A Body of Idolatry

June 16, 2017 at 1:48 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments
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Romans 12:1 commands us to present our bodies as living sacrifices. If we take this literally, and I think we should, then it will remind us that all our limbs and sensory organs are to be dedicated to serving and glorifying God. If we ignore this command we run the risk of living like idolaters.

Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not: They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not: They have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat.

Psalm 115:4-7

A material idol, designed to act as, or represent, a false god, has a mouth that can’t talk, eyes that can’t see, ears that can’t hear, a nose that can’t smell, hands that can’t pick up anything, feet that can’t walk, and a throat with no sound. And then comes the kicker:

They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them.

Psalm 115:8

These idols are made by the very people who are worshiping them! How can they be so self-deluded?! Imagine praying for deliverance to a little figure that needed you to even carve it into existence. Can people really believe that a god would be dependent upon its own “creator?”

It’s not as far-fetched as it seems. Logic, apart from the wisdom that comes only from the True and Living God, is not our strong suit. In fact, if we do not keep our hearts diligently focused on God, we will quickly fall into delusion and all sorts of idolatry.

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

Proverbs 4:23

Then, pretty soon, we will usurp the use of the mouths that God has given us, and start speaking disrespectfully, rebelliously, and deceitfully.

Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee.

Proverbs 4:24

Next we’ll stop looking for God’s beauty in His creation, and we’ll studiously avoid looking for people who are genuinely needy or who make us feel uncomfortable, and we’ll instead use God’s gift of vision for peeking at forbidden and ugly-but-seductive things.

Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee.

Proverbs 4:25

Before we know it, our idolatrous feet will follow our idolatrous eyes and hearts right off of God’s safe path and into the world’s bramble of unfulfillment, heartache, addiction, danger, and desolation.

Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.

Proverbs 4:26-27

We are poor identifiers of our own idolatry. Most of us think that our common sense would kick in somewhere around the time we started placing offerings into the hands (hands that we ourselves had fashioned!) of idols that could not hold the very things we were trying to give them. But, no, here we are, hopefully knowing somewhere deep down that we – and all of the complex creation around us – were made by Someone infinitely greater than us, yet still trying to give our time, talents, and treasure to man-made idols, such as political parties, houses, cars, electronic devices, investment portfolios, clothes, and entertainment. What a contradictory race of creatures we are, to desire to be “blessed,” but to want to dictate, design, and direct our own trivial blessings, while our Supreme Maker and true source of all true blessings, is relegated to the sidelines of our lives and largely ignored.

Ye that fear the Lord, trust in the Lord: he is their help and their shield. The Lord hath been mindful of us: he will bless us; he will bless the house of Israel; he will bless the house of Aaron. He will bless them that fear the Lord, both small and great. The Lord shall increase you more and more, you and your children. Ye are blessed of the Lord which made heaven and earth. The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord’s: but the earth hath he given to the children of men.

Psalm 115:11-16

A One Thousand Year Flood

October 18, 2016 at 12:59 pm | Posted in The Flood | 3 Comments
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Although the flood which happened in southeastern Louisiana in August, 2016, was declared to be a “1000-year flood,” there is some confusion as to exactly what that meant. Some people were saying it was such a rare catastrophic occurrence, that it was the kind of thing that only happens once every thousand years. Others said it meant that there is only a .001 percent chance of such an event happening in any given year. For those who found themselves wading through three feet of rain-and-river water flowing through their uninsured living rooms, it did not make much difference at that point, other than the meager consolation that, having rolled the meteorological equivalent of snake eyes during their lifetimes, at least now they wouldn’t have to deal with such a problem again.

While it is dubious as to whether or not this makes sense even statistically speaking, Christians, of all people, ought to know better. God – Who controls the weather – does not deal in “odds,” “chance,” “luck,” or blind “fate.” He could bring a flood in 2017, 2018, 2019, and every year thereafter, or He might decide never to allow a mud puddle to form south of the Mason-Dixon line until Jesus comes back. Living in a world that is obviously designed, but subject to apparent randomness in the events that affect it, can cause us, if we are not careful, to forget that the Lord is in control.

The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord.

Proverbs 16:33

He is under no obligation to follow a statistical pattern or to bow down to any so-called laws of probability.

But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.

