Our bodies are wonderfully and fearfully made. They are self-healing, growing, adapting machines; the likes of which no human invention will ever come close to! God made our bodies wonderful, but still temporary and with some limitations.
10 years ago, I had the displeasure of cracking a tooth via another tooth. I had apparently been grinding my teeth due to stress and damaged a molar. I received a root canal, and two days later was on a 14 hour flight for a previously planned trip. No pain killers. Not pleasant.
Recently my crown fell off. Before getting it glued back on permanently, I decided to see a specialist about my tooth, as it had been giving me pain off and on for several years. The specialist noted that the root canal was in bad shape – the tooth, canals, the bone, and pockets around the root showed signs of infection. He recommended a re-treatment of the root canal, though there was no guarantee it would remove all infection permanently, but upon much counsel and a variety of factors, I decided that I will have the stinker removed.
This is not a rant about what the bible says about dental care, and while I have learned some dangers of root canals, I mean not to broach that topic. (Asking two people their advise would render 3 answers anyway…) Instead through this ordeal, I tried to see if there were any spiritual analogies.
My tooth, and most of the roots that once held it in place are dead. Synthetic goo is holding what remains of my natural tooth in place while a crown is glued on top. What was once a living member of my body is no longer functioning as it was meant to.
So the question I ask today to myself, and to you, is this:
What dead things in my life stand in the way of abundant life?
Do we hold on for dear life to the things that are dead in our life? Squeeze to death things which have no life?
Jesus said of himself, “I am the way, the truth, the Life” and yet if we’re honest with ourselves we can see things in our lives that do not produce positive fruit, or any fruit at all.
These “things” might be activities, possessions, words, media, focus, and actions that are not glaringly “wrong,” (not murder, stealing) yet are not the types of things that lead us to life.
Watching TV is not inherently wrong. Watching seven hours of TV a day while we don’t spend one moment in God’s word? That is a problem.
Perhaps an exit checklist I should be using when gauging what should stay or go in my life is:
- Does it bear negative or no fruit?
- Does it help us fit synergistically into the body of Christ?
- Does it need to be amputated?
Does it bear any fruit?
We read in Matt 7:19 that “every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
We may think that simply not bearing bad fruit is good enough, yet in John 15 we see a different story. In John 15 verse 2, we see that simply bearing no fruit is not good enough.
He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.
God does not take kindly to us being stagnant. Going back to the analogy of the body – why would we put in effort to support and maintain a member of our body that won’t ever do anything? It seems a lot of effort for nothing. Likewise, why would God want children in His Kingdom who do not bear any fruit at all? Why would we maintain things in our lives, things that we cherished before we became a new creation in Christ, that have no life in them?
Even neutrality is an enemy of progress. Revelation warns of the danger of being lukewarm, noting that “hot or cold” is preferable. Perhaps that’s why Paul was chosen for his important role in the church – it is much easier to change directions of a moving train than to get it started. Paul had fruits, though they were misguided and against the church, but Christ was able to steer him in a different direction without a loss of momentum. We need to bear fruit, and that fruit must be good. While we’re not saved by our own works, its clear that we will be held accountable for the fruit we bear.
Does it help us to fit neatly into the body?
Eph 4:16 is a familiar passage showing how the body of Christ should work together like cogs in a machine – with every part serving a purpose for the greater synergistic whole.
From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
A dead member of the body, or dead works in our life, can be compared to a tooth with rotting roots. It may look shiny on the outside, but bring nothing to the table.
The body is made up of many members, and if one is not up to snuff, the other members can share the load, but this is not meant to be a permanent situation! After a while, the dead cog in the machine will start to wear down the surrounding parts.
Does it need to be amputated?
Matt 5:29 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
This seems like one of the greatest “overstatements” in the bible. Cutting off a part of the body on the chance it could cause us to sin? Yet, we know that God doesn’t mess around with sin.
In my tooth situation, it may seem a stretch to apply this to a tooth, yet my infected root canal is causing harm to my body, and until the source of the infection is completely removed, there is always a chance it will come back.
