Pots and Kettles

If you are…ahem…at least ‘middle aged’, like I am, you have heard the phrase, ‘That’s like the Pot calling the Kettle black’.

It’s an idiom for hypocrisy–when person #1 accuses person #2 of doing the very thing that that person #1 is actually guilty of.

I always wondered: Where do phrases like that come from? According to my ‘extensive research’ (Urbandictionary.com and Wikipedia.com), it arose from centuries ago when people cooked over an open fire. They would use lead pots and copper kettles. Afterward they would clean and polish the kettles…but leave the pots untouched. This resulted in the pot becoming increasing sooty and black. It the pot were to look at the kettle and accuse it of being dirty, all it would actually be seeing is its own reflection.

 

Today in this world (especially in America) there is a whole lot of ‘Pots’ calling a great number of ‘Kettles’ black.

…and before you assume that you’re the shiny one, there’s a good bet that you’ve got some ‘soot’ on you.

So do I.

We all have a worldview–a point of view from which we interpret events in this world. That’s normal and fine. However, we have an increasing tendency to assume the worst in those who see things differently than us…and we tell them so, in Tweets, Facebook posts, or Blogs.

While it may be a good thing that we’re expressing our opinions, it doesn’t take a social scientist’s study to see that the net effect in our culture has been a coarsening of discourse. What used to be an occasional debate and disagreement has become a 24-hour-a=day, 7 day-a-week Twitter war, where each person tries to get a better ‘mic drop comeback’ to their opponent. Mic DropAll the while, relationships, families, and even our society is being ripped apart.

The result? We find ourselves increasingly marginalized and separated into smaller and smaller groups, where we share our ‘offenses’ that we’ve taken from others.

The thing that unites us is…division!

The ‘Left’ accuses the ‘Right’ of being ‘hatemongers who are power-hungry’, and the ‘Right’ accuses the ‘Left’ of being ‘anarchists who morally divisive’. One claims that the ‘other’ started it, and the other replies ‘did not–you did’!

Sort of sounds like a child’s playground argument, doesn’t it?

It doesn’t have to be this way!

Proverbs 26:20-21:

“Without wood a fire goes out;
    without a gossip a quarrel dies down.
As charcoal to embers and as wood to fire,
    so is a quarrelsome person for kindling strife.”

 

Now, we have increasing animosity in the news. Terrorism in the mailboxes…violence against a synagogue…riots in Seattle–and that’s only in America over the past week!

Soon, we have an election.

I (along with many) are so tired of the commercials. It’s almost comical to stick through one commercial break in a news program. In just one commercial break–one commercial accuses the Republican, and the next commercial accuses the Democrat–of the same thing!

Question: Where will this end?

Truthful answer: We don’t know. It depends…on us! You and Me!

It is very possible that we’ll have increasingly violent attacks on Politicians, Religious institutions, and the very fabric of our nation.

…or, we can repent of our sinful pride, and seek to be peacemakers instead.

Will we–You and I–continue to throw logs on the fire?

Will we resort to childish ‘you started it’ arguments, or will we challenge ourselves to Rise Above, and seek respectful discourse, assuming the best about the other person along the way?

Some of you reading this right now have already answered ‘yeah, but…’.

STOP! Just STOP!

The enemy of our souls is fomenting an increase in selfishness and hostility, and it’s not going to end well!

That’s why it is CRUCIAL for those who are children of God, by faith in Jesus, that we stand up and love others…as we should. It is crucial that we Christians live out the things we say we believe and show the love that we’ve graciously been given. It is imperative that we remember that we are NOT ‘of this world’ and that our #1 priority is living for the glory of God–and pointing others to our eternal future, inviting them to come along.

1 Peter 2:9-17: 

“But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.

“Once you had no identity as a people;
    now you are God’s people.
Once you received no mercy;
    now you have received God’s mercy.”

Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.

For the Lord’s sake, submit to all human authority—whether the king as head of state, or the officials he has appointed. For the king has sent them to punish those who do wrong and to honor those who do right.

It is God’s will that your honorable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you. For you are free, yet you are God’s slaves, so don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil. Respect everyone, and love the family of believers. Fear God, and respect the king.”

