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You can’t handle the tooth!

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:

  1. Does it bear negative or no fruit?
  2. Does it help us fit synergistically into the body of Christ?
    Then:
  3.  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.

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AAA Guarantee

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!

Lessons from Christ’s temptation

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.

Hunger

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.

Physical protection

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”

Power

“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

Conclusion

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!

 

Lessons from Traffic Lights

A while ago I was on the road in my town, and a bit pressed for time. I was nearly at my destination when I was stopped at a light needing to make a left turn. After about four minutes of waiting, I determined that the left-turn light was not, in fact, EVER going to turn green for me. So I backed up, crossed two or three lanes, and made a right turn pulled into a restaurant, turned around onto the cross street I needed to be on. I was stopped by a light in this direction as well. While waiting, I saw a car drive up to the left turn lane I was in, wait a few seconds to witness the left arrow turning green, and then proceed onto the road I needed to be on. *sigh*

So, a week goes by and I am making this journey yet again. This time I am waiting for the left turn arrow to turn green, but this time with a confidence that it would, in fact, EVENTUALLY illuminate in the desirable color. While waiting I realized something about my spiritual life. I had composed an article a while ago about waiting on the Lord (linky), and the referenced scripture popped into my head:

“…but those who wait on Jehovah shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Isa 40:31

We are a society that hates to wait. If our fast food takes over 3 minutes, we spaz. If we have to wait in any line, we complain to everyone we can. If we have to use dial-up internet, we often stir up violence against anything within proximity. But waiting on the Lord shouldn’t frustrate us. Waiting on the Lord is a trusting state that will cause us to renew our strength, rather than use it all up in frustration. My first reaction to the left turn light (the first time) involved taking it into my own hands. Eventually I got it done, but no faster than the other car who only had to stop for a few seconds.

What if we waited on the Lord like we wait on traffic lights?

Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD! – Psa 27:14

And I say to you, Ask and it shall be given you. Seek and you shall find. Knock and it shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives. And he who seeks finds. And to him who knocks it shall be opened. For what father of you, if the son asks for bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a snake for a fish? Or if he shall ask for an egg, will he give him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him? Luk 11:9-13

I knew that the light would eventually turn green at the right time – i.e. when opposing traffic would not crash into me. I should trust that God will work things out at the right time. If not, I will go about it the long and stressful way, and (best case scenario) end up where God would lead me anyway, but frustrated, exhausted, and faithless. (Or end up in a mountain of problems!) God will give green lights in my life when it is safe and optimal to take that path. So self – stop doing it all on your own!  Wait on the Lord like you wait on traffic lights!

Personal Responsibility

I heard a funny story of an old married couple talking in the car after eating out:

Wife: “Oh bother, I left my sunglasses on the table…”
Husband: “How could you forget your glasses at the restaurant?”
Wife: “Sorry…”
Husband: *sigh* “Let’s go get it… you are so irresponsible!”
Wife: “I am sorry!”
Husband: “While you’re in there pick up my credit card and hat”

Do we have a double standard when it comes to responsibility?
What does it mean to have personal responsibility?
How do we respond to things that happen?

Responsibility is a duty and a job. We have a duty to respond to life circumstances in a proper Godly way. Am I taking responsibility for the quality/direction/outcome of my life? The lives of family members?

Personal responsibility is a choice. Adam and Eve did not hold to this standard: God expected them to take personal responsibility but they failed and could not have imagined the consequences of their actions.

“Mom – my teacher said I was the most responsible in the class!”
“Wonderful! But wait… what did she actually say to you?”
“The class was in chaos all day, and she always told me I was responsible!”

Responsibility is the foundation of our identity.
Deut 30:11,15,20 – you’ve got to make the choice.

You can know people, families, and groups by what they do and the choices they make. Israel lost their identity by making the wrong choices.