When any part of our body dies, we cut it off, so the “deadness” doesn’t spread. Infection, disease, and other issues arise from a dead member. As is the case with many physical issues, there is a spiritual parallel.
What spiritual infections may result from keeping things in our lives that have no life in them?
Keeping these things around can be a distraction, or they could cause infection that spreads to the healthy parts of our life! Hence the need for amputation for the greater good!
Men and brethren, what shall we do?
It is very easy to think we’re doing alright simply avoiding breaking the commandments, yet we’re called to an even higher standard of bearing positive fruit, and removing the things that do not. It is easy to think we’re alright because we avoid murder and grand theft, but there is more expected of us than just passing with a “C” grade.
Take a look at individual things in your life, and ask:
- Does it bear any fruit?
- Does it help me fit into the body?
- Does it need to be amputated?
Let us remove anything “dead” standing in the way of life.
Above and Beyond the Call of Duty
I have been out of college for a few years now, but I have found that attitudes in the “real world” work force are not much different than those prevalent in school. To many students college (and really all levels of learning) is all about doing the minimum amount of work, and bragging about getting away with it. Just getting by and feeling alright is the goal for many. This will follow into the work world, and produce a generation of unmotivated workers. Still, the few who do actually take the initiative to give 100% get noticed. Even more so are the ones who give 110% – basically those who go the extra mile.
There are several scriptures that tell us to go the extra mile, to do all that we do with all our might and to do it to God’s glory. But one aspect of this principle, A and B the C of D (above and beyond the call of duty), is that it is tied into gaining more faith. There are two sections of scripture that show us how this is done, and some examples of it in action.
I wouldn’t normally connect the two concepts of ‘going the extra mile’ and ‘faith’ but this analogy has been made before. The context of Luke 17 was in Jesus teaching about forgiveness and not offending one another. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, they asked Jesus for more faith:
Luk 17:5 And the apostles said to the Lord, Give us more faith.
Luk 17:6 And the Lord said, If you had faith as a grain of mustard seed, you might say to this sycamine tree, Be rooted up and be planted in the sea! And it would obey you.
Luk 17:7 But which of you who has a servant plowing or feeding will say to him immediately after he has come from the field, Come, recline?Luk 17:8 Will he not say to him, Prepare something so that I may eat, and gird yourself and serve me until I eat and drink. And afterward you shall eat and drink.
Luk 17:9 Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not.
Luk 17:10 So likewise you, when you shall have done all the things commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants, for we have done what we ought to do.
Jesus responds with a teaching about going above and beyond. This didn’t really make sense to me at first, but perhaps there is a connection to doing more than just our duty that can lead to more faith.
The analogy here shows that just doing what we must is not profitable. This is not to say that we wouldn’t be profitable to other people in doing our duty to others, but that we cannot expect to just barely “pass the class” in life and our Christian walk. In college, you can ‘pass’ all your classes with a C. This is not ideal, nor does it show your willingness to work for a better grade.
God looks at our attitude. If we just want to get by with doing what we have to do, God is in no way bound to ‘thank us’ and much less give us salvation and eternal life.
Doing more than was even asked of you is advantageous not only in personal satisfaction, but in some ways it can help build your faith:
Faith and action are no strangers to each other. James tells us that faith without works is dead. There’s also a proverb that speaks to this effect:
Prov 16:3– Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.
When we trust God and follow His ways, our purpose/thoughts will follow automatically. He will add to our faith. Faith is trusting in God, and committing our works, and our 110% effort shows and produces it.
We can put our whole heart into doing what is required, and other things that may be implied by the heart of the matter, knowing that doing any task with all of our might would be pleasing to the Master.
Prov 16:9 – A man’s heart plans his way, but Jehovah directs his steps.
We must ask God for faith, and know that it does come from Him, but we need to do our part as well, to show God we have the heart to handle such faith. We need to allow God to direct our steps!
David and That Big Dude
David and Goliath is the most familiar example of how committing our works and going that extra mile will add to our faith; as they are all interconnected.
In the account of David facing Goliath, we obviously get the impression that David was not lacking in faith. He boldly went before a giant, most likely twice his size, and proclaimed that this ‘uncircumcised Philistine’ would fall before the armies of the Lord! That takes a certain level of faith to do that.
