Don’t Get Cocky Kid!

Screenshot (718)

My Musings – Going to battle requires preparation.  Being properly prepared involves at least three key elements:  knowing your enemy, surveying the battlefield, and choosing your weapons.

Knowing Your Enemy – “So that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” Ephesians 6:11, NIV 1984).  In the movie “Patton,” on the eve of battle, actor George C. Scott who portrays General Patton is seen reading Field Marshal Rommel’s book “The Tank in Battle” (actually “Infantry Attacks”), a book on battle tactics.  In a following scene, Patton has Rommel on the retreat and as he gleefully exclaims “Rommel…you magnificent %@$&*!, I read your book!”  I don’t know how historically accurate this is, but it nicely illustrates how knowing your enemy can help you defeat him.  This is especially important in Spiritual warfare “in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes” (2 Corinthians 2:11–12, NIV 1984).

Surveying The Battlefield – “So that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground” (Ephesians 6:13, NIV 1984).  An army would not willingly go into battle without knowing a little about the “lay of the land.”  Choosing the “high ground,” would provide a definite advantage.  Avoiding positions that would make your army vulnerable, is another example.  When Adam and Eve were tempted, they were in the worst position they could be in to avoid temptation.  They were hanging around the forbidden tree.  At the time of the year that kings go to war, David stayed behind.  His first mistake.  Then he “found” himself where he should not have been, watching Bathsheba bathe and inciting lust.

Choosing Your Weapons – “Therefore put on the full armor of God” (Ephesians 6:13, NIV 1984). Spiritual battles require Spiritual weapons.  “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:3–4, NIV 1984). In a classic fight scene in “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” Indiana Jones had just fought a fast-paced battle against a dozen attackers.  Already weary, he is confronted by one final ninja-type adversary wielding a samurai sword. Somewhat nonchalantly, Jones draws his gun and shoots the warrior. Moral of the story: don’t bring a sword to a gunfight.  Corollary: don’t bring worldly weapons to a Spiritual battle.

My Advice – Know your enemy, survey the battlefield and choose your weapons wisely.  Lest you think these make you invincible, one final movie quip from Han Solo to Luke Skywalker in “Star Wars” – “Great, kid. Don’t get cocky”   To avoid this “be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power” (Ephesians 6:10, NIV 1984).

Mission Accomplished!

Screenshot (707)

My Musings – Been thinking a lot about the aging process here lately.  In my adult Sunday School class yesterday, we talked about the various age groups in the Body and how they relate to each other, noting that older does not always equate with more mature in the faith.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we matured as fast (at least it seems fast now that I am in my mid-sixties) as we aged?  I confessed to the class to being older (it was quite obvious, of course), but not old (some denial going on?).  I also told them I aspired to being the oldest in our Church, but was willing to be patient about it.

Back to aging, versus maturing.  In the above text, as John speaks of three ages of men (children, young men and fathers) he could just as well be speaking about the three stages of salvation and Christian maturity (justification, sanctification, glorification).

Dear Children (Justification) – A judicial act of God, by which he pardons all the sins of those who believe in Christ, and accounts, accepts, and treats them as righteous in the eye of the law. In addition to the pardon of sin, justification declares that all the claims of the law are satisfied in respect of the justified. The law is not relaxed or set aside, but is declared to be fulfilled – Easton’s Bible dictionary. New York: Harper & Brothers.  This is a past event that is accomplished through the work of the Son.

Young Men (Sanctification) – In Christian theology, a distinction is made between justification and sanctification where justification refers to having saving faith and sanctification refers to the process of gradual purification from sin and progressive spiritual growth that should mark the life of the believer – The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.  This is an on-going process that is accomplished through the work of the Holy Spirit.

Fathers  (Glorification) – In the Scripture the idea of glorification deals with the ultimate perfection of believers.  It is ours by inheritance – Evangelical dictionary of biblical theology, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.  This is our future destination through the work of the Father.

