Friday, July 19, 2019

RESPECT


I Was Just Thinking About – RESPECT.

Our culture, society and body politic seems to have lost its way when it comes to RESPECT. Some want to be shown RESPECT because they are a minority group; or a person of color; or an immigrant; or a veteran; or a homeless person; etc. There used to be a climate for learning that if a person wanted to gain respect, he should be a person who is respectful. That’s how we were reared. After receiving my graduate degrees, it seemed strange when some of my former professors allowed that I did not need to address them by their earned degree – but – by their first name. I may be a plastic-type person. I could never get myself to feel comfortable in shifting from the formal to the informal.

I have always felt uncomfortable when church-type people would speak of God as “the man upstairs”. I have always felt uncomfortable when people have taken the liberty of referring to the servant of the Lord in their midst – the Pastor – is called or referred to as “Preacher” or some other expression. Why the discomfort? Pastor refers to the one who is shepherding and caring for the needs and best interests of the members and those within the sphere of his ministry. Obviously – “preacher” – limits their impression to the one primary task he faithfully performs. The man is more than one who merely gives a sermon. He is a person who diligently watches over the flock and earnestly cares for them.

Yesterday, Peggy Noonan posted a column: “America Needs To Rediscover Tact.” Her long article includes this interesting paragraph, “Members of Congress often go to detention centers and make it worse. They summon complaints, say people drink from the toilet, call it a concentration camp. All the border police are just good Germans following orders. The illegal aliens are victims, the guards Nazis. That goes over badly in America, which has a heart but doesn’t like being manipulated and is weary of being bullied.” It seems that we need more than tact. We desperately need integrity. More importantly, we need the return of RESPECT.

How then are the people of God to function in a deteriorating culture that is marked by its increasing disrespect?  In a difficult political day, Paul wrote (Romans 13:1-2), “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which is from God. The authorities that exist have been appointed by God. Consequently, the one who resists authority is opposing what God has set in place, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.” In a day of persecution, Peter wrote (First Peter 2:16-17), despite the oppression you may be experiencing, “Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the king.”

IF ONLY, our country and the culture of our day would implement these words of Paul and Peter. 
IF ONLY, we had churches where the Spirit of God had infiltrated the lives of the people so they would (Ephesians 4:31-32), ”Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” 
IF ONLY, you would model what Biblical RESPECT is and means. 

Prayerfully – Consider these things with me.


Wednesday, July 10, 2019

MISDIRECTION


GPS (Global Positioning System) is a helpful tool in most newer cars. It has been available also in portable devices that one could utilize when traveling. There are times when these devices have not been available and one must reply on a map or instinct. However, there are times when that fails and one has gone the wrong way and doesn’t have a clue of his/her location. 

There was a rainy night when this occurred with my wife and me. We were on a road where we had travelled many times before. Only this one rainy night, at a very crucial spot, a vehicle approaching from the opposite direction had high beams on. It temporarily blinded us in terms of where we were and we missed an important turn in the road. Not knowing we had missed the turn, we continued on the road that soon was no longer paved. Very quickly, it became more and more narrow. It was dark and rainy! No lights on the road. On either side of the narrowed road were deep ditches that prevented us from being able to tur  around. Additionally, there was no Mobile Phone Signal that would’ve allowed us to call for assistance. What should we do? What could we do?

In the case of the children of Israel on their journey from Egypt to The Promised Land, they made a deliberate choice to make a bad decision by following the negative input by ten of the twelve spies Moses had sent out to report on the land they were to possess. Despite the best appeal by Moses, Aaron, Joshua and Caleb, they decided to follow the misdirection placed before them in the report by ten fearful and apprehensive men.

The context of this chapter is the miracle of the loaves and Jesus feeding hungry people. The disciples were there and had observed the miracle. Afterwards, Jesus tells the disciples to get into the boat and row to the other side. Mark 6:50-52 (NLT) records the experience and incident when the disciples on a dark, windy and rainy night, are in their boat rowing as hard as they can but making no progress toward land or a safe port. Jesus comes walking across the storm-tossed waters and says to them: “Don’t be afraid… Take courage! I am here! Then he climbed into the boat, and the wind stopped…” Their reaction was one of total amazement. Why? “They still didn’t understand the significance of the miracle of the loaves. Their hearts were too hard to take it in.”