But the part of the account that some feel David lacked some faith in would be the question of why he took 5 stones instead of one. Was David afraid he was going to miss? Is “five” significant of other principles of Christianity? .
There were 5 cities of Philistia that had united to come up to defy the army of Israel: Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron, and Gath.
Until the Philistines were removed, they would be a stumbling block to Israel being united, prosperous and strong. We’re told in 2 Sam 21:15-22 that there were 4 other giants that were later killed (once David was king).
2Sa 21:22 These four were born to the giant in Gath, and fell by the hand of David, and by the hand of his servants.
Some speculation on my part perhaps, but I believe that David would have known about these other giants, and would have prepared to face them if needed. David knew that taking out Goliath would not wipe out the entire Philistine threat.
I believe that David went the extra mile in this scenario. In battle he ran full force towards Goliath. I believe he knew his first stone would hit the target, and I believe he was prepared to go the extra mile.
Which came first, his faith, or his willingness to go above and beyond duty? Faith and willingness to go 110% to do God’s will go hand in hand…
Conclusion of the matter
The scriptures in Luke, and the example of David are good things to remember in whatever we’re doing in life. For some of you, the tasks at hand may be at work, school, numerous tasks in the home, or various other endeavors we may engage in. Let us all remember to show we can do more than just ‘pass the class,’ to allow God to direct our steps by putting our works into God’s hands, and remember the example of David who was asked to kill one giant, but was ready to take on five. In doing these things, we are showing God we are willing to go above and beyond the call of duty!
God Always Authors or Allows things to happen in our lives.
Once upon a time, I was driving down to the Detroit airport to pick up a friend coming in to town on a fine chilly Saturday morning. We planned to have had ample time to make it to church and even time for a cup of tea beforehand. Upon locking the doors and leaving my car (this is Detroit after all) I then realize how cold it was and went to go back in the car to get a jacket so I could stand outside and wait for my friend. This is the point of the story when I saw my keys still in the ignition. “No worries,” said I as I went to the airport security and called for the airport tow truck. My friend found me and after 2 hours, I decided to call AAA for the second time and request a tow with much vigor. Long story short, we stood in the cold waiting for a truck to unlock the car for 4 hours (total). 4 HOURS!!
Now AAA has been a life-line to me in the past, and I shan’t complain about it, but often times we trust a whole lot in services like AAA to save us when anything happens. This AAA guarantee is fallible, as people who created and operate it, are indeed fallible and imperfect. There is another AAA guarantee that we should trust in and be at peace because of: God’s AAA.
God Always Authors or Allows.
God ALWAYS AUTHORS or ALLOWS the trials, blessings, and overall circumstances that we go through.
The questions of why God allows suffering, and whether or not God is a wrathful God who smites at random have perplexed humanity for ages, and has unfortunately caused many to not believe in the true living and loving God that created them. But God always authors or allows events in our lives to transpire.
How do we know what is authored by God rather than just allowed?
For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. 1 Cor 14:33
In our lives we know that the chaos, confusion, and sinful temptations are not AUTHORED by God.
In some situations, God will allow us to be tempted, molded, sharpened, or refined through mild or fiery trials. Other times, we see that sin will have ‘natural consequences.’ We can find this in Num 14:18:
Jehovah is long-suffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the sons to the third and fourth generation.
Often we can get caught up in having to know the “why’s” of life and concern ourselves with the vast meaning of various happenings in life. No doubt this is natural, especially with major things in our lives, yet we are not always going to understand everything – just what we NEED do. Inherent in man’s heart is definitely a sense of “a bigger picture” and “some form of a higher power out there,” but we must not be so consumed with finding out the “why” that it prevents us from moving forward with our own lives and pressing on towards the mark for the prize of the upward calling of God in Jesus Christ.
