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Spiritual Pride

By Mack | October 21, 2008

“It might be a shock to some of us if we could know why we are disliked and why our testimony is rejected so violently. Could it be that we are guilty of a deep sinfulness of disposition that we just cannot keep hidden? Arrogance, lack of charity, contempt, self-righteousness, religious snobbery, fault-finding–and all this kept under careful restraint and disguised by a pious smile and synthetic good humor.

This sort of thing is felt rather than understood by those who touch us in everyday life. They do not know why they cannot stand us, but we are sure that the reason is our exalted state of spirituality! Perilous comfort. Deep heart searching and prolonged repentance would be better.

Yet let us not assume that if we are persecuted it is because of our faults. The opposite may be the fact. They may hate us because they first hated Christ, and if that is so, then blessed are we indeed. The point is, let us take nothing for granted. We may be better than we think we are, but the likelihood is not overwhelming. Humility is best.”

The above is a devotional from “Collective Writings from the Books of A.W. Tozer”..

This is really rich and deep.  I hope I have not been guilty of this type of repulsive pride, but I fear I may have.  We have to constantly check our motives for how and why we say the things we do to those around us.  I am afraid we often get prideful and judgemental, then we wonder why Christ is rejected.  How would Jesus say this or that?  That should be our heart check, before we speak.

God is Love – and So Much More

By Mack | September 14, 2008

If you have read anything here, you may feel that I am a little “too serious”. I know that I don’t write many posts about the love of God.  Oh, I know God is love. I feel His grace in my life everyday. I think those of us who have been ‘saved’ from something, feel it more than maybe those who have ‘always led a life full of God’s presence’. That was just not the way I found God.
So, not to be gloom and doom, but I like to try to balance the scales about what God is and what He is not.

At least in my world, there is a lot of talk of the love of God. So much so that I wonder sometimes if we are missing some of very important attributes of God.  An example came to me the other day.  Since there is nothing ‘new under the sun’, I would say that I must have heard this somewhere, but it seemed like a new thought to me. God is love, true. But God is not only love. This is a point that seems to get missed in some Pollyanna circles of this life. The illustration that came to my mind was as follows.

We could say blood is red. We can’t turn it around and say red is blood. When something equals something else, we can turn the equation around and it will still be true. I have heard speakers try to convince people that Love is God, just as God is Love. I say no. Just as red is an attribute of blood, it is not ‘equal’ to blood. Love is an attribute of God, but it is not God. God has so many more attributes. Say , for example, God is Just. I doubt anyone would argue that is not true, but Justice is not God.
God is Holy. God is Perfect. God is Righteous.
But God so loved the world ( you and I) that He demonstrated His love for us in this, that God sacrificed His own Son, so that we might become His children.
God is love. And God is so much more.
I am afraid the whole “God is Love, so Love is God” thing can mask the true question that must be answered by everyone. Who is God to me and why would He want a person like me to live with Him eternally. Or put another way, if I die today, what then?

Fire Insurance or Relationship

By Mack | August 31, 2008

Have you ever thought about this?  I am sure you have if you are the kind of person that tries to seriously look inward and see what you are really made of. I heard a sermon once about people “gettin’ saved” and how they were really just interested in the “fire insurance”.  It cut me to the core.  I was that person.  This was back when I was a young adult.  I had made excuses for everything that conveniently allowed me to do whatever I wanted and still be going to heaven.  The object of the sermon was that maybe if you just have fire insurance, you really don’t.  That is a scary thought.  I mean, I had said all the lines that a Christian has to say to be redeemed, so I thought.  I had been baptized and I was a member of the Palestine Baptist Church!  My dad was a leader in the church. So I must have assurance that I would go to heaven.  I figured I was just taking advantage of all the grace and mercy and forgiveness that Jesus offered.

The only relationship I had was one of pleading for forgiveness when the guilt was too great

. I didn’t really know God, and I certainly didn’t want Him getting into my life. Somehow, I thought it would all work out, and I’d have some fun , then I’d say I’m sorry and that was that. I wanted to keep God in a small box in my room, and I’d talk to Him if I needed Him. It is funny how my conscience got less and less bothered by my actions.  I can see now how a person could go so long in this way of thinking that the conscience would no longer be a factor.

