Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Depressed or Guilty? (part 3)

Depression is a reaction and in most cases, it is the result of past guilt staying within the being of a person. Over the years, the guilt becomes buried but it is always right there, ready to surface. When a tragidy hits or a difficulty, if a person has unforgiven guilt, it will surface within them and take them into depression. When people get to a deep stage of depression, only by an act of God will they come out of it. What we need to learn to how to avoid getting to that state of being.

To begin with, we need to learn to have a proper mind set now! "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials." (Jam. 1:2) To "consider it all joy" means you do not diagnose asking why but understand what is gained through the hardship. If we decided today, before our next trial comes (and it will) to live for the Lord and not fear tomorrow, your mind is set toward the Lord and His will today so fear is eliminated. When a trial comes, if we "consider it all joy", we will have the right attitude during the trial. This is an attitude, not a feeling! Here is why a person in Christ can do that: "Knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance." (Jam. 1:3) What are trials for? To help you get stronger toward the Lord! The word "testing" is a word used for refining precious metals. As gold/silver are refined, they are heated over and over, with each time, the impurities come to the surface and are skimmed off. Each time, the precious metal is becoming more and more pure. That is what trials do to us! If I will have the proper mind set and attitude when I encounter a difficulty, no matter how much it hurts, I can know that God will use it to weed out impurities in my life, making me stronger toward Him, which brings me to endurance. If I "consider it all burdensome or misery", my life will head down a path of anxiety, fears and misery and everyone around me will be affected by that attitude. Your faith will erode away and you will be left worse off than before the trial. Do we have things in our lives that need to be taken out so we can become more Christ like? "And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." (Jam. 1:4) Do you want to become stronger spiritually? How did James say that happens? To become perfect (mature) and complete (the lacking parts of you becoming stronger) means we have to deal with our problems with the right attitude and mind set, knowing what God will do for you through these difficult times. Setting our minds is one of the most powerful faith builders God wants from us (Col. 3:1-4). God wants us to mature and this is one of the greatest ways God uses to help us. This keeps depression at bay and faith intact.

If we have the proper mind set, even though it hurts but understanding things from God's side, what is needed? Wisdom! When we encounter difficulties, how easy is it to sit back, cry, moan and complain? Where do those things take you? It does not mean you will not feel the hurt and pain but your mind set is most important because you know what God will do with the hurt you face. Faith in the promises of God changes your attitude! You need wisdom to know how to work through the difficulty, making the proper moves. "But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him." (Jam. 1:5) Where is the real source of wisdom? Does God really have the wisdom to help me and share with me? If we have a genuine faith, we will respond to Him. Why do we allow things to take us down so far into depression? The wisdom available to us from God is so great and vast, all we need to do is look at this universe and see the wisdom it takes to keep this universe running on course. Just think about the wisdom it took to create our bodies from dust and make all the little parts within us work! God says, "Ask Me!" Is He willing to help? Today, when people find themselves in deep difficulties and depression, they always say, "No one knows how I feel unless they have walked in my shoes!" That is an introverted statement!! (Introvert is one that is self consumed, self centered and unstable.) With that statement and mind set, there is no reaching out but only a depressed state of being that does nothing but complain and wants everyone to know it! Does God know we do not have the answers? The only question left is do we really want His help and wisdom? Do we really see Him as the source of power and wisdom? And the beauty of God, He will not belittle us ("without reproach") because we do not know! He is caring and compassionate. Will we have a proper mind set?

Depression is a reaction. I will deal more with the guilt side next. Our mind set is crucial in moving forward spiritually.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Depressed or Guilty? (part 2)

Too many are accepting things from the world as a fact and not looking to God and His word for the answers. Many do not believe God's word addresses issues about depression. Preachers of God's word do not know what to do about depression and turn to the world for help. This is going to be a step by step study for us, so bear with me in this. The majority of depression, whether people want to accept it or not, is caused by the guilt of sin. A past failure that leads to guilt, never finding relief for that guilt is usually the cause. Why do so many avoid certain topics or situations? Because it brings back a flood of past failures in their lives. She was in her thirties and in Christ Jesus. Her husband called me over at midnight one evening. She was sitting on the floor, crying and began telling me she had been depressed for the last two years. She finally went to the doctor, who sent her to a psychiatrist. He did a blood test and found she had a chemical imbalance and prescribed her medication. (Has anyone ever thought that the chemical imbalance could be caused from depression and not cause the depression?) She was holding the pills in her hand. As she looked up at me, the words came out, "I did not need medication and a psychiatrist! For last two years I have been living a lie. I have not been honest with God, my husband or myself." She knew her guilt and when she became honest, confessed her sin, she solved her problem! I have dealt with about 15 people in Christ Jesus with similar stories. Depression is a reaction that takes place in the mind. One's mind set is how they view things and will determine their reaction.

Men can take on the mule syndrome. They feel their life is going nowhere. They get up, go to work, pull the load, come home, sit on the couch (or in their chair), eat supper, go to bed and start all over again. What happens is he begins to react to his life. The more he thinks about it, the more disgusted he becomes. The world calls it a mid-life crisis. Where is all this happening? In his mind! His mind is reacting to what he is doing and that reaction leads him into disgust and eventually depression.

If one sees things in their life as a loss, it will be a loss because the mind has already determined it and pushed their lives that direction. In World War II, Henry Beacher was a pain researcher. As he studied and interviewed soldiers, some requested less morphine than other when in great pain. He wanted to know why. As he would speak with the soldiers, he discovered that the ones who took less morphine were so thankful to be out of battle and had escaped death! They realized they would be going home. How they viewed their situation had a great affect on what they needed!!