We tend to hide from our wrong choices, but we ARE accountable and need to take personal responsibility. When we hide from responsibility, it takes several forms: forever students, living in parent’s basement for life, never counting the cost and moving forward in life, etc…

Do we really believe we can do all things through Christ’s strength? Perfect love casts out fear, but we fear ALL the time!  We see ourselves and others always trying to justify our stagnation: “I am the way I am because of ____” [passing the blame]

In group situations, you can clearly see the diffusion of responsibility quite often. [i.e. news stories of nobody helping a trampled man in NYC, because it’s always someone else’s responsibility]

“O, do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men! Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks! Then the doing of your work shall be no miracle. But you shall be a miracle. Every day you shall wonder at yourself, at the richness of life which has come to you by the grace of God.” – Phillips Brooks

Sometimes we are tempted to cry out, “stop the world, I want to get off!” Life can be depressing, difficult, and often times we just want to quit, run away, or escape. We try to immerse ourselves in various vices to distract ourselves: TV, shopping, drugs, video games, etc… We escape any responsibility for our lives, and sit in misery as our willpower to change dwindles.

We fantasize about differing life circumstances, believing that things would automagically change:

“If [circumstance] would change, then I’d be happy”
“If I could find a spouse, then I’d be happy”

If we’re not happy now, circumstances won’t change that! The time is NOW to take personal responsibility and change your attitude and perspective on it. Our identity is found in Christ, so circumstances cannot dictate who we are!

“But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.” Gal 6:4

This is not an admonition to be overly prideful, but to take stock of yourself, and accept the responsibilities that are our own, along with acknowledging that you are fearfully and wonderfully made with a purpose only you can fulfill.

How often do we feel sorry for ourselves? Does that affect our identity?
What determines my feelings when bad things/feelings happen?
Do I allow a way of thinking or a label to dictate actions?
How easily can we harbor guilt or grudges?
How easy to admit we’re wrong?

“If I could kick the person in the butt who is responsible the most for my troubles, I wouldn’t be able to sit for one week” – Teddy Roosevelt

Do we glorify God in our bodies/vessels/temples?
Do we give God glory for all good in our lives?

“…As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Josh 24:15) Following God’s laws fulfills our responsibility to God and man. In so doing we love God; love man, and thus fulfill our personal responsibility to ourselves.

We can determine the direction in our lives for better or worse. Now is the time to reorganize goals, and cease hiding behind masks in our life! Choose to put on the new man! Take the responsibility to put away our old self and put on the mind of Christ. (Eph 4:22 – 5:2)

Let our works speak life; this is our responsibility to others. Let us put away the old man; this is our responsibility to God and ourselves.

Let us take control, get the help we need, and give it all to God. Be accountable to God, to ourselves, and to others, and live and abundant life!

B.U.S.Y.

“Oh sorry, I meant to get ahold of you, but I’ve been really busy!” “Hey, I wanted to do that, but I’ve just been so busy.” Have you ever used this excuse? Why are we always so busy?

busyI live in America. It’s the wealthiest nation on the planet (for the time being). Keeping in mind the old saying “Time is money,” think about how rich Americans really are. Compared to many developing countries, America is rather poor in its “time” reserves. No one seems to have enough! 

Why are so many of us so busy, and what can we do about it?

Despite the desire for time to relax and reflect, many are tangled in hectic schedules that suck up their time like an industrial-strength vacuum! Rushing to make appointments, meetings or sports practice, we should ponder how we can change our lives to have time to think.

Something works against our desire to find that kind of time. But there are positive steps we can take. Both the negative and the positive can be represented by using the word “busy” as an acronym, each letter standing for another word.

Brought—Under—Satan’s—Yoke

Here is the root of the problem. There is a devil. His name Satan means “adversary.” This powerful spirit being is evil and cunning, and he hates us. (See our Bible study aid Is There Really a Devil? to learn more.)

Satan knows that if he can’t get us to actually reject God and His laws, then he can prevent us from having a close and active relationship with our Creator by keeping us super busy!

We give in too easily, and thus we have “no time” to seek God. But strangely enough we find the time to check Facebook, e-mail, watch movies, hang out, travel and read novels.

So let’s move on to the positive—a way to save our time going forward.

Breathe—Understand—Simplify—Yearn

Breathe! It’s impossible to create extra time in the day! Trust me, I’ve tried! Spending some time in Africa I noticed the cultural difference in terms of time management priorities: Relationships came first, then deadlines and punctuality. While there needs to be a balance, it was interesting to note that life didn’t have to be as crazy busy or stressful as mine was in America!

Sometimes at work I literally have to remind myself to breathe. This is not how God planned things! Our bodies were not meant to be constantly this busy. Take time to step back from stress and breathe!

