Tag Archive for pride

Whatever We Ask: Part 4–(Un)answered Prayers

All prayers are answered.  Sometimes the answer is, “No.”—Bono

 

 

One of the pitfalls of the Christian life is how easy it is to backslide from “highly favored child of God” to “spoiled brat.”

 

We have seasons of life where everything seems to be going our way, and we give God the glory for that.  But then life throws us a curveball, and the whining starts.

 

“Why isn’t God answering my prayer?  He said He’d give me anything I ask for.  Haven’t I been ‘doing it right’?”

 

The truth is that God does answer prayer, but not always in the way that we expect.

 

Sometimes we get excited and run up ahead when He needs us to hold back and notice something He wants to show us.  Sometimes selfishness creeps in and the “desires of our hearts” become more like the cravings of our appetites.  And sometimes, we simply don’t recognize the answer for what it is when it comes.

 

God is not a vending machine or an ATM.  We exist to serve Him, not the other way around.  For this reason, the point of prayer isn’t primarily to address our own needs.  Jesus explained it this way:

 Don’t worry and say, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ The people who don’t know God keep trying to get these things, and your Father in heaven knows you need them.  Seek first God’s kingdom and what God wants.  Then all your other needs will be met as well.  (Matthew 6:31-33 NCV)

Prayer is your Out box.  When you put something in your Out box at work, do you pull it back and put it in your In box again?  No, you put it in the Out box because you are finished with it.

 

Whatever it is that you are praying for, God has a plan for it.  It may not be the plan you would have scripted for yourself, but think for a minute.  Who’s smarter, you or God?  Don’t you think it might be possible that Father knows best?

 

There’s more to it than that though.  Logic alone will tell you that God is bigger, more powerful and more able to meet your needs.  The question is, “Do you TRUST Him to do that?”  Do you believe that He not only knows what’s best for you, but that He WANTS what’s best for you?

 

How you answer that question will determine how you respond to His answers.  If you really believe that God’s way will lead to a better result than anything you could have come up with, then it becomes a lot easier to roll with the changes when they do come.

 

(But what happens if we don’t?  Come back for Part 5—Unstable)

 

DN=: Part 16–Hypocrisy

 

I find it interesting that the Greek origin of the word “hypocrisy” comes from the theatre.  You may know that ancient Greek plays were performed by actors wearing masks.  These actors were called hypocrites, not because of any character deficiency, but because they were literally “pretending under a mask.”

 

This meaning makes sense when you think about people whom you may have considered guilty of hypocrisy.  What they are doing is showing the world one face, their “mask,” while pretending to be something they are not.  One of these masks is self-righteousness.

 

 Why do you see the splinter in your brother’s eye but not notice the log in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the splinter out of your eye,’ when you have the log in your own eye?  You hypocrite!  First, take the log out of your own eye; then you will see clearly, so that you can remove the splinter from your brother’s eye!  (Matthew 7:3-5 CJB)

 

Jesus’ warning against hypocrisy from the Sermon on the Mount is one of the most humbling passages in scripture.  However, as is so often the case when people use the Bible as a defense mechanism, many of us want to put a period where God put a comma (or in the case of the translation used here, a semicolon).

 

Notice that Jesus did NOT say, “You hypocrite!  First, take the log out of your own eye” PERIOD!  There is a “then” after the “first” and a “so that” after the “then.”  The purpose of taking the log out of your own eye is to clear your vision.  And the purpose of clear vision is to successfully complete the task of helping get the splinter out of your brother’s eye.

 

Jesus is clear in noting that the fault does not lie with the person giving correction, but with the spirit in which it is given, namely that people with issues of their own ought to address those before pointing out someone else’s.

 

Nowhere in the passage above does it say that it is OK to have a splinter in your eye.  It also does not state that one must be perfect to remove a splinter.  After all, no human was ever perfect besides Jesus.  And since He is clearly advocating the removal of splinters from eyes by people who are less than perfect, it should be equally clear that imperfect people, under the right conditions, are qualified to remove eye splinters.