Learning how to set our minds on the right and proper things is the major key to avoiding depression. We must see our answers are in God. We must realize God's word can lead us to a proper understanding and reaction to situations. There will be those who read this and balk at what I write. I understand that. But as one is serious in their study of God's word, you find more and more enlightenment to what the world tries to convince us otherwise. We buy into the world more than the word of the Lord and wonder why our lives are so weak and shallow.

James 1:2, we read, "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials." Will we have various trials? Will there be big problems sometimes in our lives? What does God tell us through James to do when we have these trials? Where does "consider it all joy" take place? We are seeing our mind set and reaction when we have problems. To "consider it all joy" means you have to have a proper mind set now. That is not natural. If you have a proper mind set now, when you face difficulties/trials, you will find your mind already in action. Does that mean the trial is going to be easy? NO! But what you do with the trial means everything. You set your mind now and deal with it now and when it comes, your reaction will be to "consider it all joy"! The word "consider" (some versions say "count") literally means "to lead the way in the mind." It is an attitude for those in Christ. When we face difficulties, what if we "consider it all misery?" Where have you just pushed your life? It opens the door to fears, then hopelessness and then you start remembering your failures and wonder if God is punishing you. (That is guilt at work! You do not even know that you have been forgiven!) We quickly head to depression. When one begins to take hold of God, trials become a base to reach out with a proper and right attitude. You think about this....more tomorrow!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Depressed or Guilty? (part 1)

I have read over the years numerous articles/books written by various doctors on depression and in every single one, they all come to the same conclusion that they do not know what is the cause of depression. Even the ads on television say the same. I am not claiming to know all the answers but there is something I have come to understand in the years of dealing with people and God's word is how much God's word addresses depression, giving us insight. I am very sensitive to people in their depression and we all have had some bout with it at one time or the other. I have taught classes about it! Again, I am not claiming I alone possess the answers!

Here is how depression is defined in some medical books: "a state of sadness, characterized by feelings of hopelessness and inadequacy along with a decrease in functional activity." Depression makes the smallest of tasks extremely difficult. It is extremely difficult to get people out of a deep state of depression because they have no desire and have become introverted (a self centered state where all you can sense is your problem). Here is something I have discovered and will address from God's word. Depression is a response! It is a reaction to certain situations in your life. People can become depressed at the loss of a loved one, a child, and changes in ones body. People lose jobs and find their world is turned upside down, feeling worthless. Women hit that stage in their lives and they realize youth is gone! Sometimes people put their heart into something and when it does not work out or is lost, it crushes us and we react to that loss. Financial strain or loss can cause depression. Men that were athletic and find they cannot do what they use to can create depression. If a woman is sensitive about her beauty, it can cause her to react as she ages.These are reactions. I know medicines can cause depression but those are few and far between. I am not addressing that. Depression is mainly a response from within your being!

Depression is a reaction that takes place in the mind. Depression is a reaction that works off our emotions. One's mind set will determine how they view and react to situations they face! If one is not taking care of their spiritual side, which many do not, there is nothing from within to draw from in stressful situations, which makes one react the wrong way. Listen carefully to Paul in his instruction given to the church at Corinth. We read these often but never slow down to think about what he is teaching us: "Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison." (II Cor. 4:16-17) If you noticed, the inner is being renewed day by day. That's where our failure begins. We allow things to beat on us and it takes us down, never knowing how to renew the inner man. We react to the difficulty on our spiritual side and because little has been done to renew that side, we find ourselves helpless and hopeless in the situation. Paul speaks of his 'light affliction' that he faces. Read II Cor. 11:25-28 and see how much he went through and he calls it light affliction! We could not begin to bear the things he went through. There is something about our spiritual well being that we miss.

One of the major and greatest causes of all depression is sin and the guilt that incurs! The feelings of guilt and shame at our failures stays with us, on our spiritual side and we cannot escape it. No one knows the shame and guilt within the heart and mind except the one who has failed. They see their lives as a loss and no amount of 'positive' encouragement will change that feeling of loss within that person. Their shame and guilt stays in their conscience and their mind set has pushed their lives into depression and it is a daily battle within their being. It wears them out emotionally! That's why the smallest of tasks seem like a mountain. The emotional side has robbed them of any desires. The spiritual side is so weak, the physical, emotional begins to control every part of their being. If we can understand and grasp some basic spiritual principles, we can find help and keep our lives where the Lord wants them to be and avoid depression.

I realize in writing this, there will be some who will throw a fit at me. I have dealt with many depressed people over the years in my counseling. So many have given their minds and hearts to the medical profession rather than what the Lord addresses and believe more in the medical than spiritual. (I am not professing we don't need medical help in certain situations. I am trying to get us to see the cause of most depression! Please understand that!) Learning how to set our minds on proper things, knowing how to react properly in certain situations and what to do when we are faced with our guilt is the key to overcoming. Let's look through the eyes of God! Let's let the God who created us fix us! I find more people in Christ put more faith in "professionals" than the Lord. What does that say about us?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Random Thoughts...