Understand God’s plan. Sounds daunting, yet young people need to seek God wholeheartedly! “ Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, ‘I find no pleasure in them ‘” (Ecclesiastes 12:1
, emphasis added).

Understanding God’s ways and seeking Him first will help us to have the right perspective on life. Obeying God brings us into His time rhythm, which greatly revolves around the seventh day of the week—the Sabbath—as a rest day. Faithfully taking that day off to vertically orient ourselves toward God greatly refreshes our lives and shields us from the devil’s influence.

Simplify your life. In an age of distractions, we are far too easily influenced by society’s norms and trends. Video gaming, hyper-social networking and television add to the cloud of devices, events and activities that steal our precious time. The tempting but trivial smorgasbord of distractions leads us away from the more important things in life.

Several years ago I began a life without cable television—a big step for me! Next I freed more time by nixing my Internet movie service. These things aren’t always bad, but they can become our go-to activities when we have an ounce of free time. What is there in your life making you unnecessarily busy and keeping you from connecting with God and family?

Yearn for the right things. Ask God to help you focus. We make time for what’s important to us, so it’s important to have the right things be important! “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalms 90:12
, New International Version, 1984). After a long day of work, my heart yearns to play video games to relax, but wisdom reminds me to find something more fulfilling to do instead, including reading the Bible a little and praying a while to God.

Time offering

These steps can help us to reprioritize our lives. However, you might think that your priorities are fine; I did. But Jesus Christ wants us to make Him and His way of life our top priority, to “present [our] bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is [our] reasonable service” (Romans 12:1
).

Today we typically think of sacrifices and offerings in financial terms, showing that God is more important than our money. Yet our time is extremely important to God as well. Instead of being so busy with everything else, our great Creator wants us to be living sacrifices by giving Him the right amount of our time.

We are busy today—possibly busier than at any time in history. Satan the devil will constantly try to consume our time to distract us away from God. But you can take steps to use time wisely. What will B.U.S.Y. stand for in your life?

[originally published10/20/2012]

The Power of Inception

Safeguard your mind (conscious and subconscious) against the Devil’s inception and hold fast to the roots of God’s truth found in His living Word, the Holy Bible!

inception

Inception is the latest science-fiction blockbuster to sweep the cinemas. With plenty of explosions and an intriguing plot, many are joining the craze to view the film. Central to the plot of this movie is the concept that a simple idea can take root in a person’s mind and have an unimaginably large impact on the person and his or her subsequent thoughts and actions.

History of ideas

History bears witness to this phenomenon of the power of small ideas that just won’t go away. Among the infamous examples include Adolf Hitler, whose idea that the Jews and Gypsies were inferior creatures led to the murder of millions. Another is Jim Jones in the late 1970s, whose fanatical religious idea triggered nearly a thousand people killing themselves at a compound in Guyana.

An idea can look like a butterfly but sting like a thousand bees. The movie illustrated the power that an idea can also have in less severe situations than these, but the point remains that small ideas take root and take over.

Man’s first idea

Looking further into history, we read in the Bible the account of the first man and woman on earth—Adam and Eve. God communicated to them the house rules, and it is assumed that they understood and agreed to them. They knew what God said, but would they fullybelieve it?

Soon Satan, appearing as a crafty talking serpent, homed in on this thin separation of head and heart and took a crowbar to it. He planted the idea that disobeying God’s commands would not lead to death, but would make them like God (see Genesis 3). This idea spread from Adam to the entire world and has severed the relationship between God and humanity ever since!

Inception defeated

However, we do have an example of one who rejected humanity’s false and dangerous ideas—all of which appeal to human emotion. The Devil attempted to tempt Jesus Christ as he had tempted Eve, hoping to plant a small idea that would grow into a life apart from God’s way. This attempted inception failed because Christ refused to give the ideas any place to take root in His mind. Finally, Satan gave up and left Him for a while (see Matthew 4:1-11).

