“How the Mighty Have Fallen”


meŸmoŸriŸal adj.  \mə-ˈmȯr-ē-əl\ def. serving to preserve remembrance[i]

On a day that is set aside to remember our fallen, I suspect that many of us have forgotten the significance of the holiday, and therefore, the significance of the sacrifice. In so doing, we not only dishonor those who gave their all for our freedom, but we lose an indispensible ingredient of our character; gratitude.

One may be excused for simply being ignorant. Perhaps parents and teachers failed to share the stories of sacrifice that built this great nation.

But to show little esteem for a single life that was lost on the battlefield is morally shallow at best and corrupt at worst. A lack of gratitude is a symptom for a host of self-centered symptoms of our society.

Good memory is a trait that must be nurtured. If tested, I believe that many an honor roll student could not remember details of subjects they aced on exams years earlier. There are many who studied musical instruments or languages when they were young only to lament how much they forgot as adults.

For one to invest time, money, and effort in learning how to play a musical instrument only to neglect it for years until it is all but lost is a terrible waste. How much worse for us to devalue the lives that were sacrificed to stop an enemy determined to destroy or enslave.  Yet, in some way, that is what we do when we fail to intentionally remember the debt that was paid for our freedom.

Intentional is a key word. We must be intentional about preserving the memory of the brave men and women who died fighting in our armed forces. If their memory, the memory of their heroic deeds are to be preserved it will not be done by accident.

Of course, whether or not we remember does not diminish their sacrifice. It only diminishes us.

As shameful as it would be to have a picnic among the graves of Arlington in some ways it is just as shameful to fail to sacrifice a small amount of our time in order to remember.

Of course, whether or not we remember does not diminish their sacrifice. It only diminishes us. The threats to our safety and freedom are every bit as real as they were at any time in the past. Edmund Burke who said, “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it”, has already made the point.

So, forgetting their sacrifice is not just robbing our fallen of the honor they deserve, it is robbing subsequent generations as well as us the understanding of what honor, courage, and sacrifice really means.

The multitude of slain patriots have testified with their blood that there are some things worth dying for. If we lose our appreciation for what they have done we may also lose those freedoms we hold dear.

Finally, we would be amiss to fail to point out the necessity of remembering the sacrifice of the sinless Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. He “endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2).

Try to wrap your mind around that! God Himself, in the Person of His Son, courageously endured the worst that evil man could pour out on Him, drank the cup of our sin and gave up His life. Scripture tells us that He did this because He loved us so much He would rather die than leave us to the judgment we deserve!

Use your imagination and try to wander the fields, beaches, jungles, seas, deserts, towns, and skies where our patriots gave their lives. Pause and give thanks.

Now, let us visit a hill just outside Jerusalem. It’s called the “place of the skull” or Golgotha.  Try to imagine the suffering that took place there for us.

The only suitable response to such great love is to surrender to this great King, accepting His payment for our sin and committing to follow Him the rest of our lives.

“How the mighty have fallen.” 2 Samuel 1:25

Remembering,

 

 

 



[i] Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Internet: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/memorial accessed May 27, 2012.

Posted in 2 Samuel 1:25, Gratitude, Hebrews, Memorial, Memory, Patriotism, Sacrifice, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Voice of God

If someone told you that God spoke to them, would that seem strange to you? Is it rational to believe that the One True God would speak to puny, sinful humans? Is there a way to determine if God has really spoken to someone or if God is speaking to you?

These are questions that touch the core of human existence. Whatever time in history you may choose, whatever nationality, location, or religious environment one may examine they all have this in common; most believe God has spoken and still speaks to man.

But it is not simply the almost universal belief that God speaks to His creatures that proves that He does. It is the testimony of Holy Scripture that God has spoken and still speaks. He has spoken to individuals throughout history as recorded in the Bible and ultimately, He spoke to all of us through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ (Heb. 1:1-2).

If you were to hear someone say, “God told me…” how would you know if they were speaking the truth, lying, or simply deluded?

First and foremost, I would ask, “Is the message true to Scripture?” Scripture is God’s word! I would want to know if what they believe God said to them in any way contradicted Scripture. If what they believe God said to them is not true to the revelation of God found in the Bible, then it clearly was not God Who spoke to them.

