Football, Respect, and Jesus

Football, Respect, and Jesus

Recently NFL Legend, Jim Brown declared that he would always stand for the National Anthem.  He said that kneeling is disrespectful to the flag and that he always wanted to respect the flag: “I am not going to denigrate my flag…” he went on to say to a reporter while visiting the Football Hall of Fame in Akron, Ohio.

With football season nearly here, this will be a topic of discussion from all the radio, tv, and media “talking heads” to regular news, the people at your workplace, and the family around your dinner table.

Respect is an emphasized theme in the Bible.  Many passages speak of respecting elders, leaders, and those in authority.  Here are 2 for example:

  • 1 Peter 2:17 Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.
  • Romans 13:1-2 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. 2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

Apparently, the Lord desires for us to show respect for “All men.”  This would include those with whom we do not agree with personally or politically.  When Paul wrote this passage and when Peter penned these words, one of the most tyrannical, ungodly, and incredibly cruel leaders ever- was the Roman Emperor.  Just look him up in a history book sometime.  His name was Nero.  If Paul and Peter could show respect to the leaders in their day, we can certainly show respect to our leaders today.  Paul even set a goal to personally give the Gospel to the Emperor.

What about the social injustice?  Some injustice is real.  Some injustice is fabricated.  Some injustice is embellished. And, some things happen because people make foolish personal decisions.  If a person is acting suspiciously, fidgeting, pacing back and forth, or being loud and aggressive, people take note, and suspect something is wrong or about to go wrong.  Where does “injustice” fit into this “respect thing.”

While I am for doing what is right for myself, my family, and for our community – it should be done with a realistic mindset.  Human government, civil disobedience, political movements, and a more informed public will not achieve the goals of the social engineers or even the people who are sincerely trying to make the world a better place.  Why not?  Because we cannot do what only Jesus can do.  Let me explain.

With worthy goals and good intentions, some people are organizing, coordinating on social media, and attempting to influence others to make things “better” or at least their version of what “better” is.  But human ability, intellect, and willpower can only do so much.  The human heart is misguided according to God in Jeremiah 17:9 when He warned us about following the human heart: The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?  Only Jesus can change a heart.  He is the only one who can create lasting and motivationally pure change.  Even when we do the right thing, many times it is not with the right motive.  We simply cannot do the work of God in righting all the wrongs in this world.

During the Millennial Kingdom, Jesus will rule this earth and He will bring about what many people are trying to achieve today: world peace and human harmony.  Observe Isaiah 11:6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.

This verse is speaking of the day when King Jesus is directing the world from His Millennial (1000 year) Reign in Jerusalem.  No one would dispute or deny that the peace described in Isaiah 11:6 sounds wonderful.  People want this peace.

Speaking about the Christians who will rule with Christ during the Millennial Kingdom, Jesus says in Revelation 2:27: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.  Jesus will not tolerate any sin.  No social injustice will be allowed. Jesus will ensure that no-one is taken advantage of.  He will insure peace.  He will provide civil, political, and social equality and stability the likes of this world has never seen.  Leaders the world over in governments, think tanks, and college campuses can only dream of the incredible authority by which Jesus will rule.

But we cannot.  We are not capable of achieving something that only God can do.  So, while we wait for the Millennium, it is a good idea to have realistic goals and a right perspective of pointing people to Jesus.  After all – He is their only hope.

Before the Millennium, there are several things that must happen prophetically.  They are:

  • The Rapture. When Christians are taken to Heaven and given new, sinless bodies. Christians are serving the Lord while waiting for the “trumpet to sound!”
  • The Tribulation. When the Lord judges a Jesus rejecting earth. In this 7-year timespan the world will embrace and empower the Antichrist.  He will set up a singular global empire consolidating all economies, militaries, governments, and religions (except Biblical Christianity because all the Christians were raptured).
  • The Battle of Armageddon. Jesus returns to earth and defeats the Antichrist and all the enemies of God.
  • The Touchdown. Jesus lands (bodily) on the Mount of Olives.  The earth quakes and Jesus proceed to walk to Jerusalem and claim the eternal throne of King David.
  • The Millennial Kingdom. Jesus sets up His 1000-year reign.

