Tag Archives: change

The Shackles of Addiction

The Shackles of Addiction

The LORD is known by the judgment which he executeth: the wicked is snared in the work of his own hands. Higgaion. Selah.  Psalm 9:16

The evil works we are addicted to snares or shackles us.  When we are doing what we feel makes us free, we may be in fact locking ourselves up in a trap.  Chaining ourselves to a habit.

“Snared” is an old Hebrew word that according to Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary means “a noose (for catching animals) (literally or figuratively): by implication, a hook (for the nose):–be ensnared, gin, (is) snare(-d), trap.”

Wow there is a lot to unpack in that definition.  Here are a few vivid pictures of snaring (and addiction) to consider.

  • Addictions are a “noose” that suffocates real life out of us.
  • Addictions are a “hook” that stabs into us to catch us like we may catch a fish.
  • Addictions are a “gin”, engine or mechanism, used to trap us.
  • Addiction are a “trap” in which when we fall into, it is difficult to get out of.

Unless you purpose in your heart, seek accountability with others, and receive competent counsel from a counselor, it is very difficult to released yourself from the addition.

Addicts need help.  Get help.

The first step to recovery is admitting: “I need help.”

Please give me a call this week.  I would be honored to help you overcome the addition.

With God, all things are possible!  Choose freedom from the chains of addiction that are holding you down.

 

 

 

 

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In Search of Contentment, Pt. 6

Continuing the thought of things that can only come from Jesus:

The Present of Today. 

One clever thinker got it right: “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift––that is why it is called the present.”  Proverbs 27:1 teaches: Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.

The fact is, we cannot buy another day on earth.  It is Jesus who supplies the breath and heartbeat for another day.  Life is a gift only Jesus can give.

The Provision of God. 

God will supply all the things you really need in life.  The content person who is giving to the cause of God and His Gospel has the backing of Jesus Himself on his life.

Sometimes banks will convey how many assets they have to draw on.  A bank could have $57,000,000,000 in cash, silver, gold, property, and holdings.  That is a lot of money!  Jesus has the “Riches of Glory.”  Think of all the wealth of Heaven, streets of gold, and gates of pearl.  Jesus owns all of that.  In addition, Heaven has no health issues, no jails for criminals, and no funeral homes or graves for death.  In the perfect economy of Heaven, Jesus owns it all.

Christian, you can “go to the bank” of Jesus and see God supply all the things in life you really need.  The “First Bank of Heaven” is always open and will never go out of business. Be sure to understand the differences between your “wants” and “true needs.”  Natalie, my wife and best friend, says that people have big “Wanters.”  My “Wanter” is tested from time to time as well.  You and I must come back to this verse often and choose contentment and trust Jesus to supply what we really need in life.

Jacob, in Genesis 25, is a “grabber.”  He grabs his brother’s heel and grabs his brothers’ stuff (birthright and blessing).  As times goes on, Jacob grabs onto God in a wrestling match, as we see in Genesis 32.  This encounter with God totally changes his life.  He starts to value things of God instead of the things of the earth.

Colossians 3:2 admonishes, Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. This is how Jacob begins to live his life.  His priority change is a good example for us today.  He found contentment in God.

The things worth loving in life are not things.  Jesus told us to love two things: God and then people.  This is the first and second command.  Matthew 22:37-39 elaborates, Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment.  39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Focus your life on the things that God values, and He will supply all you really need in life.  The answer is contentment.

Concluding Thoughts…

  • When you find yourself complaining – choose contentment.
  • When you hear yourself being critical – choose contentment.
  • When you see yourself comparing to others – choose contentment.
  • When you feel yourself coveting another person’s life, position, relationship, job, upbringing, or life-stage – choose contentment.

Like the hot air balloon, this old preacher’s story captures the idea of our search for contentment.  “The story is told about a pilot who always looked down intently on a certain valley in the Appalachians when the plane passed overhead. One day his co-pilot asked, ‘What’s so interesting about that spot?’ The pilot replied, ‘See that stream? Well, when I was a kid I used to sit down there on a log and fish. Every time an airplane flew over, I would look up and wish I were flying… Now I look down and wish I were fishing.’”

Are you content today?  The only place to find true, lasting contentment is in Jesus Christ.  Perhaps a Christian friend reading this has a covetous heart.  Confess that as sin to God and in Jesus’ name choose contentment today – and every day.

