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Funeral Parlors and Fun Parties

Funeral Parlors and Fun Parties

Tears.  Sorrow.  Raw Emotion. Real Life.  Death.  Death is the cause of so much heartache, hurts and pain.

Solomon, the wisest man to ever live wrote Ecclesiastes 7:2 as God directed him, and the emphasis is interesting; There is a priority of attending funeral services and visiting with people who just lost a loved one to the throes of death.  This singular scripture goes as far to say that it is better to go to a funeral parlor than to a fun party.

It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart.

It is better to go to a funeral home.  Not fun – but needed for a proper perspective on life.  With life being devalued today, kids killing each other, and the news filled with reporting of one violent event or another – it makes me wonder – Has today’s modern child (an adults) been to enough funerals?

Probably not.  Many people avoid taking their children to the funeral home.  With good intentions of “not scarring the kids” or preventing them from seeing or hearing something disturbing, many well meaning parents, grandparents, and guardians find other places for their kids to be during funerals.  In fact – lots of adults avoid funerals as well.

Think of it this way; If a teenager has only known about death from a movie or video game – death cannot seem like real life.  He has no basis or foundation for understanding the depths of pain, the wrenching of the loss, or the changes in life that death causes for those who remain.  The seriousness of death is not something on his mind.

Since God says that it is better to go to a funeral than to go to a party – it should cause us to consider our priorities, teaching moments, and how to best place an emphasis on the value of life. Because death is in the future of every man God says being present with the corpse and with those grieving – will cause a person to “lay it to heart.”

We do not “lay it (death) to heart” enough because we avoid thinking about death.  Many don’t even talk about it.  But if a person thinks about death in a proper, Biblical way – it will cause him to make better choices in life!  When a person thinks about death – He will live better!

For example, here is a Fox News Headline from April 7, 2018: “Lakeith Smith, 18, of Montgomery, Ala., was sentenced to 65 years by Judge Sibley Reynolds for “felony murder, armed burglary, second-degree theft and third-degree theft,” FOX8 LIVE reported.”

“Smith smiled and laughed while being sentenced at the Elmore County courthouse. He had turned down a plea deal that would have recommended he spend 25 years in prison on the charges.”

‘I don’t think Mr. Smith will be smiling long when he gets to prison,’ C.J. Robinson, chief assistant district attorney, said. ‘We are very pleased with this sentence. Because the sentences are consecutive, it will be a long time before he comes up for even the possibility for parole, at least 20 to 25 years.’”

“Judge Reynolds said Smith seemed to show no remorse for his crimes during the trial and did not apologize. He also overhead the teen say, ‘I don’t have time for this.’”

Laughing.  I don’t have time for this?  What?  Here is an 18-year-old who apparently has never considered the gravity of life and death.  He is an example of the modern teen who believes life is ego centric and the purpose of living is to have a constant party – just have a good time.   Can I suggest that it would be better to take your kids to at least one funeral annually than to throw an ego centric, all out birthday party for them every year?  That is not intended to be a morbid thought.  Funerals in their proper context will help you and your child live better and make better choices.

No one likes tears.  Sharing in grief is not a fun thing or easy thing to do – but it will make you a better person.  When teaching your family about death, consider the age of your kids.  Find an age appropriate time to talk about and attend a funeral service.  Consider things like is it closed casket, a cremation, a memorial, or a graveside service?  Was this person a Christian?  What was our connection to this person?

Besides emotional “closure” and other similar benefits, going to the funerals and being present when a person’s life is summarized in a 30-minute speech will cause several good things in your life.

  1. Funerals cause us to ponder the brevity of life. James 4:14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.
  2. Funerals cause us to consider the priorities of life. Ecclesiastes 7:1 A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one’s birth.
  3. Funerals cause us to examine and “correct course” in future days.  Psalm 27:4 One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple.

The Apostle Paul, not doubt attended many funerals in his lifetime for Christian’s who were persecuted and killed for their faith. As he “laid to heart” the matter of life and death he said in the last letter he wrote in 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith…” The only way to run the course of life and finish well is the make right choices today.  The only way to make right choices is to have Biblical values instilled in our life.  Knowing the brevity and value of life is a major part of this plan.

Help yourself and help your kids; Develop a priceless value on human life – by considering the gravity of death by attending a funeral. 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

The “Letting” of the Mind

The “Letting” Mind

“When James Calvert went out as a missionary to the cannibals of the Fiji Islands, the ship captain tried to turn him back, saying, “You will lose your life and the lives of those with you if you go among such savages.” To that, Calvert replied, “We died before we came here.”” (Ministry127)

Why would a man say that when facing a potential life and death situation?  He was thinking like Jesus.  He had the “mind of God.”