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! (Gal. 1:8)

The Holy Scripture of the Old and New Testament is not like any other writing; it is the word of God. There are a multitude of reasons for believing this that we may address at another time. But if someone said that God told him or her to do something that defied God’s character or the truth He has already revealed I would ignore what they said and avoid them altogether.

Another question to ask,  “Is the person who claims God spoke to them a trustworthy individual?” Obviously God can communicate any way He desires and through anyone He desires. God has used the ungodly (and even a donkey!) to bring His message to people. The Bible is full of examples. However, if someone’s character and lifestyle did not reflect godliness, I would question the validity of their story. Also, if someone were known for emotional extremes, rash decisions, hasty words, and instability I would highly doubt anything they say whether it is about God or the weather. Furthermore, many will attempt to deceive and manipulate by claiming God said something. Beware.

How about you? Has God spoken to you?

You may use the same tests to confirm whether or not what you think God said to you is really from God. First, search the Scriptures and ask God for wisdom. When you read Scripture, you are reading God’s word!

If the impression or even “voice” is absolutely true to the full revelation of Scripture and if you are careful to examine your emotional state and you find confirmation from certain individuals; then it is quite likely that God spoke to you.

Be sure to seek godly counsel. Find people who are mature in their walk with God, thoroughly familiar with Scripture, emotionally stable, and spiritually consistent. Share with them what you think God may have said to you and weigh their comments with Scripture and time in prayer.

Know this: your desire to know God and hear from Him is, most certainly, not your imagination. Man does not normally seek God. The reason you are seeking is because God is calling!

However, if you say, “No, God has never spoken to me!” I would suggest that you consider this a very serious indicator that something is amiss.

“He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.” –Jesus (John 8:47)

The message that God is sending to all mankind is a call to turn to Him. He has revealed Himself, His purposes, and His ways in the Bible. He has spoken and made several things very clear:

  1. He loves us (John 3:16)
  2. We need Him (Romans 3:23; 6:23a)
  3. He wants to help us (Mt. 11:28)
  4. His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, was sinless, yet willingly died as a sacrifice for our sin and rose from the dead (2Cor. 5:21; Romans 4:25)
  5. We must turn to Him and trust Him (Luke 13:5; Eph. 2:8)
  6. He will forgive us and make us His own (John 1:12)
  7. If we reject Him we have no hope (John 14:6)
  8. He will never leave His own (John 6:37)

Consider this list in the light of what we said earlier. God will never contradict Himself. For my list to be true, Scripture must support it. You can tell that from the sampling of texts above, obviously it does. Happily, we can confirm that these simple truths are taught throughout God’s word, the Bible!

So, at the very minimum, you have “heard” God call you to turn from your own way and turn to Him in trust and surrender. Once you do, there are many more things God will say to you as He reveals Himself to you and guides you.

Oh, you may say you have many other questions and you need to hear more from God. Please understand, that whatever your needs may be, none are greater than having a real and personal relationship with God through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

In a future blog we will discuss how God speaks and guides His people, but for now it is imperative that you respond to what you already know God has said to you.

If you have a question about how to receive Christ as your Savior and Lord or if you have surrendered your life to Christ, we want to hear about it. We would be thrilled to help you enter into a relationship with Christ as well as encourage you as you begin to follow Him.  Just use the “Contact” form.

Yes, God has spoken and still speaks. The question is are we listening and will we respond?

“Speak Lord for your servant is listening!” (1 Samuel 3:7-11)

Your friend,

Posted in 1 Samuel, 2 Corinthians, Bible, Ephesians, Galatians, God's Voice, God's word, John, Luke, Matthew, Romans, Salvation | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Remembering Mom

Two ministerial students from Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, were doing summer evangelistic work in a rural area near Montgomery. One hot day they stopped their car in front of a farmhouse and proceeded up the path through a gauntlet of screaming children and barking dogs. When they knocked on the screen door, the woman of the house stopped her scrubbing over a tub and washboard, brushed back her hair, wiped perspiration from her brow, and asked them what they wanted.

“We would like to tell you how to obtain eternal life,” one student answered.

