Posts Tagged ‘selfishness’

Weak Strength


The Winter Olympics are well under way.  And the world’s fastest, strongest, highest flying, and most talented individuals are competing in the snow and ice of Russia.  But there’s a man who outdid them all when it comes to pure strength.

You’ve probably heard of Samson, and some of his “strengths” and weaknesses.  But what do you know about his faith?  Have a listen, and see what you think.

A Space Shuttle that Builds Itself


The miracle of human development is staggeringly complex.  The changes and growth that take place even in the first day following conception are simply amazing–much less the developmental changes that occur in the following weeks and months.  To be able to see what is taking place on a microscopic level reveals Darwinian evolution as a biological absurdity.  Of course the Bible reveals the truth of God’s amazing creation even without the ability we now have to see the intricate mechanics of early development.  But the more capabilities we develop for scientific understanding of what happens in a mother’s womb, the more clear it should become that abortion at any stage is so obviously the destruction of a human being, and that all members of the human race have the same God given rights regardless of their level of development or ability.

How to be the Perfect Mom – Mothers Day


Being a mom is so much more than just the things mom does for her family.  So many moms are always on the go getting things done, from household chores to playing games to taking kids where they need to go and so many other things.  But a great mom isn’t just the stuff she does, it’s who she is.  It’s a heart full of love that is poured out for her family, making sacrifices to care for her kids because her heart is so full for her loved ones, that really makes a mom.  And that is what truly makes a mom so wonderful!

How to Ruin Christmas


The Christmas season can be a time of emotional stress and depression and definitely a drain on finances and energy.  But that’s all due to people missing the reason for Christmas.  The world has secularized the holiday, so it is nothing more than a time of shopping and overindulgence and making up stories about where kids’ presents come from.  But for those who actually celebrate the birth of the risen Savior because He has filled their hearts with peace and their lives with love, Christmas is a joy rather than a drain.

Live Like You’ve Got a Purpose


There was a book written almost 10 years ago called “The Purpose Driven Life” by a guy named Rick Warren.  And it was a best seller.  Millions of people flocked to buy the book.  And unlike so many other “self help” books, it starts off by telling the reader that the purpose of life isn’t all about you.

There’s something bigger in life than just you.  There is purpose that goes beyond our own wants and needs.  There are things much bigger then our own lives at stake here.  But there’s a really interesting twist involved in dealing with that truth.  You can spend your life trying to find self actualization and fulfillment and wind up completely lost and empty.  But if you devote yourself to the purpose that you were created for, you will gain fulfillment and a contentment as a natural byproduct of focusing on what is most important–in fact that’s the only way to find true life.

Jesus put it this way “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me.  If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.  And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your soul in the process?”

We’re Alive!


I think it’s funny how people portray Heaven as a white cloudy kind of place where people dress in robes and have halos and play harps.  And then people look at that made up idea and say it’s boring, so they’re not all that interested in going.

Of course the reality of Heaven is beyond our imagination.  The Bible says it’s massive and full of color and lights and trees and flowing water.  But it’s also a place of worship.  It will be like church 24/7.  And people will be singing praises to God and worshiping him non-stop.  Of course that idea doesn’t appeal to anyone who doesn’t believe in or like God.  So they probably wouldn’t be interested in Heaven anyway.

of course everybody who admits the truth, understands how great God is and how worthy he is of our worship and obedience, and how limitless the blessings of a relationship with God is.  But they like to hold on to the idea that Heaven is like winning the lottery and doing whatever you want without interaction with God.  Many people think they can con God into letting them into Heaven in spite of their sinful hearts and lives and that somehow their hearts and minds will magically change when they die.  But the scary truth is, your heart and mind are judged for what they are and if you’re not purified before you kick the bucket, you’ll be pitched out and burned with all the other impurities that aren’t worthy of entering God’s presence.

What do you think of that thought?

Aww vs. Awe


You know the difference between puppy love and true love?  True love has NOTHING to do with the butterfly feeling in your stomach, or a magical first kiss or “falling” into anything.  Puppy love is the purely emotional stuff.  True love is that which remains committed regardless of emotion–so that even when you don’t feel like it, you still work to serve the other person and make sacrifices to give the other what is best.  A relationship of true love is the only kind that lasts, because it is committed through thick and thin.  Emotions can go up and down and butterflies fly away and initial feelings always change, but true love never gives up.  True love isn’t fallen into, it’s committed to with perseverance and integrity.

