Tag Archives: God

2 Corinthians 5:16

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. (2 Corinthians 5:16 NIV).

I don’t know about you, but I get in trouble when I’m looking at life and people from a worldly perspective.  I have a tendency to get caught up at looking at the worldly side of things and getting my eyes off the idea that we are spirtual beings.  I look at how much someone makes or what sized house someone owns or what one does for a living.  I look at all the big buildings and all the great manmade things and get enamored by the things, the material stuff, that so preoccupy our minds and life.  Sometimes, that leads to jealousy, to bitterness, to anger, to pride, to all kinds of feelings or emotions that aren’t healthy.  Sometimes, take this political election season as an example, I just get discouraged.

But what if I looked at life and people, not from a worldly perspective, but from a spiritual perspective?  I’ve tried it, actually, and it’s amazing the change I see.  Not in other people, but in me.  When I realize that all of these worldly things, be they money, fame or even sex, it will all pass away and what we will be left with is a spiritual being.    The resentment, the bitterness, the discouragement all fade away into a sense that something much bigger than my little worldly vision can see. 

Maybe Paul was on to something.

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Prisoner of Our Thoughts

For the rest, my brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things have honour, whatever things are upright, whatever things are holy, whatever things are beautiful, whatever things are of value, if there is any virtue and if there is any praise, give thought to these things.  (Philippians 4:8, Bible in Basic English)

A few years ago I saw a diagram that looked something like this:

Thoughts -> Actions -> Habits -> Character

The explanation goes something like this.  Those thoughts that fill our minds often cause us to act upon them in certain ways.  Being creatures of habit, we often repeat those actions.  If we repeat certain actions, at some point they become habits for us.  Those habits that we continue become the basis of our character.  So our character, who we are, is based on our habits that are developed out of our actions that are based on our thoughts.

Whether or not you believe the Bible, it’s hard to argue with the truth in this verse.  Paul must have had times where his thoughts bothered and concerned him.  He realized the importance of our thoughts and encourages us to think on good things.  I know it’s helped me many times.

I remember a particular religious person that just always seemed to bug the stew out of me, always seemingly creating strife, being dishonest or just not being what I thought was “real”.  Not that I’m perfect, I’m not.  Should have I been bothered? Probably not.  But I was.  And I found that as I focused on good things, on holy things, on beautiful things, then those bad thoughts would be crowded out and overcome by the good.

Even now, I struggle with my thoughts.  I’m sure you do too.  They often hold us prisoner and make us slaves to act upon them, which ultimately, whether seen or unseen, becomes the basis of who we are, our character.  Think of the one addicted to pornography, I have heard many say how they’re tormented, held prisoner to their thoughts.  Think of the one who constantly thinks the world is out to get them.  They’re captives to what they think.  Or how about those who just always think they’re right?  They, too, are a prisoner of war.

2 Corinthians 10:5 reads, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (NIV).

Paul was on to something.  Our thoughts hold us captive.  Like a prisoner of war, we’re destined to bow to the whims of what rules us, of what our thoughts tell us.  We’re captive, we’re chained and we’re not free.  It’s time to turn the tide on our thoughts.  Instead of being held captive by our thoughts, isn’t it high time we take our thoughts captive?  Shouldn’t we do as Paul suggested and take our thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ.  Shouldn’t we dwell on those good things, those beautiful things, those things that are commendable?

Grace Versus Works – Galatians 3:3

Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? Galatians 3:3

The topic of grace and works is something that we don’t completely grasp. I’ve seen in my own life and in the lives of others a skewed picture of grace. Paul saw it too as he was writing to the Galatians. John Piper sees it in today’s world and wrote a great book about grace entitled “Future Grace”. It’s a little deep for me and I had to read it twice just to begin to understand it.