The tired homemaker hesitated for a moment and then replied, “Thank you, but I don’t believe I could stand it.”[i]

This is a good reminder to all of us that the responsibility of a mother is one of the greatest on earth as well as one of the most exhausting. It has always been this way for mothers. Even today, the erudite professional mother or the mother living in primitive conditions daily give their all for their children.

While channel surfing recently I came across a documentary called, “Summer Pasture.” It shows the lives of Locho and Yama, nomadic herders in Tibet’s high grasslands.  This young couple lives in a tent with only the barest of essentials and depends upon their yaks for survival.

I would have thought there would be time for them to enjoy the solitude and beauty around them. But what I saw was a couple who stopped only to sleep and eat. At one point, Yama laments that all mothers want more time to just hold their babies, but she hardly had time because of her work.  With her little one always close by she carried out a variety of necessary duties for the survival of the family. Her only break was to nurse her little girl. Exhausted, she fell asleep while her baby fed.

Locho and Yama were living the way their ancestors had lived for thousands of years. As primitive and simple as their lives are, they are in some ways similar to the average modern family in urban America trying to survive and treasuring time together.

It has been this way from the beginning. Devoted parents, working to exhaustion in order to protect and provide for their children. While the man is typically out with “the herd” often the woman is nurturing, teaching, feeding, cleaning, disciplining, and comforting the children.

Some of my earliest memories as a child are of my mother taking me to Normandy Village Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida. The Bible stories, crafts, songs, and worship services there gave me an introduction to the Good News about Jesus.

Later, she worked cleaning a laundromat and managing a 7-11 store to enable her to enroll me in Trinity Christian Academy. While there, God distilled all of the lessons, songs, and verses about Jesus into one clear call for me to receive Christ as my Lord and Savior. The following years at Trinity built upon that foundation and gave me a compass during my turbulent teen years. Even during the times I was most ungodly, God used His word to warn me and remind me of His love.

God used my mother to give me the foundation to be the man I am today. Yet, this woman would have seemed to be among the most unlikely to rear an educated and somewhat influential man. You see, she knew what it was like to be verbally and physically abused as a child. Many days she would leave for school hungry after being beaten. She wasn’t able to finish school and began working when she was only 15. She suffered from a speech impediment most of her life and carried the emotional pain of her childhood until the day she died.

Nevertheless, nothing would stop her from loving her son. She would have given anything to help me and all she asked for in return was my love.

When Debbie and I took our one-year-old son and were moving to Memphis so I could attend seminary and begin work on my Master’s degree my mother was heartbroken. She and dad had split up and now her son was taking her daughter-in-law and grandson hundreds of miles away leaving her alone.  The day we were leaving, I was telling her “goodbye” when she asked me, “Why are you leaving me like this?”  Without thinking, I said, “Well, mom, you’re the one who told me about Jesus!”  Suddenly, her whole demeanor changed. She wiped away tears and kissed me goodbye.

It was the love of my mother who taught me of the love of my Savior. It was her sacrifice that enabled me to hear about His.

“I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.”

1Timothy 1:5

Thank You Lord, for my Mom.

 

 



[i] Derric Johnson, Easy Doesn’t Do It, (Y.E.S.S. Press, 1991), p. 217.

Posted in 1 Timothy, Christian School, Encouragement, Example, Family, Gratitude, Inspiration, Loneliness, Love, Mother, Parenting, Relationships, Separation, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When Jealousy is Godly

Consider all that you know about jealousy for a moment. Not very pretty is it? Human jealousy can bring out the worst in us. As recent posts in Climbing Higher have shown, jealousy is often the source of heartache, broken relationships, and irrational behavior. The Bible warns about jealousy and associates this attitude with a variety of destructive behaviors. But the Bible also makes a distinction between selfish jealousy and what I will call “sanctified” jealousy.

In most instances, when we are jealous we are without the right to be jealous. For example, we want something someone else has and we are jealous that they have it.  It is not ours and it never was – we have no right to be jealous.

Or as a single, we feel threatened because we are attracted to someone and see they are talking to another. No commitment has been made in marriage – we have no right to be jealous.

But wait; there is a unique form of jealousy that is justified because a covenant of love has been made. This is a jealousy that is not motivated by selfishness, but by the desire to protect. With this form of “sanctified” jealousy one truly has the “right” of feeling jealous, even betrayed. And, are you ready for this? This jealousy is not only good – it is godly!