What many people claim they are working and hoping for will only come about – when Jesus is King. What should we do while we wait for this?  Honor those in authority.  Be thankful for the military.  Understand the value of a nation respecting it’s flag and the lives sacrificed for what that flag stands for – freedom.

And the greatest thing you could do – introduce someone to Jesus.  Give the Gospel.  Help others know how to have their sins forgiven and a home in Heaven.

 

 

 

 

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Be Kind, Kind Of…

Be Kind

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.  Ephesians 4:32

“A church usher was instructing a young successor in the details of his office. “And remember, my boy,” he concluded, “that we have nothing but good kind Christians in this church until you try to seat someone else in their chair.” (6000)

I have always enjoyed that little story.  It is true that sometimes when we change the routine and seemingly insignificant expectations of some people they can become very angry!  Some of us are “kind” just part of the time.  We could be “kind of kind” but that is not really being kind!

The Bible commands and admonishes us to “be kind one to another.” This is written to the church members of a church in a city called Ephesus.  These were people who lived busy lives in an ancient world trading capitol.  There were false gods in the city and the famous Temple of Diana where all sorts of evil originated and was conveyed into their society.  It was to these Christian people that God said – “Be ye kind.

Ye Kind” is taken from the Greek word: “chrestos” which means to be “employed.”  You may never have guessed that definition and origin of the word “kind!”  It really helps us understand the significance as to how to go about being kind.

Like you are employed at your job or occupation, the Lord wants us to be employed in the area of kindness.  Be kind to the family members in your home.  Be kind to the church members at your local church.  Be kind to other Christians in the body of Christ.  Be kind o your neighbor who does not yet know Jesus.  Be kind.

In other words: Leave the other person better off than when you first interacted with them…

Here are 3 considerations.

  1. I need to think right about people. If I am thinking about how I can take advantage of other people, I cannot be kind to them.  That is what Ephesians 5:31 is speaking about: Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
  2. I need to have compassion for other people. Tenderhearted in verse 32 is speaking of compassion.  We live in a day when many people have more compassion on a baby elephant than they do for a homeless man.  Many are more compassionate about baby dolphins than they are about human babies that are being murdered in abortion.  Have some godly concern for others. Know their condition.  Try to help meet a need.
  3. I must have forgiveness in my heart for others. For the sake of Jesus – God forgave your sin.  For the sake of Jesus – you can forgive the sin and wrong that others have projected against you.  Forgiving is not the same as forgetting, we will never forget.  But we can be like God Who in Hebrews 13:13, “remembers no more” our sin and wrong.  While God never forgets, He chooses not to think about our sin.  When we forgive others, we are being like God! And God wants us to be more like Him!

One final thought.  I am not a “kind person” if I am thinking of how to hurt or take advantage of others.  I am not a “kind person” if I am not actively showing compassion to others.  I am not a “kind person” if I am not demonstrating true forgiveness to other people.

Ask God to help you – you can be a kind person today!  Be employed at being kind to others.  It is a “job” that God has called each of us to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Will to Live

The Will to Live

The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?  Proverbs 18:14

God has given to man an incredible powerful (yet not all-powerful) attribute – man’s will. The spirit of a man can help him cope, deal with, and go through incredible and extraordinarily challenging difficulties. When a man “loses spirit” that is when he is most susceptible to giving up, giving in, or “Throwing in the towel.”

I have seen this “will power” to live when visiting the hospital rooms of those with terminal illness.  Sometimes their resolve is the only reason (other than the will of God) that they are alive.  Medically speaking, humanly speaking, they should not be alive, but they are by the grace of God.  They are looking forward to another day.  They have hope for a better tomorrow.

I have also seen the shift in countenance when a person has lost hope, when they are no longer fighting the sickness, when the body has been diminished to the point of their giving up.  Even the possibility of pain and suffering can change our minds.