A famous verse, Rom 8:28, says that we should trust that God will take situations and use them for good
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
In my situation in the airport I asked myself, and God, why this happened at that time. We ended up missing all of church and I couldn’t see how this was working out for good. (This of course more of a minor trial in the grand scheme of things) I can see now things that I learned from the experience (other than having a spare key in my wallet now), such as how I dealt with stress and the AAA representatives, and how I interacted with my friend who was equally distressed at the situation. Was that part of the reason I was allowed to go through this adventure? Perhaps, perhaps not. Perhaps something down the road will have been affected by this event. Perhaps I will forget it, and so will anyone else involved. The point is that we don’t know the “why” every time, and we don’t have to always know why things happen, just what we can learn from it.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” – Isa 55:9
The next time, and there will be times, that you find yourself in a “why?” situation, remember that God will not tempt you beyond what you are able to handle, God will never leave your or forsake you, and that God Always Authors or Allows everything that happens to us in this life!
We live in a society that will accept nothing less than instant gratification: fast food, status updates, instant photography, etc… This applies to luxuries as well as our basic human needs. We sometimes joke now that “ain’t nobody got time for that!” because often we feel like we cannot spend time waiting for something.
Christ can empathize with our natural desires, which is why he is such a qualified high priest. He knows what its like to be hungry, to be frustrated, to feel cold, hot, tired, etc…
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Heb 4:15
Something I have been thinking about recently is what we can learn from the three areas Christ was tempted in while in the wilderness. It may not be anything new, but was an interesting perspective I had not previously looked at:
We can see how he lived the human experience and felt the human needs/drives, but also how resisting the temptation to receive instant results paid off: Initially, with the physical need met in due time, but then resulted in exponentially to giving others that which he was desiring before attaining a much greater level himself spiritually.
Put another way, we can see through the three categories of the temptation of Christ how resisting the temporary present can result in an exponential and eternal payoff later.
The first temptation was in the form of satiating physical hunger. He responds to all of these temptations with scripture. (The tempter did not pick his battles well when getting into a scripture battle against the living Word.)
Satan offered Christ bread. Well, he didn’t really offer bread, but rather suggested that Christ miraculously produce bread. Christ’s scriptural response in all of the temptations seemed to shut up the tempter, as there was no comeback that could measure up!
Later in Matthew we read about the miracle of the handful of fish and a few loaves of bread feeding a great multitude. In John 6, we read a conclusion of that miracle :
“Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill… Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world… I am the bread of life” John 6:26, 32, 35
Having just experienced the spring Holy Days, we have fresh in our minds some of the symbolism of bread, and while some of that fits into a different analogy than this, we can still glean from the life-giving importance of bread.
Christ endured great hunger and probably did long desperately for some food, but refused the instant gratification; the get-it-now-no-matter-the-cost way. He longed for a better bread physically and spiritually.
- He was eventually fed and sustained physically
- Because of his intercession, we can ask for our daily bread in his name
- He now awaits an even greater feast when he returns.
This is something Christ had to be tempted in lest we feel that we endure something our immortal and incorruptible high priest could not understand.
It seems that Christ had to hold back from commanding physical protection multiple times. In giving up his desire for protection in this circumstance and ultimately in his final hour, he again awaited a better provision from God; this time in an incorruptible nature.
In forsaking his physical life, he gave us the opportunity for it. By his wounds we are healed, and through his sacrifice we can ask for God’s protection, even though we may also have to forsake our safety to attain a “better resurrection”
“Absolute power does not corrupt absolutely” does not hold true if that power is in the hands of our soon-coming King. In the wilderness before Satan, Jesus was tempted to receive power and authority over the earth.
Satan did and does have authority over the kingdoms of the world to a point, but Christ forsook the easy and instant way out and awaited a better inheritance.
We read about the power and authority that Christ has received, far beyond what Satan could have offered:
…and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.- Eph 1:19-23
Christ rejected the desire for power and authority to await that inheritance from the almighty Father. Because he is now at the right hand of God, we have been given a spirit of power and love and of a sound mind 2 Tim 1:7
In these three areas we see that our Saviour rejected the desire to fulfill his human needs in the moment to wait for something better. We’ve all had to do this in some regards, but I find it interesting
One related verse that I hadn’t thought about in this context is found in Acts 20:35 – that its more blessed to give than receive. We see that what Christ wanted to receive, he gave, and in turn received greater.
