Archive for the ‘ Pride ’ Category

Getting Out for a Walk

Do not stray from knowledge; rather find wisdom through Proverbial Thought!

12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. 17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18 So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.
Philippians 2:12-18

Needing to Go for a Walk

Last week I wrote about my dog and God’s control over our lives. I return to the topic of my dog this week.

My little puppy is a joy to have around . . .

. . . especially when he begins to make a lot of noise.

. . . especially when he nips at our hands and heels.

. . . especially when he tears at furniture and furnishings.

. . . especially when he destroys things.

Usually, there is a simple fix: he just needs to go for a walk!

When all he does is get fed and hang around the home, eventually things build up inside that must be released. He needs to walk around, meet with others, and “release” all that is locked up inside. Only then does he behave well.

Needing to Go for a Walk

We can get the same way in the Church.

Many people grumble and make a lot of noise about what they do not like or how they think things should run.

Many people complain about others, and they begin to gossip and fight.

Many people tear apart relationships and congregations over meaningless squabbles.

Many people destroy their own or their families lives.

You may already know where this is going:

The biggest problem with many in the Church is that they do not get out of the Church enough.

They sit in their chairs and get fed, and they are surrounded by (and even help) others who are constantly being fed. Yet, they almost never step outside to meet others and share what they have been fed and thus lead them to salvation.

14 Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about them: “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones 15 to judge everyone, and to convict all of them of all the ungodly acts they have committed in their ungodliness, and of all the defiant words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”16 These people are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.

17 But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. 18 They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” 19 These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.

20 But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.

22 Be merciful to those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.
Jude 1:14-23

When we hold onto all of the good things God has given us, even attempting to keep His Holy Spirit to ourselves, what really builds up inside is our own selfishness and pride. We build our sin instead of righteousness.

Then we lash out and complain.

All we need to is go Walk.

Misunderstood Identities

I just might do a series based on the teachings I have done the past couple Sunday nights. Today’s post is an adaptation from the first night, October 30th. The two lessons were titled “Masks: Judging others” and “Masks II: Living for others.”

                                                    

Everyone wears masks. Masks hide our emotions. Masks hide our true thoughts. Masks hide our face behind make-up, humor, and life-style.

It is how we use our masks which can cause so many problems between each other. Today’s focus is sexual identity.

Our culture has turned sexual activities and preferences into identities. (Ephesians 4:17-19)

  • The average homosexual will not tell you about struggles with same-sex attraction. He is a gay man. She is a lesbian. Life
    revolves around their same-sex attraction. There is no separation between sexual desires and life in general.
  • A “playah” (a.k.a. pervert … sorry, guys) only knows a life of chasing women. It carries over into every area of life. Think of Barney from “How I Met Your Mother” on CBS. If you have ever watched the show, you know that Barney is a sweet guy, but he hides it behind skirt-chasing and getting with babes.
  • Many feminists make empowerment of women and hatred toward men the only way they can live. Real feminism seeks equality with men with the understanding that there are differences between the two genders. So-called “radical feminism” is what gets people’s attention, because radical feminists are the loudest. Some at least have been honest enough to admit that they want to see the roles completely reversed, that women should be the ones in power if men are even necessary. Their entire lives become replacing men, not seeking equality.

This is a general group with only three sub-groups listed. For this general grouping, there is a tendency for Christians to just write them off as beyond help or just crazy. We either want nothing to do with them or spend the majority of our time telling them how sinful and evil they are, or, worse, talk about how sinful and evil they are behind their backs. Our understanding can be just as darkened as theirs is of God’s love, grace, and justice (this last one includes his strict laws and wrath as well as forgiveness through Christ).

For years I based my identity on being single. I sometimes went out of my way to alert others to my singleness. This is no different, and I know and know of many people who do or have done the same thing.

Marriage is understandably different, especially from a biblical perspective. This is because the Bible tells us “the two will become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5; Mark 10:8; 1 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 5:31), and that means each person’s identity changes. They are not complete without the other.

