Sunday, September 30, 2012

Why you need a punch in the face

...but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.
1 Corinthians 9:27

I casually looked up the word discipline in the above verse. I was rocked by what I read. We so easily use the words discipline and disciple but I'm not sure we are ready for what Paul is talking about here. Another version uses the word buffet.

Here is the definition: This verb means to strike on the face with resultant disfigurement; to beat black and blue. It's a boxing metaphor.

Paul is using strong words because he knows disqualification is possible. He knows that a body and soul needs serious treatment if they are going to line up with God's ways.

But it's not just the physical body that needs a punch but something far deeper.

For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 1 John 2:16

Are we serious about what it takes to escape the damage and corruption of the world? What we see, what our body wants, how we think more of ourselves than we should; these things can push out God.

How about this: You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin. Hebrews 12:4

Jesus sweat blood in the garden as he struggled with the battle that was ahead. What kind of fight do we put up when tempted? Do we give a punch to the face or wimp out and surrender?

So why do this? Is it because we are on a glum journey to holiness? No, it's because there is a joy and peace we can experience when we are making progress in our walk with God. The hard work has a reward that far surpasses the struggle to attain it.

All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. Hebrews 12:11

Our struggle is not new: And Jesus said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” Luke 22:46

Don't let the things of the world lull you to sleep. Wake up, pray, and when necessary, punch yourself in the face - your eternity depends on it.

Philip

Monday, September 3, 2012

Impulse

Who are we really?

So here is the story: A friend who was a recovery room nurse says that many times people say strange things when they are waking up from surgery. She kept it confidential but said that one time someone from her church, who she was caring for, said something very inappropriate. She felt strange around him after that.

How about when someone has had too much to drink? There are endless stories about things people have said or done that will haunt them for a long time.

Have you ever had an impulse to do something or say something but you held back? Or probably more often, in the passion of the moment, something was said or done that you regret.

So who is the real person? Is it the bad impulse inside or the person that we want to be and are trying to be?

It’s true that many of the outward things we do show what’s in our heart but what about when we truly want to be different from what we were or are?

There may be a person who wants to follow Jesus but battles homosexual desire. We tell them to fight it. We encourage them to not give into the impulse.

If a married person has feelings for someone other than their spouse we rightly tell them to resist and to get away from the temptation.

I think of myself and the lust I have for food; every single day I fight the impulse to eat whatever I want whenever I want. It’s right for me to fight. Or am I just a big phony and defined by what I want to do? I was thinking yesterday that it has been over two years since I have had a Big Mac. I remember how I loved Big Mac Monday when they were two for $2.00. I would stop on the way home and devour two between breaths. It was a snack and then I would go home and eat dinner.

Who am I really? Am I defined by the impulse inside or the person that I want to be and have fought to be for two years?

Back to the recovery room story: because the person said something inappropriate does that show they are a bad person? What about the drunk?

Could it be that these things show that we all have darkness inside? There is the desire to gossip or lust. Pride swells up. We covet what we don’t have. We want to eat too much. We want to be liked too much. We are lazy. We want to lie. We sow discord. We want adultery or fornication.

So we fight the impulse. If we are in the recovery room we hope that people will understand that maybe that is not the real us. If we have a problem when we drink then maybe we should cut back or abstain. I have to be careful what magazines and cookbooks I look at.

Addicts have an acronym that helps prevent relapse. It’s called HALT - Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. These things make us vulnerable.

Another of my problems is my mouth; my tongue gets me into a lot of trouble. Many times as evening rolls on I find myself getting angry and I want to say something that I know I will regret. It’s usually time to go to bed. Many of the worst conflicts my wife and I have had have been when I should have already been asleep. That doesn’t excuse me; I was the one who said the bad things but maybe if I had been in a better place I would have held back or used better words. I really do want better things to come out of my mouth. Or should I feel like an imposter and fraud?