If any of you have a suggestion of a Bible teaching or thought you would like to see me address, please post it and I will see what I can do. I am not the brightest bulb in 'the Light', but I will give it my best shot! I use to never like writing but over the last couple of years, I have come to enjoy it. I have been working on a book for several years now and have no clue when I will finish it. It is something I 'piddle' with a little here and a little there. Maybe one day, Lord willing, when I am too old to do anything else, I will finish it. It's title is, "Religious, Yet Spiritually Corrupted". I meet these kind of people often, and to my sadness, many are my brothers and sisters in Christ. I am amazed at the depth of fleshliness of people who profess to be in Christ. Some are so fleshly they cannot recognize it in themselves. They are good at pointing it out in others, but blind to their own fleshly thinking and actions. I realize I am not above being fleshy and I fail in areas of my life. Please never think that I think I am above others. I must depend on the mercy and grace of our Lord in my life. I do have some insight into God for which He has granted to me for some reason and I am grateful. I am not a issue oriented person and do not preach/teach about issues. I want to come to know God! Jesus said eternal life is knowing God (John 17:3) That is the 'issue' we need to focus on. Many, especially preachers, know a lot of Bible verses but do not know God. Knowing verses is not the same as knowing God! I am amazed at how so many do not know how to accurately apply Scripture. While in Nigeria and listening to other preachers from the states, I sat in amazement at some of the lack of understanding of God. They knew the Scriptures but had no clue how to apply them. In fact, I remember sitting in one class listening to a preacher and he would read some Scriptures but turn right around and make applications opposite to what we just read. It didn't take me long to realize he was getting his material from a book. He had no clue what he was saying. Sadly to say, those Nigerian preachers listening to him thought he was great because of his great ability to speak. What was encouraging, and I say this in my blog because I would never say this in front of the public, before leaving Nigeria, the President of the School of Biblical Studies in Jos, said they had never heard such preaching while I was there. I have been invited back to numerous places in Nigeria to preach, but my schedule will not allow at this time. That touched me and I can take no credit. We need to know God and the Scriptures are to teach us to know God and His Christ (John 5:39-42).
That's enough ramblings! Thanks for reading and please, if you see something I say as wrong, please let me know! I will take no offense. I just want to know my Lord!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Love Covers A Multitude Of Sins!

One of the greatest mistakes people make is to marry one another for purely sexual attraction. That is an animal instinct, yet so many base their relationship on this one factor. True love is based on two people sharing in each others lives. They develop a devotion and share in things together that only they possess and no one else is allowed in. That is what "marriage proofs" their marriage. No one else allowed. When a relationship is simply 'external', over time that relationship will erode and the door will be opened wide for things that will cost them in their marriage and eternally. I cannot tell you how many couples have told me that their relationship started 'in the bedroom' and went little beyond that. I have known several couples where the husband wants the wife to get 'enhancing' surgeries because they think it will benefit their relationship. It's all purely physical. Today some of these couples are struggling to keep their marriage intact while others have been overthrown into the tragic defeat of divorce.

Over the years, I have seen good looking men and women find a mate that is far from good looking. I have made comments, "How in the world was she attracted to him?" What I have come to learn is their relationship is based on something deeper than the physical. Couples who love one another love because they have learned to see the heart of the other. You can see it in the little names they call one another. Names no one else understands or might not even know. They communicate and laugh together. They have invested their lives in one another, poured out themselves for one another and enjoy each others company. They love despite imperfections in one another. They have learned that "love covers a multitude of sins." (I Pet. 4:8) Their love is fervent. Their love keeps sin from walking into their homes and lives. Their love is true and genuine. Love is what makes the most ridiculous things acceptable and at times, adoring!

In the movie The Music Man (one of my personal favorites), Professor Harold Hill had deceived a whole town out of their money, making them believe he could form a band out of their children. Parents were elated! They freely gave Professor Hill their money and he was about to walk away with it. At the end, when he was finally seen for the deceiving rat he was, they were ready to tar and feather him as all the facts came to the surface. One last opportunity to hear all the children play, while cuffed, he began leading this band of children in some of the most horrible sounding, off key notes blurting out that anyone had ever heard. Suddenly, one parent jumped up with tears in their eyes, shouted out, "Barney, that tuba's my Barney!" Suddenly other parents followed as their child blew their little hearts out in awful tones. Parental love covered a multitude of musical sins!

Learn to love with a genuine love that sets that love on your mate (or another) no matter of their imperfections. Real love is a choice, not a feeling. Learn to help one another, not push each other away (and that includes intimacy I Cor. 7:1-5). Too many marriages are living on the edge in their relationships and sin is crouching at the door. Marriages that have been together for 25-30 years and couples still do not know one another! What a shame and tragic waste of years. Make right moves and remember the words of Peter: "Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins."

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

True Riches!