 

IMPERFECTION DN= HYPOCRISY

 

Have you ever tried to be perfect or maybe felt that you wouldn’t measure up if you were anything less than perfect?  It’s stressful, isn’t it?

 

Many Christians fall into this performance trap.  Sometimes we get the impression that in order to be worthy bearers of the name of Christ, we can’t slip up, lest the onlooking world should accuse us of hypocrisy.

 

I would like to do my part in helping break this cycle by saying that it’s actually a good thing for the world to see us fail.  It doesn’t seem so at first, when we are enduring the taunting, the ridiculing and the finger pointing, but when the dust settles, we have a unique opportunity.

 

We have the chance to publicly demonstrate personal responsibility by swallowing our pride and owning our fail as well as the consequences thereof.

 

In other words, we can take off our masks and show the world what’s underneath.

He turned now to his disciples and warned them, “More than anything else, beware of these Pharisees and the way they pretend to be good when they aren’t.  But such hypocrisy cannot be hidden forever.  (Luke 12:1b TLB)

The few of you who have stuck with me during the LONG pauses between posts in this series may have wondered what the delay was all about.

 

I knew that I was going to be closing out my series exposing the hypocrisy of the “=” movement by talking about hypocrisy itself and how those who bring that charge the most strenuously seem to be the guiltiest of it themselves.

 

Then I looked in the mirror one day and saw the log.  So I’ve been spending the past several weeks trying to figure out what to do with this log in my eye.

 

You see, the thing is, I’m a wanderer.  I guess we all are, because we are all susceptible to sin in general and the sin of pride in particular, but I’ve been doing quite a bit of wandering lately.  I can totally relate to what Paul was feeling when he wrote this to the Romans:

 

 I don’t understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I can’t.  I do what I don’t want to—what I hate.  I know perfectly well that what I am doing is wrong, and my bad conscience proves that I agree with these laws I am breaking. But I can’t help myself because I’m no longer doing it.  It is sin inside me that is stronger than I am that makes me do these evil things.

I know I am rotten through and through so far as my old sinful nature is concerned.  No matter which way I turn, I can’t make myself do right.  I want to but I can’t.  When I want to do good, I don’t; and when I try not to do wrong, I do it anyway.  Now if I am doing what I don’t want to, it is plain where the trouble is: sin still has me in its evil grasp.

 It seems to be a fact of life that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong.  I love to do God’s will so far as my new nature is concerned;  but there is something else deep within me, in my lower nature, that is at war with my mind and wins the fight and makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me.  In my mind, I want to be God’s willing servant, but instead I find myself still enslaved to sin.

So you see how it is: my new life tells me to do right, but the old nature that is still inside me loves to sin.  Oh, what a terrible predicament I’m in!  Who will free me from my slavery to this deadly lower nature?  (Romans 7:15-25 TLB)

 

I think at some level I just knew that I wouldn’t be able to finish this without dislodging my log.

 

But then I considered the question that ends the passage above.  Who will free me from my slavery to this deadly lower nature?  Well, duh.  Jesus already did.  I’m still working on my wood-vision, but at least I’m aware of it.  The fact that I want the log out of my eye is the evidence that it is possible.  Especially when I consider the alternative:

 

If anyone sins deliberately by rejecting the Savior after knowing the truth of forgiveness, this sin is not covered by Christ’s death; there is no way to get rid of it.  There will be nothing to look forward to but the terrible punishment of God’s awful anger, which will consume all his enemies.  (Hebrews 10:26-27 TLB)

 

The unfortunate fact that I am prone to wander from the Truth does not make the Truth any less true.  Therefore, it is not hypocrisy for an imperfect messenger to deliver a perfect message to someone that would benefit from it.

 

For these reason, I will press on, and continue doing what I have been called to do.

 

Because falling down DN= falling away.

 

DN=: Part 14–Equal Opportunity

 

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal . . .

(Declaration of Independence)

 

All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others. 

(George Orwell—Animal Farm)

 

“Equal opportunity” is another way of saying that everyone has the same chance to succeed or fail.