Perhaps another reader is not sure they are a Christian.  Even if you were born into a religious home, it does not automatically make you a Christian.  Have you trusted in the GOSPEL – the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus?  Has there been a moment when you expressed faith in Jesus to God through prayer?  Why not trust and believe in Jesus right now?

Pray this way: “God in Heaven, I realize I am a sinner and need Jesus as my Savior.  I confess my sin to you.  Please forgive me of my sin in Jesus’ name.  I believe in the Gospel.  Jesus shed His blood for my sin, died on the cross taking my punishment, and rose again the third day.  I believe in Jesus.  Please save me from my sin and give me a home in Heaven.  Thank you for saving me.”

If you prayed for salvation, please let me know.  I would like to share Bible verses with you to help you in your new faith in Jesus.  Please call 518.583.2736, or email me at: pastor@wiltonbaptistchurch.com

 

 

 

Letting God Grow You

“Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”   Hebrews 13:20-21

The Lord may use any and every circumstance or situation that may arise in your life to nurture your faith, grow your convictions, or develop your spiritual life.  The good events and the bad events can be orchestrated by God to bring about something good in your heart and life.  Think Job, Joseph, and Paul.  Each of these men endured incredible hardship – and were better men for it.

While we do not like to go through hardship, sometimes the furnace of affliction, the discomfort of pain, and the heartbreak of suffering will cause us to change, and even create more of a desire for the Lord.  A helpful verse is 1 Peter 1:7 “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ…”

The following are the same Greek words for “Make you perfect” from the passage above.  These verses, could be precise illustration and application of how the Lord wants to grow you.

He wants to REPAIR YOUR LIFE. Matthew 4:21 And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets and he called them.

Just like a broken net, rope coming unraveled through means or use, work, and fighting the outdoor elements, our lives are many times broken.  Our purpose, usefulness, and reason for living is sometimes called into question.  Our lives can go through seasons of despair and even disrepair.  We need to Lord to repair what the hardships of life have broken.

He wants to RESTORE YOUR RELATIONSHIPS. Galatians 6:1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

Life is full of choices.  The choices have either consequences or blessing.  Depending on the choice, there may be a need for restoration.  Pride is the root source of “people problems.”  While interacting with others, a personal “fault” or sin may be one sided – or only in the other person.  When they confess their sin and repent of it (change their life) we need to be ready to restore.  True restoration results in a relationship not being the same as before – but better than before the sin or issue.

If there is someone that has sinned against you, they may or may not know it.  If there is no sin, but you have bad feelings toward the person, as the Lord for His grace to change your heart – and your thoughts so the relationship can be restored.

He wants to REFINE YOUR FAITH. 1 Thessalonians 3:10 Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith?

Paul prayed a lot for his friends in Thessalonica.  He really wanted to travel to their city and see them again.  But his prayer did not stop for hoping to see them again.  He also prayed that the Lord would grow, or “perfect” their faith.  Paul was asking God to refine the faith of each Christian in the church at Thessalonica.

Is your faith being “refined?”  Are the circumstances you are in just something you complain about?  Or do you pray for God’s will to happen and for the situation to turn out to bring glory to God?

Will you see God “grow you” more in this new year?  Will you allow the Lord to repair, restore, and refine your life?

Remember the classic definition of insanity?  “Insanity is to do the same thing over and over while hoping for a different result.”   We can do better than that from day to day, month to month, and year to year in our Christian life.  Don’t just go through the motions.  Be real.  Have a genuine walk with Jesus.  Let God grow you.

Let Jesus make some changes in your life in 2019.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

One Drink Later

One Drink Later

A military chaplain once told me a story of a teenager who enlisted.  This recruit grew up in a conservative church like ours with parents who loved Jesus. One night he, with his new army buddies he went out on the town.  He had never had a drop of alcohol in his life.  They coaxed him into drinking.  The next day, he woke up in a jail cell with a blood-stained shirt on.  He had no memory of what happened.  A fight had broken out in the bar and he stabbed a man – who later died.  At the age of 19 he had a life sentence.  He sobbed – “IF I had only listened to my parents, teachers and pastor.”  One night. One choice. One drink led to a lifetime of sorrow. We make meaningful decisions each day.