The word “let” is a verb defined as “not prevent or forbid; allow.”  The Scripture tells us to “let” the mind of Christ – Jesus Himself be in us.  What we think, how we think, and why we think is to be placed under the influence and direction of Jesus.  If we are not careful, we let a lot of worldly or wrong thinking impact our mind.  We must allow the mind of Christ to help us navigate life and not allow the world to do our thinking for us.

Have you “let” the mind of God to control your thoughts?  Will you let the mind of Jesus control your thinking today?

Our word “let” is found in Philippians 2:5-8 which teaches, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”

The mind of Jesus will lead us to four ways of thinking:

  1. A real humility about self.
  2. A sincere priority of pleasing our God.
  3. A vibrant call to serve others.
  4. A willingness to give your life to the Lord.

Do any of these thinking perspectives ring true in your life?  Consider the “what, how, and why” that your mind is thinking.  Ask the Lord to help you think like Jesus.  From the moment you “let” all your decisions and thought processes will filter through the Word of God and the Will of God.  Like missionary Calvert, your mind can think like Jesus – all to the glory of God.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Scripture Shaping

Scripture Shaping

I have always found amusing the scenario the Sadducees connived in their minds and spoke to Jesus about.  This story they dream up is funny in several ways.  Read on.

The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked him, Saying, Master, Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and, having no issue, left his wife unto his brother: Likewise the second also, and the third, unto the seventh. And last of all the woman died also. Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her. Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.”  Matthew 22:23-29

After the second or third brother married her, you would think the next brother in line would hesitate or wonder, “What is she feeding him?”  The next brother would ask: “What did she do to him?” or “how did he die?”  or “Does she have a knife or poison?”  You would think that by the time the seventh brother is to be married to her, he would be running the other direction.  How old is this woman?  How old are the brothers?  It is a statistically unlikely story.  It is one they made up in an effort to trap Jesus in His teachings.

The Sadducees were the some of the most wealthy and ultra-educated people of Israel.  They had a conceit and arrogance about them.  They denied anything supernatural such as: the resurrection, rewards for doing good, and even denied that angels existed.  They were frequently in quarrels with the Pharisees who believed in the supernatural.   The Sadducees adhered to the Law of Moses while the Pharisees added oral tradition to the Laws of Moses.

After Jesus took to task the Pharisees and said: “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s” the Sadducees thought they could trip Jesus up with their unusual question about marriage and “who’s” wife will this woman be in Heaven?”

Interesting to note:  These religious people did not believe in the resurrection.  They did not believe in Heaven or Hell.  They are trying to get Jesus to say something that would confirm their faulty belief system.  If they could get Jesus to say there is no Heaven or Hell, that could help them undermine His ministry.

Notice how Jesus responds in Mathew 22:29-33.  Jesus says that in the resurrection and by extension – in Heaven, people are not given to each other in marriage.  Think about how the church is the bride of Christ.  There is no need for individual marriage in Heaven like we need on earth for a help meet and “completion.”  Jesus continues to talk about the resurrection and says that “God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”  These Sadducees were “astonished” at His doctrine.  And rightly so.  Jesus is always right.

Before His explanation of their contrived dilemma – Jesus says in verse 29: “Ye do err, now knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.”   They asked a foolish question.  Their pre-suppositions were faulty.  Their thinking on the matter was not right.  An entire paradigm for life was incorrect because they did not know the Bible.

Could it be that as modern Christians we do err, not knowing the Scriptures?  Look in your own life to the times when you made a bad choice.  Could it be that you are so proud to not even admit a wrong choice?  When the bad choices were made and the outcome was not what you hoped and the problem grew worse – could it have been because you did not know the Scriptures?

Our minds need the refinement of God’s Word.  This is an everyday process to let the Word of God develop your mind.  Let the lines of the Bible write on and guide the thoughts of your mind.

We could call this the “Scripture Shaping” of the mind.  How many times have you reasoned in your mind selfishly instead of Scripturally?  How many times have you tried to beat a bad habit or a sinful habit and failed? Our minds and desires err when we do not know the Scripture.

These affluent, educated, and socialized men could not think right.  We can have similar issues today.

Self-justification, ill-rationalization, and incoherent thinking are directly impacted and informed by what we know – or do not know.  I encourage you to let the Scriptures Shape your thinking. We err when we do not know the Scriptures.

 

 

 

 

The Opposite of Worry

The Opposite of Worry

Jesus taught in Matthew 6:26, “Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?

