The Bourne Again Identity

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My Musings – In charades, we make the sign “sounds like.”  I recently noted the following on the internet. “The English language is hard, but can be understood through tough thorough thought though.”  Perhaps its only how we Americans have corrupted it “though?”  Some will say they “know” that this is true, while others will say “no” there is no “colonel” of truth to this claim.   Okay, so maybe we Americans can’t be blamed for that “won.”

Here are a few more similar words, with similar consequences if relied upon without being “identified” with Christ.

Indivisible – Impossible to divide or separate. The word indivisible, as used in the pledge of allegiance, is intended to convey that the United States is rock solid in its unity and cannot be broken apart.  Sadly, there is move divisiveness today than perhaps at any other time since the Civil War.  What makes this particularly troubling is that we all face a common enemy, the coronavirus, yet to a large extent we are divided in how we should respond.  This even happened in the shadow of Israel’s golden age under King Solomon, and the kingdom was divided.

The king did not listen to the people, for this turn of events was from the LORD, to fulfill the word the LORD had spoken to Jeroboam son of Nebat through Ahijah the Shilonite. When all Israel saw that the king refused to listen to them, they answered the king:  ‘What share do we have in David, what part in Jesse’s son? To your tents, O Israel! Look after your own house, O David!’”  (1 Kings 12:15–16, NIV 1984).

Invincible – Too powerful to be defeated or overcome.  The United States is the only remaining military superpower. Yet, in all its might, it has been unable to completely vanquish terrorism, and there is no weapon in its vast arsenal that can conquer the stealth of the coronavirus.  Madeline Albright, Secretary of State in the Clinton administration once claimed, “if we have to use force, it is because we are America; we are the indispensable nation. We stand tall and we see further than other countries into the future, and we see the danger here to all of us.” Did we see far enough to prepare for the danger of the coronavirus?  In the face of this silent killer, such a claim has proven to be mere hubris.  Such trust is ultimately misguided.  We are not first “world” superpower to have such misguided reliance.

Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses, who trust in the multitude of their chariots and in the great strength of their horsemen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel, or seek help from the LORD.   Yet he too is wise and can bring disaster; he does not take back his words. He will rise up against the house of the wicked, against those who help evildoers. But the Egyptians are men and not God; their horses are flesh and not spirit. When the LORD stretches out his hand, he who helps will stumble, he who is helped will fall; both will perish together.”  (Isaiah 31:1–3, NIV 1984).

Indispensable – So good or important that you could not manage without. A claim similar to Secretary Albright’s was made by President Obama. “When a typhoon hits the Philippines or schoolgirls are kidnapped in Nigeria or masked men occupy a building in Ukraine, it is America that the world looks to for help. So the United States is and remains the one indispensable nation. That has been true for the century past and it will be true for the century to come.” But we are turning inward (“America first”), during this current health crisis, making ourselves largely “unavailable” to the rest of humanity facing a plague that knows no boundaries. Soon we may not be able to help anyone, as the financial resources of the most prosperous nation on earth, very well may be strained to the point of national bankruptcy.  Pray to God that we do not also become morally bankrupt and lose our national “soul.”  What becomes of the “wealth of nations” that are not rich toward God and others?

The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.”  (Luke 12:16–21, NIV 1984).

Invisible – Cannot be seen or readily perceived.  National unity, military invincibility, and indispensable economic resources — largely impotent to a microscopic virus that is invisible to the naked eye.  Such a turn of events is not unprecedented in human history.

This is what the LORD says concerning the king of Assyria:  ‘He will not enter this city or shoot an arrow here. He will not come before it with shield or build a siege ramp against it. By the way that he came he will return; he will not enter this city, declares the LORD. I will defend this city and save it, for my sake and for the sake of David my servant.’  That night the angel of the LORD went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning—there were all the dead bodies! So Sennacherib king of Assyria broke camp and withdrew. He returned to Nineveh and stayed there.”  (2 Kings 19:32–36, NIV 1984).

My Advice – Unity can dissolve.  Power may disintegrate.  Wealth can disappear. Where can we “identify” hope that does not disappoint?  In the “Bourne” Again Identity.