Easter Pop Quiz


Jesus is alive!  I don’t know about you, but I think that’s the best news ever.  And it’s crazy to think that the King of all creation ever had to die in the first place.  What kind of God would die for a bunch of wicked, rebellious, peons?  He certainly didn’t have to die.  He could wipe us all out with a snap of his fingers and completely get rid of the mess we’ve made of things.  But he hasn’t.  He sacrificed himself to give us the hope of finding a brand new life in him.  What an amazing gift.  He must really love us!  And we can count on him and all the promises he made because he is alive.  Praise the Lord!

How to get a Crown


John 15:18-21 “When the world hates you, remember it hated me before it hated you.  The world would love you if you belonged to it, but you don’t. I chose you to come out of the world, and so it hates you.  Do you remember what I told you? ‘A servant is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you!  The people of the world will hate you because you belong to me, for they don’t know God who sent me.

Are you living any differently than the rest of the world?  Could an unbeliever look at your life and recognize that you belong to Jesus?  I’m not talking about having a Christian T-shirt or a Jesus fish on your car?  I’m talking about living a life that the world recognizes as standing up for and speaking out for God.  Jesus preached to everybody.  Do you preach to anybody?  Does the world even care about the kind of life you’re living?  Or are you living a life of exclaiming Christ to the world so that they have no choice but to respond to you?

THIS MESSAGE IS CUT OFF.  I don’t know what happened, but it leaves you hanging a bit.  So go listen to it and then come back and read the following, and it should all make sense together:

It says they brought the blood of animals into the temple, but dumped their carcasses outside the gate.  And that’s just how they treated Jesus…like a piece of garbage.  “Let’s take him outside the gates where we throw the trash.”  So this verse is saying, if that’s the way they’re going to treat Jesus, we’re not going to stick around either.  We’re not going to be friends with the people who hate and reject our Lord.  We’re going to go out where he was crucified to stand with Jesus.  If you’re going to consider him scum you can consider me just like him.  I’ll go with him and face the same rejection.  I don’t need to be popular with the world.  I don’t need to be friends with the world.  I need one thing, and he’s the one hanging on that cross outside the gates.  That’s where you’ll find me too.

James 5:10-11 For examples of patience in suffering, dear brothers and sisters, look at the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.  We give great honor to those who endure under suffering. Job is an example of a man who endured patiently. From his experience we see how the Lord’s plan finally ended in good, for he is full of tenderness and mercy.

Remember how they treated Ezekiel and Daniel and Jeremiah—any of those prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord?  Life wasn’t fun for them.  But we consider them blessed.  Why?  Because who had the last laugh?  How do you think Jeremiah is doing right about now?  How does Ezekiel feel now?  I think those guys are doing pretty good.  Right about now they are more than fine about what they had to endure.  Check out Job.  Do you think he is still upset about what he had to go through?  Or do you think he understands, even more now, about how compassionate and merciful God really is.  I think all these guys would tell you right now, that the suffering is worth it.

1 Peter 2:19-21 For God is pleased with you when, for the sake of your conscience, you patiently endure unfair treatment.  Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong. But if you suffer for doing right and are patient beneath the blows, God is pleased with you.

This suffering is all part of what God has called you to. Christ, who suffered for you, is your example. Follow in his steps.

Do you want to follow Christ?  Here’s the example he left for you: he was beaten and killed.  Still feel like following in his footsteps?  This is what God has called you to.

4:12 Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you.

This isn’t strange, it’s what you were called for.  Why are you surprised?  This isn’t odd.  You know what’s strange is when no one is persecuting you for your faith.  That’s strange.  We’ve twisted things all around to where we think someone is strange when people hate him.  We see the guy on the corner preaching the gospel and people are yelling at him, and we think ‘That’s weird!’  No, what’s weird is when we set our lives up to avoid persecution, so much so that you can’t name a single person who hates you because you love Jesus Christ.

2 Peter 2:2 Many will follow their evil teaching and shameful immorality. And because of them, Christ and his true way will be slandered.

Are you slandered for teaching the truth?

How’s this for a bumper sticker:

1 John 3:13 So don’t be surprised, dear brothers and sisters, if the world hates you.

1 John 3:16-18 We know what real love is because Christ gave up his life for us. And so we also ought to give up our lives for our Christian brothers and sisters.  But if anyone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need and refuses to help—how can God’s love be in that person?