THIS is what we were called to–not mud slinging…and not accusing others of the very sins that we, ourselves are committing.

They’ll know we are Christians by our love!

As for me, I am trying to raise the level of discourse with those who don’t see things the way I do.

I invite you all–Christian or not–to join me!

 

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Foolish or Wise? Which Will It Be?

There are no shortage of ‘opinions’ today.

People seem to grow more ‘opinionated’ every day…and show it–with gusto!

Social Media has ushered in a ‘coarsening’ of those opinions (in my opinion). 🙂

Having an ‘opinion’ is not necessarily good…nor is it necessarily bad!

One thing we can all agree on, however, is that ‘just because I think it, doesn’t mean it’s right–or certainly smart, wise, or ‘right’.

There are many people who are ‘spouting off’ their opinions–from the most powerful to those with a very small circle of influence.

Influence, however, does not make one ‘wise’. Because you may have ‘Followers’, that doesn’t mean that you have ‘wisdom’.

How can I know?

The Scriptures provide the answer. The book of Proverbs, by itself, is a great guide.

Even one chapter–Proverbs 18–provides much to learn from.

“A fool find no pleasure in understanding, but delights in airing his own opinion.” (verse 2) 

“He who answers before listening–that is his folly and his shame.”(v. 13)

“The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge; the ears of the wise seek it out.” (v.15)

Other chapters of Proverbs speak to this too:

“The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.” (15:2)

“A wise person is hungry for knowledge, while the fool feeds on trash.” (15:14)

The point is that simply ‘going off’ and ‘venting’ is not ‘Wisdom’. Any ‘fool’ can do that. Any fool can “feed on trash”…and we all know that there’s LOTS of ‘trash’ to choose from!

So, how can I know? How do I know true ‘wisdom’? How do I know if I have it, or if those I listen to have it?

Again, the Scriptures provide the answer.

“Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.”–Proverbs 1:7

If you are trying to be ‘smart’ or ‘wise’, but do not fear (revere, worship, stand in awe) of God, you may be many things. You may be learned, you may be experienced, you may be well-schooled, but you are not “wise”.

True ‘Wisdom’ must…simply must…come from God, who is the only truly ‘Wise’ One there is!

“If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind. But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.” (James 3:13-18)

Don’t settle for the ‘wisdom’ of this world–that is a dead-end street.

Instead, go to the Lord for true Wisdom.

He will guide you, keep you on track, and help you know who’s ‘opinions’ are worth listening to…and who’s aren’t!

No Rest for YOU!

One of my favorite ‘Seinfeld’ episodes from years ago was called ‘Soup Nazi’. There was a chef in New York who was very temperamental, and IF you wanted soup from him, you had to make sure to conduct yourself according to his ‘code’ while in his shop…otherwise you’d here the phrase, “No soup for YOU!”, and you’d get kicked out. Soup Nazi

Fortunately for us, God’s approach is very different than that, however, many don’t understand that. In fact, many–outside the Church, and even inside of it–believe God to be like that temperamental chef, and if we ‘mess up’, He’s going to say something like ‘No Rest for YOU! No Salvation for YOU! No Grace for YOU!’

The truth is that, IF it were up to us–our heart and behavior–we would stand condemned. Not because God is irrational or moody, but because we have rebelled against His righteous, holy standards. By ourselves, we can do nothing to change that.

The Scriptures make it clear: Romans 3:23: “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”; Isaiah 53:6: “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way”; Ephesians 2:1: “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins…”

That’s the ‘bad news’ of the Gospel.

Fortunately for us, however, God didn’t let it end there.

Instead, He provided for One–Jesus–to be the ‘Atoning Sacrifice’ for our sin, and to earn our forgiveness…the Perfect One substituting Himself for the imperfect ones…the Righteous One paying the price of us, sinners.

Romans 3:23-24:for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

Isaiah 53:6: “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Ephesians 2:1-5: As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time,gratifying the cravings of our flesh[a] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”

That’s the Good News of the Gospel!

Here’s the crucial…life-changing…ETERNAL Truth that YOU need to deal with:

God loves you and wants to welcome you in…but you need to repent of your sin and receive His forgiveness, by faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ.