In reply Jesus declare[s], ‘I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.’  ‘How can a man be born when he is old?’ Nicodemus asked. ‘Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, You must be born again. The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going [it’s invisible]. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.’”  (John 3:3–8, NIV 1984).

Exit Ramp

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Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”  (James 4:13–15, NIV 1984).

My Musings – This was the text that inspired today’s devotional from Our Daily Bread Ministries.  It kind of resonated with me due to some news I received this week.  But first, a little background.  I turn 65 in a couple months, which is the traditional retirement age in the United States (at least for those who can afford to do so).  And so it goes, that many of my friends, family and acquaintances have been asking me when I plan on retiring.  I have been blessed with a career that I still enjoy.  Since I have not yet determined what I would do with my time when I do retire, my response has been, “I plan on working until I am 70 (mandatory retirement age for the position I hold), as long as our health permits (mine and my wife’s).”

On Monday I was told that I have prostate cancer.  It was caught early, it is not an aggressive form and the prognosis is very good — so I am blessed indeed.  It occurred to me that my standard response to retirement, specifically “as long as our health permits,” while true, is really not the most appropriate qualifier.  It should be “if it is the Lord’s will.

My Advice – None of us know what tomorrow holds.  Any plans we make for this life are short-sighted at best.  Our primary concern should not be things like how we will spend retirement?  Our primary concern should be how will we spend eternity?  It’s not about how much we have in our retirement fund.  It’s about whether we’ve placed our trust in Jesus Christ.  If you have not already done so, you need to make those arrangements now, before the mist of this life vanishes.

 

For the Glory of God

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May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”  (Galatians 6:14, NIV 1984).

Let him who boasts boast in the Lord. For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.” (2 Corinthians 10:17–18, NIV 1984).

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”  (1 Corinthians 10:31, NIV 1984).

 My Musings – To boast is to speak or act with excessive pride and self-satisfaction about one’s achievements (what we have done with our time), possessions (treasures), or abilities (talent).   When in reality, our abilities are God-given, our possessions are what God has shared with us, and our achievements are what God has permitted us to accomplish.  We can commend ourselves all we want before man, but it will count for nothing when we stand before God.  But if whatever we do with our time, talent and treasure is done for the glory of God, then we will be commended when we stand before Him.

My Advice – Do your best to receive this commendation from the Lord, “well done, good and faithful servant! Come and share your master’s happiness!”  (Matthew 25:23, NIV 1984).  How well are you doing?  If He is not your master, if you have not been born again, you will only ever hear “I never knew you; depart from me.”  (Matthew 7:23, ESV 2016).  Of course, this need not be.

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Want to become a Christian? See my blog series “The Born Again Experience.”
Want a closer walk with Christ? See my blog series “Got Spiritual Milk?”

 

 

By Whose Great Strength?

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No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength. A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save. But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love.”  (Psalm 33:16–18, NIV 1984).

My Musings – No great kingdoms of the past have survived to this day retaining their former splendor, power and influence.  My country has “In God We Trust” on its coin and currency.  Having come into its own as the current great “kingdom” after World War II, unrivaled in military power and economic strength, its seems that our trust is more on these things than it is in God.  As the text above so clearly states, it is vain to place our hope in these things.  He raised us up, and He can bring us down.

My Advice – This applies on a personal level too.  Make sure your hope and trust is in the Lord God Almighty.  Anything else is illusory.  “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,” says the LORD Almighty. (Zechariah 4:6, NIV 1984).

Cravings, and Lusting and Boasting, Oh My!

1 John 2:15-17Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in Him. For everything in the world-the cravings of sinful man, the lust of the eyes and the boasting of what he has and does-comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – The allure of the world is strong, but deceptive. Worldly things will eventually disappoint and ultimately will not last. The things of God in our life will never disappoint, and will last forever.

My Advice – Be careful of what you set your affections on. Make sure that your love of worldly things does not take the place of God in your heart.

Great Boasts From Small Parts

James 3:5-6The tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue is also a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – The tongue can do more damage than many destructive and lethal weapons.

My Advice – Keep your tongue in check. It will keep you from a lot of grief and hurt feelings that are hard to undo.