He was an upstate New Yorker, rich in every way. His estate was worth millions. He owned houses, land, antiques and cattle. Outwardly he had it all! Inside his heart, there was a sadness. His wife was aging and the couple was childless. He always wanted a little boy to carry on the family legacy.
One day, they felt is was a miracle, his wife became pregnant in her later years. He was excited beyond words. She gave birth to a little boy, but the boy was severely handicapped. It made no difference to the father as he loved that little boy with his whole heart.
When the boy was 5, the mother passed away. The dad grew closer to his special son. At the age of 13, the boy's physical handicaps cost him his life. The father was crushed beyond words and in a matter of months, he passed away from a broken heart.
The man's estate was auctioned off before hundreds of bidders. The first item offered was a painting of the little boy. No one bid. The place was like vultures, waiting for the rich items they could get for as little as possible. People were waiting, calling out to get on with it. The painting of the boy was offered one more time, no one bid. Finally, the housemaid, who had helped take care of the boy offered $5 for the painting and easily took the bid. As the auctioneer handed the painting to the housemaid, he ripped a handwritten note from the back of the painting. It was the man's will! This is what it said: "To the person who thinks enough of my son to buy this painting, to this person I give my entire estate." The auction was over! The greedy crowd was in shock and dismay.
As I read such stories, it makes me think how many of us are running after riches, pleasures and all this world has to offer, never realizing that all the riches of God are placed in His Son. Many who seek after the world's riches and pleasures will forfeit their souls, while those who seek the Lord and His Son find riches beyond description. If we will seek after God and His ways, He is prepared to give us His entire estate, that this whole universe cannot hold. They are found in His Son. In Luke 12:19-21, Jesus describes a person who has the world's goods but is not rich toward God. We might need to take inventory and heed. How's your relationship to Jesus?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Family can be some of the most blessed people we have in our lives. They can also be some the most heart crushing. Over the years of counseling, I have witnessed some of the most heart breaking situations with family. One thing that really stands out is how children, who are hurt and torn by one or both of their parents, still reach out for the love and acceptance of that parent(s). It never ceases to amaze me. God created this love within each of us. You see it in children that have been adopted, somewhere in their life, they have a longing to know who their natural born parents were. I have witnessed a parent(s) that sin becomes so much of their life that they loose their natural affection for their children (II Tim. 3:3 - word "unloving" means without natural affection). What a heart break!
There is something else we need to be aware of when it comes to family. The lost world does not care but those of us tied to Jesus should be really concerned, and that is the salvation of our family. I have preached over the years that if you accomplish nothing more on this earth than your family being saved, you have accomplished a great thing. That means we must love Jesus more than our family. He died my death. He gave Himself so I could live eternally. What love! What devotion! What a Father we have, the Creator and Sustainer of this whole universe. Our Shield and Defender, who upholds us and cares deeply for us. Jesus said it this way, "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me." (Matt. 10:37) I love my family but I will say this, I love my Lord and Savior more. In order to save our family, we must put Jesus first. So many will not stand up for Jesus when it comes to family. They will participate in things that are not Christ-like in their family, refusing to say 'no' because they do not want to hurt their family members. I know the pull can be great, but if we have really come into salvation and eternal life, do we want our family to share in the same? That means we have to stand for something, having some convictions about our faith in Jesus because our family members who are in sin are going to pay a horrible, hurtful price in the end. If we really love our family, we will do whatever it takes to help them and that means we need to stand for righteousness! How else are they going to see Jesus? It might make them mad, or they may try to 'guilt' you into coming to their side, but eternal life is far too important. "Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." (II Tim. 3:12) Our own family may come down hard on us, but we need to live godly lives before them to help them see their own sinfulness in order to be saved. If we love our family more than Jesus, we do not have Jesus no matter what anyone says! Those are His words.
I love my family. I have taught for many years to my own that I do not care if they never have a high paying job, or live in an expensive house, or own much of the world's goods as those things are not a high priority in our lives. But if any of them walked away from the Lord, embraced sin and sinful practices, they would kill their father! I love my family and I want them in heaven and that means I will teach and do whatever it takes, even if it means to withdraw from them if they are involved in sinful things. Would it hurt? Oh, yes but to love my family means I love their souls more than anything else. I cannot let natural affections take priority over eternal things. If we love our fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters more than the Lord, we do not love the Lord nor the souls of our family. Now that is something to think about!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Sulkers...Grow Up!

They are 'sulkers'! I can be good at it. King Ahab was a great 'sulker'. In I Kings 21:1-4, he wanted Naboth's vineyard. He offered Naboth a fair price but Naboth did not want to part with it as it was an inheritance from his father. What did King Ahab do? HE SULKED! He went home, laid on his bed with his face turned toward the wall, stuck out that bottom lip and refused supper! He did not get what he wanted and felt he was mistreated in some way and he sulked. The king that owned half the country. Houses, palaces all over. He had troops for fighting but that did not matter. A host of people surrounded him and he had the power to command anything he wished. In all this, he wanted a little piece of land that a man refused him and King Ahab was unhappy. You can almost hear him, "Wah...wah..."!

We read this and my mind went to many in the church today. Those super-sensitive that see every refusal as a personal insult, which leads them to childish tendencies and childish tantrums! They sulk because something isn't done their way and they start holding everyone in their paths hostage because of pouty sulking. People do not get their way and it makes them so upset that everything that is the nearest and dearest will pay!!! These tyrant brethren are visited and reassured but many times to no avail. They simply must go through their time of sulking! It can lead into leaving a congregation and in order to make it right, they will point their finger at someone or some situation to make it look like it was for spiritual reasons. What an evil game sulkers play!

I have seen it in homes between husbands and wives. (I have had to repent of this in the past!) There is no physical violence but when one sulks, they put their family in the state of dread! Families that live with one individual, who time after time sulk because something is not done a particular way or a word spoken that gets one out of joint. They stew about a situation, a word said, or a refused physical contact and will sulk for days on end. No talking, a hateful disposition, sharp words, a scowl that one would give to an enemy and that sulking spirit soaks into everyone in the home and reaches their innermost being. If a stranger visits, they can leave. But a family day after day have to endure the childish, juvenile attitude that strikes all the hearts in that family. And why do husband/wives sulk? To make certain the other knows they have been refused or hurt and they will play this all the way to the end until they get what they want while everyone else suffers. In the name of our Lord, for the sake of the soul...grow up and get over it! Learn to love and stop being self centered. You might find things go much easier and your lip won't get stepped on!!!!

Friday, April 18, 2008

More Blessed To Give...

I grew up in West Texas in a small town of about 2500. It is hard to believe the years have passed by so quickly. I have so many memories, just as many of you do of the years past. My dad owned a tv and appliance store in the town. He could fix just about anything. One thing that really stands out is this: my dad is a giver! He has always been a giver. I can never recall when he was not a giver. He was never wealthy and is living off of his social security today. I remember times when bills would come due and dad did not know where he would get the money, except he knew the Lord would provide. In difficult months, he was still a giver. Financial strains never stopped him from giving! He looked out especially for widows and those less fortunate for their needs. He gave many refrigerators away when they had no means to pay for them. Widows that needed a stove or work on their tv or other appliances, he would give them the stove or do the work for nothing, paying for the parts out of his own pocket. I have heard people make rude comments about my dad in his giving, which I really never understood. One thing I remember, my dad never failed to have available funds to meet his bills! I know it was because the Lord looked out for his needs as he looked out of the needs of others. My dad was not only a giver, but he was honest in every thing he did.