Well, I have since come to know a Savior.  My point is that a relationship is much different than fire insurance. I am not sure if fire insurance exists really. If a person thinks that they can accept Jesus as their savior, then continue to live like the world and maybe ask forgiveness now and then, well, I’m not sure that is real. Jesus said in John the following:

John 14:23  Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.”

Are we obeying?  That is a question we can all ask of ourselves and I’m sure we all fall short.  But are we trying to obey?  Some things are pretty simple.  Are you seeking to know Him? Reading His word?  ( And when I say you, I mean me too).  How can we know Him if we are not seeking Him and reading His word?  We can’t.

Are you listening to good music?  Music can speak to a part of your heart that nothing else seems to touch.Are you trying to fill yourself with good things? Whatever you put into yourself is what you will become.  We have to turn our eyes away from the very things that will poison our souls if we linger.

As sure as I am writing this right now, we are all going to die. I hate to break that to you, but you are going to die.  What then?

Romans 14:11 (New International Version)

New International Version (NIV)

11 It is written:
   ” ‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
   ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.”

All will confess, but not all be saved.  God has given all, but He will not be mocked.  Talk to Him today.  Begin a relationship if you have none.  Strengthen your relationship if you have one. Help a struggling friend find Him.

Tenth Avenue North Love is Here Lyrics

By Mack | August 26, 2008

I have fell in love with this group. You have to listen to them and read the lyrics to this song.
Love is Here.

Come to the waters, you who thirst and you’ll thirst no more.
Come to the father, you who work and you’ll work no more.
And all you who labor in vain and to the broken and shamed:

Love is here.
Love is now.
Love is pouring from
His hands, from his brows.
Love is near, it satisfies.
Streams of mercy flowing from his side.
Cuz love is here.

Come to the treasure, you who search and you’ll search no more.
Come to the lover you who want and you’ll want no more, no.
And all you who labor in vain and to the broken and shamed,

Yeah:

Love is here.
Love is now.
Love is pouring from his hands, from his brows.
Love is near, it satisfies.
Streams of mercy flowing from his side.

Yeah

And to the bruised and fallen,
Captives, bound, and broken hearted.

He is the lord
He is the lord,
Yeah

By his stripes he’s paid our ransom
From his wounds we drink salvation

He is the lord
He is the lord

Love is here.
Love is now.
Love is pouring from his hands, from his brows.
Love is near,
It satisfies.
Streams of mercy flowing from his side.
Streams of mercy flowing from his side.
Cuz love is here
Love is here.

Acting In Unbelief

By Mack | August 1, 2008

Recently, I have been thinking about how people who call themselves “Christian” seem to be unwilling to believe in the word of God.  I know we all have doubt from time to time, but it should be the exception, not the rule.  I often hear it from “church folks”, who are scared of being sued, or scared that something bad may happen in the church, or just scared to take a chance on life.

How can we as Christians, constantly run and hide from all the scary things in life.  I don’t think we are called to play it safe. We love ourselves too much. Face it, you have been bought a very steep price. You are not your own.

I implore you, think about all the things you are worried about right now, and decide which of those things God can’t handle.  Are there any?  If so, you need to seriously consider your level of belief in the God of the universe.  He is not wringing His hands, hoping things will come out all right, trust me.

Trust Him, for once in your life, give Him your trust.  I am talking to myself now, but if it applies to you, then you know it.

I was reading this devotion today by AW Tozer.  Read it.  Think about it. God is closer than you think.

Human sin began with loss of faith in God.

When our mother Eve listened to Satan’s sly innuendos against the character of God she began to entertain a doubt of His integrity and right there the doors were opened to the incoming of every possible evil, and darkness settled upon the world. The Bible talks about mans being alienated from and an enemy to God.

Should this sound harsh or extreme you have only to imagine your closest personal friend coming to you and stating in cold seriousness that he no longer has any confidence in you. I do not trust you. I have lost confidence in your character. I am forced to suspect every move you make. Such a declaration would instantly alienate friends by destroying the foundation upon which every friendship is built. Until your former friends opinion of you had been reversed there could be no further communion. Only a restored faith could bring about a restored friendship.