All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.  1 Corinthians 6:12

The following stats are from NIAAA who monitor Alcohol consumption in America.

“Many young people drink alcohol…

  • By age 15, about 33 percent of teens have had at least 1 drink.1
  • By age 18, about 60 percent of teens have had at least 1 drink.1
  • In 2015, 7.7 million young people ages 12–20 reported that they drank alcohol beyond “just a few sips” in the past month.

Youth ages 12 to 20 often binge drink…

  • People ages 12 through 20 drink 11 percent of all alcohol consumed in the United States.3 Although youth drink less often than adults do, when they do drink, they drink more. That is because young people consume more than 90 percent of their alcohol by binge drinking. Binge drinking is consuming many drinks on an occasion (see box). Drinking alcohol and binge drinking become more prevalent as young people get older.
  • 1 million young people reported binge drinking (for males 5 or more drinks and for females 4 or more drinks on the same occasion within a few hours) at least once in the past month.2
  • 3 million young people reported binge drinking on 5 or more days over the past month.”

The damage done to the brain and thinking processes of a person who is consuming alcohol cannot be denied.  For reasons of pleasure, pain, or forgetting a problem, some people resort to drinking.  While mainstream culture promotes and makes alcohol popular, the true issues it and other substance abuse cause is seldom told or not fully understood in stark reality.  Broken homes, bruised bodies, car wrecks, and poor judgment are frequent and extremely common.

Many people I have counseled with who grew up in homes where alcohol ruled, decided against drinking alcohol themselves because of the first-hand problems they saw it create.  Alcohol does not “cause for a good time” like some people say.  It creates at atmosphere of foolishness and impaired judgment.  People can have fun at parties and have a good time hanging out with friends because of the people they are with and the things they are doing together – not because of a mind changed under the power and effect of alcohol.  To say: “I can’t have a good time without drinking” is one way of devaluing friendships.  Alcohol is in control of a person who says things like that. Enjoy the moment with the people you love.  Who wouldn’t want to remember “such a good time” to have good memories instead of foggy memories?

The Apostle Paul is teaching the Corinthian church that even if something is lawful – it does not mean it is good for me.  Even if I can – does not mean that I should.  Allowing your mind and body to be controlled by any substance or anything out side of the body is a form of addiction.  Drugs, vaping, smoking, drinking alcohol, or any other addiction is not something that you want to be subject to.  One drink later… you could be enslaved.

Parents – do all you can to help your teen not take their first drop of alcohol.  Warn about the dangers.  Teach the Bible admonitions.  Adults, purpose with the Lord’s help to abstain from drinking.  Your thoughts will be clearer, you will sin less, do less harm or evil than while “under the influence” and you will be better prepared for life because your mind is working more efficiently.

Consider in conclusion 2 of the many Bible passages giving ample warning:

Proverbs 20:1 Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.

Proverbs 23:31-35 Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder (Snake). Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things. Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast. They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spiritual Discernment

Spiritual Discernment

“The story is told of an atheistic barber who was talking to a pastor. The barber asked the pastor, “If there is a loving God, how can He allow poverty, war, and suffering?”

Just at that moment a disheveled man crossed the street. The pastor said, “You are a barber and claim to be a good one. How can you allow that man to go unkept and unshaven?”

“He never gave me a chance!” the barber replied.

To which the pastor said, “Exactly, men are what they are because they reject God!””

There are many things in life that a person will not be able to understand apart from the “new birth” that takes place at the moment of salvation.  The Christian is made a new man (while living in his old body).  He, with the guidance of the Word of God and the Spirit of God has a whole new sphere of understanding that opens up to him.

1 Corinthians 2:14 teaches, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

Clearly, Christian men and women are to possess spiritual discernment.  Sadly, many times we do not exhibit sound thinking and reasoning. Why?  Why do some Christians not exhibit good reasoning skills? Here are three thoughts as to why.

  1. We lose our objectivity when we are more in love with the world or the things of the world. 1 John 2:15 says, Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
  2. We lose our Christian rational when we do not know the Bible like we should. Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. One reason some Christians do not make good decisions is because their devotional and Bible educational life are not what it should be.
  3. We lose our clear mind when our soul is spiritually dry. A parched soul trying to find satisfaction with world relationships, philosophies and things cannot be quenched by anything other than the Word of God.  When people lost in desserts are found after surviving death, they are dehydrated and deranged.  They clearly cannot think right in that dry condition.  David, the shepherd boy did not want to dry up spiritually.  While out in the wilderness he said in Psalm 63:1-2, O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary. 