God wants us to have ‘Rest’…real, eternal rest!

‘Yes–Rest for YOU!

But…sadly, many of us would rather try to figure out our own answers.

We try to either: 1) Write God, Himself, off as an ‘invention’ of people who were more ‘primitive’, and less ‘enlightened’ than we are; 2) Convince God (and ourselves),  that we’re ‘not that bad’ and that we don’t really need His forgiveness or Jesus’ sacrifice; or 3) Show God that we’re going to try to ‘straighten up and fly right’, and that we’ll just try harder.

We invent ways to make ourselves righteous, hoping to placate Him.

This is nothing new.

The people of Israel, who should have known better, did it continually.

They would try to ‘figure out their own answers’, yet they’d miss God completely. Therefore, they’d be disciplined by God–out of His love, and for their own good–to bring them back to Himself.

He–their loving God and Heavenly Father–wanted to show them love and compassion…but it’s as if they said “NO!” “No Rest for ME!”

Isaiah 30:15-18:

“In repentance and rest is your salvation,
    in quietness and trust is your strength,
    but you would have none of it.
16 You said, ‘No, we will flee on horses.’
    Therefore you will flee!
You said, ‘We will ride off on swift horses.’
    Therefore your pursuers will be swift!
17 A thousand will flee
    at the threat of one;
at the threat of five
    you will all flee away,
till you are left
    like a flagstaff on a mountaintop,
    like a banner on a hill.”

18 Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him!”

We’re pretty similar to them.

We try to figure out our own answers…our own ‘solutions’ to our personal and societal problems. We figure that, if we can just pass the right laws, put the right safeguards in place, elect the right politicians, then we can ‘have rest’.

Yet, this will never be the case–as a society, or as an individual.

You and I CANNOT have real ‘Rest’ apart from Jesus the Christ…because, apart from Him, we remain dead…separated from God.

The GREAT news?

We don’t have to stay there!

Through repentance and faith, we can be forgiven–and have New Life, in Jesus!

Then–and only then–can we hope to hear, ‘Yes! Rest for YOU!’

 

 

What Are YOU Here For?

Why do YOU exist?

Most of us never think about this.

We go through our days, our weeks, our months and our years doing pretty much the same thing. We get up, get ready for the day, grab a quick breakfast on the way to work or school, then come home, eat dinner, maybe watch some t.v., then go to bed. Next day, we do it all again.

When you look at it that way, it seems pretty ‘meaning-less’.

Ecclesiastes 1:2-14:

“Everything is meaningless,” says the Teacher, “completely meaningless!”

What do people get for all their hard work under the sun? Generations come and generations go, but the earth never changes. The sun rises and the sun sets, then hurries around to rise again. The wind blows south, and then turns north. Around and around it goes, blowing in circles. Rivers run into the sea, but the sea is never full. Then the water returns again to the rivers and flows out again to the sea. Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content.

History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new. 10 Sometimes people say, “Here is something new!” But actually it is old; nothing is ever truly new. 11 We don’t remember what happened in the past, and in future generations, no one will remember what we are doing now.

12 I, the Teacher, was king of Israel, and I lived in Jerusalem. 13 I devoted myself to search for understanding and to explore by wisdom everything being done under heaven. I soon discovered that God has dealt a tragic existence to the human race. 14 I observed everything going on under the sun, and really, it is all meaningless—like chasing the wind.”

That is a serious bummer!

Is he right? Is that all there is? The sun comes up and goes down and all our scurrying in the meantime is meaningless?

 

The Mission Statement.

According to Dictionary.com, it means, “a formal summary of the aims and values of a company, organization, or individual.”

Whether it’s about a Business, an Organization, a Church, or an Individual, it is, in essence, your REASON for existing.

So, what is YOUR ‘Mission Statement’?

Is if about money?

Satisfaction?

Impact?

Does it have to do with family? Work? Education?

All of these things are fine, and many have great impact, in the here-and-now.

However, as the writer of Ecclesiastes says, ultimately, these, too, are “meaningless…chasing after the wind”(Ecclesiastes 2:22).

So…is there any real ‘hope’? Any secret to finding TRUE ‘meaning’ and purpose?

Yes, in fact, there is!