Proverbs 14:12 reminds us that there is a way that seems right to a man and woman existing within a given culture. The choice made about that way is determinative in terms of their destination. Just because a pathway may look alright at the outset is no indicator of where it will take one. This verse concludes, “but in the end it is the way of death.” As though he wishes to underscore this statement, Solomon repeated it in Proverbs 16:25. A Biblical admonition should be emblazoned on the heart, soul and mind of every true follower of Jesus Christ - First Corinthians 16:13 (NIV), “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.”  Heeding that admonition will enable one to stay the course and reach God’s destination for you safely. Be confident and assured that God is faithful and will guard and keep you. There is no misdirection with Him.

Back to the experience my wife and I had on a very dark and rainy night. Although we felt very insecure and endangered, we prayed and then reached our decision. We would attempt to back out on that narrow dirt road with deep drainage ditches on either side. Very slowly, with only the backup lights giving illumination, my wife watched on one side and I on the other as we navigated in reverse. Finally, we came to a slight indent on that road. Carefully, I maneuvered the car and with my wife’s words of caution, finally – we were turned around and heading toward the place where I had missed our turn. We gave a sigh of relief and praise to the Lord for His once again guiding, guarding and keeping us safe in His hands and under His control. A lesson we learned that night was that we never wanted to go down that road again.

Since then, we have travelled past that point again and again. Each time, we indicate that we never want to go in that direction anymore. There is a very old Hymn that contains these meaningful words:
Though the road be rough and stormy,
Trackless as the foaming sea,
Thou hast trod this way before me,
And I gladly follow Thee.
Refrain:
I will follow Thee, my Savior,
Thou didst shed Thy blood for me;
And though all men should forsake Thee,
By Thy grace I’ll follow Thee.

Monday, June 24, 2019

BRAGGADOCIO


I Was Just Thinking About – BRAGGADOCIO.

Have you ever been in a situation where a choice was made based more upon one’s braggadocios words or body language? The one who projected a superior manner or attitude or claimed to be a person of accomplishments was more acceptable. The one who is given to be “braggadocios” whether by his words or persona is one who is or projects being complicit with “vain, empty boasting; a braggart.” The synonyms are blowhard; boaster; windbag. He is one who appreciates the recognition extended him whether earned, deserved or not. Countless illustrations could be given that demonstrate such mannerisms and/or attitude. However, it's wise not to enlarge on this.

There is a glaring absence of genuine humility on the part of such persons. Even though they may know and have the ability to articulate its meaning, there is little or no evidence that it is the fruit of one’s life. Absent are the instructions and admonitions of: (Micah 6:8), “What does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to WALK HUMBLY with your God? (Philippians 2:3), “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” (Jeremiah 9:23-24 – MSG), “Don’t let the wise brag of their wisdom. Don’t let heroes brag of their exploits. Don’t let the rich brag of their riches. If you brag, brag of this and this only: That you understand and know me. I’m God, and I act in loyal love. I do what’s right and set things right and fair, and delight in those who do the same things. These are my trademarks.”

All of us would do well to remember daily the words of James 4:10 (NKJV), “HUMBLE YOURSELVES in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up.” In Matthew 23, Jesus is pronouncing a series of woes upon the Pharisees. He also states the acceptable behavior that He wants to find in His true followers (Verses 11-12), “The greatest among you shall be your servant.  For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” Jesus is essentially stating that God honors us when we are humble, in part because we are open to His guidance. It’s only then that He can show us what is right and teach us in His way. The Psalmist stated this principle clearly, Psalm 25:9, “He (The LORD) leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.” 

I can’t help but wonder how Jesus Christ would assess the Biblical Christian and those who represent Him as Pastors and Teachers? Would He find humility or pride? Would He find kindness or harshness? Would He find genuine love or external tolerance (but not true acceptance) of those being deemed as lesser?

Jesus said (John 14:6), I AM the Way – and – he expects His followers to be in accord with Him and walking in that way with Him. Jesus said, I AM the Truth – and – he expects His followers to both proclaim and live that truth. Jesus said, I AM the Life – and – He expects us to be His image representation of His life in the world today. Would Jesus be pleased in how you are following Him or would you become a recipient of His pronounced woes? Would Jesus be pleased that He sees you taking up His cross daily and following Him or would he see your life as one of pretense rather than fact?

Prayerfully – Consider these things with me.