Thursday, May 5, 2011

Emotional Purity

Emotional purity... what is it? I think, as Christians, we know what purity is... at least physical purity: refrain from certain physical contact, don't physically entice someone, don't exchange sexual favors and the list goes on. But what about emotional purity? You don't touch someone but you have an "everlasting" crush on them and are disappointed or even heart broken when they "fall" for someone else. You've given your heart to someone who doesn't even know it or give their heart back in return.

Let's start with the basics shall we. Proverbs 4:23 says "Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life." Proverbs 5:15-17 says "Drink water from your own cistern,
flowing water from your own well. Should your springs be scattered abroad streams of water in the streets? Let them be for yourself alone,
and not for strangers with you." The similarity between these verses is springs. Proverbs 4 describes the heart as the source of the springs of life while Proverbs 5 goes on to say drink from your own springs and don't let them be scattered. Do you see the point? Guard your heart and don't let it scatter. When you give your heart to someone and it doesn't work out and you give your heart again then you are scattering your heart. Proverbs 5 goes on to say in verses 18 and 19 "Let your fountain be blessed,
and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love." If you read the whole passage from Proverbs 4-5 it's clear that what Solomon was saying is guard your heart, don't let it be scattered, and save your love for your wife. It doesn't say the girlfriend or your youth or crush but wife. The Bible gives clear direction that we are to guard our hearts and save love for those we marry after we marry them.
We've lost sight of this truth. We have let it become socially acceptable to have girlfriend/boyfriend relationships when the Bible says "Do not rebuke an older men but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity." (1 Timothy 5:1-2) We've lost sight of treating the opposite sex as siblings. Instead we treat women as we would our wives. Romans 8:29 says "For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters." Because of Christ those who are in Christ are brothers and sisters. To love anyone above that of a brother or sister should be saved until after marriage.

Just imagine what our world would be like if we followed the Biblical principle. Some would argue that life would be "boring" they would say "all the fun out of life has been taken away." First of all if we see anything except Christ as our lives we have something wrong with our relationship with Him. Galatians 2:20 says "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Those in Christ have Christ living in and through them. Second of all if we were to abandon the way of the world(Romans 12:2) and save our love for our wives then we would have less suicide, less heartache, and less people thinking the opposite sex as their life and instead they would look to Christ. But alas we live in a fallen world. A world in which evolution reigns and morals are trampled under feet. But we are called to more... much more. We are called to be different. Romans 12:2 says "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." Just by being a Christian you are different but by going the opposite way you stand out and when you stand out people look at you. When people see you as different there are two reactions: 1 persecution, 2 a sincere desire to have what you have that makes you different. Just imagine if every Christian stood out, went the opposite way. Just imagine...

1 Corinthians 13 describes love, the love that a Christian should follow. It is not a love that the world understands or grasps but a love that comes from the heart of God. All the aspects of love are based on... well love but also kindness. When you love someone with this love you don't think about getting a "favor" but think about their honor, their respect, their livelihood. Instead of wanting you give, not emotionally or physically but in true love as Christ loved others. In being a true friend who gives himself even to the point of death. John 15:13 says "Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends." To lay down your life is ultimately to give up your life in death for the welfare of that person but the only person who could ever do that is Jesus. But we are to lay down our lives, giving our time and resources in our love for them. This kind of love is pure. It is not the kind of love that is to go to your wife/husband and your wife/husband alone.

I encourage you to go out and live life in love in a different manner. Live in emotional purity not giving your heart but giving Christ's love. Live the life that God has called you to live. Don't be like the world but live in Christ. Guard your heart above all things.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Low Expectation Pains

Prosperous America?
I have been talking to people about the state of our country and they were going on and on about how they thought it was sad that people in America were not as smart as other people in other nations. For instance we were talking about how China and Japan has people who are really good at learning, getting good at things, and making things and of course the blame of Americas dullness was centered towards the schools in America. I would agree to about 1%. People in America tend to be lazier and duller than other people in other nations because of 2 reasons.

1: Complacency and laziness.
People have accepted complacency as a blanket of "security." The problem is that under that blanket of "security" are all the insects that bite you in your sleep. Complacency allows you to be lazy and not care. Laziness of course is the scourge to anyone anywhere. An "If it feels good do it" mindset has hovered over our country for well over 50 years. Laziness feels good but it's rewards are deadly. It's rewards are these: 30 year olds who live with their parents still playing Halo instead of taking up responsibility; a bum who can't hold a job for the life of him because "it's just too hard"; a father who can't support his children because he's drunk on the couch trying to drown the out the feeling a failing as a father because he's never done anything useful in his life rather than getting up, accepting responsibility and getting a job! If you let complacency take over your life you are going to suffer the consequences of being a rotten citizen in society and when your a rotten citizen on society you add to the hundreds of thousands who already are and make America a better place for bums and sluggards. But... if you say no to complacency and laziness you say yes to responsibility and you start leading a life that is useful and more satisfying than the immediate satisfaction of laziness. A sum up: Complacency and laziness bring temporary satisfaction but terrible side effects that stay with you until you get rid of complacency and laziness. Responsibility sets you up for growing into someone who can glorify God, who can add to society and who can change the world. It just starts with one simple very hard step: Say no to complacency and saying yes to responsibility and not just saying but doing.