Dear children, let us stop just saying we love each other; let us really show it by our actions.

What are you doing for the church?  We have brothers and sisters in need all over the place.  Are you doing anything for them?  What good are you if all you do is talk?  What good am I if just stand up here and preach?  I want to be with the people who are doing something to advance the Kingdom.  Who are you giving up your life for?

Rev. 2:10 Don’t be afraid of what you are about to suffer. The Devil will throw some of you into prison and put you to the test. You will be persecuted for ‘ten days.’ Remain faithful even when facing death, and I will give you the crown of life.

Jesus says life is going to be pretty bad for awhile.  Some of you will go to prison and be tortured.  It’s ok.  Hang in there.  Be faithful, endure the suffering.  That crown of life is worth it in the end.  But you’re going to have to be tough to get to it.

You know why we don’t see this around here—why we don’t have martyr stories?  Because we avoid persecution in America.  If Jesus lived here, you can bet he’d be persecuted.  You know why?  Because he didn’t know how to keep his mouth shut.  He spoke up.  He would’ve been beaten down in Rockford for the things he said.

The disciples too—they could have escaped persecution.  Remember the leaders said, “Just stop preaching about Jesus.” and Peter said (Acts 4:19) “Who should I obey, you or God?  Sorry, but we can’t stop.”  Paul could’ve lived a lot longer, if he didn’t go against the flow so much.  He could’ve taught, ‘Just stay safe in your homes and have fellowship with your Christian friends.  Let a few Christians in, lock the door, go to church on Sunday mornings, and then right back home.’

Paul could’ve lived a long time.  But he said “I know it’s dangerous there, but God’s telling me to go, so I’m going to go.  As part of it, I’m just going to suffer for the sake of Christ.”

The reason we don’t get persecuted is because we avoid it.  We’ve grown up with a gospel that doesn’t have any suffering.  We’ve just skipped over those parts and try not to stir up any trouble.

And this isn’t about suffering for being a jerk.  There are some people that say “Everyone hates me because I’m a Christian.”  No they just hate you because you’re annoying.  I’m talking about when you tell people they are dying because you love them.  When you tell people what the word of God says for their benefit.

So am I wrong about all this?  Do I have a different Bible than you?  Or are we doing our best to avoid pain and suffering?  Are you fighting for Jesus or just for what you want?  Are you fighting for anything?  Are you only paying attention to the verses that justify the way you’re living?  Being a follower of Jesus Christ, taking up your cross and following him, means this life is going to be hard.  Jesus doesn’t say “Just do whatever you feel like doing.”  His message is, come die with me.  It’s going to be painful, but it’s worth it.

Are you willing to suffer with him…to die with him?  I don’t like pain.  But if that’s what it takes to be with Jesus, I’m willing.  I want to be faithful even to death…even if everyone hates me.  Whatever it takes.

Maybe you’ve never really decided to follow Jesus.  I’m not going to tell you that Jesus just wants to be your friend and that you can say a prayer and everything will be fine.  But I will tell you that you need Jesus.  Your sin dooms you to Hell.  And you cannot save yourself.  You will suffer for all eternity for the crimes you have committed against God.  And if you want out of that, it’s going to mean giving up your old way of life.  Jesus said deny yourself.  Die to the old you, give up your wants, be united in death with Christ for the sake of saving people from Hell, and one day you will rise just like him, and live forever and ever with your Savior.

Is Jesus worth that to you?  Or is he just a name you throw around to impress your church friends?  Maybe it’s time to count the cost and make plans to actually build your faith or stop pretending—to put up or shut up.

I don’t want to drive anybody away from the church or from Christianity, but I would much rather convince 5 people to commit their lives 100% to living for God than to convince 5000 to pray some meaningless prayer, but never change anything about their lives.  How about you?

How to Survive the Stimulus


Remember that big government stimulus package that was supposed to save the economy last year?  And more people are losing their jobs (or still looking for jobs).  The stock market is at a 10 year low.  The economy still seems to be pretty unstimulated.  How are you dealing with that?  Has it affected your livelihood, your mood, your outlook on life?  It can be a pretty grim picture if you’re counting on government bureaucracy to fix things.  So what can you do?  Put your hope in something other than bad economics and leaders who don’t seem to be able to do basic arithmetic.  Trust in the Owner of the universe for the life-saving stimulus you need.