Here’s the problem. We believe and say that it’s God’s grace that saves us. We generally believe this, at least in Protestant churches (I can’t speak with authority on other denominations) and we can quote the verses like Ephesians 2:8,9 and others that remind us that it’s God’s grace that saves us. So, when we first come to Christ, we’re pretty good at recognizing that there’s really nothing of our own merit that can suffice to earn eternal life. It’s God’s grace.

Where we have trouble, I think, and Paul and John Piper seem to teach, that after we’ve accepted God’s grace, we kind of forget about the grace and begin to rely on our works, the things we can to do, to obtain God’s favor. Yes, it’s true, that a faith without works is a dead faith. However, after coming to Christ, we often start living a life sort of thinking that “If I do this….”, “If I can pray more…”, “If I teach this class, if I be this leader…” then that will grant me more favor in God’s eyes. That is, we begin to try to rely on our works and all those things we do and say to earn what God has already given us, free and clear, with no debt to repay. Yet we continue living as if we can somehow pay down that debt like a run-up credit card.

God’s grace is enough. Of course, we need to work out our faith and let the fruit of that faith and God’s work in our lives and hearts be visible and multiplying. But God’s grace was enough to save us and it is enough to keep us. God’s grace is enough to live and respond to all of life’s circumstances. God’s grace is enough to help us overcome all those issues we deal with. It’s foolish to think otherwise. It’s foolish to start with grace but finish with works. God’s grace is what saved us and God’s grace, as the hymn “Amazing Grace” goes, “will lead me home.”

I had a link to a great version of Amazing Grace in another post that you can hear here.

Who Do You Trust?

Some trust in chariots. Some trust in horses.  But we trust in the Lord our God.  
Psalm 20:7 (New International Reader’s Version)

Recently, a big story broke about a pastor in Australia who seriously deceived not only his congregation, but also his fellow staff and even his wife who all falsely believed he had a terminal illness.  In the Fall of 2006, a major evangelical leader in the U.S. resigned his leadership positions amid allegations of a gay scandal.  Numerous popular mainstream Christian recording artists have divorced their mates over the last several years.  There is a website devoted to cataloging proven and well-supported allegations of sexual predatory abuse by pastors and ministers and deacons.   And on and on it goes.

This unfortunate trend has been on my mind for the last two years as I began thinking about what’s going on in the Church today and why some are imploding.  Maybe it’s not just the Church “today”, maybe it’s always been like this, but for the last couple of years I’ve come across several churches and pastors and situations, not for the purpose of being judgmental, but to ask, “What is going on?”  Hardly a day goes by that we don’t hear about a well-known Christian leader who has fallen.  Hearts are broken, families are ruined, churches are disgraced and the name of God is cheapened. 

I don’t think any of us can say we haven’t done something that reflected poorly on the God we love and the faith we espouse.  As a contemporary song asks, “Who here among us has not been broken?  Who here among us is without guilt or shame?”  (You can hear the song here.)  So the purpose here is not to judge or be judged. 

So, the question is, “Who do you trust?”  Do we trust in man or do we trust in God?  Man will let us down time and time again.  Here also are a few other things that I’m reminded of as I think about our failures and I think about who I put my faith in.

  1. It’s OK to shine the light on sin.  It’s okay to call it what it is.  Face sin head on, don’t hide it.  Don’t accept anything less than what’s wrong is wrong.  Don’t sugarcoat sin but uncover it.
  2. We need to understand grace.  If we knew the grace we’ve been shown, both in salvation and repentance, it would be far easier to show grace to those who also fail. 
  3. There, but for the grace of God go I.  That sums it up pretty well.
  4. Trust in God.  Trust in Jesus.  We give to men what God rightfully deserves.  Man will fail us sooner or later.  We shouldn’t base our faith and religion on man but put our hope in Christ alone.

Hidden in the Jungle

There are people all over the world who have never heard about Jesus.  The Amazon Basin in South America is home to several hundred culturally distinct people groups.  Here is a video about the Amazon Basin and its people.

Hidden in the Jungle