Psalm 115:3

As faithful Christians, we have the privilege of praying that God would send favorable weather, but we also recognize that He knows best, and we joyfully submit to His supreme, perfectly wise will. Otherwise we run the danger of being “spoiled” by this world’s system, which gives praise to “fortune” or “luck” rather than the sovereign God.

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

Colossians 2:8

More Testing for Puffiness in Your Marriage

July 11, 2012 at 9:57 am | Posted in Biblical Marriage, I Corinthians | 9 Comments
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Last time we looked at some tests to see if you are vaunting yourself or puffing yourself up in your marriage.

Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

I Corinthians 13:4 (emphasis added)

Here is the second half of the ten tests:

Test Six: Do you insist on your spouse taking your side in every outside conflict?

Sometimes even the most prideful people will self-deprecatingly point out that they are not always right. But this is aiming too low. Being the “least sinful” person among a race of sinful people is like being the valedictorian of summer school.

dunce

 

When I admit that I am “not always right,” but I still insist that my wife side with me unquestioningly in every conflict, I am guilty of using God’s daughter to help “puff myself up.”

Then went king David in, and sat before the LORD, and he said, Who am I, O Lord GOD? and what is my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto?

II Samuel 7:18

When I believe that I have reached some exalted state because I somehow deserve it or because I have somehow earned it or because I have somehow been rewarded for being good, I am probably thinking like a vaunting puffer.

Tests Seven and Eight show some of the underlying thought patterns which cause problems in this area of marriage.

Test Seven: Do you need your spouse to acknowledge what you do – or else?

Test Eight: Do you think you shouldn’t have to wait your turn?

Few spouses want to admit to these types of attitudes, but some deeper probing may be in order:

a. Some spouses solve the abhorrence-of-waiting-their-turn problem by implementing a turn-taking system, but then they “over-enforce” the turn-taking.
b. Actions often speak louder than words. Some spouses say they don’t expect to be praised or acknowledged for every little thing they do for their spouses, or for every little sacrifice they make, but one spouse’s actions can show that he or she subconsciously thinks that he/she is the more important one.

Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake.

Psalm 115:1

Marriage is not about getting recognition for ourselves or gratifying our desire for receiving the appreciation of another person. It’s more about glorifying God’s name, and reflecting the truth of Christ’s relationship to and with His Church.

Test Nine: Do you always have to win?

Most of us, if honest, would have to own up to a desire to be the winner in any type of contentious encounter. Some of us would possibly, at times, even acknowledge a temptation to act unfairly (to “cheat”) if it means the difference between being perceived as the “winner” instead of the “loser,” or being the one who is “right” instead of “wrong” in an argument.

It’s easier, in the cold analytical light of this test, to say, “Cheating or playing unfairly is wrong.” But in the heat of a disagreement, we need to be constantly reminding ourselves of Whose glory is at stake in this marriage. Who deserves the credit when I have a chance to succeed? Cheating may give me a victory, but (because it dishonors the name of God) cheating puts me in the horrifying position of appearing to get the “victory” over God.

And seekest thou great things for thyself? seek them not: for, behold, I will bring evil upon all flesh, saith the LORD: but thy life will I give unto thee for a prey in all places whither thou goest.

Jeremiah 45:5

Test Ten: Are you ever dishonest with your spouse?

Real Christian love is always concerned with the Truth. Lack of truthfulness reveals pride when telling my spouse the truth would mean revealing something unfavorable about me. Dishonesty is a key symptom of vaunting ourselves and puffing ourselves up.

How did you do on the ten tests? Were you able to identify any “puffiness” in your marriage? God does not help the puffed up. You do not have to be a Bible scholar or read very far in the pages of Scripture at all to learn this very basic and fundamental fact: The loud and the boastful excite God’s wrath. The “deflated” (no longer vaunting or puffed up) are more empty of self and ready to be filled by God.

He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.

Luke 1:53

If your marriage is empty of pride and vanity, God will fill it with good things. If your marriage is puffy, He might have to deflate it.

Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

James 4:10

If you will “unvaunt” yourself in your marriage, God will lift it up. Then He will vaunt Himself through it, which is right and good.

Darkness Under the Sun

April 23, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Posted in Ecclesiastes | 16 Comments
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King Solomon was looking at life from an earthly, temporal point of view, and he came to these conclusions:

1. Life is vain because of its monotony.
2. Life is vain because of the limits of wisdom.
3. Life is vain because of the limits of wealth.