- He longed for bread, but we find that he fed 5,000 and is now the bread of life.
- He longed for saving his life, but sacrificed it so that we might live, and now is eternal.
- He longed for authority of this creation, but refused the offer from the wrong source, to await God’s appointed authority, and is now the door through which we can enter the Kingdom of God in His family and have the potential to rule over cities!
Let us be willing to forsake the temporary and long for what is everlasting!
It sometimes hard to focus on the future in the present. There are correlating points for the guys, but this a good perspective for guys and gals to consider!
I don’t know who you are yet. I don’t know what you look like. I don’t know the color of your eyes. I don’t know the color of your skin. I don’t know your name. There are a lot of things that I don’t know about you, but there are a couple of things that I want you to know.
You’re Already Beautiful. Congratulations, babe, you did it. You are already beautiful. Seriously. If beauty is a game, you’re a pro. You are perfect already. You were beautifully and wonderfully made. You have nothing to fix. Let me say that again, you have nothing to fix. God did not mess-up on you. I know what society is telling you. “You have to look like this, wear this, and have this in order to be beautiful.” Nope. You’re already beautiful. Beauty is more than what…
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I recently obtained my first speeding ticket. After 12 years or so of driving, I figured I was finally due for the awesome feeling of violating local laws. (The only other ticket I’ve received was turning right on red where it was apparently prohibited.)
Speeding is not an easy thing to do in a Buick, so one would think I was intentional about it. However, I was driving what had been the speed limit when I was marked. Driving back to Michigan from Cincinnati, I was pulled over somewhere in the vast not-too-populous areas of Ohio. Upon seeing a sign for a construction zone, and a new speed limit on those electric signs, I slowed to the required speed (which was duly encouraged by the car in front of me doing the same). After about 45 seconds of driving 55mph, I saw the lights flash behind me from the police car that had been tailing me since the sign for the construction zone.
I wondered if I had a tail light out? Perhaps Ohio had anti-Buick laws? The officer pointed out to me that I was doing 70 in a 55, and assumed I had just spotted him or the speed limit sign and only then slowed down. I submitted to him that I slowed at the first sign I saw, which was the one he was waiting near, to which he replied that there was a previous sign indicating the upcoming work zone. Upcoming? Meaning it wasn’t 55mph yet? So, I was ticketed for going the speed limit? There were neither orange barrels/signs, nor signs of construction until I saw the sign and thus slowed. Because the courthouse for this county is 4 hours away contesting the ticket seems frivolous. Yet, I admit there is a possibility that I just failed to see some prior speed limit sign, but I am fairly certain the sign that the officer was parked near was the first one.
According to the officer, who bears legal authority, I broke the law. As a human, I tend to get defensive in such situations, because I feel victimized. I didn’t know the speed limit was 55, so why should I pay a penalty for breaking that law? Whether you know of the law or not, breaking it has penalties. This is a simple truth in human laws, natural laws, and God’s laws.
Both of my tickets were in situations where I was ignorant of the law. Thus humanly, I am often tempted to say, “it’s not my fault!” Yet breaking laws do have consequences, and while sometimes we have to deal with the unpleasantries of that, more often than not this is a good thing. Would you want someone from another country coming to America, murdering people, and getting away with it simply because he/she wasn’t aware that was illegal? How about theft?
This concept transcends simply being a “laws of the land” ordeal however. While most human rights organizations condemn it, in some countries/cultures “honor-killings” are permitted. (the homicide of a family member because of a perceived dishonor they’ve brought to the family – including refusal to enter an arranged marriage, being in an unapproved relationship, or being the victim of rape) Even if the culture (or national religion) permits it, this goes against God’s law. Sin is the transgression of the law, and sin has penalties.
We live in a culture where the concept of sin is either mocked, or celebrated and paraded like a trophy. So many people have a #YOLO mentality when it comes to making sinful decisions in the moment, and either ignoring the consequences or just dealing with them later.
We lament the destructive power of AIDS, yet ignore the transgression of God’s law(s) that lead to it in the first place. (How it first started and how its spread, etc…) We spend billions of dollars trying to fix our health issues, when God’s word has laws that would prevent many of them.