Now, it is well known that people do not go boldly to God and profess that they have no confidence in Him, and no one except the rare professional unbeliever is willing to witness publicly to his low view of God. The frightful thing, however, is that people everywhere act out their unbelief with a consistency that is more convincing than words.

Tony Snow’s Beliefs on Dying

By Mack | July 13, 2008

I have admired this man for a long time.  Just to listen to him on Fox News, one had a sense he was a pilgrim here in this land.  I got a sense that he had a faith that is uncommon in the news world.

snow Tony died this past week.  He had a valiant battle with cancer, but most often the cancer wins these battles. I found out this week that a very humble servant and fellow deacon in our church has just found that he will be battling cancer as well.  He is one of God’s most treasured servants, I am sure.

Why does God allow bad things to happen to such good people. That is a question we cannot answer. Tony Snow did an interview a year ago where he explained what he thinks about his cancer and how it effects him and others.  You can read it here, called Cancer’s Unexpected Blessings – by Tony Snow.

This is a must read for all of us who look forward to that day with both fear and longing.  Tony’s words may help you to relate to those who you know who are passing through this struggle.

Here is an excerpt from that article:

Blessings arrive in unexpected packages—in my case, cancer.

Those of us with potentially fatal diseases—and there are millions in America today—find ourselves in the odd position of coping with our mortality while trying to fathom God’s will. Although it would be the height of presumption to declare with confidence What It All Means, Scripture provides powerful hints and consolations.

The first is that we shouldn’t spend too much time trying to answer the why questions: Why me? Why must people suffer? Why can’t someone else get sick? We can’t answer such things, and the questions themselves often are designed more to express our anguish than to solicit an answer.

I don’t know why I have cancer, and I don’t much care. It is what it is—a plain and indisputable fact. Yet even while staring into a mirror darkly, great and stunning truths begin to take shape. Our maladies define a central feature of our existence: We are fallen. We are imperfect. Our bodies give out.

But despite this—because of it—God offers the possibility of salvation and grace. We don’t know how the narrative of our lives will end, but we get to choose how to use the interval between now and the moment we meet our Creator face-to-face.

Second, we need to get past the anxiety. The mere thought of dying can send adrenaline flooding through your system. A dizzy, unfocused panic seizes you. Your heart thumps; your head swims. You think of nothingness and swoon. You fear partings; you worry about the impact on family and friends. You fidget and get nowhere.”

I will see you later Tony….

Are we too comfortable here?

By Mack | July 6, 2008

Are we too comfortable?  Are we too entertained?

If you have read much on my site, you know how fond I am of AW Tozer.  Maybe it is just a stage my life is in, but that man seems to me to be one of the wisest men I have ever read or listened to.

Below is a quote from a daily devotion of Tozer and it is wrapped up with deep truths and solemn thinking that is scarce today.

The answer is that we are too comfortable, too rich, too contented. We hold the faith of our fathers, but it does not hold us. We are suffering from judicial blindness visited upon us because of our sins. To us has been committed the most precious of all treasures, but we are not committed to it. We insist upon making our religion a form of amusement and will have fun whether or not. We are afflicted with religious myopia and see only things near at hand.

God has set eternity in our hearts and we have chosen time instead.

He is trying to interest us in a glorious tomorrow and we are settling for an inglorious today. We are bogged down in local interests and have lost sight of eternal purposes. We improvise and muddle along, hoping for heaven at last but showing no eagerness to get there, correct in doctrine but weary of prayer and bored with God.” —- written in 1962 or thereabout.

A fellow Christian at my church was once talking about a book he was reading (this was years ago) and he was telling a group of us that it seemed to him the more he read and studied about God, the more he wanted to just go to heaven, right now.  I knew when I heard that , it should be true for all of us Christians, and I also know when I heard it,  it was not true for me.  I wanted to stay here on earth, in time, in my physical body, and have some more “life”….

Wow, how wrong that is.  Well, I am learning to “want” to go to heaven, right now.  Sometimes I actually feel that way, very few times, and they don’t last that long, but that is how we all should be. Does that sound strange to you?  It probably should.  We are basically taught from birth to preserve this life.  And if we were not taught it, we have a deep subconscious desire to “live”.

Do you really believe?  If we really believe that this temporary housing we call a body and this temporary environment of time, is really temporary and nothing compared to our real life which is to come, why wouldn’t we all long for that eternal life to start now.