When I understand the Gospel I realize that I will never be perfect. I will never be the vine. As a branch I will always need to be connected to Jesus. The Holy Spirit living through me will make me different but I will always be marred by sin and darkness. There will always be bad trying to get out. I will always have to fight impulses. I will need to try to control my environment so that I can practice self-control.

I will continue to have bad stories to tell and confess. I am a fallen human in the process of redemption.

Hi, my name is Philip.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Fear

The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread?
Psalms 27:1

Fear can paralyze us. Sometimes that is good when the danger is real. Fear is bad when coupled with imagination; the small and unlikely becomes large and looming.

I was thinking about the theater shooting on Friday and how a sense of fear and terror of so many what-ifs will become the reality for many.

Should we ban guns or have everyone carry them? Do we need security at movie theaters now? Have all large gatherings of people become a source of anxiety?

When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, in God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me?
Psalms 56:3-4

A great confidence Christians can have is knowing that God is bigger and greater than anyone or anything that can touch our lives. We do live in a fallen and broken world so we can be sure that plenty of sorrow will touch our lives. We will not be completely free of the junk of the world but we can know that it can only touch us if God allows it. We don't have to live in fear.

Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
Matthew 10:28

Our focus needs to be on God and being sure that our lives are lived according to his commands. In doing that we will have peace that passes all understanding and bad fear will not rule our lives.

Live with joy,

Philip

Thursday, June 7, 2012

My Weight Loss Journey - 70 Pounds Gone

Philip weight loss

I have reached a milestone. It has now been over a year since I lost 70 pounds and have maintained that loss.

I guess that is a big thing. Many people who lose a lot of weight end up gaining it back. That is especially true of fad diets or diets that don't come with lifestyle change.

The posts following these comments are my story. They give a glimpse into my life during the time I was losing weight and some of the things I learned. No fad diets, no 30 pounds in 30 days, and nothing for sale. It is something anyone could do.

In the past year I have continued to track what I eat. While I was losing weight I was very strict in my tracking. Everything I ate was written down. That helped in many ways. I learned a lot about different foods and it also helped me resist the temptation to eat whatever is nearby. I am more liberal now. I have a limit of calories I eat and track each day and there is some room for snacks that I don't write down.

"Counting calories" carries a lot of baggage for some people. They want to lose weight but don't want to do something that sounds oppressive. Many weight loss programs boast that you don't have to count calories. The thing is, it's really basic math. If you take in fewer calories than you burn, you will lose weight. The opposite is also true. By tracking what you eat, you can see what direction you are going to go. You can't wish away calories. Studies show that without tracking, people highly underestimate the amount of calories they are consuming.

While I was losing weight I would weigh myself each week on the same day and at the same time. Every week I lost between 1 to 2 pounds. I knew it was going to happen because my food tracking predicted it. I now weigh myself every day and use an app on my iPod that shows the trend of my weight; if I am staying the same or going up or down. The trend is what really helps. Because of different factors I may show a weight fluctuation of several pounds from day to day. The average shows where I am really at. Here is a link to WeightTrend+

As far as exercise goes, I love to ride my bike and go on walks. The calories I burn are also tracked and balance out what I eat. If I burn a lot through exercise then I know I need to add more healthy fuel to my body. I also do regular strength training with a set of resistance bands. They cost less than $20 and there are many exercises that can be done with them.

My life has drastically improved since I lost weight. I feel so much better, have more energy and feel better about myself, at least the outside part. I never want to go back to where I was so I am willing to maintain habits that will keep me where I need to be.

The battle is not over. I cheerfully admit that I have a problem with food. For me it is probably an addiction. Unless God frees me from that I will always have to battle food lust and bad eating. For better health I will gladly do that.

The last thing I want to say is that if you want to lose weight you need to do it for you and for the right reason. I was challenged with that at the beginning of my journey. First of all I wanted to please God and second I wanted to live a healthy lifestyle. I also knew that it was going to take supernatural help from God. With those motivations I knew I could expect success. My journey wasn't tied into what other people felt about me and whether or not they supported what I was doing. I wanted to be a better person for me and for God.