The marriage commitment a couple makes to one another and to God is a covenant that may only be broken by death or adultery. It would be expected that one would feel betrayed and jealous if they knew someone else was getting the time, attention, and affection that belongs only to them. They have a covenant relationship that entitles them to have a consecrated place in their spouse’s life.

With the image of the marriage covenant in mind consider this: When God enters into a special relationship with a person by His grace and forgiveness it is also a covenant. As a matter of fact, Scripture uses the imagery of marriage as a picture of His relationship with His covenant people in both Old and New Testaments.

When His chosen people in the Old Testament turned from Him and worshipped idols, they were considered adulterers in the spiritual sense. They were breaking the covenant with their Beloved God and giving time, energy, affection, and wealth that should be reserved only for their True Love to false gods.

The thought seems incredulous. Why would a nation that had been so uniquely blessed by God, turn from their relationship with Him to gods that were not gods, but objects made by the hands of men? Yet they did on more than a few occasions.

The New Testament describes those in covenant relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ, as the Church. Because of the covenant relationship with Christ the Church is symbolically called, the “Bride of Christ.”

In Ephesians, husbands are called to “love their wives as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her.” The husband sacrificing His very life because of His love for His bride is a picture of what the Lord Jesus Christ did for everyone who enters a covenant relationship with Him. What great love!

When a person sincerely cries out to God for forgiveness trusting that His unique Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, died for their sins and rose from the grave; in His grace and mercy God not only forgives them, but He enters into an eternal covenant with them. The Almighty God and mortal man now have a real and personal relationship.

Should that person turn away from God and allow people, possessions, or pleasures to occupy the place that is reserved for their First Love it should be no surprise that God is grieved and jealously desires that they turn back to Him (Rev. 2:4).

There are many attractions in our world that compete for our attention and affection. When we who are Christ-followers chooses to allow anyone or anything takes the place reserved for our First Love we, in a sense, are committing “spiritual adultery.”

No man or woman in their right mind would entertain the thought of sharing their wife or husband with another. Neither can we expect God to sit by while those for whom He died and redeemed to bring into a covenant relationship with Him, entertain affections that compete with Him. He loves us too much.

May I say that again? He loves us too much.

The Apostle Paul felt a “godly jealousy” when many of those he had introduced to Christ began to believe false teaching and turned from the truth (2Cor.11:2). He loved them and had invested his life in helping them to know the One True God. Naturally, he was grieved over what the false teachers were doing to those who were so dear to his heart. Godly pastors experience similar feelings when those they have taught and mentored leave sound doctrine and associate with cults and false religions.

The love of God is not a passive, emotionless abstract term. As one song says, His love is like a “hurricane.” His love is courageous and bold. He fought and died on the cross to save us from our sins. Once we are saved He will fight with no less zeal to keep us.

He loves us too much. And always has.

“The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: 

‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; 

I have drawn you with loving-kindness.'”

Jeremiah 31:3

Posted in 1 Corinthians, Covenant, Jealousy, Jeremiah, Love, Relationships, Revelation, Sincerity, Surrender, Trust, Unfaithfulness | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Are You Growing?

Some of my earliest and fondest childhood memories are of watching, “The Wonderful World of Disney” as well as early Disney movies. In the childhood classic, “Peter Pan,” there is a part where Wendy falls in love with Peter. Under the moonlight, in the forest of Neverland, she tries to talk seriously to him about it.

“Peter, what are your real feelings?” She asks.

“Feelings?” Peter responds.

“What do you feel? Happiness? Sadness? Jealousy? Anger? Love? She probes.

“Love? I’ve never heard of it.” Peter replies.

Wendy continues, “I think you have, Peter. I daresay you’ve felt it yourself…for something, or someone.”

“Never. Even the sound of it offends me.” Peter retorts.

Wendy reaches for Peter in a loving gesture, and suddenly he runs away, shouting, “Why do you spoil everything? We have fun, don’t we? I taught you to fight and to fly. What more could there be?”

“There is so much more,” she answers.

“What? What else is there?” Peter replies.

Wendy pauses and says, “I don’t know. I think it becomes clearer when you grow up.”

In response, Peter firmly declares, “Well, I will not grow up! You cannot make me! Go home and grow up. And take your feelings with you.”

