No Little Things

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Don’t you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough?  (1 Corinthians 5:6, NIV 1984).

For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.  (James 2:10, NIV 1984).

My Musings – There are two principles being conveyed in these two passages.  There are no little sins, and little sins lead to growing sins.   “Sometimes when I consider what tremendous consequences come from little things, I am tempted to think, there are no little things.”  — Bruce Barton.

The oxygen tanks on Apollo 13 exploded because the heater thermostatic switches were overlooked when the rest of the system was upgraded to a higher voltage, causing them to overheat and ignite in the oxygen rich environment.   The space shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after launch because the O-ring seals used in the joint between the two lower segments of the right Solid Rocket Motor were not designed to handle the unusually cold conditions that existed at this launch.  Little things, big consequences.

  • Just One Point – It only took the one sin in the Garden that led to the fall of all mankind.
  • A Little Yeast – It only took one glance at Bathsheba bathing that led to the larger sins of adultery and murder.

We often think it’s such a little thing and violate the principle of James 2:10.  Or, just this once and violate the principle of 1 Corinthians 5:6.  Jesus sent His Son to die on the cross for the little sins as much the big sins.  There was no sin so small He did not have to die for and no sin so great that He would not die for.  Jesus sent the Holy Spirit  to dwell within us to and provide the conviction necessary to make sure the yeast of sin does not work through the whole batch of dough.

My Advice – There are no little things.

 

Begin With The End In Mind

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Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”  (Matthew 7:21–23, NIV 1984).

My Musings – The second habit in Stephen R. Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” is begin with the end in mind.  The gist is, if you do not know your destination, how in the world are you going to get there.  This applies on various scales.  No one would begin to build a house without first visualizing what it should be like.  Its dimensions, number of rooms, construction materials, where to best locate it, etc.  Once these are determined (planned out), the actual building begins. Unfortunately, few visualize the totality of their lives that way. We may have a one and five-year plan, a plan to provide for retirement, a plan for life in retirement, and a plan for what we want to pass on in our estate. But these individual components do not add up to the totality of our lives.

“I know what I’m gonna do tomorrow, and the next day, and the next year, and the year after that. I’m shakin’ the dust of this crummy little town off my feet and I’m gonna see the world. Italy, Greece, the Parthenon, the Colosseum. Then, I’m comin’ back here to go to college and see what they know. And then I’m gonna build things. I’m gonna build airfields, I’m gonna build skyscrapers a hundred stories high, I’m gonna build bridges a mile long.” – George Bailey, “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

Think for a few minutes about your funeral, the people that might attend, for instance.  What is it that you would like them to say about you.  “He sure had his five year plan well thought out.”  “Nobody planned for or lived their retirement like she did.”  “He sure left his children well off.”  As good as these things might be, are they really our legacy?  Not really.  What we really want, if we think hard about it, is to be remembered for the kind of person we were.  The life we lived. The lives we touched. The differences we made.

“Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”  Clarence (the angel), “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

But as we plan for and live our lives, do we begin with this end in mind?  For many, maybe most, probably not.  We begin with making a living in mind rather than beginning with making a life in mind.  At your funeral, will people be talking about the places you visited (Italy, Greece, the Parthenon, the Colosseum), the things you built (airfields, skyscrapers a hundred stories high, bridges a mile long), or how many other lives we touched, the awful hole we will leave?

My Advice – But even these are not the totality of our lives.  For, “just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.”  (Hebrews 9:27–28, NIV 1984).  There will be many who will have lots of kind and heartfelt things said about them at their funerals for the fine things they did in this life, only to hear Christ say “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!

You see, it’s not what we did, it’s who we know.  What we did, our good works, can never atone for the sin in our lives.  But who we know can, because of what He did.  “He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.”  (Isaiah 53:5, NIV 1984).

So, if you really want to begin with the end in mind, don’t just think about what other people will say about you at your funeral.  Think about what He will say to you when you stand before Him.  It can be, “come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.”  (Matthew 25:34, NIV 1984).  But only if you have been born again.