Insight for inception

  • Follow Christ, not Adam and Eve. When a tempting idea comes your way, but goes against the truth, reject it. The “what-if’s” of human logic can all too easily ensnare us and take us down a path we really don’t want to follow (see Proverbs 14:12).
  • Prove all things. Know what you know, and believe what you know. Jesus answered Satan with Scripture every time, knowing exactly how to prove the ideas wrong. We must know what we believe in order to rule out things that don’t line up with the truth.
  • Allow positive ideas. History is not solely fraught with false ideas. Gandhi and Mother Theresa had ideas that transcended their own lives and in many ways positively affected others. Once we’ve proven what is truth, we should hold fast to what is good, noble and upright (see Philippians 4:8).

History has proven time and again the power of small ideas that can transform into great endeavors for good or for evil. To read more about identifying false ideas, check out  “The Bible Deflates Secular Humanism.”

Safeguard your mind (conscious and subconscious) against the Devil’s inception and hold fast to the roots of God’s truth found in His living Word, the Holy Bible! 

Stop Flapping!

When we trust in and wait on the Lord, we can know that He will take care of all our needs. God through the eloquent Isaiah tells us that we will then rise up and soar like eagles.

This year I plan to not get stressed out. How, you ask? By simply not flapping!

When I returned to school this fall, I sighed as I realized that I would be once again entering the stressful environment of deadlines, deadbeats and feeling dead tired. It’s been the same routine with ever-increasing amounts of work—for 16 years now.

Okay, here’s my plan for less stress. When facing major stressors, I am resolved to remember that the Bible tells us:

“He [God] gives strength to those who grow tired and increases the strength of those who are weak… the strength of those who wait with hope in the Lord will be renewed. They will soar on wings like eagles ” (Isaiah 40:29
, 31; God’s Word Translation, emphasis added).

When we trust in and wait on the Lord, we can know that He will take care of all our needs. God through the eloquent Isaiah tells us that we will then rise up and soar like eagles.

Why is this particular analogy used? Consider that birds fly in one of three ways: constantly flapping, gliding or soaring.

Flapping

Many smaller birds travel in this fashion. Though hummingbirds do this seemingly gracefully, flapping is usually a lot of work that doesn’t get them that far. Since the bird constantly has to work, it tires more easily and can only fly relatively short distances.

Gliding

Medium-sized birds like pheasants or grouse can work at flapping until they get high enough to glide for a while—gracefully drifting downward for brief periods. Eventually, unless they start flapping again, they would glide straight into the ground. This is better than always flapping, but is there something even better?

Soaring

A few birds, like the eagle, are able to truly soar. This is because the eagle’s wings are large and powerful enough to catch the vertical columns of air (called thermals) shooting straight up from the earth in some places. Eagles can boost themselves up very high, floating from air column to air column without flapping much at all. These birds essentially glide downward on a constantly rising current of air.

This applies to our lives as well. When I stress out, I feel like a bird flapping with all my might, but not really getting anywhere. How we live life and how we trust in God for our daily needs and wants is analogous to how these birds fly!

Flap

Often we just flap and flap in life at school, home or work, trying to get ourselves in flight. Sometimes we do get airborne, but we exhaust ourselves from the stress.

Glide

We can work toward our moments of grace and epiphanies, but if we get too comfortable with our own accomplishments, we will plummet into the ground thinking we’ve got plenty of air left through which to glide.

Soar

This is the ideal! When we soar, we don’t have to worry about flapping or fear the lack of space to glide—we just comfortably float above our trials and fears, trusting God to keep the wind under our wings!

By waiting with hope on God to help us, we soar like eagles with renewed and increased strength physically, emotionally and especially spiritually. All of that translates into less negative stress in our lives. Imagine that, less “flapping” means less stress!

[S]indigestion

sindigestion (sin-di-gest’chen, n.) An uncomfortable condition due to difficulty or an inability to process or digest things not fit for healthy spiritual digestion.

You roll over in bed, still sick to your stomach, hoping the pain will soon subside. You’ve already tried to curl up into the smallest possible ball to alleviate the discomfort, but you just can’t bend any further. Groaning, you realize that your decision to eat the moldy pizza and two cans of Cheese Whiz may not have been the best idea after all! Yes, you’ve got indigestion, and it’s definitely not fun.

Much like the feeling of indigestion, we are susceptible to the negative consequences of bad choices we make in our lives. “Sindigestion” is the unsettling state we find ourselves in when we ingest too much of this present evil world’s influence. When we allow too much negativity into our minds or focus too much on our own selfish interests, we can become spiritually ill.