When people think of “sin” they think of the “big ones,” but sin includes more than just stealing and lying, etc… Sin is breaking any law of God, which laws like keeping the Sabbath (4th commandment), or physical laws like what foods to avoid, or simply avoiding unhygienic practices – all of which Jesus and his disciples abided by, with no biblical admonition to abolish such practices. Some have no direct immediate consequence, but some are more quickly evident (i.e. eating a vulture may well make you sick shortly afterwards, but luckily the bible says that’s an unclean animal and not to be eaten)
Human and divine laws are there for a reason, and whether you agree with them or not there are consequences for transgressing them. This world is unaware of many of God’s laws, but countless billions still suffer consequences for breaking them.
God makes laws for His children that are for our good. So many of us, like rebellious teenagers, feel these rules are “not fair” and no fun or deny the validity of the rules or the rulemaker. Yet these laws are not keeping us from life but rather keeping us alive. A comedian once noted that “teenagers are God’s way of seeing how we like it to have a being created in our image denying our existence” despite our loving attempts to care for the child.
So while I am not terribly happy about having to pay a speeding ticket that I earned unintentionally, I am happy to know God’s laws and the blessings that come from [trying to be] following them and avoiding the consequences that come from breaking them.
Driving is an adventure. The aggression and anger of “road rage” is not a foreign concepts to both Christians and non-Christians. It is very easy to get upset if someone cuts us off, impatiently tries to pass us, drives too slow, or just generally is doing something “foolish” that we’re not a fan of.
We are all too quick to judge the intent and cognitive capabilities of the other drivers, using phrases like “learn how to drive!”, “get off the road!”, or “what idiot parked there?”
Not surprisingly, when we are on the other side of these situations – when others honk, yell and gesture at us for what we do – we feel indignant and wronged since clearly it’s not our fault! There are always external uncontrollable circumstances that lead us to a bad parking job, or an aggressive move on the road, but it rarely dawns on us that other people may experience similar circumstances!
He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him. – Prov 18:13
I’ve been guilty of belittling a driver of a car in my mind if I see it parked very obviously over the parking line with no cars around, and have thought to myself “learn how to park!” However, what I don’t see is whether or not other cars were previously over the line, leaving the driver no choice but to park where he/she did. (which happened to me this morning) In Michigan especially, snow piles dictate parking as well. In general, for people to get a drivers licence, they have to know how to park, yet we reduce them to lower-functioning beings in our minds when we simply see just the end result, despite being blind the factors involved.
While facing the unpleasant situation of being stuck behind a slow car in a no-passing zone, it is not uncommon for one to think, “hey gramps! If you’re going to drive that slow you have to business being on the road – just stay at home!” I don’t think we realize how blindly judgmental, selfish, and uncaring these thoughts are. Because a driver is cautious on the road, do they deserve such anger? A car moves slow (often the speed limit actually), and we – in all of our grand importance – are filled with self-righteous anger because WE can’t fulfill our right to speed and get to OUR destination 3 minutes sooner?
Why are we so angry? Why do we get upset to the point of insulting the intent or character of strangers based on some small action? Why do we get upset when others get upset with us?
I have been to “third world” countries where there really are no road rules, and people just figure it out as they go. The average American would most likely not survive mentally, emotionally, or physically. Just riding in vehicles in those situations may have decreased my life expectancy! Yet the people there are used to it and don’t have the same kind of road rage as we do. Why is that?
It might be too simplistic, but I think it may be a matter of the illusion of control. Our lives are SO busy in the West, so cluttered with time-suckers, stress, and drama, that we are out of control. When we get into our little gas-guzzlers, WE are in control for a brief bit of time between point A and point B. If someone threatens the perfect order we create (our perfect order we created that somehow includes us speeding and texting of course) we ‘rightfully’ become furious! I am no psychologist, but I think this illusion of control plays a factor.