 

However, instead of designating an equal chance at success or failure, “equal opportunity” has become synonymous in our culture with entitlement.  Success is now assumed, and if a person does not succeed, well then that person has been denied “equal opportunity.”

 

But if equal opportunity in the true sense means the same as fair play and justice, then it would make sense that everyone already HAS equal opportunity.  If justice is universal, then so is opportunity.

 

Oh, but wait a minute.  Justice also means getting what we deserve.  So we have equal opportunity to make our own choices, but we also have equal responsibility to own the consequences of those choices.  Sometimes, those consequences are not favorable.

 

EQUAL OPPORTUNITY DN= EQUAL RESULTS

 

 

So it should be plain by now that the “=”movement is not really about equal opportunity at all.  What the “=” community is really after is a life and a world that is free from consequences.

 

The irony is that if the “=” community actually got what it wanted, then it would be UN-equal, since having freedom from consequences would set it apart from the justice that everyone else would receive from making the wrong choice.

 

“=” DN= EQUAL

 

Let me pause for a moment here, because I know a lot of you are wondering: “Why does he keep saying ‘the “=” community,’ when he’s obviously talking about the LGBT community?”

 

The answer is that gay marriage isn’t the real issue here.  Sure, the media and our politicians would like to make it the issue, but in the big picture, it all comes back to a problem that plagues everyone, gay or straight—self-righteousness.

 

Paul makes it clear in his letter to the Romans that homosexuality is not the disease, but merely one of many symptoms:

 

What happened was this: People knew God perfectly well, but when they didn’t treat him like God, refusing to worship him, they trivialized themselves into silliness and confusion so that there was neither sense nor direction left in their lives.  They pretended to know it all, but were illiterate regarding life.

Worse followed.  Refusing to know God, they soon didn’t know how to be human either—women didn’t know how to be women, men didn’t know how to be men.  Sexually confused, they abused and defiled one another, women with women, men with men—all lust, no love.  And then they paid for it, oh, how they paid for it—emptied of God and love, godless and loveless wretches.

Since they didn’t bother to acknowledge God, God quit bothering them and let them run loose.  And then all hell broke loose: rampant evil, grabbing and grasping, vicious backstabbing.  They made life hell on earth with their envy, wanton killing, bickering, and cheating.  Look at them: mean-spirited, venomous, fork-tongued God-bashers.  Bullies, swaggerers, insufferable windbags!  They keep inventing new ways of wrecking lives.  They ditch their parents when they get in the way.  Stupid, slimy, cruel, cold-blooded.  And it’s not as if they don’t know better.  They know perfectly well they’re spitting in God’s face.  And they don’t care—worse, they hand out prizes to those who do the worst things best!  (Romans 1:21-22, 26-32 The Message)

 

Now that sounds awfully harsh, particularly in the Message paraphrase, but can you deny the reality of that in 21st-century America?

 

One of the saddest things that I have yet seen is when churches water down or discard this message.  It is not a church’s job to provide a safe place for sinners of any kind to come together and “be who they are.”  A church’s function is to bring people together to find out who they are in Christ.

 

Faith in Christ Jesus is what makes each of you equal with each other, whether you are a Jew or a Greek, a slave or a free person, a man or a woman.  (Galatians 3:28 CEV)

 

That’s right.  The Truth is that we all have an equal opportunity to be equal in Christ.  We have always had it and always will.

 

Sounds simple enough, but ah, there’s that pride thing getting in the way again.  The problem with this simple solution is that it involves surrendering your will, and it is not in our nature to want to do that.

 

So what is left then for those whose pride prevents them from humbling themselves before God and admitting their failure?

 

They find someone else to attack.

 

Christians.

 

Since there is no Truth or common sense in their argument, based as it is upon their own self-righteousness, then the only avenue left to them is to tear down Truthseekers in order to maintain their perception of superiority.

 

And since PC code words are their forte, they have come up with the ultimate man-made nonsense word.

