventually find the story on. The writing isn’t thorough, and in reality there isn’t usually more to the story than the punchline that follows the title. It’s like a very long typed out joke. And I’m not laughing.

Regardless, a conversation like the one I had causes me to evaluate, again, why it is I blog. I don’t blog for the attention. I have three current titles in my head of modern relevant issues that would be good to hear and the titles would be sure to deliver the “shock and awe” factor. But I don’t write for that. I don’t want to manipulate like that. That really bothers me.

(And I’ll try to be clear, I don’t shy from trying (doesn’t always happen) to make my titles accurate yet appealing. Isn’t that learned in high school English? If I’m going to write I should do so for others to want to read. I’m not opposed to SEO and the diligent work of gaining readership. That is often wise stewardship and I could learn from some of that. But manipulation and false pretenses do bother me.)

So, why do I write? 1. I write because God has given me the ability and the desire to do so. I believe that I’m responsible for that and so I write. 2. I write because there are things that need to be said. There are all sorts of things going on in our families, churches, government, and world and they need to be talked about. 3. I write because I should be one of the people to deal with all these things that need to be addressed. I have a sphere of influence and within that sphere of influence I’m going to do my part to convey the things God lays on my heart. 4. Because this media belongs to my generation. Sure, not just my generation but I went from dialup to FIOS. I recall taking 30 minutes for five queries. I’ve seen and been part of the evolution of the Internet and I get it. This is the media of today and I’m going to engage in it.

That is the point.

So, what about you, the reader? Maybe I’ll address your responsibility sometime. But for now, I’ll just say I hope that you gain something from reading anything you are reading – here or elsewhere. Finally, let me add what is referred to as a “shameless plug.” But in reality it could just be informative information. Often my posts get linked to Facebook. Sometimes they do not. If you enjoy reading or think you could profit from reading from someone who writes for the above reasons I recommend you subscribe. This is the best method to guarantee you see the posts. Facebook is unreliable and you could miss it in the feed or it could glitch on this end and never make it. Many different ways to subscribe, but you might want to consider it.

What does God want from you?

God wants you to be open to Him. Very simply that is it. God’s will isn’t often complicated. He wants you to be open.

I work at Chick-Fil-A. I know this is where God put me right now in my life. I also think it is where God will have me for some time to come. But if God changes that tomorrow, then I need to be open to that. God’s will isn’t for me to be stuck in what I perceive His will to be. It is a daily walk. Even though I don’t see the sharp turn on this road we are walking, when He turns I need to be in-step with Him so I turn too.

People ask me about the future. Only God knows. Sometimes, I feel He gives me a sense of what it is. Other times, I don’t know. That isn’t the point though. Sometimes I tell my children where we are going. Sometimes I do not. There are a wide variety of reasons I do this. Maybe their anticipation will remove them from focusing on the present. Maybe their excitement will cause their current responsibility to be neglected. Maybe they just don’t understand the passing of time in the way that I do and so will become discouraged thinking I have lied or that I can’t bring it to pass.

In this analogy, I see myself as the three-year old in my relationship with God. All the misunderstandings and points of ignorance within my children I possess within myself. Certainly I trust Him and as we walk together, He tells me to told His hand. Like my children, sometimes I do hold His hand and walk in-step with Him. Other times I’m trying to pull Him this way or that or I’m running every which way around Him. Sometimes I even break free and run on my own until I recognize I’m lost without Him and run back to Him.

The idea is that we walk with Him. That we trust Him. We can’t be open to someone’s leading that we don’t trust. We must trust He has our best in mind, He knows us, He loves us, He cares for us, and we will be happiest when we follow Him. Then we will be in His will. We will hold His hand and walk side by side with Him. And we will trust Him with any turns or deviations.

And that is what God wants from us. Trust and to walk with Him.

More blessed

It is that time of year again at our church. The missions revival week is at the end of the month and we already begin focusing there. This inevitably leads to the discussion of faith promise, and thus giving. But, is it really that big a deal?

Its really easy for me, you see. I’m quite well off. I have a good job. I have a wonderful and supportive wife and family and way more things than we need. We can splurge and we can spend on things many would call extras. It must be easy for me to give to the church,  missionaries, the homeless, etc.

In fact it is easy. But not really so much for those reasons. God has made some promises to me that I can depend on.  He has taught me some things that make giving an easy decision. He has shown me the best investment opportunity.

By faith we please God. Not by money.

He that gives to the poor lends to God.

Treasure in Heaven is far more valuable.

We reap what we sow.

Life on earth is as a vapor and when God decides it is over we can’t take anything with us.

It is more blessed to give than to receive.

We don’t have to focus on money when we trust God implicitly. We don’t have to worry about anything, really.

Pray that God will let you invest where it matters. It shouldn’t be hard, but rather joyous!

god-in-a-box

When we are ignorant, either mentally or experientially, of who God is we begin to believe and act like our God can be placed in a box.

Sometimes this is due to lack of learning or false teaching. A new believer may not know God in the way an older believer does. Or some false teaching gets mingled into the Truth and leads to misunderstanding God.

Sometimes we know in our minds who our God is, but we don’t act like it for lack of walking with Him. We treat Him like a genie in a bottle. We treat Him like he is angry with us, His children, as if we were the wicked. We treat Him as if He is only a ticket from Hell and not a real live person who desires a relationship.

When we place God in our box, we have severely hampered and deceived ourselves. Not only have we offended a holy God, but removed any possibility of living a life of joy or contentment. Christ says that without Him you can do nothing. That is not a God that can be put in a box. That is a Savior that is necessary to all of life. We deceive ourselves when we think that we are in any way continuing in this very moment without His breath.

Our box does not determine our God, but rather determines our perception of God. God is. He has shown us glimpses of Himself in His word. He has opened our eyes at points and to extents to know Him. God is not constrained by our box. The only thing that constrains God is God. He wills to do of hIs good pleasure. He acts of Himself. He does of Himself. Can I say it any other way? Our box does not determine our God; nothing outside of God determines our God. God is Himself. That is redundant. God is.

Learn who God is. Because He doesn’t change, and when this God who is, is known of us, there is no box that can hold Him.

That is a God worth serving. That is a God worth knowing.