God designed us to be happy and healthy if we take in the right kind of things. But when we dump garbage into our bodies and our minds, we simply won’t function at 100 percent.

We all have some spiritual sindigestion in our lives. As with indigestion, our spiritual aliment can come from many sources, like overindulging on spiritual junk food, bad films or violent video games. Here’s how to be sindigestion- free over the long haul:

  • Maintain a steady diet of positive food for thought. Focus on the good things in life. Limit or tune out the negative, sinful ideas and examples so rampant in our media and society. Sin clogs us up inside and makes us sick. Just as we endeavor to avoid junk foods, we should focus our minds on true and noble thoughts. Develop a desire for what is good and upright, rather than for what seems popular and entertaining, yet is sinful (Philippians 4:8).
  • Stay active in your godly behavior. Once you’ve limited your negative intake, internalize the positive things of God by acting on them in your life. Our physical bodies need good food and exercise to burn off the negative junk inside of us. True spiritual health demands that we be doers of God’s Word, not just hearers (James 1:22).
  • Rest, recuperate, repeat. One of the most common remedies for sickness is rest. Our bodies need a break from all this processing to regenerate. Luckily for us, God has built in a day each week for us to rest so we can stay spiritually healthy. While we rest, our bodies and minds rejuvenate so we can be in top shape, free of sindigestion, ready to start the cycle over again. God made us and knows that we need this resting period—the Sabbath was made for mankind! (Mark 2:27).

Each step builds spiritual health. But even if you try to tune out the negative, there is that yucky (yes, yucky!), sinful nature within that can still make you sick. To beat sindigestion, actively replace the wrong mind-set with things from above—the things of God! To learn more about how to live a healthy and happy life, check out Transforming Your Life.

The ultimate Doctor is in, and He is waiting to see you. 

http://userDefinedSin

Wikipedia.org is a popular Internet reference destination today. It’s an online, user-edited encyclopedia available in 14 languages, completely free and open to the discretion of people who hopefully know what they’re talking about.

Articles can be submitted by almost anyone and changed by almost anyone as well. If something is put up that someone labels as incorrect, it can be quickly flagged and taken down. Wikipedia cannot, however, guarantee the factual nature of any of the content on the site. Despite this, millions of people use it to seek definitions for various words and concepts. After all, if millions of people believe it, it has to be true, right?

Not necessarily. Ironically, we live in a world where billions of people live their lives without ever believing that the wonderful Maker of the whole universe even exists. More ironically, even among people who do openly profess their belief in a supreme Creator, there is a common misperception about right and wrong. Most don’t know how to define what sin is.

Graffiti_internet

Looking at my native America as an example, I see some similarities to Wikipedia. America is a fast-paced, ever-changing place that is always seeking further worldly knowledge and advancement. It also allows its social norms to dictate its conceptions of sin and morality. Like Wikipedia’s definitions, those perceptions can easily be changed and edited by those around us. America, like the rest of the world, does not consider that there is an ultimate moral authority. So humanity defines its own degrees of sin and morality and allows the views of others to alter those definitions over time.

Does this mean that our age is more enlightened and better prepared to know right from wrong? Hardly. Some form of the “enlightened crowd” has existed in every era, and obviously the human race still hasn’t quite gotten it right.

There are absolutes! But in a world where everything is seemingly relative, no absolutes are accepted. This mind-set affects people in every walk of life. For example, much of professing Christianity judges some sins much more severely than others. With recent controversies about homosexuality, some vocal believers are strident about this one sin yet are strangely accepting of other sins like sex before marriage, adultery, lying and dishonoring parents.

Many people think that God is tolerant and view the Ten Commandments as suggestions—thinking that it doesn’t matter if we break them now and again, since He will forgive us anyway. However God set rules for us that are permanent and unchanging, and the penalty for breaking this law is death (Romans 6:23). God takes sin so seriously, that He still requires death—either ours or Jesus Christ’s. When we want to change and ask for forgiveness, Christ is willing to pay that penalty for us, and God is merciful to forgive us.

In a wanton society, those of us seeking to follow the one true God need to realize that God’s way of life is not user defined—there is no spiritual Wikipedia of sin. God has a book already written to guide our lives.  In short, the Bible teaches the way of life that will be for our benefit and happiness—forever!