Perhaps if we could understand the song birds, we could hear them say something like the following:

“Said the Robin to the Sparrow…

‘I should really like to know

Why these anxious human beings

Rush about and hurry so.’

Said the Sparrow to the Robin,

‘Friend, I think that it must be

That they have no Heavenly Father

Such as cares for you and me.’”

Of course, the Lord cares so much for you – much more than the creatures of His creation!  May God help us to not let “worry” define and destroy our lives.

If anyone could have had a “good reason” to worry – it could have been the Apostle Paul.  He had many troubles that he endured.  From declining health, to the government wanting him dead, to even having Christians fighting each other and even fighting against him, Paul had much potential to worry.

Philippians 4:6-7 declares, “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

“Be Careful” is a phrase that means “to be anxious about.”  It is a Bible term for worry.

I like how one person wrote: “Let us not bankrupt our todays by paying interest on the regrets of yesterday and borrowing in advance the troubles of tomorrow.”

Synonyms for “Worry” include “concern, apprehension, and fear.”  We fear much and worry a lot – it is natural.  Things we worry about may include:

  • Will by health decline or what if I acquire a disease?
  • What type of relationship will I have with family members in the future?
  • Will I ever get married?
  • Does he/she like me?
  • Where will I go to college?
  • What type of house will I have one day?
  • Where will I live?
  • Can I get enough money for this vehicle?
  • Can I really pay these bills?
  • Wil I get this promotion?

“Don’t worry, be happy” may seem like a helpful statement, but it is inaccurate.  The opposite of worry is not happiness.  The opposite of worry is peace.  While worry is natural, to have peace is supernatural.

Understand the peace of God is the presence of God.  Most people never have victory over worry because they are attempting to live life apart from God.  Even Christians struggle sometimes with leaving each burden with the Lord can casting their cares to Him.  When we know His presence, and let that guide us, we will experience peace of mind and heart.

How can I have the “peace of God” in my life?

Be Sure to Pray.  Philippians 4:6 says our response to worry should be prayer.  There are 3 terms used for prayer in this verse.

  • Prayer – This is a general term used in our addressing the Lord, and seeking Him. It implies worship. Perhaps each of us should take more time to “Adore” and show love to God in prayer.
  • Supplication – This is a term for special and detailed requests. It means to ask a petition.
  • Thanksgiving – Gratefulness is missing in our prayers sometimes. This term means we should have grateful language in our talk with the Lord.  Instead of “demanding” and asking, why not pause in part of your prayer moments and be thankful to the Lord?

Be Sure to Check Your Mind.  As verse 7 indicates, the peace of God can “keep our hearts and minds.”  Righting thinking goes a long way in the search for peace of mind and victory over worry.  Bible teacher, Dr. Warren Wiersbe wrote that only 8% of the things people worry about happen.  That means 92% of the things people worry about will not or cannot really happen.  How much time, energy, and thoughts are wasted on worry?  Perhaps too much to count. We control our minds by thinking of “Good things.”  Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

Replace worrisome thoughts with the peaceful thoughts that God gives us in the above verse.

Be Sure to Check Your Actions.  Philippians 4:9 goes on to describe the third way to replace worry with peace: “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.”

Do what you know is right according to the Scriptures.  Paul cites the Bible teaching he gave and the Godly lifestyle he demonstrated as a good example for the Christians in Philippi to follow.  Are your actions matching and coordinating with your prayers and your thinking?  Our actions and what we “do” should complement the prayers we offer and the thoughts we think.

If we are not doing right, and know that we are disobeying God in a certain area, then we cannot have peace in our heart.   As Christians, we have “peace with God” continually in salvation, but we may not be at peace in our heart because of disobedience.  Similar to how a small child may shy away from a parent when they know they are doing wrong.  They are still the son or daughter of their parent, but are ashamed of their actions and may even avoid being around the parent. They have “guilt.”  They know they should be doing the right thing, but have succumbed to a temptation to do the wrong thing.

Take a student for example.  A test is coming and instead of studying and preparing for the test, he plays games on facebook, texts people all night, and does things other than study.  When the test is presented to him, he begins to worry because he did not do the things he was supposed to be doing.

Take another student.  She hears about an upcoming test and takes her books home to study.  She memorizes, writes out the main subjects of the test, develops a study guide, and puts much time and effort into preparing for the test.  When she is given the test, she has peace in her heart because she did what she was supposed to do.  Humanly speaking, she did everything possible to be ready and a lasting result is – peace in her heart when tested. The same is true in our Christian life.

When we do what we pray with thoughtfulness, are controlling our minds with right thoughts, and are doing what we are supposed to be doing, we can replace worry with supernatural peace.