Thursday, July 26, 2012

My Thoughts Within Me

“In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul.” (Psl. 94:19)

We hear a great deal today about the benefits of meditation, mainly as a means of stress control. This, of course, has nothing to do with God or the Bible. In fact, if any “person” is encountered or conjured during this ritual of Eastern pagan religion, it would likely be “the god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4).

The kind of deep thinking the Psalmist refers to here is not the contemplation of a tranquil scene from one’s past, but reflection upon the mercies of God and the covenant He has made between Himself and His children. You will find elsewhere in the Psalms exhortations to meditate on God’s Word (1:2; 119:97) and His works (77:12; 143:5). So, meditate on the beauty of nature, if you like; but make sure it’s a vehicle of worship for the Creator. Contemplate on the writings of men, living or dead, if you will; but consume the oracles of the ever-living Word of God.

There are so many voices in life that seek to drown out the voice of God. At times, we can simply tune them out, but at other times, we must shut them out. During these times of solitude, the child of God, whose heart and mind is attune to Heaven will be comforted by sweet thoughts of Him, Who alone can delight the soul.

The most profound, and at the same time, most comforting, delightful thoughts within a true child of God, are thoughts of Him. May they outnumber all others in the “multitude of [our] thoughts today.”

“My meditation of him shall be sweet.”  (Psl. 104:34)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Love is Not God

"...God is love." (1 John 4:8)

         I’m not contradicting John here. God is love, but not all love is God. The two are not exclusively equal. For instance, Jesus is God; but is God only Jesus? No, He’s Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And He’s not only love; He’s light (1Jno. 1:5). He’s merciful (Psl. 116:5) and faithful (1Cor. 1:9); but He’s also a consuming fire (Heb.12:29), and a judge (Psl.75:7). God’s love is not the same as ours any more than his hate is like our hate. That’s why we cannot assume purity for either one.
         I laid this premise in order to put forward this claim: There is not one love; there are two: biblical and non-biblical. There is love that mirrors the love of God as described in His Word, and there is love that bastardizes the very word. There’s love that shares its wealth with "poor saints" (Rom. 15:26), and those who have fallen into hard times (Luke 10). But on the other hand, there are some whose sorrows in life stem from their inordinate love of money, which the Bible calls the very "root of all evil" (1Tim. 6:10). These two opposite codes of conduct are driven by the same motivation: love. But one is godly and the other is devilish.

No, there is not “one love.”

         In addition, would any thinking person equate the love of Christ and His Church as pictured by the union of a godly man and woman in holy matrimony (Eph. 5) with the fornication practiced today among (some) believers and non-believers alike? Or does the fact that the fornication involves a monogamous relationship (for now) make the sin less sinful? No, God hasn’t changed His mind about either adultery or fornication. There are no “extenuating circumstances.” I don't say some of these relationships are not loving ones; I only say the “love” has nothing to do with the God of the Bible (1Cor. 6:18; 7:2; 10:8).

         All love does not come from God any more than all light comes from the sun. Some of it is artificial and manufactured…in both cases.

                   God is love, and God is Holy; and only love that is holy is of God.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Cure For Boredom

  “He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.”  (Eccl.3:11)

         According to the old saying, “Curiosity killed the cat.” I have two things to say about that: One, I am not a cat; and two, they also say cats have nine lives. I happen to be of the school of thought that says curiosity is a precious gift from God, and like all His gifts should be sanctified…then milked for all it’s worth! And, as my title indicates, I think it’s the cure for boredom, because boredom is not a matter of where you are, or with whom, but rather, how mentally engaged you are in whatever environment you find yourself.

         As believers, our curiosity should find its prime fixation on the things of the Lord. This is a given, and why sitting under a good pastor who provokes you to think is such a joy. Profundity is inspiring, but provocation is more lasting. He need not be eloquent if he pushes my mind in gear. But this is only the beginning.  Just because one may not have had formal education, Biblical or otherwise, is no reason to live spiritually on being spoon-fed and church-coddled. Not while we have a live-in Tutor and possess an infallible Textbook. Have you never heard of “home-schooling”? J

I’ve heard my husband refer to Moses’ act of turning aside to contemplate the burning bush in the desert as an indication of “holy curiosity.” He could have walked on, from either fear of the unknown or reluctance to consider something different; but he chose instead to take the risk. And what a difference it made in his life! For here He met God in a way he never had before. And so will you.

But if you believe God is Lord of all, then your curiosity should not end there. It should extend to all of His creation. There is so much to see and so much to learn. We can’t always go everywhere, and meet everyone, but with modern technology, and the printed page, we can explore with our minds. Curiosity is nothing more than undivided attention, the desire to see all aspects of people and things. It lifts us beyond what we’ve seen or thought thus far and raises us to new horizons of the wonder of God’s Word and His world.

The verse in Ecclesiastes tells us that God has placed within every man and woman a curiosity about His world so that they might come to realize that it’s beyond human understanding. It will take the Creator God to explain it all. That curiosity can be ignored or explored; and it can become Holy Spirit ignited when a man or woman comes to know God personally through His Son, Jesus Christ.  