 

(And for that, you’ll have to come back for Part 15)

 

DN=: Part 11–Backwards

 

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

George Santayana—The Life of Reason

 

All that is not eternal is eternally out of date.  C.S. Lewis

 

 

Back in the Empty Glass series, we talked about three ways of learning.  There is experience, or making your own mistakes and learning from them.  Then there is wisdom, which is learning from someone else’s mistakes so as not to repeat them.  And then there is common sense, which is collective wisdom that has taken root in a population.

 

Looking at this progression, it is easy to see that common sense is a product of people building upon what has gone before—the mistakes and the corrections of previous generations.  It would logically follow, then, that to employ common sense in one’s reasoning, one must look backwards to history.

 

Nevertheless, our culture inexplicably does not seem to value this type of reasoning anymore.  The so-called “progressive” ideology dictates that everything that exists must be changed, regardless of whether it was working well or not, in the name of moving “forward.”

 

But common sense declares that if you have made a wrong turn, forward is not your best option.  To get back on the road you want to be on, you’ll have to go backwards until you reach the spot where you made the wrong turn, THEN go forward.

 

Obviously, you can’t go forward and backwards at the same time.  For this reason, by completely ignoring (or worse yet, attempting to modify) history, having a “progressive” mentality completely precludes any potential for common sense to be employed, making failure a virtual certainty.

 

The primary reason that Truth Mission exists is to declare war on this intellectual futility.

 

Truthseekers proclaim God and His Word as the source of all Truth, which is unchanging and applies equally to all people in all situations.  Truth never fails, because God never fails.

 

Understanding this, it then becomes clear why Christians look to the Bible for answers when life poses difficult questions.  The Bible has an example for nearly any situation we can encounter in terms of which strategies work and which ones don’t.  Because the Bible is the ultimate source of correction, it will always improve our situation if we heed that correction.

 

More importantly, however, because God’s Word is eternal and unchanging, the lessons to be learned therein will always have value, regardless of the circumstances of the world or our individual situations.

 

ETERNAL DN= OUT OF DATE

 

As we have already noted, one cannot go backwards and forward at the same time.  Therefore, anyone obsessed with moving forward at all costs misses the opportunity for the course correction that only history and Truth can provide.

 

Since one with such a worldview only sees the Bible as a musty old book, and not God’s eternal Truth, the further “forward” they go, the smaller Truth becomes in their rearview mirror.  Since they consider everything behind them “out-of-date,” then the Truth and all who proclaim it become, in their minds, “backwards.”

 

So forward they go, until inevitably, they find a tree in their path, yielding the all-too-predictable result. Busted face notwithstanding, their pride remains intact, since that was what led them forward in the first place.

 

In the absence of the common sense that has been left behind, this pride initiates the blame game by rationalizing: “I am superior to the backwards thinkers, yet I have a busted face.  Those to whom I am superior do not have busted faces; therefore, it must be their fault that my face is busted.  Indeed, they are likely the ones who planted this tree to prevent me from going forward.  I should have the freedom to walk wherever I choose without having to worry about my face being busted!”

 

(So what’s the problem with freedom of choice?  Come back for Part 12–Civil Liberties)

 

Doubt: Part 10–Faith Without Deeds

 

What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?  Can such faith save him?   Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?  In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”

Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.  You believe that there is one God.  Good!  Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.  (James 2:14-19, 26 NIV)

 

Even though I believed in God on that day in 1989, I had programmed myself for too long to be independent.  It was all I knew how to do.  The feeling of God’s peace, love, warmth and comfort only lasted a minute that day.  Obviously, I have never forgotten it, but a seed planted takes time to grow, longer if you don’t water it.  I didn’t.

 

Instead, I pushed forward, finished college, and entered the work force.  Full steam ahead, stick to the script.  Living the American Dream by golly!

 

Except my American Dream was a nightmare.  After failing at my first three jobs, I tried to start my own business instead, because obviously, the problem was them not me.

 

Then an interesting thing happened.

 

 

Many of my business contacts were Christians.  Not the robotic, going-through-the-motions churchgoers that I had observed growing up—these people lived differently, and they were like that all the time.

 

They reminded me that I really needed my Daddy, the one that my second-grade Sunday school teacher had tried so clumsily to tell me about.  Except this time, it felt genuine.