As I reflect upon all this, the giving has been instilled with me. I love to give! I have a much better understanding about giving and my heart wants to give. A dear friend of mine always told me, "You can give without loving but you can't love with out giving!" That is so true. I know many who have no clue how to be a giver. They hoard everything. When things get tight, giving is the last thing they think about. Giving is not part of who they are. Giving is who God is! Some never think about what is the best for others, offering to help by giving. Some are takers! I see so many today that buy beautiful homes, nice cars and spend much for their personal entertainment and yet they rarely give to the need and help of others or think about giving. That is a taker! That makes me sad and it will cost them somewhere in the future. Non-givers pay a high price! They have a concern about their money, if their investments are going to make enough, if they will have enough for retirement, if they will have enough money and the list goes on. It places a burden on their hearts and robs them of the peace and love of God (Heb. 13:5-6). Givers are blessed by the Lord! I pray that I have instilled within the heart of my children to be givers, to trust on His provisions knowing that we are taking nothing with with us and use what we have to the glory and salvation of others. To God I say 'thank you' for giving me such a giving dad!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Put A Lid On It!

They invited a efficiency expert to speak at a large corporation meeting to younger executives. At the end of the session, he ended with these words: "Be sure you use this information well and do not try it at home!" A man in his 30's approached the expert and asked him why he suggested they not use this at home. The efficiency expert stated: "I did a study a few years back of my wife's routine while fixing breakfast. As I watched her, she made a lot of trips to the refrigerator, then to the stove, over to the table, to the cabinets and in most cases carrying one item at a time. So I said to her, 'Honey, why don't you try carrying several things at once? That would make more efficient use of your time!'" The expert finished placing the rest of his papers in his brief case, looking as if the story was over. The young man asked him, "Well, did this save time? Did it work?" The expert looked at him, shaking his head and said, " did! It use to take her twenty minutes to get my breakfast. Now I get it myself in seven!"
What a lesson to learn. As I have grown and aged, (hopefully getting wiser), I realize how many times I have tried to offer "constructive" criticism to others. What I was foolish in was not realizing they did not want my "constructive" criticism! Sometimes what I thought was "constructive" criticism was nothing more than my stupid opinion that needed to be kept to myself. You could see redness in their face, lips pressed together and maybe a vein or two pop out on their neck or forehead. We need to learn that just because you think someone needs to be helped with your "constructive" criticism, they may not want your help! Sometimes we want to tell others things they aren't ready to hear. Many times we don't have enough self control or wisdom to know when to speak and when to be quiet. The Lord knows we need to learn to be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger! We need to learn not to give holy things to people that will not appreciate them and recognize that what you are about to say, is it really helpful or just my mouth wanting to run free? I am trying to grow in this!
I want you to understand that there is nothing in this piece that relates in anyway to my wife, Resa. I am not saying this because...well...I am not saying it because...well, I am not saying anything in any fashion about her because she does not need to change! She's perfect!! Why, I wish you could see my mind. I know she reads my blog. I love you dear and if I could offer just one thing of "constructive"...WHAT AM I DOING? I am sweating and looking for the write (right) words. The only piece of advice I could give anyone at this time...PUT A LID ON IT!!!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

What Is Fear Of The Lord?

If one wants to gain real insight to God, it begins with fear of the Lord (Prov. 1:7). If you want wisdom from God, you must have fear of the Lord (Prov. 9:10). Our walk with God relates directly to our fear of the Lord. I am seeing more and more stressing away from the fear of the Lord. Look at our assemblies, the number that want to entertain through drama and other external means to try to motivate people. We are loosing the fear of the Lord and when one looses that, we will cease to be honored by God's presence. Just ask Uzziah, King of Judah (II Chron. 26:16-21). What is fear of the Lord? What does it mean?

Some place fear of the Lord as afraid, like a cowering away from because of danger. That's not the fear of the Lord. Fear of the Lord is a reverence, a high respect and regard for another. Jesus said, "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." (Matt. 10:28) Man is incapable of harming our souls but God is able to harm the body and the soul and because of His power and might, we need to fear Him, reverence Him, knowing His position over us. He alone holds our destiny. In Malachi, the Lord spoke plainly about the honor that sons showed their fathers and servants their masters but they show little regard for God in their worship to Him. They respected their governors but no respect for God in their sacrifices. God warned with the attitudes they held, treating Him as less than common man, they would ask Him for His favor and to be gracious? Would He accept any of them kindly? (Mal. 1:9-10) They had no fear of the Lord and God states He will not accept their worship and curse them because of their lack of reverence for Him.