“This only I have found: God made mankind upright, but men have gone in search of many schemes.” (7:29)

Man rejects God’s ways and tries to find meaning and purpose on his own, by himself. We pat each other on the back and encourage one another to ‘do our own thing’ and do ‘what feels right’.

However, we miss God.

Wisdom–real wisdom–comes when we acknowledge Him.

“Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come…” (12:1)

This will be THE best thing that sets you on the past to the ‘best life possible’. Remember your Creator. Humble yourself. Seek Him.

“Remember Him–before the silver chord is severed, or the golden bowl is broken…and the dust returns to the ground it came from and the spirit returns to God who gave it.” (12:6-7)

Seek the Lord. Pray to Him. Ask Him to give you ‘meaning and purpose’. Seek Him for an ‘Eternal Mission Statement’.

If you do, you will live differently, think differently, love differently, and react differently to all the ‘meaningless’ activity around us.

This will put you on the only real path toward “Life…to the Full” (John 10:10)

You will live to glorify and honor God, to impact this world in His name, to share the Good News of Jesus with all, and to walk out your faith in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Now that is an Eternal Mission Statement!

Keys to Faith and Boldness

Last weekend, we had a group of young adults over at our house for a time of fun, food, and fellowship. Our ‘New Generation’ group has been a great addition to our church. Those young people who’ve graduated from High School and are moving on to college and careers need ‘a place to belong’…as we all do! We have a lot of fun together, but we also have some pretty crucial discussions around our faith.

Last week, we discussed that virtually every one of them was about to ‘step out’ into a new direction…a new college, a new town, a new job, and even (in a few cases) a new marriage! These are exciting times! How can these young people know that they are staying on track with God? How can they know that He is leading them?

Not surprisingly, there are some nerves, some anxiety in these moves. However, IF we know that we are following the Lord, we can have confidence.

In our discussion, we read from Joshua 1. In this chapter, Joshua is taking over leadership of the people of Israel from Moses. Moses, the strong, faithful leader…the one who would go up on Mount Zion and communicate with God, so closely that he would come down radiating God’s presence, was now gone. It was now Joshua’s time.

What did the Lord say to Joshua?

Joshua 1:6-9: “Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do.Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

The obvious parallel for these young people can be very important for us, to…but we can’t take God’s presence and blessing for granted! If Joshua did not continue to live by the principles of faith that the Lord had set out through Moses, then he should not expect God’s blessing. Similarly, if we don’t continue to walk with Him consistently (not ‘perfection’, and not ‘works’, but consistent, growing Faith), then we shouldn’t expect it, either.

Could Joshua have ‘Bold Faith’? Yes–because God was pledging to be with him, to lead him, and to guide and bless the people.

What about us–can we expect God’s blessing?

I believe, by His grace, that the answer is YES!

IF we walk with Him, by faith, and let Him conform us into His image (Romans 8:39).

If we do that, then we can experience the blessing of “Life…to the Full!” (John 10:10) that Jesus promised His followers.

Tomorrow I’ll write about 4 Keys to Faith and Confidence.

The key: The Faithful Love of God, and our welcoming and following Him.

He has ‘Never Once’ failed us: https://youtu.be/722zPX1npcA

 

 

 

YOUR Motivation For Living

WHY?

That is one question that we all answer, every day…although sometimes unconsciously.

WHY do you do What you do?

Simon Sinek wrote an excellent book about this, Start With Why, and the premise is simple: If you’re going to lead people well, (including yourself) you need to…’start with Why’?

Why should I do what you say?

Why should we follow this course?

Why should I get up early to exercise…go to work or school?

Why should I pay my bills?

Why should I eat right?

If we don’t answer that question, then we are much more likely to live halfhearted, unfocused lives. We are more likely to move from one job to another, one major to another, one relationship to another, one diet to another, one credit card to another, and so on.

In addition, the ‘quality’ or our answer will determine the joy and satisfaction we get out of life.

Take a job, for example.

If the answer to my question of ‘Why should I go to work?’ is simply ‘To get a paycheck’, that’s a great recipe for a bad job, in which I get no satisfaction, end up doing the bare minimum that I need to in order to keep my job, complain the whole time, etc.