“I will never grow up,” is Peter’s motto and he never does. But in his quest to always have fun and never become a man, Peter Pan must guard his emotions closely. He can never truly love anyone, for if he did, he might take responsibility for their care, and responsibility is too grown-up for Peter Pan.

Far too many Christians, or maybe better, “proclaiming Christians” feel the same way as Peter, “Well, I will not grow up! You cannot make me!”

By choosing to avoid responsibility and pain, God’s work in our lives is hindered and our potential is limited. We cannot fulfill His will without being fulfilled in His will.

Some may blame others for their lack of growth. This is the same “blame game” that started in the Garden when Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the serpent.

The truth is, we are as close to Christ as we want to be.

God uses both good and bad people as well as good and bad circumstances to conform us to the image of Christ. Whether we learn and grow from people and circumstances is up to us.

God created you, loves you, and has given His life that you may know and experience Him in a real and personal way. He created you to enjoy a relationship with Him and glorify Him before the world. It is true – God has plans for you!

You may choose to live in a “fairy tale” world and say along with Peter, “I will not grow up! You cannot make me!” and avoid dealing with eternal realities. Or you may come to Christ humbly and determine to deal with feelings, attitudes, and behavior with His help.

Allow Him to show you where you need to grow. Then depend on Him to make you like His Son (Romans 8:28-29).

I won’t kid you. Growing is often painful – but not as painful as immaturity.

Growing,

 

Posted in Ambition, Career, Challenge, Discipline, Encouragement, Faith, God's Will, Inspiration, Motivation, Perseverance, Romans, Success, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jealousy Sends Astronaut into “Orbit”

As an astronaut, Lisa Nowak logged nearly 13 days in space and knew what it was to orbit the earth. But it wasn’t the Space Shuttle that launched her “into orbit” in early 2007 – it was jealousy.

According to police reports, Nowak drove from Houston, Texas to Orlando Florida to confront a woman who had begun a relationship with the astronaut that Nowak had been seeing for two years. Nowak confronted her rival at an airport and attempted to spray her with pepper spray before the woman escaped and reported the incident. When police arrived they discovered Nowak had latex gloves, a BB pistol, black gloves, a black wig, an eight-inch folding knife, rubber tubing, plastic garbage bags, a hooded trench coat, and a 2-pound drilling hammer. She was charged with attempted kidnapping and attempted murder.

This intelligent, beautiful, gifted woman who had achieved the zenith of her career as an astronaut aboard the Space Shuttle and Space Station had plummeted to the depths of being charged with serious crimes because of jealousy. She not only lost her career and was forced to retire with a “less than honorable” discharge from the Navy, she lost the focus of her affection, and tragically, her family as well. It is terribly ironic that this woman, who demonstrated such incredible jealousy, had been having an affair for two years while married with three children.

While we hope to learn from her poor choices we also hope that Nowak and her family have healed and discovered the genuine joy of God’s love in Christ. We would be wise to recognize that her decisions were not made overnight. There are some simple suggestions for recognizing the “green eyed monster” in the mirror.

Are You Jealous? Simple Symptoms of Jealousy

  1. Fear – A jealous person may be unaware that they have a deep fear that someone or something will come between them and their partner. This insecurity and anxiety may be present in other areas of their life as well.
  2. Lack of Trust – At the essence of jealousy is a simple lack of trust. If one’s partner has not given reason not to trust them they should be trusted. When one cannot trust another and there is no legitimate reason why, the problem is not with one’s partner, but within themselves.
  3. Possessiveness – “What’s yours is mine and what’s mine is mine!” As most symptoms, this may begin very small and seem rather normal – until it is tested. Possessiveness drives a person to want “oversight” and control over another person’s life. Behaviors that are perfectly normal can cross healthy boundaries and a simple, “How was your day?” may devolve to an analysis of details and further questions that seems more like an investigation than genuine interest. This controlling behavior reveals a lack of respect for the other person. As most of the symptoms of jealousy, possessiveness is really a perversion of a healthy trait. While every married couple should share their lives with their partner so they may enjoy true “oneness” and intimacy, a jealous person feels they not only have the “right” to know every detail about their partner’s life; they demand to know. Again, please note that this is more than healthy interest and is based on control rather than love.
  4. Restlessness – One suffering from jealousy will likely find that they are unable to be at ease without having their partner in their presence and having their full attention. It is normal for those who love one another to miss one another when they are not together, but the jealous individual cannot enjoy a moment of separation because of their underlying anxiety. They may not be consciously worried about a “competitor,” but they are not far from it.
  5. Anger – If possessiveness contributes to restlessness then anger is not far behind. Typical jealousy may deal with someone vying for the attention of a person’s partner, but a person may be spurred to jealousy over anything that competes for their partner’s attention whether it be a job, friends, hobbies, and even family. For example, if their partner’s job as an insurance agent requires evening sales, the possessively jealous person will be angry at the normal expectations of work. Their anger may present itself through passive-aggressive behavior, pouting, and overt demonstrations of anger. Sadly, some try to excuse these behaviors by saying they act that way because of “love.” Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.