If God is not regulating our chaotic lives, they are just that – chaotic. The Creator of the universe gives us some reminders on how we’re supposed to deal with the “lemons” that life hands us:
A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control. -Proverbs 29:11
A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense. -Proverbs 19:11
Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools. -Ecclesiastes 7:9
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. -Eph 4:31
Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. -James 1:19-20
And the list goes on. We’re not supposed to get upset so easily. We’ve all seen TV shows and movies depicting the truth behind why a bully is a bully – the fact that there’s more beneath the surface. There is something beneath our anger, and more simplistically, there is some reason for the actions of other drivers.
So the next time you park amiss, let it be a reminder that other folks have reasons for their “crime” as well. The next time someone cuts you off, try not to call them an idiot, but realize that they might be lost, confused, or just didn’t see you. We cannot discern the “thoughts and intents of the heart of man” but God can. This applies to those who cut you off, but also your own heart and reaction to other individuals that God created in His likeness. If you simply must verbalize a response to the unfavorable actions of other drivers, try saying,“I hope your day improves!” 🙂
Since the early 1990’s, there have been very successful games that place the user in control of building, maintaining, and controlling virtually everything. [I.E. Sim City, and the Sims, Lego games, World of Warcraft, Farmville, Roller Coaster Tycoon, etc…] With Minecraft in particular, the game is really what you make it, and while the building blocks of the game are primitive, the possibilities are endless.
Why do we humans have such a desire to build, create, care-take, and omnipresently witness the happenings of what we’ve built? Is this wrong – to wish to “play God?”
I think the God of the universe placed inside the hearts of man a desire to build. After all, we are made in the image of the great Creator! I was, and am still, very much a fan of Lego’s. Just last week, I busted out a box of them and built a fancy car after a stressful day at work. It was perhaps cathartic to feel like I was in control of something for a change!
Thinking we’re in control should be in great moderation however. History riddled with examples of those wishing to be in control and build their own empires apart from God, and inevitably they all end in bloodshed and misery.
Mankind is innovative. We want to build upon our knowledge and create new and better stuff. History however is riddled with intelligent and sincere people being sincerely wrong in what they thought was the epitome of knowledge. Science, technology, medical research, archaeology, etc.. have come a long way, but all still have great flaws and limitations because we don’t have everything figured out just yet!
Unfortunately, mankind can tend to be innovative in the wrong ways. Just think of all the brilliant weapons of warfare we have created. Or even great deceptions and lies that man can conceive.
For my people are foolish; they know me not; they are stupid ch
ildren; they have no understanding. They are ‘wise’—in doing evil! But how to do good they know not.” Jer 4:22
I sometimes wonder why the Tower of Babel was such a big deal. It is not as though the tower would have actually “reached heaven” as they boasted it would, but yet the attitude among the people of the earth at the time, all speaking the same language and in the same place was a recipe for danger and disaster. [Unifying the people in language and goals is powerful, and is one reason why the beast power will be such a force that none can stand against it]. Nimrod was actively trying to one-up God, and while that was obviously impossible, a gentle reminder via destruction was in order.
Still, this intrinsic desire that mankind has to create and to in essence “play God” can be good and bad. As any parent would know, children can often innocently overestimate their abilities at tasks. Likewise, I am sure God laughs when we basically tell Him that we can be the sole author and director of our lives. Yet, in the right context and perspective this desire can be wonderful and a blessing.
And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. Rev 5:10
And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities. Luke 19:17
That’s not a bad ratio! Those who overcome, and are counted worthy to enter the Kingdom of God, will be given a chance to be a ruler over many cities! Perhaps this would involve rebuilding them, Minecraft or Lego-style, and making sure it stays in working order like Sim City.
When I build in these games, I can realize that while I have a small sense of pride with what I’ve created, I am a very small human in the vast universe that God created! How can we not be in awe of the awesome creation? So perhaps while we enjoy building and creating, we can be mindful of the nature of THE Creator in us, and like a small child trying to his/her father, we can say that we want Minecraft to be like Yourcraft.
