What have we lost sight of?

In our world, whether it is a religious belief or one which is based in science and reason, it seems that many have lost sight of our past which came from persecution of how we worship or rather how our ancestors did. Have we lost sight of those historical documents and ideas from only a few hundred years past? Why is it that we are embracing philosophy and teachings which don’t have a basis or foundation solid enough to stand up to the Truth?

I know, many people don’t like God’s Truth because they can’t refute it and they can’t truly come up with a “pseudo-truth” to replace it with. False truth like false religions is just that…false. They are very much like a puff of smoke, lingering for a moment and then gone with only a faint trace left behind. Yet, God’s Word and His Truth has withstood the test of time and of those who have tried very hard to get rid of it!

Business and life both need truth in some form. Honesty in business is necessary because without it you are a swindler and a cheat. The Truth of God’s Word is necessary in life and all of its situations, good and bad, because it gives us a foundation to stand on and hope that we will have victory in some way in our life. Consider Solomon and his wisdom.

He became king after his father, David, passed on into eternity. The first prayer which he prayed after becoming king was not for wealth or long life, but for wisdom enough to rule God’s people. Knowledge and wisdom are different sides of the same coin in some respects. You have to have one to get the other and although trial and error will produce wisdom, knowledge will get you there a bit sooner if you will heed the warnings which it produces.

If you don’t listen to the voice of wisdom which speaks about the lessons learned into your soul, then you are foolish. While it is true that experience is a good teacher, sometimes she can be very harsh as well, even downright dangerous at times. Business leaders and workers need to learn from experience at times, but the wisdom gained from God’s Word can save you much heartache and anguish if applied carefully and with prayer.

Proverbs is a good example of knowledge and wisdom contained in one book and should be required reading in schools, although in today’s political climate it would be incorrect to do so. The link that is provided is the beginning of the book of Proverbs and it only has thirty-one chapters, so you could read one per day and get through it in a month. The wisdom contained in it though, is invaluable in life and business as well. I encourage anyone who has an interest in either to read it and pray about it and then read it again. You will be blessed by it.

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Instant conclusions

In our society, we draw conclusions about everything and most of the time we do it immediately. Especially when it comes to violence in a public place. Writers for many publications are disavowing any responsibility when it comes to owning the reason for any crime which has a violent outcome. In spite of our collective ideas of terrorism, whether it is done by a person of color or not, we still tend toward segregation of blame.

If you are of a certain religion then you are radicalized. If you are African-American then you are angry, about what doesn’t seem to matter, but that is what the pundits on “news” programs label people as. But when the person is white, they are labeled as insane and a gun nut or even disturbed because of PTSD. Yet, many of them bought their weapons legally with background checks and apparently passed those checks multiple times.

Why do we or at least some in America make these snap judgments about each other and about people who buy firearms and use them. It is true that we only think these things when some person uses a firearm to take lives in a way that is inconsistent with society or its norms. But honestly, any life taken is one which was taken too soon! Murder is against the law of man and God as well! It doesn’t matter if you kill someone with a knife or a gun or a bomb, murder is still against God’s law!

What can make someone snap to the point of shooting at people just because they are convenient targets? I will never understand the kind of crazy that sounds like!

Was God there? Yes, in the first responders who came to the aid of those in danger. He was there with the police who stormed the hotel and found the killer who was taking lives like targets on a range. Yes, God was there and He is still there giving comfort and strength to families and friends and to those who are recovering! We all need to pray for the victims and for our country because there could be another person who may snap and begin to do this somewhere else.

Seek Him out in all things and look for God in every place where you are because He is there, sad though He may be because of our intent and because of the apathy that is in our society today.

 

Life is….

Why in the world would I write this post? Nobody is going to read it!

I hope that little prophecy doesn’t fulfill itself. God has given each of us a part to play in this world and we have to play it. In some way we usually do fulfill God’s will for our lives. We may not realize it at the time but since God is in control of everything in the universe, He can move people and circumstances around so that His purposes are done.

follow ChristWhy do I bring this up at this time? Because, we have pushed God and any mention of Him out of public life and education. We have turned away from religion and from being a Christian nation, not collectively but in general. For some reason our society still tries to identify as a Christian nation, but mostly the population wants nothing to do with God or Christianity.

Life is…funny that way. We like the idea of being Christian but in practice most of America wants very little involvement with it. We attend services when a family member or friend dies or some tragedy happens and we may pray when our life is going downhill fast, hoping that Someone will hear our prayer. If our life levels out a bit, we count ourselves lucky and move on. We don’t even consider that God may have fixed our problem in order to get our attention, but we don’t give it to Him.