Nowak’s behavior obviously includes some of the above. Look at the examples of jealousy in Scripture and see how many of these symptoms appear in some form.  For example, consider Cain’s attitude toward his brother, Abel. Look at the attitude of Saul toward David and the religious leaders towards Paul. What can you learn from them?

Finally, Ask God to reveal your motives to you. You may be surprised at how he chooses to do so. When we seek to find our identity and security in an individual rather than God we can expect to be insecure, unhappy, and even jealous.

Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?

                         Proverbs 27:4

Could jealousy ever be healthy? You may be surprised. We’ll explore this next time.

Posted in Career, Control, Envy, Fear, Jealousy, Loss, Love, Motivation, Proverbs, Relationships, Sincerity, Trust, Victim | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Loving Enough to Trust

What would you do for someone you love? Anything?

What would you do to someone you love? In the case of Richard Garibay of  Ceres, California, it was torture. For a period of nine days, Garibay and a friend, Armando Osegueda, held Garibay’s 18-year-old pregnant girlfriend captive while they bound, beat, burned, and threatened to kill her.

The victim’s ordeal ended last week when she was able to leave the San Joaquin Valley home south of Modesto.  Her family took her to a hospital where she was treated and released.

Police arrested Garibay and with the support of a SWAT unit served a search warrant on his home. In addition to stolen items and drugs police found a 5.7 caliber handgun that is capable of piercing a bullet-proof vest.

The attack began January 27 when Garibay found a text message on his girlfriend’s phone from another man.  One can only surmise his motive was jealousy.

Obviously, Garibay has a warped sense of love. His behavior reveals that whatever he feels towards his former girlfriend has no resemblance of love.

What is love? The best description of love comes from God:

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

Please note the phrase, “It does not envy.”

I am grateful to say that in thirty years of marriage my wife and I have never struggled with jealousy. The reason? We trust one another completely. Neither of us has ever given the other a reason not to trust one another.

However, if I found that my girl was giving inappropriate attention to another man – attention that should be reserved for her husband – I can promise you that I would be jealous. I’m sure she would feel the same way if another woman were allowed to have the love that must be only hers.

Unfounded jealousy may be an indicator of insecurity, possessiveness, codependence and a host of sinful attitudes. A relationship that is founded on mutual love must also include mutual trust.

The subject of love and jealousy is so relevant and has so many important lessons I would like to explore it more in my next post: Recognizing and Responding to Jealousy and I want to answer the question, “Can Jealousy Ever Be Healthy?”

On this day that so many celebrate love it would be wise to compare our “love” with the definition God provided in 1 Corinthians (see above). I have discovered from personal experience that when true love – God’s kind of love – is the standard, a relationship can reach a depth of intimacy previously unknown and impossible otherwise.

To know this kind of love as a couple, one must personally experience this kind of love. Take some time to think about how much God loves you. Accept His great love by responding to Him in surrender. Love Him enough to trust Him. And ask Him to teach you how to love like He loves.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Jesus (John 3:16 NIV)

 With love,

Posted in 1 Corinthians, Abuse, Disillusionment, Drug Abuse, Envy, Expectation, Family, Jealousy, John, Love, Motivation, Relationships, Torture, Trust, Uncategorized, Victim | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Get Back Up!

