Recognizing Love Again

Recognizing Love AgainYesterday I was meditating on a bible lesson I had taught the previous night about failure. I sensed a great spirit of hurt in my group, some of it visible on faces.

It occurred to me that some in the room had been hurt while in love. Failing at love can cause you to never want to love again. The hurt can be so devastating that you imagine never recovering. A part of you does not want to recover because it means giving up. That’s only half-true; you may be moving on from a love lost forever, but you’ve not given up on love.

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Joining the Were’s

Men are using ladies’ bathrooms. Government is so corrupt that we willingly support morally corrupt candidates. Society is so debased that it opposes any biblical standards. Christians compromise their beliefs because it is the road less traveled. Is there any hope remaining for this nation? The answer is, of course, yes.

However, for that hope to be realized Americans in general, and Christians specifically, are going to have to understand the root of America’s problems. America is not facing a political or economic problem. If that were the case our country’s issues would have been resolved long ago. America’s national malady is that we are spiritually sick. We no longer, outside and inside the church, allow the Bible to be our moral compass.

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Pleasing God

As Christians, we are not saved by good works; we are saved by grace. Grace is God’s unmerited favor towards us through the substitutionary work of Christ on the cross. He paid for our sins, and when we accept that payment we receive redemption. To redeem something, such as a coupon, it must be acted upon. So we’re not save by Christ’s sacrifice until we see our need for it and then accept it.

However, once we become Christians, our works are very important to God. They are evidence of being a child of God. I’ve written before that a stingy Christian is an oxymoron. We should be the most caring and giving people in society, and for the most part we are. It pleases our Heavenly Father when we do good works:

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Shallow Pleasure

Outside of Islam, the greatest threat to America is our national debt. The amount of money our government spends on trivial and unconstitutional entitlements is the product of a deep-seated malady. Americans have a stuff problem, otherwise known as materialism.

Of course, material goods on their own are not bad. Goods and services produced and provided for are needed for a society to flourish. It is the engine to a free economy. So I am not talking about the private sector when looking at our nation’s woes. I am talking about when government tries to pick winners and losers in a free market economy.

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The Gift of Liberty

Regardless the candidate for president, no man or woman can save America. No man or woman can make America great again. No man or woman alone is trustworthy enough to not have to be under constitutional checks and balances. No man or woman has all the answers to the needs of our nation. That is the description of a king or queen. We threw off the tyranny of king during the American Revolution.

What many voters, regardless the candidate, are seeking from whom they support is some form of kingship or soft tyranny. Our government was designed to not allow one person to have that type of power. Somehow we believe if it is our guy or gal then they will not be corrupted by the power and stay on the straight and narrow. As James Madison once said, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.”

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A False Christianity

You’ve no doubt heard that all religions lead to heaven and worship the same god. If this is true, then Christianity is a lie. Christianity is the only religion where salvation comes through grace alone, by faith in Christ. All other religions require some sort of works to receive salvation. This means Christianity is the opposite of all other religions. Two opposing belief systems can be wrong, or one can be right. However, both cannot be right.

Believers around the world celebrated Christianity’s holiest day yesterday. Most call it Easter; others prefer to call it Resurrection Sunday. Regardless its name, a Risen Savior is the center of the celebration. Many denominations are now rejecting a crucified and risen Christ. This too is a false Christianity. The Bible declares as much:

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Profitable Words

So now the Republican Presidential Primary race has gotten personal, where a political action group opposing Donald Trump posted a tasteless tweet about Mr. Trump’s wife. Mr. Trump responded in kind by threatening Ted Cruz’s wife and then posted a classless tweet about Heidi Cruz. This is why Ronald Reagan once said, “Politics is supposed to be be the second-oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first.”

The nastiness of our national dialogue has descended into the sewer, in no small part because of social media. People who would never think twice about saying something to a person’s face, eagerly posts vicious and vitriolic words. I understand that our politics has always been dirty, but now we’re like pigs in a sty. We no longer notice the mud.

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Despairing of Relief

Author and Pastor John Ortberg tells the story of when he first began his preaching ministry, no less than five minutes into his sermon, he would pass out cold. He would just faint right in the middle of his message. He jokingly says this is not a good attribute for an aspiring preacher. Thankfully he’s overcome this tendency, although the feelings do arise at times.

While physically fainting can be an intimidating condition to deal with, spiritual fainting is an even greater obstacle to overcome. Whenever tribulation comes, we can either fight through it or faint because of it. It all depends on our spiritual strength:

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Rest for Our Souls

One thing I’ve learned about other Christians and myself during this election cycle is too often we see things through our own eyes instead of eyes of faith. We fear what man is and can do to us, thereby no longer fearing God and rejecting His will for our lives. We trust in our own strength and wiles instead of seeking deliverance and forgiveness from God.