God loves humanity in general and each person in particular and He does so at a depth that we can’t understand, yet most of us don’t want anything to do with the God we find in the Bible. We create a god which fits our lives. One which we are comfortable with in our minds and One which only requires us to do what we are comfortable with. When we do this we carry that god with us everywhere because he doesn’t ask much of us and we don’t have to do anything except praise him.

The problem is that our “god” is NOT God. We created him and we pray to him but this god is only a god in our mind. He doesn’t occupy a throne in Heaven and he didn’t create the Universe or anything in it. We fool ourselves into thinking that our god is the God of the Bible and that is why we are deceived in so many ways…until we really do confront Him in a church that preaches from the Bible and we find that our god isn’t God.

Don’t turn away from the True Creator and God! Learn more about Him. Seek Him out and find your place in His Kingdom because your god doesn’t have a kingdom. Your version of god is Satan, even though you don’t think so. God loves you more than you can imagine so don’t give up on your Creator because He has never given up on you!

Be something…

LoveCoversAll

As this picture shows, be patient and kind without being selfish and without being blind. If you have the faith to move mountains but don’t have the Love of Jesus in your heart, then you have nothing….at all.

Something to think about during these stressful times.

Are you independent?

IndependantTogetherIn our society, especially American society, we are encouraged by movies and family many times from childhood to be independent. Don’t depend upon anyone. Do it yourself or learn how to do it yourself so you won’t depend on someone else. All of this is good advice up to a point. But what do you do when life throws a wrench into your life, like a death in the family or a disease that isn’t easy to cure or live with? Being independent and on your own doesn’t seem like such a good idea at this point, does it?

Depression is also one of those “monkey-wrenches” which can throw you for a real loop! Man or woman, married or not, military, police, or firefighter or just coming out of your teen years, depression doesn’t discriminate at all! In fact, peer pressure and job stress or stress from a death or dying family member just makes it more intense.

I just performed a graveside service for a good friend and family member recently. It was hard, but God provided the strength to get through it. My point in writing this today is not to recount that experience but to focus on how people, men specifically, handle their independence. We usually have friends while going through elementary and high school and while in college. But, when college is over we usually get down to the business of life. Jobs, maybe marriage and children, although sometimes not in that order, particularly in today’s so-called “modern” age.

The problem facing men today is that many of us grew up without a strong father figure in our lives. Some of us didn’t have a father around at all. Some of us only had a grandfather and he tried to do the best he could, but he was afraid of possibly running us away if he got too strict with our upbringing. Some people say that this isn’t really a problem, but if you look at the population of our prison systems and talk to many of them, I think you would find that most, if not all, had no true father figure in their lives.

Also being independent as we are taught to be tends to cause us to push through life without a close friend. We don’t make friends as men, we make acquaintances. People that we know at work, but not outside of work. I mean, do you know a friend’s phone number that you could call if you needed to talk? Would you actually call them if you do know their number?

This is the problem which men face in our world today. Women tend to make friends very easily by comparison. Scientists say that it is because of evolution. I say it is because women share the job of raising children all the way back to the time of Eve, when she had daughters to help her. Later, as the population grew, the women of the village would gather to keep up with the children and wash clothes and other chores which needed to be done. They got to know each other.

Men only gather when it is time to hunt or to defend the village from marauders, or some other “manly” job such as that. When the hunt is over or the fire is put out, we tend to break up and go our separate ways. Living life alone. If we don’t have a family, that can be deadly. Seek out friendships with other men. Start a Bible study at church or in your home with them men of the church. Have a breakfast or a BBQ with some friends. Get to know some of the men who live around you. Because…you never know when you might need their help or they might need yours.

There will be another post on this topic on thelivingmessage.com later so as they say on TV, stay tuned.

No one to talk to

men-and-depression-16-638I have no one to talk to. I am a preacher by calling but that’s not all. I am a father and a husband too.

The words which I preach come from the Bible but it seems to be the least interesting to those in attendance. The Bible just doesn’t hold people’s interest today, unless you can bring flashy performance and video into your sermon too. At least, that is what some churches do

Nobody cares to know how it feels. Some days after a sermon it feels like I have been beaten with a stick. Then there are some days it feels as if everything went right.

The only people who I can talk to about this is Jesus and my family, because nobody else cares, except I don’t want to burden them with my depression, my demons, my feelings.

I am not alone in this of course. Many pastors go through depression, sometimes very deep. C.H. Spurgeon experienced depression so deep that it laid him low for days at a time.