I hope my story helps you. Here is the path I traveled. If your browser supports it, each post will open a new tab or window.

Here is my story from beginning to end:

I lost the sack of cement

How’s That Working For Ya?

Lose It for Life

Food Journal – Do I have to do this?

Breakfast, Sleep and Weight Loss

Predictable Weight Loss

My small God

Losing Weight - The good and bad

Obsession

Appearances

Ultimate (bad) Breakfast Platter

Thanks for reading.

Philip

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Psalm 91 - What if it were true?

This psalm should force a crisis of faith. It is so blatant in its promises that we either skip over it, deny it or find ourselves wishing it were true. But who of us experiences it?

Let's read it before I go on:

1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
3 For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
5 You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.
8 You will only look with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked.
9 Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place— the Most High, who is my refuge —
10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.
12 On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the adder; the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.
14 “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name.
15 When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”


Are you with me? Does it seem too good to be true? Maybe what we need is a theologian to explain how it doesn't really mean what it says of that it was for a different time or for someone else.

Or could the problem be with us? Maybe we are not dwelling or abiding or making God our refuge. Maybe we are not trusting. Maybe we don't need Him to cover us because we have good insurance or a great security system. Maybe we don't hold fast to Him or call on Him when we are in trouble.

Could it be that what is required is complete faith and trust? Think about this from Mark 6:5-6: And He could do no miracle there except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He wondered at their unbelief.

So the promises of Psalm 91 are true but our unbelief keeps them from us. We want to try before we buy. We want to believe halfway and see if God comes through but He usually doesn't work that way.

So if we want to read Psalm 91 and be able to recall how it has been true in our life then we need to live a different kind of life. We can't trust by percentages or have a backup plan. It's all or nothing.

We find ourselves in the same place as the father of a demon possessed son. In Mark 9:23 Jesus said this: All things are possible to him who believes. The father honestly responded: I do believe; help my unbelief.

Pray that unbelief would be gone and then trust with full abandon! Life will be drastically different.

Philip

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Reasons Why the English Language is So Hard to Learn

1) The bandage was wound around the wound.
2) The farm was used to produce produce.
3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
4) We must polish the Polish furniture.
5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.
6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
8) A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
10) I did not object to the object.
11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
13) They were too close to the door to close it.
14) The buck does funny things when the does are present.
15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
18) After a number of injections my jaw got number.
19) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
20) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
21) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

Let's face it - English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren't invented in England or French fries in France. Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren't sweet, are meat.

We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig. And why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing, grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn't the plural of booth beeth? One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese? One index, 2 indices?

Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend. If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it? If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what language do people: Recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell? How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?

You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which, an alarm goes off by going on. English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race, which, of course, is not a race at all. That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible. PS: Why doesn't "buick" rhyme with "quick"?

I don't remember where I found this.

Philip

Sunday, March 25, 2012

October Baby

The first thing I should say is this isn't a review of the movie October Baby. It is what is happening to me after I saw the movie.

I saw it twice this weekend. Once was an earthquake and the other a tsunami.

To back up, the soil of my life was tilled up earlier in the day Friday before I saw the movie the first time. I am a member of the Samson Society and have been for over four years. One of the distinctives of the society is that we walk with another man in what we call a Silas relationship. It's not an accountability relationship but an opportunity for self-disclosure.

Another distinctive of the society is that everything said in a meeting or in the Silas relationship is held in strictest confidence. You can bare your soul and it's not going to get spread around. It's an opportunity to peel off layers and to practice confession. It's a safe place.

Some misunderstanding people see it as a place of secrets but it is really a place where the deepest truths can be told. Once that is done there is room for healing, growth, reconciliation, restitution, and restoration.

So back to Friday: I met with my Silas for some deep work. There were some things I needed to reveal to him. It was the most shameful part of my past. It is the kind of thing that would bring an end to most friendships. I feared that once he knew the truth about me it would change everything - in a bad way.