Some have given up. They believe there is no hope for America and are waiting for God’s judgment to fall on our nation. This defeatist attitude comes from weariness and a misplaced focus on man. Too many churches across America have checked out of society to the point that the church as a whole is no longer sought out for its take on current issues.

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Facing Our Sins Squarely

One of the more concerning things I’ve heard Donald Trump say is that he has never sought forgiveness from God because he’s never seen a need to. This is not exclusive to Mr. Trump; I myself once believed this. So did most Christians before they saw their need for Christ. As much as I needed Jesus Christ to save me, so does The Donald and all who believe as him. This is not my political opinion; this is what the Bible teaches:

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” (1 John 1:8-10)

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The Rest We Need

Work and responsibilities take up the majority of our awaken hours. Whether we are going to a job or raising a family, the responsibilities of our labors are always before us. It is easy to get caught in the rat race, even though we are not rats. If we allow it, toiling the day away ends up being the sum of who we are. Solomon warned against this:

“It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows; for so He gives His beloved sleep.” (Psalm 127:2)

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Opposing the Truth Instead of Promoting It

In this election season, like never before in my lifetime, religious freedom is under attack and promises are being made by many candidates to protect it. While this might be comforting to some, the track record of political promise keepers is reason for doubt. Even if we do elect a president who will defend religious liberty, eventually Christianity will be persecuted worldwide. This is not my prediction; Jesus Christ predicted this:

“You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles.” (Matthew 10:18)

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The Greatest Thief of Joy

I know people who make worrying an Olympic sport. I don’t mean to insult those who worry, but I want those who are habitual worriers to lean in a little closer and listen carefully. Never in the Bible are we told to worry; quite the opposite. Throughout both the Old and New Testaments we are told to “fear not” and “do not worry.” When we are commanded to do something and we do the opposite, we sin.

No doubt none of you worriers consider yourselves a sinner for this reason. I understand that, but just as important as overcoming sin, I want you to realize that worry steals your joy and affects your health. The Apostle Paul was a man greatly persecuted for his faith and in fact he wrote the following words from a Roman jail:

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Abandoning What We Know

Anger and fear are two emotions that can overtake our lives and bring us to destruction. There are cases of righteous anger and healthy fear, but usually those are not what consume us. Our imaginations can be preoccupied with fret, worry, and thoughts of revenge that lead us down the wrong path. Those paths always lead to wickedness:

    “Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of evil. Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn away from it and pass on.” (Proverbs 4:14-15)

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A Terror to Ourselves

The devil does a good job of convincing us to sin through temptation. After we sin, he does an even better job on us by getting us to believe the lie that God would never forgive such a horrible sin. If that doesn’t work, Satan will try to convince you that your sin isn’t that bad, and that God is just trying to keep you from enjoying life to its fullest. It’s literally the oldest trick in the book; the Bible that is:

    “Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made…For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:1a, 5)

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The Unbecomingness of Worldly Ambition

Ambition is not a bad thing. Ambition is what motivates us to set and reach goals. However, worldly ambition is quite another thing. Worldly ambition can make us overly self-confident, deceitful, and not fit for the kingdom. A Christian who is driven by worldly ambition is an oxymoron. Jesus explains:

    “You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” (John 13:13-17)

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The Refiner’s Fire

Imagine living your life as though God is always watching you. What would your life look like? You might think I’m being silly because we know God is always watching. However, I didn’t say imagine knowing God is always watching you. Imagine living your life as though God is always watching you.

Having head knowledge doesn’t always translate to heart knowledge. If that were true, I think most of the problems facing humanity would disappear. We live our lives as though God is not watching, otherwise we would not commit a large majority of our sin. We consciously live our lives as though God is too far away to notice.

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Altered Plans

If you were to put your ear to the future, that crashing sound you would hear is 1 out of 4 New Year’s resolutions being broken. The amazing part of that statistic is that it is that low, even though only 45% of Americans actually make resolutions. So why do we fail so frequently? We fail at shaping our futures because life happens.

Imagine setting up a business venture or even a mission trip. You have your plan all set, you’ve even raised money and hired a staff. Then while you’re just getting ready to launch, you have a dream in which God is telling you to not go forward, but in an entirely different direction. Would you obey or would you fret about altering your already set plans? The Apostle Paul actually faced a similar situation:

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Sending Heaven to Earth

If you’re like my family, one of the best Christmas traditions is watching “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” We especially like the part where Charlie Brown screams out during play rehearsal, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?” Linus then asks for the lights to be dimmed and he quotes Luke 2:8-14. Most call this the Christmas story.

Some like to say remember the reason for the season and might even refer to the above passage in the Bible. Jesus is the reason for the season and the “good tidings of great joy” indeed put Christmas in the light which it belongs.

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Seeking My Own Desires

When I want to get my own way, I make sure no one is in my way. What I mean is I don’t seek the counsel of others; in fact, I avoid it. The Bible warns against such foolishness:

    “A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; he rages against all wise judgment.” (Proverbs 18:1)

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