Interestingly, while these three aspects of salvation occur in the past (“have been justified through faith“), present (“are being transformed into His likeness“) and future (“we shall be like Him“), John speaks of them all as having already taken place (“have been forgiven“, “have overcome“, “have known Him“).  How each of us progress is different, and all of us experience our ups and downs, but that first act of faith guarantees the ultimate perfection of them all.  It kind of looks like this:

Screenshot (710)

My Advice –  Do not be discouraged.  “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the Day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6, NIV 1978).”  It’s a done deal.  So, “let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily [those ups and downs] entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us (Hebrews 12:1, NIV 1978).”  And one day “we shall see Him as He is.”  What a glorious thought!

Learning From Failure

Screenshot (592)

My Musings – This was a familiar pattern in the Old Testament.  God delivers the promised land into the hands of the Israelites.  They get complacent and fall into sin.  God brings judgment through their enemies.  The Israelites call out to the Lord.  He provides a deliverer (called a Judge).  And the cycle starts all over again, and again and again.  They seem to never have learned from their failings.

Are we any different?  Are there cycles of failure that we repeat time and again, never seeming to learn from prior experiences?  Of course it is better to not fall into sin in the first place. But when we do, once we are delivered and restored (following confession and repentance), we should learn from the past failure and be on guard lest we repeat it in the future.

Of course, not all failures are the result of sin. “Failure in and of itself is not a bad thing. But failing to learn from it is inexcusable.” (Alison Levine, On the Edge: The Art of High-Impact Leadership).  In our journey of discipleship, God will take us through failures (not sin) so that we will learn from them.  For it is on the journey that we learn the most and see our character develop the most. “The journey is where we find perspective.” (Alison Levine, On the Edge: The Art of High-Impact Leadership).

My Advice – What are we learning?  It would be a pity to go through the struggle and not reap the benefit of learning from it.  So pay attention.

Take Heart!

Screenshot (570)

My Musings – I wrote in my book “Got Spiritual Milk?” (see Store), that justification is a one-time event (the starting line), sanctification is a life-long process (the journey) and glorification is our ultimate destination (the finish line).  In the verse above, Jesus states that if we would come after Him (the justification part) we must take up our cross daily (the sanctification part) and follow Him (the glorification part).

While the justification part is a free gift, taking up our cross daily is a graphic illustration of the cost of becoming like Jesus. Crucifixion was one of the cruelest and barbaric forms of execution ever devised.  A medical doctor provides the following  physical description:

The cross is placed on the ground and the exhausted man is quickly thrown backwards with his shoulders against the wood. The legionnaire feels for the depression at the front of the wrist. He drives a heavy, square wrought-iron nail through the wrist and deep into the wood. Quickly he moves to the other side and repeats the action, being careful not to pull the arms too tightly, but to allow some flex and movement. The cross is then lifted into place.

The left foot is pressed backward against the right foot, and with both feet extended, toes down, a nail is driven through the arch of each, leaving the knees flexed. The victim is now crucified. As he slowly sags down with more weight on the nails in the wrists, excruciating, fiery pain shoots along the fingers and up the arms to explode in the brain—the nails in the wrists are putting pressure on the median nerves. As he pushes himself upward to avoid this stretching torment, he places the full weight on the nail through his feet. Again he feels the searing agony of the nail tearing through the nerves between the bones of his feet.

As the arms fatigue, cramps sweep through the muscles, knotting them in deep, relentless, throbbing pain. With these cramps comes the inability to push himself upward to breathe. Air can be drawn into the lungs but not exhaled. He fights to raise himself in order to get even one small breath. Finally carbon dioxide builds up in the lungs and in the blood stream, and the cramps partially subside. Spasmodically he is able to push himself upward to exhale and bring in life-giving oxygen.