Paramount to any relationship is real communication.  Prayer and Bible reading are vital aspects of your growth and development as a Christian.  Enriching your fellowship with God is dependent on a devotional life.

When we read and study the Bible, it penetrates into our soul, affects our mind, and enlightenes our decision making.

Many men reading this do not study the Word like they should.  As a result, their wives feel lonely and their children feel displaced.  A man like that is spiritually coasting, hoping that his home does not fall apart.  Some women scanning this article read Facebook more than they read the Bible.  Their discernment is lessened, and they have become more gullible to false teachings about health, relationships, and what is valuable in life.

Pray today.  Read the Bible today.  Proverbs and James are great places to learn God’s wisdom.  Ask the Lord to give you a discerning spirit.  Then make your discernment even stronger with Bible study.

 

 

 

 

 

Mind Games in Relationships

Mind Games in Relationships

“And be renewed in the spirit of your mind…”  Ephesians 4:23

One professional aptly stated that: “At age 20 we think: ‘What does everyone think about me.’  At age 40 we think: ‘It does not matter what other people think about me.’ And at age 60 we finally realize and think: ‘No one has been thinking about me anyway.’”

True.  Most of our thoughts about the perceptions others have of us are self-perceptions.  Most people are actually thinking about themselves and not thinking about you.  Why is it that we can be so consumed with perception and what others are thinking?

Testimony is one reason.  We should have a good testimony that is consistent with the Bible and that is exalting to Jesus.  Testimony does not mean that people are always thinking of us.  When they see us, or talk with us we should be edifying and encouraging.  When the Spirit of God uses your testimony to help another person, they may think of you for a moment, but otherwise, they are not constantly thinking about you.

Most of the time however, the reason we are so “self-conscious” of what others think or may think about us has to do with our personal pride.  Pride can create “Mind Games” than consume our time and damage needed relationships.  This pride takes form in several ways.  Here are two:

  • Do you know someone that needs constant affirmation for the most basic tasks in life? As our children grow, they will ask from time to time “Are you proud of me? I just made the ball go in the basket.  I just painted a watercolor, etc…”  As we get older the need for affirmation should adjust to find value in “who we are” in Christ – not merely what we have done or can do with our actions.  Insecure people seek the “pat on the back” in an obsessive way.  We all need encouragement and should actively encourage others, but insecure people are consumed with peer affirmation to the point that it paralyses any positive progress in their spiritual life and in their family/acquaintance relationships.
  • Like a bull in a china shop, overconfidence is bullish, brash, and bold in detrimental ways.  This self confidence is the opposite of biblical humility.  Its ego is fed by the projection of a certain “image” or perception the confident one wants other people to think about him/her.  This boldness can be dismissive of other people and cause division in relationships.   The ego must be fed at all costs because “I have an image to keep up…”  This confidence can be in position, ability, wealth, or social standing.  Self-righteousness is also a big contributor in a religiously minded person. Sometimes people who are overconfident, trying to impress people, have nothing in their life really worth bragging or boasting about.  Many times, they have shallow victories with no real success; but they want others to think that they are successful.  It’s another form of pride and is also one manifestation of an insecurity.
  • Finding the balance in this pendulum of emotions and thinking is found by centering in on Jesus. We can be emotional and relational extremists in the thinking of our mind if we do not find a Bible balance.

In one long sentence to the Christians in the church at Corinth, Paul writes 2 Corinthians 3:4-6 which declares, “And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: 5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; 6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.”

Notice that our sufficiency, security, and confidences is in God, not in ourselves. It takes humility to see this in a personal life.

Don’t let mind games swing your emotions and relationships from side to side.  Reject the personal pride that causes faulty and sinful thinking.  Replace pride with humility and a desire to point people to Jesus.  Sharpen your testimony and ensure that your life (evident to others and in your mind) is not self-absorbed.  Let the Word of God and the Spirit of God “renew” your mind each day.  Purpose with God’s help to have accurate, Biblical, and right thoughts about yourself and others.

Other people are generally thinking about themselves.  Stop thinking about yourself too and learn ways to help yourself and others think about Jesus. His Word. And His Father.