Jesus Bring the Rain by Mercy me
I can count a million times
People asking me how I
Can praise You with all that I’ve gone through
The question just amazes me
Can circumstances possibly
Change who I forever am in You
Maybe since my life was changed
Long before these rainy days
It’s never really ever crossed my mind
To turn my back on you, oh Lord
My only shelter from the storm
But instead I draw closer through these times
So I pray
Bring me joy, bring me peace
Bring the chance to be free
Bring me anything that brings You glory
And I know there’ll be days
When this life brings me pain
But if that’s what it takes to praise You
Jesus, bring the rain
I am Yours regardless of
The dark clouds that may loom above
Because You are much greater than my pain
You who made a way for me
By suffering Your destiny
So tell me what’s a little rain
So I pray
Holy, holy, holy
Is the Lord God Almighty
What’s in a name?
What’s in a name? That which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet
We’re familiar with this line of Shakespeare’s from Romeo and Juliet but the idea behind it is one of controversy at times. Some feel that a name is just meaningless and has nothing to do with the person it attaches itself to, while others assume that a name implies many things about the way that person thinks acts and perceives things.
[To me, I found it humorous since my sister’s maiden name was, like mine, Rose, and I was tempted to see if her aroma changed along with her name, but that was a little too weird…]
So what really is in a name? Why is it important? Names were important in biblical times, and why they’re important for us
Importance of names
Bible Knowledge Commentary (BKC): “In Bible times a person’s name stood for the person–and represented him and his characteristics.
1 Sam 25:25 (NIV) May my lord pay no attention to that wicked man Nabal. He is just like his name–his name is Fool, and folly goes with him.
Gen 27:36 (NIV) Esau said, “Isn’t he rightly named Jacob? He has deceived me these two times.”
|Emmanuel||God With us|
|Abraham||Father of many|
|Mahershalalhashbaz||the spoil speedeth; the prey hasteth” Asymbolic name given to Isaiah’s son to signify the imminent destruction of Damascus and Samaria by the Assyrian power|
|Barnabas||Son of encouragement|
|Joel||YHVH is God|
|Micah||Who is like God?|
|Ezekiel||God will strengthen|
|Zechariah||The Lord Remembers|
|Zephaniah||God has hidden|
A good name is needed!
Prov 22:1 – A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches; and loving favor rather than silver or gold.
Why is it so important to have a good name? Obviously it means having a good reputation and namesake rather than choosing ‘Rick’ over ‘Charles.’
But as we’ve seen with some of the OT examples, our names represent us, and hopefully we can fulfill what our reputation or our name means.
Eccl 7:1 – A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death than the day of one’s birth. To the normal person – this doesn’t seem to make logical sense, but this is advice of the wisest man to walk the earth telling us that a good name is very important.
For example, when we meet someone who has heard good things about us, we’re going to feel a lot better off than someone who’s heard rumors or some of our less-than-shining moments. You never know what’s said of you when you’re not around. Live in a way that you’re not afraid the truth to be spread. Ideally, our reward for right actions should not be based in praise from others, but still a person who lives life in such a ways that others do praise, the glory goes to God for that.
Thus, more importantly we need to strive to have a good and proper name/reputation to God. He knows our works and our hearts. What will He see? Will He see us as a person deserving of the name “never gave up,” or “cared for the widows?” Or will our name become synonymous with “selfish” or “weak?”
Our new name
These are things to think about for now and later. The Bible tells us that God will give he who overcomes a new name!
Rev 2:17 – He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give to him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knows except he who receives it .
Rev 3:12 – Him who overcomes I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will go out no more. And I will write upon him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of Heaven from My God, and My new name.
NIV Study Notes: “God’s name… is a symbol of [His] nature, character, and person… The name of the Lord is the manifestation of His character… it is synonymous with the Lord Himself.” Thus taking God’s name in vain is a serious offense. But this means that our new name will be a symbol of our character and very being.
My name now, and hopefully to come
I have a name given to me by my parents that shows up in the bible (though spelled differently). It doesn’t show up as a name, but rather just a word. Corban (Mark 7:11). That word was transliterated into Greek from the Hebrew. It was used in the Hebrew several times in the Old Testament to mean “gift dedicated to God.” For me, I have a name to try to live up to! Even if your name doesn’t have a biblical meaning, think about what you’d like your name to be if it was to describe your life.
We all have a name in this life, but if we overcome we’ll be given a special and meaningful name. What will your new name be?