 

I heard miraculous testimonies and saw people living lives that I could not explain, except by one thing—remembering that October afternoon at the cemetery.  I had already been forced to acknowledge that God was real, but this was something new.

 

God was Abba, my Daddy, and he actually cared about me.  He wanted to protect me from harm, and he wanted me to lead my family.  And my spiritual maturity took a big leap forward.  But this is still not the happy ending.

 

You see, at this point I am in my mid-20s physically, but still a child spiritually.  I am cracking a Bible for the first time.  The only thing I know about salvation is that it’s Jesus’ job.  I am going to church with my family now, and have us all baptized into the same religion, but I am still running the program of everything-depends-on-me.  I know there is a God and I know that He cares, and I am grateful for this, but I have still not acknowledged my dependence.

 

Sometimes when we won’t let go of our pride, God will use circumstances to knock us down to the point where the only place to look and move is upward.

 

Eight years later, my marriage failed.  I was going to church every week and was active in music ministry, but it was still just religion.

 

And all religion is is a churched-up way of repeating the same old pattern of trying to meet our own needs through our own efforts.

 

Sure, we wrap it all up in God-speak, but Jesus already called our bluff 2,000 years ago when He said to the Pharisees:

 “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:

“‘These people honor me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
    their teachings are but rules taught by men.’”  Mark 7:6-7, (quoting Isaiah 29:13) NIV

 

(To be concluded in Part 11–The Death of Doubt)

 

Doubt: Part 6–ABBA (Father)

Really?

That’s better.

 

If you intentionally focus on the things in your life that don’t move, the chaos will settle (in your mind at least) and eventually fade into the background along with your doubt.  However, this technique will only be as effective as your knowledge of what it is that doesn’t move.

 

If you are already at a place in your life where you have allowed doubt and skepticism to reign over all of your thinking, then you may have reached the point where you doubt truth itself or maybe even the existence of anything permanent.

 

This brings me back to the concept of spiritual maturity being separate from intellectual maturity.

 

It’s fairly easy to admit that you don’t know something factual and even easier to Google it and find out the answer.  However, growing spiritually is more difficult because it first requires that you admit you are a spiritual infant.  And pride has an issue with that notion.

 

Your level of doubt and skepticism is directly proportionate to your level of pride. The higher your pride level, the less likely you are to admit your vulnerabilities.

 

The reality is that your soul is still crying out like a baby.

 

You need your Daddy, but not the one who came home drunk and beat your mother while you watched, cowering in a corner.  Not the one who yelled and swore at you and told you you’d never amount to anything.  Not the one who was cold and distant and never did anything to make you feel loved or accepted.

 

You need the Daddy you should have had.  You need the one who always has the answers, always knows the right thing to do or say, the one who never fails.  The one you want to be just like when you grow up.  The one who accepts you as you are so that you don’t have to spend the rest of your life trying in vain to prove that he was wrong about you.

 

You need that Daddy.

 

You want that Daddy.

 

No matter how much you’ve tried to make a life for yourself apart from that, you will always have a hole in your soul that no amount of worldly success or knowledge can fill.

 

Only your Daddy can do that.  You were designed this way, to recognize that you can’t meet all of your own needs and to admit your dependence.

 

(Dependence on what? Come back for Part 7 to find out!)

 

Empty Glass: Part 4–Stupid

There is a state that is worse still than arroganceAt least the arrogant one has had a taste of knowledge at some point.  There are those who have never taken the lid off their empty glasses at all.  These people are utterly devoid of knowledge and not in the least interested in obtaining any.  As such, they are not worthy of such an elegant-sounding title as “ignorant” or “arrogant.”  Therefore, let us simply call them “stupid.”

 

The stupid person will walk into the tree EVERY time.  You can use logic to tell him not to.  You can show him the line of people with unbusted faces.  You can give him a self-help book called “Build a Better Life by Not Walking into Trees.”  You can slap him purple and scream into his face, “DON’T WALK INTO THE TREE, YOU IDIOT!  YOU’RE GOING TO BUST YOUR FACE!!!” 