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Want to become a Christian? See my blog series “The Born Again Experience.”

 

 

The Great Divide

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Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,” says the LORD Almighty.  (Zechariah 4:6, NIV 1984).

My Musings – On September 11, 2001, terrorists targeted three of America’s symbolic sites:  the World Trade Center (symbol of America’s economic power), the Pentagon (symbol of America’s military might) and either the White House or U.S. Capitol (symbol of America’s form of government).  Due to the heroic efforts of its passengers, the last plane never made it to its target.  The careful selection of these sites make it clear that the terrorists’ objective stretched beyond the physical targets and “collateral” deaths of the innocent victims. The primary target was perhaps the American psyche.

In the immediate aftermath, the effect was just the opposite.  The American psyche was rejuvenated and patriotic fervor was rekindled. The “collateral” benefits was a lessening in the divide between the haves and have nots (economic extremes), the hawks and doves (military extremes) and the Democrats and Republicans (political extremes), at least for a season.  But time has passed.  The American economy remains the strongest in the world.  It’s military might is still unequaled.  In terms of government, the great American experiment remains unrivaled.  But the divide between the haves and have nots, the hawks and doves and those on the left versus those on the right have widened.  What the terrorists failed to do, we are doing to ourselves.  The country has not fallen (yet), but the divide among its people is greater than perhaps ever before.

There was a fourth great symbol of America’s strength that was not targeted that day, at least not directly.  Perhaps this is because there is no single physical manifestation of it.  Perhaps it is because it was not perceived as a serious threat by the perpetrators.  The symbol?  America’s trust in God, specifically its Christian heritage.  There were brief signs of a revival following that attack, but the Church has grown colder and the divide between believers and non-believers is maybe wider than all of the others.  This is, I believe, the greatest danger to America, and may be the underlying cause of all the other divides.

My Advice – All of these divides, as great as they might be, are merely symptoms of the greatest divide of all – man’s separation from His creator.  But the solution to end the divide is the easiest of all, and it’s free.  It’s not by might or power.  It’s by surrender.  And it could solve the other divides one person at a time.  Are you one?  Be apart of the solution.  Surrender your life to Christ today.  My blog series “The Born Again Experience” will show you how, and it really is that simple.

The Road Less Traveled

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Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness.”  (Genesis 1:26, NIV 1984).

My Musings – Humans are distinguished from the rest of the God’s “creatures.”  We have self-awareness (conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives, and desires).  We have imagination (the ability to form ideas, images or concepts that are not observable by our senses).  We have a conscience (an inner prompting as a guide to the rightness or wrongness of one’s behavior).  We have an independent will (the ability to make decisions and choices and to act in accordance with those choices and decisions).  We have principles (fundamental truths or propositions that serve as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior). To name just a few.  This is, in part, what it means to be made in God’s image (not to mention the fact that we are more than just a physical creature).   The animal kingdom, for example, when confronted with a stimulus, can only respond to that stimulus (based on instinct, urges, conditioning, fight or flight, etc.).

Stimulus ——-> Response

Humans are different.  Because of things such as self-awareness, imagination, conscience, will, and principles, we have the freedom to choose how we respond to the stimulus.

Stimulus ——-> Freedom to Choose ——->Response

While we may be pre-disposed to certain “determined” responses due genetic determinism (your DNA or nature), psychic determinism (your upbringing, or nurture), and environmental determinism (something or someone in your environment that influences  you one way or another), in the final analysis we still have the freedom to choose.  Our choices cannot ultimately be blamed on these factors.  Our choices, our behavior (response), is a product conscious decisions that we make and that we are responsible for.

Despite all of this, from the very beginning, and all too often, our lives are characterized by so many wrong choices.

Stimulus – When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom,

Freedom to Choose

Response – she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

(Genesis 3:6, NIV 1984)

My Advice – Wouldn’t it be nice if there was some “magic” eraser that would let us start over with a clean slate?  The truth is, that there is.  There is a choice we can all make that will make up for all of our poor choices, as if we had never made them at all.  “In him [Jesus] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” (Ephesians 1:7, NIV 1984).  “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”  (Acts 4:12, NIV 1984).

