Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Why have we allowed ourselves to be dumbed down?

I want to start with a bold statement.  I wonder if our being dumbed down  has become the ultimate tool of Satan.  Today as I researched a topic the Lord had on my mind I read a sermon by one of the greats (Spurgeon).  It occurred to me that if a pastor today spoke in such a way he would be fortunate to have a handful of attenders.  There was such depth to the sermon with no attempt to simplify the message.  I immediately thought about how often the excuse is used that the Bible is too hard to understand.  Really?

I have at times fallen for this same line of thinking but can you honestly say that?  Reading is a tremendous gift that we take for granite and squander.  I believe that our comprehension fails because we fail to exercise this incredible gift.  Exercising this gift then exercises our brains so that we might use them more effectively.  Nothing scientific here. . . just some rambling thoughts.  However, I wonder how this influences all of our decisions or even lack of making a decision.  Politics is an example.  We believe what we are told and without any intelligence cast a vote. The damage is done. However, that is not the biggest loss but rather part of the result of our biggest loss.

Since we have decided that the Bible is too hard or possibly not entertaining enough we miss out on our relationship with Christ.  I understand from experience how easy it is to give this us.  We think so selfishly that we focus on our own folly with just a passing (sad) thought to what we know we are missing. So life is more difficult, we make bad decision and worst of all we miss so many opportunities.

Truly I must take all of this thinking to task.  Some parts of the Bible are difficult but much of it even a child can comprehend.  As for entertainment. . .have you read the Bible lately?  Parts of it are almost too much to bear.  It is full of excitement, adventure, romance, rebellion, heros, princesses and the list goes on.

Our Lord God handpicked what to tell us and how we should hear it.  He knew our every need and desire. How could we not want to know all He says? It is amazing that is only a book and not a library of books.

To the present, we complain about our political situation and economics in the USA but we have yet to take the simple steps to fix them. There is one way and only one way. "If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14

God is willing to forgive and heal our land!!!! How could we not want that?  The Bible has story after story about nations having success and abundance when God's hand was on them and failing miserably the minute He removed His hand.  Hebrew 12 says:

“My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord,
Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;
For whom the Lord loves He chastens,
And scourges every son whom He receives.”

Yes, God disciplines those He loves. Not because He is harsh but because we need it just as a child does.  Otherwise, our selfishness would win. So will you allow Satan to win? Will you allow Him to dumb you down?  Or will you dust off that precious book and find His great stories of victory and instructions.  It is the living breathing Word that can speak to you every single time you read it. Perhaps you will even learn to love to read!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Gas Prices and Despair

As we watch gas prices rise, it would be easy to despair.  After all, we depend on it every day to get to work, go out to eat, go shopping, go go go go go. . . . Not only that, but from my limited understanding I realize that gas prices effect other aspects of our economy as well.  But I want to challenge you to take a step back.  All the way back to your home and your personal life.  Yep, make it about you.

I think we are looking at it all wrong as Christians.  Yes, the economy does matter.  But what about you and how you are managing your economy.  Take a personal inventory of all you have. . .a home, food, clothes, car, heat, air conditioner, numerous toys, etc. But then make it even more personal. . .health, ability to read this article, ability to write, ability to talk,  family, friends, etc (continue your inventory with all the talents/gifts God has given you).

Do you realize you have been given much? Everything we have, even our breath (Genesis 2:7), belongs to God.  They are all on loan to us.  All that He gives, He may take away at any point.  Often we feel depressed and have a hard time dealing with things not going easily. The truth is that easy was not ever promised to us. In fact, God promised the opposite. When Adam and Eve sinned, that sin caused horrible curses to be upon the earth and our bodies.  Have you truly considered the reality of that sin in our world?  If so, have you considered that despite that sin God has provided and continues to provide all that we need.

But back to all that God has loaned us.  There is a story in the Bible where God graciously has shown us what He expects.  It talks about being given to according to your abilities, the expectation of handling it well, and the discipline for not.  Here is the story from Matthew 25:14-28 for you to enjoy:

“Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’

21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’

23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’

26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

28 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

There is so much to be learned from these scriptures.  But I will try to stick to the point at hand. To each a portion was given according to his abilities (breath, time, talents, money, family, home, food, health, etc) and he was expected to grow it from there.  Losing it was not an option and simply maintaining it was not an option.  He was expected to be a good steward of what had been loaned to him.

I believe that is also what God is calling us to do. We must be good stewards of all He has given us. Otherwise, why would He give it. He gives us more than we need so that we may be a blessing to others. So that we may help those in need or use our talents to serve in ministry.  The list could go on and on.

But I fear in our race to collect all the things we want and find time to use them all, we have forgotten all that is important.  The time we have on this earth is so short as compared with eternity.  The Bible says, From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. Luke 12:48

So with that I ask. . .

1) Where does most of your money go?

2) How do you spend your free time?

3) How do you use your gifts and abilities to serve others?

I am deeply convicted over this lesson. I realize my focus has been blurry because I was trying to focus on the wrong things. How about you?