It was said of C.S. Lewis that he had a mind that was alive; and unless we are physically impaired, ours should be, too. If you’re bored, it’s because you’ve allowed your curiosity to become rusty. Wake it up; oil it up; and put it in gear…God has so much more to show you!    

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Short Changed

“Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye do good, that are accustomed to do evil.” (Jeremiah 13:23)

         Why do we accept what we could change and try to change what we should accept?

In the Scripture in Jeremiah, there is an individual trying to change his skin color and an animal trying to eliminate his distinctive markings. In both cases, it was a futile endeavor. But no more futile than some of the changes you and I try to bring about, while overlooking the ones that could, and should, be attempted. I have come to believe that one of the most effective tools in the devil’s bag of tricks is diversion. Picking fruit instead of digging out roots; clinging to tradition instead of standing on Scripture; fashioning excuses instead of “fessin’ up”; you know, straining at gnats and swallowing camels (Matt. 23:24).

I can quickly think of three areas of life where we often find ourselves holding the wrong end of the stick when it comes to change, short changed, if you will. See if you agree.

1. We try to change people instead of ourselves. In the first place, we should all know by now, people resist being changed, especially by someone they know is dead set on changing them. And anyone who would allow someone else to change him or her, without being fully convinced that the change is Biblical (in the case of a Christian) and reasonable and practical for them personally, will be just as easily persuaded in another direction. As the old saying goes, “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.

So instead of trying to wrestle a friend or loved one into submission to either us or the Lord, why not allow God to bring you and I into submission to His will for us personally? Make no mistake, He never asks any of us to condone or accept unrighteousness in anyone; but He does say, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will” (Pro. 21:1); and if there is ever going to be a change in anyone’s heart, He will be the one to do it.

2. We try to change the Bible instead of our lives. I’m not only speaking of the glut of translations that testify to the determination to make a Bible more palatable to all, or more answerable to the explanation of men. I’m talking about things like women who would rather look for some other passage to refute or even soften words like “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord,” then to simply be submissive to their husbands. If I’m determined to have my own way and the last word in our marriage, Ephesians 5:22 is still there. I’ve merely disobeyed it. I can try to change it or minimize it, or I can work on changing me so that I want to obey it.

3. We can try to change the outside instead of the inside. Salvation is an internal operation that becomes more and more visible on the outside as we allow the Spirit of God to change us. So before I look in the bathroom mirror, I need to look in the mirror of God’s Word. C.S. Lewis said, “We’re a soul with a body, not a body with a soul.” All the outward change in the world will never change the inside; but oh, what a difference a change on the inside can make to the outside!

         I think I know why we choose some changes instead of others. It’s easier to try to change someone else instead of ourselves because we instinctively know we’re really not going to be held responsible for him or her. And because we know God will hold us accountable for what we do understand in His Word, we try to obscure what makes us squeamish. And the “hidden man of the heart” that’s the most beautiful ornament a woman can wear (1 Pet. 3:4) will require much more time with God than pious attitude and appearance will take.

         Why do we accept what we could (and should) change, and try to change what we should accept?

         Because it’s easier.  

Friday, July 6, 2012

A Father Problem

“I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee.”  (Luke 15:18)

         Not long ago, I heard about a Christian young adult who is dealing with addictions in his or her life. A counselor told this young person that he (or she) had “a father problem.” This was said because the individual considers the father in the home to be nearly perfect, expecting the same from him or her. I happen to know this is not the case in this instance. When I heard this, I said to the person with me, “Oh, there’s a father problem all right, just not an earthly one.”

         If you’re someone who has read these musings of mine for any length of time, you know that people who use parental flaws (or excellence) to cushion the sinfulness of their own sin, simply wear me out! Heredity and environment may have their part in our personal development, but our Adamic nature plays a far greater role, to my way of thinking. If you’ve read the stories of the kings of Israel in the books of Kings and Chronicles, you know that sometimes, good kings had bad sons, and bad kings had good sons. One thing did not guarantee the other. Each man stood on his own merits.

The same is true in the New Testament. The only time Jesus ever pointed to paternity as the reason for sinful behavior was in John eight, where He told the scribes and Pharisees, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do” (Jno. 8:44). Nothing was said of their earthly father or their bringing up, just the fact that because God was not their father, the devil was. It was as simple as that. No retrospection or introspection, just Divine inspection!

And as believers, when there is no victory in our lives and sin has gained the upper hand, we have a Father problem. Yes, the One of whom Jesus said, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:48). Our Father expects you and me to submit to His ongoing perfecting in our lives, until the day we are presented “faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy” (Jude 24).

I heard someone say today, “To get anywhere, you have to know where you are.” When you’re looking for directions on MapQuest, you have to fill in both Point A and Point B. So too, if you want to get anywhere in the Christian life, you have to know (and admit) where you are right now. As long as you’re looking for Point A in the past, Point B will always be the mess you’re in right now.

If you’re out of the will of God today, you have the same “Father problem” the prodigal son had. And if you’ll admit where you are, like he did, you can take care of that problem.