Yes, the spirit of man can sustain through sickness.   Generally speaking – as long as there is life and breath – a person has hope of getting better.  This is a wonderful perspective that God has given to mankind.  If you are facing extreme health conditions, if you are discouraged emotionally, have hope.  God cares for you.  There are other people who love you.  Set up a time to meet with a Christian counselor if you are in a state of despair.  Get help in nurturing the God given “spirit of a man.”

In recent days, we have seen an uptick in celebrities and famous people take their own life in suicide.  In spite of the fame and financial status, something was missing in their lives.  They gave up.  They lost hope.  Causes are certainly different and individualistic to each case, but overall – they missed the purpose for living. Perhaps they were “wounded in spirit.”  If you are depressed or deeply discouraged – talk to a Christian Counselor today.  Don’t wait until tomorrow.  Make the call today.

Please know that everyone will face discouragement from time to time.  It is a natural part of the human experience.  There will be low moments of extreme disappointment.  The Lord can help you through those times.  There will also be times of great joy!

There is natural “Will to live.”  Be sure to allow the Lord to nurture that will!  He is the One who gives meaning and purpose to life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Can’t Juggle

juggler 4I Can’t Juggle

All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the LORD weigheth the spirits. Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.  Proverbs 16:2-3

Years ago, I learned the “art” of juggling…. Well a little.  I was never that good at it. I could juggle 3 hackee sack balls ok – in the right conditions.  I had to stand still, look up, and watch out for throwing the ball in the direction of other people! Needless to say, I can’t juggle.  The same can be said when we try to live life without the Lord.  There are so many “balancing” issues we face and without he priorities of the Lord – we will “Drop the ball.”

Life can be a “juggling act!”   There is so much to do, and seemingly so little time to do it in.  Many people are so consumed with things, stuff, and opportunities of life that life itself gets out of balance and they begin to “drop the ball.”  This post is for you.  Be challenged and encouraged to streamline the juggling motions of life.

Like Proverbs 16:2-3 says, “The ways of a man are clean in his own eyes.”  Our choices, decisions, and priorities can all be justified – humanly speaking.  You can give a “good reason” for why you do what you do or don’t do what you don’t do.  Self-justification is a terribly effective habit of the natural man.

At the same time, verse 3 tells us that when we commit our works to God, our thoughts will be established.  That is, when we are making decisions based on a “God Priority”, then our decisions will be blessed.  When God blesses our decisions, life is less complicated, choices are easier to make, and perspective of what is truly important comes into a clearer view.

How can I start to “juggle” life in proper balance?  Here are some Scripturally simplified ideas:

  1. Be still, and know that I am God: Psalm 46:10a
    1. Stop everything at specific moments of each day and each week.
    2. Daily Bible reading and prayer, should be consistent in life.
    3. Church attendance should be a regular part of your week. Plan around church, don’t plan church around the other stuff.
    4. Life becomes too hectic when we do not take time to be still and know that God is God.
  2. He that trusteth in his riches shall fall: but the righteous shall flourish as a branch. Proverbs11:28
    1. Seeking what is right is better than seeking more money. We do not work to get money anyway – we work to glorify the Lord and to gain the ability to “give to him that needed.”  Ephesians 5:28
    2. When we are working for money we look sight of the greater picture that everything we do should be under the auspices of “the glory of God.1 Corinthians 10:31
    3. Ask the Lord to help you control your work schedule instead of allowing your work schedule to control you. This is something I learned from my parents as a teenager when they had me mowing lawns or clearing snow, remodeling buildings, instead of flipping burgers or checking people out at a checkout line.
    4. The riches will not last – but right choices last a lifetime and for all eternity!
  3. The wise in heart will receive commandments: but a prating fool shall fall. Proverbs 10:8
    1. “Know it all’s” talk a lot and do not listen well for how to improve their life. They drop the ball because they are attempting things they want to do, or think they can do, but have not consulted the Lord or learned people.
    2. Have you noticed those struggling the most in the “juggling act of life” are generally the ones who are trying to live life on their own. God is not a priority, His input is not welcome.  Other people’s encouragement and admonition is rejected.  Some people drop the ball and do not even notice!
    3. The wise in heart receives the Bible to make balanced changes in his life.
  4. The righteousness of the perfect shall direct his way: but the wicked shall fall by his own wickedness. Proverbs 11:5
    1. Making right choices can become a lifestyle pattern.
    2. Notice how the mature Christian will allow what is right to direct his way. When he makes a right choice now – it makes it easier for him to make a right choice tomorrow.  Before long a singular good choice will become a whole string of good choices that then becomes a pattern for living.
    3. The more consistent a person is with right choices, the better he will be at juggling life!