David and Jonathan (Starting in 1 Samuel 18) demonstrated that marriage is not required for this kind of relationship, the kind in which one person is not complete without the other. It is not the same thing as marriage, but more importantly they did not base their entire lives on the other person. For both of them, their true devotion was to God.

This is not an argument about whether or not homosexuals, “loose” people, feminists (or chauvinist of any kind), or any other people who base their identity on sex and gender (or variations on gender) can be Christians or go to Heaven. The real argument here is that the problem has arisen that those who focus so much on “sexual identity” are not focused on God. Their understanding of God has been darkened.

The problem is selfishness. Sometimes selfishness can include others, including in a loving relationship. It reminds me of Terry Hoitz (played by Mark Wahlberg) in “The Other Guys”. He was so frustrated that his tagline was illogical (but quite hilarious): “I am a beautiful peacock! You have to let me fly!” ((If you are wondering why this is so funny, peacocks are semi-flightless, only able to go relatively short distances of a few hundred feet across land and fifty feet up.)) The reason I think of this line is that peacocks are often associated with pride and arrogance, and this line is slightly illogical as is basing your entire identity on how or with whom sex is or is not performed.

And just to make sure it is understood: None of my statements of the three sub-groups listed above are meant to be taken as universal. That would also be a logical fallacy and undermine my entire argument. All people, even Christians, can base their understanding of life on crazy, inappropriate, and sometimes weird things … not just sex (though you can see Christians and the religious right who focus on not practicing certain sexual act or preferences or whatever you want to call them).

So what say you? Am I right? Am I wrong? Am I off the mark or right on? Any comments to help clarify, support, or debunk my claims?

Misunderstanding Love, Muslims, and Americans in recent history

I have recently read some interesting things. In keeping with this week’s theme of whether or not you may be in love with someone, I refer to an article from USA Today last month. Hay El Nasser and Paul Overberg wrote and article titled “1990-2010: How America Changed” published on August 11, 2011.

There were some interesting facts such as the top five states with largest latino populations (1) California, 2) Texas, 3) New York, 4) Florida, 5) Illinois), we have the lowest ever proportion of those 18-years-old and younger in our population (24%), and 40 million more people living in suburbs.

The one that relates to this week: in 1990, 26% of births were by single women, as opposed to 41% in 2010. Almost half of the births in this nation last year happened outside of marriage. This tells us something of the state of our culture today.

  1. Marriage is being seen as an outdated institution.
  2. Women find less need for a father to help raise their children.
  3. Men are not as involved in child-rearing.
  4. Abortion is not quite as acceptable anymore.

The article continued by stating that single mothers are higher among Hispanics (53%) and blacks (73%), and in Europe between half and two-thirds of births are to single mothers. It reminds me of the recent fad of teenage girls wanting to have children or “Octo-mom” and others like her having multiple children “because they can.”

We have gained a misunderstanding of love.

Moving on, while some Americans think all Muslims are violent and want to kill all non-Muslims, and some think Islam is merely a religion of peace and tolerance, both of which are misunderstandings, but I read an article today about the people in Afghanistan. Apparently, the vast majority of Afghans have no idea why Americans and others are in their country, and that includes not understanding what happened on September 11, 2oo1. It not only shows that most Afghans had nothing to do with the attacks (very rural living, after all), but “we” have done a horrible job explaining ourselves to the locals.

This reminds me that the Western culture has massive misunderstanding of the rest of the world, and really of itself.

Overall lesson I am seeing: impatience, selfishness, and arrogance is a common theme among people in the West. As we see the Church continue to slide in influence in our culture, is it any wonder?

Polluted Dreamers

Last week I looked at differences of beliefs between churches, denominations, cities, and what have you, and how it is our pride and misunderstanding which gets in the way of unity.

I may “get in trouble” with some those who come across my blog or with whom I regularly associate, but this week I am continuing the topic by looking at those who cause the trouble.

Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. For certain men whose condemnation was written aboutlong ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.

Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day. In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.

In the very same way, these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings. But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” Yet these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals—these are the very things that destroy them.

Jude 3-10

 As I mentioned last week, it is pride and misunderstandings which get in the way, but it is in individuals where it starts and then spreads. As Jude remarked, we were warned that people would infiltrate the Church. These people “change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.”

What does this look like?

Jude mentions sexual immorality. We definitely see this with all of the Catholic priests in trouble for abusing children, pastors having affairs, and the Church approving of the homosexual lifestyle. But this is not all there is.

We also see the change of grace through moral preaching. This also has a tendency to deny Jesus, but it is not universal. These teachings are based on “You can do anything and live a good life. Just try really hard. Do not worry about failing! After all, we are sinners!” I wish I could say this is a paraphrase to get the point across, but this is almost a direct quote from many different pulpits.

This carries over to the next point that “It does not matter what you believe as long as you are sincere.” This sounds great. There may even be truth in it, to a point (read C. S. Lewis’s works to see what I mean. I am not saying I agree, just pointing out a reference). However, Hitler sincerely believed the Germans were the new Arian race and far superior to all people. Stalin and Mao sincerely believed atheism was the way to go. Most people agree that they were sincerely wrong. Ask the dozens of millions of people who died under just the three men living out their sincere beliefs. According to this teaching, these three men are still on their way to heaven.

What about Jude’s line “those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire”? Many today are teaching “eternal does not always mean ‘forever’. Just look at some of God’s warnings in the Old Testament that His wrath would burn against Israel forever!” For starters, look at the context. Secondly, how come this may or may not apply to “whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life“? We all must be wary of reading the Bible this way. There are people who will be FOREVER condemned to the Lake of Fire. I do not like. No one should, but it is there. It is true.

Many of the people who lead others astray make a fatal error.

They misunderstand how God works. This is not to say anyone can understand precisely how God works, but they tend to assume God does everything in ways we can and should understand. Therefore, miracles cannot work, because they go against the laws of nature. Jesus cannot be the only way to Heaven, because there is so much truth in the world. No one goes to or stays in Hell, because God could never harm His own Creation.

This is dangerous. This is prideful. This is eternally deadly.

They base their knowledge not primarily on what the Bible says, and many times not even tradition, but what “feels right” by their conscience. This is dangerous in that we do have a fallen nature. Just remember, Jonah did not think it felt right to save 100,000 people at Nineveh, but God still sent him to preach to and save them. Peter did not think it felt right that Jesus should die to save everyone, but Jesus still went and saved us.

Just so everyone knows, I am not calling all liberals or all Catholics or all Baptists or all Episcopalians or all whoevers bad Christians on their way to Hell. I would be just as guilty as those about whom this posting refers. I do not fully understand God’s grace, and He is more than capable of saving all those with whom I disagree and especially me.

These perversions and immorality Jude mentions are not necessarily sexual, but they can also include many of the things listed above.

What do you think? Am I way off base, or are many of the dissenters and distractors our leaders who allow pride and their own personal feelings to get in the way?

Weekend Words and Sunday Stanzas – 07/03/2011

In honor of tomorrow, I say …

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!

This is generally a time of pride of country and national heritage. I am not going to argue either way if this pride is good or bad … at least not today.

Today I only offer a poem based on Galatians 6:14 (and other passages, too!) which explains where our pride should lie as believers in Jesus Christ.

pride
daniel m  klem

the pride i feel is for my God
He sent His Son to die on a cross
Christ Jesus came and saved my soul
so that i know it is not lost
from now on  i will not be ashamed
to tell the world about the day
that Jesus died upon a wood cross
just so that your and my souls are saved
i will repeat what i have said
to make sure you heard me say
God sent His one and only Son
so that He could keep us all safe

Taken from simple words for God from a simple man of God by daniel m  klem, page  48.