I did learn that I can feel that way, and I am hopeful that as I get older, if God chooses that I do get older, I will more and more long to be in that new land.

This old hymn written by Edgar P. Stites says it pretty well.  As Stites wrote the song he said, “It was in 1876 that I wrote ‘Beulah Land.’ I could write only two verses and the chorus, when I was overcome and fell on my face. That was one Sunday. On the following  Sunday I wrote the third and fourth verses, and again I was so influenced by emotion that I could only pray and weep.”

You can listen to it on YouTube here.

Beulah Land

I’m kind of homesick for a country
To which I’ve never been before.
No sad goodbyes will there be spoken
for time won’t matter anymore.

Chorus:
Beulah Land, I’m longing for you
and some day on thee I’ll stand.
There my home shall be eternal.
Beulah Land — Sweet Beulah Land

I’m looking now across the river
where my faith will end in sight.
There’s just a few more days to labor.
Then I will take my heavenly flight.

Where is the Hope?

By Mack | June 14, 2008

I recorded this some time ago from the first part of Steven Curtis Chapman’s song, “Heaven in the Real World”. I wanted to put it back out to anyone who wants to listen. It’s Chuck Colson talking about hope. This three or four sentence summation is so poignant. It hits the truth square on the head. You must listen to this if you haven’t heard it.

He has a way with words! Where is the Hope?

You can read more about Chuck Colson here. He is a modern day wise man, I think.

Thanks to Bruce for correcting me on who this was speaking, as I always thought it was Billy Graham.

Asking Questions or Judging?

By Mack | June 2, 2008

I will admit it here.  I am a judger.  I think that isn’t really a word but it should be. A judger is not a good thing to be.  God  says Judge not, that ye be not judged.; the King James version of it anyway.  It’s pretty easy to understand in any version.  I am not able to follow it though. How about you?

I notice it mostly in the parenting area, but I am sure my good friends notice it as well. The really difficult part is, I don’t want to do it.  I try not to do it, yet I still do it.  I think sometimes in parenting we get accused of it, when we really are just very interested in what our kids are up to.  But, likely their perception is right many times.  We are not simply asking questions, we have a "see I knew it" in our voice or on our face. We are really trying to catch them doing something they shouldn’t , then we let them have it about what is right and wrong.  Or maybe we just kind of give them the look.  You know the look I am talking about.  The look that says, ‘you know that’s wrong, now start doing it right’.

On the other hand, parenting is a bunch of guidance in what is right and wrong.  So how do we get around the judging part.  I don’t know.  I do know it’s much easier in the short term to just let kids do whatever they want.  The long term is what I am parenting for though. It’s not easy or popular. but I am trusting God that it will be worth it.

I guess what I’m saying is we have to be careful, with kids and with family and friends.  On the one hand we need to be strong and do right and be willing to say what is right, no matter how unpopular that is.  But on the other hand, we need to be loving and accepting of people, and let God do what God does.

What do you think about Judging and Parenting?  Are you a Judger?

Heroes and Heart Talk

By Mack | May 3, 2008

Have you heard of a man named Wesley Autry? You need to see this video.

This man showed a love that was not borne from any selfish thing. I don’t know why he did it. It doesn’t make sense. He had two very young daughters with him and deserted them to save a stranger? Doesn’t make sense.

God did this for us. Jesus told parables of a shepherd that left all his sheep to find one. (And back then, when you left your sheep alone, you were taking a big risk that the wolves would come and kill some in your flock) This guy jumped from the subway platform and laid on top of a man he did not know to save him from an oncoming train.

Love like this. I can’t imagine a love like that.

Jesus did this for all of us. He died for us while we were still sinners. We did not deserve that sacrifice. The guy Wesley Autry did this. The guy he saved did not deserve it. (or maybe he did, I don’t know). Point is, Autry did this for a man he did not know.

God’s love is far superior to this, but this makes a point. God knew what you would be like, He knew what a low down selfish person you would be and He still did it. Do you know who I am talking about?

If you don’t know God, really know Him, now is a good time to get to know Him. God will meet you right where you are, not when you get good enough. You’ll never be good enough for God to accept you. You must believe in faith, and receive Him.

Call out to Him today. He will not turn you away.

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