But what I knew in theory needed to be learned in practice. It was an opportunity to see again what an amazing thing the Samson Society is and what transformation a Silas relationship can bring.

We are a group of men who realize our brokenness and that we can't fix ourselves. But we know that God wants to fix us as we walk in community.

So, I reveal myself to my friend and it is not the end. He isn't sitting on some high horse looking down on me. He is walking beside me as I move forward. The soil of my soul has been tilled and is awaiting new growth.

After talking for hours we were both empty of words. We had a few hours before the meeting that night so I suggested we go see October Baby. Nothing could have braced me for what was to come.

I was adopted at three months. Even so, I always felt I had a good home. I'm also heavily involved in the prolife movement. October Baby deals with abortion, adoption and also the dynamics of fatherhood and family life.

I can't even explain why but the movie tore through my soul - in a good way. There were probably many things that stirred in me but one that is particularly raw is the question of if I am wanted. Do people care if I exist? Could I go missing and no one would notice? I have always had problems in relationships, feeling like I am an imposition and that I am taking up time that someone doesn't want to give.

I saw the movie a second time on Saturday with my family. The devastation was far deeper than Friday. As I look at it I think I am seeing that I have a closed door on my emotions. It seems wrong to admit I have feelings. It feels wrong to express that I need someone or something from someone.

Recently I was trying to do the questionnaire to see what my love language is. I couldn't complete it because it seemed so imposing on someone else. I had to identify what I needed from someone. It seemed wrong and selfish.

So I close myself to others even when I know that is wrong or irrational. I have been fighting it but it's hard.

So October Baby tore me apart. I welcome it. I don't want to be what I am now. I am raw.

Philip

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Invisible Children - Dismembered

This post is not about Kony 2012. It's about the invisible children in our neighborhood and the Joseph Kony that operates down the street.

It's about the safe things we do to help us feel better about ourselves while avoiding costly long-term sacrifice.

Joseph Kony is responsible for around 60,000 children being enslaved into horrible situations. In the United States around 1 million invisible children disappear every year and over 11,000 disappear in Colorado every year. There are many Joseph Kony replicas that operate here in the US and in many of our neighborhoods.

To be sure, we need to work in many parallel paths. There are many issues that deserve our attention, action and money. The real danger is when we excuse or ignore our own sin and seem content at pointing the finger somewhere else.

Have you figured out that I am talking about abortion? Yes that is our own Joseph Kony and invisible children. We are guilty too and probably more so.

I call us out of comfort and complacency. Consider these words:

If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the word of God except precisely that little point which the world and the Devil are at that point attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is tested. To be steady in all the battlefields besides is mere flight and disgrace, if the soldier flinches at that one point.
~Martin Luther
As I said before, we need to be involved and passionate about many things but I would contend that if we ignore abortion it calls into question if we really care about any injustice.

Here is my challenge: watch the video below and look at the pictures in the link below it. Let your heart and mind be ravaged and broken for the true invisible children. Then start doing something long-term to defend them.

Abortion Video

Abortion Pictures

Here is the organization I work with that is directly involved in stopping abortions while defending women and children:
OR Colorado.

Feel free to dialog by leaving a comment.

Philip

Sunday, March 11, 2012

How to Improve Your Marriage - Act As If

I really like the advice in this video. When I remember to practice it, it really does make a difference.
Too often I let my mood or expectations create a bad outcome rather than acting "as if".


You can find more great advice on helping your marriage at:
Divorce Busting

Philip

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Confession

It's hard for me to say "I'm sorry."

Here is what I know about that: from somewhere deep inside I feel like I can't apologize until the problem is fixed. Time must pass that proves my repentance then I can show by my behavior that I am truly sorry.

Here is one problem: most of the time I am not fixed. The problem/mistake/sin recurs so I am back to the beginning over and over.

So one big benefit of this defect is that my family doesn't hear me say I'm sorry very often. It's easy for them to conclude that I am not or that I don't care or that I am oblivious to the problem.