And he will walk into the tree.  Every….stinking…time. 

 

 

 No matter how good the logic in your pitcher is, ain’t nuthin’ getting in that glass.  The lid’s on, and it’s not coming off.  If you try to pour knowledge or wisdom into that glass, not only will you not achieve your goal, you’re going to make an awful mess.  You might have better luck trying to teach a cow to juggle eggs. 

 

It really is true that you can’t fix stupid.  Even God can’t fix stupid, as Paul wrote:

 

So this I say and solemnly testify in [the name of] the Lord [as in His presence], that you must no longer live as the heathen(the Gentiles)do in their perverseness—in the folly, vanity and emptiness of their souls and the futility—of their minds.  Their moral understanding is darkened and their reasoning is beclouded. [They are] alienated (estranged, self-banished)from the life of God—with no share in it.  [This is] because of the ignorance—the want of knowledge and perception, the willful blindness—that is deep-seated in them, due to their hardness of heart (to the insensitiveness of their moral nature).  Ephesians 4:17-18 Amplified

           

I also like how these verses are paraphrased in The Message:

 

And so I insist—and God backs me up on this—that there be no going along with the crowd, the empty-headed, mindless crowd.  They’ve refused for so long to deal with God that they’ve lost touch not only with God but with reality itself.  They can’t think straight anymore.

 

See, here’s the thing about lids.  You can’t remove someone else’s; you can only remove your own. 

 

Too often, educated people try to use logic with stupid people. Then they wonder why the stupid person doesn’t say, “Gee, I never thought of it that way.  I guess I will walk around the tree!” 

 

Walking around the tree is a choice you have to make for yourself.  You can’t make someone else walk around the tree. 

 

The reason you can’t remove a lid with logic and reason is that logic and reason didn’t put the lid there in the first place.  Pride is the clamp that holds the lid on a glass that isn’t full.  Pride is what makes you think your knowledge is better, and pride is what keeps you from getting any smarter than you are right now.

 

Only humility can remove the lid.  The only way you can position yourself to fill your own glass is to take off your own lid. 

 

(Taking the lid off is only the start. Come back for Part 5–Pouring Out.)

 

Empty Glass: Part 3–Arrogance

 

Remember that common sense is just collective wisdom.  Collective wisdom, in turn, is a bunch of people that have had the same wisdom poured from the same pitcher INDIVIDUALLY into their empty glasses. 

 

Only some people don’t receive the wisdom.  This is because their glass has a lid on it.  The lid is called. . .

 

Arrogance

 

Arrogance usually comes about in this way.  A person with an empty glass gets their first sample pour from a good pitcher.  They taste and see that it is good.  Then the person with the pitcher offers to fill their glass.  Instead of accepting, however, the arrogant person says, “No, I’m good,” and slaps a lid on their half-full glass. 

 

They could have acquired more knowledge, but they shut themselves off.  Instead, they zealously protect the incomplete knowledge they do have as if to say, “My water is better than YOUR water.” 

 

If you did this with an actual glass of water, two things would eventually happen.  First, over time, the water in your glass would get stale.  Second, with the lid on your glass, you can’t even drink the stale water that you have.  So you get thirsty again.  Even worse, you can’t get any fresh water with the lid on your glass either.

 

In the same way, clinging desperately to incomplete knowledge makes your mind go stagnant. 

 

Face it—the world is going to progress whether you do or not.  For this reason, if your knowledge is at a standstill, it is actually going backward.  If there ever was a time when the arrogant person DID have superior knowledge, it didn’t stay that way for long.

 

Worse, the arrogant person is incapable of obtaining any new knowledge to supplant the old as long as he has the lid clamped down on the glass of his mind.  So the arrogant person becomes as thirsty as he was when he was ignorant. 

 

The key difference, however, is that the ignorant person knows that he is thirsty.  He will seek out a new pitcher, and is prepared to RECEIVE.  The arrogant person, on the other hand, refuses to admit his thirst and remove the lid, which is keeping his old knowledge contained. He is therefore unable to receive.