2: Low Expectations vs. High Expectations.
Low Expectations destroy the people they are centered at unless they can say no to Low Expectations. Whenever you think about or say to someone that you don't think they can achieve something or greatness you basically say to them that you don't think that they can meet up to their potential and rather think of them as a pile of dirt and the worst part is that the receiver believes it! When you have a whole country doing this cycle(like America) you have a country that will fall into economic troubles because no one has motivation to work hard jobs while they have the motivation for working a "just getting by" job at some low paying company doing the least they can to get by and throwing diligence and faithfulness to the wind. But here is the amazing thing: When someone even hears that someone else believes that they can do great things, that someone has High Expectations of them they are faced with 2 choices: "Do I want to stay complacent?" or "Do I want to take up responsibility and do great and awesome things?" Usually they chose the second option. When you have high expectations of someone they tend to reach out and beyond to meet those high expectations. If just one person out of the whole population of the world believes that a certain person can do great things, the person receiving the high expectations will get excited about doing hard things and then it spreads and you get a bunch of people who have high expectations of themselves and other people and are changing the world rather than destroying it.
Sum up: if you think someone can do it, they will rise to meet that expectation. If you think that someone can't do it, they will literally lower themselves to meet that expectation. Expectations of someone controls how that person will live especially if the person your directing your expectations at is yourself. Although if you have high expectations for yourself and you grasp God's expectations of you, you will do great thing and wont be moved by the wave of low expectations sent at them.

Complacency, laziness, and low expectations destroy countries and peoples lives by bringing in economic downfall, feelings of depravity and nothingness, loss of vision and rise of suicide. But high expectations and hearts centered on God builds up a country and brings in economic uprise, people satisfied with life, and people who change the world in amazing ways. Which one would you rather have? If this thought is going through you mind, "It's a nice dream but it could never happen." then I have this answer for you: It's possible if people will only drop complacency and pick up responsibility and have high expectations.

I tried explaining this in a shorter less complex version to this person I was talking to but she didn't get it and kept blaming it on bad education which is only part of the problem. She's an example of someone who doesn't want responsibility and wants to point the finger at others. If she had said no to complacency she would have seen that she had been part of the problem but now she could change what was around her but she didn't want to leave her comfort zone of complacency and she definitely didn't want to see herself as part of the problem so she is missing out on the blessings of responsibility and the life changing and changing lives reward that comes with it.

The Biblical Sluggard... Modern Day Lazy Man
The Bible talks about the people America has mostly become and is sliding more into. It calls him a sluggard. Nowadays we would call him a bum, or a lazy man, or just some kid(age 1-100) who mooches off everyone because he can't support himself because everything is "too hard" to do. What does a sluggard look like? Here's some tips to identify a sluggard:

Proverbs 6:9 "How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep?"
Proverbs 10:26 "Like vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, so is the sluggard to those who send him."
Proverbs 15:19 "The way of a sluggard is like a hedge of thorns, but the path of the upright is a level highway."
Proverbs 20:4 "The sluggard does not plow in the autumn; he will seek at harvest and have nothing."
Proverbs 21:15 "The desire of the sluggard kills him, for his hands refuse to labor."
Proverbs 26:14 "As a door turns on its hinges, so does a sluggard on his bed."
Proverbs 26:15 "The sluggard buries his hand in the dish; it wears him out to bring it back to his mouth."
Proverbs 26:16 "The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who can answer sensibly."

What does this tell you? Well it obviously tells me that lazy people sleep too long, are not reliable, are constantly running into trouble in life, doesn't work but expects to be paid, refuses to work, has restless sleep, is too lazy to even eat sometimes, and thinks he's smarter than everyone else. To be honest this sounds like most people in America: a bunch of know-it-alls who want it easy and quick without working for it and who sleep in till the best part of day is wasted.
What is the Bibles remedy? Well the opposite of a sluggard, according to Proverbs, is a wise man or a righteous man. What does he look like?

Proverbs 9:9 "Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning."
Proverbs 13:25 "The righteous has enough to satisfy his appetite, but the belly of the wicked suffers want."
Proverbs 14:16 "One who is wise is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is reckless and careless."
Proverbs 15:19 "The way of a sluggard is like a hedge of thorns, but the path of the upright is a level highway."
Proverbs 21:12 "The Righteous One observes the house of the wicked; he throws the wicked down to ruin."
Proverbs 21:20 "Precious treasure and oil are in a wise man’s dwelling, but a foolish man devours it."
Proverbs 24:5 "A wise man is full of strength, and a man of knowledge enhances his might,"
Proverbs 29:11 "A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back."