Another thing that complicates stuff is when people throw the apology in your face. "You said you were sorry before so why did you do it again." That reinforces the bad idea that you have to be fixed before you apologize.

As I was listening to a message this last week I was challenged that a mark of humility is owning up to your sins and admitting them to God and other people. It was also very encouraging in saying that we are all messed up and will continue to be so perfection is not the standard.

I don't have a problem saying I am sorry to God. I know from experience and His Word how he deals with me. He doesn't bring up the past or question my motive. He delights to forgive and restore the relationship.

It's with people where the problem manifests itself and that's who I live with and sin against every day.

My most common sin is with my tongue. I agree with James 3:8 that says: But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. I can't fix it for sure. But what is impossible with man is possible with God. I don't set out to sin with my tongue but I do it over and over especially if certain buttons are pushed. I think over the past few years I have started recognizing certain situations that precede a fall. Just this last week God showed me some specific ways to avoid this sin. I need to see that if I go down a certain path I will probably end up saying something I regret. I need to pay attention when I see the sign - Do Not Enter - Danger Ahead.

But even with this I will still sin. So what I am going to try to practice is saying I'm sorry as soon as possible. I can't control what other people do with it after that. If I do the right thing then at least there is the opportunity for things to be made right.

Philip

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Reaping the Whirlwind

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.
Galatians 6:7

For they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.
Hosea 8:7

Statistics show that a great number of Christian young people are viewing homosexuality and homosexual marriage as okay.

I think there are several reasons why this is happening: Most churches have failed to address the subject and my generation has embraced both divorce and birth control as okay. In the vacuum and in sin, a perfect storm has been created. There are other reasons but I'm going to roll with these three today.

As with many other "controversial" issues, homosexuality had not been properly addressed as sin by most churches yet the culture is ramming it down our throats. Scripture is very clear that sodomy is sinful but the typical young person will not hear that in church.

The Bible is also very clear on divorce but churches are not. If you look up the word divorce in the New Testament, in five minutes you will know more than the average churchgoer. Divorce and especially remarriage are only allowed in very specific situations.

The church has now become very accepting of divorce and remarriage for almost any reason. In this reality, the foundation of marriage has been severely eroded.

On the subject of birth control, very few Christians are aware that artificial birth control was universally condemned as immoral by every church prior to the 1930's. Now you would be hard pressed to find many Protestants who know that let alone live by it. Again, the foundation of marriage has been eroded.

The way we were created shows God's intention for marriage. The marital sex act was designed to be both unitive and procreative. Many Christians now believe it is okay to remove the procreative. They think they know better than God.

Can you see how these erosions have given room for homosexuality and homosexual marriage? The church in accepting a liberal view of divorce and remarriage has disrespected the meaning of marriage. In accepting artificial birth control, we have weakened marriage by disrespecting one of the purposes of marriage.

If the potential for reproduction is not essential to marriage then why shouldn't two same-sex persons be allowed to marry?

So I have given my thoughts but I haven't backed them up. That gives plenty of room for the reader to reject my conclusions and I understand that. If you disagree with me then you should look into these things for yourself; that is what integrity would require. At a later time I may expand on each but not today.

In creating these erosions to the foundation of marriage, we have sown the wind. The younger generation and society are now reaping the whirlwind.

If you have stayed with me to this point I thank you. I hope my thoughts will help many to think on these things and to look into them further.

Philip

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Beat Up By Church?

I know there are bad churches and pastors out there. They may even be the majority and I'm speaking of the evangelical ones.

There are also many stories of people who were "beat up by the church". Some of them are valid. Here is one thing that bothers me though: many people who claim a bad experience with church were or are living an immoral life. They wanted a pat on the back but got something else.

I know there is a right and wrong way to deal with sin in other people. It should be done in love but it should be done. It is not loving to ignore it.

1 Peter 4:8 says this: Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. I think this really comes into play in places like marriage where we have the daily crap of another person to deal with. There is a lot of small stuff that needs to be forgotten. The same holds true in many other relationships.