Hours of this limitless pain, cycles of twisting, joint-rending cramps, intermittent partial asphyxiation, searing pain as tissue is torn from his lacerated back as he moves up and down against the rough timber. Then another agony begins: a deep, crushing pain deep in the chest as the pericardium slowly fills with serum and begins to compress the heart.

It is now almost over—the loss of tissue fluids has reached a critical level—the compressed heart is struggling to pump heavy, thick, sluggish blood into the tissues—the tortured lungs are making a frantic effort to gasp in small gulps of air.

He can feel the chill of death creeping through is tissues. . .Finally he can allow his body to die.

All this the Bible records with the simple words, “And they crucified Him.” (Mark 15:24).

What wondrous love is this?

— Adapted from C. Truman Davis, M.D. in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 8

Somehow, the crosses we have to bear in our journey of sanctification here below, do not seem so awful after all – no comparison to what Jesus had to go through, and which bought our justification.  Paul also tells us the they are not even worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed (Romans 8:18) — our ultimate glorification.

My Advice – Jesus said “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, NIV 1984). Jesus had the ultimate victory (overcame) over His cross.  Because of this, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can overcome ours as well.  So take heart!

 

 

Who Are You Really?

Screenshot (566)

My Musings – We are not born with character.  It is borne from our experiences.  Usually difficult experiences.  However, while many people experience difficulties, and even persevere in spite of them, character is not produced in all of us.  While suffering and perseverance are almost always a prerequisite for building character, it does not always result in character. “Character does not suddenly appear when we reach the mountain peak. It is something we develop on the journey up. The sometimes long, sometimes arduous journey.” (Adapted from “Leaders Eat Last,” Simon Sinek).

Many people may appear (have a reputation) to have character, but under the surface (who they really are) they do not.  Our true character is revealed in a variety of ways.  Here are a few:

George Orwell – “The real test of character is how you treat someone who has no possibility of doing you any good.”

Abraham Lincoln – “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

John Wooden – “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”

J. K. Rowling – “If you want to know what a man’s like, take a look at how he treats his ‘inferiors,’ not his ‘equals.'”

Stephen Covey – “A moment of choice is a moment of truth.  It’s the testing point of our character and competence.”

Unknown – “Everyone tries to define this thing called Character. It’s not hard. Character is doing what’s right when nobody’s looking.”

My Advice – Character is the only thing you can take out of this life.  A treasure to store up that moths and rust cannot corrupt. Only we can do that.  Quick, while no one is looking, what choice will you make?  Your reputation may not suffer from your choice, but what about your character?  Choose wisely, it might just be your defining moment.

The Conclusion of the Matter

Screenshot (540)

My Musings – Fear God? “The ‘fear of the Lord‘ is that attitude of reverence and awe that His people show to Him because they love Him and respect His power and His greatness.” (Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). Be Satisfied (p. 135). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books).

Keep His commandments?  Not out of the fear, as we understand fear.  But, as explained above, out of reverence, awe, and respect.  Why wouldn’t we?  Think of it this way.  When we were little children, we obeyed our parents out of the fear we understand.  Fear of the consequences if we did not.  As we grew older and became adults we continued to do the things we were told when we were young, because we revere and respect them, and want to please them. We want to show our gratitude.

The duty of man?  Not because it is compulsory, but because we are obliged (do as someone asks or desires in order to help or please them).

My Advice – Do your “duty.”

Success Born Out of Defeat

Screenshot (295)

1 Corinthians 15:58Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (NIV 1984)

My Musings – Thomas Edison had a lot more failures than he had successes. But we remember him for his successes. We would not remember him at all if he had allowed his failures to stop him from trying again.

“I am not judged by the number of times I fail, but by the number of times I succeed. And the number of times I succeed is in direct proportion to the number of times I can fail and keep on trying.” (Tom Hopkins, Author, motivational speaker and sales coach)

My AdviceStand firm.  Failure will only be defeated if you learn from it and try again. And again, if necessary.