Stimulus – “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  (Acts 1:8, NIV 1984).

Freedom to Choose

Response – “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”  (John 1:12–13, NIV 1984).

The Choice Is Yours.  Choose Wisely.

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Adapted from “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” by Stephen R. Covey

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Want to become a Christian? See my blog series “The Born Again Experience.”

 

 

 

 

 

Short Time or Long

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Then Felix, who was well acquainted with the Way, adjourned the proceedings. “When Lysias the commander comes,” he said, “I will decide your case.” He ordered the centurion to keep Paul under guard but to give him some freedom and permit his friends to take care of his needs. Several days later Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was a Jewess. He sent for Paul and listened to him as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus. As Paul discoursed on righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, “That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.”  (Acts 24:22–25, NIV 1984).

At this point Festus interrupted Paul’s defense. “You are out of your mind, Paul!” he shouted. “Your great learning is driving you insane.”  “I am not insane, most excellent Festus,” Paul replied. “What I am saying is true and reasonable. The king is familiar with these things, and I can speak freely to him. I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner. King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do.” Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?” Paul replied, “Short time or long—I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.”  (Acts 26:24–29, NIV 1984).

My Musings – Putting off reception of the Gospel to when we “find it convenient” is a dangerous gamble.   As “short time” becomes “long” the heart can become hardened toward spiritual things and repentance and confession becomes harder and harder.  Such appears to be the case with Ron (see February 6, musing “The Turn of the Screw”).  He says he really does not believe in God as too many people suffer, especially children.  I remain hopeful, that since Ron has a soft heart for others, especially children (a soft spot for Jesus too), his heart will soften and God “will remove from [him his] heart of stone” and give him “a new heart” and “a new spirit.”

My Advice – Prayer changes things.  Please continue to pray for Ron, and others like him.

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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?”

 

The Turn of the Screw

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For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14, NIV 1984).

Images – There’s inconvenient (image on the left) and there’s INCONVENIENT (image on the right).  This morning I had my new tire mounted.  I kept my $175 screw from my recent inconvenience (see yesterday’s musings).  While there, I ran into a friend (his name is Ron) of my brother that he graduated High School with in 1972.  My brother had witnessed to him numerous times over the years, but had lost contact with him several years ago.  I chatted with Ron for a few minutes and found out that he had numerous health issues.  In his own words, he is “surprised he’s still alive.”

Last week I wrote that there are three ways that to respond to the Gospel, accept it, reject it or postpone your response.  Ron falls into the last camp.  He has been close to accepting it, but has never committed.  I also wrote that postponing is not something that can be done indefinitely.  Eventually, refusing to commit is rejection.  For someone who is “surprised he’s still alive,” Ron is running out of time.

I was able to get Ron’s contact info and passed it along to my brother, who plan’s on calling him tonight (last night when this gets posted).  My brother is a natural at relational evangelism and I know the topic of salvation will come up.  So, re-thinking random, chance, coincidence and odds (yesterdays blog), who knows but that the screw found its way into my tire to permit my brother to reconnect with Ron “for a time such as this.

My Advice – For my readers who are believers – please pause right now and pray that Ron will be receptive to the Gospel message that he will undoubtedly hear once again from my brother.  To my readers who are not yet believers, allow the INCONVENIENCE of the cross into your heart.  There is no more convenient time than now.

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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?”

 

Forgiven Little, Forgiven Much

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Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.”  (Luke 7:44–47, NIV 1984).

My Musings – How grateful are we really for God’s forgiveness of our sins?  How grateful should we be?  One sin is enough to separate us from a Holy God for all eternity.  No matter how “small” our forgiven sins are, we should be eternally grateful.

My Advice – Pause for a moment to thank God for your salvation (if you are saved).  If you are not saved, show your gratitude that your sins are not too great to be forgiven, by asking Christ into your heart.