In contrast, if I can honestly say something like, ‘Because my job matters. I am called and gifted for this job. This job is an important training ground for my next job, and the things I learn here will help me in the future…’, then I am much more likely to give my all to it.

 

So…let’s apply that to faith.

Why should I go to church?

Why should I pray, read the Scriptures, and worship?

Why should I give your money to the work of God?

Why should I conduct your relationships according to His Word?

Again, if the only reason is, ‘Because I’ll get in trouble if I don’t’, or ‘Because it’s good for me’, then I’ll completely miss out on the blessing of knowing God and the pleasure and security of knowing that your life is secure in His hands, and His ways are best.

The Scriptures say,

The way of the Lord is a refuge for the blameless,
    but it is the ruin of those who do evil.” (Proverbs 10:29)

In fact, you will find in many places in the Word of God: God knows what is best, God loves you and wants the best for you, and the best way to the best life is by following Him and His Word, period.

Our society tells us lies. It tells us that ‘Looking out for #1’ is best, or that ‘Using others for my pleasure’ is best. It will tell you that ‘Living for today’ is best.

Hogwash. Poppycock. Lies!

“The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy; I have come that they might have LIFE and have it To The Full!” (John 10:10, emphasis added).

This especially shows up when God’s Word says one thing, and my friends (or culture/my appetites/my family) says something else. What will determine which I choose?

That depends: What is your ‘Why’?

My ‘Why’ is this: I know that I exist by His design, for His glory, and that I live in His grace. Therefore, my desire is to know and please Him, in all things.

That gives me meaning, direction, and joy–no matter the circumstances. It guides me along. It teaches me what to say ‘yes’ to, and what to say ‘no’ to.

It is both for His glory and for My good…at the same time!

What about You?

What is Your ‘Motivation for Living’?

 

 

The Test

How do you know if something is ‘legit’?

How do you know if you can trust a person–a teacher, a boss, a politician, a minister?

Is it possible to know, for example, whether or not a Church or ‘religious organization’ is the ‘real deal’ or not?

Is there a ‘litmus test’?

 

Actually, there is!

In my reading this morning, I came to 1 John 4: 1-3, which says: Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.”

Note: that does NOT mean that ‘everyone who admits that Jesus was real’ is legit.

You have to remember, they didn’t write First and Last names back then–in other words ‘Jesus Christ’ isn’t like saying ‘Dave Johnson’. In that day, they either introduced someone as to their family, “Jesus, son of Joseph”, or according to their origin, “Jesus of Nazareth”. “Jesus Christ” is His name and His title. ‘Christ’ is not a last name, but a title, meaning ‘Chosen One’ or ‘Anointed One’…Messiah.

John is saying that “Anyone who acknowledges that Jesus (of Nazareth) is from God, and is the Messiah’ is from God. In fact, it’s clear that John taught that Jesus is God, Jesus is Lord, Jesus is Messiah, and Jesus is Risen. Therefore, anyone who does not acknowledge all of these things is representing ‘the spirit of the antichrist’. 

He goes on to say that You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us.This is how we recognize the Spirit[a] of truth and the spirit of falsehood.” (1 John 4:4-6

Anyone who does not acknowledge these truths about Jesus is ‘from the world’ and will only speak from this world’s viewpoint–not God’s.

Therefore, Christian, you MUST be crystal clear: Jesus the Christ is God! Jesus the Christ is Messiah! Jesus the Christ is Risen, Jesus the Christ is LORD, and Jesus the Christ is the One and Only Mediator between God and Man.

He is ‘The One’ that “every knee will bow, and every tongue confess is Lord, to the glory of God the Father!” (Philippians 2:10-11)

Let no one deceive you: No bumper sticker, no popular speaker, no tv show, nobody which says anything like ‘all roads lead to God’ or ‘as long as you’re sincere…’, or anything like that is ‘legit’.

It is absolutely true that God loves us, and He wants us to come to salvation, through Jesus the Christ…but He is THE authorized One, period.

He is the embodiment of God–His character, His holiness, His righteousness and His grace.

Matthew 7:13-14:  “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” 

Are YOU trusting in Him, or in the voices from this world?

Come! NOW is the time to Worship Him!