Only Those in the Game Get Knocked Down

Have you heard about the NFL scout who was talking with the college coach as they watched his team practice? The coach said, “Let me tell you about this player I’ve got; he’s the toughest I’ve ever seen.”

“How so?” the scout asked.

“Every practice I see him knocked on his can.” said the coach. “Then he gets back up! He keeps getting flattened play after play, but he always gets back up and keeps on going!” the coach said with pride. “Do you want to talk to him?” he asked.

“No!” said the scout. “I want to talk to the guy who keeps knocking him down!”

I got a laugh out of this because it wasn’t the answer I expected. But isn’t this more of what our society celebrates – the person who always wins?

Don’t misunderstand me; I too cheer on my favorite teams when they win and I admire champions, record setters, and winners. But if we only respect those who win and measure ourselves by superstars we are setting ourselves up for failure.

We should be reminded of the many failures of men like Lincoln and Edison before they achieved prominence. We need to remember that baseball players who are only successful three times out of ten at the plate earn millions of dollars.

Whether our job is hitting 90 mile-per-hour fastballs or passing a college economics course we should remember that it is persistence that makes winners.

Furthermore, true success is not always visible. When we define true success as faithfully fulfilling God’s will we soon learn that men don’t see things the way God sees them.

True, faithfully fulfilling God’s will often produces visible and measurable results – but not always. Throughout history there have been faithful servants of Christ who served, witnessed, and gave in total obscurity and only after their deaths (if then) were they recognized.

A simple study of the life of the prophets, apostles, and even our Lord reveals that in the eyes of mortal men they appeared to be failures. Consider Jeremiah who was told no one would listen to him! Oh, yes, we have the benefit of knowing the “rest of the story” and we know how God used their faithful service and suffering.

And that is the point – your life is not over! Your story is still being written. You are a part of an epic adventure which one day will culminate in the rule and reign of King Jesus. Only then will we know “the rest of the story.”

Until then, as my high school basketball coach often said, “Keep on keeping on!” While we must not accept failure we must remember that true failure is failing to keep trying.

Finally, when it comes to our failure to follow Christ – our sin – remember grace. Christ knew before the foundation of the earth you and I would fail. That is why He came into this world and died on the cross. He paid for our sinful failures.

Even so, we don’t downplay our sin or accept our sin failures. What we must do is accept His grace, seek His strength, and get back up.

“Though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again,                                but the wicked are brought down by calamity.” Proverbs 24:16

 

Posted in Challenge, Encouragement, Perseverance, Recovery | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Tim Tebow – For Example

Fond of Football From the Beginning

From our childhood we begin looking for inspiration from others. Many of those who were fortunate enough to have our fathers at home as we grew up looked up to them (and not simply because of their height). As children, we viewed our dads as the strongest, smartest, bravest men on earth! Who knows how many times the statement, “My dad can (fill in the blank) better than your dad!” has been repeated by children over the years!

All of this reminds us of the pursuit of examples. We all need them. We all want them.

I think of people who inspire me to be the best and there are many. They include the legendary and famous like the Apostle Paul, Joshua, Charles Spurgeon, Adrian Rogers, and Al Mohler as well as those who are less well known. For example, my wife is a beautiful example of godliness, grace, intelligence, integrity and faithfulness. Other examples who challenge me to be my best include pastor-friends like Hal Mayer, Dick Lincoln, Kevin Hamm, and the list goes on…

Now, I can gladly add a young man named Tim Tebow to my list. Tim Tebow – one can hardly speak his name in public without inviting comments. He has been criticized, idolized, ridiculed, analyzed, evaluated, and even the subject of parody on Saturday Night Live. I am told that in a skit an actor portraying Christ entered the Bronco’s locker room and told Tebow to, “Tone it down a notch!” Blasphemy notwithstanding, “Tebowmania” has everyone talking. Even his trademark of kneeling on one knee to pray (“Tebowing”) has been duplicated with sarcasm as well as admiration.

The problems with examples are two-fold: first they remind us of our own inadequacies and inabilities. Second, they inevitably disappoint us.

The one thing that all of my “heroes” or good examples have in common is that they all are better at what they do than I am. That’s why I like them. That’s why I consider them an example to follow. They challenge me to grow and improve.