Several years back, while living in West Virginia, we went to Charleston, the state capital to visit the governors grounds. While in the library, several plain clothed officers came in, looking around at each of us. In a few moments, Governor Jay Rockefeller walked in. There was complete silence in the room as he walked over to us, shook our hands and visited with us. Everyone stood in awe as we were in the presence of the Governor. That was reverence and respect for an office of a powerful man. What about God? We come into the assemblies with a half hearted approach, handing out coffee and donuts like we were at the movies, looking like we just came in from a walk in the park with our shorts and sandals on. Reverence and respect for the Lord is tainted and lost. I am not dictating attire. I am speaking of how we approach a holy and powerful God! WE ARE THE BODY OF JESUS, not some show or a movie theatre! How many of us, if we were in the presence of the President would be sloppy in our dress, cutting up and joking, slapping him on the back and acting like we were in the presence of some ordinary person? We would never do that! What about God? He is more powerful than anyone in the entire universe and yet we treat our worship of Him like some type of common person holding an entertaining production so we can be moved. Our daily lives have lost sight of whose presence we stand in. We have lost the fear of the Lord. You loose fear of the Lord and the Lord's word becomes less important but psychology, relaxation, fun stories and the like become central. When that High Priest under the Law of Moses entered the Holy of Holies, there wasn't hooting and hollering going on. There was a sincere, heart felt sense of awe and reverence as the worshipers outside stood in prayer, waiting for the High Priest to emerge with words of acceptance. That Roman soilder that stood before the cross at the death of Jesus exclaimed without any form of entertainment, "Truly this was the Son of God!" What he witnessed led him to the fear of the Lord! He has the ability to save and destroy!!!
The Hebrew writer reminds us that the Lord is going to shake this earth, the created things but the things which cannot be shaken will remain (Heb. 12:27). We have received from the Lord a kingdom which cannot be shaken! What are we to do? "...let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire." (Heb. 12:28-29) Reverence and awe is a great description of fear of the Lord. That is what is missing in many of the people of God today. When Moses encountered God at the burning bush (Ex. 3), he was instructed to remove his sandals because he was standing on holy ground. Moses hid his face and realized he was standing in the presence of the Lord God Almighty and it was not in the presence of ordinary man. God's presence made it holy and Moses showed great reverence and awe as he stood in fear of the Lord. What about us? Do we really see ourselves in the presence of this Almighty powerful Lord who holds our eternal destiny in His hand? Our salvation was not cheap and the lack of fear of the Lord cheapens the death of Jesus that allows us fellowship with our God. With the lack of reverence in our worship, we take the precious blood of Jesus that purchased us and turn it into something less than our Lord God intended. People want to be moved in their worship! People want to be motivated! You can do it through man's way with the entertainment mode or you can fall before our holy God, knowing you were not redeemed with perishable things. The heart of God is in His Son and only by His Son are we allowed into His presence. We need to show some reverence and awe for standing in the presence of our powerful, loving, holy God!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Raising Godly Children

For many parents, little thought is placed into raising godly children. Most thinking child training is providing for their needs such as food, clothing, shelter and education. These things are necessary, but they will not raise godly, faithful children.

There are three basic needs in raising godly children and if parents will apply them, it will lead a child in the right way:

(1) Instill within your children the fear of the Lord. When I speak of fear of the Lord, I am speaking of awe and reverence for His greatness and holiness. If parents have little respect and reverence for the holiness of God, the child will pick up on that quickly. For instance, the nursery can become a place of visiting and gossip for many. While worship is going on, one by one you can see mothers/fathers take their child to the nursery. Children are trained that you act up, you get to go play. Mothers/fathers seem quit content to use this time as catching up on the lastest rather than use it to train in reverence for the Lord. At one congregation, older kids were in the nursery rather than trained to be still and quiet because of the Lord. The fear of the Lord is a heart response and it seems missing today. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction." (Prov. 1:7)

(2) Provide your children with genuine godly love. True godly love is not an emotional love. We have natural emotional love for our children. What happens is that emotional love seems to what lead us rather than godly love. Godly love is a sacrificing love, a love given for the betterment of another. It does not run with emotions, but what is needed at the moment. Read I Cor. 13:4-7 and look at this love at work. Godly love means parents are going to have to walk in the ways of the Lord to know this love. For instance, a child can have a horrible teacher at school. That child may not like the teacher and want to rebel by not doing their work. Emotional love would go and 'stand up' against this teacher. Godly love would train the child to take a right attitude, do the work expected despite how they feel because that is the right response. Doing right in difficulties is what love would do. Our children need to go through these things because it teaches them to have the right attitude when there is no reason to follow through.

(3) Provide a peaceful family life. Many a troubled child comes from a home where godliness and peace are lacking. "Better is a dry morsel and quietness with it than a house full of feasting and strife." (Prov. 17:1) God is a God of peace, not turmoil. Peacemakers are sons of God (Matt. 5:9). "He who troubles his own house will inherit the wind." (Prov. 11:29) Children that find the home in constant upheaval, parents arguing, fighting or going their own ways, will have great difficulty coping with things in their own lives as they grow up. They will never know how to deal rightly in situations (which takes us back to points # 1&2). Where the Lord lives, calmness and peace exist. When husbands/wives live in harmony with the Lord by following His will (I Pet. 3:1-7), that harmony will teach and instruct children how to live. When there are disagreements between husbands/wives, disagreements that are solved God's way end up in peace (Heb. 12:14).

Children with godly fathers/mothers are extremely blessed. Children that have fathers/mothers that pursue the world and the worlds ways to solve problems will suffer great spiritual damage. The church will suffer in the future. People are always seeking answers to raising godly children. How about we use the word of God rightly for a start? The rest will take care of itself.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Red Like Crimson

Have you ever attempted to take a piece of crimson or scarlet colored material and try to dye it white? It is impossible! You can never get out all that dark red color. It is a permanent stain. We sing a song: "Jesus Paid It All". The words of the chorus say this: "Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow." Isaiah spoke the words, "'Come now, and let us reason together,' says the Lord, 'Though your sins are scarlet, they will be white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool."' (Isa. 1:18)

When we we sing such songs or read such Scriptures, it should remind us that we cannot get rid of the stain of sin on our own efforts. Not matter how good one tries to be, how many 'good deeds' you try to do in the name of the Lord, you cannot remove the crimson stain of our ungodliness! People believe if they follow correct rituals in worship, live good lives for the Lord and just be a good person, they will be right with God! That is a self-deceived person.

Only in Christ Jesus can ones sinful stains be washed white as snow! It takes the blood, the blood of Jesus to make us completely clean and white in His sight. The blood of Jesus can take a scarlet stain, sin filled person that is defiled and make the white and pure in the presence of a pure and holy God. In Christ Jesus, the horrible, worst kind of filth we can think of is cleansed. The defiling stain is removed.

That leads me to one question: Do you ever wonder why some can never forgive another? Why do people carry disdain for others who have hurt or offended them? Because they think they believe they are justified and pure in their own eyes and look at the defilement and filth in the life of the one they hold contempt for. In other words, they do not see the cross, the death of Jesus on their behalf, they only see the stain of the other while ignoring their own sinful, unforgiving attitude. What is worse, the one refusing to forgive is stained!