Be encouraged to trust your path to the Lord.  Avoid juggling life on your own apart from the Lord.  Don’t drop the ball!  Incorporate Godly reasoning in every decision you make.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Setting Examples in Front

Setting Examples in Front

Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12

Our church is blessed to have Bible College and Christian College music tour groups visit each year.  There are many benefits to having these young college students minister in our church.  For instance: the music is encouraging, edifying and presented with excellence. They offer CD’s that our people can play in their cars and homes. We learn about Bible and Christian College possibilities.  In addition, our own children are able to see responsible and respectable college age students that can leave a lasting impression on our kids concerning life and ministry.

This demonstration of example is what Paul is writing to Timothy about in the passage above.  Timothy, while not the oldest man in the congregation was to be a stellar example of the grace of God in what he said, how he behaved, and what priorities he had in life.  One of the greatest benefits of having the college groups in to our church is that our kids can get a glimpse of what they could potentially do in service to the Lord.  While not everyone will be a preacher or traveling singer, college aged young people can serve the Lord in ministry.  Our kids need to see that.

Many times we may hear young people say:  “When I graduate from High School I will serve God, but I am too busy now.”  Or – “I have too many credits in college, so I will serve the Lord after I graduate from college.”  Good intentions have never accomplished anything.  Life is busy for everyone.  The Christian life should not be a choice between one or the other.  Serving God, and living life should be synonymous.

Parents, I encourage you that when college groups come through that you not only attend the concerts and services, but engage your pre-teen, tween, and teen in conversation with the college students.  Let them “rub shoulders” with them and see a good example of someone who is serving God and living life to the glory of God.   Put good Christian role models in front of your kids.

Teens – the person singing could be you.  You could be the one giving the message.  You could be the one planning the summer schedule.  It could be that God call you to some other form of service – all in the name of Jesus.  Put good Christian role models in your life.  Be encouraged – God can use you in His service too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Artificial Earthquake

An Artificial Earthquake

Recently during soccer’s World Cup, Mexico scored a goal against the reigning champion, Germany.  The citizens of Mexico City were celebrating so much that they actually triggered a measurable reaction on the earthquake scale.  The seismic monitoring officials said the celebrants created and “artificial earthquake!” What excitement?!  What earth shaking zeal?!

What if Christians were more excited about being more like Jesus than they were excited about being like the world?  That is what the Apostle Paul is addressing in Galatians 4:18 But it is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing, and not only when I am present with you.

I enjoy sports; soccer, baseball, basketball, etc.  But as fun as these sports can be – they are just games.  Just temporary.  Just leather-bound balls of cork or air being chased around a field or court.  That is it. Would God help each of us be more excited about the things of God!  Paul went on to say what this zealously affect would have in verse 19, My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you.

Paul wanted to see the Christians be more like Jesus.  That was his goal.  He was not in Galatia when he wrote this letter.  He wanted to be with them at church.  He wanted to preach to them personally, but he was not able to do so for the moment. His goal in his relationship with them was that they would become more like Jesus.

We should not try to cause an artificial earthquake at Bible study or in our church services; but we should be excited about being more like Jesus.  Ask the Lord to give you “zeal according to knowledge!”