So a wise man listens to instruction, such as being disciplined by parents, and he learns from it, he doesn't need anything because he has enough to be content, he is a cautious fellow who stays out of trouble, his life goes smoothly, he destroys wickedness, perversity and sin, he's strong in whatever he puts his hands to, and he doesn't snap back at anyone when they try to prove him wrong, discipline him, or annoy him etc...
Wow! You don't see that a lot. The Bible has a lot more to say about both the sluggard and the wise man. We don't see much of the righteous man, only in glimpses in people who try to be righteous but because of the curse of sin no one can be perfectly like the wise man. The only wise and righteous man that ever walked the face of the earth was Jesus. He was the one and only that fits perfectly to the description of the wise man in Proverbs.
What is the remedy? What is the Biblical remedy of laziness? Here's some verses that point in that direction:

Proverbs 6:6-8 "Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways and be wise. Without having any chief officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in the summer and gathers her food in harvest."

2 Thessalonians 3:10-12 "For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living."

Romans 12:2 "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."

Hebrews 12:1 "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,"

Those are just 4 examples of God's remedy but in short it has to do with work. The last two don't seem to have to do anything with a remedy for slothfulness at first until you think about it for a little bit. First of all the remedy is working. The Bible tells the sluggard to look at or be like the ant who works for his food that could be months away in the reward of it rather than right away. "If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat." It's either work and eat or stay in bed and starve. If you work for you food you will be like the hard working wise man who "has enough to satisfy his appetite." Now Romans tells us not to be like how worldly people around us are like. Laziness is one of the key characteristics of America and frankly: the world. Romans tells us to "be transformed by the renewal of your mind" in other words change your bad habits, start working, and be transformed by it. Hebrews tells us to "lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely" one of those weights and sins is laziness. We need to get rid of it! Laziness clings to you and is a weight. In one once of extra weight over one mile will accumulate up to 55 pounds of dead weight and that's just for one shoe on one foot! If you add the other shoe it's 110 pounds and your shoes are much more than one ounce. Of course you have to factor in the weight of cloths. They don't effect much but if you wear extra than you end up carrying a lot of dead weight. Sin works the same way. There's a bare minimum of things you need that are good but sin looks attractive saying that you need it and soon your wearing steel toed boots and winter cloths trying to run a mile. It doesn't work you need to throw it all off to be able to run a good race. You need to throw away laziness and complacency to live a good life. The Bible has more to say about the man who works and the one who doesn't.

I encourage you to do four things:

  1. Read Proverbs in it's entirety
  2. Do a Bible search on subjects like work, sluggard, slothfulness, the righteous, wise man, and freedom
  3. Work at working and getting rid of slothfulness
  4. If you think you are not a sloth in any way shape or form then swallow your pride and read the top three again.

Monday, April 25, 2011

A Very Interesting Email I Got

I think that this email holds a huge lesson that I think people in general(not just teens but adults to) need to realize: that garbage is garbage no matter how small and nicely packaged.

Subject: Special Brownies
Many parents  are working hard to explain to their children and teens why some video  games, music, movies, books, and magazines are not acceptable material for  their youth to see or hear.

One parent came up with an original idea that  was hard to refute. He listened to all the reasons his children gave for  wanting to see a particular PG-13 movie: - It had their favorite actors.  Everyone else was seeing it. Even church members said it was great. It was  only rated PG-13 because of the suggestion of sex. They never really showed  it. The language was pretty good. They only used the Lord's name in vain  three times in the whole movie. The video effects were fabulous and the plot  was action packed. Yes, there was the scene where a building and a bunch of people got blown up, but the violence was "just the normal stuff." It wasn't  real bad. Even with all these explanations for the rating, the father  wouldn't give in. He didn't even give them a satisfying explanation for  saying, "No." He just said, "No."

It was a little bit later that evening  when this same father asked his teens if they would like some brownies he  had prepared. He explained that he had taken the family's favorite recipe  and added something new. When asked what it was, he calmly replied that he  had added a special ingredient - - dog "poop." He stated that it was only a  little bit. All the other ingredients were gourmet quality. And he had taken  great care to bake it at the precise temperature for the exact time. He was  sure the brownies would be superb. Even with all the explanations of the  perfect attributes of the brownies, the teens would not take one. The father  acted surprised. There was only one little element that would have caused  them offense. And he assured them that they would hardly notice it at all.  But they all held firm and would not try the brownies.

He then explained  that the movie they wanted to see was just like these "PG-13 rated"  brownies.  Sin enters our minds and our homes by first deceiving us into believing that  just a little bit of evil won't matter. Yet with the brownies it was obvious  that just a little bit of "offensive material" DOES make all the difference  between a great brownie and a totally unacceptable product. Even though the  movie producers would have us believe their products are acceptable for  adults and youths to see, they are not. Now when this father's children want  to do something or see something they should not, the father merely asks  them if they would like some of his special brownies . . . and they never  ask about that activity again.