It was so fitting that Jesus had a scarlet robe placed on Him during His sufferings (Matt. 27:28). "Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow."

Monday, April 7, 2008

Keep on going...

I am in Greenwood, Ark. for a meeting. The church here is very kind and desiring of God's word. Over the last few years, they have undergone a tremendous struggle, leading to a large number of people leaving. For those who have remained, about 100, they continue their faith and love in the Lord. They have a preacher who loves the Lord and has a great trait of humility, something I see missing so much.

What have I learned? First, keep preaching the word. So many have already spoken that the word of the Lord is a breath of fresh air. Secondly, I need to warn others that the church is a strong, powerful body but at the same time, it is extremely fragile. It doesn't take much evil to affect many (I Cor. 5:6-9). We need to keep evil out of the church and when members are acting corruptly, it needs to be dealt with to try to save their soul and keep other souls from stumbling. That's the hard part. Sometimes the very ones we are closest to can be the ones involved in sin and we hesitate to say anything about their sin. That's when the real question arises, do you really care about their soul? The church is not about friendship but 'soulship'! It is about making it to heaven, not making friends on earth. That takes a real, genuine love for the brethren to do that. I know at times I have had to put my head on the chopping block, taking blame and ridicule for the ungodly actions of others, being made out to be the bad guy, when in reality, I was loving the people by trying to correct their ungodliness. They were so steeped in sin they could not see see. Sin blinds people. Sin is darkness and darkness blinds so people cannot see where they are going. Many times, I have had to stand alone as far as people are concerned, but I am never alone standing with my Lord. It's tough dealing with brethren sometimes and I must say, there have been times in the recent past, I have contemplated that I might not want to preach anymore. But then the Lord wakes me up and let's me realize that's not the correct move. My wife does too! I still have the struggle trying to help those, who should know the Lord, attack you and make all sorts of accusations. In all, I never try to defend myself. I just let it go and I am sure to those that attack, they see me as accepting blame. The Lord knows better and so do I.

Well, there you have, the struggles of preaching sometime. As the song I sometime sing, "I know the Lord wll find a way for me." May God grant you all wisdom and strength in your walk and may your heart be humble before the mighty hand of God.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Preparing To Leave...

Today I am preparing to leave for a meeting in Greenwood, Arkansas. It has been 5 years since going to Greenwood. Resa never likes meeting/lectureship times for me when I travel about because she is not comfortable to be home alone. But our children really take care of their mom while I am away. As I have been preparing lessons and getting things in order, it reminded me how much effort and time we put into preparing things in our lives. We face deadlines, hurry to get this done and that done. It made me think of our souls. Familes become so covered up with bus...i....ness, running to this with children or running to that event. We find ourselves pulled in so many directions and it seems the Lord gets our leftovers. Then we wonder, why are we not growing like we should? That is something to think about....God bless!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

What Is Fleshly and Spiritual? (part 3)

Jesus defeated sin and the power of sin on our behalf. If we have been united with Him in baptism and raised with Him, we possess His power to overcome. What that means is we no longer have to live and follow our fleshly desires! In fact, one can't walk and live in their flesh and end up saved in the end (Rom. 8:13)! We need a new mind set and we determine if we will walk in the new mind set (Rom. 12:1-2). Jesus became our sacrifice and provided for us complete 100% forgiveness while giving us a new power to rise above the very thing sin used to take us down, our flesh. The question left is: Will we go after this new power?

You have a choice to make, either, walk after your flesh and your desires or walk after the Spirit and His desires. It all depends on your mind set. What is the difference on where you set your mind? The difference between life and death (Rom. 8:6). If our minds run on our personal feelings and how we have been treated or taken advantage of, that's a mind set on the flesh and it brings forth death. (Ever notice how bitterness and resentful attitudes stay with people? That's spiritual death!) If our minds are set on God, reaching to Him and His ways in every aspect, it yields life and peace. How can one be certain where their mind set is? The mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God! (Rom. 8:7) It fights against God and anyone who trys to get them to give up their bad attitudes or do the right thing. For instance, when you are wrong either in attitude or action and someone tries to lead you into the life of God, if you get upset because they are looking out for your best interest, you know your mind set and it's not on God! It is hostile toward God and it might even get to the point where we say, "You can't judge me!" That's a hostile person toward God because they do not want to give up their flesh. The flesh and Spirit are in complete opposition to one another! At that point, there is no life, no peace only death. A person who's mind is set on the flesh refuses to submit and will not yield to the control of God (Rom. 8:7-8). Here is another illustration of the mind set on the flesh: While teaching a class on our attitude toward the governing authorities (Rom. 13), someone challenged that we are not to be in subjection if they are ungodly! I pointed out that Paul is not discussing the godliness/ungodliness of the government but our attitude toward governing authorities. God says they exist because of Him and their authority is from Him. God never approves of rebellion. The individual got angry and lashed out in the class. What does one learn? Their mind set did not bring life and peace but hostility, not willing to accept or sumbit and everyone in the class saw it. By the way, he was the preacher! Even though they are in Christ, they are trapped in the sinfulness of their flesh. Attitudes, behavior and thought processes show one's fleshliness.

When the mind set is on the Spirit and you are in sin or have a wrong attitude, you will humbly let it go and grab hold of God and His desires. Your flesh subsides and will not take you down. You find life and peace. A person in Christ with their mind set on the Spirit will put God's desires and interest ahead of their own. When they encounter someone who has hurt them, they only look for ways to help and not hold grudges or hurts that separate people. They have God's interest first. The first place God will lead you is away from you!!! You get stronger and better at His ways and life and peace become your nature! A mind set on the Spirit will think of ways that glorify God, that will use spiritual ways to promote the things in the church. Not external, feel good or physical attractions to gain people. Spiritual things from God are powerful and invisible! A mind set on the Spirit rises above the normal things that take us down, above the world's way of thinking and approach to human affairs and takes us into the very power of God. I wonder why so many in the church are so weak?