 

As such, the state of the arrogant man becomes worse than the state of the ignorant man.

 

(It gets worse.  Come back for Part 4–Stupid.)

 

Division: Part 4–The god We Want

Do not be conformed to this world—this age, fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs.  But be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind—by its new ideals and its new attitude—so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].  (Romans 12:2  Amplified)

 

So what causes this division in the Church? 

 

One cause is the perceptions that we bring into the Church with us based on our individual perspectives.  Our own unique socioeconomic, cultural, spiritual and familial backgrounds create our own personal image of the god we want.  The problem is that not everybody wants the same god.  The BIGGER problem is that the god we want is not the God who is.

 

This leads me once again to the universal problem of pride, the mother of all sin.  Pride manifests itself in many ways, none of them healthy.

 

Pride makes us cling tightly to our concept of personal freedom, which keeps us from fully surrendering to God, his Truth and His authority.  Pride is what makes many people want Jesus to be their savior, but not their Lord.  The Christian life is great until it costs you something.  This is where many part company with the Truth to worship the god they want instead.

 

Unfortunately, many churches, and indeed entire denominations, have gone this route.  By engaging culture rather than engaging Christ, they have CONformed to the pattern of this world rather than allow themselves to be TRANSformed by the Word of God. 

 

There are always going to be discussions and disagreements within the Church.  Because no one can truly know the mind of God, it stands to reason that no church or individual Christian is going to “get it right” all the time. 

 

However, I feel quite confident in boldly stating that if it becomes necessary to alter the Word of God, ignore parts of it, write some new parts of your own or intentionally take some of it out of context to push your own personal or social agenda, then you’re not getting it right. 

 

To claim to be a follower of Jesus Christ without adhering completely to the Bible is a spiritual impossibility. If the Word of God does not have the final say in your life, you are essentially putting your will and wisdom above that of God.  Whenever the creation tries to put itself above the Creator, the only thing that gets created is another pointless religion.

 

 

This isn’t being judgmental; it’s just common sense.

 

(To be concluded in Part 5–The Surrender Solution)

 

The Nature of Truth–Part 4: Offense

 

TRUTH IS NOT CONCERNED WITH WHOM IT OFFENDS

 

In our politically correct society, people are growing increasingly leery of saying what’s on their mind for fear of offending someone.

 

But every now and then, people encounter the truth in some fashion that fundamentally alters their belief system.  There is a part of them that feels compelled to share the truth they have found.  After all, if truth is universal, then it would apply to all of one’s friends as well, right?

 

However, what we frequently do instead is to take the path of least resistance and keep the truth to ourselves. Why rock anybody’s world by challenging their belief patterns and thereby offending them?

 

But still, the truth remains.  Because it is eternal, it will not change.  Because it is universal, it will apply equally to anyone with whom you share it.  Because it is indisputable, it could not possibly offend anyone who receives it with an open mind and heart.

 

Ah, but there we have hit upon the problem, haven’t we?  Receiving.

 

We would rather hear 100 lies that back up what we have already chosen to believe than to receive a single word of truth that could permanently change our lives for the better.

 

What is it that blocks us from receiving the truth?

 

Pride.

 

 

Pride is the mother of offense.  It makes us think we are better, smarter, more worthy than everyone else.  Pride is what makes us not want to associate with people who don’t live up to our standards.  Pride is what makes us not hear what we need to hear, because we have already made a judgment about the person bearing the message.

 

The most important thing that I can possibly tell you about pride is this: you will NEVER find the truth until you lay your pride aside.

 

The minute you believe that you have a right to be offended by a person or situation, you have slammed the door in the face of truth, becuase you have lost sight of the reality that how you live and what you believe is just as offensive to someone else’s sensibilities.

 

So it is not the truth itself that is offensive.  Rather, the offense comes from our own pride preventing us from challenging our own beliefs, perceptions and attitudes.

 

Again, the truth is what’s left at the end of the argument.  It’s also what’s left when you get over yourself and begin receiving.

 

Two plus two equals four, and there’s nothing you can do about it, so you might as well accept it.