But there is sin that does need to be confronted both in personal relationships and in the church. Immorality would be at the top of the list. Paul confronted the Corinthian church for their failure to deal with sin. See 1 Corinthians 5 for the story. He rebukes them for their tolerance and delivers the offender to Satan for the destruction of his flesh. He goes on to tell us that we should not associate with a so-called brother, that we should judge sin in the church and that we should remove the wicked from the church. The thing talked about is an unrepentant person; one who is practicing sin. The good part of the story is they followed his advice and the person later repented and was restored.

If sin in the church is not dealt with it is like yeast. It grows and infects the whole church. This is easy to see. If a church is soft on divorce they will see a landslide of divorce. If they ignore sex outside of marriage they will soon have many people filling the pews that are living together and feeling fine about it. If speaking against abortion is avoided, abortion will become more common in the church.

When I was a brand new Christian in 1973, I had a good experience with what some would call harshness. I had a dramatic conversion with all of the wonderful good feelings that come with it. A few weeks later I went up for prayer after a Bible study and told one of the leaders that I felt God was no longer with me. His response was swift. He told me I was a liar. He then went on to explain that it was not about feelings. Talk about an embarrassing kick in the butt yet it was what I needed. I count that experience as a turning point. I learned early that truth trumps feeling. I love Scott Hinkle for loving me enough to tell me the truth.

Some people are too harsh and some are too wimpy. In confronting our own sin we should find our bad tendency and deal with it. Then we should go out in love and kick some butt for Jesus. It's time to stop tolerating blatant immorality and those who promote it in the church.

Philip

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Are We Prostitutes?


At a dinner party Winston Churchill says to his dinner companion, "Madam, would you sleep with me for five million pounds?"

The woman responds, "My goodness, Mr. Churchill. I suppose I would."

Churchill replies, "Would you sleep with me for five pounds?"

She answers, "Mr. Churchill, what kind of woman do you think I am?"

Churchill answers, "Madam, we've already established that. Now we are haggling about the price."

So many times it all comes down to money. Of the many places where this plays out, politics and religion are two that come to mind.

I think about professed Christians who voted for Obama. Even though they were aware of his pro-abortion history, there was something in it for them. Obama promised to make their life nicer in exchange for their vote. They ignored all of the bad he represented, ignored the slaughtered children, pulled the lever, and violated their conscience.

In religion I think of pastors who avoid speaking on "controversial" moral issues because they don't want to offend certain pew sitters. If those people leave, their money goes with them.

In the end it's all haggling about price.

So what is our price? Are we willing to compromise for money or peace or acceptance or some other benefit?

Fear of losing something drives us. Let me offer an antidote. Matthew 23:9 says this: Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.

Looking at the word father in its original language we get an understanding of what Jesus meant to convey. Pater or father is the one who is the provider, sustainer and upholder. We see that Jesus was saying we should only look to our heavenly Father in that way.

This can give us courage to do what is right. If we live to please our Father we will see his provision and care.

Philip

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Gratitude Can Change Your Life

Have you felt thankful recently? Have you said ‘thank you’ lately? When was the last time you wrote the words ‘thank you’ to someone?

I think gratitude is one of our most neglected virtues. Maybe all of the advertising we see that tries to convince us there are a multitude of things we are missing makes us focus on what we don't have rather that seeing what we do have.

Here is a question: Does gratitude start in the heart or do we create it by expressing thankfulness? In either case I know it is strengthened when we focus on it.

How about in marriage? So much damage comes from focusing on a spouse's imperfections rather than seeing their good qualities. A good tip: Praise is a better motivator towards good behavior than nagging. (Note to self!)

I have found that formalizing my gratitude does something that fleeting thoughts can't. It cements the thought in my mind and makes it stronger than the grumbling voice that is always droning on.

Try to make the words ‘thank you’ a regular part of your vocabulary. When someone hands you your coffee or food or some other purchase, express thankfulness. That is a small but easy starting place. Look for other opportunities. Say it with a smile and let it settle in your heart where it will bring change.