What do you think about? Where does your mind set run from day to day? Do you think about those who have hurt you and how badly someone mistreats you? Do you think about how to take advantage of someone? When you get stirred up, where does your mind go? Do you renew your mind by dwelling on God and His ways? Do you meditate on Scripture? To answer these questions reveals if you are fleshly or spiritual.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

What Is Fleshly and Spiritual? (part 2)

Being "fleshly" is so easy because it is natural. God gave us our natural instincts, natural desires, but God never intended those natural tendencies (including our feelings) to rule our lives. Sin takes a persons flesh and uses it for it's evil purposes. God knows that! When one is baptized into Christ, into His death (Rom. 6), a new person emerges, while the old person is buired and done away with (Rom. 6:6-7). God has no need for our old, sinful ways and thinking. There must be a cleansing and new power involved. He provides that newness in and through Jesus Christ. If one being baptized into Christ does not realize what happened, there will be little changes in their lives.

As a result of being raised with Jesus, there was given a new power to work within, called the Spirit of life (Rom. 8:2). The question that remains is this: will we in Christ go with this new power? That depends on where we set our minds. If we set our minds on our flesh, our natural thinking, feelings and reactions that sin used us to operate in, then death will be the result (Rom. 8:5). (Death is a separation from God!) God is not trying to take away our feelings but He does not want our feelings to be the ruling force in our lives. Feelings are fine, unless we use them to lead our lives, which so many do. In dealing with the deeds of the flesh (Gal. 5:19-21), the majority arise out of feelings!

We now have a choice to make: we can sow to our flesh or sow to the Spirit of life (Gal. 6:7-8). Which ever side we sow to, that will be what emerges in our lives. If we allow our flesh to dominate us, our thinking, our feelings and actions, we will become corrupted and the cleansing power of Jesus will be null and void. The word "corrupted" literally means "to break into pieces". In other words, little by little we are being broken down, piece by piece taken back into sin. It happens a little here and a little there. Let me use one example by using outbursts of anger (a deed of the flesh Gal. 5:20). When your anger gets stirred, you have a choice to make: (1) You can either give in and allow that anger to lead you into outlandish behavior, while sin uses your mouth and actions for it's purpose (that is what is meant by sowing) or (2) You can yield to God, not acting on that anger and allow His power to lead you into His life to do the right and proper thing. One will make you stronger, the other will corrupt you, leading you into death. It all depends on your mind set. One is a fleshly reaction while the other is a spiritual reaction. Does that mean you won't feel the anger? Sure you will! God does not take away our feelings. We need to know what to do with them so because of God and yielding to Him, you will not let that anger be your guide, determining your actions! The more one can yield to God, submitting themselves under His guidance when things are tough, the easier it becomes to overcome in each case. You begin growing more into the likeness of Christ. That's spiritual growth. The fruit of yielding is love, joy, peace and the likeness (Gal. 5:22-23) because you allow your mind and life to be led another direction. You now are reaping the fruit of the Spirit. Your life will begin to settle down and see things more clearly. No games or worldly ways to overcome our anger. No counting to ten, no poping a rubber band on your wrist or going out and kicking a can (or any other object) to get it out of your system to feel better. No attending an anger management class. A simple submitting and giving yourself over to God when you are stirred toward the flesh allowing His power, His life to have a say so. What this means is we have the power available to overcome. God knows we need it and He provides all the necessary help. If the strength and power of God makes no more difference than what we can do ourselves, then why do we need Him? More tomorrow!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

What Is Fleshly and Spiritual? (part 1)

The thoughts some left on fleshly and spiritual were good. It shows that we are learning to see the difference.

Let's begin by defining what we mean by "fleshly". Fleshliness is nothing more than following your natural nature and instincts to determine things. When one sows to their flesh (Gal. 6:7-8), they allow their own feelings or natural thought processes to determine what they do. Fleshliness and spiritual are often contrasted together to help us get a better hold on what it means. In I Cor. 3:1-4, this contrast is great. Paul shows the Corinthian brethren as "still fleshly." They had not moved into being spiritual. What was the telling sign? They were practicing jealousy and strife! Those are two signs of fleshliness. When one is jealous, that is coming from the flesh. When there is strife, fightings and quarrels, that is coming from the flesh. (See Gal. 5:19-21) What is meant by "spiritual"? First, when you look up the word spiritual, there are two thoughts conveyed: (1) It is invisible and (2) It is powerful! God is spirit (John 4:24). He is invisible and powerful. His ways are not natural. A spiritual mind set is a mind set on the things that are invisible from God (that's why it is by faith) and they are powerful from God. A fleshly mind set is a mind set on your feelings, your senses, the visible and they are weak and enslaving.
Here is a good illustration of fleshliness in the church. I was holding a meeting and there was a deacon in the church that approached me. He began taking me from classroom to classroom, showing me the new paint they had applied to the interior of the building in preparing for the meeting. As he walked me through their building, he began sharing with me how important color schemes were to the development and teaching of people and certain colors had a calming effect. That is a mind set on the flesh! He learned it from the world. What about God and His ability and power? The instruction of the Lord is not about "color schemes". We are taking in too much information to guide our lives from a lost, separated world that has no idea of the power of God. We listen to too many that do not have the Spirit of God, excluded from the life of God and they stir our hearts and minds. If you are in Christ, you have the life of God within. The only question is, will you set your mind of the things of God and allow Him to teach and instruct your life? The flesh is external but the spiritual is invisible and powerful things from God and they cannot be mixed! That's why so many fail. Just give it some thought and if you would like to add something or disagree, I am willing to listen. I'll continue tomorrow.