1 Peter 1:6: “Wherein ye greatly rejoice though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations.” The heaviness which Peter spoke of was depression and heaviness of heart, during a time when the church was beginning to feel persecuted later in the first century. 

Sometimes people either don’t want to hear any truths from the Bible or they only want to hear good tidings which make them feel good about their lives. When you tell people the truth about their actions or anything that they don’t want to hear, then they turn away from you and your message. Many of God’s prophets in time past went through entire seasons, decades even, in which they were not heard or ignored because the people didn’t want to hear it.

In the world around us today, these same feelings are evident. From the government in Washington, DC to little towns all around the nation and all over the world it seems that much of what the people hear is nonsense. The news which is reported is about nit-picking and something which someone tweeted last week. If there were any true ground-breaking news, it seems to get swept under the heading of “other news” and not as a headline.

Seek out God and His Wisdom while it can be found because in the days and weeks and years to come, the governments may require that all of His Word be burnt and that Christianity be muzzled and fearfully spoken of.

 

people are never the enemy

In wartime and peacetime, this is one little bit of wisdom which never is heard, I wonder why is that? People really aren’t the enemy no matter what type of conflict it may be. Sometimes it is a religious war or conflict and it affects people of all ages, but the people aren’t the enemy and they aren’t the reason that the conflict is going on. It is usually because of a doctrine or something which was said about someone, maybe taken out of context, but once it is said it can’t be taken back.

GodisNearNo, people are not the real enemy. Satan uses people to attack others in subtle ways at times, but the attack usually works because of something that was said or maybe it was written somewhere. The hurt and pain caused by a word or a sentence can last for a lifetime and the retaliation for those words hurts for the same amount of time. Yet, it doesn’t matter what is said afterward. It won’t matter how much was said prior to the pain. Because once that happens, whatever it might be, all of the good is forgotten and will never be remembered again.

No amount of money or time or prayer will ever fix or even lessen the pain caused by a word or phrase which was said at the wrong time or in the wrong way. The pain which comes back toward the one who caused this in the first place will never go away either. Nobody will ever let the community or the church or their friends forget what happened. At least until Jesus comes again. I can’t tell you how that will fix things because I am not Him, but somehow He will do something which will heal the hurt and the pain.

That is what I am looking forward to, regardless of the amount of time that I have left on this Earth.

Depression

1623771_736809902997332_1536594980_nLife does have its ups and downs but sometimes the downs are a whole lot deeper and harder to get out of. Pastors are expected to be perfect at times and that expectation makes it harder to handle. I know that we, as pastors, are not perfect. We have our faults. I happen to have a brain injury from many years ago which is still causing me problems, but I haven’t told anyone about it other than my family. Why? Because it is one of those things which people think is just a story or an excuse. There is no outward appearance of injury and it doesn’t show up very often but when it does, it can be shocking to anyone around me.

When it happens I get angry for no apparent reason. This anger is more akin to rage which has no reason or purpose, like a pot left on the stove with the top on which boils over. My mood swings wildly on some days and then I may go for weeks without any depression or anger.

The answer to “How did you get this injury?” is this: I had given platelets at a blood bank one day and I was on the way home. I stopped to get a drink and a sandwich and right after I had poured a cup of coffee, I suppose I passed completely out. When I came to, I was lying on the concrete floor of the gas station with two or three EMT’s around me. I passed out a few more times before getting to the hospital and while in the ER. After about six hours or so, a doctor came in and told me that he has stitched up a cut on the back of my head and I had a skull fracture which went from the back of my head almost to the front.

My personality changed after this and I never knew exactly why, until they began talking about NFL players who had experienced concussions and the effect it was having on them. My life since that time has been one of, as I said at first, highs and lows on an emotional scale. Thankfully, my wife has been supportive and understanding even when she didn’t know what was happening or why. I don’t become violent, but my anger sounds like I could kill someone, although mostly it is aimed toward myself since I don’t have a way of stopping it from showing up.

Why am I writing this? As a form of therapy I suppose, but mostly because I need your prayers. It seems that reading scripture and having people pray for me helps far more than anything else could. I am sure they could put me on some drugs which would likely help, but I wouldn’t be able to be an effective pastor like that I don’t think.

So, when I say that I understand how depression and mood swings and anger affect our lives, I really do know. I just don’t bring it out into the open much because of the stigma that it brings out in people or the way that others treat the person who admits this.

If you need prayer or just someone to vent to, feel free to let it loose in the comments. With God’s strength and His healing us from within, each of us can get through each day, one at a time. Read Psalm 23, 24, and 51 for inspiration and help during these times.