How about writing it down? It may be for you in the form of a journal or for someone else in the form of a note. I think one of the most powerful things we can give or receive is a hand written personal note. Try that right now.  It doesn't have to be a fancy note card. Any piece of paper will do. Just express thanks to someone in a way that shows you really mean it. It will change you and bless them.

And most of all, give thanks to God.

...in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:18

Philip

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Assumptions

Have you ever assumed something to be one way and then found the opposite to be true?

I have thought a lot about assumptions lately. There are many things I have assumed to be true; I am finding out I have been wrong.

I always assumed that a Christian would be against certain things and for others. Here are a few examples: Christians are against abortion. Christians view homosexual behavior as wrong. Christians think divorce is bad. Christians think sex before marriage is wrong. Christians are against homosexual marriage.

Well I was wrong and I'm not talking about so-called Christians or people who belong to mainline liberal denominations or people who think most Americans are Christians. I’m talking about people who claim to love Jesus.

Another bad assumption of mine is that Christians believe the Bible.

And before I turn a corner, here are a couple more bad assumptions of mine: I thought that because my wife and I were followers of Jesus our marriage would be easy and our kids wouldn't have any serious problems either. Wrong again.

So my last examples are the things that older, more mature people would smile at and know life will teach its own lessons but what about the others? I guess many of them are wrapped up in my assumption that education and facts will change people's minds. Well, wrong again.

Now there are many people who are changed by education and facts. When they became a Christian they began filtering all of their thinking through Scripture. Even when it is uncomfortable or hard, they face up to the truth and seek to conform to it.

Sadly, many so-called Christians have little time for serious time in Scripture. Instead of being transformed by it, they are conformed to the world.

Another sad truth is many people go to the Bible with their beliefs and twist it to justify what they want to believe and do. Some people believe false things because they are ignorant and some because of choice. For the latter, facts matter little to them.

So where am I going with this? I guess it explains some of the reason why the church is so messed up. It explains why things are sliding downhill and why liberal thinking is taking over many churches and Christian institutions.

I guess in the future it will help if I don't just assume where a person is and instead either ask questions or look for clues.

So what to do then? I will try to help educate people but when I find those who refuse to believe the truth and especially those who are corrupting others I will be ready for battle. I will not easily cede ground to them; I will fight.

Philip

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Foundation - Rock or Sand

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
Romans 12:2 NASB

Here is what the Phillips version says: Don't let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re- mould your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity.

Two things I see here: the world wants us like itself and God wants us like Him.

We cannot escape the world. It is the place we live. Some people have tried things like a monastery to escape the world's influence but in the end find that the world lives within.

Now to be sure, the external does make a big difference. What we focus on, what we choose to look at and what we listen to will strengthen or weaken the world's influence on our internal - the heart.

We really battle three things in this area according to 1 John 2:16: For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The external is warring to influence and take over the internal.

Galatians 5:16-17 says this: But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.

To win the battle we need to have more influence from God's word than from the world. That will take more than a Sunday sermon or Sunday school class. We will have to refresh our minds daily with the corrective and cleansing power of Scripture.

A lack in this area is why we see Christians who are soft on sin. They are uncomfortable when confronting the world. Softness on abortion and homosexuality are two examples. Because the world has molded their thinking, they are persuaded more by its arguments than Scripture. Not having a foundation to stand on, they are swayed.

Sadly, many people are blind to their blindness; in ignorance they stand firmly committed.Also there are some who have the knowledge of what the Bible says but for philosophical reasons or fear of men or the desire of man's praise choose to compromise. They are in a worse state. So it's not just knowledge that is necessary but bowing the knee to truth.

If we don't fight, things slide downhill. If you don't fight daily for a Biblical mind you will end up with a worldly one.

The solution is a disciplined, habitual, regular, don't matter how you feel, immersion in Scripture. There are no short cuts.

It really is a life or death battle; winner takes all.

Philip

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