I gathered me also silver and gold, and the peculiar treasure of kings and of the provinces: I gat me men singers and women singers, and the delights of the sons of men, as musical instruments, and that of all sorts. So I was great, and increased more than all that were before me in Jerusalem: also my wisdom remained with me. And whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them, I withheld not my heart from any joy; for my heart rejoiced in all my labour: and this was my portion of all my labour. Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 2:8-11

Solomon was the richest man in the Bible – maybe of all time. He was the Bill Gates of his day. However, no one can buy his way into Heaven or out of eternity. Somebody once said that if money can’t buy happiness, at least it will allow you to afford your favorite kind of misery. Money can be a valuable tool. You can’t eat cash, but you can buy food with it. You can’t keep warm with it, but you can buy fuel with it. This quote once appeared in the Wall Street Journal: “Money is a universal passport to everywhere except Heaven; and a universal provider of everything except happiness.”

For there is a man whose labour is in wisdom, and in knowledge, and in equity; yet to a man that hath not laboured therein shall he leave it for his portion. This also is vanity and a great evil.

Ecclesiastes 1:21

You may have seen the bumper sticker that says, “He who dies with the most toys wins,” but this is not true. When you go to see God, you won’t be judged for how nice a boat you have, or how impressive your music collection was. The Apostle Paul described life as if it were a race, but that race is not a race to financial security. It is a race to become more Christ-like. The preacher in Ecclesiastes tells us that, not only can we not take it with us, but we can’t control it anymore after we’re gone. Some of the most agonized-over and detailed legal documents are wills and trusts. There is nothing wrong with wanting to provide for your family after you die, but when we spend so much energy trying to make sure our descendants have an easier time of it than we did, we might be doing them a disservice. Sometimes, working to achieve things for ourselves is how God makes us into who He wants us to be.

King Solomon felt that:

4. Life is vain because it has an end.

We know that this is true only in a limited sense.

And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

Hebrews 9:27

The wise man’s eyes are in his head; but the fool walketh in darkness: and I myself perceived also that one event happeneth to them all.

Ecclesiastes 2:14

The idea that we’re all going to die can be a depressing thought. It is one of the reasons why there is so much “escapist” entertainment.

There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God.

Ecclesiastes 2:24

If we are not careful, we will focus so much of our time, our energy, our money, on entertainment, that we will not have anything other than shallow entertainment to offer the people we care about when we find them suffering. Movies, music, television, and pop culture are no substitute for Biblical comfort, counseling, and promises when someone is truly in pain.

However, there is an opposite extreme to mindless entertainment that can also be vain. If we become so fixated on our own sorrows that they swallow us up, we will become “depressed.” There is a plague of depression in our society today. I realize that some of this is caused by actual physical conditions or chemical imbalances in the brain, but a great deal of it comes from being focused only on what’s happening “under the sun.” Without the assurance of a life beyond this world with a kind and loving God, there is a tendency to think, “We know death is coming anyway, so we might as well stop living now and get used to it.” That’s the view “under the sun.” But “over” the sun – “above the sun” – God wants us to enjoy life and have peace and hope and contentment.

But godliness with contentment is great gain.

I Timothy 6:6

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

Philippians 4:11

Ye are blessed of the LORD which made heaven and earth. The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD’S: but the earth hath he given to the children of men.

Psalm 115:15-16

The Lord does want us to have fun – but with Godliness. And He wants us to be content!

What to Do for Your Kids

July 6, 2009 at 9:19 am | Posted in Biblical Parenting | 9 Comments
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A while back, I pointed out three things from the Bible that parents should be for their children: Be an encourager; be an enforcer; be an example.

This time, I want to talk about three things parents should do for their children.

No. 1: Pray for your kids.

The Bible says to pray without ceasing (I Thessalonians 5:17). I know many times when I ask the Holy Spirit to help me know what to pray for, He brings my children to my mind.

When you pray for your children, pray for their safety.

[A Song of degrees for Solomon.] Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.

Psalm 127:1

I can think of numerous times that God protected my children from danger when I wasn’t around to do it.

Pray for their future. I’m even praying for the four jerks out there somewhere that will want to marry my daughters one day, if it’s God’s will that they get married.

Pray for your children to have wisdom.

No. 2: Play with your kids.

Lectures are good. Bible study devotions are good. But one of the greatest areas of training is just in day to day living. Take some time out – spend time with your children. There should not be a difference between “God time” and “real life” in our families. With God’s help, you can make a Bible lesson out of swimming in a lake, hitting a softball, or teaching a teen-aged child how to drive a car.

I have had the chance to visit with a few people on their death beds. These people did not wish they had worked more overtime. They did not wish they had killed one more deer, or caught a bigger bass. They did not wish they had done a better job mowing their grass to keep up with their neighbors. They wished they had spent more time with their kids.

The LORD shall increase you more and more, you and your children. Ye are blessed of the LORD which made heaven and earth. The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD’S: but the earth hath he given to the children of men.

Psalm 115:14-16

God wants us to enjoy our children. Take the time to play with your kids.

No. 3: Pay attention to your kids.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of being too busy for our kids, but even easier to fall into the trap of not having the patience to listen to our kids. “Thanks, Honey, I’ll just stick that coloring sheet in my Bible and look at it later.”

When my patience is being tried by that long story about how Sally said her hair ribbon was yellow when my daughter knew it was really orange, I need to realize that, at that moment, this story is very important to her, and she needs to see that it is important to me, too.

How does God listen when I pray? Is He bored, and wishing I would wrap it up? No, He hears my prayer about finding a parking space just like He hears my prayer that my friend will be healed from cancer.

Dad, it may take fifteen minutes to teach your son how to pull nails with a hammer under your careful supervision, when it would only take you two minutes to do the whole job by yourself. But how excited will your son be the next day, when he tells his friends about it? What will he learn in fifteen minutes about hard work, about being careful, about a dad who’s willing to help him feel like a little man?

What parents should be for their children: Encouragers, Enforcers, Examples.

What parents should do for their children: Pray, Play, and Pay attention.

Next time: What to buy for your kids.

Professing Atheists Despise the Idea of Answering to Their Creator

May 7, 2009 at 11:00 am | Posted in ProfessingAtheists | 9 Comments
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Professing Atheist: Super – the furher gets to make his own rules – why am I not surprised? There goes objective morality.

God is perfect and yet I can be better than him (look, I’m saving kids from burning to death… and God appears to be doing, er nothing?)

Christian: If the fuhrer had God’s power, that WOULD be horrifying, but you are having difficulty because you are too limited in your thinking. There is no danger of God being unjust like the fuhrer. I John 1:5: “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.”

Professing atheists have such a hard time facing reality. When God, in His absolute sovereignty, uses a human instrument or divine providence to save a child from burning to death, they complain because they believe He didn’t save them all. Once again, proving the point: Professed atheism = Willful hatred of God because He can’t be fully explained by the finite mind.

Professing Atheist: Design argument. God did it isn’t an answer, dude – it merely begs the question. It is a bit like saying “the tea pot did it.” How? “It is a magic tea pot.”

Christian: The professing atheist hates God partly because he/she wants to be a little god himself/herself. He/she says, “I’m a little teapot, short (short-sighted – Mark 8:36), and stout (stiffnecked – Acts 7:51), here is my handle (the idol of false intellect which has hands but handles not – Psalm 115:4-7), here is my spout (spouting off uselessly in unbelief – Matthew 6:7), tip me over, and pour me out (his mouth pouring out foolishness – Proverbs 15:2 – and, ultimately, unless he/she receives the gift of God’s salvation by faith, being poured upon – Revelation 16:1).

Professing Atheist: In today’s radio broadcast Big Brother assured the nation that he was indeed a paragon of goodness. He assured his audience that there was no evidence to the contrary, and that if they found any their senses were deceiving them.

Remember – have faith in the party, faith in the cause, faith in the people, and above all faith in Big Brother.

Christian: One day, Jesus of Nazareth stood up in a busy corner of the marketplaces of Capernaum. People were rushing to and fro, not in an imaginary totalitarian society, but in a real time and place where they could be put to death for speaking out against Rome.

This Jesus began to speak openly, and He said a remarkable thing. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) Well over one thousand nine hundred eighty-four years later, those words still ring true.

Professing atheists would like to portray themselves as people who are being oppressed by Christians, but, in reality, they live in such freedom from persecution, that they have to actually seek out Christians who will “force” the truth of Scripture upon them.

Only the Lord knows what was truly on George Orwell’s heart when he died, but history records that his two main concerns were that he be buried near a church and that his body not be cremated. One wonders if he would have had such misplaced anxiety if he had accepted the invitation which followed Jesus’s pronouncement: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-29


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