But if my perspective isn’t balanced, I can look at these people and simply feel inadequate. Soon I may feel that there’s no hope for me and say, “What’s the point? I could never live like that; why try?” That is when inspiration turns to desperation.

The Will to Win

Every good example should not only remind us of what excellence looks like, but how we may achieve it as well. If I looked at Tim Tebow’s athletic ability and tried to imitate his workout I might not only be frustrated – I might very well get hurt! So, while I greatly admire his physical abilities, I cannot expect what is unrealistic. I should be inspired by his attitude and discipline and in some small way try to apply his work ethic to my workouts.

The other problem with having good examples and “heroes” is expecting too much of them. If we are not wise we may begin to think that our favorite athlete, pastor, or politician can do no wrong. This would be a terrible mistake.

Thinking too highly of someone can turn a good example into an idol. “American Idol” notwithstanding, idolatry is wrong.

Champion for Christ

Thinking of Tebow again I am reminded of how much he inspires me. Anyone who looks at his life, attitude, benevolence, faith, and work ethic cannot help but hold him in respect. He is everything I want to be. He uses his God-given abilities for good. He serves others. He cares, gives, inspires – he does what I desire to do – and all for the right reason – to honor God. But even though all that and more is true about this fine young man, no one should think that he doesn’t have his days – days of discouragement, temptation, and defeat. To forget that as good as he is, he is still human is to idolize him. And when the day comes where he slips-up we who have set him on an unrealistic pedestal will be greatly disappointed. Sadly, some will even be angry.

Whatever mistake our examples may make will be their fault, but our shock and anger over another human behaving humanly will be our fault. We cannot hold others up to an unrealistic standard, then be mad at them when they can’t maintain it.

Ultimately there is only One Perfect Example – the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the One after Whom we should ultimately model our lives. He is the One Who is able not only to inspire us but also to enable us to be the people we were meant to be. And most assuredly we can be confident that He will never disappoint. He cannot be less than perfect. He is Lord. He is the Only One worthy of worship. He is our Best Example.

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.

1 Timothy 4:12

 

Posted in 1 Timothy, Disillusionment, Encouragement, Example, Expectation, Inspiration, Luke, Model, Motivation, Personal Growth, Reputation, Sincerity, Success | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s the Little Things

All of us have felt like our income is being eaten away by taxes and expenses, but I doubt any of us have had our savings actually eaten! That’s what happened to $222,000 that was stored in a steel chest at a bank in India. A bank manager who discovered that the tiny creatures had somehow gotten into the steel chest and chewed up bundles of money was baffled as to how it could happen. A case of negligence has been registered against the bank.

Those little creatures have been responsible for so much damage that many homeowners have contracts with pest control companies to guarantee that they are not “eaten out of house and home.” In recent years, the historic Church of the Holy Cross in Sumter County South Carolina suffered devastating damage to their buildings due to termites. Built in 1852 by slaves and beautifully preserved to it’s original design, restoration following termite damage cost $2.4 million. Thankfully, due to fundraisers and the benevolence of people and groups it has been restored.

Scripture warns us that it is the “little foxes that ruin the vineyards” (So. 2:15). Truly, it is often the little, seemingly insignificant matters that determine victory or defeat. Left “untreated,” the little habits, the secret thoughts, the small shortcuts eat away at our character until the foundation crumbles.

Little choices we make each day enable us to develop habits that determine our destiny. It was Emerson who penned these wise words:

Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny.

Successful people have built their lives on excellence in their field. Achieving excellence doesn’t occur out of nowhere. It comes from daily discipline to be our best in the little things. Ultimately, attention to the little things of life builds our character and protects our foundation.

This is why God puts so much stress on sincerity of heart. It is the almost imperceptible matters of the heart that reveal who we are and who we are becoming. The future of our families, our churches, and our lives may be predicted by our attention to detail.

To reach our God-given potential will not only require His amazing grace, but also our faithful obedience. Since none are without sin, we all know that whatever faithfulness we may achieve is because of Him. Nevertheless, He expects us to “train ourselves to be godly” (1Tim. 4:7 NIV).

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.”

-Jesus (Luke 16:10 NIV)

 

 

Posted in 1 Timothy, Discipline, Money, Personal Growth, Sincerity, Song of Solomon, Success, The Church, Uncategorized, Wisdom | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment